A news site about animals

Comedy Writer Whale

I’ve been so busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, I haven’t had much time for writing lately, so here’s Comedy Writer Whale to help me out this week!





























Happy Humpday (^_^)

The Night Monkey Whisperer

In total darkness in the dripping rain forest of Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park, the accomplished primatologist Patricia Chapple Wright skipped along a rough trail she’d prepared for jungle-newbies to explore the nocturnal world of lemurs, frogs, and many other species both new and strange.  Pat was completely at home in the forbidding wilderness.

Now during the Ranomafana night walk, most of the hikers battled to find our footing along the muddy path, desperate to make it back safely to our cabins without tripping, but not Pat.  She scampered up and down the trail, shining her flashlight into the trees, pointing out amphibians, reptiles and other denizens of the dark forest.


Patricia Chapple Wright has a new book out, High Noon Over the Amazon, that explains how it is that she is so comfortable not only in a forest, but how she gets around so easily in that forest at night.   She spent her early career as a primatologist learning to track and understand the elusive owl monkey (Aotus) deep in the back jungle of Amazonian Peru.  Most of that work had to be done in the dark, when the owl monkey is out and about.

Pat became a pioneer of tracking the monkeys at night, following them on the ground as they traversed their arboreal byways from sleep trees to various feeding grounds.  It’s not a job for the faint-of-heart, as she quickly discovered when she encountered a deadly nocturnal snake dangling from a bough in her path, causing her to tumble in fright down an embankment and become hopelessly lost.  But through sheer persistence Pat perfected the technique, becoming the first researcher to describe wild owl monkey behavior not previously documented.  She also became adept at moving around the most impenetrable jungle in the dark.


Pat Wright is a highly respected scientist, a distinguished member of National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE), and the discoverer of the golden bamboo lemur.  People at National Geographic spoke of her in reverential tones, comparing her work with lemurs to the chimpanzee work of Jane Goodall and the gorilla work of Dian Fossey.

Pat’s stories of her career in her new book are delightful. It’s a page-turner of a yarn, from the moment she meets her first owl monkey in a New York pet shop and has an impulse to acquire one as a pet.  This love-at-first-sight encounter with the charismatic primate takes Pat and her young daughter to a remote research station in Peru where she slowly uncovers the secrets of the monkeys of the night.


Happy Monkday :_)

Elephant Music


Musical mayhem ensued when Peter the Elephant joins in a 12 bar blues on piano with his trunk, entirely of his own accord.  In fact, he looks like he downright enjoys it.


Peter the elephant lives at the Royal Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya, Thailand.  Elephants have moods at different times of day. Usually in the cooler early evening before nightfall (at least in Thailand) they are in a more relaxed and potentially playful mood.


Peter has NOT been trained to play piano. This video is Peter’s spontaneous reaction to a piano during a brief encounter one evening between Peter and Paul Barton, a visiting pianist to the elephant Kraal where Peter lives.


The guy in the background is Pat, Peter’s mahout.  He is Thai.  A mahout is a person that devotes his or her life to looking after an elephant, usually in Asia.  This is a dangerous job.  Pat is responsible for Peter’s well-being, day and night, all year round.  Pat’s daily duties include keeping Peter safe from other bull elephants as well as looking after visitors to Peter’s home.  They have a very special bond.


Pat is not reading a magazine in this video, he is filming himself with his tablet.  Pat is not prodding Peter, he is just reminding him not to get too carried away and smash the piano keys with his heavy trunk as he has, unintentionally, on previous occasions.


The chain around Peter’s neck is flimsy. It is there so Pat can walk at Peter’s side and guide him occasionally around vehicles or other potentially harmful bull elephants on the way to bath and drink in the river, for instance. Those with experience working with elephants in Thailand know this flimsy chain is no restraint to an elephant whatsoever. It is not there to cause Peter any harm, just the reverse.


This video is one of a series in “Music for Elephants”. There are 23 videos with piano and elephants in the playlist…
The musical intention behind this video is fully explained in a full length TV documentary “Music for Elephants” directed and produced by Amanda Feldon. This documentary will be broadcast in 2014. The subject of music is mixed with elephant conservation issues.


Piano keys are no longer made of ivory. The piano in this video has plastic keys. All piano keys are made from synthetic polymers and plastics. The use of ivory for piano keys decreased dramatically after World War II and thankfully stopped altogether in 1989 with the CITIES worldwide ban on ivory trade.


Happy Humpday (^_^)

Monkey Music

According to a new study, published in the latest issue of Biology Letters, music skills evolved at least 30 million years ago in the common ancestor of humans and monkeys, which could help explain why chimpanzees drum on tree roots and monkey calls sound like singing.  The study also suggests an answer to this chicken-and-egg question: Which came first, language or music? The answer appears to be music.

“Musical behaviors would constitute a first step towards phonological patterning, and therefore language,” lead author Andrea Ravignani said.

For the study, Ravignani, a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna’s Department of Cognitive Biology, and his colleagues focused on an ability known as “dependency detection.” This has to do with recognizing relationships between syllables, words and musical notes. For example, once we hear a certain pattern like Do-Re-Mi, we listen for it again. Hearing something like Do-Re-Fa sounds wrong because it violates the expected pattern.

In the study, squirrel monkeys sat in a sound booth and listened to a set of three novel patterns. (The researchers fed the monkeys insects between playbacks, so the monkeys quickly got to like this activity.) Whenever a pattern changed, similar to our hearing Do-Re-Fa, the monkeys stared longer, as if to say, “Huh?”

“This kind of experiment is usually done by presenting monkeys with human speech,” co-author Ruth Sonnweber said. “Designing species-specific music-like stimuli may have helped the squirrel monkeys’ perception.”


The squirrel monkeys demonstrated that they understood sound patterns — and when they changed. This ability, central to language and music, therefore evolved at least 30 million years ago in the small and furry tree-dwelling primate that was the last common ancestor of humans and monkeys.  It’s likely that all primates today share these skills and are as aware of music as we humans are.


Happy Monkday :_)

Yawning Cougar

You may be going out tonight, but this tired cougar- from the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida- is ready for a nap…. and check out his fangs when his mouth is all-the-way open, they’ll mesmerize you with their sheer hugeness. O_O


Happy Caturday =^_^=