Do You Know These Animal Facts You Won't Learn at the Zoo?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The animal kingdom is truly magnificent. A trip to the zoo will educate and illuminate, allowing visitors to see live animals up close, and giving a brief glimpse of the research on our animal cousins. How educational is a zoo trip, really?

Some animals held in captivity are only legally allowed to be kept because of injuries, or infertility. Some animals we all think are endangered have since come back from the brink, unbeknownst to most people. It isn't always clear what an animal's natural climate is from its paddock, or how dangerous they are from seeing them in a little glass enclosure. A plaque may give you a few facts about an animal's digestive system, but how much do you really know about the inner working of a frog's guts?

Did you sleep through high school biology, or were you paying close attention? Do you know your even-toed ungulates from your run of the mill quadrupeds? Do you know animal behavior? Have you any knowledge of animal husbandry? Do you know what animals can actually change their gender in order to reproduce with the available partners? How well do you know the animal world? To know is hard, but to find out is easy. Just take this quiz.

What animal produces the largest eggs?

Standing up to 11.8 inches tall, whale shark eggs are the biggest eggs. However, there is a twist. Whale sharks do not lay their eggs. Instead, whale sharks hold the eggs inside until they hatch.


What is the largest living mammal?

Yes, it swims, but it's still a mammal. That means it has live young and warm blood, and it breathes air (as opposed to using gills).


What is the largest, most aggressive shark alive today?

It was made famous in "Jaws" and has a massive bite. That said, it probably doesn't want to bite you, because it doesn't go near the shore very often.


What do you call bugs with six legs?

Insects are a member of the athropod phylum, which also includes myriapods and crustaceans.


What do you call bugs with eight legs?

Arachnids are, like insects, a part of the athropod phylum, and join it in rounding out the phylum along with myriapods and crustaceans.


What animal makes shockingly strong fibers using only its waste materials?

Spiders have amazing abilities, including making silk fibers so strong they can stop a bullet. They're actually being used in military experiments as an alternative to Kevlar.


What animals domesticated themselves more than 10,000 years ago?

Dogs and humans have been cooperating for many thousands of years, and it has certainly been very good for both species!


What animals are humans' closest relative?

Bonobos are not only the most genetically similar, they also have a lot in common with us socially (or at least, with some of us), being fairly egalitarian and open-minded.


What is the world's fastest-running cat?

A cheetah has been clocked at up to 75mph for short bursts, making it the fastest cat and also fastest land animal.


What creature shows no apparent signs of aging?

While some species could, in theory, just keep on growing forever, like jellyfish, and their age is hard to discern, the naked mole rat is the only one that shows no sign of its age.


What even toed ungulate was once called the Camel-Leopard?

The name came about because giraffes have camel-like stature and leopard-like coloring. Their current -- much better -- name is Spanish and Portuguese in origin.​


What type of spider builds its web for camouflage?

While webs are mainly about catching prey, they're also for hiding yourself - if you are the wily trap door spider!


What animal are you most likely to encounter in your own boots if you go camping in the Southwest?

A snake doesn't want to get in your boot, but a scorpion may like the look of it and be just as dangerous. So always shake your boot before you put it on.


What sea creature is actually two creatures working in perfect symbiosis?

This famously deadly jellyfish is actually two individual polyps that are technically separate creatures, but work together inside one jelly shell!


What flying mammal navigates by echolocation?

Bats actually don't all use echolocation, as they have very good eyesight - but those who do use it, do so masterfully.


How long is the lifespan of the giant tortoise?

A good run for one of these beautiful creatures is 150 years, but Jonathan of St. Helena in the Atlantic is 183 and going strong!


How much does a giraffe's heart weigh?

Due to a giraffe's unique shape, its massive heart is absolutely necessary for pumping blood all the way up its neck. Even when prone, a giraffe's resting blood pressure is 280/180 mmHg,.


Other than humans and killer whales, what is the only other animal to experience menopause?

The only mammals that stop breeding long before death are humans, killer whales, or pilot whales. While many other mammals experience menopause, none of them live very long after their reproductive years are behind them, meaning, for them at least, menopause is death.


