Happy April Fools’ Day!

In honor of the trickiest day of the year, we’re bringing you a list of animal adaptations and behaviors that are ALMOST too incredible to be true.

1. African elephants communicate from miles away with SILENCE.

Ok, the sound is only “silent” to us because it’s a frequency the human ear can’t detect, but it’s still amazing! African elephants can communicate with one another from up to 12 miles away using sound, including low-frequency infrasound. So, next time you’re at the elephant exhibit at the Zoo, remember that the elephants could be communicating with each other and you wouldn’t suspect a thing — how sneaky?!

2. River otters create underwater twisters.

Don’t get it twisted, river otters are not related to the Wicked Witch of the West. They are, however, very fast swimmers and expert hunters. River otters sometimes catch their meals by swimming quickly in a circle, creating a whirlpool-like effect that draws fish towards them. Wrap your head around that!


3. Ostriches eat rocks.

This one cant be true, right!? Well, believe it, ostriches sometimes ingest small stones and beakfuls of sand. Because they don’t have teeth, the hard substances help break up the food in their gizzard! Digest that fact.


4. Polar bears live on ice.

Being the largest land predator on earth, you’d think polar bears would prefer solid ground to ice, but the opposite is true! Polar bears spend most of the year walking on ice and swimming up to 60 miles without a rest hunting seals. Their large paws and grippy foot surface help distribute their weight evenly on thick and thin ice and keep them from slipping.

5. Eastern hellbenders can breathe through their skin.

Hellbenders are aquatic amphibians, and they have working lungs. Where this gets really weird is hellbenders rarely come to the surface to breathe, instead using what is known as cutaneous respiration to absorb oxygen from the water through their skin! This brings a whole new meaning to skin-ny dipping.

6. Okapi can lick their own ears.

It’s no joke! Okapi have long prehensile tongues, like their closest relatives, giraffes. Besides using it to pull leaves off trees, they expertly whip it around when grooming themselves from tail to ears!

7. Eastern Box turtles never get eaten.

Fine, never was an exaggeration, but Eastern box turtles are very very good at protecting themselves from predation thanks to one trait — their “box” shell! They can tuck their entire bodies inside their shell, leaving no openings for the teeth or claws of a predator to penetrate! Would we call Eastern box turtles the Iron Man of turtles? Because of this trait, maybe we would.

All seven of these spectacular species are on exhibit at the Maryland Zoo. See if you can spot their “sneaky” behaviors and adaptations on your next visit!