Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Animal Architects - termites

What creature builds this amazing structure? It is the wee termite. Termite mounds are found all over northern Australia near Darwin. They are called magnetic mounds because the termites align them in parallel groupings and orient them north to south. Scientists still aren't sure why or how termites orient their structures along the magnetic poles. One thing is known, these mounds are marvels of construction.

Using nothing more than dirt and their own saliva, termites create a multi-chambered, air-conditioned, rock-hard home. The walls are porous to allow the mound to "breathe," letting stale air out and fresh air in. The living quarters of the termites are usually below the surface of the ground. The many corridors and ducts built into the cathedral-like pillars are used to regulate heat, ensuring a fairly constant temperature for residence regardless of the baking tropical heat outside. Besides living chambers these mounds contain pantries, nurseries, a royal chamber for the king and queen and even gardens that are diligently tended by specially bred worker termites.

Termite mounds are not all built the same but may have special adaptations due to environment. Mounds built in areas with extreme temperatures look almost like they are pleated, giving the mound more surface area so more air can circulate around and through the structure. Termites that build in rainy areas will build an umbrella-like structure across the top of the mound to prevent water from entering the mound and damaging the inhabitants.

When I left Darwin to begin my southerly drive to Adielade along the Stuart Highway, I was amazed by these structures. They were everywhere, and they were huge. To get a sense of their size, realize that I was standing next to this mound when I took the photo. Granted I'm about 5'3", but this mound towered over me. These weren't even the big ones. Some termite mounds reach 20 feet in height.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Animal Architects - Other Birds

Bowerbirds aren't the only birds who build extravagant or fascinating nests. The bald eagle uses sticks and branches (not mere twigs) to build a nest anywhere from 5 to 9 feet wide. The nesting pair will use the same nest year after year, adding to and repairing the structure as needed. Bald eagle aeries have been known to weigh as much as 2 tons – that's the same as 2 mini coopers.

The Warbler builds a much smaller nest, literally creating the sides of the nest around its own body. The warbler gathers grass and stems, clumping them in to the fork of a tree. Then it sits in the middle of this debris and rotates itself, pushing with chest and feet to develop a cup shape. Once this base is established it will twine grass together to strengthen the nest's structure. The warbler will line the nest with hair from animals or people (it doesn't care which) and finish the edging with spider's silk. The warbler collects the spider threads and, after arriving back at the nest, brushes them off its beak onto the nest's twigs. As the silk adheres to the nest, the warbler draws the threads out and weaves them into the rim of the nest, making it smooth and strong.

Don't have branches, grass, silk or someone else's hair to build with? Then how about your own spit? The Edible-nest Swiftlet makes its nest out of saliva. The male of the species can produce condensed saliva from a special salivary gland in its throat. The extruded spit resembles strands of clear spaghetti. The swiftlet forms the strands into a pseudo-cuplike shape, attaching it to a vertical surface such as a cliff face. The strands harden as they are exposed to the air. They most be glorious to see, glistening on the cliff sides in their hundreds. Unfortunately, these nests are primary ingredients in the Asian delicacy, Bird's Nest Soup. Poachers are no longer waiting for chicks to fledge before they take the nests, thereby driving this species towards extinction.
I'll be turning my attention away from birds tomorrow. I've had the pleasure of seeing our next structure and it's very impressive. Want to try and guess at the next architect? Here's a hint. If humans were to build something similar, we would produce a skyscraper . . . 6 miles high!

Thank you Paul Bolstad from the University of Minnesota for bald eagle nest picture.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Animal Architects - the Bowerbird

There's been so much talk in the news regarding the housing market that I thought we might take a look at animal housing. Or, more appropriately, animal architects. This week we're going to focus on what kind of brilliant construction projects are out there and why and how animals create them.

Our first architect is the Bowerbird. A truly amazing little fellow, they are generally about the size of a pigeon. The builder among these birds is the male and he builds his remarkable structure to attract the attention of a female. Bowerbirds don't live in the bower, or nest and raise young there. The construction is all for the purpose of attraction and mating – a genuine "bachelor pad."

Depending on species, bowerbirds will build one of 3 different types of bower – a "maypole", an "avenue", or a "mat." Mats are fairly simple constructions consisting of a cleared area, possibly padded with plants, and ringed by ornaments like flowers or leaves.

The "avenue" is more detailed. Twin walls of twigs are erected and decorated. Occasionally these walls will arch over the empty space and form a tunnel. Some species of bowerbirds use a leaf or twig to paint the inside of these walls with charcoal and saliva.

The most elaborate bowerbird creation is the "maypole." These constructions use the trunks of young trees as support and stretch a roof-like awning over a broad expanse of ground. The courtyard, as it is called, is heavily decorated with flowers, shells, pebbles, fruits and all manner of brightly colored objects. The male bowerbird carefully arranges all of these objects and removes wilted or unattractive items from the area. He will also plant a lawn of moss under and around his bower, perhaps to draw more attention to his collections. Interestingly, the duller the bowerbird's plumage, the more elaborate and colorful their creation.

