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26 Aug 2015

Seabirds

By | August 26th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Seabirds

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!
Diomedea_exulans_in_flight_-_SE_Tasmania
Photo by JJ Harrison

19 Aug 2015

Kangaroo Poems

By | August 19th, 2015|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Kangaroo Poems

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?

12 Aug 2015

Majestic Macaws

By | August 12th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Majestic Macaws

Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Scarlet Macaws and Parrots at the clay lick Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Scarlet Macaws and Parrots at the clay lick

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

6 Aug 2015

Wallaby Mob

By | August 6th, 2015|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Wallaby Mob

Petrogale_xanthopus_-_Monarto_1If 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

30 Jul 2015

The World’s Smallest Kangaroos

By | July 30th, 2015|Tags: |Comments Off on The World’s Smallest Kangaroos

Musky-ratThe 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

22 Jul 2015

Zoobies Apes

By | July 22nd, 2015|Tags: |Comments Off on Zoobies Apes

Moka_with_baby_gorilla_at_Pittsburgh_Zoo_12,_2012-02-17In 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

 

 

8 Jul 2015

Kooky Kangaroos

By | July 8th, 2015|Tags: |Comments Off on Kooky Kangaroos

DSC_0640-2All 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

1 Jul 2015

Parrots in Wisconsin?

By | July 1st, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Parrots in Wisconsin?

AudubonCarolinaParakeet2We 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

24 Jun 2015

Forward-thinking: The Australia Zoo

By | June 24th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Forward-thinking: The Australia Zoo

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?

17 Jun 2015

City Animals Stories and Poems

By | June 17th, 2015|Comments Off on City Animals Stories and Poems

This month’s Zooworks winners have created some amazing poems about their favorite city animals! Do you have a favorite?

10 Jun 2015

Orangutans and Peanut Butter

By | June 10th, 2015|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Orangutans and Peanut Butter

640px-Man_of_the_woodsSometimes it’s hard to see how we can have an impact on the lives of wild animals half a world away. Even if we want to help endangered species, it can be difficult to see the connections between their lives and ours. Take orangutans. These Zootles Great Apes live on the island of Borneo in the Pacific Ocean, and they’re endangered. But even though they’re far away, the threats that they face are close to home—in fact, you can probably find one of those threats in your home: peanut butter.
How can peanut butter endanger orangutans? Are they allergic? No—the Bornean forests where they live are being destroyed so people can plant palm trees, which are used to create palm oil. Palm oil is used in many products that we use every day, including peanut butter. Avoiding products that contain palm oil is one (tiny) way to help orangutans (don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your PB&Js—just look for a brand that doesn’t use palm oil). For other ideas about how to help the animals that we all love, keep reading Zoobooks!

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons contributor Dave59

3 Jun 2015

Farm Animals in the City

By | June 3rd, 2015|Tags: |Comments Off on Farm Animals in the City

MEETANIMALS-HERO-LONGHORNSA trip to the Austin Zoo wouldn’t be complete without a chance to pet a Texas Longhorn! The Austin Zoo’s domestic animal exhibit gives you a chance to see animals that don’t live far from home but that you don’t often get a chance to see up close, including Longhorn bulls. For instance, while llamas’ wild cousins, camels and alpacas, live all over the world, there are llama farms right here in the U.S. You can not only see a llama at the Austin Zoo, but also pet and (for $2.50) feed one. These kinds of close encounters with animals are both fun and educational. And even if you can’t make it out to Austin, see if a zoo near you has a petting zoo for your family to engage with!

 

Photo credit: Austin Zoo

27 May 2015

Sharing the Planet with Animals

By | May 27th, 2015|Tags: |Comments Off on Sharing the Planet with Animals

12977357524_2aeb09c2c0_oIn City Animals, you can learn all about the different animals that we share our urban environments with. It’s interesting to think about the profound impact that humans have had upon the planet—no other species has made as many changes to the earth or affected as many other species as we have. Many animal species’ habitats and habits have changed based upon their interactions with people. For instance, squirrels used to live only in forests, but when people began farming, squirrels moved closer to them to snag some corn and grains. Now, squirrels are common in just about every city in the country.
Can you think of any other animals that are different because of their relationships with humans?

Photo by Flickr user Henry Hemming

14 May 2015

Great Apes Are the Greatest!

By | May 14th, 2015|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Great Apes Are the Greatest!

A_Bonobo_at_the_San_Diego_Zoo_-fishing-_for_termitesIt’s not every day that you get to see your close relatives in Zootles! Our latest issue, Great Apes, is all about the group that contains gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. Great apes are primates, just like monkeys, but they don’t have tails, and they don’t exclusively live in trees.
Great apes are extremely intelligent animals. Koko the gorilla (Remember her? At 43, she’s old for a gorilla, but she’s hanging in there!) gained fame for learning an adapted form of sign language; it’s reported that she can sign 1,000 words and understands 2,000 words of spoken English. Chimpanzees make tools out of sticks to fish termites out of their nests (yum!). And the smallest great apes, bonobos, can recognize themselves in a mirror, something few animals (including some other apes) are able to do. Makes you feel proud to be related to apes, doesn’t it?

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons contributor Mike R.

6 May 2015

From the Wilds of . . . Suburbia?

By | May 6th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on From the Wilds of . . . Suburbia?

RaccooneatingNormally when you go to a zoo, you make a beeline for the animals that you can’t see every day, like lions and bears. But many zoos also feature exhibits of animals that live more locally. These animals are often rescues that can’t live in the wild. For instance, at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, you can see Crash, a raccoon who got his name after he was rescued after being hit by a car. When animals are injured, even if they’re nursed back to health, they don’t always have the ability to make it on their own—a damaged wing might make it impossible for a hawk to hunt for prey, or blindness might make a skunk more vulnerable to predators. Zoos, nature centers, and wildlife sanctuaries can provide these animals with a new lease on life. And they’re exciting for you to visit, too—even though foxes, possums, raccoons, and squirrels might live near you, you can get a much closer look at them at the zoo!

 

Photo by the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary.