Bison Officially Named America’s National Mammal

American bison

President Obama signed a law on Monday declaring the bison as America’s national mammal. For those bald eagle fans, don’t worry! The bald eagle remains the national animal (and national bird) of the United States.

Bison-National-Mammal-SealThe new law, called the National Bison Legacy Act, creates an additional designation for a special native mammal in America. Animals are classified as mammals when:

  • they are warm blooded vertebrates
  • they possess hair or fur, and
  • they nourish their young with milk produced by mammary glands

The bison is an excellent choice for the honor of national mammal. Bison once numbered in the millions in the United States. Their range stretched from Canada to Mexico.

Many Native American tribes relied heavily on bison as a source of food and clothing, and they considered it of great spiritual significance. When white settlers spread into the Great Plains, they decimated the bison population, and the bison nearly went extinct.

Due to conservationist efforts starting in the early 20th century, the bison was saved from extinction. But they are still classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. You can help in their preservation by adopting a bison via the Defenders of Wildlife or donating toward the purchase of prairie land for reserves at the American Prairie Foundation.

To learn more about bison, see our American bison facts article.

Double Cuteness: Two Baby Sloths at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Baby sloths

Meet the newest baby sloths at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Daisy’s baby (left) and Grizzly’s baby (right). Photo by Busch Gardens.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay recently welcomed two baby sloths!

A Hoffman’s two-toed sloth was born on March 24 to mother Grizzly and father Teddy. The little one only weighed 186 grams (6.6 ounces) at birth and wasn’t nursing regularly. So the animal care team at Busch Gardens decided to hand-nurse the baby via syringe every two hours. Currently, the baby is healthy and under 24-hour watch.

Baby sloth being hand-fed.

The animal care team feeds Grizzly’s baby by syringe. Photo by Busch Gardens.

A Linne’s two-toed sloth was born on April 2 to mother Daisy and father Mario. Weighing 550 grams (19.4 ounces) at birth, the baby is currently healthy and being cared for by its mother. The animal care team is monitoring closely.

Linne's sloth baby

The animal care team checks Daisy’s baby, who is still under her daily care.

Watch a video below of the two baby sloths:

One interesting fact about two-toed sloths is that they actually have three toes. (All sloths have three toes per foot.) But two-toed sloths have only two claws per foot. For more interesting sloth facts, see our article about the brown-throated three-toed sloth.

Watch Baby Eagles Hatch Live on DC Eagle Cam

Eaglets are on the way! You can witness live and up close the moment the chicks hatch on the D.C. Eagle Cam. The nest (and camera) is located in the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. The eagle parents have been named Mr. President and the First Lady in honor of their location.

If you want to try and guess the hatch dates/times of the eggs, use hashtag #dceaglecam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with your prediction (Eastern Standard Time). For more information, visit Eagles.org.

Learn more about eagles at our bald eagle facts page.

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UPDATE 1: The first eaglet started hatching around 7:30pm EST on March 16.

Screen shot captured by Sue Greeley/American Eagle Foundation

Screen shot captured by Sue Greeley/American Eagle Foundation

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UPDATE 2: In case you were wondering what bald eagles look like when they sleep…

baldeagle2

A still from American Eagle Foundation’s live web cam at 12:25am EST on March 18, 2016 demonstrates that even eagle parents get sleepy sometimes. Screen shot captured by Animal Fact Guide.

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UPDATE 3: The first eaglet hatched at 8:27am on March 18!

eaglet

A still from American Eagle Foundation’s live web cam at 12:57pm EST on March 18, 2016 shows the first eaglet fully emerged from its shell. Screen shot captured by Animal Fact Guide.

All images © American Eagle Foundation.

Hungry Sea Lion Visits Restaurant

A hungry sea lion pup made her way from the beach all the way inside a fancy restaurant in San Diego. Plopping herself into a booth, the young sea lion had a prime location near a window.

Executive chef Bernard Guillas posted photos of the pup on Facebook:

Photo by Bernard Guillas.

Photo by Bernard Guillas.

Photo by Bernard Guillas.

Photo by Bernard Guillas.

The sea lion was eventually rescued by SeaWorld San Diego’s Animal Rescue team. They observed that the pup was very small for her age.

“It was also a little bit shocking to see how small the pup was,” said Jody Westberg, one of SeaWorld’s animal coordinators, who went to the rescue. “A micro-pup. Very small in body length, and very malnourished.”

The animal care team is now working to rehydrate the pup and get her back in the water.

For more info, see: NY Times.

VIDEO: Baby Sea Otter Sleeping on Mother’s Belly

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California caught an adorable moment on camera: a mother otter with her newborn pup sleeping on her belly.

Mama otter is actually a wild otter who ventured into the protected basin of the Great Tide Pool area of the aquarium to rest from the winter storms. She gave birth to her pup on December 20.

Learn more at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Tumblr page.

VIDEO: Circus Mountain Lion Rescued in Peru

Mufasa, an elderly mountain lion who spent 20 years chained up in the back of a circus pick-up truck, has been rescued by Animal Defenders International (ADI). He will live out the rest of his life at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon forest.

According to ADI President Jan Creamer, “Mufasa’s story symbolizes the suffering we have ended.  He was kept for years in chains in a truck, sleeping on metal, barely able to move. An unbearable torture. Now, in his twilight years, I hope people will help us give him back the life the circus stole from him.”

Mountain lion freed from circus truck

ADI rescues Mufasa from the back of a circus pickup truck. Photo by Animal Defenders International.

Mufasa the mountain lion

Mufasa at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon forest. Photo by Animal Defenders International.

If you would like to help ADI make more rescues, you can donate at their website. Learn more at www.ad-international.org/SpiritofFreedom.

VIDEO: First Giant Panda Cubs Born in Canada

The two little panda cubs born at Toronto Zoo are now a month old! Although they were born pink and hairless, they now resemble their mother Er Shun with the distinctive black and white markings.

The larger of the cubs weighs 1 kg, while the smaller one weighs 750 grams.

Giant panda and cub

Er Shun and her cub. Photo by Toronto Zoo.

Learn more about Toronto Zoo’s giant panda cubs at their website.

Learn more about pandas at our giant panda facts article.

VIDEO: Southern White Rhino Calf at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa welcomed a female southern white rhinoceros calf on October 16. The calf is healthy and is currently being cared for by experienced mother Kisiri with the Busch Gardens animal care team watching closely.

Southern white rhino calf

Photo by Busch Gardens.

Newborn white rhinoceroses usually weigh about 150 pounds and can gain four pounds every day for the first year. White rhinos are the second largest land mammal after the elephant and can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds when fully grown.

The southern white rhinoceros is classified as a near-threatened species with just over 20,000 left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Learn more about the baby southern white rhino at the Busch Gardens Tampa blog.