The raccoon's scientific name, Procyon lotor, means "washer dog" although it is a closer relative to the bear family.
Raccoons are generally 2 ½ feet long from nose tip to tail tip. Their average weight range is 12-16 lb, with raccoons in colder territories weighing considerably more. The largest raccoon on record weighed over 60lbs. Raccoons can live for 15 years, but most only live to be 5 or 6.
Population densities of raccoons in urban areas can be 20 times higher than for raccoons in rural environments.
Raccoons have a large array of vocalizations. They purr, whistle, growl, hiss, scream and even whinny.
Raccoons have been kept as pets (President Coolidge and his wife had one named Rebecca), and while young, seem happy to be in human company. As they mature, especially during mating season, they can become increasingly destructive and aggressive.
A raccoon's hands are so nimble they can unlace a shoe, unlatch a cage and deftly retrieve coins as thin as dimes from your shirt pocket.
Squirrel monkey weighs about 500-750 g (20-25oz) and can grow to 25-35 cm (2-3ft), with tail which can be 35 to 42 cm (3-3.5 ft) long. The brain to body mass ratio is 1:17, and it is the largest figure among the ones with other primates.
These animals live together in all male or all female groups, and the size of the groups may vary from 20 - 35 up to about 200 or more in some areas. Female squirrel monkeys have a special bond with other females in the group.
Baby squirrel monkeys remain clung onto their mothers' back for the early part of their lives. The time for the babies to gradually leave their mother occurs after about 5 - 10 weeks. During this time, the babies start to get familiar with their surroundings, and they start foraging on their own. After 5 - 10 months, the babies get matured enough to take care of their food and protection on their own.
These creatures are known to make use of a wide variety of vocal calls for communicating with other members of the group. Scientists have been able to identify about 26 different calls that these monkeys use during activities such as foraging, hunting, escaping predators and mating.
During the mating season, male squirrel monkeys put on weight and double their size.
In the wild, these creatures can live up to an average of 15 years, and 20 years in captivity.
A squirrel monkey named 'Baker' was a part of a space program held by the United States. The monkey was sent into space, and made a safe return to the earth.
These monkeys possess commendable dexterity. This is evident by their incredible ability to grip onto branches, for opening fruits and holding onto their prey.
The diet of these animals not only consists of fruits, flowers and insects, but anything which is small enough to fit into their mouths.
The way squirrel monkeys mark their territory is also one interesting fact. They urinate on their hands and feet leaving a scent trail, wherever they walk.
There are 18 species of penguin in the world, 13 of them have declining populations, and 5 of them are facing possible extinction if strong protection and conservation measures are not taken.
Penguins are primarily found only in the Southern Hemisphere. While mostly associated with Antarctica, they can also be found in South America, South Africa throughout southern Pacific Ocean as far north as Galapagos Islands. Galapagos penguin is the only penguin species that can rarely cross into the Northern Hemisphere, which it may do while feeding.
Penguins lost the ability to fly millions of years ago, but their powerful flippers and streamlined bodies make them very accomplished swimmers.
While swimming, penguins will leap in shallow arcs above the surface of the water, a practice called porpoising. This coats their plumage with tiny bubbles that reduce friction, allowing them to swim as fast as 20 miles per hour (32 kph). It may also help them evade predators and allows them to breathe more regularly, and some scientists theorize that they may make these leaps out of sheer joy.
The light front and dark back coloration of classic penguin plumage is called countershading and it provides superb camouflage from above and below to protect penguins in the water.
Penguins are carnivores that catch all their food live in the sea. Depending on the species they can eat a variety of different marine animals, including fish, squid, shrimp, krill and other crustaceans. Penguins that eat only fish are called piscivorous.
Penguins’ eyes work better underwater than they do in the air, giving them superior eyesight to spot prey while hunting, even in cloudy, dark or murky water.
