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25 May 2017

Big Babies

By | May 25th, 2017|Comments Off on Big Babies

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

17 May 2017

Excellent Eagles and Owls

By | May 17th, 2017|Comments Off on Excellent Eagles and Owls

Check out these high-flying birds drawn by our readers!

Click here to view the gallery

10 May 2017

Birds of Prey

By | May 10th, 2017|Comments Off on Birds of Prey

Birds of prey include some of the biggest, fastest birds in the animal kingdom. Peregrine falcons dive at speeds over two hundred miles per hour (making them not just the world’s fastest  birds, but also the world’s fastest animals overall), and bearded vultures, which are unique among animals for eating a diet that mostly consists of bone, have wingspans reaching up to nine feet. But other birds of prey are tiny and downright adorable, like the saw whet owl.

So what makes all these creatures birds of prey? There are a few key characteristics that all birds of prey share. They have excellent eyesight, strong feet for grasping prey, and sharp, curved beaks– all traits that make their fierce hunters. What birds of prey live near you?

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Photo by Kameron Perensovich, Wikimedia Commons

3 May 2017

Bald Eagles at the San Francisco Zoo

By | May 3rd, 2017|Comments Off on Bald Eagles at the San Francisco Zoo

You might be seeing baby birds in your neighborhood– robins learning to fly, ducklings in a line following their mother. But they’re not the only spring hatchlings– check out the bald eagles at the San Francisco Zoo! You can learn all kinds of fun facts about these amazing birds– for instance, an adult bald eagle’s wingspan is six feet, but they only weigh nine pounds– less than the average house cat! Their website even shows you where you can watch live video feeds of eagle nests. But hurry– eaglets learn to fly in June, so they won’t be in the nest for long!

26 Apr 2017

Seals vs. Sea Lions

By | April 26th, 2017|Comments Off on Seals vs. Sea Lions

They’re some of the most popular zoo animals– it’s fun to watch them swim and play. Their sleek bodies and whiskers are adorable. They’re… uh, seals? Or maybe sea lions? What’s the difference, anyway?

Seals and sea lions are relatives– they’re both members of the pinniped family, along with walruses. But while they have a lot in common, there are some key differences that you can use to tell them apart. Sea lions bark loudly, have visible ears, and can use their flippers to walk (or waddle) on land. Seals, on the other hand, are quieter, have small ears flush to their heads, and stick to the water. Can you tell which is which in this photo?seal-sealion

 

Photo via NOAA

19 Apr 2017

Hummingbird Poems

By | April 19th, 2017|Comments Off on Hummingbird Poems

Our readers have written some amazing poems about hummingbirds– check them out!

Click here to view the gallery

13 Apr 2017

Hummingbird Migration

By | April 13th, 2017|Comments Off on Hummingbird Migration

Spring is in the air, and that means you’ll probably start seeing some new feathered friends back for the warmer weather! More than half of the bird species in North America are migratory, from big birds like geese and cranes to tiny hummingbirds.

Ruby-throated_Hummingbird_1Ruby-throated hummingbirds are some of the most commonly seen hummingbirds in the US, and these tiny birds make a huge journey. They spend their winters in Mexico, and then come spring, they fly north as far as Canada! They’re solitary birds, so they don’t migrate in big flocks like geese– instead, they make the journey solo.

There are over a dozen species of hummingbirds in the US that migrate– visit your local nature center or zoo to learn more about the ones that live near you!

 

Photo by Matt Tillett

5 Apr 2017

Hummingbird Music

By | April 5th, 2017|Comments Off on Hummingbird Music

It’s in their very name– hummingbirds make a humming sound! In addition to making high-pitched, chirpy tweets, these birds beat their wings so rapidly that it produces a buzzing noise that almost sounds like a bumblebee. On the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum’s website, you can listen to the sounds of the metallic green Anna’s Hummingbird. These little creatures are only four inches long and weigh as little as a tenth of an ounce, but they still play an important role in their ecosystem– the Anna’s Hummingbird eats more insects than any other North American hummingbird!

31 Mar 2017

Terrifying Pterodactyls?

By | March 31st, 2017|Comments Off on Terrifying Pterodactyls?

Quetzelcoatlsu_feeding_on_groundThe pterosaurs in the latest issue of Zoodinos can be a little alarming at first glance—some of them have forty-foot wingspans! Quetzalcoatlus is one the biggest pterosaurs yet discovered, and it’s huge. When it was first discovered, scientists thought that it used its long neck and spear-like beak to hunt fish, kind of like a stork does today. But lately, scientists have proposed that Quetzalcoatlus was a scavenger that fed on dinosaur carcasses. And while it could fly, it could likely walk around on land too, using its giant wings as forelimbs.

