Can You Identify These Animals You'd Find in a Zoo?


By: Beth Hendricks

6 Min Quiz

Image: Hillary Kladke / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Dr. Seuss' book "If I Ran The Zoo" details the story of a youngster disappointed by — of all things! — a trip to the zoo. He didn't want to see your traditional elephants, lions and penguins, no way! Instead, he was hoping for " ... a Nerkle, a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!" 

You're not going to find any of those at any zoo on this planet, but for the 700 million people who visit member organizations of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums each year, it can be an educational and exhilarating experience. Whether you go to see the big cats, to check out the aquatic animals or to sneak a peek at some slithering snakes, the zoo is the perfect microcosm of the world we live in — its tundras, grasslands, rainforest and deserts.

Just like the zoo is representative of animals from different biomes, this quiz is the perfect blend of the various beasts, creatures and critters you might find walking through the zoo. Match the clue and the photo with the correct zoo animal and show your zoo smarts! You might even remember a tidbit to take with you the next time you walk through the gates of your favorite zoo!

Which of these animals nearly went extinct in consumers' quest for handbags and boots?

The story of the alligator is an interesting one that involves the near-extinction of the species due to them being hunted for consumer goods. Laws were passed banning their hunting, which led to the resurgence of the gator population.


Which of these animals is most likely to be munching on bamboo when you see them?

Believe it or not, these mammals that grow to be between 150 and 220 pounds survive mostly on a diet of the shoots and leaves of bamboo plants. In order to remain healthful, their diet must include between 26 and 80 pounds of this plant daily.


Oh baby! Which of these animals frequently seen in a zoo has a pregnancy that lasts nearly 22 months?

The gestation period of a female elephant's pregnancy makes a human pregnancy seem like it lasts no time at all. Mother elephants carry their babies for almost 22 months, giving birth to a baby that can weigh between 250 and 350 pounds at delivery!


Don't get in this guy's way. Which of these creatures in the zoo may boast two horns?

There are actually five species of rhinoceros out there: black, white, Sumatran, Javan and Indian. The first three on that list boast two horns while the latter two only have one each. The front horn can grow to be up to 55 inches while the rear horn can surpass 20 inches.


Which of these animals should you probably not challenge to a race?

That's right! The hippopotamus can easily outrun a human being, eclipsing speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Despite weighing between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds, these mammals can really scoot.


Which of these animals has a coat designed to help it hide from predators?

Easily recognized for its distinctive striped pattern, that black and white coat belonging to the zebra actually serves a purpose. When standing very still, particularly in its native surroundings, the stripes help the zebra blend into its environment, protecting it from predator dangers.


Which of these animals' signature long neck has only seven bones in total?

The giraffe is the world's tallest land mammal, thanks in part to its extremely long neck. This neck might lead you to believe the giraffe has a few extra bones, but it comes in at only seven – about the same as any other animal.


Which of these animals frequently found at a zoo gives off the appearance of wearing sunglasses?

A meerkat's appearance includes dark patches around its eyes that give the appearance of wearing sunglasses. These patches actually help to protect the meerkat's eyes in the sunlight.


Which of these animals which appears in some zoos' aquarium exhibit is known as a sea cow?

The manatee earned its "sea cow" nickname for being large and famously slow-moving in the water. Manatees are anywhere from eight to 13 feet long and weigh in from 400 to 1,300 pounds.


Which of these zoo creatures has fur that appears white, but is actually transparent?

The polar bear may appear to be white in color, but its skin is actually black and its fur is transparent. Their colorless hair reflects visible light, which gives it its white appearance to the human eye.


Which of these land animals that you might see in a zoo is well-built for gliding down rivers and streams?

The sea otter is actually a land animal, but its elongated shape, oily fur and webbed feet make it easily adaptable to gliding through the water. When they go underwater, their ears and nose close completely for protection.


Which of these laidback zoo animals does everything (including going to the bathroom!) in its own sweet time?

The sloth is a tree-dwelling animal, which is perfect since their meals also come from trees. It does everything slowly, from leaving the tree once a week to go to the bathroom to taking up to a month for its stomach to digest a meal.


Which of these zoo animals might live in a "town" if it were out in the wild?

They're not dogs in the traditional sense you might be thinking of. Rather, prairie dogs get their name for the barking noise they make when communicating with one another. Prairie dogs live in "towns," or colonies, in the wild.


Bless you! Which of these zoo species has a special gland that helps them remove saltwater from their system through sneezing?

The penguin in the wild hunts its food from salty seawater, which means they ingest a great deal of it. A special gland in the penguin's system helps filter out the saltwater, which gets expressed through penguin sneezes.


Which of these creatures' appearance might change depending on when you visit the zoo?

A puffin's bill is known to change colors throughout the year, appearing gray in the cooler months and orange in the warmer months. Scientists believe the orange coloring helps the puffin attract its mate.


It may not matter where you are in the zoo if this guy opens his mouth. Which of these animals can be heard up to two miles away?

The tiger is a typically solitary beast but can get your attention when they want to. Their roar can be heard up to two miles away from their location, making them the world's loudest (and largest) cat.


Which member of the cat family is the only one of its species to prefer living in a family group?

The lion is the only member of the big cat group that likes to live socially in a family group, known as a pride. The adult female lions are known to be the hunters (or huntresses) of the pride.


Which of these land animals you might find in a zoo has oversized lungs to help it as it reaches speeds of 70 miles per hour?

The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal, able to reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. They can't sustain this rate of speed, however, because their bodies are unable to cool themselves off efficiently over long distances.


Which of these zoo animals shares 97 percent of the same DNA as human beings?

