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14 Dec 2011

Fun Facts About Penguins

By | December 14th, 2011|Comments Off on Fun Facts About Penguins

Zootles Penguins is a wet and wild look at one of our favorite flightless birds. Ever wondered how these tuxedo-clad avians survive is temperatures that would stop us cold?

A penguin is waterproof, first of all. Water can’t soak into the skin because the skin is covered with a lot of tightly packed feathers coated in oil. A thick layer of blubber under the skin works like a parka for keeping a penguin warm, too. In sub-freezing temperatures, penguins huddle together to keep warm, rotating so that every bird gets a chance to be in the middle of the group.

Penguins vary a lot in size. The smallest is the little blue penguin, at just over a foot tall and 2-1/2 pounds. Emperor penguins are almost four feet tall and weigh 80 pounds–larger than many children! Their habitat varies, too–from the icy cold of Antarctica to the sunny coast of South Africa.

So how many of these fun facts did you already know, and how many were news to you? Are there any other penguin tidbits out there that you think are worth sharing? Feel free to add them below!

7 Dec 2011

Woodland Park Zoo: The Benefits of Eating Like Animals

By | December 7th, 2011|Comments Off on Woodland Park Zoo: The Benefits of Eating Like Animals

The Woodland Park Zoo promotes the rather surprising idea that one third of all global greenhouse emissions are caused by the food we choose to eat! We’ve known for a long time that recycling and water conservation are critical, but who would have guessed that something as basic as our diet could affect our planet?

This month, our Zoobooks issue Endangered Animals has us thinking about how to help our environment, so Woodland Park’s tips on how to “eat like an animal” come at a perfect time.  You’ll find that their suggestions will not only make for a healthier planet, but for a healthier YOU, too.

Beyond this, the zoo has plenty of ideas on what you can do in your own backyard to create and enhance habitat for wildlife. The best part is that all these suggested changes mean fun family projects and (in the case of a food garden) a return to self-reliance that is a great example for children.

We’d love to hear which of these ideas you decide to try, and the outcome of your efforts. Feel free, too, to post a photo on our facebook page! We’d love to see your projects grow.

30 Nov 2011

Brought Back From the Brink

By | November 30th, 2011|Comments Off on Brought Back From the Brink

Endangered animals can be a sobering subject. Nobody wants to think of beautiful tigers or gorillas or exotic birds ever disappearing. But a close look at the plight of endangered animals can actually be a very positive–and even empowering–thing.

People may have caused the difficulty for many animal populations, but people are the source of recovery and healing, too. In this month’s Zoobooks issue, Endangered Animals, kids will get to share in many of the success stories involving animals in trouble.

The Arabian Oryx, a type of antelope, was extinct in the wild by the 1970’s. Today, because of captive breeding, about 1,000 have been reintroduced into the deserts of the Middle East. The Mongolian Wild Horse is following this example, with 50 reintroduced animals in the wild so far. By the early 1940’s, there were only 15 whooping cranes left–and yet today, there are 382 in the wild. One of the most dramatic recoveries has been the white-tailed gnu, which was once down to just a few hundred animals–and now numbers about 1.5 million.

Kids need to know they can make a difference, and Zoobooks Endangered Animals encourages this. May the conservation continue!

22 Nov 2011

Tigers (and Tots) on the Move

By | November 22nd, 2011|Comments Off on Tigers (and Tots) on the Move

We think of reading as a sedentary activity, but Zoobies Tigers delights by sound and motion–not the technological kind, but the play-along-and-use-your-imagination kind!

Toddlers love lowering their voices and “shh”ing to creep along with the prowling tiger, especially when the growling tiger on the very next page lets them let loose with a roar. And later on, when tigers are stretching, creeping, running, and leaping, it’s surprising how well these motions can be imitated–even from the confines of a car seat or a lap.

In the playtime section of the Zoobies & You pages in the back, there are ideas for making these motions even more dramatic and engaging. There are ideas, too, for using Zoobies Tigers to point out shapes and colors, and for pushing the observations made in the book beyond its pages and into real life. We’d love to hear about the creative ways your little one has enjoyed Zoobies!

16 Nov 2011

Help Us Choose a Cover for Zoobooks Apes

By | November 16th, 2011|Comments Off on Help Us Choose a Cover for Zoobooks Apes

Here are three potential cover photos for Zoobooks Apes, our January issue–please comment and let us know which one you find most appealing. Not all apes are represented here, because there are several species: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gibbons, and siamangs–whew, that’s a lot! Maybe it’s a good thing we aren’t including monkeys, too. (What’s the most obvious difference between a monkey and an ape, by the way? The answer is, apes don’t have tails.)

9 Nov 2011

A Royal Family

By | November 9th, 2011|Comments Off on A Royal Family

Emperor penguins have a royal name, but not much of a royal lifestyle. They live in a neighborhood (Antarctica) where temperatures can drop to eighty degrees below zero, with terrible winds.  Zootles Penguinsfeatures the story of a dedicated father penguin determined to hatch and care for his young offspring, Chick, no matter what it costs him.

It costs him quite a bit! Emperor Dad has to balance the egg on his feet, protecting it with his brood pouch, for nine long weeks. During that time, he does not eat or drink, and he spends most of his time huddling with other Emperor dads, rotating their huddle so each penguin spends some time either warm in the middle of the huddle, or chilly on the outside edges.

Finally Chick hatches, and Emperor Dad manages to throw up just enough nourishment for him to keep Chick alive. Still later, Emperor Mom reappears, after hunting for months at sea, and takes over Chick’s care so Dad can go off to sea and hunt for himself. By this time he’s lost almost half his body weight. But Emperor Mom is well prepared, now, to make sure Chick gets all the nourishment he needs, and all goes well for Chick.

The story is a great reminder of how families work together to take care of each other–let us know if it inspires any acts of kindness at your house!

2 Nov 2011

There’s a Tiger on the Loose in Minnesota!

By | November 2nd, 2011|Comments Off on There’s a Tiger on the Loose in Minnesota!

We’ve been looking forward to sharing with you the mystery and fun going on at the Minnesota Zoo. They’ve got a tiger on the loose! This not-so-real catastrophe is happily coinciding with our Zoobooks Big Cats issue, and it offers kids and parents alike the chance to follow a series of clues to try to find the missing tiger and return it to its enclosure. Once it is safe, how about working with the zoo to design and build a new exhibit to house it?

Ready to sit back on your laurels now? Well, you’re still not through. Tigers are seriously endangered, and the Minnesota Zoo wants you to work on creating a successful breeding program within their tiger population. Once you’ve succeeded,  the most dedicated of you are going to continue that work beyond the zoo’s walls, tracking poachers and tiger parts in India to help stop the bad guys and help save perhaps the most beautiful big cat on earth.

Lastly, you’re given the chance to BE the tiger. Do you have what it takes to survive poachers and shrinking habitat? We’re counting on you to make it out alive. Let us know how you did!

26 Oct 2011

Big Cats Fun Facts

By | October 26th, 2011|Comments Off on Big Cats Fun Facts

A new Zoobooks issue is going to be pouncing on you in just a few days. We’re going to guess that some of the information in this Big Cats issue won’t be new to you: maybe you already know, for example, that a lion’s roar can carry for more than five miles, and that female lions do most of the hunting.

It may surprise you, though, to learn that one of the bigger felines in the cat family–the cougar (also known as a mountain lion)–is not considered a big cat at all, but is classified as a little cat. One of the reasons it is a little cat is that it cannot roar, as other big cats do. Or, we should say, as MOST other big cats do. Cheetahs and snow leopards, both big cats, can’t roar either. How did they get assigned the big cat classification while cougars were left out? The answer has to do with their DNA, but also with more subjective debate among scientists.

To the ancient people of South America, the strength and beauty of the jaguar qualified it as one of the highest gods. A jaguar’s strength is truly astonishing. The largest jaguar on record weighed only 350 pounds, but jaguars have been seen dragging full grown horses for more than a mile.

When your Big Cats issue arrives, you’ll discover lots more little-known facts that we have not included here. We’d enjoy hearing which one is your favorite!

19 Oct 2011

Whale Wonders

By | October 19th, 2011|Comments Off on Whale Wonders

Kids’ artwork is inspiring. It doesn’t matter how technically correct it is, even when you have to look at it puzzlingly from every angle (tell me about your drawing, Johnny!).  It often has a joy, and a hope, that takes us back to our own childhoods and makes us smile.

We are proud to share with you the artistry of the seven published winners of our recent Zooworks Whales contest. They were selected from literally hundreds of marvelous entries. To see another 50 drawings, use the Secret Jungle password in your Whales issue to access our online winners. We hope your day is brightened by their talent!

12 Oct 2011

Turtles Are Truly Terrific

By | October 12th, 2011|Comments Off on Turtles Are Truly Terrific

All turtles can pull their heads inside their shells, right? Nope! Some species can’t pull their head, arms, or legs inside at all. But of those that CAN, our favorite might be the turtles that have “hinged” doors–the ones that can not only cozy up inside, but can shut up their shells so nothing can come in after them.

Zootles Turtles demonstrates that turtles come in three different types: sea turtles, freshwater turtles, and tortoises. Tortoises are the ones that live exclusively on land. Sea turtles are the ones that can’t pull their heads inside their shells. Freshwater turtles are the turtles that can survive the winter motionless beneath a frozen pond.

So, are turtles reptiles, or amphibians? They’re reptiles! This means they are cold-blooded. They spend a lot of time moving between warm spots and cool spots to make sure their bodies stay at the right temperature. They have scaly skin and lay eggs on land (amphibians lay their eggs in the water).

We may consider turtles a great example of animals that can teach us how to take life at a slower pace, but remember that lots of sea turtles can swim faster than you can.

Any questions?

5 Oct 2011

No, You Haven’t Seen a Ghost

By | October 5th, 2011|Comments Off on No, You Haven’t Seen a Ghost

We’re at that time of year when we might look at the dark and spooky sky to make sure there aren’t any ghosts floating around, even though we know better. At the Georgia Aquarium, however, we can guarantee you’ll see something big and white floating around.

