Creepy Critter #1: Red-tailed Boa Constrictor

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Creepy Critter #1: Red-tailed Boa Constrictor

 

And the winner of creepiest critter is……the most storied of them all: the snake! Feel squeamish? You’re so not alone. From their cold, scaly skin, to their forked tongues and tendency to eat rodents in one gulp, it’s no wonder these reptiles have secured legendary creep out status. IMG_8545

Boa Constrictors are scary in part due to their large size and the way in which they sometimes kill prey – by coiling around it and squeezing so tight as to suffocate it. However, more often, they will strike their prey first, and then coil around it, causing it to die by cardiac arrest. Their jaws are lined with small, hooked teeth perfect for grabbing and holding prey while they squeeze around it. Very large, strong boas can cause spinal fracture due to the huge of amounts of pressure they can apply to prey. Boas will eat almost anything they can catch, be it birds, rabbits, monkeys – even wild pigs, their jaws stretch extremely wide, enabling them to swallow large prey whole. boa teeth

Being native to the warm, tropical climes of North, Central, and South America, boas like to dwell in humid places and partially enclosed spaces like hollow logs; news stories depicting an elderly couple in Florida who discovered a slithery surprise in their garage one day are not at all uncommon.

Boas are known for their distinctive markings. Depending on what type of habitat they’re trying to blend in with, their bodies can be green, red, tan, or yellow, and display geometric-type patterns of ovals, diamonds, and circles. Unfortunately, this beauty costs them. Boas are often harvested for their unique skins and are most commonly killed for snake skin products such as shoes, bags, and other “fashionable” clothing items. Boa meat is also popular and is often seen for sale at markets near their geographic ranges. Black market exotic pet rings also sadly prize boas.

Julius SqueeIMG_6769zer, a 30-lb, 8.5 feet-long Red-tailed Boa Constrictor is the big resident boa at the Texas State Aquarium, come visit him in our Amazon exhibit!

Today’s Creature Feature

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Did you guess the bald eagle and American alligator for today’s #CreatureFeature

#DidYouKnow the bald eagle and American alligator were recently both near extinction? The greatest threats between both species were destruction of habitat caused directly or indirectly by humans. As a result of legal protection and our country’s conservation efforts, both species’ populations are now in recovery and were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

What can YOU do to help our species?

Texas State Aquarium and Flint Hills Resources Partner to Create Flint Hills Resources Center for Excellence in STEM Education

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March 21, 2014

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Texas State Aquarium (TSA) and Flint Hills Resources (FHR) are uniting forces to create the Flint Hills Resources Center for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education at the Texas State Aquarium. Focused through the familiar lens of environmental education, the Center will place a powerful new emphasis on STEM practices and skills featuring the habitats and animals of Gulf of Mexico that are featured at the Aquarium.  This new approach will improve STEM teaching, learning, and career recruitment in South Texas and beyond – an issue of importance to the Aquarium, Flint Hills, and our community.

The Center is made possible thanks to a $1 million gift to the Aquarium by Flint Hills Resources, which has been the presenting partner for the Aquarium’s distance learning program, Aquavision, since 2007 and a strong supporter of the Aquarium for over 25 years. The Center will work over the next five years to provide leadership in the STEM education community, empower staff and area educators with best and “next” practices, demonstrate excellence in STEM and environmental education through an emphasis on science process skills, double program participation from 60,000 to 120,000 learners per year, and produce measureable gains in environmental, marine, and general STEM literacy among all audiences.

“Our long-standing partnership with the Texas State Aquarium has helped students from all around the country learn about marine life, and concepts tied to science, technology, engineering and math without having to leave their classroom. We are happy to be able to help TSA expand its programs and enrich the lives of twice as many students,” said Valerie Pompa, vice president and manufacturing manager for Flint Hills Resources Corpus Christi. “We enjoy being able to help showcase the amazing natural resources that exist in our community.”

According to TSA President and CEO Tom Schmid, “For over 25 years, Flint Hills Resources has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the Texas State Aquarium and our educational efforts.  Now, with this transformational gift, Flint Hills Resources and the Texas State Aquarium are taking on a leadership role in science education in South Texas.  The new Flint Hills Resources Center for Excellence in STEM Education will allow us to help definitively tackle the challenge of improving STEM teaching and learning for Coastal Bend students and teachers.”

Center activities will commence this summer with a large community Open Space meeting to map the Center’s philosophy, vision, mission, and priority projects. Open Space Technology is singular in its ability to discover, capture, and prioritize best and “next” practices. Other highlights of the Center’s plans include advisory panels comprising a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including formal and informal educators, parents, K-16 school administrators, STEM professionals, partner organizations, and Aquarium members; teaching fellowships; STEM professionals in residence; an expanded distance learning program; an approach that includes increased relevance for learners; and contextual, experiential, and discovery-based learning.

Texas State Aquarium Director of Education and Conservation Leslie Peart remarked, “In other words, our plans for the Center will help us to move learning out of the classroom and leave lecture behind through engaging, experimental methods.”

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Texas State Aquarium: Connecting people with nature and inspiring conservation of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

www.texasstateaquarium.org