On the 5th of June 42 year 7 students were lucky to spend the day at London Zoo. They were accompanied by Ms Rahman, Mrs Ul-Huq and Mrs Hayward,
London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. It was opened in London on 27 April 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. It was eventually opened to the public in 1847.Today it houses a collection of 758 species of animals, with 16,802 individuals, making it one of the largest collections in the United Kingdom.
The aim of the day was for the students to investigate adaption in animals.
An adaptation is a special skill which helps an animal to survive and do everything it needs to do. Adaptations could be physical changes to the animal’s body or behavioural changes in how an individual animal or a society does things in their daily lives.
The behavioural changes can simply be due to changes in the environment but the physical changes are not. Evolution is a random process and if the changes are good the animal will survive but if they are bad the animal won’t survive.
It is generally accepted that the astonishing diversity of life on our planet is the result of a process called evolution, which drives organisms to change gradually over time. While the basic concept of organisms evolving is not a difficult one, understanding how evolution works, and how evolutionary theory was developed, is more complex.
In the above picture we can see that year 7 students have adapted to be able to climb things.
It is often a surprise to children that Homo sapiens (humans) are classed as apes.
Feeding time for an armadillo
Armadillos are native to Southern United States and Mexico, Central America, and South America
Their habitat is Prairie, savannah, and wetlands.
There are twenty types of armadillo and they are the only mammal with a type of shell. Most species dig burrows and sleep up to 16 hours per day, foraging in the early morning and evening for beetles, ants, termites, and other insects. They have very poor eyesight, and use their keen sense of smell to hunt. Their adaptions also include strong legs and huge front claws used for digging, and long, sticky tongues for extracting ants and termites from their tunnels. In addition to bugs, armadillos eat small vertebrates, plants, and some fruit, as well as the occasional carrion (animals already dead) meal.
Average life span in captivity: 12 to 15 years
Size: 13 to 150 cm
Weight: 85 g to 54 kg)
Protection status: Threatened
Penguins are aquatic, flightless birds that are highly adapted to life in the water. Their distinct appearance is called countershading, a form of camouflage that helps keep them safe in the water. Penguins do have wing-bones, though they are flipper-like and extremely suited to swimming. Penguins are found almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, where they catch their food underwater and raise their young on land.
Penguins’ staple diet is Krill, fish and squid and they on be found on every continent in the Southern Hemisphere from the tropical Galapagos Islands (the Galapagos penguin) located near South America to Antarctica (the emperor penguin).
Penguins can spend up to 75% of their lives in the water and are adapted to drink sea water. They do all of their hunting in the water. Their prey can be found within 60 feet of the surface, so penguins have no need to swim in deep water. They catch prey in their beaks and swallow them whole as they swim. Some species only leave the water for moulting and breeding.
Penguins are social birds. Many species feed, swim and nest in groups. During the breeding season, some species form large groups, or “rookeries”, that include thousands of penguins. Each penguin has a distinct call, allowing individuals to find their mate and their chicks even in large groups.
The picture above shows two of the year 7 next to the Llama enclosure
Size: Height at the shoulder, 120 cm
Weight: 113 kg
The llama is a South American relative of the camel, though the llama does not have a hump. Llamas graze on grass and, like cows, regurgitate their food and chew it as cud. They chomp on such wads for some time before swallowing them for complete digestion. Llamas can survive by eating many different kinds of plants, and they need little water. These adaptions allow them to live in sparse mountainous terrain.
Average life span in the wild: 5 to 7 years
Size: Head and body, 60 to 90 cm; Tail, 8 20-25 cm
Weight: 5 to 16 kg
Group name: Family
Range: New World porcupines: North, Central, and South America; Old World porcupines: southern Europe, southern and Southeast Asia, and Africa
Habitat: Forest, rocky or mountainous area, desert, rain forest, and prairie
Porcupines are a type of rodent and they are nocturnal (awake at night). They can live in a variety of habitats providing there is plenty of vegetation.
All species boast a coat of needle-like quills to give predators a sharp reminder that they are no easy meal. Some quills, like those of Africa’s crested porcupine, are nearly 30 centimetres long.
Average life span in the wild: 100 years+
Size: 1.2 m
Weight: 215 kg
Protection status: Endangered
Did you know?
Today the 3,000 to 5,000 tortoises that live on Volcano Alcedo on Isabela Island are the largest group of giant tortoises in the Galápagos.
Giant tortoises lead an uncomplicated life, grazing on grass, leaves, and cactus, basking in the sun, and napping nearly 16 hours per day. A slow metabolism and large internal stores of water mean they can survive up to a year without eating or drinking.
The tortoises have a large bony shell of a dull brown colour. The plates of the shell are fused with the ribs in a rigid protective structure that is a part of the skeleton. Lichens can grow on the shells of these slow-moving animals.Tortoises keep a characteristic shell segment pattern on their shell throughout life, though the annual growth bands are not useful for determining age because the outer layers are worn off with time. A tortoise can withdraw its head, neck and forelimbs into its shell for protection. The legs are large and stumpy, with dry scaly skin and hard scales. The front legs have five claws, the back legs four.
