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A Cassowary for a Houseguest

An Australian couple had a close encounter with one of the most dangerous birds in the world when a giant flightless cassowary wandered into their home, sending them running for cover.

Photo Courtesy: Sue and Peter Leach. Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/world/giant-bird-surprises-australian-family-1209220

Peter and Sue Leach were in their house at Wongaling Beach in far north Queensland state earlier this week when the bird- which can grow up to 6ft 6ins tall- sauntered in.

“My husband said, ‘look, we’ve got a visitor!’ and there he was walking into the house through the garage,” Sue Leach said. ”My husband quickly ran over behind the dining table and I went outside and stood on the driveway next to the car. At the same time, I was saying to my husband, get the camera!”

Photo Courtesy: Sue and Peter Leach. Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/world/giant-bird-surprises-australian-family-1209220

Leach said the cassowary, nicknamed “Peanut”, walked through the neighborhood regularly as it sits near a rainforest, but this was the first time she knew of it entering a home.

“He didn’t bump anything or look for food or the fruit bowl, which was good, and we didn’t spook him at all, because they’re still a wild animal and they’re spooked by dogs and things like that,” she said, adding that it was “very calm. It’s a very unusual experience.”

The southern cassowary is an endangered species found only in the tropical rainforests of northeast Queensland, Papua New Guinea and some surrounding islands. It is Australia’s heaviest flightless bird and can weigh up to 170 pounds. It has two powerful legs that end in talons punctuated by three-inch-long razor-sharp claws.

Image: Wikipedia/Bjørn Christian Tørrissen. Source: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/what-to-do-when-worlds-most-dangerous-bird-walks-into-your-house-cassowary-queensland

Cassowaries are ratites, which is an ancient family of birds that includes ostriches, emus, rheas, New Zealand’s extinct moa, and kiwis. Ratites began to evolve and disperse approximately 65 million years ago, around the same time as the Cretaceous extinction event that killed all of the non-avian dinosaurs.

It’s been suggested that ratites’ evolutionary ancestors were able to thrive and succeed after the extinction of terrestrial dinosaurs due to the newfound ecological opportunities that arose when no large predators were around to eat them. Cassowaries are so reminiscent of their dinosaur cousins that biologists have studied their low, booming calls to figure out how dinosaurs might have communicated with one another.

 

There have been 221 recorded attacks by cassowaries. Of those, 150 were against humans, in which the birds generally chased, charged, or kicked their victims.  They can reach max speeds of 30 miles per hour. Approximately three-fourths of cassowary confrontations stemmed people trying to feed them. Moral of this story: Don’t try to feed a cassowary, just admire the closest animal we have to a dinosaur from afar.

 

Happy Flyday ~^v^~

 

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/what-to-do-when-worlds-most-dangerous-bird-walks-into-your-house-cassowary-queensland

http://www.thedailystar.net/world/giant-bird-surprises-australian-family-1209220

http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/couple-ran-for-cover-from-the-giant-bird-in-their-living-room-1395844

 

Smallest Monkey Gives Birth to Tiny Twins

A pygmy marmoset, the world’s smallest monkey, just had twins- weighing 15 grams each- at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, New South Wales, Australia.

Gomez and Iti were introduced as a couple mid 2015. From the outset the two were inseparable, and now they get to both be first time parents to the cutest lil’ monkey babies I have ever seen. ^_^

Thank-you YouTube Channel Symbio Wildlife Park for the adorable video!

 

Happy Monkday :_)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td0o_J_Pk-M

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTyeZ_Ql9KgNWY_XJ3kzCQ

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-09/worlds-smallest-monkey-pygmy-marmoset-gives-birth-to-twins/7234046

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/03/07/cute-baby-marmosets-symbio_n_9405194.html

 

The Camel Lady

It’s been announced that on May 23, 2014, the movie Tracks will be released in the US (was shown at the 2013 Venice Film Festival.)  This film, based on the 1980 book on the same name, tells the true story of Robyn Davidson, a young Australian woman who in 1977 undertook a perilous solo trek across 1,700 miles of Australian outback with four camels and a dog.

The Camel Lady: Robyn Davidson, 1977

 

I can’t wait to see it. :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It just seemed to me to be like something I wanted and needed to do, I had some instinctive understanding that I needed to do something like that to make an individual of myself, to forge a person out of these rather unprepossessing bits and pieces.”

 

It took Robyn two years in Alice Springs to prepare for the trip which proved to be an adventure in itself.  Robyn feels she’s not a courageous person, she says she just took very small steps and continued to do so until she found she had completed something.

 

“It was a scary place…I had to deal with some pretty heavy duty antagonism. I was an urban girl who dressed in sarongs, I was a leftie and I fetched up in this town.”

 

Dealing with the camels that accompanied Robyn on her journey proved to be “a lot of trial and error and dealing with a lot of mad men. I was up at five every morning, running around with a lot of camels barefooted so my feet would toughen up.”

 

She eventually got her own camels and the whole thing came together and off she set across the desert.

 

‘I didn’t plan it as a trip from A to B…the original intention was just to take these animals and disappear into the bush and wander around the desert and come out when I felt I was ready to come out.”

 

It ended up being a long journey from Central Australia to the West Coast, which took her almost nine months and changed her in two ways:

 

“You get a perspective on what is normal because you’re away from it…I’ve never lost the sense that we’re all at least half-mad. And also because you’re alone, and because you’re hyper-aware of the environment you’re in, it’s as if the self starts to melt out into the environment. You’re not this unit separated from everything else: you become a part of your environment. Of course that’s a very scary feeling at first, because it’s like disappearing.”

