5 Cool Facts about Polar Bears for Polar Bear Day

Polar bears

Did you know today is Polar Bear Day? Here are five cool facts about polar bears to celebrate:

  1. Polar bears’ fur is actually clear and hollow. It appears white or yellow because of the reflection and scattering of light.
  2. Polar bears are the world’s largest land predators, weighing up to 600 kg (1300 lb.) and measuring up to 3 m (10 ft.) tall.
  3. Polar bears have excellent senses of smell. They can smell a seal’s breathing hole, or aglu, up to 1.6 km (1 mi.) away.
  4. A female polar bear builds a maternity den in a snow drift to prepare for the arrival of her cubs.
  5. Polar bears have two coats of fur and a thick layer of blubber to help keep them insulated from the cold.

5 Cool Facts about Groundhogs for Groundhog Day!

It’s Groundhog Day today! Will the groundhog see his shadow? While groundhogs may not be the most accurate weather predictors, they are pretty cool animals. Here are 5 fun facts about groundhogs to celebrate Groundhog Day!

Groundhog or woodchuck

  1. Groundhogs are also called whistle pigs because they let out a shrill whistle when they sense danger.
  2. Groundhog burrows can be up to 20 m (66 ft.) long and contain many tunnels and chambers. They even have bathrooms!
  3. Groundhogs are true hibernators. In the winter, their heart rate slows from 80 beats per minute to 5. Their body temperature drops from 37°C to 3°C (99°F to 37°F). That’s barely above freezing!
  4. Groundhogs can climb trees! Sometimes they climb trees to reach apples or pawpaws (a kind of fruit).
  5. In the spring and summer, groundhogs eat at least half a kilogram (1 lb.) of vegetation per day! Luckily, they have teeth that never stop growing to keep up with the constant wear and tear.

Read our article about groundhogs for more cool facts about them!

5 Cool Facts about Penguins for Penguin Awareness Day

Emperor penguin

It’s Penguin Awareness Day today! Here are five cool facts about penguins to celebrate.

  1. Emperor penguins don’t build nests. Instead, the male emperor penguin balances the egg on his feet and covers it with a warm layer of feathered skin called a brood pouch.
  2. African penguins are also called jackass penguins. They make donkey-like braying sounds to communicate.
  3. One species of penguin is called the macaroni penguin. They’re not made of noodles, but they do have fun yellow feathered crests on their heads.
  4. Penguins have white bellies and black backs, which aids in camouflage. Their white belly will blend with the light when predators look up at them from below, and their black backs meld with the darker seas when predators look down on them from above.
  5. Gentoo penguins are the fastest penguins, swimming at speeds up to 35 km/h (22 mph).

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 >

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.

Learn more >

Featured Animal: African Elephant

Meet our Featured Animal: the African elephant!

African elephant herd

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.

Featured Animal: Bottlenose Dolphin

Meet our featured animal: the bottlenose dolphin!

National Dolphin Day takes place Friday, April 14, 2017!

Here are five fun facts about bottlenose dolphins:

  • Dolphins are marine mammals, which means they must come to the surface of the water to breathe. They can hold their breath for up to 7 minutes!
  • Dolphins can exhale air at 160 km/hr (100 mph) through their blowholes.
  • Dolphins never fully sleep. One side of their brain must always be active so that they remember to breathe. (They are not involuntary breathers like humans. They must consciously swim to the surface to take a breath.)
  • Dolphins have a nearly 360-degree field of vision, and they can move one eye independently of the other.
  • Dolphins produce high-frequency clicks that humans can’t hear. They use these clicks in a sonar system called echolocation. When the clicking sound reaches an object, it bounces back to the dolphin as an echo. Dolphins can process this information to determine the shape, size, speed, distance, and location of the object.

Learn more about dolphins at our bottlenose dolphin article.

Featured Animal: Koala

Meet our featured animal: the koala!


Friday, September 30 is Save the Koala Day!

Here are five fun facts about koalas:

  • Koalas are not bears, despite the common phrase, “koala bear”. Koalas are actually marsupials, like kangaroos and wombats. This means female koalas have pouches where their young stay until fully-developed.
  • Koalas are well-adapted to sitting in trees. They have a curved backbone and two fewer pairs of ribs than most mammals (11 instead of 13) creating a curled skeletal structure that fits well into the forks of branches.
  • Although there are 600 types of eucalyptus trees, koalas generally limit their diet to two or three favorite kinds.
  • Koalas have a special kind of bacteria in their stomachs that break down the fiber and toxic oils in eucalyptus leaves. This bacteria is passed down from mother koala to joey via a substance the mother produces called pap.
  • A koala’s pregnancy lasts 35 days. When the joey is born, it is only 2 cm (less than an inch) long. Although hairless and blind, the newborn uses its strong forelimbs to climb from the birth canal into the mother’s pouch.

Learn more about koalas at our koala facts article.


Featured Animal: California Condor

Meet our featured animal: the California condor!

California condor

Here are five fun facts about California condors:

  • With a wingspan reaching 3 meters (10 ft.) long, the California condor is the largest flying bird in North America.
  • California condors can soar as fast as 88 km/h (55mph) and as high as 4,600 m (15,000 ft.).
  • They eat dead animals like cattle, deer, and sheep as well as smaller mammals like rodents and rabbits.
  • They can eat over 1 kg (2-3 lbs.) of food at a time, and then go for days without eating anything.
  • Because they have a robust immune system, condors do not get sick when feasting on carrion (dead animal flesh) despite consuming various strains of bacteria.

Learn more about condors at our California condor facts page.