What's going on at the top of this page? Feathers, fur, scales.... They're close-up photographs of some of the 260 species of animals at the Miami Metrozoo. Can you match the numbered photos above with the pictures of whole animals on these pages? When you're ready for a tougher challenge, see if you can match the printed descriptions (below) of the animals with the pictures as well.
1. The distinctive coloring of these animals results from the amount of the pigment carotene in its diet. Without sufficient carotene, the animals turn white! Carotene is found in shrimp and blue-green algae, upon which the animals feed, usually while standing in shallow, salty water in groups.
2. It is named after a fictional creature, but it's real, all right. The animal's large size (up to 12 feet long, weighing 300 pounds) and flickering tongue may have inspired myths about "fire-breathing" monsters. (The one shown here is only six months old.) Considered to be examples of living dinosaurs, they take the first half of their name from an island in Indonesia on which they live.
3. Christopher Columbus brought back some of Calypso's cousins from Cuba when he returned from his first voyage to New World. Traders and sailors called them 'kriken,' from the French word 'criquer' (cree-KAY), meaning 'to screech.' Today, we often think of them as old-time sailors' pets.
4. It is often found in children's alphabet books. Its name is from a Portuguese word, which may have been derived from a Congolese name. It moves in herds and has keen hearing. Its night vision is as good as that of an owl. From birth, this animal is attracted to stripes, which may help keep herds together.
5. Her name is Savannah, and she's a star performer in the zoo's Wildlife Show. Even as adults, these endangered animals are tamed fairly easily. You might also say that they make 'fast' friends.
6. Babies may be six feet tall; adults can be three times as tall. Like a cow, it chews its cud (regurgitates its food for a second chewing). Like a camel, it can close its nostrils completely to keep out sand and dust. The dark-and-light pattern on its hide makes it hard to see when it stands in the dappled shade of trees.
7. This giant species, once common, is now found only in the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador and some islands in the western Indian Ocean. They're slow, but they're steady.
ANSWERS TO 'UNSCRAMBLE' (A) Caribbean flamingo; (B) giant land tortoise; (C) giraffe; (D) macaw; (E) cheetah; (F) Grevy's zebra; (G) Komodo dragon.
ANSWERS TO DESCRIPTIONS (1) Caribbean flamingo; (2) Komodo dragon; (3) Macaw; (4) Grevy's zebra; (5) Cheetah; (6) Giraffe; (7) Giant land tortoise.