One great way that we can help the planet and the animals that live on it is by recycling. The Pittsburgh Zoo has some awesome crafts for your Zoobooks reader to transform old odds and ends around the house into fun decorations. You can learn how to make a caterpillar from an old egg carton, an elephant from an old CD, a gray sock, and some construction paper, an octopus out of an old paper towel tube, and more! And the best part is, once you start thinking creatively about how to reuse old things around the house in craft projects, the sky’s the limit– it’s fun to find new ways to have fun and make beautiful things with what at first glance might look like junk. Can you think of any other animal crafts you can make with things around your house?
This month’s issue of Zoobooks features animal all-stars—the biggest, fastest, furthest-traveling, loudest, and lots of other “–est”s. To celebrate some of these amazing animals, here are five fun animal superlatives.
Loudest animal—Blue Whale
Blue whales aren’t just the biggest animals ever to live—they’re also the loudest animals alive. They can produce sounds up to 140 decibels, as loud as a jet engine from a hundred feet away. The second-loudest animals are howler monkeys, which can be heard from miles around their South and Central American jungle homes.
We often think of hummingbirds as a go-to example of animals that flap their wings incredibly quickly, but at 200 wing flaps per second, honeybees leave them in the dust.
Most poisonous animal—Poison dart frog
Golden poison dart frogs contain enough poison to kill 10 adult humans, or 20,000 mice. Not bad for a two-inch-long frog! Their poison discourages predators from eating them.
Fastest animal—Peregrine Falcon
Cheetahs might be the fastest land animals at 60 mph, but diving Peregrine Falcons reach speeds of up to 242 miles per hour!
Smallest mammal—bumblebee bat
Bumblebee bats weigh only two grams (though that’s still four times bigger than an actual bumblebee). These endangered bats lives in caves in Southeast Asia.
To test your knowledge on other animal all-stars, take this quiz on our website! How many animal champion facts do you know?
Photo by Wilfried Berns.
Our books for the very youngest animal lovers, Zoobies, are aimed at kids three and under. Children that young might not be reading yet, but a love of reading and learning can be fostered early. Plus, sitting on a parent’s lap and spending time together with a book is a great bonding experience as well as a great learning experience.
Our latest book, Zoobies Turtles, takes a fun look at these slow-moving reptiles. You can find ways to engage your child with Zoobies by reading to them and even trying to act out some movements associated with turtles. Can you crawl slowly like a turtle? Stretch out your neck like a turtle poking its head out from its shell? There are lots of fun ways to make these books come to life!
Photo by Nicholas Petrone.
With the school year starting up, we’re all focused on learning. It turns out, the Zootles animals this month are pretty smart too– elephants! Elephants have the largest brains of any land animal, but that shouldn’t be too surprising– after all, male African elephants are the biggest land animals in the world. However, their brains aren’t just big– they’re packed with three times the number of neurons, the cells that move information through the brain via chemical and electrical signals, that humans do.
Elephants have keen problem-solving skills that they use to find food, including using sticks as tools. They have deep, emotional bonds with each other and comfort each other when their friends and family are sad, sick, or hurt. And that old saying that “elephants never forget”? Elephants really do have excellent memories, remembering friends and places that they haven’t seen in years. One elephant in a zoo even learned how to paint!
Photo by Deror Avi.
Cincinnati’s pretty far from the ocean, but it’s still a great place to see seabirds! The Cincinnati Zoo is home to lots of unusual species of ocean-dwelling birds, and you can learn all about them on the zoo’s website.
They’ve got some old favorites, like penguins (they even have the world’s smallest penguins and some of the largest), but there are lots that you might not be as familiar with too, like whiskered auklets and pigeon guillemots. The website includes colorful photos of the birds, along with some fun facts about them– for example, did you know that puffins can hold up to sixty small fish in their mouths when they’re hunting? Or that crested auklets produce a citrus-y scent that helps attract mates? There’s a whole world of seabirds out there to discover– see what the Cincinnati Zoo has to offer!
Photo credit: Vernon Byrd, USFWS, Alaksa Image Library
You’re probably seen your fair share of seagulls in mall parking lots, but sea birds are most commonly found by—you guessed it—the sea. Of the 8,600 identified bird species in the world, only 260 are sea birds. There’s a lot of variety in the different kinds of seabirds, but they all rely on the oceans for their food.
The largest seabird is the wandering albatross—they have wingspans that reach over eleven feet! They use their broad wings to soar for long periods of time without getting tired—a wandering albatross can fly 10,000 miles in a single journey.
Most seabirds feed on fish—puffins can fit sixty small fish in their mouth at once! Some seabirds rely on other forms of ocean life. For example, little auks eat tiny animals called zooplankton that float through the ocean.
The next time you’re by a big body of water, see if you can spot any seabirds!
Photo by JJ Harrison
This month, our Zooworks winners got in touch with their inner poets! These were some of our favorite poems that we got about this month’s animal, kangaroos. Which one is your favorite?
