Lil and I took a solo trip to Walt Disney World last week. We had just finished a Torchlight unit on Northern Africa, and there are several more units throughout the year on African countries. One of the primary features of this curriculum is a student notebook called Torchlight Trek, where the student writes (with help) a feature article, review, or animal study. When we were riding Kilimanjaro Safaris, our guide was so full of interesting animal facts, I started taking notes on my phone for our Torchlight Trek article, and asked Lil for her favorite facts when we got off the ride. Here are some of our favorite facts!* 1. A male lion weighs more than a female lion, but 20-30lbs of that is mane! Female lions have been known to grow manes as well. The guide said they act as males if there is no male lion, but in observed cases of females growing manes, this seems to have less to do with the needs of the pride and to do with too much testosterone, or possibly a genetic defect. Here's a New Scientist article about 5 female lions in Botswana who grew manes and were presumed infertile. 2. Elephants are afraid of bees! A lot of farmers consider elephants to be a pest, because they destroy fields. Conservation groups are teaching farmers to use beehive fences You can read more about this in the book The Elephant Keeper and at the Elephants and Bees Project website. 3. The best way to protect the habitat of elephants and other animals that share their habitat is to recycle your electronics! Their habitat is being destroyed to mine cobalt for lithium ion batteries. (Not to mention the environmental costs in other countries of mining lithium itself.) Lithium ion batteries are used in cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles. Our electronics have a high environmental cost but they are likely here to stay, so RECYCLE! 4. A group of rhinoceros are called a crash, supposedly because they have poor eyesight and crash into things. (It is true that they have poor eyesight and rely on scent.) 5. Hippos make their own sunscreen! Their sweat is dark red and mucous-like, and protects them from the sun. This article mentions an insane scientist who attempted to collect this secretion from a wild hippo! Cute Christmas songs aside, hippos are incredibly aggressive and dangerous. They're actually up there with lions, believe it or not. * A note on "facts" and fact checking: I have a compulsive need to verify information like this before sharing it, and there were several "facts" that I couldn't verify, but I could see why they would be repeated as fact. A great lesson for kids about fact checking when they are writing a report!
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