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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), Australia. © WWF
Gold: Koala
Koalas are slow-moving animals that sleep up to 22 hours a day. When they are awake they spend their waking hours munching on eucalyptus leaves. Koalas aren’t bears as many people are led to believe. Rather, they are members of the pouched marsupial family, which includes kangaroos and wombats. Found only in Australia, koalas are threatened by habitat destruction, bush fires and road accidents.

Silver: Sloth
Sloths come in at a close second with 20 hours. Native to Central and South America, the tree sloth is also the slowest mammal, reaching a maximum speed of 1.5m (5 feet) per minute when on the ground. Of the six living species, only one, the maned three-toes sloth, is classified as “endangered”. Destruction of South America's forests, however, may soon prove a threat to other sloth species.

Bronze: Giraffe
Then we have the complete opposite end of the spectrum coming in for 3rd place... Ever watchful for predators, the giraffe hardly ever sleeps. Averaging just 2 hours a day, this tall and elegant creature can usually last on just a few 5-minute naps each day. Too tall to lie down, they sleep standing up, resting their heads on their hindquarters.

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Two Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus laniurus), Featherdale Wildlife Park, New South Wales, Australia . © WWF
Gold: Tasmanian devil
The Tasmanian devil, found only on the Australian island state of Tasmania, has the strongest bite-to-body-size ratio. Its strong jaws are capable of crushing large bones, mostly from carrion. Despite its name and reputation, the species is - unlike its hyperactive Looney Tune cartoon counterpart, Taz - a shy creature. Once considered common, wild populations of Tasmanian devils are currently threatened by a deadly form of contagious face cancer. Tasmania has placed the animal on the state’s endangered species list.

Silver: Great white shark
The great white shark is a ferocious predator with several rows of razor sharp teeth and a powerful jaw. Although the great white has a false reputation for being the most dangerous shark in the world, its populations are declining due to incidental killing in fishing nets and strong demand for their jaws, teeth and fins.

Bronze: Hyena
Despite their reputation as scavengers, hyenas are also skillful hunters. Operating mostly in groups, they are capable of bringing down prey many times their own size. Their strong teeth and powerful jaw muscles are used to crush the bone of wildebeests, gazelles and zebra.

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Long Distance

Arctic terns: They look quite fragile and are not only elegant flyers but also cover large distances. © WWF
Gold: Arctic tern
Many birds migrate, but the Arctic tern travels the furthest, flying from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and back again - a round-trip journey of some 35,000km (21,750 miles). This journey to the Antarctic enables the tern to enjoy the benefits of a “second summer”, making the most of daylight and a plentiful supply of food. Considering that some Arctic terns live 30 years or more, this means that they have travelled over 1 million kilometres (over 620,000 miles) in their lifetime. For birds that are only 38cm in length and 300gm in weight, this is quite an achievement.

Silver: Grey whale
The grey whale is the longest migrating mammal, swimming some 20,110km (12,500 miles) a year. In October, the whales begin to leave their feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas and head south for their mating and calving lagoons in Baja California, Mexico. The southward journey takes 2-3 months.

Bronze: Monarch butterfly
Each year millions of Monarch butteflies migrate over 3,000km (2,000 miles) from Canada and the United States to reach their wintering habitat in Central Mexico.

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Gnarled and ancient Bristlecone Pine © WWF
Gold: Bristlecone pine
Bristlecone pines are the longest-living trees, some reaching a ripe old age of 5,000 years. Bristlecones occur in 6 western states in the US; of these the oldest are found at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of California.

Silver: Giant tortoise
Not only are Galapagos giant tortoises the largest tortoises roaming the planet - weighing up to 300kg (660lb) but they also live longer than any other animal, reaching a ripe old age of 100 years or more. However, that life span is being cut short by introduced species like feral dogs, cats and rats that eat juvenile tortoises, and goats and cattle compete for their vegetation.

Bronze: Mayfly
Again, we go to the opposite extreme for the bronze medal... The lifespan of the mayfly - or should that be dayfly? - lives from just 30 minutes to 1 day, depending on the species. Its sole purpose within that short window of life is to reproduce.

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Fancy footsteps

Gold: Sifaka lemur
Sifaka are one of several lemur species found on island of Madagascar. These primitive primates have a remarkable ability of leaping from tree to tree. It is also known as the "dancing lemur" because of its unique ballet-like movement when crossing open ground - rather then move about on all fours they tend to sashay on their hind legs while holding their arms outspread.

Silver: Basilisk
The Basilisk is a lizard found in the Amazon rainforest. Nicknamed the Jesus Christ lizard, the basilisk can gather enough momentum to run 10-20 metres (32-65ft) on top of water at an average speed of 8.4kph (or 5.2mph). The lizard runs on only its hind legs, holding its arms to its sides. Its feet are large and equipped with flaps of skin along the toes; when moving quickly, it can cross a surface of water before sinking. Now that’s a neat trick!
Bronze: Penguin
Decked out in tuxedoes at a formal dinner, penguins are terrible dancers - their legs are short and webbed, making them more prone to waddle then to walk. But put them in water and they have all the moves, able to swim very fast and skillfully in icey cold seas.

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