Did you know that one-fifth of all mammal species known to man are bats? Or that kangaroos walk awkwardly because they can't move their legs independently of each other? The docent at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium revealed to us some of the most fascinating facts about animals, and they blew our minds.


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A zoo docent is a volunteer educator who ensures that the guests have the best possible experience. "We are there to answer questions about the animals, talk to the guests about the zoo's many conservation projects, and assist them any way we can - sometimes just by helping them find the restroom!" the zoo docent told Bored Panda. According to her, such a career is quite a commitment. Can you imagine learning the names and ages of all the animals living inside the facility? However, she said she loves her job, "It's one of my favorite things in life. It's rewarding to share information with guests and help them have a great experience at our zoo, which we're very proud of, as it's considered one of the best zoos in the country!"

Docents aren't required to have a background in biology or zoology. "Our training is thorough and I am always continuing to learn new things. We have weekly meetings for continuing education, and listening to the keeper's talk (as well as more experienced docents) is always educational for me."

More info: columbuszoo.org | Facebook

#1 The Truth About Santa's Reindeers

The Truth About Santa's Reindeers

"Reindeer are the only deer species where both males and females grow antlers. The males shed theirs the beginning of December, the females shed theirs in the spring. So all of Santa’s reindeer are girls, heh. I love telling little kids that."

Zoo docent Report

Mimis Nachbarin 4 months ago

That's nice - as there's usually a lack of female charakters in the Santa Story it will cheer up a lot of little girls at Christmas! It did even cheer me up...

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#2 Self-Aware Elephants

Self-Aware Elephants

"Elephants are one of only a handful of animals that can pass the mirror test - in other words, they can recognize their own reflection (and not think it’s another animal, as dogs and cats usually do). They tested this by placing a chalk mark on an elephant’s forehead and then showing it a mirror. The elephant investigated the mark on its own forehead, indicating it knew that it was... Read More

"Elephants are one of only a handful of animals that can pass the mirror test - in other words, they can recognize their own reflection (and not think it’s another animal, as dogs and cats usually do). They tested this by placing a chalk mark on an elephant’s forehead and then showing it a mirror. The elephant investigated the mark on its own forehead, indicating it knew that it was looking at itself. The only animals that pass this test are the higher primates, the higher cetaceans (orcas, dolphines), elephants, and weirdly, magpies."

Zoo docent Report

Purple light 4 months ago

Not weirdly: some birds species, like the ones from the crow family, are incredible smart creatures.

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#3 Development Of Joeys

Development Of Joeys

"A kangaroo mother can have three joeys simultaneously at different stages of development: an embryo in her womb (kangaroos can do what’s called embryonic diapause which means sort of putting the development on pause until she’s ready for it to develop further), a joey in her pouch attached to one nipple, and a joey out of the pouch on the ground who nurses from the other one. The amazing thing?... Read More

"A kangaroo mother can have three joeys simultaneously at different stages of development: an embryo in her womb (kangaroos can do what’s called embryonic diapause which means sort of putting the development on pause until she’s ready for it to develop further), a joey in her pouch attached to one nipple, and a joey out of the pouch on the ground who nurses from the other one. The amazing thing? Each of her nipples make different formulations of milk for each joey’s different nutritional needs."

Zoo docent Report

Amanda Raynes 4 months ago

If you tandem breast feed different aged children from one mother and assign each child their own breast each breast will make different consistencies of milk fortified with immune voosters tailored to each child.

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#4 Flamingo's Joints

Flamingo's Joints

"People often think that flamingoes’ knees bend the wrong way. They don’t - the joint you’re seeing in the middle of their leg isn’t their knee, it’s their ankle. Their knee is up by their body, and it bends the same way ours does."

Zoo docent Report

Dowbo 4 months ago

Well that's a genuinely awesome fact!

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#5 Purring And Roaring Cats

 Purring And Roaring Cats

"There are several ways to classify the large cats, one of the more useful ones is into the roaring cats (tigers, lions) and the purring cats (bobcats, lynxes). The puma (also known as the mountain lion) is the largest cat that purrs. I’ve heard it up close, it’s amazing. A cheetah’s purr sounds like an idling motorcycle engine."

Zoo docent Report

Lilly Petit 4 months ago

Very interesting!

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#6 Polar Bears' Fur Color

Polar Bears' Fur Color

"Polar bear fur is not white, it’s transparent, like fiber optics. Also, their skin is black."

Zoo docent Report

birdhouse 4 months ago

If their skin is black and the fur transparent, shouldn't they look black??

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#7 Bat's Population

Bat's Population

"One-fifth of all the known mammal species are bats."

Zoo docent Report

Last Hurrah 4 months ago

That fact is driving me batty.

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#8 Our Closest Genetic Relative

Our Closest Genetic Relative

"Bonobos, our closest genetic relative (they are more closely related to us than they are to either chimps or gorillas) are almost entirely non-aggressive, matriarchal, and use sex to solve all their problems. They engage in both same and opposite sex interactions, non-penetrative sex (oral, rubbing, manual) and with any age. That’s an interesting area to work in, lemme tell you."

Zoo docent Report

borklaser 4 months ago

We have Bonobos at our local zoo. It used to be an all male population, but I believe it's integrated now. I've seen lots of parents rush their children away from their habitat when some especially vigorous male bonding was taking place.

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#9 Langur Monkey's Baby Color

Langur Monkey's Baby Color

"Langur monkeys are silvery-gray in color - their babies are bright orange. Like Cheeto orange, I do not exaggerate."

Zoo docent , Ethan Fischer Report

JillVille 4 months ago

This baby is so cute! I guess they're coloured so they don't get lost? Like putting a bright orange shirt on your kid at the fair I suppose!

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#10 Awkwardly Walking Kangaroos

Awkwardly Walking Kangaroos

"Kangaroos cannot move their legs independently of each other, they have to move them in sync - when they’re on land. When they’re swimming, they can move them separately. Hopping is their most efficient way to move - a walking kangaroo is awkward as hell. They swing both legs forward using their tail as a third leg to prop up while their legs swing."

Zoo docent Report

Sarah 4 months ago

For this reason kangaroos can technically be classified as tripedal (when hopping) and pentapedal (when walking) due to using the tail as an extra leg.

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