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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.

 

7 Aug

The Internet Cat Video Festival Is Every Cat Lovers's Dream!

You read that right, there is an Internet Cat Video Festival! On Thursday, August 14, at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, to be precise! It's every cat lover's dream as attendees sit together and enjoy 75 minutes of the best cat videos the Internet has to offer. Oh, and did I mention there may be some surprise kitty celeb guests in attendance?

This year, one lucky kitty will receive the Golden Kitty, or the Viewer's Choice Award. Check out all of the finalists here, but here's a little taste of what's to come:

Can't make it to Minneapolis? Never fear, Animal Planet has you covered! We will be covering the entire event, from the pre-event activities to the actual show, via live stream. Starting at 7 pm EST on August 14, you can experience every purr-fect moment from the comfort of your own couch!

Don't want to wait until then? Well, we have highlights and clips from the previous festivals waiting for you! You can also get updates about the festival on Twitter!

Get excited, just like Ohagi here:

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Don't forget to check out some of the fan photos from the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival!

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Oh, and the kitty cuteness doesn't end at the festival! Too Cute! Pint Sized airs two days later on Saturday, August 16 at 8/7c!

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 >

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.

13 Jul

Massive School of Anchovy Swarm Southern California Coast

A massive school of anchovy swarmed the waters of the Pacific Ocean near Scripps Pier at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego in La Jolla, Calif., last week on July 8. The incredible event was witnessed by many marine enthusiasts and beach goers — many of whom took to the waters.

Watch the video below and see the amazing lava-lamp-like ebb and flow of the school of fish as curious swimmers approach and as they ride the current:

Researchers haven't seen an event like this in over 30 years and have no explanation for its occurrence.  The school consisted of millions — possibly even over a billion — of the fish, called the Northern anchovy.

The anchovy returned the next day, Wednesday, and many swimmers, snorkelers and surfers hit the waters to take full advantage of the rare opportunity to swim with the phenomenon.  See the Scripps YouTube playlist for more footage of the amazing event >>

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Photo: YouTube image 

The Northern anchovy is harvested off the West coast.  It is mostly used as bait by commercial fishermen.

Continue reading >

11 Jul

These Maine Coon Kittens Wish You a Happy Friday

Happy Friday, everybody! Only a few more hours stand between you and your weekend but those hours seem to drag. So, to make that time go by faster, here's a video of some Maine Coon kittens all moving their heads in unison:

Look at them go! You could watch for hours (but maybe you shouldn't).

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Photo Credit: YouTube

For more adorable kittens, check out our Too Cute! Kittens playlist!

To learn more about Maine Coons, check out our Cat Breed Selector and check out the Cats 101 video about Maine Coons below:

 

10 Jul

Celebrate 'Don't Step On a Bee' Day! Save the Bees & Be Like a Bee Today

Today is national "Don't Step On a Bee Day" and we want to take a moment to honor our friend, the BEE.

Bees have been disappearing on a frighteningly large scale around the world, a phenomenon that has been dubbed "Colony Collapse Disorder" and we are at a tipping point, according to many researchers.  Since World War II, circa 1945, bee populations have declined from 4.5 million to 2 million, as of 2007. According to entomologist Marla Spivak in her below Ted Talk, the main threats to bees causing the decline are believed to be:

* Pesticides
* Parasites and disease
* Agricultural monocultures from modern farming practices
* An increasing flowerless landscape

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Photo: Thinkstock

So, why should we care? Aside from bees being awesome, we should care because more than 1/3 of the world's crops depend on bee pollination. As bees have been dying over the last 50 years, we've increasingly needed them more and more — worldwide crop production dependent on bee pollination has increased by 300%.

See BEAUTIFUL close-up photos of bees >>

How can we help? Dr. Spivak offers two simple ways we can help bees:

* Plant bee-friendly flowers.
* Don’t contaminate them with pesticides.

Easy, right? We need to nourish a diversity of bee-friendly, flowering plants year-round — at home, in public spaces, roadsides and farmlands. However, some garden plants may be harmful to bees, depending on where you purchased them — so be sure you vet your source. Check out Discovery News for the full report >> 

"We need to diversify our farms. We need to plant flowering crop borders and hedge rows, to disrupt the agricultural food desert and begin to correct the dysfunctional food system that we’ve created," Dr. Spivak says. 

Continue reading >

9 Jul

Tiny Hedgehogs Have Tiny Birthday Party with Tiny Cake

In case you need a little pick-me-up during your work day, take a tiny moment for a tiny celebration with these teeny, tiny, adorable hedgehogs, celebrating the cutest, teeniest birthday! ... And, though the cake may be miniature (and hedgehog food), it still looks delicious! Where's my slice?!

Happy birthday, little guy!

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Photo: YouTube image

Continue reading >

8 Jul

Too Cute Tuesday: Germany’s First Walrus Pup is Born

 

On June 15, an adorable, whiskered male walrus pup was born at Hamburg’s Hagenbeck Zoo. But this isn’t an ordinary walrus pup.

Why? Because he is the first and only walrus to be born in Germany. The zoo’s website states that this group of walruses (the pup’s mother and enclosure mates) came to them about a year ago from the Moscow Zoo to fulfill the dream of Tierpark Hagenbeck to host the only walrus breeding group in Germany. And their dreams have come true! This little guy doesn’t have a name yet, but it will be decided by zoo visitors.

Continue reading >

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Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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