Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Loose at the Zoo

Smithsonian Kids really delivers the goods with this disc! Is there anyone not rendered powerless to adorable animal babies? Cute, cuddly and mischievous all rolled into one. These aren't your typical animal babies, but rather Goldon Lion Tamarins, Kori bustard chicks, sloth bears and Sumantran tiger cubs. Yowza! And fine, I will admit I had never heard of a Kori bustard. Don't get too attached to that fuzzy chick though, because the adults are not nearly as attractive.

There are three separate episodes (Baby New at the Zoo, Loose at the Zoo: Golden Lion Tamarins, and Tiger Tales) on the disc, each featuring baby animals from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. These videos really do a great job by not just providing fun footage, but also important facts about how the animals are in danger of losing their natural habitats.

Baby New at the Zoo gives us a look at how a cross-section of babies grow up in the very public environment. As each baby is shown, the narrator relates plenty of facts about that specific animal family. The zoo is celebrating their baby elephant's fifth birthday. He has presents to open (boxes to kick around) and plenty of visitors. Did you know that baby elephants are carried inside their mother for two years?

We see the baby sloth bear playfully wrestling with his mama. Their snouts work like a vacuum cleaner, snorting up ants & termites by opening and closing their nose flaps. The long claws of this bear make them very good climbers. On the other side of the zoo, a baby Kori bustard has just been born. She is so small that she must be kept away from the adults and hand fed every two hours (only the soft parts of crickets - yuck). These chicks are so small that they have an 80% mortality rate in the wild. Kori bustards are some of the world's heaviest flying birds, with adult males growing up to six feet tall.

Tiger Tales offers a once in a lifetime peek behind the scenes at three baby tigers being raised in captivity. The zoo's hidden tiger cam catches the birth of the tiger cubs, and we then get to watch them grow in fierce adults! In addition to watching the fun stuff, the video is also careful to let viewers know how important the zoo program is. Wild tigers are in danger of losing their land, with only 4,000 wild tigers in the world today. The danger of extinction is why tiger breeding programs like these of the zoo are so important.

As always, Smithsonian Networks has posted video snippets that you can watch to get a taste of what the disc will be like: Baby New at the Zoo, Loose at the Zoo: Golden Lion Tamarins, Tiger Tales. You won't be disappointed!

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