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Despite their simple name, African wild dogs are fascinating animals, and the Bronx Zoo knows all about these endangered canines. Even though they are only distantly related, African wild dogs have similar characteristics to domestic dogs and wolves, such as their social nature and pack mentality. They often interact with one another through elaborate “greeting ceremonies,” which include face licking, tail wagging, squealing, and roughhousing. They are also known as “painted dogs” because of their brown, black, and white-dappled fur. No two African wild dogs have the same color pattern on their fur, which makes it easy to identify individuals.
African wild dogs can give birth to litters of 6 to 12 pups, but may have as many as 18. The entire pack helps take care of the pups, which are born between March and June, and do not open their eyes until nearly two weeks after birth. By the time they are a year old, the pups are able to hunt and run 48 mph for over an hour at a time.
There are many kinds of wild dogs in the world. They include wolves, coyotes, jackals, and foxes. While foxes mainly live and hunt alone, wolves, coyotes, jackals, and other wild dogs are well known for their group coordination. These well organized groups are known as packs. Within each pack of wild dogs is a specific canine leader who makes decisions and settles arguments between members of the group. Packs of wild dogs raise their young together, with every adult raising and caring for the pups. Wolf packs, for example, often leave an older female wolf behind to babysit when the rest must go out and hunt.
While wolves and other wild dogs are perfectly able to hunt small prey alone, hunting bigger animals such as caribou, zebras, and other large prey may take the whole pack. For example, the short African wild dog sometimes forms packs of up to 60 or more in order to hunt zebra. Packs often use special strategies for separating weak or young individuals away from the herd. During a hunt, each pack member has a specific job, either chasing, startling, or stealthily trapping large prey.
Turtles are strange-looking creatures. The shells on their backs are like roofs that they carry with them wherever they go. No other animals in the world have shells quite like these. The shell has been the secret of the turtle’s success for millions of years.
Like dinosaurs, turtles are primitive reptiles that first appeared on earth about 200 million years ago. These early turtles had smaller shells than most modern turtles. The small shells left the turtles’ heads exposed. As dangerous predators began to appear, many turtles gradually developed larger shells that allowed their heads to fit inside.
Today, dinosaurs no longer roam the earth. But turtles keep plodding along, mostly unchanged over the years. Their shells give them excellent protection, and this has helped them adapt to all but the coldest parts of the world. They live in jungles, mountains, rivers, deserts, and in the sea.
There are more than 200 different species of turtles in the world. They range in size from tiny speckled tortoises, which weigh less than one-half pound, to monstrous leatherback turtles, which can weigh 1,500 pounds! Most of these species fit into one of three main groups—freshwater turtles, sea turtles, or tortoises. Be sure to check out Zoobooks Turtles to learn even more fun facts about turtles!
As Zootles Parrots illustrates, some parrots build their nests in holes in the ground. Some peck holes in termite mounds. Most nest inside holes in trees. And generally you will only find parrots in areas where the weather is very warm.
Scientist Don Brightsmith studies scarlet macaws in Peru. He saw that people were cutting down the big rain forests where macaws like to build their nests. So Dr. Brightsmith invented a birdhouse that’s perfect for macaws. He cut holes in plastic pipes, inserted a metal disc at the bottom, and hung the pipes from tree branches. The macaws laid their eggs inside! Now Dr. Brightsmith can “drop in” on his birdhouses to make sure the baby macaws are healthy.
Though parrots only live in warm weather climates, you’ll find a lot of other birds in your yard or a park. To spot them, first open your ears. Often, you’ll hear a bird’s song before you see the bird. Once you spot a bird, use binoculars to look closer. What colors are its feathers? How big is it? To learn more about a bird you’ve seen, find its picture in a book. The book will tell you what the bird eats, where it lives, and how it makes its nest. What birds have you noticed near your home?
Does the Pittsburgh Zoo really have flying monkeys around? The answer is no, but the white, heart-shaped faces of barn owls have led some people to call them “monkey owls.” And the Pittsburgh Zoo certainly does have barn owls!
These interesting owls were once plentiful across Pennsylvania and other parts of North America. As owls that prefer open spaces, barn owls moved into barn lofts and the attics of old houses when many of the world’s forests were cleared to make room for cities and farms throughout the 20th century.