The emperor penguin is the largest of the penguin species and can weigh up to 90 pounds when mature and not fasting to incubate eggs. The fairy penguin is the smallest and weighs only 2 pounds.
Penguins are highly social, colonial birds that form breeding colonies numbering in the tens of thousands. They may use the same nesting grounds for thousands of years and the largest colonies can number in the millions, but parents and chicks use their superb hearing to easily keep track of one another even in a crowd.
Emperor penguins and king penguins do not make any sort of nests. Instead, a single egg for each mated pair is incubated on a parent’s feet and kept warm by a flap of skin called a brood pouch. Incubation can take 8-10 weeks and occurs during winter, so the egg must always be kept warm and safe.
Emperor penguin males will incubate their eggs for two months in the winter without eating while the females are at sea. During that time, they live off their fat reserves and may lose half their body weight. When the females return shortly after the chicks hatch, they switch parental duties and the females fast while the males go to sea to replenish their fat stores.
Depending on the species, a wild penguin can live 15-20 years. During that time, they spend up to 75 percent of their lives at sea.
Penguins have many natural predators depending on their habitat, including leopard seals, sea lions, orcas, skuas, snakes, sharks and foxes. Artificial threats are also a problem for penguins, including oil spills and other pollution, global warming that changes the distribution of food sources and illegal poaching and egg harvesting. Fortunately, many penguins are receptive to captive breeding programs and those successes can help preserve penguin populations.
3rd largest animal after elephants and rhinos.
There are 2 species of hippo. The large or common hippo is found in East Africa, south of the Saharaand can be 13 feet long and 5 feet tall, weighing up to 3 ½ tons (7000 pounds). The pygmy hippopotamus comes from West Africa, is rare and only weighs 440 to 600 pounds and is 4.9 to 5.7 feet long.
Male hippos will attack young hippos in the water, but not on land.
An adult hippopotamus can stay submerged for 5 to 6 minutes.
A baby hippo can eat grass in 3 weeks, but nurses for a year.
A hippopotamus can eat 100 to 150 pounds of grass in a night.
A hippo’s tail is up to 22 inches long.
In 2003, there were about 5,000 tigers left in the wild.
There are a few species of tigers still alive: Begal, Indochina, Malayan, Siberian (Amur), South China, and Sumatran. There are three extinct species of tigers: Caspian, Javan, and Bali.
The Siberian tiger is the largest cat: males can reach over 650 lbs. (8-10 feet long), but females stay under 400 lbs (about 8 feet long).
The heaviest tiger on record (a Serbian tiger) weighed 1,025 lbs.
In the US, there are about 10,000 pet tigers. These pet tigers are responsible for the killing of 2 people each year. Pet tigers must be supplied with 10 to 20 pounds of raw meat each day. Some eat up to 60 pounds of meat for one meal.
Tiger’s skin and hair are both striped.
Celebrate Tiger Day: the last Sunday of September.
One can hear a tiger roar from a mile away.
Tigers can see in the dark 6 times better than humans.
An adult giraffe’s heart is 2 feet long and weighs about 20 pounds.
Giraffe’s tongue is almost 2 feet long. Giraffe is able to clean its ears with its own tongue.
Male giraffes weigh 3,000-4,000 lbs. and can reach 20 feet height; female giraffes weigh 1,500-2,500 lbs. and are about 14 feet tall; baby giraffes are 6 feet tall.
Giraffes’ life span is 20-28 years.
Giraffes spread their front legs in order to reach the water on ground level to drink—their tall necks are shorter than their legs.
Giraffes use their markings to camouflage themselves among trees. Like human fingerprints, each giraffe marking is like no other one.
Giraffes’ mouth has a hard inner surface making it easy to eat thorny plants.
Giraffes cannot cough.
There are three species of zebras: Mountain, Plains, and Grevy’s zebras.
For the most part, the different species cannot interbreed.
Each zebra has unique stripes unlike any other zebra—like human fingerprints.
