DE @ Home: National Zoo Lovers Day | April 8
Lions, tigers and bears. Zoos can have everything from tinny-tiny critters to the largest elephants. Many zoos have adapted to the new online environment and are providing a closer look at what’s going on in their habitats, all viewable from your couch!
One of the zoos that I’ve been following (on Instagram
) for the last few years is the Cincinnati Zoo. In 2017, the zoo was excited to expect their newest hippo. Bibi (the mom-to-be) was expecting and her baby would be the first Nile hippo born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 75 years. Little did the staff know, Fiona would join the world 6 weeks early on January 24th
. She was only 29 pounds when she was born which is severely underweight for a baby hippo who normally weighs around 55-120 pounds. The staff knew she was going to need around the clock care, but they didn’t give up on her. Fiona became the smallest born hippo to ever survive! She is now 3 and weighs over 1,300 pounds! She continues to be the star of the zoo’s social media accounts and even has a few children’s books written about her.
Check out the beginning of her journey in this video and the rest of the series. You get to see all the science that the staff had to use in order to help her survive! From performing the first ultrasound on a hippo, analyzing Bibi’s milk to create the perfect formula for Fiona, to creating a habitat for her that would allow her to learn “hippo” things while being cared for by humans. They even worked with nurses from the local children’s hospital to help with IVs! A pretty inspiring story.
The Cincinnati Zoo has been doing a lot of behind the scene content online since Fiona, but now lots other zoos are too. Here is a list of seven zoos that have switched online with great activities and live feeds for you to check out. The Calgary Zoo has daily videos on different animals and an activity to go along with it. In my opinion, it’s one of the most useful/engaging resource on this list. Very kid-friendly.
Here at Home:
The Calgary Zoo - Calgary, AB
Take a peek at their daily videos and activities on lots of different animals! Each day you’ll get a short video on the highlighted animal and an at-home activity you can do at home to start your journey to become a zoologist! More here.
The Toronto Zoo – Toronto, ON
Looking for a behind-the-scenes look at what Keepers do to make sure all their animals stay healthy? The Toronto Zoo goes live on Facebook at 1 pm EST (11 am here in Alberta). More here.
Zoo de Granby – Granby, QC
For those of you that speak French at home or at school, keep up with the Granby Zoo’s videos on their Facebook page! They have some great videos tailored to all different parts of zoo life including veterinary practices, a closer look at certain animals and of course their poop! More here.
Magnetic Hill Zoo – Moncton, NB
It’s the largest zoo in Atlantic Canada and is #ClosedButStillCaring. They are keeping everyone updated online and have some Easter activities coming up for you! More here.
The Cincinnati Zoo – Cincinnati, Ohio
One of my personal favourites who I’ve been following on Instagram since their baby hippo Fiona was born prematurely. They post daily updates on all their animals and even go live for a virtual safari each day at 3 pm EST (1 pm here in Alberta). More here.
The Denver Zoo – Denver, Colorado
Over in Colorado they’ve got you covered with a live stream of their BABY RHINO! They also have science experiments for all ages and different activities to pair with each animal. More Here.
Taronga Zoo Sydney – Mosman, Australia
Bringing you Taronga TV from the other side of the world! Check-in on your favourite animals through their many live cams including seals, tigers and elephants. They even have close-ups on feeding baby koala bears! More here.
Build your Own Zoo or Animal Habitat
Zoos are open for the public to visit, but their main goal is for species preservation and protection. The zoo staff are experts in their fields and make sure that the environment, food and daily activities for their animals are as close to the real thing as they can get. While most animals that live in captivity are not fit to be released into the wild again, they still have their natural instincts and behaviours that will play into how their areas are built and maintained. Take a look at the video below about habitats and how animals have adapted to where they live.
An animal’s habitat is specific to them and must have a source of shelter, water, food and enough space. Let’s take a look at a hippo’s habitat.
Shelter: Hippopotamuses spend most of their time in the water, up to 16 hours a day! Their habitat will have to have lots water, but it can’t all be water because hippos can’t actually swim! They give the illusion of swimming by pushing off other objects to make their way around. They are also very warm creatures, like humans their body temperatures are 36.6 deg C. As humans we can live anywhere with the right clothing, but it would be very hard for a hippo to go to a store and buy a sweater. Because of this, hippos live in very warm climates like sub-Saharan Africa.
Water: A hippo’s water source is fairly easy to identify as they will live in or near a water source. Other animals like lions will have to search for a water.
Food: Hippos are herbivores which means their habitat must have a source of plant life. Hippos eat about 80 pounds of grass each day and will eat fruit if they find it on their scavenging trips. When an animal is in captivity, it is important for the zoo’s staff to make sure the food they are supplying has the proper nutrients and there is enough of it.
Space: Hippos are very large animals and are considered the third largest mammals living on land next to the elephant and white rhino. They can grow up to 3.3m to 5m long and 1.6m tall! This means that their habitat has to be large enough for them to move and roam around.
Your activity for today is to pick an animal (or multiple) and build them a habitat around your house.
Step 1: Pick one of your stuffed animals, your favourite animal or one that you can build using materials around your house.
Step 2: Research where your animal lives in the wild and identify its source of Shelter, Water, Food and Space like I did with the hippo.
Step 3: Get creative and build them a luxury habitat in your house! Do you build it under a table because they like the dark or do you build it near the window because they live in a really sunny place?
Step 4: Share! Let us know what animal you have living in your house now. Follow us on Instagram as I build my own habitat for baby Fiona.
That's all for today, there is so much to learn about the animals and plants that we share the earth with. Zoos allow us to experience the animal kingdom and learn about how we can help save and protect endangered species around the world. Now that we can experience zoos from the comfort of our couches, why not do some exploring. I know that I went down the rabbit hole and learned a lot just while making this post. I encourage you to do the same. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post when we learn about the fundamentals of coding using Swift Playgrounds!