Life span: Average expectancy is 27 years
Gestation: 6 to 7 months
Number of young at birth: Usually 1, sometimes 2
Age of maturity: 4 to 5 years
Size: 1.5 to 1.75 meters long
Size: 75 to 100 centimetres tall
Weight: 160 to 270 kilograms
Weight at birth: 7.5 to 14 pounds (3.4 to 6.4 kilograms)
Tail length: 16 centimetres
Range: Africa’s Liberia and Ivory Coast, with a few found in Sierra Leone and Guinea
Habitat: Rain forest, swamp, and river
The pygmy hippo has adaptations for spending time in the water but is much less aquatic than its relative, the common hippopotamus. Its nose and ears close underwater just like a hippo’s do, but its head is rounder and narrower, its neck is proportionally longer, and its eyes are not on the top of its head.
The pygmy hippo’s feet are less webbed and its toes more free than those of the hippo, and its legs are longer than its huge cousin’s. The pygmy hippo’s teeth are also different: it only has one pair of incisors, while the hippo has two or three.
The top layer of the pygmy hippo’s greenish-black skin is smooth and thin to help the animal stay cool in the humid rain forest. However, the thin skin could cause the hippo to dehydrate quickly in the sun, so its skin oozes out a pink fluid that looks like beads of sweat and gives the hippo a shiny, or wet, appearance. This fluid, called blood sweat, helps to protect the animal’s sensitive skin from sunburn.
Average life span in the wild: 25 years
Size: 4 to 6 m
Weight: 794 to 1,270 kg
Range: Pockets of Africa, south of the Sahara Desert
Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals, thanks to their towering legs and long necks. Their long legs allow them to run as fast as 56 kilometres an hour over short distances and cruise comfortably at 16 kilometres) an hour over longer distances.
Giraffes use their height to good advantage and browse on leaves and buds in treetops that few other animals can reach (acacias are a favourite). Even the giraffe’s tongue is long! The 53-centimetre tongue helps them pluck tasty morsels from branches. Giraffes eat most of the time and, like cows, regurgitate food and chew it as cud. A giraffe eats hundreds of pounds of leaves each week and must travel miles to find enough food.
The giraffe’s height also helps it to keep a sharp lookout for predators across the wide expanse of the African savannah.
Giraffes find it difficult to drink at a water hole due to their height but thankfully they only need to drink once every several days; they get most of their water from the luscious plants they eat.
Size: Diameter 1.25 cm to 1.8 m
Did you know? Some species of sea anemone can live 50 years or more.
The anemone is named after the anemone flower. A close relative of coral and jellyfish, anemones are stinging polyps that spend most of their time attached to rocks on the sea bottom or on coral reefs waiting for fish to pass close enough to get ensnared in their venom-filled tentacles.
Their bodies are composed of an adhesive disc, or foot, a cylindrical body, and an array of tentacles surrounding a central mouth. The tentacles are triggered by the slightest touch, firing a harpoon-like filament into their victim and injecting a paralyzing neurotoxin. The helpless prey is then guided into the mouth by the tentacles.
They form another, more famous symbiotic (both organisms gain from the relationship) alliance with clownfish, which are protected by a mucus layer that makes them immune to the anemone’s sting. Clownfish live within the anemone’s tentacles, getting protection from predators and the anemone snacks on the scraps from the clownfish’s meals.
Average life span in the wild: 6 to 10 years
Size: 11 cm
Group name: School
Did you know? Ironically, Finding Nemo, a movie about the anguish of a captured clownfish, caused home-aquarium demand for them to triple.
Clownfish are found in tropical marine waters throughout the world. They are home loving creatures and live amongst the tentacles of sea anemones in the shallow waters of coral reefs. They are the only fish that appear to be immune to the stings of the anemone.
Their skin is covered in a coating of slime or mucus – similar to that found on the anemone itself – which tricks the anemone into thinking the fish is just another part of itself! The relationship that Clownfish enjoy with their home anemone is symbiotic, which means it benefits them both. The clown fish seeks shelter within the anemone whilst keeping the anemone in good health by feeding off parasites and removing any dead tentacles.
Clownfish are very territorial and live in groups that protect their own anemone from the unwanted attentions of other Clownfish. They can grow up 13cm in length, are usually covered in bold zones of colour and feed mainly on algae, crustaceans and molluscs.
Surprisingly, all clownfish are born male. They have the ability to switch their sex, but will do so only to become the dominant female of a group. The change is irreversible.
What year 7 thought of the trip
Aryam Issa in 7 Blue wrote
" On the Science Zoo trip we saw a lot of different animals and learnt how they adapt to their surroundings. My favourite part was the Animal show. It showed how animals like armadillos are adapted and the best part was when they brought out the birds of prey. They let them fly over our heads! It was really fun and I would recommend other people to go."
Syed Shah in 7 Blue wrote…
"There were tortoises in one enclosure and they were absolutely massive. I had seen pictures of them before but you only really understand how big they are when you see them in real life!"