This month, our Zooworks winners have shown us that bats don’t have to be scary—these often misunderstood animals are extremely cool, and pretty cute. They also drew lots of different kinds of bats—do you recognize any from the pages of Zoobooks?

Giant_Pandas_Playing3Zootles isn’t just a great way for kids to learn facts about animals—they can also grow creatively by reading the stories and poems in the books. Zootles Pandas contains several stories and poems to spark your child’s imagination. These stories weave together fun characters and plotlines along with scientific facts. By reading these stories, your child will be able to contextualize the information that they’re learning.
Zootles isn’t just a great place to read about animals—it’s a great jumping-off point to start writing about them as well. Encourage your child to write a story or poem incorporating the facts that they’ve learned. It’s a great opportunity for language development and information analysis, along with creativity. Let us know if your young readers try their hand at writing!

 

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

There are lots of land mammals native to the United States, from tiny mice to giant moose. But the island of New Zealand has only two native land mammals, and they’re both bats! (Humans later brought other mammals like sheep, cats, and dogs to the island, but they’re not native.) One of these species, the short-tailed bat, has been successfully bred for the first time at the Auckland Zoo. And not just one baby bat has been born—they’re twins!
The twin bat pups, a boy and a girl, started life at just 4 grams each—around the weight of a small coin. Their mother wasn’t able to properly look after them, but the zookeepers took excellent care of them, keeping them warm and feeding them every four hours. The bats are now a healthy adult weight of around 14 grams (still only about half an ounce—these bats don’t weigh much).
Breeding programs can help threatened and endangered species like short-tailed bats so that they’re around for a long time. And helping one species winds up helping the other plants and animals that they live with in the wild. For example, short-tailed bats are the only pollinators of a rare New Zealand plant called the woodrose, so helping these bats helps these plants too. What other connections can you find between different living things?

Fall is in the air—you’ve probably already started to see Halloween decorations in stores and around your neighborhood. Along with the pumpkins and monsters in these decorations, you might see some amazing but often misunderstood animals: batsMariana_fruit_bat_1! But bats aren’t monsters—they’re mammals just like us. Bats are unique. They’re the only mammals that can fly, and they belong to their own separate group (despite what you might have heard, bats aren’t rodents like mice and rats).
There are over a thousand species of bat. In fact, nearly one of every four mammal species is a kind of bat. Some eat fruit, others eat insects, and others eat more unusual foods, like fish. The largest bats have wingspans of up to six feet, while the littlest ones are the size of a bumblebee and weigh less than a penny.
Some people are frightened by stories linking bats to monsters like vampires, but bats are shy, gentle creatures. In fact, they help us in a lot of ways. They eat annoying (and disease-spreading) insects like mosquitoes, and they help pollinate many of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy. Learning more about bats through Zoobooks, nature centers, and zoos can help make these amazing animals less scary!

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

African_elephant_infant_(6987533809)You’d be surprised how much your little reader has in common with one of the world’s biggest animals. In the latest issue of Zoobies, you and your child can explore everyone’s favorite gentle giant: the elephant. When you read the book together, see how many things that people have in common with elephants— we both play in the water to stay cool and live in loving family groups. What other similarities can you find?
Another great way to bring the book to life for your child is by encouraging them to act out the motions of the elephants in the book. Can they pretend to daintily pluck a small branch with their “trunk” like the elephant on page six? How about marching in big, stomping steps like the herd of elephants on page 12? Let us know how you and your family use Zoobies to learn and play!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

This month’s Zooworks winners have made some larger-than-life drawings of some tiny animals: insects! Each of these drawings shows a huge amount of talent—which one is your favorite?

Giant_Panda_Tai_ShanNow that school’s starting, what’s your kids’ favorite thing to find in their lunch bag? Sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, chips—there’s a lot to choose from! But for pandas, there’s pretty much only one thing on the menu: bamboo! The round faces that we all love are due to pandas’ strong jaw muscles for chewing tough bamboo stalks. This fast-growing grass is crucial to pandas’ lifestyles. Since it’s not very rich in nutrients, eating becomes pandas’ full-time job so that they stay healthy.
Pandas’ dependence upon bamboo has put them at risk— the bamboo forests where they live provide almost their entire diet, and those forests are being destroyed by humans. Losing their food and homes has led to pandas becoming endangered. And while the bamboo forests of China are probably far from your home, the threat of endangerment is present for species that live near you too. Can you and your family identify things that you can do to help the environment and protect animals near you?

 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Summer might be winding down, but there’s still some warm weather left for your kids to go outside and explore some of the animals right in your backyard: insects! The Brookfield Zoo has lots of fun activities for budding entomologists (scientists who study insects) of all ages. You can learn how to make a pillbug habitat, learn the difference between butterflies and moths, and even build a butterfly feeder. There are also virtual games, like Build a Bug, which allows kids to design their own insect, choosing different features for qualities like speed and strength, and then guide their bug through a virtual world and answer insect trivia questions along the way.
You can also learn all kinds of great insect facts on the Brookfield Zoo’s website. For instance, you can learn about how butterflies taste with their feet, which helps them identify the plants that they land on and determine which plants to eat and where to lay their eggs. Meanwhile, ants can lift up to fifty times their own weight with their mandibles (part of their mouths). Imagine if you could taste with your feet or hold up a car with your jaw!

Damselfly_October_2007_Osaka_JapanYou can probably name lots of mammals. Dogs, cat, elephants, whales, humans—the list goes on and on. There are around 5,000 mammal species in the world—but that’s nothing compared to the million species of insects.
If you’re not a fan of insects, that fact might make your skin crawl, but don’t be so quick to judge—we need insects to help produce our food and keep the world beautiful. Insects like bees pollinate flowering plants, and without them, there would be no fruit and few flowers and vegetables. Insects are also an important part of the food chain. They eat the remains of dead plants and animals that would otherwise just stay on the ground, and they in turn are eaten by birds and many other animals. If they disappeared, all living creatures would be in trouble.
Insects aren’t just important, but also surprising and interesting. For instance, while many insects eat leaves and nectar from flowers, some giant water bugs use their powerful legs to catch fish twice their size! The next time you’re outside, see if you can find any insects. What surprises you about them?

 

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

This month, our Zooworks winners took what they learned from reading Zoobooks Zebras and wrote their own poems! Each of these pieces shows lots of creativity and talent—which one is your favorite?

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