Zebras are 4-5 feet tall at the shoulder.
Zebras are considered to be black with white stripes, not white with black stripes.
Zebras cannot be tamed and trained like horses due to their wild unpredictable nature.
Zebra herds can include thousands of zebras. However, within the herd, there are families that remain together.
A zebra family is made up of one stallion, a few mares, and their offspring.
Members of a zebra family are caring! If one is attacked by a predator, others do not run away. They stick together as the stallion tries to drive away the predator.
Leopards weigh 70-180 pounds with a body length of 4-6 feet.
Leopards are strong tree climbers—they can even climb a tree while carrying a prey their own weight. Leopards often carry their prey up trees to prevent other animals, such as hyenas, from sharing their kill. They also store their food in trees (though sometimes they store their food on ground under leaves or brush).
Leopards hunt on land and in water—they are great swimmers.
Leopards are nocturnal predators.
Leopards are solitary animals.
Leopards stalk their prey until they are a few feet away and pounce the prey—they do not usually miss. If they do miss, then the prey is lucky since the leopard does not normally chase its prey.
Cubs stay with their mother for 22 months.
A group of lions is called pride. Lions are the most social cats. Each pride includes one or two males (sometimes more) and up to 40 females.
Females are usually the ones that hunt for food. They rely on group work to hunt zebras, antelopes, wildebeests, and other animals.
Males guard the pride’s territory, a distance that often stretches to about 100 square miles.
Adult males in the pride drive away young maturing males. These males leave their pride and search for other prides that they could take over by defeating other males and killing or chasing away all male cubs. This cycle of new male lions chasing off other male lions and taking over a pride occurs often to any pride. A male lion should not expect to remain a leader in his pride for more than 2-4 years.
Young females normally stay with their pride.
A lioness can give birth to a litter of 1-3 cubs (sometimes more) every 2 years.
Cubs nurse for about 6 months. However, they start eating meat at 3 months old.
In the wild, about 3/4th of cubs do not live to become adults. They die mainly from lack of food or attacks by other animals (including other lions that are not part of the pride).
Male lions are the ones with manes. The mane is their male pride. Studies have found that lions with longer and darker manes are more feared and respected by other male lions and have higher level of testosterone. Darker manes indicate healthier lions.
A lion’s roar can be heard 5 miles away.
Male lions usually weigh over 400 pounds; female normally stay below 300 pounds.
Lions in captivity live twice as long as those in the wild (25-30 years in captivity; 15 in the wild).
Thieves! Lions often steal hyenas’ or other animals’ kills. However, a large group of hyenas can sometimes steal a lion’s kill.
Each adult lion needs 10-15 pounds of meat every day.
Easily recognized as the "organ grinder" or "greyhound jockey" monkeys, capuchins are still kept as exotic pets today.
Capuchin monkeys are featured in films including Pirates of the Caribbean and Night at the Museum.
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America they named the monkeys after the ‘capuchin’ friars back home because they though the animals looked like little men in brown robes with large hoods.
Capuchins are considered the cleverest South American monkeys which means they are often used for experiments in laboratories.
The intelligence of the monkeys is shown in their use of tools. The monkeys will use boulders, some of them weighing as much as themselves, to crack open the fruit to get to the nut inside. Young capuchins will watch this process to learn from the older, more experienced adults.
They are arboreal and onmivorous. You will always see them traveling through the trees looking for fruits and insects.
Capuchin monkeys are active in the daytime, and live in groups of 3-30, including at least one male.
They frequently groom each other and have complex social lives with alliances made between different individuals.
The groups are not territorial but are aggressive to members of other groups. They spend most of their time in the forest canopy and sometimes on the ground.
It takes around 2 years before the young capuchin monkey is independent and the mother can breed again.
White-faced capuchins play an important role in seed dispersal, influencing forest regeneration.
When predators approach, white-faced capuchins use trill vocalizations to coordinate movement in the group.