Some of the biggest and brightest birds that you’ll see in Zootles Parrots are macaws. They live in rainforests in Mexico and Central and South America, where they eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and plants. They also sometimes eat clay found on riverbanks—some scientists believe that the clay helps neutralize the toxins in some of the seeds they eat.
Most macaw species are endangered—they’ve been losing their homes due to humans cutting down the rainforests where they live, and many are illegally trapped for the pet trade. If you do want to get a pet macaw, do your homework. These highly intelligent birds regularly live up to fifty years, and sometimes longer—one blue and gold macaw was reported in 2011 to be 112 years old! And if you’re in the market for a macaw, make sure you get one from a reputable breeder or rescue service so that you’re not supporting the poachers who trap wild birds.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Brian Ralphs
If you’re lucky enough to go to the Adelaide Zoo in Australia, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the mob. But this mob won’t have you in danger of “swimming with the fishes”– the zoo is home to a mob of thirteen yellow-footed rock-wallabies! They’ve had wallabies on display to the public since 1883, and they’re proud to continue the tradition to this day. In the wild, yellow-footed rock-wallabies live in caves and rocky outcrops, and while they do face habitat loss, their numbers are much stronger than those of their cousins, the highly endangered Victorian brush-tailed rock-wallaby. There are less than sixty brush-tailed wallabies left in the wild. The Adelaide Zoo is taking steps to help conserve these endangered animals, and the yellow-footed rock-wallabies are helping. Baby brush-tailed wallabies born at the zoo are fostered by yellow-footed wallabies, leaving the brush-tailed moms able to have another baby before the breeding season is over, increasing the numbers of this endangered species. On the zoo’s website, you can learn more about Spice, Tiga Lilly, Lizzie, Senna, and other yellow-footed rock-wallabies that are helping out with the program!
Photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Peripitus
The kangaroos that you’ve probably seen in movies and zoos are big, like gray kangaroos, which can stand over six feet tall. However, there are dozens of animals in the kangaroo family, ranging from the lanky red kangaroos of Australia’s plains to the fuzzy tree kangaroos of Australia’s… trees. The smallest member of the kangaroo family is the musky rat-kangaroo. They weigh less than a pound, and they’re only about a foot long including their long rat-like tails. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, and bugs. They might look like a mix between rats and rabbits, but these tiny kangaroos are actually believed to be related to primitive marsupial ancestors. They live only in the rainforests of northeast Australia, which means that we have to be careful to make sure their habitats can support them for years to come.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons contributor PanBK
In Zoobies Apes, families can see some animals that look and act a lot like us. When you read Zoobies Apes together, see if you can find some ways that we’re alike. From their fingers to their faces, apes have a lot of features in common with us. And they don’t just look like us— apes are highly intelligent and social, and many form close family groups similar to ours. Try acting out the pictures in the book and imagining what life would be like as an ape! What would be different? What would stay the same?
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons contributor Sage Ross
All animals have their own special quirks that set them apart and make them unique, but kangaroos have a special place in our hearts. They look like deer, but they hop like rabbits, and they carry their babies in pouches. As marsupials, they give birth to young that are far less developed than the babies of other animals—baby kangaroos are about the size of a bumblebee! The tiny babies settle into their mothers’ pouches to grow until they’re strong enough to face the world on their own. They stay in for six months, and they don’t leave their moms’ pouches for good until they’re eight to ten months old.
Their pouches aren’t the only reason kangaroos are special. They hop on their powerful back legs, and they can also swim if they’re trying to escape predators. But water’s not always around for drinking, let alone swimming. Kangaroos live in Australia’s dry plains, so they have to find ways to survive on very little water. Some species can go for weeks or even months without water. Instead, they get the fluids they need from the plants they eat.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
We normally think of parrots as tropical birds that can only be found in the U.S. when they’re somebody’s pet. However, until recently, a parrot species called the Carolina Parakeet lived all over the eastern half of the United States, as far north as Wisconsin. Overhunting led to these birds going extinct about a hundred years ago. Parrot species in the tropics are facing hard times, too. Loss of habitats and the pet trade have caused many species to become endangered.
Zootles gives young readers a closer look at these amazing animals—some of the smartest in the animal kingdom. In learning more about parrots (and other animals), we can become more invested in them and more engaged with trying to help endangered species.
Image credit: John James Audubon, via Wikimedia Commons
Kangaroos are great at using their tails as a “third leg” to propel themselves forward, but they’re one of the only animals that aren’t able to easily move backwards. Their “forward-thinking” attitudes are part of what landed kangaroos a role as Australia’s national animal, but there are lots of other reasons to love them too, like their curious, friendly natures. You can get to know some of the kangaroos at the Australia Zoo on their website.
The Australia Zoo is home to several species of kangaroo, from tiny wallabies to giant red kangaroos. On their website, they have photos and profiles with fun facts about their animals. For example, Pebbles the red kangaroo likes to sneak up behind her mob-mates, pull their tails, and run away! Which of their kangaroos is your favorite?