5 min read

The 6 Most Jaw-Dropping Migrations In The Animal World

Take away cars, buses and bikes, and the average American travels 5,100 steps, which is a measly 2 to 3 miles, each day. Compare that with some of the great migrations in the animal kingdom, and walking 3 miles is, well, a walk in the park. Here are six wandering animals that put our pedestrian ways to shame:

1. Zebras trot 300 miles in the longest land trek across Africa

Burchell's zebras hoof it across the floodplains of Namibia and through a national park in Botswana, a 300-mile-long migration each year. The zebra's journey is a reminder of the importance of preserving land for animal use, says WWF conservation scientist Robin Naidoo.

Migration of eight female zebras, via YouTube.

2. Monarch butterflies fly so far, it takes 5 generations to complete the journey

[Image credit: Luna sin estrellas]

The long haul from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada and back again can take up to five generations of monarch butterflies to complete. Starting in March, the butterflies flit northward from Mexico to lay eggs. Each generation will continue north until temperatures sink in the fall, when a group of long-distance butterflies (picture endurance athletes but butterflies) hatch. These marathon insects fly back to Mexico -- one butterfly made it 1,844 miles from Minnesota. It's a complete mystery how each butterfly remembers and continues the route of their ancestors.

3. Seabirds with enormous wingspans travel around the world in 46 days

Albatrosses, with their 11-foot wingspan, are masters of gliding around the globe, traveling hundreds of miles without a flap. The way albatrosses fly can be broken into three groups, according to National Geographic: "Some seabirds stayed close to their breeding grounds in the southern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean; others migrated to a specific region of the Indian Ocean; and a third group made at least one trip around the world in as little as 46 days."

4. Pronghorns (aka antelope) gallop through the North American plains at 60 mph

[Image credit: jacme31]

Pronghorns' impressive speed dates back thousands of years to the Pleistocene epoch, when these hoofed runners had to elude cheetahs and hyenas. Though pronghorns no longer have to worry about cheetahs in North America, the animals put their trotting skills to good use, trekking 150 miles over foothills and plains.

The pronghorn migration across the Upper Green River Valley of Wyoming.

5. Crab-walking across Christmas Island -- 52 miles -- with millions of crabby friends

6. Wild orcas -- even Granny, the 103-year-old -- cruise up to 100 miles a day