Wildlife Blog

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.

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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!

Echidna Puggle Gets a Helping Hand

Echidna puggle

The team of vet nurses at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been caring for this baby echidna for the past couple months. Photo by Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales, Australia has been hand rearing a baby echidna (called a puggle) over the last couple of months.

The little puggle was found at the side of the road. It is believed the mother was hit by a car.

“The puggle is now approximately four months old and responding very well under the watchful eye of the vet nurses,” said vet nurse, Jodie Milton.

“It’s feeding well and gaining weight steadily, so we’ll be able to wean it in about three to four months’ time and start introducing it to solid food.”

Normally, echidnas live in their mothers’ pouches for 2-3 months and then move into a secluded burrow for up to a year. So it is very rare to see an echidna puggle.

“It will be some time before the puggle will be able to fend for itself, but until then it’s in safe hands,” said Jodie.

For more information about the little puggle, see the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

Learn more about echidnas at our short-beaked echidna facts page.

Name a Gentoo Penguin Chick

Starting today, you can help name a Gentoo penguin chick at SeaWorld Orlando!  Cast your vote for your favorite name on the SeaWorld Orlando Facebook page.

Penguin chicks at SeaWorld.

From left to right: the king chick hatched on November 30, the Adelie on December 21, the Gentoo on December 16 and the rockhopper on December 20. Photo by Jason Collier.

Since November 30, SeaWorld Orlando has experienced a penguin chick boom.  Fifteen penguin chicks have hatched at their new exhibit, Antarctica, Empire of the Penguin, which features four different species of penguin: king, Adelie, Gentoo, and rockhopper.

From SeaWorld Orlando:

Although currently ranging in size from 6 inches to 21 inches, the king chick, the largest penguin at SeaWorld’s Antarctica will grow to be as tall as 2.5 ft. and its smallest, the rock hopper will grow to be approximately 12 inches tall.

Learn more at SeaWorld’s website.

Tawny Frogmouth Chicks at SeaWorld Orlando

Tawny frogmouth chicks

SeaWorld Orlando recently welcomed four tawny frogmouth chicks! (Don’t miss the little one, born January 14, on the right!)

The SeaWorld Orlando Aviculture Team is hand-raising four tawny frogmouth chicks.  Three of the chicks were born in early December and the latest addition hatched on January 14.

A member of the Aviculture Team takes a chick home every night to monitor it and provide scheduled feedings every 3-4 hours.

Tawny frogmouth chicks

Tawny frogmouths are native to Australia.  Their distinct markings help camouflage them on the tree branches.

Tawny frogmouth chicks

For more information, visit the SeaWorld website.

Photos by Jason Collier, SeaWorld Orlando.

Polar Bear Cub Takes First Steps

Watch a video of a polar bear cub taking his first steps at the Toronto Zoo.

The cub was born on November 9, 2013 and is making great progress. His achievements include:

  • Standing on all four legs and taking steps forward.
  • Learning to lap up milk formula from a dish
  • Teething – his canines, incisors, and some of his molars can now be felt. He likes to bite objects like his blanket.
  • Playing – he is quite active, and he is interacting with his surroundings.
  • Gaining weight – he currently weighs about 4.5 kg, which is a 529% increase since his original birth weight of 700 grams.

Learn more at the Toronto Zoo website.

 

Ever Been Tweeted…by a Shark?

Great White SharkResearchers in Western Australia are trying a new way to warn swimmers about sharks. Three hundred and thirty-eight sharks have been tagged with acoustic transmitters which will send a signal to a computer if a shark gets too close to land. The computer when then send out a tweet to warn swimmers that there is a shark in the area.

One concern is that the new system will provide a false sense of security because there are still many sharks without tags.

For more, check out NPR.org.

To learn more about sharks, read our article on Great White Sharks.

View the shark Twitter Feed here: https://twitter.com/SLSWA.

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.