Monterrey—Mexico’s third largest city and capital of the state of Nuevo Leon—is set in the spectacular, canyoneering rich, Sierra Madre mountain region of north-west Mexico. Three million residents populate the metropolitan area today, and although there are many diverse things to do in Monterrey, getting to delve into the area’s outskirts, elicits an exciting range of animals to encounter.
The Mexican Prairie Dog, most easily seen on local adventure tours, is neither a dog nor an inhabitant of the prairies, and is typically found in small clusters. The mammal is actually far closer related to the groundhog than it is to any kind of dog. Plus, they live in warrens, not kennels. And while it has been treated as a pest in the past, it is actually key to the ecosystems of Monterey, despite its current endangered status.
The Mexican black bear can also be found in Monterrey’s mountainous areas and their foothills – from where the city’s hot air balloon rides depart. Historically these bears have been severely affected by habitat loss, poaching, and illegal trade in body parts and skins. In recent times however, attitudes towards black bears seem to have improved but poaching remains an issue and climate change could threaten some of the plants and insects which make up the bears’ diet.
The Mexican Grey Wolf only grows to around the size of a large domestic dog, but, as with other wolf breeds, they run and hunt in packs and can be incredibly vicious. They were once extremely endangered, but captivity and breeding efforts in the 70’s ensured their continued survival.
The cenzontle, also known as the Northern mockingbird, has a remarkable talent and ability to copy the calls of other birds, animals and even people. They are easily encountered on hiking tours in and around Monterey, and serve as a wonderful addition to birdwatching expeditions.