What do female bowerbirds think of all this? Only 25% of females visit more than one male's bower before mating. Then the female is off to solitarily build a nest, hatch the eggs and raise the young. Thank goodness she can manage on her own because the males are so wrapped up with the construction, decoration and upkeep of their "pad," they would have no time. Maybe if they snagged one of our snazzy Jungle Store birdhouses they could share a little incubating duty.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Scoop the Poop Week - from the Air

When I was a child, my family and I would spend one week every summer at my Uncle’s camp on Toddy Pond in Maine. One particular night we returned to camp after having dinner with the extended family in town. As we entered the small rustic cabin, a winged, black shadow entered with us. The creature swooped and dove near the single light, flapping erratically about the room. My father proclaimed it the biggest moth he had ever seen and proceeded to knock it from the air with a well-swung towel. It was only then we learned our enormous moth was actually a small brown bat. He had been drawn toward the light by the insects flying around it. Fortunately, the bat was merely stunned and my father carefully carried it outside and placed it on the picnic table till it could regain its senses and continue the nightly forage.

How are bats relevant in our discussion of poo? I am so glad you asked. Bat guano is nature’s most perfect fertilizer. It has been used for centuries by agricultural civilizations including the Incas who valued it so highly that anyone found interfering with the bats was put to death. Guano harvesting locations were kept as closely guarded secrets and the U.S. government actually promised free land to people who would make the deposits available to the public.

There are two distinct types of guano, that from fruit-eating bats and that from insect-eating bats. The insect-eating bats produce poo that is high in nitrogen and helps plants grow strong. Fruit-eating bat poo is higher in phosphorus and helps plants with budding and flowering. All guano is safe for indoor and outdoor use and can be used on vegetables, herbs, flowers, trees, lawns, fruit trees, etc. Just another way that scooping poop, especially bat poop, is beneficial to humans. If you want to learn more about bats, including where the largest colony of bats live, check out our Bat article on the Animal Facts page at The Jungle Store.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scoop the Poop Week - in the Ocean

I have to admit, this week’s topic—celebrating Scoop the Poop week—has turned my thoughts down strange and less traveled roads. I was remembering my 10th grade history teacher. Wonderful man named Mr. Flemming. One day in class he surprised us all by stating he refused to eat seafood. Now remember, I grew up in Rhode Island. That’s like living in Iowa and not eating corn. We students began a frenzy of questions. Surely he wasn’t serious. Maybe he didn’t eat fish, but he must eat clams? No. Perhaps shrimp or scallops? No. He had to eat Tuna, even if it was just the stuff in the can? Uh uh. How could this be? He very simply explained. “I don’t eat fish for the same reason I don’t put my meatloaf in the toilet. Where do you think all those fish go?” Where indeed.

As this memory rattled around in my head, it got me wondering. If an elephant – the worlds largest land mammal- produces over 500 lbs of poo a day, what could a whale be capable of? And does anyone ever risk stepping in it? My research found some interesting facts, the greatest one being that there are real people who scoop the poop of whales.

In 2007, Whale Feces Researcher was ranked one of the 10 worst jobs in Science. Surprise, surprise. But, why was this even a job? It seems we learn rather a lot from whale poo, more than we can by merely observing and/or tagging whales. The poop tells about general health and diet, but also hormone levels, genetics and can act as a pregnancy test. Scientists can actually distinguish individual whales by their poo. And unlike the whale itself, who spends little time near the surface and may not take kindly to being approached, the whale’s poop will float atop the water for a good hour or more, making it rather easy to collect.

How do you find whale poop? With dogs of course. Once again the amazing olfactory senses of our best animal friend come to our aid. Poop sniffing dogs frequently grace the boats of researchers, helping them to find the fecal field. The scent carries well over open water and the dog can usually catch a whiff more than a mile away.

Interested in the other 9 Worst Jobs in Science? Of course you are. Go ahead and peek. I won’t tell.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scoop the Poop Week - Cats

Not only do I have a dog that I clean up after, I have a cat as well. I've always had cats in my life. I adore their independent nature and regality. When a cat comes to spend time with you, you know it's because he wants to. There's only one thing I don't like about the cats who have deigned to share their lives with me, and that's the litter box. As easy as scooping can be, the "mining" duty runs low on my list of daily tasks. One time I got rather busy and let the scooping go for a few days. My cat sent me a gentle reminder by walking into the family room, looking me in the eye, and pooping on the floor. Problem solved, at least as far as he was concerned.

