Circus acts have made white tigers famous—these striking felines’ black stripes stand out against their white coats, and they have dazzling blue eyes. But while white tigers are beautiful to look at, they’re a sign of poor breeding practices that are bad for the animals.
White fur in tigers is the result of a rare genetic mutation. In the wild, white tigers are rare, because the odds are slim that two unrelated tiger parents would carry the mutated gene that results in a white cub. However, some people have bred closely related tigers or even purposely bred white tigers to produce white offspring. This isn’t good for the tigers; the genes that cause white fur are related to medical problems.
Good zoos that are committed to protecting animals don’t purposely breed white tigers. Instead, they work to build a diverse gene pool that produces healthy offspring for generations to come. Besides—healthy, orange tigers are beautiful too!
Photo by Tony Hisgett
Malayan tigers are critically endangered– there are only 250 of them left in the wild. Protecting these tigers’ habitats is an important way to help them– scientists and governments around the world work together to find ways to preserve the land the tigers live on and to protect these environments from changing climates that make it harder for animals and plants to live there.
Another important way that scientists are helping to save Malayan tigers is through breeding programs at zoos. They’re able to bring together tigers from different gene pools to keep the species healthy, and by studying the tigers in zoos, scientists learn more about what tigers in the wild need to thrive. There are two Malayan tiger cubs at the Bronx Zoo– you can watch a video of them on the zoo’s website!
Penguins are some of the world’s most popular birds: their stout bodies, striking coloring, and endearing waddling gaits make them easy to love. But they’re not just cute to look at—they’re incredibly well-adapted to life in icy water.
Penguins might look awkward on land, but their fat helps keep them warm, and their streamlined bodies allow them to cut through water with surprising speed and grace. Penguins can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour swimming.
Even penguins’ coloring helps them survive in the water. They’re counter-shaded, meaning that their backs are black and their bellies are white. On land, that makes them stand out, but when they’re swimming underwater, it helps them blend in. From underneath, a swimming penguin’s white belly blends in with the light streaming from the sky. From above, a penguin’s dark back camouflages with the dark ocean below!
Photo by Ken Funakoshi
Tigers are the largest cat species in the world– a male can be over eleven feet long from his nose to the tip of his tail and can weigh up to 675 pounds– and are well-known for their orange coats with black stripes. They also have white spots on the backs of their ears. Scientists think that tigers use these spots, called ocelli, to communicate with each other. Tigers are also one of the only cat species that is comfortable in water; they can swim across rivers 4.3 miles wide and can swim up to 18 miles in a day.
Tigers are endangered animals, with just a few hundred indivduals left of some subspecies. A hundred years ago, there were about 100,000 tigers in the wild, but today, scientists estimate that there are somewhere between 1,500 and 4,000 wild tigers left. Protecting the environment and supporting good zoos with scientifically-led conservation programs can help!
The National Wildlife Federation will continue Zoobooks’ legacy of bringing fun and engaging learning opportunities to children of all ages as part of its iconic Ranger Rick® publications. The first Ranger Rick branded Zoobooks launched with the February 2018 issue.
Being part of the National Wildife Federation family will now give us a bigger and better opportunity to help our titles connect kids with wildlife, and complement the National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to reach more kids and families with wildlife learning fun.
The Zoobooks acquisition adds 130 award-winning titles to the Ranger Rick library, new families to the Ranger Rick community and new outreach opportunities to inspire kids and families to love, protect and save wildlife. Ranger Rick and Zoobooks reach family audiences with different wildlife learning experiences. Ranger Rick magazines engage kids with information, stories and activities on a range of animals and conservation issues, while Zoobooks titles focus on different aspects of one animal or group of animals covering topics from anatomy to socialization.
Developing a love for animals in our children is crucial to saving wildlife for the next generation—but we also need your help to protect […]
Turtles come in all shapes and sizes. They’re ancient animals– the oldest known sea turtles lived 120 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs. Today, they’re found all over the world, on the land and in the sea.
