Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Just How Slow Are Sloths?

The sloth's scientific name, Bradypus, is Greek for "slow feet", which seems fitting since they are the world's slowest animal. Sloths are so slow that algae actually grow on their fur! The algae is actually a good thing for the sloth, as it helps them blend into the trees. 


Sloths can only climb 6 to 8 feet per minute, which is very slow compared to most mammals. Sloths however, are excellent swimmers. Sloths will drop themselves off branches in order to get to the rivers for a swim. 


Since sloths bodies are only made up of 25 percent muscle, they can't shiver when they are cold to warm up. This is why they are found in tropical climates and are covered in fur. There are times of cold in the forest, though. If a female gets too cold, she is unable to digest food. If her young is still nursing, she may starve to death.


A sloth only has its claws for defense against predators. However, its very low level of movement and the camouflage make it difficult to notice.


Source: Live Science 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Do Wolves Really Howl at The Moon?

Gray wolves were once common throughout all of North America, but were exterminated in most areas of the United States by the mid 1930s. Today, their range has been reduced to Canada, Alaska, the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. 



Wolves have a complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls. While they don't actually howl at the moon, they are more active at dawn and dusk, and they do howl more when it's lighter at night, which occurs more often when the moon is full.



Did you know that wolves have unique howls,like fingerprints, that scientists (and other members of their pack) can use to tell them apart?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Animals That Mate For Life

Humans are not the only species that can express faithfulness, many other animals can offer examples of how to keep a relationship together. Even though lifelong pair bonds are fairly rare in the animal kingdom, there are a few animals that can keep it together. 

Gibbons


Gibbons will form an extremely strong bond with their mate and spend time grooming each other and hanging out together

Swans


Swans can form strong pair bonds that can last for many years or even for life. Swans have become a symbol of love because of their loyalty and while swimming together their necks form a heart. 

French Angelfish


French Angelfish are rarely alone, they form monogamous bonds that often last a lifetime. They will live, travel and hunt in pairs.

Turtle Doves



It's no wonder that Turtle Doves come in pairs in the classic "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kansas City Animal Shelters

According to the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), there are about 13.600 community animal shelters all over the United States. Since June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month I want to share a few statistics about animal shelters and highlight some Kansas City area shelters.

  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats
  • Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats)
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner
  • Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owner


With 37-47% of all households in the United States owning a dog, and 30-37% owning a cat there is no reason why we cannot rescue some of these animals! As a proud parent of a shelter dog I strongly believe that shelter animals deserve to get adopted just as much as an animal from a pet store. 


A few local Kansas City Animal Shelters include:

Wayside Waifs - Kansas City's largest no-kill animal shelter established in 1944

The Humane Society of Greater Kansas City - Kansas City's oldest humane society and has been a no-kill shelter since 1994

KC Pet Project - Has 3 different locations around the Kansas City area, creating a no-kill community in Kansas City

Unleashed Pet Rescue -  Works to pull animals from high kill shelters and rescue "unwanted" pets. 




Friday, May 23, 2014

Zoo Spotlight: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

On a recent mini vacation my family and I took a weekend trip to Omaha, our main interest being to visit the zoo. I have heard from many friends that Omaha has the best zoo and aquarium and it really is! Trip Advisor ranked the Omaha Zoo the #1 zoo in the country. This zoo isn't huge but you will definitely get a days worth of fun! Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo offers numerous indoor and outdoor habitats. 

The first thing you will notice when arriving at the zoo is the huge Desert Dome. The Desert Dome is the world's largest indoor desert and is located under the world's largest glazed geodesic dome. 


The Desert Dome showcases plant and animal life from three deserts around the world: the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert of the southwest United States. Also, the Kingdoms of the Night is located beneath the desert and is the world's largest nocturnal exhibit.


Another great indoor exhibit is the Lied Jungle, which is America's largest indoor rainforest. Inside the exhibit you will feel as if you are in the rainforest, you will hear waterfalls crashing, see gibbons swinging from trees and even cross a rope bridge. The Lied Jungle was my favorite exhibit at the Omaha Zoo because you really feel transported to the jungle




The Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion is another fun indoor exhibit. Inside the butterfly house you can carefully walk among the beautiful free flying butterflies in a tropical environment. 



Another favorite of mine was the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium, where you can walk through a tunnel of water as sharks and sea turtle swim above. The aquarium is home to a variety of sea life, from Antarctic penguins to colorful warm water fish! If you are planning a trip to the Omaha Zoo make sure you get there when they open either 9 or 10 a.m. depending on the time of year. Also, I recommend going straight to the aquarium when you get there, after a few hours it will be packed!