What is the most venomous spider?

This is the most venomous spider, but fortunately you won't encounter it unless you are in Brazil or parts of Central America.


Which of these animals breathes through nostrils and gills?

As tadpoles, frogs breathe through gills, but as adults they breathe through their nostrils!


Why are elephant ears shaped the way they are?

Elephant ears are full of blood vessels and serve to cool the body of the elephant by cooling its blood supply.


How long do gorillas live?

Gorillas, those intelligent, burly cousins of ours, have pretty good lifespans for creatures that lack the benefits of medicine. It could be their 100 percent vegetarian diet, or it could be that they live very stress-free lives. It's probably just built into their genes.


How fast can a peregrine falcon fly?

When they dive to kill their prey by striking with their skulls, peregrine falcons can reach 200 mph. This means that when stalking other birds, these predators can shatter other birds' spines with a single blow. Ouch.


What is the factor that means a mosquito is likely to bite you?

Male mosquitoes do not bite, leaving the blood-sucking reputation of their species to female mosquitoes. Recent studies have shown that, because mosquitoes are averse to strong vibrations, one way to ward them off is to wave at them, even if you don't hit them. Really? Did they need​ a study to figure out that strategy?


What is a rhinoceros horn made of?

Rhinoceros horns are composed of keratin, the same substance that your hair and fingernails are made of. Rhino horns form from hair that grows and tightly compacts, bonding to itself, over a rhino's lifetime. Inside this ball of keratin sit mineral deposits of calcium and melanin, which keep the horn hard and pointy, while protecting it from deterioration from sunlight. In many nature preserves, rhinos are relieved of their horns by conservationists in order to discourage poachers from killing these great beasts for the bit of hair on the ends of their noses. Crazy, right?


Other than cows, which of these animals sleeps while standing?

Horses and cows both sleep standing up. Both of these animals are prey species, and have evolved so they can awaken and run to safety should a predator turn up. As a result, visiting a farm at night would mean seeing lots of large animals that seem awake, but aren't.


What animal passes out whenever it is really surprised?

The myotonic goats faint and fall over when they are surprised. It's hilarious but also rather sad as naturally it makes them quite vulnerable to predators.


What animal is the only one ever to learn more than 1,000 words?

​The smartest collie ever, Chaser of South Carolina, knew more than 1,000 words. This is double the number known by Kanzi the amazing ape, who knew about 450 words. Alex the parrot was also an impressive wordsmith, but Chaser had them all beat.


What useful thing can pregnant female rabbits do when there is a famine?

In times of stress, a female rabbit's body will re-absorb fetuses to avoid giving birth to babies with no hope of surviving.


How many stomachs do cows have?

Cows have four stomachs because they are a "ruminant," which means they digest grass in a very long process involving some regurgitating, chewing, and burping a whole lot.


If you breed wild foxes for their most domestic qualities, how many generations does it typically take to get a tame one?

Russian scientist Dmitri K. Belyaev tried this out and found that if you only breed the 20 percent of the most docile foxes, in only seven generations, you get a dog-like fox that plays with you and wags its tail


What sociable marine animal has regional dialects and accents?

It's true! Sperm whales have accents and regional dialects. Different pods sound a little different, and if they enter a new pod, they will pick up that pod's "idiom" and way of "speaking."


In which animal does the male have the biggest naughty parts relative to its size?

Barnacles may not look very sexy, but they have genitalia​ that is up to 50 (yes, fifty) times their body length. No wonder there are so many of them.


In which of the following species has homosexuality NOT been documented?

Snails can sometimes don't really have a gender, or be either gender, or switch genders, so technically, they are not homosexual. However, ducks, penguins, and cows have all been seen to enjoy homosexual behavior, which puts them on a very long list of species where this has been documented - including lions, macaques, grey whales, buffalos, zebras, tamarins, and of course humans... among many more!


Which of these is NOT a mammal?

An octopus is not a vertebrate so it cannot be a mammal. It also lays eggs and is not warm-blooded, which further excludes it.


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