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12 May 2016

Not-so-little Bunny Foo-Foo

By | May 12th, 2016|Comments Off on Not-so-little Bunny Foo-Foo

Runt_and_PaxieWe think of rabbits as tiny animals, but some of them are actually pretty big! The largest rabbits in the world can be up to four feet long and weigh up to 55 pounds. (Though, we should note, the one in this picture, while a huge rabbit, is next to a Shetland Sheepdog, which is much smaller than a full-sized Collie. Still—that’s a big bunny.)

These giant rabbits were selectively bred to be big—they were originally used by humans for fur and meat. The biggest rabbits in the wild are much smaller. One of the biggest species, the antelope jackrabbit, is “only” 24 inches long.

Photo by Stamatisclan

4 May 2016

Butterflies at the Minnesota Zoo

By | May 4th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Butterflies at the Minnesota Zoo

butterfly minnesota zooIt’s easy to be impressed by the biggest animals at the zoo—tall, graceful giraffes, roaring lions, and gentle elephants are always crowd-pleasers. But the Minnesota Zoo is home to some tiny animals that are none the less amazing: butterflies. Their butterfly garden is home to beautiful insects from near and far, and their website is home to tons of fun facts about them. For example, did you know that some butterflies, like this mourning cloak butterfly, hibernate during the winter? Or that butterflies see all the colors that we do, but also ultraviolet colors whose wavelengths are too long for us to see? The more you learn about these incredible animals, the more you’ll realize that the biggest zoo animals aren’t the only ones that are cool!

Photo by SD Dirk

27 Apr 2016

Butterflies: In Living Color

By | April 27th, 2016|Comments Off on Butterflies: In Living Color

Butterflies and their cousins, moths, are the only insects with scales—their wings are covered with them. These scales are responsible for butterflies’ amazing colors, like the brilliant hue of the blue morpho. That dazzling blue isn’t the result of pigment—it’s all how the light hits their prismatic scales.

Butterflies’ color is even responsible for their name. A common European butterfly, the yellow brimstone, is a bright, sunny color. It’s believed that people once referred to it as a “butter-colored fly,” which got shortened to “butterfly.” This spring, see how many different colors of butterflies you can find!

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Photo by Tony Higsett

20 Apr 2016

Zoobooks Readers Spell It Out

By | April 20th, 2016|Comments Off on Zoobooks Readers Spell It Out

One of our favorite things about hosting our regular Kids’ Zooworks contests is seeing young writers and poets stretch their wings. It’s truly wonderful to see our next generation of children work out the rhythm and  cadence of good writing, and put their imaginations to paper. Here are some of our winners for Parrots…

 

13 Apr 2016

Almost a Groan!

By | April 13th, 2016|Comments Off on Almost a Groan!

It may surprise you to learn that the story “Almost Grown” in Zootles Tigers originally had a very different ending. The first idea presented was that the two little tiger cub sisters, Lila and Nell, were going to catch their prey rather than stumble into the river and let it get away. Reality, or course, is that tigers catch animals and eat them; but in this story we found a way to get this idea across without having to concern our youngest readers about the fate of the beautiful deer in the pictures.

Everything about a tiger demonstrates strength and power, and they are skilled hunters. Teeth and claws of course are essential, but there are more subtle advantages, too. Their coats hide them so they can sneak up close; their tails help them steer mid-leap; their eyesight in the dark is much better than ours. One day soon, Lila and Nell are going to accomplish their goal!ZT_Tigers_Art_pg13

6 Apr 2016

Parrot Patter at the St. Louis Zoo

By | April 6th, 2016|Comments Off on Parrot Patter at the St. Louis Zoo

Pretty much everyone who’s ever been in a pet shop has seen a parrot, but we bet you’ve never seen anything like this one! This is a hawk-headed parrot, also known as the red fan parrot. It’s easy to see how it got that name– it raises up the bright scarlet feathers on the back of its head and neck when threatened. Looking bigger can help scare off intruders; it also sways back and forth and makes noises to scare them away.

When not fluffing up their colorful neck ruffs, hawk-headed parrots live in abandoned woodpecker nests, where they raise small broods of chicks. You can learn more about them and their parrot relatives on the St. Louis Zoo website (http://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/birds/parrots) — which of their parrots is your favorite?

 

31 Mar 2016

A Whale of a Time

By | March 31st, 2016|Comments Off on A Whale of a Time

If you’ve enjoyed sharing Zoobies with the toddler in your life (or even if you don’t have a Zoobies reader in your house), here are some fun whale photos for you and your family to enjoy. Talk about your favorite whale, find similarities and differences, and maybe even encourage your kids to make believe a game about whales—one of the great things about nature is the way that it can engage our imaginations.

Photos by Steve Snodgrass, Gabriel Barathieu, and Robert PittmanNOAA

30 Mar 2016

Perfect Parrots

By | March 30th, 2016|Comments Off on Perfect Parrots

Our Zoobooks readers did an amazing job with these drawings of parrots—check it out!