Here are a few bonus photos from our trip!










Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Pup: Planning a Dog Birthday Party

I will admit that I treat my dog like my child, and I don't think I'm alone in that. My hound/lab mix Roxy will be turning 5 this week and I want to plan something to celebrate! The number of owners wanting to throw a birthday party for their four legged friends is growing every year! Here are a few tips and ideas to help you put together a great dog birthday party!



Invite some friends. You will probably want to invite dogs that have met before or that usually socialize well. Nothing will ruin a dog party quicker than a dog with an attitude problem, keep this in mind when inviting guests. 


Plan the menu. If it were up to Roxy she would just have a plate full of sausage or something, but to get an adorable birthday picture a pupcake might work better. There are a lot of dog bakeries popping up that make special pupcakes and other yummy pet friendly treats but if you don't have a dog bakery near you pupcakes are pretty easy to make. This site has a lot of good pupcake recipes your dog is sure to love!


Just have fun! Having extra party hats or other costumes available for all your dog guests will add to the fun! You could plan some dog games based on human games to get all of your guests involved. Some great dog/human games are:
Simon SaysEach dog pairs with their human and each team spreads out to have enough room to move around. You announce a command, which must be preceded by "Simon Says" Says. Each team must follow your instruction. Any team who does not perform the right command, does not perform at all or performs a command without the preceding "Simon Says" phrase is out. The team left standing is the winner. 

Toss Up - Each dog is paired with their human and stand facing each other. The dog humans toss treats one at a time to their dog, each treat their dog catches counts as a point. The dog who catches the most treats in a certain amount of time if the winner. 

Bobbing for Treats - Fill up a kiddie pool with water, then place your treat of choice into the pool. Some great treat ideas include: apples, carrots, kibble, cut up pieces of hot dog, popcorn or whatever your dog's favorite treat is. Dogs can take turns at the pool bobbing for the different treats. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Slow Loris: Cute But Deadly

You have probably seen one of these videos of the adorable Slow Loris around the internet the past few years. They are almost painfully cute but are actually poisonous and greatly endangered. Slow Lorises are found in southern and south-eastern Asia and are among the rarest primates on earth. The Slow Loris is nocturnal and has forward-facing eyes and hands with opposable thumbs that are almost human-like.

They are one of a handful of poisonous mammals in the world. The Slow Loris produces venom from glands on the insides of their elbows and when threatened they lick the area in order to venomize their bites. The "venom" is a concentrated protein that acts as an allergen and can cause death by anaphylactic shock. 

The Slow Loris is endangered due to habitat loss and hunting for illegal pet and traditional medical trades. Thousands of Slow Lorises are poached from the wild and sold illegally on the street. The International Animal Rescue has set up a treatment facility in Ciapus, Java to care for Slow Lorises that have been confiscated from animal markets or surrendered by their owners. You can help protect these adorable primates by adopting a Slow Loris through International Animal Rescue.






Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy National Zoo Lovers Day!

Each year people across the nation celebrate National Zoo Lovers Day on April 8th. Today is the perfect day to plan a trip to a zoo in your area. Enjoy this "unofficial" holiday with the 175 million other people who visit zoos each year. The first public zoo in the United States was opened in 1874 in New York's Central Park. Today the United States has over 350 zoos! Here is a look at some fun things you can do at zoos all over the world!

Getting a grip: A tiger at Busch Gardens takes part in a tug of war contest with visitors

At Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida you can play tug-of-war with a tiger. 

In this aquarium you can shake hands with otters (Happy Holidays!)

At the Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park in Japan you can shake hands with an otter.

elephant sea lion

At the Oregon Zoo an Asian elephant named Chendra likes to take morning walks with her handlers. She sometimes likes to visit some of the other animals, especially Gus the sea lion.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools Day Animal Pranks

As a kid I always tried to play pranks on my family, which rarely ever worked out. As an adult I've found that the best person to prank is usually my dog. To help you get into the Aprils Fools Day spirit here are some hilarious animal pranks. 



















Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Tiny Elf Owl

Elf owls can be found in the Sonoran Desert, mainly around areas with water or with plenty of saguaro cactus. They feed primarily on invertebrates such as moths, crickets and scorpions. They are also the smallest owl in the Sonoran Desert on average only 5 inches tall and weighing 1 to 1.5 ounces.