Xplor More: Animal Olympics

By MDC | July 1, 2024
From Xplor: July/August 2024

In July, the world’s best athletes will gather in Paris, France, to compete in the Summer Olympics. But what if the Games gave other members of the animal kingdom a chance to compete? Which wild critters would be crowned champions?


Can you figure out who will win each event? Under the animal that finishes first, write a “G” for “gold.” Under the animal that finishes second, write an “S” for “silver.” And under the animal that finishes third, write a “B” for “bronze.”

1st Place = Gold = G

2nd Place = Silver = S

3rd Place = Bronze = B

100-Meter Dash

In this battle of Missouri’s fastest and furriest who’s the swiftest sprinter on four legs?

  • Black Bear
  • White-tailed Deer
  • Coyote


Twenty-six miles is just a warmup for these marathon migrators. Which bird travels the farthest each year?

  • Bobolink
  • Hudsonian godwit
  • Pectoral sandpiper

50-Meter Freestyle Swim

With 50 meters to the fin-ish line, which slippery swimmer taps the wall first?

  • Rainbow trout
  • Northern pike
  • Blue catfish

Weightlifting, Lightweight Division

Despite their small size, these burly bugs are super strong. But who’s the strongest?

  • Eastern hercules beetle
  • Bull-headed dung beetle
  • American burying beetle

Long Jump

Sproing! Which critter will take leaping to new lengths and be crowned king of spring?

  • Eastern cottontail
  • American bullfrog
  • Mountain lion


100-Meter Dash

Answer: The cagey coyote crushes the competition by running at a howlingly fast 45 miles per hour. The deer dashes across the finish line in second place, reaching speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. And despite being the chubbiest competitor, the bear runs a respectable 30 miles per hour — still faster than the best human sprinter. G - Coyote, S - White-tailed deer, B - Black bear.


Answer: Hudsonian godwits chase summer from one side of the Earth to the other, migrating up to 20,000 miles each year! Pectoral sandpipers and bobolinks don’t fly quite so far, but they still log an astounding 18,000 and 13,000 miles, respectively. G - Hudsonian godwit, S - Pectoral sandpiper, B - Bobolink.

50-Meter Freestyle Swim

Answer: This one is tricky. As ambush predators, northern pike are known for their blinding bursts of speed. But they can’t maintain their pace for more than a few meters. Over longer distances, the trout and the catfish are both swifter swimmers. G - Rainbow trout, S - Blue catfish, B - Northern pike.


Lightweight Division

Answer: Don’t let its unfortunate name fool you. The bull-headed dung beetle can lift more than 1,000 times its own weight. That’s a lot of dung! Burying beetles eat dead animals and can carry critters that weigh 200 times more than they do. Hercules beetles can lift over 100 times their weight. G - Bull-headed dung beetle, S - American burying beetle, B - Hercules beetle.

Long Jump

Answer: Unfortunately, this isn’t much of a competition. A mountain lion can leap up to 40 feet, making it Missouri’s bounciest and pounciest predator. A cottontail hops up to 15 feet — a breathtaking bound for a bunny — and finishes second. And the bullfrog is unhoppy with its effort, managing to jump only 8 feet. G - Mountain lion, S - Eastern cottontail, B - American bullfrog.

Also In This Issue


Forget about desert islands and pirate chests filled with gold. A much sweeter treasure is ripe for the taking, right here in Missouri.

This Issue's Staff

Artist – Matt Byrde
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Marcia Hale
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber