Bites at Animal Planet

Animals

21 Aug

Orphaned Eagles Released into the Wild

Check out this news report of my friend Ed Clark, President of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, releasing three young bald eagles back into the wild.

The eagles were all blown out of their nests by storms earlier this year, and have spent the last few months in captivity under the care of the vets and other staff at the Wildlife Center.  (Die-hard Animal Planet fans will remember the Wildlife Center from the series Wildlife Emergency that aired in the late 90s and early 00s.)

Speaking from experience, there is NOTHING that feels as good as releasing a wild animal back into its natural habitat.

 

Protect Eagles with the National Wildlife Federation. 

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Juvenile Bald Eagle. Photo by Ken Janes via Flickr Creative Commons.

 

20 Aug

Bighorn Sheep Rescued from Near-Fatal Swim

Bighorn sheep are creatures of the desert and mountains. They are specially adapted to survive in the extremes of arid habitats, where vegetation is tough and brown and water is hard to come by during much of the year. So when one showed up swimming in a golf course canal in La Quinta, CA it was a surprise sight for many.

Bighorn Sheep
Photo via Riverside County Animal Services' Facebook page.

Turns out there's a herd of bighorn sheep that hang around the Arnold Palmer Golf Course to take advantage of lush green grass and the regular water source in the otherwise arid Southern California.

This particular sheep apparently got a little too close to the water while getting a drink, and fell in. The steep, slick sides prevented it from getting out.

Fortunately for this sheep, rescuers from Riverside County Animal Services got to the scene in time.

They reported that there were scrape marks on the side of the canal where the exhausted animal had tried but failed to pull itself out.

Unfortunately, wild animals in trouble don't know that rescuers are trying to help them. Rescuers ultimately had to loop the rope on a control stick around one of the sheep's horns and pull it out that way. At that point the sheep realized it was being rescued and didn't resist. Once it was free of the water, it fled the scene and headed for the hills. Hopefully it learned its lesson and will avoid the canal. 

Unfortunately, it's not the first to fall into the canal, and other sheep have drowned. This population of bighorn sheep is endangered and plans are in place to install a fence around the potential death trap for wildlife.

Riverside County Animal Control posted this account to their Facebook page:

"This photo was taken at PGA West (just next to Arnold Palmer Golf Course) in La Quinta, Calif. The canal runs adjacent to the golf course and is very near an area known for the bighorn sheep. There are rugged slopes and terrain where the sheep travel in herds. In fact, they've been known for walking onto the golf course to graze on the fairways. The Desert Sun newspaper wrote a story recently about a concern some wildlife experts have regarding the sheep's frequent grazebys at PGA West. An 8-foot wall has been proposed to keep the sheep up in the wild regions of the Coachella Valley. (Bear in mind that the San Jacinto Mountain area is very close to many of the communities that dot the desert region in the Coachella Valley.)"

19 Aug

Download the Call of the Wildman Game, BACKWOODS RESCUE!

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Now you can join in the LIVE ACTION with Turtleman and Neal!  In the new game BACKWOODS RESCUE, you can find and rescue critters with Turtleman! Take care of your critters, then release them back into the wild. AND, build and decorate your own wildlife park! Sneak a peek of the game here:

 

Download the game to your device NOW! Click on the button for your OS:

Download-apple
 

Download-android 
 

Continue reading >

14 Aug

Happy Shark Week!

Shark Week returned to Discovery Channel earlier this week, with 14 hours of brand new programs combined with a live talk show each night gives this year's Shark Week the highest number of programs and premiere hours ever featured in this event's 27-year history.

Coming up this evening at 9/8c, tune into I Escaped Jaws 2 to hear shark attack victims recount their harrowing near-death experiences and reveal how they escaped with their lives. Later in the evening at 10/9c, watch what happens as Hawaiian native and surf legend Kala Alexander sets out to uncover the truth behind what’s disrupting the Hawaiian food chain after a spike in shark attacks including two fatalities in Sharkageddon.

Don't forget to tune in each night for Shark Week's late-night live talk show, Shark After Dark. Host Josh Wolf will lead viewers through an hour-long celebration of all things shark-related, including celebrity guests and shark experts. Stayed tuned for the rest of the week for even more new shows such as Megladon: The New Evidence, Great White Matrix, and Sharksanity. For all you shark fanatics, videos, shark cams, games, and more can all be found on the Shark Week website.

Animal Planet has been doing their own fair share of getting in on the Shark Week action as well. Have you seen the stars of our Kitten Cam lately? They've seen to have made a new friend!

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Continuing the spirit of Shark Week, check out our Shark Cam featuring beautiful Blacktips!

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If after all of this you still can't get enough sharks, head over to our website where we have an entire playlist of shark videos waiting for you! Happy Shark Week!

