Bites at Animal Planet

Nature

1 Apr

What’s Scarier Than Lions, Tigers and Bears? Life Without Them.

Remember that tourist video of a lion pride and a crocodile playing a deadly game of tug-of-war with a buffalo calf? Just when the lions seemed about to triumph the buffalo herd came charging to the rescue. If you’re like most people you cheered when the baby buffalo got up and staggered back to its herd. For some reason, we humans rarely root for the predator. But if we know what’s good for us, we better start.

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A recent study in the journal Science, "Status and Ecological Effects of the World's Largest Carnivores," finds that life without top predators is a scary prospect for the planet—and us. 31 carnivore species weighing over 15 kilograms were analyzed. After reviewing over 100 different surveys the authors conclude that losing predators from ecosystems causes those ecosystems to unravel. The effects range from an increase in pest animals, wildfires and diseases, loss of beneficial species, rivers changing courses, desertification and speeding up of climate change, to name just a few.

Sylvester.RGB.altIn contrast, the environmental and economic benefits these ecosystem engineers provide runs the gamut—from mountain lions who keep mule deer in check allowing plants and trees to grow to sea otters who’s appetite for sea urchins protects kelp beds and the productivity of coastal areas. Even with all our technology we humans cannot duplicate the ecological services these predators provide for FREE 24/7/365 days a year.

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5 Mar

Amazing Video! Migration of Dolphin Mega Pod Filmed By Flying Drone

WHOA! Check out some pretty spectacular footage of of a mega dolphin pod off the coast of Dana Point, Calif.

Tour boat captain Dave Anderson captured the amazing video using a drone outfitted with a GoPro camera. The footage also includes three gray whales migrating south toward San Clemente, Calif. Keep your eyes peeled for an adorable baby whale calf snuggling up to mama on their journey! Watch now:

Here's a messaege from the captain to take note, also posted with the original YouTube video:

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28 Feb

USDA Launches $3 Million Bee-Friendly Initiative

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© Monty Rakusen

Honeybees are important little insects when it comes to making our food. So why do we pay little attention when it comes to their food supply?

For a decade, habitat loss, pesticide use, and a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder have all contributed to a staggering decline in bee populations. In its continued effort to reverse this trend, The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend $3 million to provide new food sources to sustain the nation’s remaining honeybees.

The USDA’s latest approach to solving the honeybee crisis is unique because it focuses on the quality of bees’ food, not just the quantity. According to The Associated Press, the money will be used by farmers in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas to plant crops that will healthily sustain bee populations, like alfalfa and clover. As opposed to diet supplements like high-fructose corn syrup, these crops will provide nutritious nectar and create healthier habitats for bees.

Although the funding for this program is limited, the USDA hopes to see a big return on its investment--these five states alone host 65 percent of the nation’s commercial hives over the course of a year.

Do you think that this $3 million initiative will pay off for the bees? Let us know in the comments below!

Take The Ultimate Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Quiz to find out more about the honeybee crisis!

27 Feb

Celebrate International Polar Bear Day With These Little-Known Facts

By Geoff York, Head of Species Conservation, Global Arctic Program, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

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© naturepl.com / Steven Kazlowski / WWF-Canon

Every year, Feb. 27 marks International Polar Bear Day. I have had the unique experience of studying polar bears for the last 17 years of my career. As a child growing up in rural Indiana, I never imagined that my job would take me to studying polar bears in the wilds of Alaska. Today, in honor of the polar bears, I’d like to share some little-known facts about this magnificent species.

Denning – A Time to Lay Low. The fall is a time of fasting for many pregnant female polar bears, especially those who are on land. Pregnant females then enter a den between late fall and early winter, where they remain while giving birth and nurturing their tiny cubs until they can safely emerge in the spring. During this time, polar bear mothers stay alert – not going into a true state of hibernation – to be able to nurse, maintain the den, and keep the cubs warm, helping them grow before they emerge from the den. The mother bears tend to give birth to one to three cubs with twins being most common.

