Category Archives: Wildlife

Pink Flamingos Day: 29 May 2018


Happy Pink Flamingos Day! (As opposed to Green Flamingos Day 😉 )

Flamingos are large birds with long, stick-like legs and long, slender necks. Flamingos are wading water birds, inhabiting alkaline, saline and/or estuarine lagoons and lakes (usually lacking in vegetation). Flamingos are not a migratory bird; there are six known species, which can be found in a variety of places.

  • Africa:
    – Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
    – Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)
  • South America:
    – Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus)
    – Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
    – James’ or Puna flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)
  • Caribbean, the Yucatan Peninsula and the Galapagos Islands
    – Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

A group of Flamingos is called a flock or a colony. Colonies can be made up of 50 or so birds up to colonies with thousands of individuals. Flamingos reach maturity around five years of age, and are monogamous (same mate for life)

Yes, it’s true… flamingos are pink due to the food they eat. They eat insects, invertebrates, small fish, and algae. They stir up food from the mud with their feet, and hold their breath whilst they duck under water to catch a meal.

The algae they eat is full of beta carotene (also in foods such as tomato, carrot, sweet potato causing the colour) which causes the pink colouration, as well as carotenoids in the molluscs and crustaceans they consume. Depending on the levels of the carotene and carotenoids in the foods available in their habitat, will determine the shade and brightness of the Flamingos colouration. Flamingos are born white/grey and turn a pink-colour at around two years old.


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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National Bird Day: 5th January 2018


National Bird Day is on 5th January every year; it is scheduled for the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count. The count helps to monitor our nation’s birds; members of the public go out and count as many birds as they can see during the three week count.

It is estimated that approximately 12% of the population of all bird species could face extinction within the next century. Many parrot species and songbirds face extinction due to illegal trade (see my post about the Javanese Songbird Trade for some related information), disease, and loss of habitat.

Today, National Bird Day, is to promote care and conservation of birds, as well as to raise awareness about their decline. It also marks the end of the Christmas Bird Count – which monitors wild populations to measure the numbers of individuals.

Many countries have a national bird, and I am going to use a few as examples to show the importance of National Bird Day, and the conservation of birds.

United Kingdom: European Robin 
The population of this bird has increased by 45% since 1970! The current count is 117,000,000-181,000,000 mature adults in Europe alone.

European Robin

United States of America: Bald Eagle
Estimated population of 300k-500k (k = thousand) in the 1700’s; the current population is now 70k in North America, and just 5k in the South. However numbers were as low as only 500 in mid-late 1800’s, so the population has increased again.

Bald Eagle

Italy: Italian Sparrow
The current population is 10-20 million individuals (5-10 million pairs) however have been classified as vulnerable due to their rapid decline at a rate of 54.2% between 2000 and 2015.

Italian Sparrow

Canada: Canada Goose
This species has steadily increased in population  at an estimated rate of 3% between 1998 and 2007. In 2015 the estimated population was 4.2-5.6 million.

Canada Goose

With the information from bird counts, we can take active steps to help conserve species when they need it – to show us the most vulnerable or endangered species, so that we can take steps to avoid their extinction.


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Christmas Camel (Dromedary)


Yes it does seem like an odd title for a post – “hot” and “dry” and “sandy” are words that tend to come to [my] mind when thinking of camels; whereas “cold” and “frosty” and “snowy” are words that tend to come to [my] mind when thinking about Christmas… however there is logic!

Think of the school nativity play you played a role in (no matter how small) as a child – no room at the inn, Mary and Joseph in the stable, the birth of baby Jesus, and of course the visitors: the shepherds and their sheep, and the three wise men who rode in on their camels!

As Jesus was born in Bethlehem (a town south of Jerusalem), and lived in Nazareth (a city in north Jerusalem) – the camels the wise men rode in on were likely have been dromedary camels as they came from the East (and it took them about two years to get there, so they wouldn’t have actually visited Jesus in the stable).

Camels are even-toed insulated, with a hump or humps. Each hump is a mound of fat – stored up so that the animal does can go travel great distance without stopping to refuel! When the store has been used up the hump(s) will flop and become limp, until the animal has refuelled; the hump(s) will then return to their upright position

The dromedary or Arabian camel (scientifice name: Camelus dromedarius) is the one-humped camel; the smallest of the three remaining camel species. This species is found in the Middle-East and the Horn of Africa; likely the species the wise men travelled on. (The other camel species being the Bactrian.)

Standing between 1.7-2.0m tall and weighing 300-600kg the dromedary has a diet consisting of a range of desert vegetation; including thorny plants, dwarf shrubs, herbs, desert grasses, vines, and trees. They will graze for 8-12 hours each day.