I did have a number of times I was freed from cat pan duty. Not because I didn't live with a cat, but because I was pregnant. Cats can be carriers of Toxoplasmosis. They contract the microscopic parasite by eating infected animals. Humans catch the disease by coming in contact with the cat's infected feces. Toxoplasmosis can be contracted in other ways—eating undercooked food, gardening without gloves where infected animals have died or defecated, playing in sandboxes that have been used as litterboxes—so a good rule of thumb is to scrub, scrub, scrub those hands. Toxoplasmosis does not generally transfer from human to human, except in cases of pregnancy. A pregnant woman who becomes infected runs a risk of passing the disease to her unborn child – hence the warning for pregnant women to avoid litter boxes.

Of course, becoming pregnant is no reason to get rid of your cat. All you need to do is mitigate the risk. Letting your cat use the great outdoors is the wrong answer. Not only will you be increasing the cat's risk of coming in contact with infected animals, you will also be increasing the risk to you, your family and neighbors by encouraging your cat to relieve itself somewhere in the yard. The best advice is to have someone else clean the cat box for you. A number of the dog waste disposal services you find in the yellow pages will be happy to take on your cat waste as well (for a fee). You could also try one of those automated box cleaners, or you could just glove up and use plenty of hot water and detergent.

There is another option. Suggest to your cat that he/she might use the bathroom, like everybody else in the house. Supposedly it isn't that hard to train them to do.

And if you'd like to reward your feline and make him feel like a "Big Cat," (or clue your guests in on which bathroom they may or may not want to use) try sporting one of our Jungle Store toilet seats. ;)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scoop the Poop Week - Zoos

You were all so tolerant with my "pick up after your dog!" harangue that, as a reward, I'm taking you to the zoo. Let's face it, if there's one place you know they're going to have scooping issues, it's the Zoo. One Asian elephant can produce more than 500lbs of poo in a single day!

When I lived outside of Washington DC I was a FONZ. (That stands for Friend of the National Zoo.) Being a FONZ gained you certain privileges, one of which was an inside scoop on what was happening at the zoo. That's how I found out about "Zoo Doo." Zoo Doo was probably the most "natural" solution to a difficult problem – namely what to do with all the poo. They had it made into garden art. You could purchase poo pottery, place it in your garden, and have a somewhat attractive, naturally decomposing source of nutrients for your plants and soil. A win-win as far as I could tell. I'm not sure if the National Zoo is still involved in this program. I wasn't able to find any information on it. But, I did find a company in New Zealand that must have latched on to the same idea. They sell Endangered Feces statuary. Brilliant stuff.

If you live near a zoo, it may be worth contacting them regarding their disposal of waste. They've obviously got the supply, you could make the demand. The Woodland Park Zoo outside of Seattle, WA offers up Elephant dung by the gallon.

Of course, if you'd rather have a more lasting piece of statuary that doesn't have its own special aroma; you may want to check out the Jungle Stores Lawn and Garden area.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Scoop the Poop Week - Dogs

Here's a segue for you. Did you know it's "Scoop the Poop" week? I know you're saying, "Jungle Jane. We were talking about saving the earth and now you want to talk about poo?" There's a broader connection to those two topics than you might think. Did you know that the out-product of cow digestion (burping, flatulence and poop) is a constant source of methane – a greenhouse gas? But don't worry. I'm not asking you run to the nearest ranch, baggies in hand, to clear the pastures. Let's stay closer to home.

While driving my son to school one morning, we saw a fellow walking his dog. Well, he wasn't actually walking his dog. His dog was busy following other doggly pursuits, mainly despoiling the parkway. As we approached, the guy reached into his pocket and produced the requisite plastic bag. He began to bend over to retrieve his dog's calling card. We passed, and as I continued watching him in the rearview mirror, I beheld a most amazing sight. He didn't pick it up! He left that poo right where it was and put the baggie back in his pocket! It was all a pantomime, a performance, put on for the benefit of a passing stranger. Mainly - me.

I was flabbergasted. So I stopped the car. That caused him to reach again for his plastic bag. If my son hadn't been cringing in the front seat, begging me to drive on, I would have backed up and made sure he did the job properly. As it is, I have to assume his next course of actions resulted in picking up after his dog.

For this post, we'll be putting aside the shear audacity of the man. (Only doing the right thing because other people are watching you is a different topic and for a different blogger.) Dog poop contains a number of bacteria and parasites that can not only be passed from dog to dog, but from dogs to people. An example is fecal coliform bacteria which causes severe stomach illness and rashes. Children are especially susceptible. For the sake of yourself, your kids, your pets, pick up your dog's poop. I know it isn't a pleasant job (I've got a dog myself), but it is a necessary one, even when no one is looking.

I don't get as fancy as Martha, but I do always carry multiple bags when walking my dog. Just in case my Airedale decides to "double dip."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!!

We've still got a lot of work to do, but let's celebrate what's been accomplished.

Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest has dropped by another 47%, following a 4 year trend.

