Meet our featured animal, the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
“Both pairs of mother and calf are doing very well, and have integrated nicely back into
the herd,” Pascale said.
Learn more about giraffes at our giraffe facts article.
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.
Did you know that fire ants have the ability to pile up on one another to form impressively high towers if they ever need to escape a container? David Hu, a professor of biology and mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, has been studying how fire ants create their tall swirling ant structures.
Watch a video about Hu’s fire ant tower research from the New York Times:
You can also listen to an interview with Hu on PRI’s “Science Friday” hosted by Ira Flatow:
Read more about fire ant towers on PRI.org.
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago proudly welcomed a baby crowned lemur on April 15. The sex and measurements of the lemur infant are still to be determined because mother Tucker is keeping her newborn close.
“With any birth, our animal care staff carefully monitors the new arrival to ensure they are passing critical milestones,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “Tucker is an attentive and experienced mother and the infant is holding tight to her and regularly nursing, which is exactly what we’d hope to see.”
In the wild, crowned lemurs inhabit the forests of Madagascar. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN), crowned lemurs are considered endangered due to forest loss caused by slash-and-burn practices, habitat fragmentation, charcoal production, mining and other human-wildlife conflict.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia, welcomed a southern black rhinoceros calf on April 11. The female calf, the first baby for mother Kufara, weighed around 25-30kg (55-66 lbs.) at birth.
“Both mother and calf are doing well. Kufara is very cautious and protective of her calf which is a natural behavior for a first-time mother. We are really happy with the maternal behaviors Kufara is displaying. She is very attentive and ensuring her calf suckles frequently which is all very positive,” said keeper Linda Matthews.
For now, the baby calf and mother will bond behind the scenes at the zoo. They will go on public display in late June.
In the wild, the are only about 4,200 black rhinos roaming the deserts and grasslands of Africa. They are classified as critically endangered. Poaching remains a significant threat due to rising demand for their horn, which is used in Asian medicine.