12 Aug

Honoring Earth’s Majestic Giants on World Elephant Day

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Can you imagine a world without elephants? How about a day when children will learn about them only in a state of extinction like their ancient predecessors: the Wooly Mammoths? It may surprise you to hear that this day is frighteningly close with some major wildlife conservation organizations predicting that the majority of the earth’s elephants will be extinct in the next two decades.

 

Thirty-five years ago in 1979, African Elephant populations were estimated to be at 1.3 million which itself was drastically down from about 10 million at the start of the 20th century. Today, those numbers are even smaller at less than 400,000 due largely in part to anthropogenic (human-related) causes. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign, poachers kill 96 elephants per day in Africa in order to sell their tusks in international markets. This continues despite a 1989 ban on the ivory trade from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Last year, CITES’ research revealed that 22,000 African elephants died as the result of poaching in 2012.

 

Similar declines are evident in Asia where there are only 40,000 Asian elephants left, and 30% of those elephants live in captivity, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund.

 

To put a spotlight on the insurmountable damage poaching, habitat loss, and other factors impose upon the elephant populations in Africa and Asia, the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation launchedWorld Elephant Day in 2012. Celebrating its third year on August 12, 2014, World Elephant Day's main goal is “to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.”

 

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

 

So what can you do this World Elephant Day to spread awareness about the plight of the world’s largest land mammal and give these species a chance at survival? Here are five great places to start:

 

1. Support the cause from home. The first step to helping elephant conservation efforts is to prevent the sale of ivory and lessen its value as a commodity in countries around the world, but you can start the change by advocating locally. Sign a petition and write to your local legislators telling them that you want laws passed that stop the sale of ivory in your state. Of the 50 states in the USA, only one has done just that with New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie signing a bill banning the sales statewide on August 5, 2014.

 

2. Go Grey! Many zoos and organizations participating in the 96 Elephants campaign and World Elephant Day events are encouraging elephant lovers to wear grey for the day and share their “Elphies”--selfies with real elephants, photographs, or homemade artwork-- on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using #elphies.

 

4. Learn more fascinating elephant facts and share them with friends, family, and even strangers you may meet. For example, did you know that an elephant drinks up to 50 gallons of water per day and has an innate ability to find and dig for it underground? The holes they make are often used by other animals to quench their thirst in dry seasons.

 

Impress others with your knowledge by checking out 10 Things You Should Know about the Elephant Crisis and the Summer of Fun Safari elephant profile.

5. Go elephant watching on Animal Planet L!VE’s newAfrican Watering Hole Cam. Located in Kenya, one of the countries with the largest surviving elephant population, this cam brought to you by the multimedia organization explore.org and the Mpala Research Centre and Wildlife Foundation puts you in the midst of their native habitat. During its online hours between 11:30pm and 12:30pm ET, you may catch a glimpse of elephants and other animals coming to this bustling watering hole for a drink. At other times, enjoy highlights of recent elephant visits.

On August 12th, Explore.org will also hold a special live chat at 12pm ET with renowned elephant expert Simon Hedges of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Make sure to tune in!

There's no time to waste. Honor the earth's majestic giants and take a stand against poaching today on World Elephant Day!

 
See more LIVE cams like this African Watering Hole Cam on Animal Planet L!VE, where great moments like this happen all the time.

 

9 Aug

RARE Wild Animals - Part 2

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Here is part two of my highlight on some of the rare wild animals the conservation organization Rare works to protect.  (See part one here.)

Yellow Eared Parrot
The population of the yellow-eared parrot is only about 1,000 since its rediscovery in 1998 near Roncesvalles, Colombia.  It is bright green with yellow ear patches and a dark, heavy bill. Considered critically endangered, it nests and lives among wax palms in a few areas of Colombia where it nests in the hollow trunks of the palm trees in cloud forests about 1800 – 3000 meters above sea level.  Its main food is fruit of the wax palm, which is itself an endangered species.  The yellow-eared parrot has declined dramatically in the face of hunting for food and habitat destruction for farming and cattle.

Here's more on this rare parrot species:

 

The bird’s habitat and survival are now better protected because of a Rare Pride campaign.  Water agreements have been forged between the government of Roncesvalles and the utility company, for watersheds supplying the town and several downstream locations. Water users pay a voluntary fee in their water bill that goes toward a water fund that provides an incentive for long-term owners to conserve the wilderness, forests and endangered yellow-eared parrot found in the area.   

Harlequin Frog
Colorful harlequin frogs are found in neotropics from Costa Rica to Bolivia. They belong to the genus Atelopus and include about 80 species.  Most live in forested mountains where rainfall is abundant, and most have only a small range or area where they live. Night-owls as well as daytimers, they are active 24/7.  Harlequin frogs are small-to-medium size amphibians (20-60 mm from the tip of the nose to the vent) with females always larger than males. Rising temperatures, habitat destruction, and the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus have wiped out dozens of species of harlequin frogs in recent years. Further, most of the harlequin frog species are listed as critically endangered.  

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Harlequin frog Photo by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr Creative Commons. 

