• People held the first Olympic Games more than 2,000 years ago in Greece. During the Olympics, athletes from around the world compete. They want to show that they are the fastest, strongest, or most skilled in their sport. Imagine if there were an Olympics for animals. Which animal would win as many gold medals in swimming as Michael Phelps? Which animal would be the Usain Bolt of running?

     

    Many athletes have become famous for their athletic skill. LeBron James is a famous basketball player. Some animals are also well known for their amazing physical abilities. For example, kangaroos and impalas are famous for their leaping. Whales travel very far distances in the ocean. They migrate much, much farther than the distance of a marathon. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals. They run quickly so they can catch prey, like hares and antelope. Of course, animals don't win medals. They are competing for their survival.

     

    The 2012 Summer Olympics take place in London between July 27 and August 12. Ten thousand athletes from more than 200 countries will compete in 26 different sports. Who will you root for?

    • Gray whales migrate 9,650 kilometers (6,000 miles), which is about the same as traveling from Maine to California and back.
    • Bumblebees can fly to 5,500 meters (18,000 feet), which is almost as high as the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro.
    • Bald eagles can fly up to one third the height of the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.
    • The distance of green sea turtle migration is about the distance between Maine and Florida.
    • Each year red crabs travel up to eight kilometers (five miles) round-trip to release their eggs.
    • Monarch butterflies migrate in groups larger than a million.
    • White rhinoceroses can speedily move along at 45 kilometers (28 miles) an hour.
    • Grey and red kangaroos can reach speeds of over 56 kilometers (35 miles) an hour.
    • Sperm whales can dive more than 1.6 kilometers (one mile) below the surface of the water.
    • A water strider, or pond skater or skimmer, is able to run or skate across the surface of ponds and streams.
    • Black mamba snakes can slither up to 19 kilometers (12 miles) an hour.
    • Cheetahs can run as fast as some cars travel on the highway, which is 112 kilometers (70 miles) an hour.
    • Patas monkeys can sprint from zero to 53 kilometers (33 miles) an hour in just three seconds.
    • Shortfin mako sharks can leap six meters (20 feet) above the surface of the water, which is about the height of a two story home.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    animal migration Noun

    process where a community of animals leaves a habitat for part of the year or part of their lives, and moves to habitats that are more hospitable.

    athlete Noun

    person who participates or competes in sporting events.

    hare Noun

    mammal, related to rabbits, with long ears and strong legs for hopping.

    impala Noun

    antelope native to Africa.

    marathon Noun

    42.195 kilometer (26 mile, 385 yard) foot race.

    migrate Verb

    to move from one place or activity to another.

    Olympics Noun

    international sports competition divided into summer and winter games held every four years.

    poach Verb

    to hunt, trap, or fish illegally.

    survival Noun

    ability to live.

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