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If you’re a big fan of the little cats from the latest issue of Zoobooks, check out the little cats at ZooAmerica in Hershey, Pennsylvania! This zoo is home to several kinds of little cats, ranging from the small, sleek ocelot to the enormous mountain lion, also known as the puma. ZooAmerica’s website lets you explore these animals and many others. For example, did you know that ocelots can swim? The website also gives conservation information about these amazing animals so that you can learn more about endangered species and get ideas about how to protect little cats in the wild.
With summer vacation coming up, you might even be able to pay the little cats at ZooAmerica a visit, but even if you can’t see them in real life, you can still have fun with the animals at this zoo with their online puzzle! Putting together the puzzle pieces in this game shows you a picture of one of their animals. When you put together the medium-level puzzle, you can see a picture of one of the biggest little cats!
Mother’s Day is coming up soon, but human parents aren’t the only ones who deserve a little extra love. Peggy, a type of little cat called a caracal, was named “Mom of the Year” at the Oregon Zoo, where she raised her three kittens Mzuke, Binti, and Aziza. Even though it was her first litter, Peggy was an attentive and loving mother.
Her kittens, which you can see here, looked very different as babies than they do now as adults. Grown-up caracals have very large tufted ears which they use to hear their prey when they’re hunting. When the kittens were very small, their ears were small and flat against their heads, but they perked up in no time. The games that the kittens played helped them learn the skills they would use as hunters when they grew up. Adult caracals can jump ten feet in the air and catch prey two to three times their size!
Mzuke, Binti, and Aziza grew up quickly, but who knows? Pretty soon, Mzuke, Binti, and Aziza might be starting families of their own!
When you go outside this spring, you might see birds gathering bits of twigs and grass to build their nests. As you can probably imagine, there are as many different kinds of nests as there are different kinds of birds. Tiny birds, like the ruby-throated hummingbird, make very small nests. On the other end of the scale, the bald eagles featured in this month’s issue of Zoobooks make enormous nests called eyries that can be as big as a small truck! Pairs of bald eagles work together to build these nests at the tops of tall trees and on rocky cliffs.
To learn more about the different nests that different birds build, you can check out this activity on the National Zoo’s website. In this interactive game, you can look at pictures of unusual nests and use the information provided to match each bird to its home. The activity has different levels of difficulty, so everyone in the family can join in the fun. Maybe you’ll be inspired to head outside and do some bird-watching of your own!
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.
North American river otters may look adorable, but their physical characteristics are for more than just cute looks. Their willowy body, powerful legs and webbed feet allow them to swim against underwater currents. They can also close their ears and nostrils underwater, relying on their eyes and whiskers to sense their environment. To help keep them warm, otters also have thick, brown, water-resistant fur. Still, otters are fun to look at, so why not see them every day with some otter wallpaper for your computer, courtesy of the Los Angeles Zoo?
Thanks to their high metabolism, North American river otters always have tons of energy fueling their playful antics. As semi-aquatic animals, they frolic both in and out of water and can even hold their breath underwater for up to eight minutes! One of their favorite activities is to slide down muddy slopes into the rivers, streams, lakes, and swamps they call home. When they finally do get tired, otters return to their dens through an underwater entrance tunnel that leads them to a nest alongside the water’s shore.
Did you know the saki monkey lives in South America and has black, gray, or reddish brown fur but a naked, furless face? Are you trying to learn what type of animal a kinkajou is and how it can see so well at night? The interactive map of Miami Metro Zoo’s new exhibit, Amazon and Beyond, has got you covered! Read the featured animal profiles of the various birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals that live there.
From the endangered harpy eagle and its six foot long wingspan, to the pacu fish and its human-like teeth, there are plenty of animal wonders to discover. When you’re done, there’s even more interactive fun to check out with the full map of the entire zoo. Learn more about animals such as the Giant Eland, the world’s largest antelope, and other countless exotic —and sometimes downright strange— animals with a simple click of the mouse.
Since it is only recently that more than a few scientists have traveled to the Arctic to study polar bears in the wild, there is still a lot we have to learn about them and their behavior. You can be like a polar bear researcher too, thanks to Alaska Zoo’s polar bear cam!
While polar bears are usually solitary animals when they are not mothering cubs, they do enjoy one another’s company more than we once thought. Now we know that a lot of the time we see two polar bears fighting they are just doing it for fun.
However, polar bears are sometimes competitive with each other, especially about food. They will often chase off other polar bears that may try scavenging their hard earned meal from them. Females are also very protective of their young cubs. If they feel their cubs are being threatened, these mothers will not hesitate to drive off much larger male polar bears and other predators.
In a lot of ways, Children’s Zoo Senior Keeper Debra Barry of Adelaide Zoo in southern Australia finds raising young koalas similar to raising human babies. She describes them as very sensitive animals that are conscious of new things, places, and people. So, when baby koalas Lola and Cricket were found alone in the wild, their mothers chased away by dogs, Debra found it important to have many people help raise them from the start. Now, as the two koalas grow older, they become more and more comfortable interacting with and seeing new people in public. Also like human babies, koalas spend a lot of time eating and resting. They will sit motionless for about 16 to 18 hours every day, usually sleeping. When they do move, they generally spend the time eating. Their diet consists almost entirely of eucalyptus leaves that take a lot of energy to digest, making all that shut-eye a necessity.
While there are many populations of koalas across Australia, each one is different. Southern koalas typically have longer and browner fur than their gray northern relatives. This wooly fur coat protects them from both the hot and cold temperatures in their environment, and also keeps them dry when it rains. Southern koalas are also larger and heavier than northern koalas, weighing approximately 20 pounds more. During the early part of the 20th century, southern koalas were mostly eliminated from southern Australia, although the region has since been repopulated with other types of koala. To learn more, check out the koala page on Adelaide Zoo’s website!
When the Saint Louis Zoo calls spiders spineless, it’s not being mean… it’s just telling the truth! Spiders, after all, belong to a fascinating group of animals without backbones: invertebrates. Spiders and insects are both known as arthropods. These creatures can do a lot of good in the world, such as break down waste and pollinate plants, but they often don’t get much recognition for it. However, thanks to the Monsanto Insectarium of the Saint Louis Zoo, visitors can watch in awe as spiders, insects, and many other types of bug invertebrates go about their daily lives doing so much for the environment.
Not very many exhibits in North America showcase only bugs. But with over 100 species of live insects and more than 20 exhibit areas, Monstanto Insectarium gives people an insight to spiders, insects, and more like never before! With “Not Home Alone,” the Insectarium makes discovering bugs a hands-on experience. Guests are able to peer under the lids and peek into the drawers of various discovery zones in a complete garden, front porch, and kitchen. Other exhibits let visitors watch butterflies flutter and bees pollinate flowers and plants. Admission to the Insectarium is free, so check it out online to plan your visit!
Not only does the Fort Worth Zoo offer complete instructions for the best origami turtle ever, but they also provide a lot of turtle fun facts so you can give your creation some personality. And if you live in Texas, there’s even more family fun: help them out by becoming a Texas Turtle Watcher.
The future of turtles once seemed secure. For millions of years, their shells were the only protection they needed. Today, they also need the protection of people. Turtles face many of the same problems that other wild animals face. Some have been overhunted, while others are threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, and the loss of important food sources.
People can make a difference in the lives of wild animals—for good or for bad. Thousands of people work in conservation programs as professionals or volunteers in order to save sea turtles. Much of the work takes place on the nesting beaches, where turtles are monitored, measured, and tagged. There are others who help hatchling sea turtles find their way to the sea. Check out the Fort Worth Zoo online to learn more about what you can do to help.