House of Zotz

Spectacled owl, Pulsatrix perspicillata

Found in forests from southern Mexico to Argentina, this owl was known to the Aztecs for sounding like “tiles clinking together”. Instead of hooting, they primarily produce a rapid knocking or tooting sound. Because of this call they are called “Coffin Makers” in parts of their range. Imported to England more than 150 years ago, it has long been a popular bird in captivity, and has bred in a number of collections, including the DWA. Young birds have a black mask that eventually retracts to the adult’s face pattern.


Barred owl, Strix varia

Famed as the “Owl with the Southern Accent”, its call (frequently heard around Dallas) has been paraphrased as “Who Cooks for You-all!”. Traditionally a bird of the eastern US, with an isolated population in Southern Mexico, in recent years it has spread to the Pacific Northwest, where it out-competes and hybridizes with the threatened Northern Spotted owl. Barred owls thrive in suburbs, and quickly invade habitats where primary forest has been destroyed. They are more likely than other owls to be seen in the day time. Most of their prey is rodents.


Seba’s short-tailed bat, Carollia perspicillata

In zoos, colonies of this species are like yeast — a few sent to another zoo soon reproduce to the carrying capacity of their exhibit, and more colonies can be established from there. From a few importations more than 30 years ago, there are now more than 6,000 of these fruit-eating bats distributed among more than 30 North American collections. This is a widespread species, found from Mexico to Paraguay. In the Mayan epic, the Popol Vuh, a bat, Zotz, stole the head of the Hero God Hunahpu for the Gods of the Underworld to use in a ballgame.