VIDEO: White Lion Cubs at Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is pleased to announce that Makali, a four-year-old white lioness, gave birth to four cubs on September 26-27.

The little lion cubs are healthy, feeding well, and staying in the maternity area of the lion habitat at the zoo. The first thirty days will be critical for the cubs and zoo staff will continue to monitor them closely.

Learn more about lions at our lion facts article.

Did You Eat Your Dirt Today?

Giraffe spitting dust

A giraffe spits dust after eating dirt. Photo by Marie-France Grenouillet.

Wildlife photographer Marie-France Grenouillet captured this spectacular photo of a giraffe spitting dust out after eating soil in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania.

The act of eating soil, clay and dirt, called geophagy, is extremely common in mammals, especially in herbivores. Giraffes eat soil in order to take in minerals such as salt, copper, iron and zinc.  The clay also acts as a medicine by binding fungal toxins, internal toxins, toxic chemicals, and bacteria.

View more fantastic wildlife photos at her website.

You can learn more about giraffes at our giraffe facts article.

Wow! Photo of Mountain Lion Atop Utility Pole

Cougar on telephone pole

Photo by Peter Day, Victorville Press.

Peter Day, photographer for the Victorville Press, captured this amazing scene in California’s Lucerne Valley on September 29.

Jose Ruiz, who lives across from the 35-foot utility pole, said he thought the mountain lion got spooked by a noisy group of kids getting off the school bus. The big cat stayed perched atop the pole into the night.

To learn more about mountain lions (also known as cougars, pumas, or panthers), visit our mountain lion facts article.

Scientists Finally Discover What Sound the Giraffe Makes

GiraffeCow goes moo. Frog goes croak. Giraffe goes…. hmm?

Zookeepers have always assumed giraffes were fairly silent creatures, with the occasional snort thrown in. The assumption was that their long necks restricted their ability to make sounds, and also that being noisy would attract predators.

But researchers from the University of Vienna challenged this assumption. After recording and studying 938 hours of giraffe sounds over an eight year period, the scientists have discovered that in fact giraffes do make sounds. They make low-pitched humming sounds at night.

Listen here:

Learn more about giraffe sounds and the new research at Wired.com.

Discover more giraffe facts at our giraffe article.

Baby Panda at National Zoo Growing Steadily

Baby giant panda

Zookeepers at Smithsonian’s National Zoo weigh the baby giant panda on September 14.  (Erika Bauer/Smithsonian’s National Zoo via AP)

The tiny baby panda born at the National Zoo on August 22 is starting to look like his dad Tian Tian. At four weeks old, the baby now weighs two pounds and has developed markings in a similar pattern to those of his father.

The little tyke still sleeps most of the day, which is normal for a panda of this age. In the next few weeks, he will start to open his eyes.

Watch a video of the baby’s veterinary exam here:

You can follow the progress of the baby giant panda at the National Zoo’s website or with the hashtag #PandaStory on social media.

Learn more about pandas at our giant panda facts page.

Featured Animal: California Condor

Meet our featured animal: the California condor!

condor4

Here are five fun facts about California condors:

  • With a wingspan reaching 3 meters (10 ft.) long, the California condor is the largest flying bird in North America.
  • California condors can soar as fast as 88 km/h (55mph) and as high as 4,600 m (15,000 ft.).
  • They eat dead animals like cattle, deer, and sheep as well as smaller mammals like rodents and rabbits.
  • They can eat over 1 kg (2-3 lbs.) of food at a time, and then go for days without eating anything.
  • Because they have a robust immune system, condors do not get sick when feasting on carrion (dead animal flesh) despite consuming various strains of bacteria.

Learn more about condors at our California condor facts page.

VIDEO: Pink Dolphin in Louisiana

A rare pink bottlenose dolphin was recently captured on video by charter boat captain Erik Rue. Pinky was first spotted by Rue in 2007. To everyone’s delight, Pinky made another appearance eight years later, and she might be pregnant!

Pinky the dolphin

Image by Erik Rue.

According to scientist Greg Barsh, Pinky is most likely an albino. The pink hue comes from the blood vessels showing through her pale skin, which has no color. Albinism happens when there is a genetic mutation. The cells that make melanin, which produces the color in hair and skin, fail to make enough pigment, if any at all. People who have albinism have very pale skin, eyes, and hair.

Albinos can suffer from skin and vision issues as a result of their lack of melanin. Animals with albinism may be easily spotted by predators because they lack the appropriate camouflage. Therefore, albino animals, such as Pinky, are very rare in the wild.

Learn more about Pinky at National Geographic.

Discover more interesting facts about dolphins at our bottlenose dolphin facts page.

Casting Call: Unlikely Animal Friends Wanted

Cheetah and monkey

Do you have an unlikely animal friend? Or two animals of different species that are best friends? Or did you go to extremes to rescue a helpless animal?

National Geographic WILD is looking for your stories!

For submissions, please email photos, a short description of your “Unlikely Animal Friends” story and your contact details to: unlikelyanimalfriends@gmail.com.

Watch a clip of a past episode below:

 

“Oh Hello There!” Koala Joey Emerges from Pouch at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Koala joey

Meet Storm, a seven month old joey. Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Visitors to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia delight in the new koala joey on view. Named Storm, the seven-month-old joey is the first koala joey of the season to emerge from his pouch.

This is the second joey for mother Wild Girl. Wild Girl came to the zoo’s wildlife hospital after she suffered a hip wound after being struck by a car and was unable to be returned to the wild.

Koala joey and mother

Storm with his mother Wild Girl. Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“Thunder is approximately seven-months-old, born in January 2015. Wild Girl is quiet protective of Thunder. He can be seen on the front of her chest for now but in the coming months will start to move on to her back,” said keeper Karen James.

For more information about the koala joeys at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, visit www.zoofari.com.au.

Learn more about koalas at our koala facts article.