There are 356 species of turtles alive today. They range from tiny speckled tortoises from southern Africa, at just three inches long, to massive ocean-dwelling leatherbacks that weigh over 1,500 pounds. Visit a zoo or nature center by your home to find out what kinds of turtles live near you!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Zoobooks is a member of the National Wildlife Federation, and this Valentine’s Day, we’re teaming up with them to help save the monarch butterfly. Here’s a message from the NWF:
If there’s any wildlife species that needs lots of love this Valentine’s Day, it’s the monarch butterfly!
Monarch populations plummeted almost 90% in 20 years due to habitat loss. These magnificent butterflies have lost MILLIONS of acres of prairie grassland habitat—where milkweed host plants that monarch caterpillars feed on and nectar-providing wildflowers grow. But the newly introduced Recovering America’s Wildlife Act can provide the help needed for monarchs to recover and thrive.
On February 14th, we’ll deliver a “Be Mine” Valentine’s message attached to a monarch butterfly plushie to every member of Congress. Please add your name to the card. Urge YOUR representative to be a Valentine for monarchs by supporting the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
One of the important roles of zoos in wildlife conservation is to help endangered species. Scientists are able to study the animals in zoos to get more information about how to protect their wild counterparts, and they’re able to manage breeding programs to help keep the gene pool healthy and diverse. Plus, zoos give people an opportunity to learn and care about these endangered animals, so that they can work to protect endangered species too.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens are home to dozens of endangered animals, including some species that are on the verge of extinction. These species include Sclater’s blue-eyed lemur (one of the only primates with blue eyes), western lowland gorillas, Sumatran tigers, and Mexican salamanders. The zoo’s programs and research help give these animals a fighting chance.
Photo by Tambako the Jaguar
If asked to name a reptile that has a shell on its back, you’d probably say, “a turtle.” But that description fits tortoises too. What’s the difference between turtles and tortoises, anyway?
Tortoises live on land, in dry environments. Some of them, like Galapagos giant tortoises, are huge and weigh over 900 pounds—more than a small horse. Others, like the speckled tortoise, are tiny and weigh just a few ounces.
All tortoises are turtles, but not all turtles are tortoises. Tortoises live only on dry land, but many turtles live in the water. Some, like loggerhead turtles, live in the ocean, while others, like painted turtles, live in ponds. Some turtles live almost their entire lives in water, but some switch between land and water.
If you’re a reptile fan, you might have heard the word “terrapin” used to describe some of these creatures. What’s a terrapin? It’s not a hard and fast scientific descriptor—it’s a word commonly used for some small freshwater turtles. For instance, the turtle in this picture, a red-eared slider, is also known as the red-eared terrapin. Red-eared terrapins are common throughout the US!
Photo by Greg Hume
Great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans—are humanity’s closest relatives. (Technically, we’re great apes too.) We have a lot in common. In general, great apes are highly social and intelligent. They often live in family groups, raise young together, and rely on each other.
Apes are capable of recognizing themselves in a mirror (a common test of animal intelligence), and they even use tools. For instance, bonobos use sticks to “fish” termites out of their mounds. Chimpanzees have even been observed sharpening sticks to use as spears for hunting!
Photo by Mike Richey
Orangutans are one-of-a-kind. They’re the world’s largest tree-dwelling mammals, and the only great apes native to Asia. Found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, these shaggy red spend most of their lives in the treetops and eat a hundred different kinds of fruit. But they’re in trouble– the trees they depend on are being cut down to make palm oil plantations, and orangutans are now seriously endangered.
The San Diego Zoo is working to save the orangutans by providing funding to conservation projects and by contributing to scientific knowledge about these animals. By studying the DNA of the orangutans at the San Diego Zoo, scientists are able uncover the apes’ genetic past and learn how to better build conservation plans to protect them.