Our readers made these fearsomely awesome drawings of alligators and crocodiles- check them out!

Can’t get enough of the gators from the latest issue of Zoobooks? The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has lots of fun facts about these amazing animals on their website. For instance, did you know that while they can snap their jaws shut with incredible speed and force, they don’t have many muscles that let them open their mouths? That enables zoo vets to keep the gators’ mouths shut when giving them medical treatment. But the vets still need to steer clear of the gators’ muscular tails!

Even though alligators are big and strong, they’re still in danger of habitat loss. For a while, they were highly endangered, but new laws have made sure that they didn’t go extinct in the US. Zoos and other wildlife conservation organizations can help save endangered animals– you can even read about what else the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is doing to help!

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You might have grown up reading about how thick-skulled Pachycephalosaurus rammed their heads into each other like bighorn sheep, fighting for social dominance or to impress mates. However, scientists have found that their skulls weren’t tough enough for that kind of action. When they studied the dinosaurs’ skulls, they found that the thick bone would have been too brittle to get smacked around without cracking. Instead, those unusual heads were likely used to attract mates.

There are always new, exciting discoveries being made in science, and the new Zoodinos series is full of brand-new dino facts—place your order today

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ballista

We’re just getting to the time of year when you can see butterflies outside, but in the meantime, check out these awesome butterflies that our readers made!

Runt_and_PaxieWe think of rabbits as tiny animals, but some of them are actually pretty big! The largest rabbits in the world can be up to four feet long and weigh up to 55 pounds. (Though, we should note, the one in this picture, while a huge rabbit, is next to a Shetland Sheepdog, which is much smaller than a full-sized Collie. Still—that’s a big bunny.)

These giant rabbits were selectively bred to be big—they were originally used by humans for fur and meat. The biggest rabbits in the wild are much smaller. One of the biggest species, the antelope jackrabbit, is “only” 24 inches long.

Photo by Stamatisclan

butterfly minnesota zooIt’s easy to be impressed by the biggest animals at the zoo—tall, graceful giraffes, roaring lions, and gentle elephants are always crowd-pleasers. But the Minnesota Zoo is home to some tiny animals that are none the less amazing: butterflies. Their butterfly garden is home to beautiful insects from near and far, and their website is home to tons of fun facts about them. For example, did you know that some butterflies, like this mourning cloak butterfly, hibernate during the winter? Or that butterflies see all the colors that we do, but also ultraviolet colors whose wavelengths are too long for us to see? The more you learn about these incredible animals, the more you’ll realize that the biggest zoo animals aren’t the only ones that are cool!

Photo by SD Dirk

Butterflies and their cousins, moths, are the only insects with scales—their wings are covered with them. These scales are responsible for butterflies’ amazing colors, like the brilliant hue of the blue morpho. That dazzling blue isn’t the result of pigment—it’s all how the light hits their prismatic scales.

Butterflies’ color is even responsible for their name. A common European butterfly, the yellow brimstone, is a bright, sunny color. It’s believed that people once referred to it as a “butter-colored fly,” which got shortened to “butterfly.” This spring, see how many different colors of butterflies you can find!

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Photo by Tony Higsett

One of our favorite things about hosting our regular Kids’ Zooworks contests is seeing young writers and poets stretch their wings. It’s truly wonderful to see our next generation of children work out the rhythm and  cadence of good writing, and put their imaginations to paper. Here are some of our winners for Parrots…

 

It may surprise you to learn that the story “Almost Grown” in Zootles Tigers originally had a very different ending. The first idea presented was that the two little tiger cub sisters, Lila and Nell, were going to catch their prey rather than stumble into the river and let it get away. Reality, or course, is that tigers catch animals and eat them; but in this story we found a way to get this idea across without having to concern our youngest readers about the fate of the beautiful deer in the pictures.

Everything about a tiger demonstrates strength and power, and they are skilled hunters. Teeth and claws of course are essential, but there are more subtle advantages, too. Their coats hide them so they can sneak up close; their tails help them steer mid-leap; their eyesight in the dark is much better than ours. One day soon, Lila and Nell are going to accomplish their goal!ZT_Tigers_Art_pg13

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