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Baby Animals
Debut at Zoos



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Grades 2-up

News Content

In recent weeks, a handful of zoos have witnessed the births of baby animals.

Anticipation Guide

Write the following animal names in a list on a board or chart: walrus, anteater, panda, zebra, chimpanzee, and crocodile. Everyone knows that a baby cat is called a kitten but, before reading this weeks News for Kids article, you might ask students to identify the names of any of these animals babies. Write students responses next to the animal names.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: debut, aquarium, captivity, separated, accident, and public. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Curtis didnt want to be seen in _____ because he was unhappy with the haircut his mother had given him. (public)
  • I heard on the news that there was a bad car _____ at the corner of Elm and Church. (accident)
  • Brandon became _____ from his parents in the busy store. (separated)
  • Teresa will make her acting _____ when the high school drama club performs tonight. (debut)
  • Polar bears are uncommon in the world, so it is very unusual to see one held in _____. (captivity)
  • Our class has been studying sea life, so we will be taking a field trip to an _____. (aquarium)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Baby Animals Debut at Zoos.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.
    • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.
    • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.
    • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The New York Aquariums baby walrus was born at 4:17 p.m. on June 12, 2007. When the Pacific walrus calf was born, it weighed 115 pounds. You can see pictures of the walrus on the aquariums The Walrus Baby Web page.
  • Both the calfs parents were orphaned when they were 3 weeks old. Their parents had been killed in a legal hunt by Eskimos near St. Lawrence Island, between Alaska and Siberia.
  • David C. DeNardo, the aquariums curator, said the calf has seemed very inquisitive from birth. Hes into everything," DeNardo told MSNBC. When we let him into the pool, one of the first things he did was poke his face into the water and come up with this look on his face like, Wow, what is this world? Mom was behind him, yelling in walrus something like, Get back here, and he looked around and just dived right in."
  • Zoo workers have separated the baby anteater, Aurora, from its father. Its not unusual for anteaters in the wild to be separated from their fathers. Male anteaters seldom play a role in bringing up their pups.
  • Some baby anteaters born in captivity have died because of the shriek they let out at birth. In some cases, the shriek has startled the father, which starts slapping at the baby. The fathers razor-sharp claws -- which might come in handy when an anteater confronts a jaguar -- can kill the baby.
  • An anteaters 2-foot-long tongue helps it catch up to 30,000 insects a day. At the zoo, anteaters seem to like to eat yogurt too.
  • A fully grown male anteater can weigh 90 pounds and stretch 7 feet long from snout to tail.
  • Zookeepers do not usually know the sex of a baby anteater until it is about a month old.
  • To see a picture of the giant anteater with its baby, go to Giant Anteater Born in July Is a Girl on the National Zoos Web site.
  • The San Diego Zoos new panda cub, which was born August 3, 2007, is the fourth giant panda born there. Bai Yun (pronounced by-YOON) gave birth to all four cubs. The new babys father, Gao Gao (gow-gow), is the father of three of the four cubs.
  • According to the zoos Web site, a panda cub weighs about 4 ounces at birth. It is about the size of a stick of butter. The cubs eyes will not fully open until a couple months after birth.
  • For the first time, the zoo is involving the community in the naming of the new panda. They are taking suggestions of Chinese names. The suggestions will be reviewed by zookeepers and the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association. Approved names will be posted on the Web site, where people will vote. See the zoos Giant Panda News for more information and pictures.
  • Use the sources below if students want to learn more about any of the three other animal babies:
  • 5 Baby Crocs Debut at Zoo
  • Chimpanzee Birth at KC Zoo Brings Its Troop Size to 16
  • 'Playful' Keyo Debuts at Denver Zoo

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to check their list of animal baby names against the names used in the article. The correct baby names are calf (walrus), pup (anteater), cub (panda), foal (zebra), infant (chimp), and crocklet (crocodile).

    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • How many walruses have been born in captivity in North America? (The latest walrus birth brings the number to ten.)
  • Where was the walrus born? (in the New York Aquarium, in New York City)
  • What is the baby anteaters name? (Aurora)
  • How does a baby anteater get around? (It often travels on its mothers back.)
  • Why doesnt the baby panda have a name? (According to Chinese tradition, baby pandas are not named until they are 100 days old.)
  • How many other pandas have been born at the San Diego Zoo? (three; this one is the fourth)

    Think About the News

    After considering this weeks Think About the News question on the students printable page, what name did your students give the baby walrus? After your students share their name for the walrus, you might provide this information about the name given to the walrus born at the New York Aquarium:

    A contest was held to help name the baby walrus. Four names were posted online, and people around the world were invited to vote. The four name choices were all Yupik words; Yupik is an Eskimo language spoken in western Alaska, where the babys parents are from. The names were Utvak (which means ice cube), Ukiivak (king island), Utumek (earth), and Akituusaq (gift given in return). The babys name was revealed on the TODAY Show on October 12. The babys name is Akituusaq, (pronounced AHKEE-too-sack.) The mother walruss name is Kulusiq, or Kulu for short.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Sequencing and timelines. The San Diego Zoo offers news releases that provide excellent material, including pictures, for creating a timeline. Create a timeline of the baby pandas life from the time zookeepers learned that Bai Yun was expecting to the latest release. Update your timeline as new releases are issued. So far, the headlines (and dates) on your timeline might match these headlines of the zoos releases:

  • Bai Yun Is Expecting! (July 31, 2007)
  • Panda Cub Born! (August 3, 2007)
  • First Glimpse Of New Cub (August 6, 2007)
  • Cub One Week Old (August 10, 2007)
  • Cub's First Exam (August 23, 2007)
  • Cub's Second Exam (August 30, 2007)
  • Cub's 3rd Exam (September 6, 2007)
  • It's A Girl! (September 13, 2007)
  • Eyes Starting To Open (September 20, 2007)
  • Eyes Almost Open! (September 27, 2007)
  • First Vaccination (October 4, 2007)
  • So Round! (October 10, 2007) Add new headlines to your timeline as they are posted to the zoos Giant Panda News Web page.

    Science and baby animals. A baby walrus is a calf. A baby panda is a cub. Do you know what other animal babies are called? If you teach younger students, you might quiz students to see if they know the correct names for some of the animal babies listed below. If you teach older students, you might let them loose in the library on a scavenger hunt for some baby names. How many can they find?

    Animal Baby Names

    Animal Baby Name
    alligator hatchling
    armadillo pup
    bat pup
    beaver pup or kitten
    camel calf
    cheetah cub
    coyote pup or whelp
    deer fawn
    eagle fledgling or eaglet
    elephant calf
    ferret kit
    gerbil pup
    giraffe calf
    goat kid
    horse foal, colt (male), filly (female)
    kangaroo joey
    lion cub
    monkey infant
    raccoon cub
    seal pup
    skunk kit
    turkey poult
    turtle hatchling
    zebra colt or foal
    Source: Names of Animals, Babies, Groups

    Geography. Have students point out on a U.S. map the locations of the six zoos mentioned in this weeks News for Kids article. Those locations are New York City; Washington, D.C.; San Diego, California; Denver (Colorado); Kansas City (Missouri); and Chicago, Illinois.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    LANGUAGE ARTS: Foreign Language
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-FL.K-12.2 Cultures

    MATHEMATICS: Representation
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations (Timelines) to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.


    Article by Ellen Delisio
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World