Take A Zoo Word Trip With Dictionary.com And The Houston Zoo

Who’s ready for a virtual field trip? During the Covid-19 pandemic, educational spaces like museums, national parks, and even NASA are opening their doors for virtual tours. We’ve already “visited” the Georgia Aquarium to watch their aquatic animal webcams. Next, we’re heading to the Houston Zoo in Texas to get up close and personal with elephants, flamingos, gorillas, ants, and more!

The Houston Zoo is offering fun for guests via their webcams and through live events on their Facebook page. Here, you’ll find interesting and important words you might need to know on your trip. From habitat to pachyderm, these words will help kids of all ages understand more about the plants, animals, and environments they see represented at the zoo. See if you can find an exhibit that gives you an example of each one!

Habitat

A habitat is the natural environment of an animal, plant, or other living thing. When you’re visiting the zoo, you may notice that the animals come from lots of different habitats. The aquarium houses aquatic animals from lakes, rivers, and oceans. Giraffes are native to the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, while different kinds of tigers can be found in rainforests, grasslands, and even swamps. Each habitat is as unique as the animals who live there.

Ape

Apes are primates characterized by long arms, a broad chest, and the absence of a tail. Chimps, gorilla, and orangutans are all types of apes classified as great apes. There are also lesser apes, like the gibbon and siamang.

Apes differ from monkeys. The word monkey can refer to many primates other than apes, humans, and prosimians (like lemurs). Generally, monkeys are smaller than apes and have tails. Guenons, langurs, macaques, and capuchins are all types of monkeys.

Flamingo

You can easily recognize a flamingo by its pink plumage, or feathers.  These aquatic birds have very long legs and necks, webbed feet, and a unique bill that bends downward at the tip. They prefer to live in wet or swampy areas with tropical climates, and they eat mostly algae, insect larvae, and small crustaceans.

The name flamingo has an interesting history. It is ultimately related to the Spanish flamenco, literally meaning “Fleming,” which was apparently a joking name for the bird, comparing its pink coloring to the ruddy complexion they always thought Flemish or Dutch people had.

Rhinoceros

Why is a rhinoceros called a rhinoceros? Because of its horn, of course!

The word rhinoceros ultimately comes from a Greek word that literally means “nose-horned.” Rhinoceroses may have one horn or two, and they are native to Africa and Southeast Asia. Rhinoceroses are also endangered, which means they’re at risk of going extinct

Leafcutter ant

These aren’t just any ants! Leafcutter ants are native to South America, and they actually cut pieces of leaves and use them as fertilizer for the fungus on which they feed. This means they are herbivores, or living things that feed on plants.

The leafcutter ants have strong mandibles that they use to tear off bits of leaves, and they carry these leaf pieces into their nests so the decaying plant matter can help the fungus grow. They’re basically farmers, but a lot smaller!