Featured Animal: Short-beaked Echidna

Meet our featured animal, the short-beaked echidna!

Short-beaked echidna walking

Here are five fun facts about echidnas:

  • Baby echidnas are called puggles! [Check out this adorable puggle from the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.]
  • Echidnas are monotremes, or mammals that lay eggs.
  • Their long spines are made of keratin, the same material that makes up our fingernails.
  • The echidna’s pointy snout can sense electrical signals from insect bodies.
  • Echidnas do not have teeth, but they do have horny pads in their mouths and on the back of their tongues which grind the prey.

Learn more >

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Featured Animal: Tasmanian Devil

Meet our featured animal, the Tasmanian devil!

Tasmanian devil

Here are five facts about Tasmanian devils:

  • Tasmanian devils inhabit the island state of Tasmania, although they once lived throughout Australia.
  • The Tasmanian devil is the size of a small dog.
  • Tasmanian devils are not picky eaters. They eat carrion (dead animals), including rotten flesh, fur, and bones!
  • Female Tasmanian devils give birth to up to 50 babies (joeys).
  • Tasmanian devils are considered endangered. Threats include being hit by cars and Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

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Rare Yellow Cardinal Spotted in Alabama

Yellow cardinal

A rare yellow cardinal was first spotted in late January in Alabama. Photo by Jeremy Black.

Chances are you’ve seen red cardinals and brown cardinals. But have you ever seen a yellow cardinal?

This unique yellow cardinal was first seen in the backyard of Charlie Stephenson in Alabaster, Alabama in late January. The distinctive bird became a regular at her bird feeder, showing up at least once a day.

So why is this cardinal yellow? According to Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill, the cardinal carries a genetic mutation that causes his feathers to be a brilliant yellow instead of the more common red shade. “Yellow cardinals are a one-in-a million situation,” Hill said.

Watch a video of the cardinal:

Learn more at USAToday.com.

 

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September is Save the Koala Month

September is a special time to consider how you can help koalas. This month is Save the Koala Month, and Friday, September 29 is Save the Koala Day.

September is Save the Koala Month

Here are some ways you can help koalas:

  • Write to the Australian Environment Minister to advocate listing the Southeast Queensland koala population as critically endangered and protecting koala habitat more effectively.
  • “Adopt” a koala from the Australian Koala Foundation.
  • Plant a eucalyptus tree online through the Australian Koala Foundation.
  • For those living in eastern Australia, planting a eucalyptus tree on your property is a wonderful way to help. Here is a Koala Tree Planting PDF which provides information about what species of eucalyptus to plant.

Learn more about koalas at our koala facts article.

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PHOTOS: Baby Animals from Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Come enjoy the baby animal cuteness from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia.

Black rhino calf running

Rompin’ rhino! This black rhino calf, named Mesi, was born in April and has only recently gone on public display with her mom. Photo by Rick Stevens, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Two baby giraffes

Mirror image: The two giraffe calves, born 1 week apart, check each other out. [Read more about Zuberi and Kibo.] Photo by Rick Stevens, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Baby hippo and mom

Kendi, a three-month-old hippo calf, soaks up the sun with her mom. Photo by Rick Stevens, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

You can learn facts about these animals in our articles: Giraffe and Hippopotamus.

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Seeing Double: Two Baby Giraffes Born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia is doubly pleased to announce the birth of two baby giraffes- born just one week apart!

The first calf has been named Zuberi, which means “strong” in Swahili. He was born in the exhibit around noon on August 8.

Giraffe calf and his mother at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Photo courtesy of Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

According to zookeeper Pascale Benoit, “It was a smooth delivery and was followed by a number of giraffes in the herd getting up close to meet the new calf within moments of its arrival. They were a great support for experienced mother, Asmara, helping her to lick her new calf and encouraging him to stand.”

The second calf arrived on August 15 in the middle of the night. He has been named Kibo, which means “the highest”.

Baby giraffe at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Photo courtesy of Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“Both pairs of mother and calf are doing very well, and have integrated nicely back into
the herd,” Pascale said.

Two giraffe calves

Photo courtesy of Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Learn more about giraffes at our giraffe facts article.

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Featured Animal: African Elephant

Meet our Featured Animal: the African elephant!

Here are five fun facts about African elephants:

  • Weighing up to 6000 kg (6.6 tons) and measuring up to 3.3 m (10 ft.) at the shoulder, the African elephant is the world’s largest land mammal.
  • Both male and female elephants possess tusks, which are modified incisor teeth.
  • On average, an elephant can hear another elephant’s call at 4 km (2.5 mi.) away. Under ideal conditions, their range of hearing can be increased to 10 km (6.2 mi.).
  • African elephants mostly communicate through low frequency sounds called “rumbling.”  They are capable of producing and perceiving sounds one to two octaves lower than the human hearing limit.
  • African elephants have good memory, which allows them to remember deceased loved ones, harbor grudges, and recognize long-lost friends. Upon the return of a friend, elephants take part in a joyous greeting ceremony where they spin in circles, flap their ears, and trumpet.

Learn more about elephants at our African elephant facts article.

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