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An animal trainer at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand, was able to train an octopus to take photographs. In fact, it only took Rambo the octopus three attempts to understand how the process works.
Now, the aquarium charges $2 for a visitor to sit for a portrait taken by the “octographer”. The small donation goes directly to the aquarium to help offset expenses.
In front of her tank, there’s a backdrop where visitors can pose for their photos. It appears these children on a school trip to the aquarium thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The camera, a Sony DSC-TX30, was secured into a custom made housing to mount onto Rambo’s tank. The campaign was sponsored by Sony to help show how durable their camera is and to raise awareness of the high level of intelligence in an octopus.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new species of wild rodent in a remote mountainous area of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The creature had eluded discovery for many years by mainly foraging for food among the roots of trees.
Known as Gracilimus radix, this slender rat inhabited the thick forests at the slopes of Mount Gandang Dewata on Sulawesi Island. The region has long been considered a hotbed for various creatures.
According to the research, published in the Journal of Mammalogy, the slender rat belonged to a new genus of its own since it had such a vastly different anatomy compared to other wild rodents. This placed the animal on a separate step in the taxonomic rankings just above a new species.
“We discovered the new genus and species doing mammal surveys in 2011 and 2012 on Mt Gandang Dewata,” Kevin Rowe, a biologist from Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia said. “This marks the third new genus and fourth new species discovered there in the last four years.”
Rowe added that aside from the five rodents they came across with, there are still a number of other rat species waiting to be discovered in the wilderness of Sulawesi Island.
He explained that identifying these creatures will not only provide researchers with new insight regarding the origin and evolution of native rodents in Australia, but it will also allow them to understand how animals are able to evolve in response to challenges presented to them by Nature.
After conducting several genetic analyses, the research team found that the Gracilimus radix is closely related to the Sulawesi water rat (Waiomys mamasae), which was first discovered in 2014. The slender rat and the water rat belong to the same rodent group that can only be found on Sulawesi Island.
Unlike most other wild rodents that are mostly carnivorous, the slender rat was revealed to be omnivorous.
Rowe pointed out that despite being close relatives, the Gracilimus radix and the Waiomys mamasae are very much different from one another. The slender rat evolved to become more adept at living on land, while the Sulawesi water rat developed skills more suited for swimming and living in the water.
It’s amazing to me that there are still unknown mammals unknown to science. There is so much we still don’t know!
Happy Bunday (|^_^|)
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, more than 150 first graders celebrated Otter Day yesterday by learning more about the animals and their environment. The first graders went on a hike, scavenger hunts and took part in other activities focusing on ecology. Students celebrated the reintroduction of the river otter to New Mexico’s rivers.
More than 60 years after they disappeared from their natural New Mexico habitat, river otters are thriving in the state once again.
“The last known wild, or native river otter was trapped and killed in the Gila River in the 1950s,” Rachel Conn said.
Conn is the projects director for Amigos Bravos, a water conservation group based in Taos. Amigos Bravos helped in creating New Mexico Friends of River Otters back in the early 2000s.
The coalition’s goal was simple: get otters back into their natural habitat after pollution, deforestation and illegal trapping caused them to vanish from the state.
“[We] approached the Department of Game and Fish, their game commission, and advocated for a program to reintroduce river otters,” she said.
Their plea worked. Between 2008 and 2010, 33 river otters were introduced into the Upper Rio Grande at the expense of $1,000 an otter. Since then, reported sightings were the only way the group knew how the otters were doing. That is, until this year.
“This year we initiated a new project, and that was our wildlife camera that we put out on the river in two places,” she said.
Now there’s photographic proof that the otters are alive and well. Although there isn’t a way to track the population growth, Conn is confident that the otters are thriving and reproducing. Sightings of small otters have been reported.
“They’re a beautiful species, they’re at the top of the food chain, they provide critical, important functions to the rest of the ecosystem,” Conn said.
Otters can also help diminish the amount of invasive species in our area, like crayfish. “Otters love to eat crayfish,” she said.
Happy Ottersday :#)
I had the good fortune of seeing Disney’s new The Jungle Book this weekend, and it got me thinking, is there really a Indian forest temple that monkeys live in? It turns out, I was not the only one wondering this.
According to The Telegraph, Kipling actually never visited the Indian jungles depicted in The Jungle Book. The author was born in Bombay, but at age five, his family moved back to Britain. Later on, Kipling returned to India for seven years to work as a journalist, but he was based in Shimla, and far from Kanha and Pench national forests (the most Jungle Book-esque location in India).
This hasn’t stopped people from searching for a similar Jungle Book setting, which recently led Taj Safaris in India to launch two travel experiences called “Mowgli’s Trails.” One takes place in Kanha National Park, while the other snakes its way through Pench National Park, both in the state of Madhya Pradesh. According to Travel Daily Media, the travel experience includes rides through the jungle to spot wildlife, visits to tribal villages, Jungle Book trivia, and stargazing.
No word on whether temple trips are included in the experience, but luckily, India has many temples to its name and quite a few are in Madhya Pradesh, and monkeys are easy to find there too.
Happy Monkday :_)
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.
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!”
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.
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^~
Do you know how I know it’s Spring? Because every other day, I’m seeing news about baby animal births taking place in zoos and aquariums across the world!
Today’s news comes from Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable, England, where they are celebrating the birth of a baby Bactrian camel. They’ve already named her Pepper. She was born to mum Gypsy on March 22 but has only now been seen by the public.
Bactrian camels are usually found in parts of Asia, including China and Mongolia. They are classed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and baby Pepper is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP).