Over 1,996,792,933 trees have been planted by the UNEP with another 3,511,630,487 trees pledged to be planted.

Of the over 1,300 animals on the Endangered Species list, 93% have stabilized their populations and made movement towards recovery. One of the most successful species is the American Bald Eagle. Listed in 1967, Bald Eagle populations have soared from about 400 in 1963 to more than 9,700 in 2006.

Remember your three R's – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It can be even more rewarding than that shopping spree. And without the bill.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day

With all of the focus on global warming, and our environment, it only makes sense that people would be forming opinions and generating ideas. The exciting part is the wonderful ideas they're coming up with. Not only are they finding solutions, but they're making money at it, adding yet another layer to our economy. The old Blue Collar and White Collar systems no longer apply. These eco-friendly entrepreneurs are adding "Green Collar" jobs to our economic picture. And established companies are finding their "green" status plays a big role in attracting the best and the brightest.

Sometimes you can do what's easy and what's right. At the Jungle Store we are adding more environmentally friendly products every week. As an example, the cards, puzzles, etc. that we carry from Planet Zoo feature the CreatedGreen logo. Looking for logos like these on the products you buy helps make your dollars mean something.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day: Trees Need Our Help

As you know, trees are vital to the health of the Earth. They filter the air, using photosynthesis to store carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. Trees also help with climate by regulating local and regional rainfall. Finally, there is global awareness as to the importance of trees. The United Nations has started a Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, and countries across the world are joining in, pledging and planting.
Humans are not the only ones who plant trees. Animals do too. Seeds exist in a dormant state. Some need the fierce heat of fire to begin germination. Others need sustained periods of cold, ensuring the young plant doesn’t sprout too soon and then be killed by frost. A larger number of seed groups need to have their tough outer husks abraded by the digestion or partial digestion of animals.
After the Dodo bird became extinct, the Tambalacocque, or dodo tree, no longer sprouted new seedlings. The existing trees still grew and bore fruit, but no new trees were detected. It was discovered that the Dodo had consumed the tree’s fruit and digested the seeds, thereby weakening the seed’s husk. Once the seeds were passed through their systems, the Dodo provided a fertilized soil in which the seeds could grow. No Dodo, no Dodo tree. Happily the Tambalacocque trees did not suffer the same fate as the birds. Botanists have used manual abrasion as well as the digestive tract of turkeys to keep the Dodo tree from extinction.
So plant a tree today. Or save an animal. It could be the same thing. If you don’t have the time or the money, use your mouse to make a difference. It just takes a click.
Reduce your Carbon Footprint Protect some Habitat Rescue the Apes Preserve the Big Cats Keep our Oceans Clean Save the Seals

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Earth Day

This year's Earth Day theme is "Call for Climate." Celebrations will be bringing awareness to global warming. Scientific reports show that the world is getting warmer, but whether this is caused by human activity are is just a natural, cyclical shift (like the little ice age of the 1500s) is still under debate. Regardless, the warming of the planet is causing changes to numerous habitats and ecosystems.

One of the areas where warming is most noticeable is our polar regions. In the last 30 years the size of the polar ice cap has shrunk more than 20%. Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as other temperatures around the world. The largest single sheet of ice, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, started cracking in 2000 and split in half a mere two years later. It is now rupturing into pieces. As the Arctic ice thins, cracks and melts, it leads to even higher temperatures since, without the protective, cooling layer of ice, the Earth absorbs more light and energy from the sun.

Humans are not the only ones affected. Wildlife is already showing signs of stress and decline. The World Wildlife Fund warns that if solutions aren't found to stop the disappearance of pack ice, Polar bears will become extinct by the end of the century. Polar bears rely on pack ice to hunt their prey—seals and walruses. Adult bears need about 5lbs of seal fat per day, so, without the ice, bears are unable to build up the fat stores needed to survive in their harsh habitat. The WWF has a valuable Fact and Fallacies paper on the plight of the Polar Bear.

If you're looking for other facts about Polar Bears and want to share them with children, try this Polar Bear Zoobook. The Jungle Store has similar books on other animal species as well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earth Day

Let's talk about reducing your Carbon Footprint*. These adorable shoes for kids are called Pedoodles. We sell them here at The Jungle Store, and I think they are a great example (even visually) of leaving a small footprint.

These tiny shoes are about as eco-friendly as you can get. The leather uppers are made from reclaimed couch scraps, the flexible rubber soles from recycled shoe soles. (Pedoodles takes the irregular shoe soles that other factories would throw out and melts them back down for their shoes.) The interior of the shoes are currently the same reclaimed leather, but will soon be made from PET – material created from recycled plastic bottles. Pedoodles are currently packaged in a gift tote made from plastic. The Pedoodles company is changing over to a new tote that will be made from recycled boxes. Using recycled and reclaimed materials is just one way to reduce carbon emissions.