 

Happy Humpday (^_^)

 

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/02/27/3953728.htm

Unusual Mouse-like Marsupial Discovered

Australian scientists have discovered a new species of marsupial, about the size of a mouse.  The Black-Tailed Antechinus has been found in the high-altitude, wet areas of far southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales.

It is identifiable by a very shaggy coat and an orange-and-brown-colored rump which ends with a black tail.

 

What makes this animal unusual, is their marathon mating sessions that often prove fatal for the male. They can last for to 14 hours, with both the males and females romping from mate to mate.

 

“It’s frenetic, there’s no courtship, the males will just grab the females and both will mate promiscuously,” said Andrew Baker, head of the research team from the Queensland University of Technology who made the discovery.

 

The mating season lasts for several weeks and the males will typically die from their exertions.  Excessive stress hormones in the males that build up during the mating season degrade their body tissue, leading to death. Females have the ability to block the production of the hormone.

 

The species was found at the highest peak of the World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests, in Springbrook National Park in Queensland, about 900 km (560 miles) north east of Sydney.  The findings about the new species have been published in the science journal Zootaxa.

 

Happy Bun(marsupial)day (|^_^|)

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/20/marsupial-sexes-itself-to-death_n_4821373.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

The Tiniest Baby Otters

Four new members of the world’s smallest otter species, the Asian small-clawed otter, have made their public debut at the Perth Zoo in Western Australia.  The pups were born on December 27 and just had their first medical checkup…. possibly the cutest medical checkup ever performed. ^_^

The vets identified two females and two males weighing around a pound each.  Asian Small-clawed Otters weigh only around eight pounds when fully grown.  At this age, the parents carry the pups out of the nest box and into the pool for swim training, and then carry them back inside again.

The tiny pups are part of an Australasian breeding program to help protect the species since it is threatened in the wild. The otters at Perth Zoo have now had sixteen otter pups: four litters in the past two years. These latest pups are the third litter for parents Asia and Tuan.  

No word yet on name choices for the pups, but if I find out, I’ll let you know. :-)

Happy Ottersday :#)

Photos courtesy of Perth Zoo

 

http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2014/02/tiny-otters-weigh-in-at-perth-zoo.html

Camel Owner Spins a Great Yarn

Textile designer Helen Durrant has worked with fibers for more than forty years.  When she heard about the camels’ struggles throughout Central Australia, she became emboldened to act.  So began her journey working predominately with camel wool.

“I found it offensive,” she said, “I decided that it was no use protesting unless I did something about it.  I wanted to do something positive and that was to start utilizing products from the camels to show that they do have value and we don’t just necessarily need to let them rot.”

Helen lives at Ross River Resort, east of Alice Springs, in the very center of Australia.  With her five pet camels, she is only person in Australia working with camel wool.

She knits, weaves and felts with the camel wool, to make her own ranges of beanies, scarfs, shawls, booties, ponchos and other garments.  While globally camel wool is relatively easy to access, Helen says it can be difficult to source in Australia.

“It’s always evolving, I’m always looking for new things to make.  People with camels tend to stockpile it not knowing what to do with it and don’t particularly want you to have it,” she said, “generally the wool will be from camels in in captivity that are tame.  Once they start shedding, when it’s hot in the Summer, they get ragged around their flanks and the wool comes off them.

Helen spins the wool herself at Ross River, using a spinning wheel over forty-years-old from New Zealand.

“The rhythm of the wheel is quite mesmerising, and you can sit and meditate and spin for hours.”

 

It’s estimated to be more than 750,000 feral camels in Australia’s outback.  While it’s growing, Helen says a local camel industry is still in its infancy.

“We’ve barely even sniffed at it yet,” she said, ” [but] I think there’s huge potential here.  I don’t think it’s ever going to be something that somebody comes in from overseas and pours millions of dollars into, it will be people like me and it will start off as a bit of a cottage industry.  And it will grow from there – and it is growing.”

 

Happy Humpday (^_^)

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-02/camel-wool-helen-durrant/4914678

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9542535/Tens-of-thousands-of-feral-camels-culled-in-Australian-outback.html

Close Encounters of the Whale Kind

 

In the news from Australia this week, a surfer at Bondi Beach, in New South Wales, had a frighteningly close encounter with a humpback whale, which was swimming oddly close to the shoreline.  The surfer was knocked off his surfboard by the whale’s massive tail, and then was knocked unconscious, but suffered no serious injuries.

 

Sidenote: I love listening to the newscasters’ interesting Australian accents.

 

Happy Humpday (^_^)

The Rabbits of Australia

 

In October of 1859, Thomas Austin released 24 wild rabbits on his property called Barwon Park, near Winchelsea, Victoria, Australia, for hunting purposes. When Austin moved from England to Australia, which had no native rabbit population, Austin asked his nephew in England to send him 12 grey rabbits and 5 hares so that he might continue his hobby in Australia by creating a local population of the species…. and things got, out of hand….

…the nephew sent grey rabbits and domestic rabbits to meet his uncle’s order. One theory as to why these Barwon Park rabbits adapted so well to Australia is that the hybrid rabbits that resulted from the interbreeding of the two distinct types were particularly hardy and vigorous.

Theses Australian rabbits now live in sandy burrows, along a wide fence to keep them contained; and the Australian golden eagles have taken notice…

… Happy Bunday ^-^