For several years Rare worked to protect water sources in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, which feed the urban and rural systems of water from different parts of the city of Cuenca and provide habitat for endangered species such as the frog Atelopus Nanay, commonly known as the harlequin frog Jambatu Black Boxes.  Nanay means sadness in Quechua, deriving from the extinction of many species of frogs in this region. 

The local utility started a small water fee to support conservation projects upstream.  The Pride campaign aimed to show creating such water agreements are a “win-win" for people and conservation.  Some of the Andes’ most valuable ecological indicators and most threatened inhabitants are myriad frog species whose populations are so imperiled that numbers do not even exist in science.  Rare developed strong relationships with the Cajas National Park to work together in the reproduction of the species of harlequin frog Jambatu the Black Boxes, including a plan for reintroduction in riparian forest areas once they achieve an appropriate degree of recovery.

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Harleguin frog photo by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr Creative Commons.

Pride campaigns use proven marketing techniques to move the hearts and minds of local communities, accelerating the adoption and increasing the sustainability of the solutions. Rare has conducted over 250 Pride campaigns in more than 50 countries, empowering local communities across geographies and cultures to shift from resource users to become natural asset managers.

To see Rare’s work all over the world, click here.

 

5 Aug

RARE Wild Animals

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Long time readers know that I'm a naturalist National Wildlife Federation, one of Animal Planet's R.O.A.R. partners, and I sometimes highlight NWF's work in my Animal Oddities posts. In this post I want to give a shout out to a fellow conservation organizations, Rare.  Rare looks for proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders to inspire communities to adopt them and make them their own through its signature Pride campaigns. They are pretty awesome. 

And it just so happens that a lot of the species Rare works to protect through these campaigns are pretty odd. Here are two of the most unusual species they work with:

Leaf Cutter Ant
The Leaf Cutter ant is considered a delicacy in parts of South America.  During its reproductive season the Leaf Cutter ant’s abdomen swells and it flies around in a sexual flurry only to be caught and grilled by the local people.  An average nest of leafcutter ants contains over 5 million ants.  They are also known as 'parasol' ants because of the way they carry leaves above their heads.  The ants can carry over 50 times their own body weight.

Here's Jeff Corwin exploring these awesome ants.

Continue reading >

28 Jul

Zoo Elephants Said to Have Too Much Junk in Their Trunk

Zoo keepers and researchers are faced with a very big problem. African elephants in captivity are reportedly becoming obese, which could have serious consequences for the species.  

Similar to what we see with humans, this obesity can lead to “the development of heart disease, arthritis, a shorter lifespan and infertility,” said Daniella Chusyd, M.A., a doctoral student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences. Because elephants in the wild are continuously threatened by loss of habitat and poaching, the infertility found in elephants in captivity is the most troubling side effect of the rising obesity issue.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

With the threats that animals face in the wild, zoos remain one of the few ways to protect species from extinction. In the United States specifically, zoos need to average about six elephant births each year in order to maintain their current population. Currently, the birthrate is only about three births per year, which has raised worry that the elephants could disappear from zoos within the next 50 years, as reported by LiveScience.

Continue reading >

16 Jul

Activists Want to Move Arturo, Argentina's Last Polar Bear, Miserable, Depressed and Hot, In Captivity

Arturo is Argentina's last polar bear — his long time companion died in 2012 and Arturo's grown especially lonely and depressed ever since with noticeable changes in behavior indicating the unfortunate shift in his mental health, according to experts. 

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The 29-year-old bear lives in captivity at the Mendoza Zoo outside of Buenos Aires, where temperatures reach 95 degrees and upward — activists have protested the hot, cramped conditions of his confinement where he also has no contact with other bears or pools of water. The deterioration of his mental state and odd behavior include constant pacing which you can see in this video:

Protesters are calling for him to be moved to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg, Canada. Unfortunately, Canada requires 3 years of health records which the Mendoza Zoo cannot provide.  Additionally, the Argentine zoo officials are against the move, claiming that the bear would not survive the trip.

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What Can You Do to Help?

There's a Change.org petition you can sign — already, close to its goal of 150,000 signatures.

And, you can also contribute to a fundraiser on Reddit which has already raised over $6,000 for Arturo.

Continue reading >

15 Jul

Untold Stories of the ER: Snapping Turtle Latches on and Won't Let Go

Our friends over at Discovery Fit & Health shared this crazy video with us from Untold Stories of the ER.

Patient Bo was noodling for catfish (just like our friends on Hillbilly Handfishin'!) when a 25-pound alligator snapping turtle latched onto his neck. Shouldn't be a problem to remove it, right?

Wrong. If the doctor harms or, worse, kills the turtle during removal, the catfishers risk serving jailtime according to the game warden who accompanied the group to the emergency room. Not to mention that pesky little detail of how strong the turtle is and the fact that it can hold its breath for an extended period of time.

Check out the video above, then watch some more awesome turtle videos.

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