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Category Archives: animals

Grannies are very important for female elephants. A Behavioural Psychologist at the University of Stirling has been studying elephant herds in Kenya for decades. Her studies have found that the survival of female elephants and their success at reproducing is helped not only by having a mum but also by having a grandma. Female elephants support each other and protect and care for calves as a group and the grandmothers play an important role.  Elephants and girls should never forget their gran.

Have a conversation:

What do you know about elephants?

Do you think grandmothers are important for girls?  Why?                                                                                              

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Annette (Scottish accent)

Study the words

grannies- grandmothers (informal)

female- girls/women (not male)

herds- groups of animals

decade- ten years

reproducing- giving birth

calves- baby elephants

gran- grandmother

By Gilad Rom from Israel (Chinstrap Penguin) [CC-BY-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Recently a story began spreading via social media that knitters were needed to make sweaters for penguins hurt in an oil spill.  Soon, some people claimed it was a hoax.  In fact, it seems that the sweaters will not be worn by real penguins, but by toy penguins.  However, these toys will be sold to raise funds for the penguin foundation.  So if you really want to knit a penguin sweater, go ahead — but bear in mind that the cost of shipping it to Australia won’t be cheap.  Alternatively, you might just want to donate some money directly to the Penguin Foundation or even adopt a penguin. 

Listen below

Read by Tina (Australian accent)

Study the words

Spreading- being passed from person to person
Sweaters- pullovers, jumpers
Oil spill- accidental release of oil into the sea
Claimed- said
Hoax- a fraudulent story
To raise funds- to collect money
Go ahead- just do it
Bear in mind- consider
Cheap- inexpensive

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test:Do Penguins Really Need Sweaters?

Circus: tijgers

Circus: tijgers (Photo credit: doenietzomoeilijk)

Circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals in their shows from 1 December 2015.  Strict regulations have also been introduced to improve conditions of working animals until the law is changed.  This means that if you go to the circus, you will no longer see lions, tigers or elephants performing for the crowd. Many people consider this to be cruel and have been campaigning against it for years. They argue that the animals spend too much time travelling in their cages and that brutal methods are used in training them. Sadly, the ban does not include domestic animals, like horses and dogs.  This is apparently because they are used to conditions like travelling.

Listen below

Read by Annette (Scottish accent)

Study the words

Banned– prohibited
Wild– undomesticated
Strict regulations– severe rules
Improve– make better
No longer– no more
Crowd– audience
Cruel- causing pain and suffering
Campaigning– protesting
Argue– hold an opinion
Cages– metal enclosures
Brutal– hard and violent
Sadly– unfortunately
Apparently– it appears that
Used to– accustmed to

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test:Wild Animals to be Banned from Circus

Shetland Ponies

Shetland Ponies (Photo credit: Island Trails, Shetland.)

Shetland ponies have been recieving a lot of media attention recently and they certainly deserve it.  First, they starred in a campaign to attract visitors to their native country, Scotland.  They were photographed in a beautiful setting wearing wooly cardigans.  More recently, a moonwalking pony was featured in a video ad for the mobile phone company ‘3’.  The star of the video, called socks, only stops dancing when a farmer drives past in his tractor. Shetland ponies, which originate from the Shetland Isles, are hardy animals with heavy coats and short legs.  They were originally used for pulling carts, but now it is more  common to see them giving rides to children.  They are occasionally used by blind people instead of guide dogs.

Listen below

Read by Annette Porte (Scottish accent)

Study the words

Deserve– are worthy of, merit
Starred– were the protagonists
Campaign– a drive to promote something
Native– of origin
Setting– location
Wooly cardigans– sweaters with buttons made of wool
Featured– placed in an important role
Hardy– strong and resilient
Carts– open farm vehicle with two or four wheels
Rides–  short trip
Occasionally– sometimes
Blind– visually impaired
Instead of– rather than, in place of

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Shetland Ponies Shoot to Fame

English: Pancake in frying pan.

English: Pancake in frying pan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Happy Egg Co, which specializes in free-range eggs, has invented an automatic pancake machine just in time for Shrove Tuesday.  The device consists of a range of household objects including an old gramophone, an electric mixer and, of course, a frying pan.  The process starts when the hen lays an egg.  The egg is then carried along a conveyor belt.  Next, it is cracked open and mixed with the other ingredients.  Finally, the mixture is poured into the pan, cooked and flipped onto a plate.   The device is not for sale: it’s going to be exhibited at London’s Design Museum in the near future. In any case, pancakes are fun and easy to make by hand.