16 Mar 2016

Pet Parrots

By | March 16th, 2016|Comments Off on Pet Parrots

Agapornis_fischeri_-Ueno_Zoo,_Japan_-three-8a-4cIt’s not every Zoobooks and Zootles animal that we can talk about as pets– most of our featured animals are too big or too dangerous to keep in your house. But as you can learn on the San Diego Zoo’s website, parrots, when properly cared for, can make great companions.

If you’ve ever met a parrot, you know they’re social animals– they mimic our speech and interact with us. Their social natures are even clearer in their natural habitats– some parrots live in flocks of up to one hundred birds.

Since parrots are so smart and social, if you decide to get a pet parrot, you need to make sure that you can give it the attention and mental stimulation that it needs– otherwise, it will grow bored and develop behavioral problems. Also, if you’re considering getting a pet parrot, make sure to buy one that’s from a reputable breeder and not captured from the wild, as poaching wild parrots for pets is a serious problem. And of course, you need to be in it for the long haul– parrots can live in captivity for sixty years or even longer!

 

Photo by Takashi Hososhima

9 Mar 2016

Tiger Camouflage

By | March 9th, 2016|Tags: |Comments Off on Tiger Camouflage

Lots of animals have camouflage, colors and textures that help them blend into their environments– think of dull brown ducks that blend into the ground where they nest, or green katydid insects that blend into the leaves. But what about tigers?

At first glance, their bright orange coats don’t seem like they’d be good for blending into anything!

However, their orange coloring and black stripes actually provide excellent camouflage in the grassy forests where they live. Their stripes blend in with the tall grasses that

they crouch behind, and their orange color actually provides pretty good cover when they’re hunting at dusk when the sun is setting. Check it out!

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Photo by Hanzasoukup

2 Mar 2016

What Even Is an Old World Monkey?

By | March 2nd, 2016|Comments Off on What Even Is an Old World Monkey?

The latest issue of Zoobooks features Old World Monkeys. But what exactly are they?

First of all, let’s go over the difference between monkeys and apes. Chimps, gorillas, and humans are all examples of apes; langurs and tamarins are types of monkeys. What’s the difference? One good rule of thumb is that most monkeys have tails, while apes don’t. Apes are often larger than monkeys, too. In general, apes rely more on their sense of sight, while monkeys rely more on smell, and apes tend to have broader, shorter noses.

When it comes to Old World Monkeys found in Africa and Asia and the New World Monkeys in the Americas, one difference is in their tails—generally speaking, Old World Monkeys don’t have prehensile tails, but New World Monkeys do. There are also differences in the monkeys’ teeth, and Old World Monkeys have nostrils that face sideways (they face downward in New World Monkeys). See if you can spot some of these differences the next time you see monkeys at the zoo!

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Photo by J. Patrick Fisher

25 Feb 2016

Zooworks Monkeys

By | February 25th, 2016|Comments Off on Zooworks Monkeys

We’re going bananas over these great pictures of monkeys- great job, Zooworks winners!

17 Feb 2016

Di-no's: These Aren't Dinosaurs

By | February 17th, 2016|Comments Off on Di-no's: These Aren't Dinosaurs

We refer to the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods as “the Age of Dinosaurs,” but they weren’t the only animals alive then.

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Dimetrodons look like dinosaurs, but they’re actually more closely related to humans than to T. rex. They lived before the dinosaurs did, and they’re part of the group that branched off and eventually became mammals. We can tell by looking at the openings in their skulls– they have an extra hole by their ears that dinosaurs don’t have.

(image by Dmitry Bogdanov)

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Pterosaurs, the flying reptiles, lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, but they’re actually only distantly related to each other. One way that we can tell is by looking at their leg bones– dinosaurs had different features on their limbs to help make them stronger.

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Mosasaurs and other swimming reptiles aren’t dinosaurs either. They’re on a different branch of the family tree, more closely related to crocodiles and Komodo dragons than to dinosaurs. Their limbs sprawled out to the sides, while dinosaurs carried their legs directly beneath them. (Think about the difference between how a lizard’s legs are splayed out, but a bird’s legs are carried straight beneath their bodies.)

When paleontologists determine where an animal falls on the tree of life, they look at lots of specific little traits, like the structure of specific bones, to see just where they fit. These differences, like holes in the skull and the shape of the leg bones, might not seem important to the untrained eye, but they’re key for scientists to determine how animals are related to each other.

If you’d like to learn more about dinosaurs and the animals they shared their world with, […]

27 Jan 2016

Brand-new Dinosaur

By | January 27th, 2016|Comments Off on Brand-new Dinosaur

Have you heard about the new giant dinosaur at the American Museum of Natural History? Fossils from a new species of titanosaur (so new that it hasn’t been named) are on display, along with a 122-foot-long replica, called a cast, showing what the entire skeleton would look like. For reference, 122 feet is about the length of three city buses laid end-to-end. You can learn about it here.

There are amazing new discoveries happening every day in paleontology, and with our new book series about dinosaurs, we’ll share all the latest facts and stories that will get kids hooked on science and reading. We can’t make it happen without your help, though—visit our Kickstarter website to learn how you can make a difference!

20 Jan 2016

Outstanding Otters

By | January 20th, 2016|Comments Off on Outstanding Otters

Our readers’ drawings are “otterly” wonderful!