We live in a consumer driven economy. If you become an educated consumer, your buying power will reward companies that are working to find solutions for a healthier planet. Here are some places to start:

Carbon neutral clothing -
Yarn and fabrics -
Local Organic Food -
Drinks -
Music -

And while you're leaving those small footprints, take your dog along with you. All dogs, big and small, need proper exercise, not just a romp in the backyard. Dogs are pack animals and travelers by instinct. They need to walk and they like to walk with you. So go for a stroll, you'll be helping your dog's mental state, reasserting your position as the leader of the pack and getting some great exercise for yourself. Good, daily walks may mean you don't have to drive your SUV to the gym anymore.

*Carbon Footprint: "the measure of the impact of human activities on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Earth Day

I'm a coastal girl. Born and raised in Rhode Island. I've also spent plenty of holidays with family along the coast of Maine. Fresh and wonderful seafood was a given and usually cheaper than placing meat on the dinner table. One of my favorite dishes was Grandmother Meme's seafood chowder – full of scallops, cod and haddock. Tradition had us thawing out over steaming bowls after long days playing in the snow. Warming, filling and delicious, that chowder was magical. When I moved to Boston and began my life as a poor student, my Grandmother graced me with the recipe. Not only was it cheap to make, it lasted. You could even freeze the stuff.

I don't make that chowder much anymore. Only on special occasions. The fact that I'm living in Kansas has nothing to do with it. There's just no cod or haddock to be had, at any price. And the thought of scooping some bay scallops for a quick ceviche is laughable. Fish stocks around the world are in serious decline. The magazine, Science, reported that unless we change how we fish and manage ocean ecosystems, eating seafood will become a memory. Cod is especially fragile with 90% of the population having been caught in 2003. Scientists figure we have about 40 years before my grandmother's chowder is a memory.

So what can you do? Believe it or not, you can do a lot by just doing a little. Thanks to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, I've got a "Seafood Watch Pocket Guide." The aquarium made them for all regions of our country, and I think they're brilliant. They give you lists of "Best choices," "Alternatives," and what fish you should "Avoid" because of depletion. I've adapted my grandmother's recipe. No more cod and haddock. It's pollock and tilapia instead and it still tastes great. I figure this way, I'll be able to pass that recipe down to my granddaughter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Earth Day

Gaylord Nelson, the Founder of Earth Day, frequently spoke about making sacrifices today to benefit the generations to come. There are so many little things we can do, and when added up, they can have a huge impact on our world.

- Wash your clothes at 85° or colder. You'll be using 40% less energy! Your detergent will work just as well on the cooler temperature and your clothes will have a longer lifespan.

- Change over to energy efficient light bulbs. Using CFLs (Compact Florescent Lights) can cut your energy usage by 75%. They may seem a bit pricey, but they last 10 times longer than other light bulbs. This also means fewer light bulbs in the landfill!

- Think about Food Miles. The average plate of foods comes to our table from 1200 miles away. That is a lot of packaging, gasoline, CO2 emissions, etc. Think locally when buying your produce and meat. Buy a share in a vegetable of meat co-op. Most grocery stores now have "local" markets within their larger stores. These items usually come from within 100 mile radius.

Thinking about food (which I often do) reminded me of the story I did on the Texas Longhorn Basketball team. We were having fun deciding which college mascots could beat which other mascots. In researching the Texas Longhorn I learned they are extremely hardy, surviving difficult conditions and thriving on little forage. They also produce a leaner, healthier meat and they are locally "grown."

Thanks to Clinton & Charles Robertson and Flickr for the Photo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Earth Day

"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard."
- Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day

In one week we will be celebrating Earth Day. When I say "we" I mean all of us, people, humanity. This is a special day. It is a celebration that crosses nationalities, histories, religions, and cultures. Whoever we are, we all have one thing in common—the Earth.

Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970. He was a State Senator, Governor and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. He was involved in passing our most basic and comprehensive pieces of Environmental Legislation. He worked hard to create "a world that does not make us sick."

The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was a huge success, drawing millions of people at a grassroots level. It was a true outpouring of care and concern regarding the resources and environment of our home. Since that day, Earth Day has gained international recognition and is celebrated around the globe.

Over the next week, I'm going to blog about ways to celebrate Earth Day. Is the focus on our world making a difference? How are animal species and habitats being affected? I know that sounds really serious, but it doesn't mean it can't be fun. One way I'm making it fun is by sending Earth Day cards to my friends and family. I want to remind them I'm thinking of them and that there is an important day coming up. I chose these cards because the images are gorgeous, they are made of recycled materials, AND my purchase sends money to global conservation. Win, win, win.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Animals in Golf

Congratulations to Trevor Immelman! He stayed steady and focused and now wears the coveted Green Jacket. There were some attempts to answer my little animal nickname quiz, but nobody got them all, so here goes:

The Tiger (who came in second yesterday) was born Eldrick Woods. His father nicknamed him Tiger and he's now had his name legally changed to Tiger Woods.

