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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 think of little cats, you probably picture the small domestic cats that people have as pets. However, there are dozens of kinds of little cats that live in the wild. These little cats vary widely in size, appearance, and behavior. The biggest of the little cats is the puma, which at 9 feet long (tail included) is anything but little. It can leap 30 feet in a single bound and can even jump 18 feet straight up in the air! Meanwhile, the smallest of the little cats, the rusty-spotted cat, is only two feet long and weighs just three pounds- only a quarter the weight of a housecat.
All wild cats are distantly related to the domestic cats we know and love today, but housecats probably descended from the African wildcat. These friendly animals were domesticated 12,000 years ago. The next time you see a pet cat, stop and think about its wild relatives and look for the traits it has in common with the little cats you read about in Zoobooks!
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Starting now through March 8, enter for your chance to win a free subscription to the newly offered Zoobooks digital magazine! Confirm yourself as a Zoobooks Facebook fan by visiting the Digital Magazine Giveaway page on our Facebook profile. Even gain additional entries by following @Zoobooks on Twitter!
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.
Hunting at night is something that owls do better than any other bird. When hawks and eagles sleep, owls take over. They hunt the same areas and many of the same kinds of prey. Because of the darkness, owls must use different hunting skills than the daytime hunters. When they hunt, owls do not soar like eagles. They do not use long-range vision like hawks. Instead, they fly close to the ground, listening and watching for their prey in the dark.
Have you ever wondered exactly how an owl hunts so well in the dark? Lucky for you, Zoobooks Owls explains it! To hunt, an owl perches silently on a branch. Then it watches and listens for movements below. When it sees or hears an animal, the owl swoops down and flies close to the ground. As it gets closer and closer, it stops beating its wings and glides in for the attack.
After capturing its prey, the owl flies back to its perch. Unless it has something big, like a rabbit, it carries the prey in its bill. Owls usually swallow their prey whole—even teeth, bones, and fur. If the prey is too large, the owl breaks it into pieces. But it still swallows bones and tail. The owl cannot digest everything that it swallows. Some things, like teeth, bones, and hair, are packed into pellets and spit out. If you find owl pellets and gently take them apart, you can see what an owl has eaten—it’s pretty cool!
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?
“Whooo…whooo…” When we hear this familiar sound of an owl’s call it can send shivers down our spines. But why are owls such mysterious creatures? Perhaps an owl’s night habits are what make it seem so spooky. Owls fly silently, without even a whisper of wings moving through the air. It’s as though they appear out of nowhere – like ghosts on wings. What strange powers do owls possess that they can fly and hunt so easily on even the darkest of nights?
Owls possess unusual powers of sight and hearing, but they are not supernatural powers. They are natural adaptations that let them live most efficiently in their nocturnal environment. Owls have ideal bodies for night living. In fact, they have the best night vision of any creature on earth! Their hearing is even more remarkable. An owl can hear the tiny sound of a mouse stepping on a twig from 75 feet away. That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?
Now you see why there is no real reason to fear owls. Their habits actually make them helpful to humans, for owls play a very important role in nature. By hunting rodents, insects, and small birds, owls help to maintain a natural balance of plant and animal life. If it weren’t for owls and other predators, the number of these animals would zoom out of control. Check out your latest issue of Zoobooks to read more about what makes owls so great!
As this month’s Kids Zooworks contest showed us, kids can be pretty amazing artists. Check out these winning drawings from our current Zoobooks issue, Snakes. We can see great imagination at work in these unique drawings of snakes – clearly these kids have learned a lot! Hopefully you enjoy this inspiring artwork as much as we did.