By Anna Salmon, aged 7 years old
I really love animals and enjoy reading about them, watching programmes about them and visiting animal sanctuaries. I would love to go somewhere I could see animals in their natural habitat, especially my favourite animals; which are pandas, monkeys and koalas.
I like pandas because they are very cute. Their name in Chinese translates as “black and white cat-foot” and they live in China. They eat mostly bamboo – about 99% of their diet – although they can eat pretty much anything, including meat. In the wild giant pandas live for about 20 years (or up to 30 in captivity), as long as they can get enough food. The giant panda is nearly extinct, so I am thinking of sponsoring a panda with the WWF as my Christmas present, so that they can help to protect them.
I like chimpanzees because they are very cute too and can be quite cheeky. I especially like chimpanzees because they are quite like humans, for example their hands are basically the same as ours, only with hair on them. Their feet are nearly the same as their hands, which is cool because they can use them to cling onto things better than we can. I would love to have feet like that! Chimpanzees are really clever, some have been taught to use sign language to communicate with humans. Some chimpanzees in zoos have been taught to do special tricks. They like to keep busy, so a good zoo will be equipped with lots of space and things to do. Zoos could also perhaps hide their food in the trees, rather than just feeding them directly. I would prefer them to be in the wild, as long as their homes are safe. However, a good zoo can be a good home too.
Here are some facts about koalas: they eat eucalyptus leaves, which are potentially malignant, so they need lots of energy to digest them. To get this energy, koalas sleep for eighteen to twenty-two hours! They also have rounded tummies to make room for their large intestines! The word “koala” means “no drink” in an Aboriginal language. They are called koalas because they hardly ever drink. There is a lot of moisture in eucalyptus leaves, so koalas rarely need to drink, although if there is a drought or a dry spell the leaves are drier and koalas may drink then. When Europeans first arrived in Australia, which is where koalas live, they thought they looked a bit like a bear so they called them koala bears; when in fact they are marsupials. We should therefore call them koalas rather than koala bears.
Marsupials carry their babies in a pouch. Koalas’ pouches are located on their tummies and their babies stay there until they are six or seven months old. They are then carried on their mother’s back until they are a year old. Baby koalas drink milk from their mothers to start with and then they eat something called pap, which is a special type of poo! The mother eats eucalyptus leaves as usual then when they are partly digested this makes pap, which the baby can eat to get used to eucalyptus. The koala’s life span is generally ten years. The oldest koala ever recorded lived 22 years in a zoo in Japan.
I think that it is very important that we look after animals and wildlife because they are a big and important part of our world. We could all sponsor animals to help charities look after them and we could ask governments to make more laws to protect animals. This way they will live longer and happier lives.
What animal do you love and why?