The good news is, it’s not a ghost. It’s a beluga whale.

The beluga is not the Great White Whale of Moby Dick fame, but it is similarly intriguing. Like dolphins, beluga whales seem to have a perpetual smile, and their color–or lack of it–gives their bodies a very doughy look. The Georgia Aquarium kindly offers a terrific “Beluga Cam” so we can watch the antics of these playful mammals whether or not we are ever able to travel to Georgia, or to Artic waters, where these whales live in the wild. Did you know their closest relative is the narwhal–the whale with the long unicorn-like horn sprouting from its forehead? Because of their high-pitched twitter, belugas are known as the canaries of the sea.

Enjoy all the whale information on the Georgia Aquarium website as a complement to your current Zoobooks Whales issue. Feel free to share with us what you’ve learned!

 

28 Sep 2011

A Whale of a Tale

By | September 28th, 2011|Comments Off on A Whale of a Tale

So let’s dive right in and see what whale facts are going to take you by surprise–we’ll start with the blue whale. We all know it’s big–100 feet or more. Lots of school children get to measure out a hundred feet on the school yard blacktop to see just how magnificently long that is. But were you aware that a blue whale’s skeleton weighs more than 50,000 pounds? That the whale’s aorta (the major artery to the heart) is big enough for a child to crawl through? Its heart is about as long as a man is tall! No animal ever on earth, not even the largest dinosaur, is or was as big as the blue whale.

Sperm whales are champions for holding their breath–sometimes more than an hour. And while they are doing all that breath-holding, they are diving to great depths–sometimes as deep as two miles. That’s where they find the fabled giant squid, one of their favorite foods. The battles that must go on between these animals in the depths are worthy of Jules Verne!

Imagine now that you are diving in the ocean, and some large aquatic animal is swimming toward you. What is the easiest way to tell whether you are looking at a whale or a fish? Whales and fish swim differently. Fish move their tails from side to side, while whales move their tails (also called flukes) up and down. By the way, if something is swimming toward you, whether whale or fish, we recommend getting out of the way if it has teeth!

21 Sep 2011

Who Are Our Favorite Giraffe Artists? Our Own Readers!

By | September 21st, 2011|Comments Off on Who Are Our Favorite Giraffe Artists? Our Own Readers!

Every  month we receive the artistic work of hundreds and hundreds of talented children. It’s a tough task to select just a few of them to publish in each Zoobooks issue, but it delights us to think that all these kids, published or not,  are being inspired to create on a level they may not have attempted before.

Seeing their art really makes it clear that children are absorbing a great deal. We know they are learning from Zoobooks

overtly–all those new fun facts about giraffes have a way of creeping into conversation or school reports–but their art demonstrates how the grace, movement, and color shades of giraffes is being imparted as well. It’s not only beautiful, but somehow hopeful. We like thinking the newest generation will have a gut-level connection to the animals that need their help. Which drawing is your favorite? We bet you find it tough to choose, too.

15 Sep 2011

Truly Terrific Turtles

By | September 15th, 2011|Comments Off on Truly Terrific Turtles

There are lots of fun facts in Turtles that may be news to the 3-6 year old who subscribes to Zootles–small children may not know, for example, that turtles can’t crawl out of their shells. But there are plenty of turtle tidbits in this issue that make it interesting and fun for Mom or Dad to read, too.

For starters, the largest turtle on record is the leatherback, and we can pretty much guarantee it is bigger than you. In fact, at 8 feet in length and 2,000 pounds, it’s pretty much bigger than a small car. And if you think all turtles are slow, think again. On level ground, the smooth softshell turtle can run faster than you can. And in the water, the green turtle, on a bad day, is three times faster than Michael Phelps. Feeling left behind?

Maybe you’ve heard that turtles can live a long time–some species up to a 100 years, right? Actually, a Galapagos tortoise named Harriet lived to be 175–an age no human is likely to see. All of which points to the fact that–like the hare in that famous fable–we can’t underestimate the awesomeness of the turtle!

7 Sep 2011

Keeping Up With the Keepers at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

By | September 7th, 2011|Comments Off on Keeping Up With the Keepers at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Have you ever had a child at your house offer to perform all the care-giving for a new pet? The reality of that often turns out to require a little more commitment than the child bargained for. Too bad there isn’t a way to demonstrate that commitment ahead of time! Or is there?

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo wants to offer kids the chance to become an online zookeeper. Sure, it sounds easy, but you’ll be surprised at the care they take to make sure kids know what they’re getting into. It starts with the zoo insisting on approving your application before they will even give you your zookeeper test! They want to make sure they are dealing with someone who really cares about animals and will do their best for them. Once you move on to the test, you’ll find it not only informative, but a bit of a hoot.

Beyond the fun, this zoo also works to empower kids to make a difference in animal conservation. They have a strong list of suggestions for activities and lifestyle changes that will help our planet. Like Zoobooks, they want to see kids learn and grow, so that they can one day take the lead in saving animals.