Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Animal Fact Sheet Glossary

amphipods: small, shrimp-like animals

arboreal: living in trees

arid: extremely dry

blubber: a thick layer of fat found on marine mammals such as seals and whales

canopy: the top level of a forest

carapace: part of a hard outer shell found on the backs of animals such as crabs, shrimp, insects, and turtles

carrion: decaying meat from an animal carcass

cere: the thick skin at the base of the upper beak of some birds (such as parrots) which contains the bird's nostrils

colony: a large group of the same kind of animal or plant living together

cornea: clear outer lens covering the eyeball

crepuscular: active at dawn and dusk

crustaceans: diverse group of animals including lobsters, crayfish, crabs, shrimp and barnacles

deciduous: losing leaves every fall

delayed implantation: when a fertilized egg waits weeks or months to attach to the womb and begin growth

diurnal: active during the day

docile: calm and non-aggressive

domesticated: animals kept by humans as pets or livestock. It may take many generations for a species to become truly domesticated.

encroaching: crowding someone else’s territory. A pack of wolves might encroach on the territory of another pack. Humans encroach upon wildlife areas when new homes or roads are built.

endotherms: livings things that can regulate their own body temperature (can also be referred as “warm-blooded”); birds and mammals are endotherms

fledging: leaving the nest

fibrous tissue: strong plant or animal tissue (e.g. skin, fat, muscle) made up of bundles of fibers

foraging: looking for food

foliage: plant leaves

fragmentation: splitting into smaller pieces (e.g. when a road separates two sides of a forest)

gestation: the time of development between conception and birth

grazing: eating plant material

ice floe: a sheet of floating ice

incubating: providing heat to eggs while embryos develop inside. Most birds sit on their eggs to keep them warm; many reptiles bury their eggs in the ground to keep them at the right temperature.

invertebrates: animals without backbones (e.g. crabs, snails, worms and beetles)

keratin: tough skin protein material found in horns, fingernails, hair, feathers, hooves, etc.

larva (plural larvae): a young animal that will change its form in adulthood. Frogs, butterflies and other insects have a larval stage in their life cycle.

mated pair (or mating pair): two animals that are having babies together. Some animals pair together for a mating season, while others pair for life.

maternity den: a den built for giving birth and raising babies

mimic: copy or imitate

mollusk: soft-bodied, invertebrate animals that often grow protective shells, such as clams, snails, squid and octopus

molting: shedding old skin, feathers, hair, or shells

monogamous: having the same mating partner for a long time

montane: at a high elevation or on a mountain

over-harvesting: collecting animals (or plants) faster than they can reproduce

oviparous: egg-laying

ovoviviparous: producing eggs that hatch inside the body, then giving birth to live young

pelagic: living in open water, away from the shore and the ocean floor

pelt: an animal skin with hair, wool, or fur attached

planktonic: floating or drifting in water; plankton are living things that float or drift in water (e.g. krill, copepods, diatoms)

plumage: a bird’s entire covering of feathers

poaching: illegal hunting, sale, and transport of protected animals (e.g. wild cats, primates and parrots) or animal parts (e.g. elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns and tiger bones)

polygamous: having more than one mating partner

respiration: breathing

sedentary: staying in one place

social status: rank within a group; the animal with the highest social status typically leads the group

solitary: living alone. Tigers and polar bears are solitary hunters; tapirs and anoa are solitary grazers.

spawning: releasing eggs or sperm in water

temperate: between the tropics and the polar regions. Areas with temperate climates don’t get extremely hot or extremely cold for long periods of time. The state of Washington has a temperate climate.

terrestrial: living on land

understory: the forest layer below the canopy

unpalatable: bad-tasting or impossible to eat

vegetation: plants

vertebrate: an animal that has a backbone (spine). Birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles are all vertebrates.

viviparous: giving birth to live young. Most mammals, some fish (including sharks), and some reptiles are viviparous.

vocalizations: sounds made by voice        

weaning: moving on from mother’s milk. When a baby animal is weaned, it stops nursing and begins eating solid food.