Animal Identification – What’s in a Name?
A calf is a baby cow, right? Yes, but it is also what we call a baby whale, antelope, elephant, and giraffe! In addition, while a baby bear is called a cub, the same infant identity belongs to a fox and a lion. Moreover, while almost everyone knows that a baby kangaroo is a joey, many people have no idea that a baby swan is a cygnet or that a baby turkey is a poult. How many animal baby names can you identify?
Animal groups are also fascinating to learn about, and I was very surprised to find myself stumped when it came to naming many of the units. For example, I had no clue that a group of rabbits is a warren, several donkeys make up a pace, a cluster of cats is a clowder, foxes make up skulk, or that a bunch of giraffes create a tower. Hippos make a bloat, elk assemble in gangs, and ferrets make up a business—while alligators create a congregation!
Males and Females
We can all identify a lion and lioness as the male and female cats of the majestic pride, but how many of us know that a male swan is a cob and the female is a pen? Or how about this one? Did you know that a male kangaroo is a boomer and his mate is a doe? Along with other kangaroos, they create a mob. However, the same identities belong to a male and female rat, and they live in colonies.
Learn More: Websites, Resources, and Books
Learning the various labels for baby animals, their mothers and fathers, and the names of the groups they live in might make an interesting research project for your students. Below are a few links, books, and resources to get you going!
What Are Baby Koalas Called?: A Book about Baby Animals (First Facts) by Kathy Feeney
A Crash of Rhinos, A Party of Jays: The Wacky Ways We Name Animal Groups by Diane Swanson
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Paddling of Ducks, A: Animals in Groups from A to Z by Marjorie Blain Parker
Originally published at The National Writing For Children Center