A male camel is known as “bull”, a female is a “cow”, and the young as “a calf” or “calves”. After a 12-15 month gestation period the female will give birth in solitude, usually to a single calf, however on occasion may give birth to twins. The mother will then care for the young for up to two years.

Unfortunately, the dromedary has not naturally existed in the wild for a long time; thought to be around 2000 years. However there are feral camels of this species found, particularly in Australia (where they were introduced around 1840). But with breeding programmes around the world in animal collections, this species is still strong in number [for the time being].


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Rare Species: Vaquita


The Vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the world; a little porpoise, that wasn’t discovered until 1958. Now, almost 60 years on and they are on the brink of extinction. They are often caught in nets in marine protected areas, within Mexico’s Gulf of California, and drown as a result. Sadly, more than half of the population has been lost in the last three years.

The Vaquita is pale grey along its’ sides, dark grey on the dorsal surface (on top), and light grey/ white ventral surface (along the bottom). They have dark rings around the eyes and lips, and a dark thin line from the lips to the pectoral (front, side) fins. Newborns are darker in colour, with pale grey along the dorsal surface and head.

Since the freshwater River Dolphin species, the Baiji, went extinct in 2006 the Vaquita has taken the title of the world’s most endangered cetacean. As of 2016, there is suspected to be less than 30 left in the wild; a drastic drop in numbers since 1997 when there were approximately 600 in the wild.

The poaching of the endangered Totoaba fish, for its’ swim bladder – a Chinese delicacy, using gill-nets (fixed fishing nets) is the main cause of the Vaquita’s declining numbers. Vaquita’s get caught in gill-nets, and drown, as they cannot get free to get to the surface for air.

Gill-nets, though usually put in place for a single species, do not discriminate – many different species get caught, and often die. Whales, dolphins and porpoises all get trapped – some get away with injuries, whilst most die.

Dr. Anna Hall, of the Porpoise Conservation Society, said, There is nothing else we need to worry about other than gill-nets. If we remove the gill-nets, we will likely save the Vaquita.”


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Javanese Songbird Trade


Songbirds on the brink of extinction due to being wild caught, and then sold as pets in Java (Indonesia). Markets full of beautiful songbirds bundled into cages. Forests erily quiet as the songbirds that should occupy the trees are being sold in these markets; including protected bird species, being illegally caught and sold. These animals are treated as possessions of status as opposed to being cared for as companions. Songbird species native to Java are headed toward extinction – according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Many species are critically endangered with no signs of improving.

Songbird Market, Java

Despite the efforts of conservationists and breeding programmes, for some species it may be too late. But thankfully, these programmes are still going, still hoping. Maybe some species will recover but the people of Java need to release these birds back into/ stop taking them from the wild, to have them die in cages a stones throw from their natural habitat.

Sumatran laughingthrush

I was made aware of this awful practice by a short segment in between news stories on the BBC – for more information of this on the BBC website please follow this link.


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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International Rabbit Day: 24 September 2017


Happy International Rabbit Day

Initially classified as Rodents but, in the early 20th Century, re-classified as Lagomorphs; rabbits in the wild exist on every continent except Asia and Antarctica, and domestically world-wide.

A male rabbit is known as a Buck and a female is known as a Doe. Baby rabbits are often mistakenly thought to be known as Bunnies, but a young rabbit is actually known as a Kit or a Kitten.

For more information about rabbits, check out another of my posts, Bunny Basics – http://alisanswers.com/index.php/2014/03/28/bunny-basics/ 

Interesting: Deer, deer!


Actress, Audrey Hepburn had a pet deer named Pippen; artist Frida Kahlo also had a pet deer named Granizo.

Audrey and Pippen

Audrey’s little fawn would lie on the couch with her, and was very docile. She would bottle feed and care for the fawn. Pippen was used on set of the film Green Mansions; where she played a fawn that followed the main character, Rima (played by Audrey), around the jungle in which they both lived. As such, Audrey took the deer home and cared for her – so much so that Pippen would follow Audrey around.

Audrey nicknamed the fawn “IP” and were even photographed shopping (below) and napping (above) together! Unfortunately, after filming, Audrey and Pippen had to say goodbye and part ways.

Frida and Granizo

Frida had an array of animals around her; and it is said that she had a connection with nature. Frida was a Mexican artist, who painted throughout her troubled life; painting often by drawing from her life and pain. Her pets, so it is said, we’re dear to her; her pet deer Granizo is said to have inspired her 1946 painting The Wounded Deer.