The Walrus is Craig Stadler. He earned the nickname due to his enormous moustache that looks much like the walrus's whiskers, or vibrissae. A walrus relies on its whiskers to find food on the muddy bottom of the ocean. Wonder if Stadler uses his to strain his soup?

The Pink Panther is LPGA player, Paula Creamer. Her play is smooth, powerful and focused, much like a panther on the prowl. Since she frequently wears pink, it seems only natural to tag her with a colorful moniker.

The Golden Bear is Jack Nicklaus. He earned the nickname in high school. Upper Arlington High's mascot was the Golden Bear. Of course his powerful swing and his golden hair may have had something to do with it as well.

The Big Cat is another player from the LPGA. Kim Williams is 6ft tall.

The Great White Shark is Greg Norman. His white-blonde hair, and the fact that he comes from Australia, made his nickname easy.

Greg Norman, like other pro-golfers, has used his nickname to create an industry of sportswear, golf accessories, golf courses, etc. You can find almost anything you need for the game with his unmistakable shark logo on it. But, I wonder if Greg has one of these on the back of his golf cart?

I know I'm trying to find a "Beware of the Jungle" one for myself!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Animals in Golf

Did you see what Tiger Woods did Friday at The Masters? His drive from the 18th tee went way, way right. He landed in the jungle, in the straw, in the trees. There was no way he could use his power or his skill to get out of this mess. Even Tiger Woods can’t drive a golf ball through a tree. So, Tiger used his brains. He hit the ball onto the 10th Fairway. Tenth fairway, you say? Wasn’t Tiger playing the 18th hole? (Obviously he’s been watching how much success I have playing multiple fairways.) Tiger's next shot went from the 10th Fairway to the 18th gree. He made par. Amazing.

Today, Sunday, the last day of The Masters tournament, Tiger Woods is 6 strokes behind the leader. That seems a lot of ground to make up. But, here is your animal fact for the day: Tigers are most successful when they catch their prey from behind!

Tiger Woods is not the only Professional Golfer to be nicknamed after an animal. Can you tell me the real names of the following players? (I’m including Tiger because that wasn’t his given name at birth.) Give them your best shot. Meanwhile I’m going to be working on my short game with this way fun desktop course. (Who says you can't play golf when it's raining?) Answers on Monday!

1. Tiger
2. The Walrus
3. Pink Panther
4. The Golden Bear
5. Big Cat
6. Great White Shark

Check out the Luck of the Leader, Trevor Immelman.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Animals In Golf

Some animal references in golf aren't a good thing. You don’t want to be in the kitty litter or in the frog hair, but, when it comes to scoring, the more animals the better. Every course is laid out with 9 or 18 holes. Each hole is a different length from tee box to pin (or flag). The number of shots the course designers believe are necessary to make it from tee box to pin is called par. (Golf course designers are the most optimistic people on earth.)
If you hole out one shot below par, you've scored a "birdie." I remember the first time I had the opportunity to score a birdie. As I wasted time, pretending to study the putting green so I could calm my nerves, my sister said, "Hey. Did you know that if you make this putt, you'll make birdie. I don't think you've ever done that before." Needless to say, I still haven't.
If you sink your ball two strokes below par, you’ve Eagled. Makes sense. An eagle is a larger and grander animal than a mere birdie. So what is it when you shoot 3 strokes below par? Here in the United States, it is generally called a Double Eagle, but once upon a time it had a more interesting name. 3 under par used to be called an Albatross – a much larger and grander animal than a mere eagle.
When Samuel Coleridge wrote his poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the albatross went from being a bird of good fortune to being an omen of misery, a burden. And so, an albatross in golf became a double eagle. After all, what golfer wants to hang an albatross on his score card? 

Friday, April 11, 2008

Animals in Golf

I knew you were brilliant. Thank you "Miss Mil" for the info about Frog Hair. I've only heard the phrase used in Britain and so find it interesting that Frog Hair is an American term. While researching, I even found a golf course in Williamsville, New York called the Frog Hair. Looks like an awesome place!

I've already hinted at my dominant golf shot – the slice – but there are some other shots, named for animals, which are equally ineffectual at letting you make progress towards the hole. The Duck Hook is a favorite. Not one I've employed myself, but my sister manages a few every 18 holes. This shot hooks sharply and looses altitude quickly; much like a duck would if it was hooked from the sky. Since my sister is left-handed, her Duck Hook complements my right-handed slice beautifully. Always exciting to play multiple fairways for one hole. There is something that makes this shot particularly enjoyable for the golfing foursome. It is considered appropriate golf etiquette for the Duck Hookers other 3 companions to Quack loudly when this shot is played. If you aren't up to quacking yourself, perhaps you may wish to purchase a duck to do it for you.

