KIDSGAZETTE

Let's go on a safari and meet the animals

A giraffe is spotted during in Djuma Private Game Reserve. Safari team members share their knowledge about the animals o
A giraffe is spotted during in Djuma Private Game Reserve. Safari team members share their knowledge about the animals on the reserves and answer questions from viewers, including kids from all over the world. (WildEarth)

By Molly Duffy, The Gazette

In Africa, you might find a slow tortoise, a pink flamingo and these other exotic animals:

With their super long legs and necks, giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals. They tend to travel the savanna together in small groups, using their necks and 21-inch tongues to reach leaves and other food that isn’t accessible to shorter animals. But being extra tall has its downfalls: giraffes have a hard time drinking from watering holes and have to almost do the splits to get their mouths to the ground. It’s also tough to be a newborn giraffe — moms give birth standing up, so baby giraffes’ first moments are spent falling at least five feet to the ground.

Source: National Geographic

While a tortoise’s shell might look like a shelter it crawled into, it’s not. The shell of a tortoise is actually part of its backbone, and they can feel what happens to their shell. Tortoises’ and turtles’ shells are made up of dozens of bones covered by plates that are similar to our finger nails. The African Spurred Tortoise is the largest mainland tortoise — they usually grow to at least 30 inches long and 100 pounds!

Source: San Diego Zoo

What makes a flamingo so pink? Seafood! Flamingos love to eat “shrimplike crustaceans” and their fabulous color fades when they live in captivity — like in a zoo — unless their keepers feed them the tasty treats. Flamingos travel in huge flocks — sometimes as many as 500 — to protect each other. Also, their knees bend the wrong way.

Source: National Geographic

It’s an animal that loves rolling around in the mud. We’re not talking about pigs — we’re talking about the Black Rhino. These animals like being alone, and they spend much of their days relaxing in the shade or wallowing in a water hole and getting covered in mud — which acts as both a bug spray and sunscreen for their hide. Black rhinos (which are actually gray) are best known for their two horns. Sadly, poachers have killed so many of these animals for their horns that they are critically endangered.

Source: National Geographic

What’s the point of a zebra’s stripes? It might seem like black and white stripes would make a zebra stand out in the African plains, but when they’re gathered in a herd, zebras’ stripes blend together and confuse their predators. A zebra’s stripes can also tell us its species and where it makes its habitat — the farther south a zebra lives in Africa, the farther apart its stripes are. Now, you might be wondering if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes. Most zebras have white bellies, so you could say they are white with black stripes. But, underneath all that white fur is black skin. So both descriptions can be true!

Source: San Diego Zoo

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