Unfortunately there is not much information surrounding Frida’s relationships with her animals – aside from [some of] them being inspiration for pieces of art.


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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World Penguin Day – 25 April 2017


In a few days it’s World Penguin Day! Today (22nd April) is Earth Day – so I’ve decided to post my penguin post a few days early… Penguins are distributed across the Earth, and come in various sizes and appearances. Penguins are flightless, aquatic birds (of varying sizes and habitats).

There are 17 species of penguin worldwide:

  1. Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae)
    This mid-sized penguin, of the Pygoscelis genus, weighs on average 4.5-5 kg (10-11 lbs) and is only 68-70 cm (27-27.5 “) in height. Adélie penguins live on the Antarctic continent and many surrounding islands. They can dive up to 175 m (575 ft) below the surface and can hold their breath under water for up to 6 minutes, but usually only dive for 2-3 minutes a time.
    Average wild lifespan: 20 years.
  2. African penguins (Spheniscus demersus)
    Also known as “Jackass penguin” due to their donkey-like vocalisations. Populations of this species are distributed across Namibia and South Africa. They can dive up to 99.9 m (328 ft), and hold their breath for over 2 minutes. On average, they grow to a height of 60 cm (2 ft / 24″) and weigh 2.3-4 kg (5.25-9 lbs).
    Average wild lifespan: 12 years.
  3. Chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica)
    These little penguins are the smallest of the three species in the Pygoscelis genus, the Chinstrap weighs in at 3-6 kg (7-13 lbs) and has an average height of 71-76 cm (28-30″). Ranging across a variety of locations (Antarctica, Argentina, Bouvet Island, Chile, the Falkland Islands, the French Southern Territories, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands); Chinstrap penguins do not often dive deeper than approximately 70 m (200 ft), for no longer than 1 minute at a time.
    Average wild lifespan: 15-20 years.
  4. Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri)
    The largest and heaviest of all penguin species; the Emperor penguin weighs on average 23 kg (50.7 lbs) and reaches 1.1-1.3 m (3.6-4.2 ft) in height. Native to Antarctica, these penguins can dive up to 565 m (1,850 ft) below the surface and can hold their breath under water for up to 20 minutes.
    Average wild lifespan: 20 years.
  5. Erect-crested penguins (Eudyptes sclateri)
    Belonging to the Eudyptes Genus (crested penguins) the Erect-crested penguin is found  on the Bounty island and the Antipodes island of New Zealand. They tend to feed in the shallows, and therefore tend to keep to short, shallow dives; however, to forage for food when scarce they can dive deep. Weighing 2.5-6 kg (5.5-13.2 lbs) and growing to 65-60 cm (25.5-27.5″).
    Average wild lifespan: 15-20 years.
  6. Fiordland penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)
    Also belonging to the Eudyptes Genus (crested penguins) the Fiordland penguins can be found on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Not a lot has been recorded about the marine ecology of the Fiordland, however studies show that they tend to take short, shallow dives. This species grows to a height of 55-60 cm (1.8-2 ft / 22-23.6″) and usually weigh 4 kg (8.8 lbs).
    Average wild lifespan: 10-20 years.
  7. Galapagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus)
    The mid-sized Galapagos penguin weighs in at 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) and reach 49 cm (19.2″) in height. This is the only penguin species found in the Galápagos (hence the name), and north of the equator; however most are found among the western islands of Fernandina and Isabela. Diving to depths of 7.9-54.8 m (26-180 ft), with dives lasting an average of 3+ minutes.
    Average wild lifespan: 9.5 years.
  8. Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua)
    Third largest of all penguin species (and largest of the Pygoscelis genus), Gentoos weigh 5-8.5 kg (11-19 lbs) and reach 51-90 cm (20-35″) in height. They range across many sub antarctic islands, and dive for 7 minutes at a time (on average) at depths of up to 200 m (665 ft).
    Average wild lifespan: 15 years.
  9. Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti)
    This med-size penguin stands at an average height of 70 cm (27.5″) tall, and weighs  4 kg (8.8 lbs) on average. The Humboldt penguin is native to the Peruvian and Chilean coasts; holding their breath underwater for an average of 2 minutes, diving to depths of 15 m (49.2 ft).
    Average wild lifespan: 15-20 years.
  10. King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus )
    The second largest and second heaviest of all penguin species, not too dissimilar in appearance to the Emperor; the King penguin weighs in at 15 kg (33 lbs) and reach just under 1 m in height (0.9 m / 3.1 ft). They inhabit a variety of sub antarctic islands, and usually dive to 100 m (330 ft) for feeding, but have been recorded at diving over 500 m (1,600 ft). King penguins can hold their breath under water for 20 minutes.
    Average wild lifespan: 15-20 years.
  11. Little (Blue) penguins (Eudyptula minor)
    This species is the smallest penguin species in the world! Standing at only 30-33 cm (11.8-13″) tall, and weighing in at 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). They can be found around New Zealand and Southern Australia; the deepest recorded dive is 72 m (236 ft), however on average dive only 5-20 m (16.4-65.6 ft) – holding their breath for approximately 2 minutes at a time before surfacing for air.
    Average wild lifespan: 6 years.
  12. Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus)
    One of the larger species of the Eudyptes Genus (crested penguins), the Macaroni penguin is distributed across Antarctic Peninsula, Bouvet, Prince Edward islands, Heard Island, the Falkland islands, Marion, Crozet, Kerguelen, Chile, Argentina, South Georgia, South Sandwich, South Orkneys, and South Shetlands. They dive for an average of 2-3 minutes at a time, usually between 15-70 m (49.3- 229.6 ft) but can reach depths of 100 m (330 ft). On average, Macaroni penguins grow to 70 cm (27.5″) and weigh 5.5 kg (12.1 lbs).
    Average wild lifespan: 15 years.
  13. Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus)
    The Magellanic penguin weighs 60-75 cm (23.6-29.5″) and is 2.5-6.5 kg (5.5-13.3 lbs) in height. Studies show that this species dives anywhere between 6-90 m (19.6-295.2 ft); 66.5-68 m (218-223 ft) on average. Distributed across the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands.
    Average wild lifespan: 25+ years.
  14. Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome)
    Another penguin of the Eudyptes Genus (crested penguins) this little species weighs just 2.3-3 kg (5-6.6 lbs), and is on average 51 cm (20″) in height. They can dive up to 100 m (330 ft), however tend to stick to the shallows; capable of holding their breath for approximately 6-10 minutes.
    Northern Rockhopper penguins are mostly found in the Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha, and throughout the Atlantic Ocean. Southern Rockhopper penguins are found in Southern Chile, the Falkland Islands, Auckland Islands, Isla Noir and Isla de los Estados, Prince Edward Islands, Diego Ramirez Islands, Campbell Island, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, Antipodes, and Heard Island.
    Average wild lifespan: 10 years.
  15. Royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli)
    Also belonging to the Eudyptes Genus (crested penguins), are 70 cm (27.5″) in height and 4-8 kg (8.8-17.6 lbs) in weight, on average. Found on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island and surrounding islands; diving between 50-150 m (164-492 ft) for food, for approximately 5-10 minutes.
    Average wild lifespan: 15-20 years.
  16. Snares penguins (Eudyptes robustus)
    The final species of the Eudyptes Genus (crested penguins), this species stands at 55-70 cm (21.5-27.5″) in height, and weighs 3-4 kg (6.5-8.8 lbs). They usually take short dives at depths of between 20-40 m (65.6-131.2 ft); however, for longer foraging trips, can reach depths of 120 m (393.7 ft). They are found off the coast of New Zealand, and The Snares islands (hence their name).
    Average wild lifespan: 15-20 years.
  17. Yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes)
    The Yellow-eyes penguin population is spread across Campbell Island, Stewart Island, Auckland Island, South Island of New Zealand, and the Otago Peninsula. They dive between 39.9-120 m (131-394 ft) for an average of 3.5 minutes. This species grows to a height of 65-73.6 cm (2.1-2.4 ft / 25.5-29″) and usually weigh 4.3-8.5 kg (9.5-18.75 lbs).
    Average wild lifespan: 10 years.

     


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International Day of the Seal (22.03.17)


International Day of the Seal is a day to raise awareness of the cruel practise of seal hunting – it was declared a universal day by congress in 1982.

This day has, however, become an international day to recognise the plight of seals worldwide – not just those endangered from hunting, but those endangered by other causes too.

Harp seals are hunted in Canada in the largest marine mammal hunt in the world! This hunt is supposed to be of adult seals only (once all the white fluff is gone); however this is, unfortunately, not the reality – too often seal pups are killed, for their fluffy white pelt. This is a sport. There is no necessity for this brutality – there is a ban on selling the pelts, the seals are not hunted for meat, it is not a cull to control population… Around the world, many other seal species are also hunted for sport.

Other issue many seal species face include being hunted for meat/ blubber, being caught in fishing nets, pollution, destruction of habitat, and lack of food (often due to human greed).

In my opinion; we need to step up and start caring for animals – we are responsible for what we do to our planet, and the species we share it with. More and more species are becoming endangered and extinct; we need to change attitudes and protect animals.


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