Scientists now believe that orangutans and humans share a 97 percent similarity in their DNA make-up, much closer than chimpanzees or monkeys. Orangutans live their lives in the tops of trees in the rainforest.


This zoo animal that may appear in a zoo's aquatic exhibit is capable of regenerating limbs. What is it?

The salamander, which makes up more than 500 different types of amphibians, is best suited for moist conditions. Its body is capable of regenerating things like limbs and tails, helping to protect it from other creatures.


These large birds are grounded, perhaps because of their weight that can reach up to 350 pounds. Which bird are we talking about?

The ostrich can grow to be up to 350 pounds, but despite being a bird, these large creatures can't fly. This leaves them to make their nests and hatch their eggs on the ground, but with 40 mile per hour running speeds, they can quickly dart away from predators!


You can't miss this hot pink zoo animal. What is it called?

Not all zoos have them, but you'll never forget seeing one of these glorious, hot pink birds. Their coloring is actually due to the diets they consume, rich in crustaceans and algae, which contribute to the hue of shades you'll see from pink to coral to red.


If you want to get a good look at this animal, you might need to visit the zoo after the sun goes down. What animal is it?

There are roughly 200 different types of owls on the planet, with a majority preferring to move around at night. Their nocturnal nature serves them well, allowing them to hunt prey under cover of darkness.


Now that's talent! Which of these birds found in a zoo can eat with its feet?

Parrots possess unusual feet with both forward-facing and backward-facing toes. This helps them use their feet much like we use our hands — holding into things, grasping items and even eating with them!


Which of these little guys is the only animal that can roll into a ball in order to protect itself?

The armadillo's plate-covered back offers a built-in layer of protection against its predators. When it rolls itself into a tight ball, the plates can protect them by hiding its body beneath a hard armored surface.


Which of these animals found in a zoo is known for its shrieking, cackling "laughs?"

The hyena's "laugh," actually a shrieking, cackling sound that mimics a laugh, is its most memorable trait. Hyenas use these sounds as a method of communicating with one another.


Anywhere between 5,000 and 7,000 quills make this zoo critter a prickly pal. What do we know them as?

With up to 7,000 quills on its back, the hedgehog isn't the cute, cuddly little friend he might first appear to be. But those quills do allow him to protect himself as he scavenges for all types of food, ranging from insects to fruit.


This zoo animal's coat is covered with "rosettes." Which beast are we talking about?

The jaguar's spotted coat might remind you of a leopard, but their markings are called "rosettes" for their rose-like shape. Each of the jaguar's spots has a black dot or dots at its center.


These graceful animals were often used to represent beauty in Middle Eastern literature. Which zoo creature is it?

The gazelle was often associated with beauty in Middle Eastern literature. In fact, its very name — gazelle — comes from the Arabic word, "gazal," which means to sweet-talk or flirt and has connections to poetry. Its gracefulness in movement is likely the reason behind these associations.


Which of these common zoo animals may be observed grooming himself — or someone else?

Chimpanzees not only value cleanliness and hygiene for themselves, but they can often be seen grooming one another. This is as much about building relationships with others as it is staying fresh.


Which of these animals might be nursing a baby and carrying another with a third waiting its turn?

Kangaroos have a unique resting childbearing process. They may be nursing an infant (known as a joey) while carrying a still-developing joey in their pouch, with an embryo waiting in the wings. That's one busy mama!


This zoo creature's name means "spirits of the night" in Latin. What animal is it?

It's not entirely clear where the lemur's name originated, but it was likely the result of the lemur's nocturnal tendencies and movement mostly at night. One species of lemur was often killed because people believed them to be connected to evil spirits.


Some species of this animal have been known to use tools or adapt to new skills. Which one is it?

Monkeys are funny and smart little creatures. They have been known to use tools and learn new skills, and some scientists believe they rival three-year-olds in their ability to solve puzzles.


If you don't see this zoo animal, don't panic. Which of these species can actually sleep underwater?

Seals are able to store enough oxygen in their muscles (far more than humans can) which enables them to hold their breath and stay underwater for long periods of time, even long enough to sleep!


Which of these zoo creatures must swallow its food whole — sometimes food bigger than its own head?

It's hard to say which types of snakes you might see when you go to the zoo since there are so many. Any of those snakes' diets might include food bigger than the snake's head, which the reptile swallows whole instead of chewing.


A popular attraction at children's zoos, which of these animals comes in varieties like dwarf, pygmy and fainting?

There are more than 300 varieties of goats on the planet, so you aren't likely to see them all when you head off to the zoo. Fainting goats are pretty funny, though, appearing to fall over when startled. Actually, it's just a condition where their muscles briefly seize and go stiff.


You won't have to worry about stepping on one at the zoo, but which of these aquarium creatures spends a lot of time hiding when out in the wild?

Stingrays are often intimidating to people, but they're actually quite gentle. Just don't accidentally step on one hiding its flat body in the sand in the shallow part of the water. This is a common resting spot for stingrays, who like to bury themselves to hide from predators.


Which of these aquatic animals found in some zoos might squirt ink at a predator to help them escape?

The eight-tentacled octopus has a unique built-in defense system that involves shooting an inky substance in the direction of a predator. This clouds the water, disorienting the predator and allowing the octopus to slip away. Cool, right?


Which of these endangered species featured at the zoo sleeps in a nest at night?

One of the Earth's endangered species, gorillas are herbivores who mostly eat the leaves, stems and fruit of various plants. Similar to a bird, they sleep at night in a nest, albeit it a considerably larger one!


If you're lucky, you might get to see one of these (and its forked tongue) at the zoo. What is it?

The Komodo dragon appears at many zoos, and for a good reason. It is the largest lizard on the planet, and its forked tongue offers increased sensitivity to help them discern prey from miles away.


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