VIDEO: How Wolves Change Rivers

As we discussed in our gray wolf facts article, gray wolves are keystone predators. They help maintain a healthy ecosystem by preying upon weak animals, thereby strengthening the herd as a whole.

In this video, George Monbiot reveals how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence not only changed the ecosystem of the park, it also altered the physical landscape.

Help Name Toronto Zoo’s Polar Bear Cub

The Toronto Zoo needs your help in naming its polar bear cub!  The staff have selected their top six names, and you can vote for your favorite at their website.

Vote here >

Here’s a video of the little cub playing in his outdoor den for the first time:

UPDATE: After 14,000 votes, the winning name was Humphrey!

Zookeepers Hand-Rear Baby Red Panda

The zookeepers at Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska are hand-rearing a baby red panda. The little red panda, named Lincoln, was born in July. Zookeepers separated him from his mother after he developed a wound and she was unable to care for him. The keepers will bottle-feed Lincoln and care for him until he is ready to join red pandas his own age at another zoo.

View a video of Lincoln here:

In the wild, red pandas inhabits the Himalayas and southwestern China. They are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Redlist due to habitat loss and poaching.

Learn more about Lincoln the red panda at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo website.

Eagle Cam: Watch Bald Eagle Chicks Live

You can watch in real time the lives of two bald eagle chicks and their parents on National Geographic’s live eagle webcam!  The eagle nest (called an eyrie) is located in Washington D.C. The young eaglets, who were born in March, are covered in brown feathers. They won’t develop their characteristic white heads until they are about 4-5 years old.

Bald eagle in nest

Click the image to view the live webcam on National Geographic’s website.

Like bald eagles? You can see more live eagle cams here:

To learn more about bald eagles, see our Bald Eagle Facts page.

African Penguin Gets Custom Wetsuit

Penguin in wetsuit

Photo by Abigail Pheiffer

At the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT, a 14-year-old penguin named Yellow Pink molted his waterproof feathers last year. They never grew back. Without the waterproof feathers, swimming became uncomfortable for the penguin.

Fortunately, a team of veterinarians, trainers, and research staff made him a custom neoprene wetsuit out of an old aquarium diving suit. Now Yellow Pink can stay warm as as swims.

Watch a video of Yellow Pink swimming in his suit below:

For more information about Yellow Pink, visit the Mystic Aquarium website or find them on Facebook.

Learn more about African penguins on our African Penguin Facts Page.

Killer Shots on Nat Geo WILD

Ever wonder what it’s like to get those amazing shots of animals you see in magazines and on tv? Nat Geo WILD’s Killer Shots takes you along side Andy Brandy Casagrande IV as he pursues the perfect shot. ABC, as Casagrande likes to be called, is fearless in his camera work – getting unbelievable close to great white sharks on the hunt.

Killer Shots airs Fridays at 10 starting July 8 on Nat Geo WILD.

Big Cat Week on Nat Geo WILD

Monday, December 6 kicks off Big Cat Week on the Nat Geo WILD channel — seven nights of programs dedicated to the world’s fiercest felines.  The event is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment by the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo WILD to stop poaching, save habitat, and raise the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world.

lion eyes

Photo by Beverly Joubert

Don’t miss the premieres of these films:

Big Cat Odyssey: Monday, December 6, at 9pm ET/PT
Award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert set out 30 years ago on a quest to get close to big cats. Big Cat Odyssey chronicles their meticulous work over three decades of filming, photographing and documenting the behavior of big cat species in Botswana.

Two lion cubs

Photo by Beverly Joubert

The video below depicts the attack of a buffalo by a whole pride of lions.

Leopard Queen: Tuesday, December 7, at 9pm ET/PT
Filmmaker John Varty, who filmed a wild female leopard for 17 years, opens an extraordinary window into the lives of Africa’s most secretive big cat.  Leopard Queen follows the life of “Manana,” a wild leopard whose territory spans the heart of the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa.

Leopard in tree

Photo by Susanne Baden

In the video below, watch Manana as a cub, exploring the world around her and learning essential survival skills.

Lion Warriors: Wednesday, December 8, at 9pm ET/PT
In the Great Plains below Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya, Maasai warriors have a centuries-old tradition of killing the lions that kill their cattle. But now only about 2000 lions are left in the country (and the number is dropping), so Maasai elders and chiefs have forbidden the warriors to kill them. Wildlife filmmaker Kire Godal, with the support of executive producers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, captures firsthand the struggle of these modern-day warriors, who are reinventing their traditions to help save the lions they once prided themselves on killing.

Lionness

Photo by Richard Jones

The video below shows the initiation of two Maasai teens where they will officially become warriors and men.

Lions on the Edge: Thursday, December 9, at 9PM ET/PT
Ruaha National Park in Tanzania used to be a true paradise for wildlife gathered around the rich Ruaha riverbanks. Now, the worst drought in decades is pushing all the animals on a march to find water. The animals follow the dry riverbed upstream for water, while circling prides of lions position themselves close by, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Watch the hunting strategies of the lion pride as they attack a herd of zebras in the video below.

Also featured during Big Cat Week are two specials that take place in Botswana’s Okavango Delta: Eye of the Leopard, which captures the life of a female leopard, from cub to feared predator, and Relentless Enemies, which focuses on the fight for survival of highly specialized lions that prey almost exclusively on buffalo.

Zoo Animals Celebrate Halloween

At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the animals from the Edge of Africa enjoyed special Jack-O’-Lanterns in the festive spirit of Halloween.  Inside each carved pumpkin was a unique treat depending on the animal’s diet.  Lions and hyenas were tempted by meat. Ring-tailed lemurs sought grapes, while meerkats were after mealworms. Hippos love fruit, but Kita enjoyed playing with the buoyant pumpkin for a few minutes before smashing it and eating it.

Watch the fun video below: