Check out this gorgeous pod of dolphins, drawn by our very own Zoobooks readers!
Some bad news for all the kids out there who love dolphins, whales, and sharks—you probably can’t get one as a pet. But, thanks to the Shedd Aquarium’s fun crafts, you can decorate your room with them! Their website has all kind of fun sea creature-related activities for families to enjoy, from baby beluga origami to paper crowns decorated with sharks. You can also spend some time on the Shedd’s website to learn more about your favorite animals. For instance, did you know that dolphin milk has as much fat in it as half and half that we put in our coffee? That’s so that the baby dolphins can build up a layer of blubber to keep them warm in the cold water. There’s a lot to explore on the Shedd’s website—have fun!
It’s starting to get chilly outside, and while some animals have thick layers of fur to keep them warm, other animals, like the frogs featured in the latest issue of Zootles, need to find other ways to stay warm. So how do cold-blooded, thin-skinned frogs keep warm in the winter?
Like many other animals, frogs slow down their bodies and hibernate during the winter. Frogs that spend most of the time in the water nestle into the mud at the bottom of their pond.They don’t bury themselves completely, though– they still need to be able to access the oxygen-rich water. Meanwhile, land-dwelling frogs burrow into the ground beneath the frost line. Some of them even have an “anti-freeze” substance in their bodies that prevents their organs from being damaged. Come spring, their bodies thaw, and they return to their normal, active lives.
Photo contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Eugene van der Pijll.
The dolphins and porpoises in the latest issue of Zoobooks have a lot in common, but here are a few ways to tell them apart!
Dolphins and porpoises have differently shaped beaks—porpoises have short, rounded noses, while dolphin’s beaks are longer and pointier.
Dolphin teeth are cone-shaped, but porpoises’ teeth are shaped like spades.
3. Dorsal fin
Porpoises’ dorsal fins (the fins that stick up from the middle of their back) are curved, but dolphins have triangular dorsal fins.
4. Body shape
Most dolphins have long, lean, torpedo-like bodies, while porpoises are usually chubbier.
Dolphins and porpoises are extremely intelligent animals, and they communicate with each other just like humans do. However, dolphins make whistling noises with their blowholes to communicate with each other underwater, but porpoises don’t. Scientists think this is due to porpoises’ blowholes being built differently.
Can you tell whether the animal in this picture is a dolphin or a porpoise?
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
The latest issue of Zootles focuses on one of the most popular animals: elephants. But how well do you know the different kinds of elephants (African and Asian)? This quick list will help you be an expert for your next trip to the zoo!
African elephants are a good deal bigger than their Asian counterparts. African elephants stand up to thirteen feet tall at the shoulder, while Asian elephants only reach about nine feet. African elephants weigh more, too—up to 15,400 pounds, compared to Asian elephants’ top weight of 13,200 pounds.
Both male and female African elephants have tusks, but in Asian elephants, it’s rare for the females to have tusks.
You know the crescent-shaped, toenail-like structures on elephants’ feet? It turns out that Asian elephants have more of them than African elephants. Asian elephants have five “toenails” on their front feet, and four on their back feet—African elephants have four or five toes in front, and only three in back.
African elephants are gray, but Asian elephants have a brownish-pinkish hue.
African elephants have bigger ears than Asian ones, and their ears are differently shaped—Asian elephants’ ears are rounded, while African elephants’ ears are shaped almost like the continent of Africa.
Photo by Kjrajesh
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