Do you know how to make pancakes?  You can find out here and download a recipe.


Read by Elizabeth Wyke (English Accent)

Study the words

free-range– from animals which are not kept in cages
household– domestic
gramophone– old-fashioned record player
mixer– machine used for combining ingredients
frying pan– flat-bottomed pan used for frying food
lays– produces
carried– taken
conveyor belt–  moving platform
cracked– broken
poured– dispensed
flipped– quickly thrown
device–  machine
exhibited– displayed
in the near future– soon

Do the takeaway test: The Automatic Pancake Machine

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to itunes podcast) here

A wild dolphin whose fin was tangled up in a fishing line ‘asked’ a diver for help. Mr Laros was enjoying a dive with friends in Hawii when suddenly he heard a dophin cry. The animal swam towards them and pushed his nose into the diver in an obvious plea for help. It took over eight minutes to remove the hook and cut away the line. The animal waited patiently while the diver worked to set him free. At one point the dolphin surfaced for air and then came back down to let his rescuer finish the job. The amazing scene was captured on video.

Listen below

Read by Kristin Walters (Australian accent)

Watch the video on Fox News

Study the words

Wild– not captive
Fin– the part of the body the dolphin uses to swim
Line– nylon wire
Suddenly–  unexpectedly
Towards– in the direction of
Plea– request
Took– used to express the time necessary to complete an action
Remove– take out
Hook– sharp, curved piece of metal used to catch fish
Patiently– without complaining, calmly
Set free– liberate
Surfaced– went to the surface of the water
Rescuer– the diver who saved him
Amazing– incredible
Captured– filmed

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Dolphin asks diver for Help

Dolphin asked help from Hawaii divers (

The internet is rife with cat videos.  Now another feline has become an internet sensation.  This time, the amazing pet can do a typical magic trick – to guess which cup contains a bell, even after they are mixed up at top speed.  We have seen cats that play the piano, surprised cats, fat cats, talking cats and even cats with i-pads.  Dogs, however, are catching up.  They can do tricks too, like walking on two legs and playing dead.  The latest star is a clever dog that taught a puppy how to go safely down the stairs.  There’s no doubt that both cats and dogs are clever and cute, and maybe sometimes we prefer them to people.

What’s your favourite cat or dog video?


Read by  Annette (Scottish Accent)

Study the words

Rife– very common, numerous
Sensation– star
Magic trick– playful deception
Guess– deduce
Mixed up– placed in a different order
At top speed– very quickly
Catching up– reaching the same level
Playing dead– pretending to die
Puppy– young dog
Doubt– uncertainty
Cute– sweet, adorable 

Do the takeaway test: Cats and Dogs Online

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to itunes podcast) here

English: Australian King Parrot (Alisterus sca...

If you ever find yourself in an Australian forest, don’t be surprised if a parrot swears at you. Across Australia, people are reporting that wild parrots are talking to them and that they are not always polite. In fact, some wild birds have learned to speak English and in particular, to use expletives. It is thought that the language skills have been learned from pet birds that escaped from their cages and returned to the wild. The wild birds have picked up the new sounds and have even taught them to their offspring. The result is a weird chorus of English nonsense high in the treetops.

Listen below

Read by Tina Williamson (Australian accent)

Study the words

Swears – uses bad language
Polite-  civil, well-mannered
Expletives- bad language, vulgar expressions
Pet- domestic (animal)
Skills– abilities
The wild- the natural habitat
Offspring- babies
Weird- strange
Nonsense- language with no meaning
Treetops-  the highest branches of the trees

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Wild Parrots Learn to Swear

Related articles:

Escaped per birds are teaching wild birds to speak English

A new i-pad app specifically designed for cats, called ‘paint for cats’, allows your pet to chase a mouse and make a painting at the same time.  The makers, Hiccup, recently got into trouble when cats playing with another app accidentally downloaded premium content without the consent of their owners.  The firm was accused of tricking cats into making purchases.  The problem was solved by introducing a function which requires owners to scan their hand on the i-pad screen for four seconds to prove that they are human.  Apps for cats have more or less the same function as they have for humans:  they stop cats from getting bored and make them look cool too!


Read by  Annette

Study the words

Pet– domestic animal

Chase- run after

Got into trouble– had problems

Accidentally– by mistake

Premium content– extra functions that you pay for

Consent– approval

Firm– company

Tricking…into– using an unfair method to persuade them to do something

Prove– demonstrate

Getting bored– feeling dissatisfied because you have nothing to do

Do the takeaway test: Does your cat need an ipad

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to itunes podcast) here

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