maze craftIf your kids are getting stir-crazy this summer, check out the fun crafts on the San Diego Zoo’s website! A lot of them tie in nicely with the animal facts in our magazines and books. For example, if your kids are fans of this summer’s Animal Babies issue of Zoobooks, you’ve got to try the “Mommy and Me Maze” craft. In this craft, kids can make a maze leading a mother animal to her babies. Give it a try, and be sure to send us pictures of your kids’ creations!

Giraffe_at_Hilton.pngGiraffes look a little ungainly. Their long legs and even longer necks make them some of the lankiest creatures on earth, and they probably look most graceful when they’re standing still. However, these animals need to be able to escape from predators, so when giraffes need to, they can sprint at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour! They can’t keep up that speed for long, though.

With your child, take a look at the animals you see at the zoo and in your neighborhood. What different kinds of ways of getting around do you see? Can you try running like a giraffe, a penguin, or a squirrel the next time you play make-believe?

 

 

 

Photo by Matt P. Barry

Our readers have drawn some adorable baby animals this month—check them out!

Lots of baby animals look like smaller, chubbier versions of their parents—baby beavers look like beavers. Puppies look like dogs. Kittens look like cats. In some animal species, though, babies look completely different from their parents—why?

In some cases, offspring look different from their parents in order to better blend in with their surroundings to hide from predators. Fuzzy, gray baby swans aren’t as dignified-looking as their sleek, white parents, but their drab coloring keeps them safe. (Plus, in the Ugly Duckling’s defense, baby swans are actually pretty adorable.) White-tailed deer fawns have a spotty pattern on their backs that goes away when they grow up—that dappled coat works as camouflage in a sun-dappled forest.

Other animals’ life cycles mean that they undergo a lot of changes from birth to adulthood. Tadpoles grow legs and lose their gills when they become frogs, caterpillars develop butterfly wings, and while kangaroo joeys look like fuzzy mini-adults once they’re a few months old, newborn kangaroos are the size of a bumblebee, hairless, and helpless. Their different methods of development mean that they don’t share much of a family resemblance with their parents for a while!3585948807_cb69ff0a2d_o

Sauropod dinosaurs get a lot of attention for their long necks, and for good reason– they’re the longest-necked animals ever discovered. Some sauropods’ necks stretched fifty feet– six times the length of a giraffe’s. But their necks aren’t their only outstanding feature. Diplodocus is one of the longest dinosaurs ever discovered, and a lot of that length is in their slender, whip-like tail. This tail could reach lengths of up to forty-five feet.

Why did Diplodocus have such a long tail? Scientists aren’t sure. It might have been used to thrash out at predators, or maybe even to make a loud sound like a cracking whip. Paleontologists are still working to discover more!

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Illustration by Dmitry Bogdanov

Congratulations to this month’s Zooworks winners for their amazing poems and stories about birds of prey!

Owls are some of the world’s most beloved birds of prey: their big eyes and round faces are pretty adorable! But what actually makes an owl an owl– what separates it from other birds of prey?

Like all birds of prey, owls have keen eyesight and sharp beaks and claws. Owls’ eyes face forward like ours, giving them what’s called binocular vision. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so they turn their heads to see what’s going on to their left and right. The feathers on their round faces help funnel light to their eyes so they can see better in the dark, and they also help direct sound to their keen ears. The tufts of feathers on top of most owls’ heads aren’t actually their ears, though– like all birds, their ears are tiny openings on their heads. Those big tufts are probably for camouflage or to signal to other owls.

Good hearing and eyesight help owls to hunt during the night– just about all owl species are nocturnal, so they need extra-sharp senses to hunt in the dark! They also have soft-edged feathers so that they can fly silently and take their prey by surprise.

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Photo by Charlesjsharp

 

Harpy eagles are some of the world’s strangest birds of prey. They’re named after the Harpies from Greek mythology, which were said to be wind spirits with the body of a bird and the face of a human. If people went missing, it was said that they’d been carried away by Harpies. Harpy eagles have been known to carry things off too– they’re apex predators, and their main prey are monkeys and sloths.

Harpy eagles have the largest talons of any living eagle, and their wingspans can reach nearly seven and a half feet. Overall, they’re pretty fearsome predators, but don’t let that scare you away– look at their goofy faces!

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Photo by Bjoyn Christian Torrissen

Bird-in-HandsThe school year’s winding down, but there are lots of fun ways to keep your kids thinking creatively over the summer! Zoo Atlanta’s website is a great place to start. In addition to posting information about the amazing animals that live there, Zoo Atlanta has tips for awesome crafts for your family to do. If your little readers have been enjoying Zoobooks Birds of Prey, be sure to check out these instructions for making a colorful construction paper bird!

 

The latest Zootles issue highlights baby animals– cute, tiny, critters. But not all animal babies are small.

Blue whales are the largest animals ever to live– bigger than the biggest dinosaurs. So it makes sense that their babies are the biggest, too, Newborn blue whales are twenty-three feet long and weigh about thirty tons, and they gain about two hundred pounds a day. When fully grown, they can be a hundred feet long and one hundred and sixty tons!

On land, the biggest baby is the African elephant. Newborns can weigh up to 270 pounds! Elephants also have the longest gestation period of all the mammals– a mother elephant is pregnant for twenty-two months before giving birth!

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Photo by Derek Keats

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