Our Animals

fox3Animal residents at Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary do not tell the typical zoo story. All animals at this sanctuary have been rescued from other locations and have a lesson to teach. They include a tiger who was rescued from a facility that closed; a black bear who came to the sanctuary as a cub when his mother was mistakenly shot by a hunter; a mountain lion who was kept as a pet; and a gray fox who was rescued from a pool.

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary also has a prestigious role as participant in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Species Survival Plan for the critically endangered Mexican Gray Wolf. After a 20-year absence in the wild, this animal is being reintroduced to its former range following a successful captive breeding program. The sanctuary is a housing facility for wolves not yet ready for release.

Large Mammals

Bengal Tiger

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Cassie came to HPZS in 2009 after the facility in Nebraska where she was born and raised closed down.

  • Tigers are usually solitary, except for a female with cubs, or during the breeding season. The territories of males do not overlap those of other males, nor female territories with other females. But, the much larger male territories will overlap those of several females.
  • They will eat whatever they can catch, but prefer larger hoofed mammals like deer and wild pigs. Cassie is fed a commercially prepared carnivore diet, along with a variety of other meats.
  • Of the eight original Tiger subspecies, only five remain. The Bali , Javan, and Caspian are now extinct. The remaining five (Siberian, Bengal, Indo-Chinese, South China, and Sumatran) cling to survival over a greatly diminished range.
  • In spite of laws to protect them, they are illegally hunted for certain body parts, which are mistakenly believed to have medicinal purposes, as well as for their beautiful fur. Habitat destruction is another serious threat to their continued existence.

Mountain Lion

jade jumpingJade the Mountain Lion

Jade arrived at HPZS in 2008. She had been confiscated by AZGFD Officials from private ownership.

  • Mountain Lions range from North America to Central and South America. They have long hind legs to help them leap through the rocky outcrops that are their preferred habitat.
  • The mountain Lion is the largest of the "small cats" and can purr loudly. They also make a chirping sound and a loud scream, but they don't roar.
  • They have large retractable claws to help them catch food in the wild. They usually eat deer and elk, but will also eat rodents and other small mammals and birds. We feed "Jade" a special exotic feline diet, as well as deer, elk, beef, and other meat scraps.
  • Mountain Lions keep deer populations healthy by culling the sick and weak ones. Without predators, deer populations would expand beyond food supplies, causing overgrazing and starvation of deer populations
  • They are gone from much of their historical range due to hunting and habitat destruction. A subspecies, the Florida Panther, is endangered but begining to recover with help from the Fish & Wildlife Service.


Black Bear

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Shash & Augustus ("Gus")

Shash arrived in 1994 at three months old after his mother had been accidentally shot by a hunter. Gus arrived in 2012 with his sister after their mother had been hit by a car. The sister now lives in the Navajo Nation Zoo in Window Rock, AZ.

American Black Bears have been restricted by the inroads of "civilization" to the more remote, less accessible mountainous areas or to the nearly impenetrable thickets along watercourses. Only in places that have a low human population or an enlightened public have black bears been able to cope successfully with humans.

Largely creatures of woodland and forested areas, black bears are more at home on the ground than they are in the trees. They are expert climbers, however, and, especially when young, often seek refuge in trees. Ordinarily they are shy and seldom are seen. They appear to use regular travelways or runs, a habit that is frequently taken advantage of by hunters.

Their food is extremely varied as reflected by the crushing type of molar teeth. They are known to feed upon nest contents of wild bees, carpenter ants and other insects berries, fruits, nuts, fish, carrion, and garbage about camps. Occasional animals become killers of livestock and young deer.

Mexican Wolf

Wolf editMexican Grey Wolf


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  • Mexican wolves are the smallest subspecies of the North American gray wolf and once roamed over a large part of Arizona, New Mexico, southern Texas, and Mexico.
  • Intensive hunting in the late 1800s through the mid 1900s to eliminate "threats to livestock" drove them to the brink of extinction.
  • Mexican Gray Wolves were declared Endangered in 1976. Five wolves were captured in Mexico between 1977 and 1980. These were the last wild mexican wolves. Bred with captive Mexican wolves at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the St Louis Zoo , the first pups were born in 1978.
  • The first 11 captive-bred wolves were released in April of 1998 in the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona.
  • Wolves have a complex social structure. They live in packs, which usually consist of a breeding (alpha pair), their current pups, a few yearlings and other young wolves, and occasionally some adult subordinate wolves (brothers and sisters of the alpha pair).
  • In the wild, their diet consists of small rodents to prey the size deer and elk. We feed them a commercially prepared exotic canine kibble, as well as a variety of wild game meat.
  • Removal of a top predator like the wolf has a domino effect on the entire ecosystem. Without a predator to cull plant eaters, vegetation is depleted and animals starve. Some plant populations die out, while less edible plants take over. Birds and insects, dependant on certain plants, are also affected.

CLICK HERE to visit the official Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan page, sponsored by Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary.

Canadian Lynx

(Lnyx canadensis)

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Memphis & Foxy

Canadian Lynx are solitary and territorial animals in the wild. The majority of their diet in the wild is made up of snowshoe hares. Lynx are dependent upon hare populations and a decrease in this population will cause the lynx to move to a different area. Lynx have been historically hunted for their fur, but due to dwindling numbers, it is now illegal to trap or shoot Canadian Lynx in the United States.

Their natural habitats are in the northern parts of North America, populating thick, coniferous forests. Their extremely large paws make them excellent at walking on snow and climing up trees. They do well in almost any climate, but prefer cooler temperatures.

Memphis & Foxy came to HPZS on loan in 2012.

Clouded Leopard

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Status: Threatened

CLICK HERE to visit the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan page.

Suree & Malee

Clouded Leopards are extremely elusive by nature. Little is known about them in the wild because they are so rare to come by. They are mostly crepuscular (most active during dawn and dusk), though they appear to be incredibly adaptable to whatever their habitat and diet allow.

Clouded Leopards are unique among the cat family for a couple of reasons. They hold the distinction of being a link between the "big cats" and "small cats". The most general difference between the two is that big cats can roar but not purr, while small cats can purr but not roar. Clouded Leopards can kind of do both. They're the only cat species known the be able to do both.

Another unique thing about Clouded Leopards is the size of their canines and tails. Their canines are about 2" in length, the same size as a Bengal Tiger. That is unique because Clouded Leoaprds are one-tenth the body size of a Tiger. Proportionately, their canines are the same size as those on a Sabertooth Tiger. Their tails are also the longest (proportionately) of any species in the cat family. Clouded  Leopards are exceptional climbers, and use their tail length for balance and clinging to branches.

Suree & Malee were born in March of 2015 at an organization in Florida. They came to us in December 2015.

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Mexican Gray Wolf SSP Website:

Gray Wolf

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary currently houses two incredibly rare Mexican Gray Wolves. This species is dwindling in the wild, but thanks to the Species Survival Plan (SSP), captive breeding programs and reintroductions into the wild have helped turn the tables. Please visit our partner website (by clicking on the photo) for more information on this amazing animal and what you can do to help!