A second shot with an animal name is the Worm Burner. This shot is not always unproductive, but it is usually unintentional. A worm burner has such a low trajectory that it appears to be skimming the ground. In my case, it actually is skimming the ground. I wouldn't mind these shots that much (they do make straight, forward progress) if I didn't hit them just as I've reached the water hazard. Scientific note: If hit with enough velocity, a wormburner can skip across water, inspiring just the right amount of hope before it finds the murkiest, deepest part of the hazard in which to sink.

Regardless of your ability, sometimes it's just better to be lucky. Check out this shot by Fuzzy Zoeller.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Animals in Golf

Today we are going to look at the Golf Course itself. The main purpose of a golf course's design is to provide myriad and varied challenges to sinking that little ball into that really tiny hole. The fact that they make the courses beautiful and a haven for some animal species is an added bonus. Links courses in particular, with their proximity to the coast and more natural settings become animal habitats.

Whether animals live on the course or not, they are certainly referenced there. How many of us have been stymied by that "Dog-leg to the left?" I don't mind the ones to the right, I have a terrible slice. The term "Dog-leg" refers to just that, the shape of a dog's hind leg. From hip to paw, the dog's leg first goes in one direction, and then at the ankle, turns to the other direction. The purpose for the dog is to make him an agile, fast and powerful hunter. The purpose on the golf course is to obscure the hole from the tee box. (Like it wasn't hard enough all ready.)

Have you ever landed in the "kitty litter," – the sand trap? Or worse yet, in the "jungle," – the rough? Both terms are self-explanatory. The one that continues to baffle, however, is the Scottish term for the fringe of grass that separates the fairway from the green. They call it the "Frog Hair." We all know frogs don't have hair, so here's the challenge. You're a smart group. Can any of you tell me how that term came about?

Thanks to Trooney for the photograph.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Animals in Golf

We are in a bit of a Sports/Animals theme with the NCAA National Championships. (To be fair, we need to say "Congratulations Lady Vols" for your win yesterday!) This week hosts another "major" sporting event that incorporates many animal phrases and references in the game. From its scoring to its history to its playing layout and surfaces, animal terms abound. The game's greatest player is even named Tiger. Of course I'm talking about The Masters.

Legend has it that golf was invented by bored shepherds in Scotland. While tending their flocks, the shepherds would occupy themselves by using their crooks to whack rocks into distant rabbit holes. As happens with humans, the pastime became competitive and the most addictive and frustrating of all sports was born.

Think you're the only one who has snuck away from work to grab a quick 9 holes? James II, King of Scotland, forced an Act of Parliament in 1457 banning golf. Seems his archers and soldiers were too busy playing the game to attend to their military training. Even so, to actually ban the sport offends my Scottish sensibilities. Probably why neither the ban, nor James II lasted for very long.

So "Thank You" to the astoundingly placid nature of sheep. Their unvaried, daily grazing gave the shepherds plenty of empty time. And "Thank You" to rabbits. Their proliferation provided plenty of chances for a "hole in one."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

National Basketball Championship

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk! KU!

Congratulations to the Men's KU Basketball Team – National Champions!

Did it really happen?

Yes, it did!

Monday, April 7, 2008

National Basketball Championship

We had fun matching up Mascots for the Big 12 Basketball Tournament. Now that the Kansas Jayhawks will be playing in the finals of the Men's National Championship, let's see if the Memphis Tigers can measure up – Animal-wise.

You can find the definition of a Jayhawk in our March Blog archives. Remember, a Jayhawk is not a real bird, but an amalgam of a Blue Jay and a Sparrow Hawk. A rather formidable creature if it ever did hatch into existence.

Tigers are the largest of all the wild cats. There are 6 recognized sub-species and they roam throughout Asia. Tigers are an apex predator; there is no more dominant animal in their environment. They prefer large game, such as buffalo, elk and boar. Although they can leap higher than any other cat, save the American Mountain Lion, tigers do not hunt birds. They do, however, kill an average of 50 people a year.

What does all this mean for the National Championship? Besides it promising to be a wonderful game, I really can't say. How do we at the Jungle Store want it to turn out? I'll answer by leaving you with another interesting animal fact. The Tiger's saliva contains natural antiseptics. All the better to lick its wounds with.

Thanks to KennKiser and Morgue File for the photo.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meet the Staff

Today it is my turn to share about my family’s companions. Owen is a lovely boy, supposedly a Flame-point Siamese. He is a rescue, found at a city-run shelter that has a very limited budget. Unfortunately, this shelter has a strict 1-week policy. If the owner does not come forward within 1 week, the animal is euthanized. Owen had been reprieved twice because the shelter workers loved him and believed he was a wonderful cat who deserved a chance at life. We found him at his third week in the shelter – third time’s a charm! Owen has the best personality I have ever seen in a cat, and I’ve owned some cats. He is a confident, playful, joyous companion.