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© Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada

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20 Jan

The Lion Whisperer: How to Cuddle with a Lion

Ever wonder what it's like to cuddle with a lion?!

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Photo: YouTube video image

Meet Kevin Richardson, the "Lion Whisperer." Add some amaaayzing GoPro technology and you get some pretty fantastic, up-close and personal video of what it's like to snuggle and cozy up to a lion. Watch this and be JEALOUS:

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8 Jan

Drug-Laced Mice Dropped on Guam to Kill Nuisance Snakes

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There are an estimated 3 million brown tree snakes in Guam. (Photo Credit: moodboard/Corbis)

It sounds like something out of a war movie: a group of commandos parachute into hostile territory to kill the enemy wreaking havoc on the locals.

Imagine the scenario, but replace 'enemy' with snakes and 'commandos' with drug-laced mice. Now it’s a real story!

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10 Dec

Invincible, Mutant Cockroaches with Super Powers Attacking New York City?!

New York, N.Y. — Meh, maybe that headline's a bit of an overstatement ... buuut, the cockroach Periplaneta japonica, native to Asia, has been discovered at a New York City park. The insect is especially creepy because it can withstand freezing temperatures and has never been seen before in the United States.

*shudder*

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In this Jan. 9, 2013, photo provided by the University of Florida, both male, left, and female Periplaneta japonica are shown. The Periplaneta japonica is a new strain of cockroach possessing powers to withstand harsh winter cold. The species has never been seen before in the United States, but has invaded New York City. Scientists say that while it is too soon to predict the insect’s impact, there is probably little cause for concern. Photo Credit: AP Photo/University of Florida  

The Asian transplant was first sighted in 2012 by exterminators working at the High Line park, which opened in 2009. Scientists are guessing the little bugger hitched a ride aboard plants imported to decorate the park.

Fortunately for us, experts do not believe it will qualify as an "invasive" species — i.e. dominating and wiping out the natives — only because they will be too busy competing with the locals for food instead of prolifically reproducing.

Hopefully, they will at least have some time to enjoy one of the first snows of the holiday season today, like the locals. Check them out here on the Cockroach Cam, keeping warm by the fire:

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 1.18.49 PM
 

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26 Nov

It’s A River Monsters Roundup, Featuring The Greenland Shark And Skate

It’s been a BIG week for fish in the news and we’re bringing you two incredible stories involving two rare beasts as seen on River Monsters: the skate and the Greenland shark!

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It's a monster skate! (Photo Credit: Jeff Rotman/Getty Images)

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25 Nov

US Government Offers $1 Million Reward To Stop Wildlife Trafficking

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A man inspects a stockpile of ivory tusks from an illegal ring. (Photo Credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie)

The US government is taking a stand against wildlife crime, offering $1 million for information leading to the downfall of a wildlife crime syndicate, according to reports.

The syndicate, called Xaysavang Network, is based in Laos and run by a Laotian businessman named Vixay Keosavang (who denies any involvement), according to The New York Times. Xaysavang Network operates out of China, Southeast Asia, South Africa and Mozambique and “facilitates the killing of endangered elephants, rhinos and other species for products such as ivory,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement.

What does this $1 million bounty mean for wildlife trafficking? And can it turn the tide and influence others to take a stand? Let us know! In the meantime, check out footage from the battle waged in Battleground: Rhino Wars.

22 Oct

Penguin Receives First Ever MRI at U of M Veterinary Medical Center

Meet Fluffy. Fluffy is the first ever known penguin to receive an MRI.

Fluffy

 

When Fluffy arrived at University of Minnesota's Veterinary Medical Center he was having trouble balancing, standing and waddling. When veterinarians couldn't find the root cause they turned to a diagnostic first for penguins: An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. As a result Fluffy was diagnosed with encephalitis, properly treated and four weeks later is nearly fully recovered.

Click here to read the full story from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center

Can't get enough of penguins? Check out our LIVE Penguin Cam brought to you in partnership with the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

 

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