The international conservation and science charity Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is also working to save wild Bactrian camels from extinction through conservation projects in Mongolia, in partnership with the National University of Mongolia.
Happy Humpday (^_^)
The newest mother-daughter duo at the Indianapolis Zoo is having an exciting week. The pair got to venture into the atrium for the first time on Tuesday.
Indianapolis Zoo welcomed the first orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center at 5:07 p.m. on March 23, 2016. Mother Sirih and first-time father, 14-year-old Basan, were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population.
The zoo reported that Sirih gave birth in a behind-the-scenes area and started cleaning and tending to her newborn. First time father, 14-year-old Basan and the rest of the orangutans witnessed the birth with quiet curiosity. Now, Sirih and her baby can venture out into the Atrium, and Mom has been building lots of big, comfortable nests for resting, the zoo said.
Because mother orangutans may need more than two or three times the amount of calories while nursing, Sirih is enjoying foods that are energy dense and high in protein, including hard boiled eggs, Spanish peanuts, cooked white potato and protein bars. Sirih is also receiving lots of fluids to help with her milk supply.
Sirih was keeping a tight hold on her baby, so the gender is still to be determined. May they remain happy and healthy, as they play their part in returning the orangutan population to its former glory.
Happy Monk(Ape)day :_)
Thirteen years ago, a tiny tabby kitten arrived at Mid Hudson Animal Aid, a no-kill shelter in Beacon, New York. Shelter workers named the feral kitten Archie, and Archie grew up at the shelter, befriending the other cats, socializing litters of kittens and watching his feline friends leave again and again as they found their forever homes.
Archie was a staple at the rescue. It wasn’t until December, when the shelter shared a photo of him on its Instagram account, that volunteer Jennifer Blakeslee learned Archie had spent his life at the shelter.
“I had no idea,” she said. “See, he’s very feral. He does fine with other cats, but is terrified of people, which vastly reduces the likelihood of his getting adopted.”
Blakeslee had recently adopted one of Archie’s closest furry friends, a deaf, toothless, half-blind Siamese named Eddie, and Eddie’s departure had left Archie lonely and depressed. So Blakeslee, determined to find Archie a home of his own, helped Eddie write a letter to Santa. “I posted a photo of [Archie] and Eddie cuddling at the shelter to Instagram with a “Dear Santa” letter, and it went viral,” she said.
“Dear Santa, ” the letter reads. “I’d like you to meet Archie. He was my best friend when i was at the shelter that saved my life …He’s been at the shelter for THIRTEEN YEARS, ever since he was a kitten. That’s a human’s entire time in school, plus kindergarten. He’s very shy, but he’s also very sweet and gets along with other cats. And he really, really, really, really wants to find his forever home. And that’s what I want for Christmas, Santa.”
The photo of Archie and Eddie was shared hundreds of times on Instagram, and seen by people across the nation, including Chicago resident Jennifer Baird. “I understood that Archie socialized the majority of kitties at the shelter but was never chosen for a home. It broke my heart,” she said. “I saw that he was in New York and waited a day or so for someone to speak up as I live in Chicago.”
After a couple days of seeing people post again and again that they wished they could do something but couldn’t, Baird stepped in. “That’s when I responded to Jennifer and said I’ll take him. I’m in Chicago. I need help in getting him here to me.”
Baird has rescued numerous cats, often taking in abandoned ones she found on the street, and Archie was going to be her 14th rescue. The fact that he was feral didn’t faze her. “I have had feral cats and have a great understanding of their needs and embrace that,” she said.
It took several weeks for the shelter to coordinate travel, but soon a plan was in place. Archie would take a road trip to Chicago, as this would be better for the skittish senior cat. A couple of people volunteered to make the drive, and Archie passed his pre-transport vet check with no problem. The only hurdle left was the transport costs.
Blakeslee set up a YouCaring campaign with a goal of raising $750, and she shared it on Instagram with the hashtag #OperationBringArchieHome. “It got shared like mad, and we met our goal in less than an hour,” she said. “In fact, people kept donating, and as a result, we’ll be able to donate $250 to the shelter.”
With the money raised, Archie left New York on April 3 and slept for most of the two-day drive to his new forever home.
“During the weekend of the transport, I posted updates and photos throughout the day, and we had fans and followers all around the world rooting for this one little old tomcat,” Blakeslee said. “It was glorious.”
Archie has been home for a few days now, and Baird says he’s making good progress in adjusting to her and her other rescue cats. “I see that he wants to be friends with his new sisters and brother so badly, and I know this will happen over time. Everyone is getting adjusted, and right now we have time on our side,” she said.
Archie is no longer hiding very much, and he enjoys spending time in his new cat bed. He’s even come within a few inches of Baird while eating his treats.
“Archie is like my other feral,” she said. “They want their love and affection to come from their siblings — not humans. He has to develop trust, and I want him to know that this relationship is about his safety and creature comforts — not about me having an affectionate kitty.”
Baird says she’s still shocked by the outpouring of support she’s received on social media, but she’s grateful for all the kindness being sent her way. “My biggest thank you is to Jennifer. She stood up and told Archie’s story. She’s the hero. Without her, Archie’s life may as well have ended in the shelter where it began.”
Blakeslee hopes that Archie’s story will inspire other people to adopt shelter cats, especially those that are often overlooked. “The message here is that every cat deserves a chance — the senior cats and the special-needs cats,” she said. “The effort involved in caring for them becomes completely worth it when they start to trust you and start treating your home like it’s their home.”
As for Archie, he won’t need anyone to write a letter to Santa on his behalf this year. He’ll be spending the holidays at home with his family.
Happy Caturday =^_^=