Early Learning: Animals of Africa

Africa is the second largest and second most populated continent in the world, with Asia being the largest.

world map

The resources on this page will focus on Africa and the animals that live there.

Africa stretches well south of the equator to cover more than 12 million square miles and is the world's second most populous continent. Africa is one of the most diverse places on the planet with a wide variety of landscape, animals, and weather giving thousands of animals a wonderful place to live. 

The highest point in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at 5895 meters high. The lowest point is Lake Asal in Djibouti at 153 meters below sea level. Africa has 52 countries. The largest country in Africa is Algeria; the smallest is the Seychelles. The longest river is the Nile River, which is also the longest river in the world. Africa is rich with varied wildlife including elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, gorillas, crocodiles, and hippos. African languages are varied with more than 1,000 languages spoken across the continent.

Vocabulary and Definitions

Habitat: The place where plants and animals live. For example, the habitat of a frog is fresh water, while the habitat of a camel is a desert. Habitats give animals shelter, water, food and space.

Savannah: An area mixed with trees and grasslands where trees are scattered to allow the sun to reach the ground.

Grassland: Land that has more grass rather than large bushes or trees.

Desert: A large, extremely dry area of land with few plants or trees.

Wetland: Land consisting of very wet marshes or swamps.

Rainforest: An area of land with lots of tall trees, plants, rivers, and a lot of rain.

Camouflage: Any combination of materials, colors, or light that allows for concealment, or hiding, either by making animals or objects hard to see, or by disguising them as something else.

Turn and Talk

Use these prompts to start a conversation.

  • What do humans need to survive?
  • What do animals need to survive?
  • How do humans get their food?
  • How do animals get their food?
  • How do animals protect themselves from their predators (the animals that want to eat them)?
  • Elephants are herbivores that eat primarily bamboo. Would you want to live just eating salad?
  • Would you rather have a long neck like a giraffe, or a trunk like an elephant? Why?
  • Which animal do you like more: elephant, lion, or zebra? Why?

Explore MPM's Exhibit

Animals of Africa

Google Street View

Take a virtual walk through the Museum’s Africa exhibit!

At Home

Animal Image Cards
Download Spanish here.

Vocabulary Tracing Pages
Download Spanish here.

Video Resources

Names and Sounds
Africa Overview
Big African Animals Dance
Museum at the Library
UK Animal Pronunciations

Recommended Reading List

Zomo The Rabbit: A Trickster Tale From West African by Gerald McDermott
We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs
Honey. Honey. Lion! A Story from Africa by Jan Brett
Way Far Away on a Wild Safari by Jan Peck