With the decline of farming in North America, however, barns and other shelters barn owls have typically utilized are also on the decline, which threatens these owls. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is conducting a breeding program and tracking research to help bring back the population.
We can help owls by setting aside wilderness ares where they can live. Forests can be selectively cut to leave corridors of trees for wildlife. We can also enforce laws that protect owls from being hunted and senselessly killed. A wise old owl would say that by working together, we can build a promising future for owls the world over.
What other unexpected tibias about owls are waiting for you at the Pittsburgh Zoo? All we will divulge is that this zoo not only answers your questions, but has some games to offer, too!
Penguins slide. Whoosh! Penguins dive. Splash! Penguins sing. Squawk!
Penguins aren’t the only ones on the go. Toddlers are pretty active, too! You can look for opportunities during your day to move like a penguin with your toddler. Waddle across a room to get a toy. Slide on a smooth surface to grab a snack. Scatter soft pillows or sheets of construction paper on the floor. Then hop like rock-hopper from one spot to another. Playtime is a great way to get your child smiling!
In the Language Boost section Zoobies Penguins, you can also find ways to make reading with your toddler tons of fun. When reading Zoobies aloud, look for opportunities to change the tone and pace of your reading. Don’t hesitate to add a little gusto here and there. Exaggerate size words – little, big, really big. Pause before turning pages to create a little suspense. Stretch out movement words, such as splaassssh. Expressive readings are magical – especially when a child is engaged in the moment. Such interactive reading experiences can even help boost your child’s language development.
For even more penguin fun, go to www.zoobooks.com to watch live penguins waddling to the sea. Click on Secret Jungle. Use the password found in the Zoobies & You section, and then enter ZooTube. Enjoy!
No matter where you live, you probably have several different kinds of owls living near you! More than 100 species of owls occupy a variety of habitats around the world. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Some owls live in cold climates; others live in warm climates. Owls make their homes in dry deserts, rain-soaked jungles, thick forests, and open plains.
As you read your latest issue of Zoobooks Owls, you’ll also learn that owls nest in unusual places. Some small owls rely on woodpecker holes in trees and in giant cacti. Barn owls may choose barns, caves, or mines. Burrowing owls nest underground in the former burrows of prairie dogs, foxes, and ground squirrels. To ward off danger, the distress call of a burrowing owl chick sounds like the rattle of a prairie rattlesnake.
Chicks, or baby owls, stay with their parents until they are about three months old. They soon find their own hunting territories, where they may stay for the rest of their lives. A mother owl gives her little chicks constant care for their first three months. She feeds them, protects them from danger, and teaches them to fly and hunt. The father owl often helps the mother raise their young. The father may even take his turn sitting on the eggs. After the eggs hatch, he goes hunting and brings back food for the whole family. Find these and even more fun facts in Zoobooks Owls!
Here are some of the winners from the Kids Zooworks contest featured in our most recent issue of Zoobooks, Owls. Each month we receive hundreds of creative animal drawings from our readers, and every one of these is truly inspiring. We can see that this month’s winners know a lot about owls, and they clearly are a very imaginative bunch! We certainly had a hard timing picking a favorite from all of these unique drawings, what about you?
P stands for… pretty, proud, peculiar, powerful, playful parrots! Some people say parrots love to hear and repeat “p words” such as “pretty parrot.” Parrots are pretty smart, but they can’t actually “talk” the way people do. They’re more like copycats. They repeat sounds and words they’ve heard – which must be why they like to repeat their own name so much!
Another fun fact you might not know about parrots is that they have four toes. Two point forward and two point backward. This gives them a very strong grip – so strong they can even hang upside-down! All parrots also have hooked beaks. A parrot uses its strong beak to crack hard nuts and sees, and uses the sharp hook at the tip to pull out the soft parts of the fruit.
Most parrots are brightly colored, but many have at least some green feathers, which help them stay hidden in the leaves of trees. Parrots need to keep these feathers clean and tidy to help them fly better and stay healthy. They use their beaks to get ruffled feathers back into place and get rid of dirt or bugs. This special bird-cleaning is called preening. Enjoy reading your newest Zootles issue to learn even more about parrots!