Featured Animal: Giraffe

Meet our featured animal: the giraffe!

Giraffe

Here are five fun facts about giraffes:

  • At an average height of around 5 m (16-18 ft.), the giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world.
  • Many people first believed the giraffe was a cross between a leopard and a camel, which is reflected in its scientific name, Giraffa camelopardalis.
  • Giraffes have long tongues which help them pull leaves from trees.
  • Both male and female giraffes have skin-covered knobs, called ossicones, on the top of their heads. Male ossicones are bald at the top, while female ossicones have tufts of fur.
  • When giraffes walk, they move both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side; this is unique to giraffes. However, they run in a similar style to other mammals, swinging their rear legs and front legs in unison.

Learn more at our giraffe facts page!

Featured Animal: Hippopotamus

Meet our featured animal: the hippopotamus!

Hippo family

Here are five fun facts about hippopotamuses:

  • The hippo is second heaviest land mammal in the world.
  • The body of the hippopotamus is well suited for aquatic life. Their eyes, ears and nostrils are located at the top of their head, so they are able to see, hear, and breathe while mostly submerged.
  • Due to their dense bodies, hippos do not swim. Instead, when in the water, they tap their feet along the ground to propel themselves.
  • When out of the water, hippos secrete a red-colored substance to cool their hairless skin. The secretion is referred to as ‘blood-sweat’ but is actually neither of those fluids.
  • As herbivores, they feed on short grass for six hours a night, consuming up to 68 kg (150 lb.) of food.

Learn more at our hippopotamus facts page!

Featured Animal: Meerkat

Meet our featured animal: the meerkat!

Meerkats

Here are five fun facts about meerkats:

  • Meerkats live in groups of 20-50 extended family members in large underground tunnels. These family groups are called gangs or mobs.
  • One of the most important roles a meerkat plays is that of the sentry, or watch guard. The sentry will stand on its hind legs, propped up by its tail, and act as a lookout while the rest of the mob is outside the burrow.
  • Meerkats are specially adapted to living in the harsh desert environment. Dark patches around their eyes help them be effective lookouts by reducing the glare of the sun, much like a baseball player who paints dark lines beneath his eyes.
  • Meerkats also possess special adaptations to help them burrow. Their eyes have a clear protective membrane that shields them from dirt while digging. Their ears also close tightly to keep dirt out.
  • A meerkat’s diet consists of mainly insects, supplemented by small rodents, fruit, birds, eggs, lizards, and even poisonous scorpions.

Learn more at our meerkat facts page!

Featured Animal: Koala

Meet our featured animal: the koala!

koala2

Here are five fun facts about koalas:

  • Koalas are marsupials, closer related to wombats and kangaroos.
  • As marsupials, female koalas have pouches where their young stay until fully developed. Unlike kangaroo pouches, which open towards the top, koala pouches are located towards the bottom of their bodies and open outward.
  • Extra thick fur on their bottoms and a cartilaginous pad at the base of their spines provide cushioning so koalas can sit comfortably on branches for hours.
  • Koalas have bacteria in their stomachs that break down the fiber and toxic oils of eucalyptus leaves and allow them to absorb 25% of the nutrients.
  • In order to survive on such a low calorie diet, they conserve energy by moving slowly and sleeping around 20 hours a day.

Learn more at our koala facts page!

 

Featured Animal: Grizzly Bear

Meet our featured animal: the grizzly bear!

grizzlybear

Here are five fun facts about grizzlies:

  • During the warmer months, grizzly bears eat a lot of food. They may intake 40 kg (90 lbs.) of food each day, gaining over 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight a day.
  • Their long rounded claws are the size of human fingers.
  • When grizzly bears hibernate in the winter, their heart rate slows down from 40 beats per minute to 8, and they do not go to the bathroom at all during these months of slumber.
  • Grizzly bear cubs are born blind, hairless, and toothless.
  • Detecting food from great distances away, grizzlies have an astute sense of smell, even better than that of a hound dog!

Learn more at our grizzly bear facts page.

Featured Animal: Toco Toucan

Meet our featured animal: the toco toucan!

Toco toucan

Here are five fun facts about toco toucans:

  • Measuring 63.5 cm (25 in.) in length, the toco toucan is the largest of all toucans.
  • Toucans regulate body temperature by adjusting the flow of blood to their beak. More blood flow means more heat is released.
  • Toco toucans use their beaks to pluck and peel fruit, their main source of food.
  • Although they spend a lot of time in trees, they are not very good at flying. Toucans mainly travel among trees by hopping.
  • Toucans nest in the hollows of trees. They often move into cavities created and abandoned by woodpeckers.

Learn more at our toco toucan facts page!

Featured Animal: Emperor Penguin

Meet our featured animal: the emperor penguin!

Emperor penguin

Here are five fun facts about emperor penguins:

  • The emperor penguin is the largest of 17 species of penguin at 1.15 m (45 in.) tall.
  • Emperor penguins are specially adapted to living in a cold environment. They have
    four layers of scale-like feathers and large amounts of fat.
  • They can dive deeper than any other bird – as deep as 565 m (1850 ft.) – and they can stay underwater for more than 20 minutes.
  • Every winter (which begins in March in Antarctica), emperor penguins traverse up 80 km (50 mi.) across the ice to reach stable breeding grounds.
  • A male emperor penguin must use his own body to create a safe, warm environment for his egg because there are no nesting supplies available on the ice mass.  He balances the egg on his feet and covers it with a warm layer of feathered skin called a brood pouch.

Learn more at our emperor penguin facts page!

Featured Animal: Spotted Salamander

Meet our featured animal: the spotted salamander!

Spotted Salamander

Here are five fun facts about spotted salamanders:

  • Spotted salamanders are amphibians. This means they live underwater when they hatch. But when they mature, they live on land.
  • They secrete a mild sticky toxin from their backs and tails to discourage predators from eating them.
  • They hibernate.
  • Adults spend most of their day hiding underground or beneath rocks and logs.
  • They eat just about anything they can catch and swallow, including worms, spiders, insects, and slugs.

Learn more at our spotted salamander facts page.

Featured Animal: Polar Bear

Polar bearMeet our featured animal: the polar bear!

Here are five fun facts about polar bears:

  • Although they appear white or yellow in color, polar bears’ fur is actually clear and hollow, and their skin is black.
  • Two coats of fur and a thick layer of blubber help insulate the polar bear’s body from the cold, keeping its temperature at an even 37° C (98.6° F).
  • Polar bears’ paws are especially adapted for walking on the ice and swimming in the sea. Hairs and bumps on the soles of their feet provide traction, while webbing between their toes allows for effective swimming strokes.
  • Polar bears can smell a seal’s breathing hole, or aglu, up to one mile away.
  • Polar bears do not hibernate like other bears, but females do enter into a dormant state while pregnant.

Learn more at our polar bear facts page!

Featured Animal: Killer Whale (aka Orca)

Meet our featured animal: the killer whale (orca)!

Orca

Here are five facts about killer whales:

  • True to their name, killer whales are effective hunters. They prey on seals, sea lions, fish, sea birds, turtles, octopuses, and squid.
  • Killer whales hunt in pods, or groups, in a way similar to wolves. They circle their prey and force them into smaller areas before attacking.
  • Killer whales have a massive range, living primarily where the water is cold, but inhabiting anywhere from the polar regions right up to the equator.
  • Sending sound waves that travel underwater, killer whales use echolocation as a means for hunting.
  • Killer whales live an average of 30 to 50 years in the wild.

Learn more about killer whales >