(Elephantidae) are a family in the order Proboscidea in the class Mammalia. They were once
classified along with other thick skinned animals in a now invalid order, Pachydermata. There are
three living species: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant (until recently known
collectively as the African Elephant), and the Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant).
Other species have become extinct since the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago,
the Mammoths being the most well-known of these.
Elephants are mammals, and the largest land animals alive today. The elephant's gestation
period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to
weigh 120 kilograms (265 lb). An elephant may live as long as 70 years, sometimes longer. The
largest elephant ever recorded was shot in Angola in 1956. This male weighed about 12,000 kg
(26,400 lb), with a shoulder height of 4.2 m (13.8 ft), a metre (3 ft 4 in) taller than the average
male African elephant. The smallest elephants, about the size of a calf or a large pig, were a
prehistoric species that lived on the island of Crete during the Pleistocene epoch.
Elephants are symbols of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and high
intelligence, where they are thought to be on par with cetaceans and hominids. Aristotle once
said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind."
Elephants are increasingly threatened by human intrusion and poaching. Once numbering in the
millions, the African elephant population has dwindled to between 470,000 and 690,000
individuals. The elephant is now a protected species worldwide, with restrictions in place on
capture, domestic use, and trade in products such as ivory. Elephants generally have no natural
predators, although lions may take calves and occasionally adults. In some areas, lions may
regularly take to preying on elephants.
The horse (Equus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one
of ten living species of the family Equidae.
For centuries horses have been one of the most economically important
domesticated animals, especially relied upon for farmwork and for
transportation. Their importance declined following the introduction
of mechanization. The history of the horse is prominent in religion,
mythology, art, transportation, agriculture, and warfare.
Most horses perform work such as carrying humans or are harnessed to
pull objects such as carts or plows. Hundreds of distinct horse breeds
have been developed, allowing horses to be specialized for certain
tasks; lighter horses for racing or riding, heavier horses for farming and
other tasks requiring pulling power. Some horses, such as the
miniature horse, can be kept as pets. In some societies, horses are a
source of food, both meat and milk; in others it is taboo to consume
these products. In industrialized countries, horses are predominantly
kept for leisure and sporting pursuits, while in other parts of the world
they are still used as working animals.
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is a mammal of the Felidae family, the largest of four "big cats" in the genus
Panthera .[ 3] Native to much of eastern and southern Asia, the tiger is an apex predator and an
obligate carnivore. Reaching up to 4 metres (13 feet) in total length and weighing up to 300 kilograms
(660 pounds), the larger tiger subspecies are comparable in size to the biggest extinct felids.
Aside from their great bulk and power, their most recognizable feature is the pattern of dark vertical
stripes that overlays near-white to reddish-orange fur, with lighter underparts.
Highly adaptable, tigers range from the Siberian taiga, to open grasslands, to tropical mangrove
swamps. They are territorial and generally solitary animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of
habitat that support their prey demands. This, coupled with the fact that they are endemic to some of
the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans. Of the
nine subspecies of modern tiger, three are extinct and the remaining six are classified as endangered,
some critically so. The primary direct causes are habitat destruction and fragmentation, and hunting.
Their historical range, which once reached from Mesopotamia and the Caucasus through most of
South and East Asia, has been radically reduced. While all surviving species are under formal
protection, poaching, habitat destruction and inbreeding depression continue to be threats.
Nonetheless, tigers are among the most recognizable and popular of the world's charismatic
megafauna. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continue to be
depicted in modern films and literature. Tigers appear on many flags and coats of arms, as mascots
for sporting teams, and as the national animal of several Asian nations.
The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domesticated subspecies of the
wolf, a mammal of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term
encompasses both feral and pet varieties and is also sometimes used to
describe wild canids of other subspecies or species. The domestic dog
has been one of the most widely kept working and companion animals
in human history, as well as being a food source in some cultures. There
are estimated to be 400 million dogs in the world.
The dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds. Height
measured to the withers ranges from a few inches in the Chihuahua to
a few feet in the Irish Wolfhound; color varies from white through grays
(usually called blue) to black, and browns from light (tan) to dark
("red" or "chocolate") in a wide variation of patterns; and, coats can be
very short to many centimeters long, from coarse hair to something
akin to wool, straight or curly, or smooth.
The five baboon species are some of the largest non-hominid
members of the primate order; only the Mandrill and the Drill
are larger. In modern scientific use, only members of the genus
Papio are called baboons, but previously the closely related
Gelada (genus Theropithecus) and two species of Mandrill and
Drill (genus Mandrillus) were grouped in the same genus, and
these Old World monkeys are still often referred to as baboons in
everyday speech. The word "baboon" comes from "babouin", the
name given to them by the French naturalist Buffon. The baboon
held several positions in Egyptian mythology. The baboon god
Baba, was worshipped in Pre-Dynastic times; alternatively, this
may be the origin of the animal's name. Papio belongs to family
Cercopithecidae, in subfamily Cercopithecinae.
Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively
in the Southern Hemisphere. The number of penguin species is debated. Depending on which authority is followed,
penguin biodiversity varies between 17 and 20 living species, all in the subfamily Spheniscinae. Some sources consider
the White-flippered Penguin a separate Eudyptula species, while others treat it as a subspecies of the Little Penguin;
 the actual situation seems to be more complicated. Similarly, it is still unclear whether the Royal Penguin is
merely a color morph of the Macaroni penguin. Also eligible to be a separate species is the Northern population of
Rockhopper penguins. Although all penguin species are native to the southern hemisphere, they are not, contrary to
popular belief, found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin actually live so far
south. At least 10[verification needed] species live in the temperate zone: one; the Galápagos Penguin; lives as far north
as the Galápagos Islands.
The largest living species is the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri): adults average about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall and
weigh 35 kg (75 lb) or more. The smallest penguin species is the Little Blue Penguin (also known as the Fairy Penguin),
which stands around 40 cm tall (16 in) and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb). Among extant penguins larger penguins inhabit colder
regions, while smaller penguins are generally found in temperate or even tropical climates (see also Bergmann's Rule).
Some prehistoric species attained enormous sizes, becoming as tall or as heavy as an adult human (see below for
more). These were not restricted to Antarctic regions; on the contrary, subantarctic regions harboured high diversity,
and at least one giant penguin occurred in a region not quite 2,000 km south of the Equator 35 mya, in a climate
decidedly warmer than today.
Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid, and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. They spend
half of their life on land and half in the oceans.
Penguins seem to have no special fear of humans and have approached groups of explorers without hesitation. This is
probably on account of there being no land predators in Antarctica or the nearby offshore islands that prey on or attack
penguins. Instead, penguins are at risk at sea from predators such as the leopard seal. Typically, penguins do not
approach closer than about 3 meters (10 ft) at which point they become nervous. This is also the distance that Antarctic
tourists are told to keep from penguins (tourists are not supposed to approach closer than 3 meters, but are not
expected to withdraw if the penguins come closer).
Eagles are large birds of prey which mainly inhabit Eurasia and Africa. Outside these two areas, just
two species (the Bald and Golden Eagles) can be found in North America - (north of Mexico), a few
species in Central and South America, and three others in Australia.
They are members of the bird order Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes, according to alternative
classification schemes), family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily
closely related to each other genetically.
Eagles are differentiated from other birds of prey mainly by their larger size, more powerful build, and
heavier head and bill. Even the smallest eagles, like the Booted Eagle (which is comparable in size to a
Common Buzzard or Red-tailed Hawk), have relatively longer and more evenly broad wings, and
more direct, faster flight. Most eagles are larger than any other raptors apart from the vultures.
Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey,
strong legs, and powerful talons. They also have extremely keen eyesight to enable them to spot
potential prey from a very long distance. This keen eyesight is primarily contributed by their
extremely large pupils which cause minimal diffraction (scattering) of the incoming light.
In Britain before 1678, Eagle referred specifically to the Golden Eagle, the other native species, the
White-tailed Eagle, being known as the Erne. The modern name "Golden Eagle" for Aquila chrysaetos
was introduced by the naturalist John Ray.
Eagles build their nests, called eyries, in tall trees or on high cliffs. Many species lay two eggs, but the
older, larger chick frequently kills its younger sibling once it has hatched.
Parrots are birds of the roughly 350 species in 85 genera comprising the order Psittaciformes, found in
most warm and tropical regions. Also known as psittacines (pronounced /ˈsɪtəsaɪnz/), they are
usually grouped into two families: the Psittacidae (true parrots) and the Cacatuidae (cockatoos).
Characteristic features of parrots include a strong curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and
clawed zygodactyl feet. Most parrots are predominantly green, with other bright colors, and some
species are multi-colored. Cockatoo species range from mostly white to mostly black, and have a
mobile crest of feathers on the top of their heads. Parrots, along with crows, jays and magpies, are
some of the most intelligent birds, and their ability to imitate human voices enhances their popularity
as pets. Trapping of wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as other hunting, habitat loss and
competition from invasive species, have diminished wild populations, and more parrots are
threatened with extinction than any other group of birds.
The most important components of most parrots' diets are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and other plant
material, and a few species also eat insects and small animals, and the lories and lorikeets are
specialised to feed on nectar from flowers, and soft fruits. Almost all parrots nest in tree holes (or
nestboxes in captivity), and lay white eggs from which emerge altricial (helpless) young.
Extant species range in size from the Buff-faced Pygmy-parrot, under 10 g (0.35 oz.) and 8 cm (3.2
inches), to the Hyacinth Macaw, at 1 meter (3.3 feet) in length, and the Kakapo, at 4 kg (8.8 lbs). They
are the most variably sized bird order in terms of length. Some atypical parrots include the dimorphic
Eclectus (the male is green and the female is red), the flightless lek breeding Kakapo. The Kaka, Kea
and the Long-billed Corella have especially curved upper mandibles.