The Olympics give us a chance to
marvel at the super-humans among us, and while human Olympians have
amazing physical abilities, for wild animals strength, speed,
agility and endurance mean more than just medals: they are a matter
of survival. Check out some fun facts from the National Wildlife
Federation about animal Olympians with gold medal-worthy
- The champion of the animal world may be the
spittle bug. Don't be fooled by its size: while it's only as
long as a pencil eraser, it can jump a whopping 115 times higher
than its body length. That would be equivalent to a person leaping
over a 70-story skyscraper!
Going the Distance
Chinook salmon takes the cake for endurance. They travel more
than 2,000 miles as they swim inland from the sea and head up the
rivers and streams where they hatched. That's about the distance
between Detroit, Michigan and Los Angeles, California. Then there
Arctic tern, a bird with the longest migration, literally
migrating from one end of the planet to the other. Traveling from
the Arctic all the way to the Antarctic, and back again, each year
means they cover about 50,000 miles in total! The sooty
shearwater comes in at a close second with a migrating journey
beginning in New Zealand and ending in the North Pacific, 40,000
miles annually. The Pacific gray whale can scrapes by with the
bronze medal. It's the longest migrating mammal, traveling a
round-trip journey of 12,000 miles.
Taking the Plunge -
whale can dive deeper in the ocean than any other animal,
heading down to depths of 6,230 feet - that's over a mile deep! And
if that wasn't impressive enough, it can then hold its breath for
85 minutes before resurfacing for air.
Jungle Gymnasts -
Bush Baby is a tiny primate that lives in the treetops and has
some incredible leaping abilities. As it prowls the tropical
forests at night looking for fruits and insects to devour, bush
babies can make leaps of 20 feet or more, which is many times their
own body length. They are great jumpers and acrobats too, as they
move in complete silence and have no trouble seeing in almost
absolute darkness with the help of their huge eyes.
Run, Run, Fast as You
Can - We all know the fastest animal on the planet is the
cheetah, which can run at speeds over 60 miles per hour. But
even that doesn't always ensure this big cat gets a meal. The
cheetah preys mainly on gazelles and other small antelope, and
while they're not as fast as the cat, they have greater endurance
and agility in a high-speed chase and as a result often escape the
spotted speedster. The silver medal would go to the
pronghorn, the planet's second-fastest animal with a top speed
that almost matches the cheetah's.
Speedy Swimmers -
The killer whale or orca usually cruises at speeds between 2 to 6
miles an hour, but it can swim up to 30 or 40 miles an hour! The gentoo
penguin can't fly in the air like other birds, but it sure can
fly through the water. With a perfect shape for swimming and wings
that work like paddles, it can reach a speed of 15 miles an hour,
three times faster than humans.
Learn more about other amazing
animals at nwf.org
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