Wildlife Blog

Featured Animal: Cheetah

Meet our featured animal: the cheetah!

cheetah_relaxing

Here are five fun facts about cheetahs:

  • Accelerating from 0 to 96 km/h (60 mph) in three seconds, the cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal.
  • Cheetahs have several special adaptations that allow them to reach top speeds, such as wide nostrils, a powerful heart, strong arteries, and an aerodynamic body frame.
  • With long legs, loose hip and shoulder joints, and a flexible spine, cheetahs can cover 7 m (20-25 ft.) in one stride.
  • Although sometimes confused with leopards, cheetahs are distinguished by their “tear-stained” black marks that run from the corners of their eyes down the side of their nose to their mouth.
  • Young cubs grow a thick yellow-gray coat on their backs called a mantle. The mantle protects the cub from the sun and rain and helps camouflage it in the shadows.

Learn more at our cheetah facts page.

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World Elephant Day

World Elephant DayToday, August 12, is World Elephant Day!

World Elephant Day focuses on raising awareness to help elephants. African and Asian elephants face many threats including poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, mistreatment in captivity, and more.

According to the World Elephant Day site:

World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.

African elephantWhat can you do to help elephants?

  • Learn about elephants and the important role they play in the ecosystem. (See our article, African elephant, to read more.)
  • Participate in eco-tourism whose operators treat elephants with respect. Boosting Africa’s economy through eco-tourism helps placate local residents who view elephants as pests.
  • Never buy, sell, or wear ivory.
  • Write to your politicians to speak out against poaching. (Americans can write a letter to the Secretary of State on the Wildlife Conservation Society website.)
  • Encourage the ethical treatment of elephants in captivity. Boycott circuses, whose unethical treatment includes chaining elephants up by their feet and trunks, as well as beating them frequently. Urge zoos to create environments similar to African elephants’ native habitat.

See the World Elephant Day’s page, How to Help Elephants, for more ideas.

Koala Joey Makes Appearance at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Koala joey

Say hello to Rosea, the baby koala who recently emerged from her mother’s pouch at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Photo by Natacha Richards, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

At the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia, visitors got the first glimpse of a new fuzzy face! A female koala joey, named Rosea after a species of flowering eucalypt, emerged from her mother’s pouch.

“Rosea is approximately eight-months-old and is a little shy at present, preferring to stay close to mum’s chest but in the coming months will start to move on to her mother’s back,” said keeper Natacha Richards.

The zoo has two more koala joeys and many wallaby joeys that have yet to emerge from their mothers’ pouches.  So visitors to the zoo will have a lot to look forward to!

Koala joey

Photo by Jackie Stuart, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Koala joey by Rachel Hanlon_3

Photo by Rachel Hanlon, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Learn more about the koala joey at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

For more information about koalas, see our koala facts article.

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!

Juvenile Komodo Dragons at Nashville Zoo

Komodo dragons

Two young Komodo dragons have arrived at Nashville Zoo! Photo courtesy of Nashville Zoo.

Two juvenile Komodo dragons are now on view at the Nashville Zoo! They measure about two feet long and weigh two pounds now, but they will eventually grow to be over nine feet long and weigh around 200 pounds!

In the wild, Komodo dragons live in the volcanic islands of Indonesia.  They are carnivorous apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain with few to no other predators.  In one meal, they can eat 80% of their body weight (over 100 pounds of meat!).

Fewer than 2,500 Komodo dragons remain in the wild, and the IUCN considers them vulnerable. Threats include habitat loss, loss of prey species, hunting, and persecution.

Komodo dragon

Photo by Marty Fitzpatrick | Nashville Zoo.

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!

Baby Klipspringer at Florida Zoo

Baby klipspringer at Brevard Zoo.

Baby klipspringer at Brevard Zoo. Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo.

Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL welcomed a female klipspringer calf on June 15. She weighed two pounds at birth and is doing well.

The zoo staff are especially excited over this special birth because the little calf’s mother Vera has a history of medical issues. In May 2013, Vera came to Brevard Zoo with an injured leg.  After an extensive surgery, Vera developed an infection in her leg and veterinarians had to amputate it.

Klipspringers at Brevard Zoo.

The baby klipspringer with her parents, Vera and Marley. Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo.

Despite her physical disability, Vera was able to hop around the yard and onto the rocks with just three legs. Now, with the birth of the little calf, Vera is showing she is a great mother as well.

In the wild, klipspringers inhabit the rocky terrain of eastern and southern Africa. They are very agile creatures, able to leap and balance on very steep, narrow ledges. In fact, the word klipspringer translates to “rock jumper”.

For more information, see the Brevard Zoo website.