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Musical Turtles

turtles

3 turtle sculptures. Image taken in Eugene, Oregon.

penguin

Penguin picture stolen from i09.

So, turns out one of the tricks to emperor penguins being able to stay under water so long is that they can metabolize anaerobically-that is, without oxygen. Not so surprising for bacteria (at least we’ve known about that for a while), but for a bird, pretty awesome adaptation. Read about it here, and find out about the technical mechanisms and triggers for the switch here.

The challenges of motherhood are many.

It requires a ton of patience.

humming bird

A mama humming bird on her nest. Image taken at the San Franicsco Zoo.

humming bird

A mama humming bird on her nest. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

You have to carry a lot of extra weight.

gorilla

Baby Hasani and his adopted mom. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

You have absolutely NO privacy.

flamingo

A flamingo chick, hiding in the safety of his mom's feathers. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

And let’s face it; your young won’t stop until they’ve sucked you dry.

elk

A young elk, getting a drink from mom. Image taken in northern California.

And the worst part is, one day you have your brood all together…

peahen

A peahen and her chicks. Image taken at the West Coast Game Safari Park in Bandon, Oregon.

But then you look up and they’ve all gone their separate directions!

peahen

A peahen and her chicks. Image taken at the West Coast Game Safari Park in Bandon, Oregon.

But wherever they go, they’re following in your footsteps.

peahen

A peahen and her chicks. Image taken at the West Coast Game Safari Park in Bandon, Oregon.

And they’ll always look up to you.

seagull

A seagull and her well camouflaged chick. Image taken at Sea Lion Cave, Oregon.

And need you and love you.

rhinos

A baby rhino with mama Elly. Image given to me by the San Francisco Zoo.

Thanks, mom, for handling all of these challenges LIKE A BOSS!!! Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Community

Community

"Community" sign from Haight Street, San Francisco.

Binturongs: Known Unknowns

binturong

A binturong posted on a platform. Image taken at West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

Nocturnal and arboreal, binturongs are difficult to study or observe so there is not much known about this adorable, old-man of an animal. As far as we know, they are the largest member of the civet family. They have a long prehensile tail that they use for steadying themselves as they climb through the trees. They can walk upside down on a tree, hanging from the branches but have never been observed making leaps. Much like opossums, it is doubtful that adults can support their whole weight with their prehensile tail, but the young can.

binturong

A binturong staring at the sky. Image taken at West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

They are carnivores, consuming birds and small mammals and catching them with surprising speed. They are also capable swimmers and able to dive and hunt for fish. Still, they will also sometimes eat ripe fruit, especially figs and will invade plantations or steal fruit from houses. They eat bananas like they do in cartoons, by squeezing the end and popping the fruit out of its peel.

binturong

A binturong licking its nose. Image taken at the West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

These animals are usually solitary, although sometimes one or two adults can be seen with young. They defend themselves by biting, with a bite strong enough to sever fingers. They will also growl loudly and spit, with violent movements, scaring off many potential predators.

They are listed as vulnerable due to hunting, trapping for the pet trade and loss of habitat. They have been bred in captivity and the captive animals make a wide variety of calls. You can hear some of these calls here.

Eels of the Ribbon Sort

ribbon eel

A ribbon eel, also called a ribbon moray. Image taken at the California Academy of Sciences.

This interesting looking fish is a ribbon eel. Those big membranes on its face are its nostrils, which also act as a lure to attract prey to their sharp-toothed jaws. When it snaps its jaw shut, it recoils into its burrow. They will also use their burrows to hide when they are threatened. I can tell that this is a juvenile or a small adult male because of its coloration. Adult males will have a yellow snout and females are yellow, with a little white and black on their fins. Females are comparatively rare and not seen often. None of these fish are born females-all of them are born as males. This is another sex changing fish that changes from male to female.

ribbon eel

A ribbon eel. Image taken at the California Academy of Sciences.

Tea Party

tea party sign

Animals at a tea party. Image taken in Portland, Oregon.

no parking

No Parking Dog. Image taken in San Francisco.

And They All Go Marching Down

ants

Spiky ant. Image taken in Iquitos, Peru.

Two exciting stories of ants for you. The first is how some species of ants have designated food testers to make sure a food supply is not poisonous before the rest of the group gets it. You can read about that one here. The second is about a study suggesting that ants are capable of performing simple arithmetic calculations. Here is the actually publication, if you want the sciency version and here is the link to Discovery’s summery.

The Lands of Naked Penguins

naked penguin

A naked penguin chick in the arms of a researcher. Image by Jeffrey Smith.

A mysterious feather loss disorder has been hitting penguin chicks. These chicks also grow slower than feathered chicks and don’t find shelter from the sun like feathered chicks do. Find out more about it here.