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National Zoo Animal Ringtones


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Cell phones will soon ring with really wild sounds thanks to a program launched today by Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), the nonprofit partner of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Animal fans can carry the wild with them and support the National Zoo’s conservation and education programs by downloading ringtones of 25 animal vocalizations, including those made by giant panda Tai Shan and Sumatran tiger Soyono.


The 11 Zoo-animal ringtones also feature an African lion, cheetah, giant anteater, white-cheeked gibbon, golden lion tamarin, Grevy’s zebra, Asian small-clawed otter, and adult giant pandas Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. Other wildlife ringtones, including a gray wolf’s haunting howl and a bald eagle’s high-pitched screeches, are available courtesy of Conservation Calling, a collaborator on the program. The wood thrush, D.C.’s official bird, and the state birds of Maryland (Baltimore oriole) and Virginia (Northern cardinal) are also available.


Animals vocalize to defend territory, attract a mate, signal danger or distress, and for a variety of other purposes. Understanding these signals is vital to understanding animals’ lives and behavior and thus an important aspect of the Zoo’s animal care and research. The vocalizations available as ringtones were recorded by Zoo keepers, scientists, and staff for research projects, educational displays, and specifically for this program.


A ringtone or ring tone is the sound made by a telephone to indicate an incoming call. The term, however, is most often used to refer to the customizable sounds available on mobile phones.


Each ringtone costs $2.99 and can be purchased with a major credit card or via PayPal from the Zoo/FONZ website at www.fonz.org/ringtones.htm. The phone number and model of the cell phone are needed to purchase a ringtone. Instructions for downloading vary for each make of phone and are available on the site.


Every animal-ringtone purchase supports the Zoo’s conservation and education programs. The ringtone program is made possible through a collaboration between FONZ and Conservation Calling. Each ringtone is a one-time purchase; this is not a subscription service, and there are no hidden charges or fees.


FONZ plans to add new animal ringtones throughout the year, so visit often to see what new animals are calling. Frog croaks and chirps are likely new additions as the Zoo and FONZ celebrate 2008 as “Year of the Frog”—an international effort among zoos and conservation organizations to improve awareness and protection of the world’s amphibians.



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