But while some of these flying reptiles might have been scary, others were downright bellubrunnuscute. Take Bellubrunnus, for example. The first known fossil of this itsy-bitsy pterosaur’s had a wingspan of just one foot, and its skull was less than an inch long. It was a juvenile, and while scientists don’t know how big a fully-grown one would be, it would likely have a wingspan of around three feet—a far cry from the giant Quetzalcoatlus with its forty-foot wingspan.

 

Images by Mark Witton and Darren Naish and Matt Van Rooijen

23 Mar 2017

Zooworks Hummingbirds

By | March 23rd, 2017|Comments Off on Zooworks Hummingbirds

Our readers drew some gorgeous hummingbirds for us this month! Do you have a favorite?

15 Mar 2017

Giant Hummingbirds

By | March 15th, 2017|Comments Off on Giant Hummingbirds

We always talk about how hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world, but what about the giant hummingbird? These birds are about as big, length-wise, as cardinals, though they’re a lot lighter! Their slender builds mean that these birds weigh less than an ounce, while cardinals can weigh up to 2.29 ounces. Giant hummingbirds still weigh ten times more than the tiniest hummingbirds, though.

Giant hummingbirds are found throughout the length of the Andes Mountains in South America, where they feed on flower nectar. It takes an incredible amount of energy to keep these “heavy” hummingbirds in the air, so they need to eat a lot!Patagona_gigas

Photo by Arturo Nahum

9 Mar 2017

Help a Hummingbird

By | March 9th, 2017|Comments Off on Help a Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are the world’s smallest birds—the littlest one, the bee hummingbird from Cuba, weighs less than two grams (for comparison, a penny weighs 2.5 grams). Ruby-throated hummingbirds hatch out of eggs the size of peas. But while these animals are tiny, they play a crucial role in the ecosystems they live in, pollinating flowers by going from bloom to bloom drinking nectar.

The Smithsonian National Zoo’s website includes tons of fun facts about these amazing animals, along with tips for making your backyard a hummingbird hotspot. They provide advice about what kinds of food to put out (sugar water) and what flowers to plant (bee balm, coral honeysuckle, columbine, cardinal flower, and trumpet creeper).

The Zoo also offers tips for keeping hummingbirds safe. More than half the world’s hummingbird species live in the tropics, and even if you live far from there, little decisions that you make every day can help protect them. For example, they offer tips on finding coffee that’s grown on plantations that also support the flowers that hummingbirds need for food. When it comes to conservation and animal protection, every little bit helps!

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Photo by Rhoude7695

2 Mar 2017

Amazing Ants

By | March 2nd, 2017|Comments Off on Amazing Ants

There are 12,000 ant species in the world. They live on every continent except Antarctica, and these smart, social insects come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what’s best suited to their environment. Some of their adaptations are unusual-looking to say the least. Take trap-jaw ants, for example.

See that part of this ant’s face that looks almost like a big black mustache? Those are the ant’s jaws! Trap-jaw ants have giant jaws that they hold open and then spring shut. They use their jaws to catch smaller insect prey and even to jump by snapping their jaws against the ground and launching themselves into the air! Being able to jump like that can help these ants escape from predators.

Trap-jaw ants live in South America, but wherever you live, there are probably amazing ants too. When you start seeing them this spring, take a minute to stop and watch them—you might be surprised by what you see!

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Photo by Katja Schultz

22 Feb 2017

Bear Cams

By | February 22nd, 2017|Comments Off on Bear Cams

If you and your Zoobooks fans are hungry for more bear facts, check out the Woodland Park Zoo’s website! You can watch their grizzly bears on a live webcam. The bears live in a recreated habitate space that includes a stream and pond with live trout. If you’re lucky, you might catch the bears fishing!

The bears are less active during the winter months, but with spring right around the corner, keep an eye on the bear cam and watch them enjoying the warmer weather!

15 Feb 2017

How Bears Hibernate

By | February 15th, 2017|Comments Off on How Bears Hibernate

By this time in the winter, a lot of people wish they could just take a nap and wake up in the springtime! How do bears do it?

Well, for starters, not all bears do hibernate. Polar bears remain active all year, as do some bears in warmer climates, like pandas and sun bears. But others, like grizzlies and American black bears, are able to slow down their bodies in the winter months and sleep through until the spring. Grizzlies’ body temperatures drop, but not black bears’– in fact, for a long time, scientists didn’t consider black bears to be true hibernators because their bodies were too warm. But they fit the bill for other important hibernation criteria– they remained inactive and went months without food, water, or going to the bathroom (or the bear equivalent, since most bears don’t have bathrooms). A hibernating bear’s heartbeat slows down, and it gets all the nutrition it needs from its fat stores that it built up in the months before the winter. Bears can hibernate for up to eight months, depending on the region they live in.

But why would an animal need to hibernate in the first place? It has to do with energy conservation. Keeping your body alive and healthy takes more energy when you’re awake than when you’re asleep, and in the winter months when nutritious food is scarce, it makes more sense for bears to hunker down and sleep through the hard times and then come out again in the spring!

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Photo by Ltshears