Fascinating Mammals


The ferret is the domesticated form of the European polecat. Ferrets spend 14–18 hours a day asleep and are most active around the hours of dawn and dusk, meaning they are crepuscular. Unlike their polecat ancestors, which are solitary animals, most ferrets will live happily in social groups. A group of ferrets is commonly referred to as a “business.” As pets, however, they are illegal in California.


Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the family Mustelidae, which also includes the otters, polecats, weasels and wolverines. The European badger is one of the largest; the American badger, the hog badger and the honey badger are generally a little smaller and lighter. Hand raised in Charlie’s home on the zoo property, today Tax has become nothing short of a family member to Charlie and his wife, Lisa. A favorite amongst the Monterey Zoo Staff.


Sloths are identified by the number of long, prominent claws that they have on each front foot. There are both two-toed and three-toed sloths. All sloths are built for life in the treetops. They spend nearly all of their time aloft, hanging from branches with a powerful grip aided by their long claws. At the Monterey Zoo, Chloe is one of the most loved animals as she holds on tightly to her keepers. She is a very unique and needy animal, so she is only used in select educational programs and full contact tours.


Porcupines are lumbering, rotund rodents with needle-like spikes, called quills, covering their back, sides, and tail. It’s easy to tell when porcupines are mad: they stomp their feet, hiss, and shake their quills, which normally lie flat against the porcupine’s body. Porcupine’s use their quills to defend themselves.


Kangaroos are athletic and fast. They belong to the animal family Macropus, which literally means “big foot.” Thanks to their large feet, kangaroos can leap some 30 feet in a single bound, and travel more than 30 ​miles per hour​. ​Kangaroos are native to Eastern Australia. Two more old-timers but also very much loved favorite at Monterey Zoo, Elvis and Rufus are both adopted from other facilities and will one day be part of a large mix-species exhibit we have planned for the zoo with munjacs, tortoises, and others.

Spotted Hyena

Spotted hyenas are scavengers and often dine on the leftovers of other predators, but they also skilled hunters that will take down wildebeest or antelope. The term “laughing hyena” comes from sounds made by a hyenas when they are nervous or excited. Meet “Ed” at the Monterey Zoo! Ed was an orphaned animal from Tanzania, Africa. He was hand raised with and in the home of Monterey Zoo Director, Charlie Sammut. Today, Ed is very close to a new and much more rewarding habitat as we continue to fundraise and begin construction on a new exhibit – number one on the priority list.


The kinkajou is a rainforest mammal often mistaken for a ferret or monkey, but is not closely related to either. They like to eat fruit and are especially fond of figs. Kinajous are also illegal as pets in California. We invite all to enjoy these animals as a visitor to the zoo, or under the umbrella of our volunteer programs.


The Coati is South America’s version of a raccoon, with a personality similar to our North American raccoon. They can be cranky as they get older but Lucy still participates in our education programs in her very old age and enjoys her time spent with her handlers.


A big part of our education program as we are able to show people how truly beautiful and “soft” these animals truly are up-close versus at a distance on the side of the road. North America’s only marsupial is very deserving of our love and respect.


Tamanduas are related to the anteater and are similar in appearance. Tamanduas are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. They mainly eat ants and termites, but they occasionally eat bees, beetles, and insect larvae. They have no teeth and depend on their powerful gizzards to break down their food. Meet Mario, our Tamandua, at the Monterey Zoo.

Sugar Glider

Sugar Gliders are small marsupials in the same general family as a Kangaroo or Koala Bear. They are originally from the rainforests of Australia and Indonesia, and have been domestically bred as household pets in the United States for the last 12-15 years. The best way to enjoy these delightful animals is at the zoo!


The capybara the largest rodent in the world! The “capy” has long, light brown, shaggy hair, a face that looks like a beaver’s, no tail, and slightly webbed feet. Water is key for the capybara, as the animal eats water plants and grasses and uses the water to escape from danger. In fact, a capybara can stay underwater for up to five minutes at a time to hide from predators. You can meet Chip, the Capybara, at the Monterey Zoo.


Cavy can be any of 14 species of South American rodents, including guinea pigs, maras, yellow-toothed cavies, mountain cavies, and rock cavies. Bert and Ernie were hand-raised by our keeper staff in their homes making them education ambassadors at the Monterey Zoo.


An old-timer but very much loved favorite at the Monterey Zoo, Presley enjoys his daily visits from guests offering rose petals for treats. Also known as barking deer and Mastreani deer. Muntjacs are the oldest known deer, thought to have begun appearing 15–35 million years ago. They are native to South Asia and are also found in the lower Himalayas and in some areas of Japan.

Fennec Fox

Trixie and Speedy came to our zoo at two different times from two different places . Their introduction to each other has been interesting. Some days we find them cuddled up together while on others, she won’t let him get close. Go figure! The Monterey Zoo is always an interesting place to be.

Red Fox

Red foxes live in many places, including forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts. They also adapt well to human environments such as farms, suburban areas, and even large communities. The red fox is smart, cunning and adaptable. The Monterey Zoo was asked to adopt Vinny by California Fish and Wildlife after he was deemed unreleasable by the rehab facilities.


There are some 15 species of hedgehog in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This mammal’s name is appropriate because the hedgehog typically roots through hedges looking of food and grunts while doing so – thus the name! Hedgehogs are illegal as pets in California, so come and meet Millhouse and Marge at the Monterey Zoo.


A binturong has a face like a cat’s and a body like a bear’s. They are also called bearcats, but that name is misleading since these animals are not related to either bears or cats. Binturongs are primarily nocturnal, sleeping during the days and moving through their home in the trees looking for fruit at night fun fact: Binturong smell like popcorn! Doc came to our zoo as a very special and generous gift from a friend and breeder in South Carolina. His big personality has attracted a well-deserved fan club. People love to interact with him on our full contact tours.


Flower was hand raised by Monterey Zoo director Charlie Sammut in his home. She’s an awesome contribution the zoo’s educational programs. Skunks are illegal as pets in California but there are ways you can actually work with Flower through Monterey Zoo’s volunteer program – a wonderful opportunity for people who love animals.

Our Animals


Daily Tours
1:00 PM everyday
3:00 PM June – August

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Daily Tours
$20 ages 15 and up
$16 for children 14 & under

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Annual Passes

Enjoy the Zoo year-round!
Individual and Family Plans Available
Starting at only $35

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While providing exemplary animal care, Monterey Zoological Society is dedicated to providing an entertaining yet educational experience which fosters public awareness and respect for all wildlife.

Contact Info

400 River Road, Salinas, CA 93908 Phone: 831-455-1901