1. What is special about polar bears?

Ans: The polar bear is the world’s largest bear. During summer, they eat rodents and berries available on the plants there. They are superb swimmers and have been seen in water hundreds of miles from land. Their thick and dense fur keeps their skin dry, and their furry paws give them a non-slip grip on ice. It goes up to the water surface, takes a deep breath, and goes back down again. When the oxygen body finishes, they absorb some oxygen dissolved in the water, which they can keep for only a few minutes, after which they have to go to the surface again. Its scientific name is Thalarctos maritimus and found in the Arctic region.

2. What is an okapi?

Ans: An okapi is a ruminant forest mammal belonging to the giraffe family, but smaller in size and has a short neck. It is generally found in the belt of African territory embracing Congo, northern Zaire and Uganda. Sir Harry Johnston reported spotting the okapi in the Semliki forest near Lake Albert (now Lake Mobuto Sese Seko) in 1901.

3. What is the study of birds called ?

Ans: The study of birds is called ornithology. Salim Ali of India, whose work set the standard for surveys of birds all over the world, can rightly be called the father of ornithology. The birds of nearly every region of the sub-continent were studied by Salim Ali and history, ecology and geography were woven into his description of birds and their habitats. The Bombay Natural History Society became an important research centre under him.

4. What’s special about hummingbirds?

Ans: Hummingbirds have the ability to hover in mid-air and fly deliberately backwards or vertically and to maintain their position to drink from flower blossoms. Bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, weighing 1.8 gms. They typically consume more than their own weight in food each day. Their heart beat can reach as high as 1260 beats per minute. During torpor (hybernation-like stage) the heart beat slows down to 50-180 beats per minute.

5. What is the origin of the white tiger?

Ans: All white tigers are a colour variation of Bengal tigers. They are not a separate sub-species of the Bengal tiger. White tigers are only born to parents that both carry the recessive gene for white colouring. The white tiger origin was recorded in India from 1556 to 1605 AD. The first documented case of a white tiger being captured was in 1915. He was caught by the local maharaja who kept the tiger till its death. The first mutant white cub is believed to be the one trapped by the Maharaja of Rewa, who found it orphaned in the jungle in 1951. Named Mohan, the cub was later mated with a normal-coloured captive tigress who produced three litters with normal colouring. A few years later, Mohan mated with one of the offspring, producing the first litter of white cubs — these were to be the ancestors of others now in many zoos worldwide.

6.  What is the difference between a seal and a sea lion?

Ans: The scientific name for this group of animals is Pinnipedia, Latin for ‘fin-footed’, and refers to the modification of limbs to flippers. Pinnipeds are mammals with four flippers — one pair in front and one at the back. They are warm-blooded, nurse their young, breathe air and have hair. The sea lion has small, tiny external ear flaps. Seals have no flaps. The front flippers of sea lions are long, have no hair and nails. Seals’ front flippers are short, blunt, covered with hair with nails on the ends. Sea lions can turn their hind flippers forward to move on land but seals cannot do so.