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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
ADI rescues Mufasa from the back of a circus pickup truck. Photo by Animal Defenders International.
Mufasa at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon forest. Photo by Animal Defenders International.
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.
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).