Meet the Discovery Center Family

The San Gabriel River is home to a variety of animals, some of which are living at the Discovery Center. Click on one of the images below to learn more about our friends.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Though Cleo is not a native species to the San Gabriel Valley, she and a few other iguanas were found wandering around South El Monte High school. Cleopatra, whose name comes from her tendency to sit perched and poised for attention, was taken in by docents and is admired by all that visit her.

More about Cleopatra

Species
Green Iguana
Iguana iguana
Fun Fact
Green Iguanas have a 'third eye' on the top of their heads called a parietal eye. This 'eye' is a white photosensory organ and does not function the same way as a normal eye does, as it has only a rudimentary retina and lens and cannot form images. It is, however, sensitive to changes in light and dark and can detect movement. This helps the iguana when being stalked by predators from above.

The Professor

The Professor

The Professor is a great horned owl, one of the most common owls in North America. Unlike other owls, however, The Professor is very approachable and friendly. His warm demeanor, accented by his large yellow eyes, welcomes students of all ages to appreciate his beauty. Visitors often comment that they have never seen an owl so close-up before, and The Professor responds with a slight tilt of his head, and a wink!

The Great Horned Owl are found not only throughout North America, but in many parts of South America, make it the most common owl for both continents. Owls are know for having excellent sight and hearing, which helps them when the hunt at night.

More about The Professor

Species
Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus
Fun Facts
The great horned owl is the most common owl in North America
Its "horns" are neither ears nor horns, simply tufts of feathers.

Elvis

Elvis

Elvis, our California King snake, is native to and is one of the most common snakes in California. Though not venomous, Elvis kills his prey (usually mice) through constriction. He is very well-fed, however, and visitors are not to fear “The King”!

More about Elvis

Species
California King Snake
Lampropeltis getula
Fun Fact
In the winter, the California King Snake will usually go deep underground and go into a hibernation-like state.

Naomi

Naomi

Naomi and other red-tailed hawks are very common in our San Gabriel Valley. Hawks like Naomi can be spotted by their slow flight pattern, flapping their wings minimally to conserve energy. Naomi was brought in by residents of the community when they found her with an injured right eye. Despite this, Naomi is doing well and appreciates all her visitors.

More about Naomi

Species
Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis
Fun Fact
The Red-tailed Hawk has significance in Native American culture. Its feathers are considered sacred by some tribes, and are used in religious ceremonies.

Toad

Toad

Though our resident toad doesn’t have a name, he is no stranger to us. He likes to hang out in the water inside his aquarium tank. When it’s feeding time, he might let out a big “croak” if it’s something he really likes. And don’t let the warts on his skin scare you, because to us, he’s nothing but a prince!

More about Toad

Species
California Western Toad
Bufo boreas
Conservation Status
Near Threatened
Fun Fact
The body temperature of a California Western Toad is largely controlled by basking and evaporative cooling. In order to avoid evaporative conditions, they usually spend the daylight hours on the forest floor in the soil under rocks, logs, stumps, or other surface objects or in rodent burrows. In locations where there is little or no hiding cover, they may spend most of the day in the water.

Rufus

Rufus

Though Rufus the Raccoon is a nocturnal mammal, meaning he sleeps during the day and awakes at night to eat, he did not fuss when he was woken up to take this photo. A curious raccoon at five years old, he weighs about 16 pounds, and will probably grow much larger given all the T.L.C. he receives!

Raccoons can be found throughout much of North America, though some populations are found in Germany, Japan, and the Caucasus Region of Europe. Some of their favorite foods include fruits, nuts, and insects. Like Rufus, raccoons are known to be adaptable and can be found in forests, mountains, coastal marshes, and urban areas.

More about Rufus

Species
Raccoon
Procyon lotor
Fun Fact
The most important sense for the raccoon is its sense of touch.The "hyper-sensitive" front paws are protected by a thin horny layer which becomes bendable when wet. Raccoons are able to identify objects before touching them with special hairs called vibrissae located above their sharp, non-retractable claws.

G.I.

G.I.

G.I. is smaller in size than his buddy, Elvis; however, G.I. is just a visitor, since he actually belongs to a G.I. that was deployed to Iraq, but is being cared for and looked over by staff.

More about G.I.

Species
California King Snake
Lampropeltis getula
Fun Fact
There are more than 70 combinations of patterns and coloration, known as morphs, that live in the wild. These generally fall under the basic categories of banded, striped, blotched, or unicolored, with additional variations in color and pattern depending on the particular population. Those found in desert regions generally have black and white bands, while coastal and inland valley individuals tend to be brown and yellow.