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So far The Wild World of Zoobooks has created 244 blog entries.

February 2018

Turtles Big and Small

By | February 28th, 2018|

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!

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Endangered Animal Art

By | February 21st, 2018|

Our readers have some rare talent—look at their amazing drawings of endangered animals!

 

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Valentine’s Day Butterflies

By | February 14th, 2018|

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.

https://online.nwf.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2485

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Endangered Animals at the Los Angeles Zoo

By | February 7th, 2018|

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

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January 2018

Turtle, Tortoise, or Terrapin?

By | January 31st, 2018|

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

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By | January 17th, 2018|

Our readers have made some pretty nice drawings of great apes—we’d go so far as to say they’re GREAT!

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What Makes Great Apes Great?

By | January 10th, 2018|

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

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Orangutans at the San Diego Zoo

By | January 3rd, 2018|

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.

 

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December 2017

Stegosaurus Plates

By | December 27th, 2017|

Science is always changing and evolving as we make new discoveries. One good example of this can be found in the history of our understanding of one of the most famous dinosaurs.

When Stegosaurus was first discovered in 1877, scientists thought that the plates on its back laid flat and overlapped like the shingles on a house’s roof. That’s how it got the name Stegosaurus—“roofed lizard.” Its discoverer also initially thought that it walked on two legs and was an aquatic, turtle-like animal. As the years went on, scientists learned that Stegosaurus lived on land and walked on all fours, and that the plates on its back stood up.

Scientists still aren’t sure what those plates were for.  At first, scientists thought its plates were armor, but the plates were probably too fragile to be used for defense. Recent discoveries suggest that the plates contained blood vessels and might have been used to regulate the animals’ body heat or to blush to attract mates or scare off predators.

Photo by Charles Gilmore

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Big Cats, Bigger Talent

By | December 20th, 2017|

Check out our readers’ amazing drawings of big cats!

 

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Snow Leopards

By | December 13th, 2017|

When you visit the zoo in the winter, some of the animals might look out of place in the cold weather, or might need to move indoors when it’s chilly out. For snow leopards, though, it’s the perfect time of year!

Snow leopards are found in the wild in the mountains of central and southern Asia. They’re slightly smaller than the other big cats—small females are only around 55 pounds, about the size of a collie dog. They do have big paws, though– fluffy pawpads keep their feet warm and help them walk on snow!

 

 

Photo by Eric Kilby

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October 2017

Orange and Black Butterflies

By | October 25th, 2017|

With Halloween just around the corner, the colors black and orange are everywhere. But depending on where you live, you might have recently seen a whole lot of black and orange in nature—migrating Monarch butterflies. These amazing insects travel thousands of miles to escape cold weather and spend their winters in warmer climates in Mexico.

And monarchs aren’t the only butterflies with Halloween colors. Since the milkweed that Monarch catterpillars eat makes them poisonous, predators have learned to avoid them. Their bright orange coloring acts as a warning sign. Other butterfly species, like Viceroys, have evolved to mimic Monarchs’ coloring, which means that predators avoid them too, even though Viceroys aren’t poisonous. You can tell the species apart by the black line that cuts through the bottom portion of their wings—Viceroys, like the one in this picture, have it, but Monarchs don’t!

Photo by Benny Mazur

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September 2017

Plenty of Plesiosaurs

By | September 27th, 2017|

For thousands of years, humans have been wondering if fearsome, long-necked, flesh-eating monsters lurked in deep, dark water. But while all the stories of Nessie, Champ the Lake Champlain Monster, and sea serpents have gone unproved, in the time of the dinosaurs, animals that looked like Nessie were very real. These creatures were called plesiosaurs.

Plesiosaurs weren’t dinosaurs. Instead, they were swimming reptiles. The smallest ones were around the size of a person, while the biggest ones were the size of a bus. Elasmosaurus was 40 feet long and had a long, skinny neck, while Kronosaurus had a short neck and big, crushing jaws it used to eat its prey– including other plesiosaurs!


Illustration by Dmitry Bogdanov

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Wild Horses at the St. Louis Zoo

By | September 22nd, 2017|

If you loved the wild horses in the latest issue of Zoobooks, it’s worth seeing if a zoo near you has any to see in real life! If you live in Missouri, you’re in luck– the St. Louis Zoo, one of the nation’s best, has a number of Somali wild asses. These wild horses, which are found in Africa, are endangered due to the destruction of their habitat. However, zoo breeding programs like the one in St. Louis are helping to preserve the species. In recent years, several foals have been born at the zoo. Some of them even have Swahili names to reflect their African heritage!

You can also learn all about these animals on the zoo’s website. For instance, wild asses look a little like the burros that live in the Southwestern United States. That’s because the Spanish brought domesticated wild asses to North America centuries ago– today’s burros are their distant relatives!

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Saving Wild Horses

By | September 13th, 2017|

Dozens of species go extinct every day. Our efforts to stop these extinctions can sometimes feel hopeless, but there are success stories that prove why we should keep trying. Take Przewalski’s wild horse (it’s pronounced “She-vall-skee’s”). These wild horses live in central Asia, and habitat loss and poaching led to them going extinct throughout much of their natural habitat. However, small numbers of these horses lived in zoos around the world. Scientists worked to establish a breeding program so that new, healthy horses could be born. Some of the horses born in zoos were then reintroduced into the wild. Today, Przewalski’s horses are still endangered, but they’re making a comeback, thanks to the hard work of scientists, zookeepers, and people who care about animals!

Image by Claudia Feh

 

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