Learn about Species at Animal Ark

Order Carnivora

Order Carnivora includes animals with specialized, long, curved, and pointed canines and carnassial cheek-teeth and generally have a highly adapted sense of smell. The canine teeth are well-adapted for piercing major blood vessels or severing spinal cords, allowing predators to overpower their prey. Not all animals from Order Carnivora are necessarily carnivores; bears and raccoons are omnivores with enough similar characteristics to be lumped into the same Order as more strictly carnivorous animals such as felids and canids.

The Felidae Family of Order Carnivora comprises highly adapted predators. Sharp, scissor-like cheek-teeth and enlarged temporal and masseter (jaw) muscles allow felids to quickly dispatch prey and to shear meat. Their digitigrade posture, binocular vision, and sharp, strongly curved claws aid in predation. Felids are obligate carnivores meaning they can only digest meat, although they may consume grass and plants for assistance with digestive ailments such as hairballs or sore gums.

Learn more about Family Felidae

Species housed at Animal Ark:

Bobcat, Lynx rufus
Canada lynx, Lynx canadensis
Mountain lion, Puma concolor
Jaguar, Panthera onca
Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
Tiger, Panthera tigris

Family Canidae of Order Carnivora consists of domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals. Canids are known in general for long, lithe limbs and body and an enlarged nose with well-adapted olfactory capabilities. Large, pointed ear pinnae assist in locating prey and are also critical in communication. Canids are also digitigrade with non-retractable claws.

Learn more about Family Canidae

Species housed at Animal Ark:
Gray wolf, Canis lupus
Coyote, Canis latrans
Red fox, Vulpes vulpes
Kit fox, Vulpes macrotis
Arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus 
Gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Animal Ark does not currently have a gray fox)

Bears belong to Family Urisdae of Order Carnivora. This Family is marked by large size, small eyes, rounded ears, very short tail, and plantigrade posture. These sizable, sturdy animals have highly adapted olfactory capabilities and well-adapted, non-retractable claws for digging. With toed-in posture, bears are adept diggers and many are good climbers. Cheek-teeth are rather flattened for crushing compared to the shearing teeth of the felids and canids.

There are eight species of bear: American black bear (Ursus americanus), polar bear (Ursus maritimus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), sloth bear (Ursus ursinus), sun bear (Ursus malayanus), spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), and giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Except the polar bear, all of these are predominantly herbivorous.

Species housed at Animal Ark:
Black bear, Ursus americanus

Family Procyonidae includes raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, and ringed-tailed cats. Like ursids, procyonids are plantigrade and have five distinct digits on their feet. Most procyonids have alternating light and dark bands on their tails and distinct facial markings. Further, most procyonids have small, long bodies. These animals are also known for excellent climbing abilities.

Species housed at Animal Ark:
Raccoon, Procyon lotor

American badgers are in the Mustelidae Family (Order Carnivora) along with weasels, skunks, otters, and ferrets. Mustelids are specialized predators with sharp canines and cheek-teeth. All mustelids produce a musky odor from anal glands, though this is most notorious in skunks. Otherwise, mustelids are very diverse. Some are plantigrade while others are digitigrade. Some are adapted for terrestrial life whereas others are somewhat arboreal or even aquatic (e.g. muskrat, otters). Some have long, thin bodies while others have flattened bulky bodies.

Species housed at Animal Ark:
North American badger, Taxidea taxus

Family Testudines

Desert Tortoises are members of Order Testudines which includes all turtles and tortoises. Family Testudinae comprises terrestrial turtles with elephantine hind feet such as the desert tortoise. Genus Gopherus is a strictly North American lineage and currently includes the desert tortoise of the western U.S., gopher tortoise in southeastern U.S., Texas tortoise, and the Mexican giant tortoise (note: this is not a giant-sized tortoise like the Aldabra or Galapagos giant tortoises). All of these are very similar in appearance and size. Forelimbs are specialized for digging. A pair of scent glands is located just beneath the chin. These tortoises are able to survive well in warm, arid environments. Young may have increased moisture demands during development.

Species housed at Animal Ark:
Desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii


The term “Bird of Prey” could be used to indicate any bird that preys upon other animals, particularly vertebrates. Technically, this would include storks and penguins!

Learn more about raptors

Species housed at Animal Ark:
Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus (Animal Ark does not currently have a peregrine falcon)
Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus
North American kestrel, Falco sparverius (Animal Ark does not currently have a kestrel)
Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis (Animal Ark does not currently have a red-tailed hawk)
Great-horned owl, Bubo virginianus
Barn owl, Tyto alba (Animal Ark does not currently have a barn owl)
Turkey vulture,Cathartes aura