2977317822_cb9b3f8d57_o (1)You know dolphins. They’re gray, and the live in the ocean. Right? Not always! If you’ve read the latest issue of Zootles, you’ve probably learned quite a few fun new facts about dolphins. And one of the greatest things about reading is that once you get curious about a subject, you can’t help but want to learn more. For example, did you know that freshwater Amazon river dolphins are pink? It’s true!
And once you’re done reading (or rereading) Zootles, there are plenty of other places you can look for more information about dolphins. Take a trip to your local library (if it’s nice out, you can even walk there!) and check out some books on your favorite animals—the librarians there can help you find both stories and nonfiction books about them. Your favorite zoo or aquarium can be a great resource too. Even if you’re not able to make it out there in person, most zoos have websites with photos and fun facts about their animals—some even have videos, games, and crafts for you to try!

 

Photo credit: Flickr user rruiz3960

Breeding_Ostrich_BerlinWhether you’re dyeing eggs this weekend or not, you’ll love the fun facts about ostriches and their eggs on the San Diego Zoo’s website! Ostriches have the largest eggs in the world—the liquid inside one of them is equal to about 24 chicken eggs. And while it shouldn’t be surprising that these huge eggs hatch into huge birds, but we’re still amazed every time we remember that ostriches can be up to 9 feet tall! Their long legs enable them to run up to 43 miles per hour, and they even use their legs as defense. When threatened, they can kick predators with their strong legs and clawed feet—a swift kick from an ostrich can kill a lion!

 

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

TeTuatahianuiOur most recent issue of Zoobooks, Ostriches and Other Ratites, covers the biggest birds in the world—and some little ones, too. Kiwis are about the size of chickens, but what these birds lack in size, they make up for in quirkiness.
These shy birds from New Zealand have thick, soft feathers that look almost like fur—in fact, fuzzy brown kiwi fruits got their names because they look like these birds! Kiwis are the only birds in the world with nostrils right at the end of their bills. This helps them sniff out the insects and grubs that they eat. They’re one of the only birds in the world with a good sense of smell. Of all the birds, kiwis lay the largest eggs compared to their size. A five-pound kiwi can lay a one-pound egg—that would be like a human woman giving birth to a baby that weighed about thirty pounds!

 

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

This month, our amazing readers created these pictures of some of the world’s biggest birds. Which picture is your favorite?

 

 

Atlantic_spotted_dolphin_(Stenella_frontalis)_NOAADolphins are both very similar to humans and very different. We have long regarded dolphins as some of the most intelligent animals, and they’re highly social. They live in family groups, like humans do, and they even communicate with each other through a series of clicks and squeals that make up their own “language.” Some scientists even specialize in trying to learn what dolphins are “saying” to each other.
Even though we have a lot in common with dolphins, there are some big differences. For instance, while dolphins are mammals like us, their aquatic lifestyle means that they do a lot of things differently, including breathing and sleeping. When they sleep, dolphins float on one side and keep one eye open. And to breathe, dolphins take in air through their blowholes when they surface, and then seal up their blowholes when they’re swimming—like how we hold our noses when we go underwater! What other similarities and differences can you and your family find between humans and dolphins?

 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Ostrich-racing-at-canterbury-parkWhat’s your favorite way to get around? Car? Bike? …Ostrich? It’s true– two thousand years ago, the Egyptian queen Arsinoe rode an ostrich with a special saddle. And while you probably wouldn’t try to get to the grocery store by ostrich, people still ride ostriches for fun in races today.

Ostriches have been important to humans for thousands of years. These easily domesticated birds have been used as everything from cart-pullers to sheep herders to food sources– a single ostrich egg weighs almost four pounds and can feed up to ten people. However, ostriches nearly went extinct due to humans killing them for their feathers. Ostriches are now thriving, though, so with further care, these enormous birds will be around for years to come!

 

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

This month, our Zooworks winners have drawn some fantastic camels! Each of these drawings shows a lot of talent and creativity—do you have a favorite?

Schwimmender-Pinguin

Penguins always look dapper, with their tuxedo-patterned coats. Even though they might look like they have fur, penguins, like all other birds, have feathers. Their feathers are very thick and are coated with oil to help keep them warm and let them sleekly swim through icy water. Even the colors of their feathers help them to survive by making them harder for predators to see while they’re swimming. Their black back feathers help them blend in with the deep, dark water when viewed from above, and their white tummies blend in with the bright sunlight that streams through the ocean, making them harder to see from below. Can you think of any other animals whose fur or feathers are specially adapted to live in certain climates?

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Camel_seitlich_trabendHappy Hump Day! To reward yourself for getting halfway through the week, take a break and check out the Alaska Zoo’s website. They’ve got all kinds of fun facts about animals, including the ones featured in the most recent Zoobooks: camels!
If you think of camels as animals that live in the hot desert, you might feel bad for the camels living up in Alaska—but don’t worry! In their natural habitats, Bactian camels survive temperatures of -40° F, so the Alaska Zoo is just fine by them. And that’s not the only thing these tough animals can withstand— Bactrian camels can drink spring water with a higher salt content than seawater, something that no other animal can do. They even withstood decades of nuclear testing in their native home, the Gobi Desert in China.
But even though wild camels are extremely tough, they’re in trouble. With only 1,000 camels left in the wild, they’re critically endangered. You can help the camels by visiting The Wild Camel Protection Foundation. Find out what you can do to ensure that these amazing animals are around for years to come!

 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

 

2011_Trampeltier_1528With the January weather, you might find yourself wishing you lived someplace warm, like the hot deserts where camels make their homes. But even though camels live in deserts, that doesn’t mean that they never have to face the cold. Bactrian camels (the ones with two humps) live in mountainous regions of Asia where it gets to be 122°F in the summer, but -20° on winter nights. Camels are tough, though—in addition to thriving in extreme temperatures, they’re also famously able to go for long periods without water. When it’s hot out, they can go a week without a drink—and when it’s cooler, they can last up to six months without water. They don’t even get much moisture from their food—their diet includes dry sticks, salty plants, and thorns. (By the way, they don’t store water in their humps—those are full of fat!)
Thanks to their hardiness, camels have been valued by people all over the world for thousands of years. You’re probably familiar with domesticated camels in Asia and Africa, but there are other camels closer to home that you might not have thought about. Some humpless wild camels in South America have been domesticated, creating two animals that you might know: alpacas and llamas.

 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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