Ensign is our Airedale. A long awaited friend. When Ensign was 18 months old, he had a massive seizure. We were terrified. What was wrong with our lovely dog? After testing, we found that Ensign had Epilepsy. An Epileptic Airedale. What were we to do?

Epilepsy is NOT an infrequent affliction among some pure-breed dogs - Beagles, Border Collies, Poodles, Collies and Spaniels in particular. Dogs can live long and happy lives, even when they suffer from Epilepsy. If your dog is diagnosed with Epilepsy, listen to your vet and understand that you have a dog that may need a bit more care. They do NOT need to be put down. Our dog takes daily medication. He plays with my sons, goes for long walks, knows all of his training and tries to steal food from the table. About every 6 months he has a seizure. It still scares us, but now we know what to do. We make sure he is comfortable, keep him safe and give him a quiet place to recover when the seizure is over. Ensign is now 5 years old, and is a wonderful member of our family. So what if he occasionally needs a little extra care. Who doesn’t?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Meet the Staff

One of our Interns has these two adorable pups as his companions. The little brownish guy is Oliver. Oliver is a mere 6 months old. According to his owner, Oliver's favorite activity is pooping in the house. Let's hope he finds a new hobby. Oliver is a Yorkshire Terrier, aka Yorkie.

The white dog is Murphy. Our intern says, "Murphy is the greatest dog that ever lived! Period!" Murphy is about 3 years old and, since he has better bathroom habits, he is allowed to go visiting. Murphy enjoys visiting. He is a Yorkie Maltese mix.

Hybrid dogs are becoming the latest, greatest fad with people paying high prices for Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever/Poodle), Cockapoos (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle), Pugles (Pug/Beagle) and, of course, Malkies, like our friend Murphy. Purests are not sure why the hybrids are gaining such popularity, especially here in America. Could it be that we Americans just want what we want? Even when it comes to our dogs?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Meet the Staff

The Manager of The Jungle Store is such an animal lover, she won't even eat them! She has owned Rats, Guinea Pigs, Frogs, Ducks, Geese, Turtles, Hamsters, Hedgehogs, Cockatiels, Gerbils, Chinchillas, Mice (which were saved from being fed to the class snake) and Fish. She would have shared her life with more critters, but her brother had pet allergies.

14 Million Americans suffer allergic reactions to pets. This is primarily caused by the pet's dander – tiny bits of skin that slough off daily. There are dog and cat breeds that cause only mild reactions, sometimes none at all. While researching the pet that is best suited to you and your family, you may wish to take the "allergy factor" into account.

Now that our Manager has her own home, she shares her life with these friends:
Hermit crabs Mr. Crabs, Crabby Patty and Patrick Star (he's the one in the pink shell). Some might say that Hermit crabs are easy to tend to, but they do require special care and a warm, moist environment.
Raisin is her owner's favorite companion. She was chosen out of foster care when she was 8 months old. Her mom was a Shar Pei, her dad, a mystery. Raisin loves to sleep, nap and dress-up. She's a great runner and finished third in our local Dog & Jog race. She promises a first place finish this year.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Meet the Staff

25% of the dogs that enter an animal shelter are purebred. Luke was one of those 25%. His original owner released him to the shelter, complaining that the dog was untrainable. On the shelter's release form, this man admitted that his method of training was hitting/kicking the 8lb miniature pinscher. In frustration at the dog's lack of obedience, this owner finally chained the dog outside, 24 hours a day. That isn't a life for any animal, let alone one so small and delicate.

By the time Luke got to the shelter he was 10 months old and 4lbs underweight. Due to past treatment by his owner, Luke was classified with "issues" and slated for euthanasia. Back then our employee was a behavior specialist at the shelter. She knew with hard work, patience and love she could save this dog. Despite a self-made promise that she would not adopt, Luke joined her family. 3 years later he is a model (if mischievous) canine citizen.

Share your animal stories and photos. We'll post them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Meet the Staff

Hope you enjoyed our little joke yesterday. Of course we don't have such exotic pets here at The Jungle Store. Those animals all require special, knowledgeable care to stay happy and healthy. We understand that to take on the responsibility of a pet is a commitment we hold for that pet's lifetime. Sometimes situations happen that make it impossible to keep our pets. In these cases it is still the owner's responsibility to see that the pet finds a new home or is placed in the care of a reputable shelter.

Approximately 10 million animals enter shelters every year. Only one quarter of these animals end up being adopted. Some may be reclaimed by their owners. A staggering 60% of dogs and 70% of cats in shelters end up being euthanized due to over-crowding, aggressiveness, illness and/or lack of adoptability.

Our next Staff Member (she handles Customer Care) looked for just such an "unadoptable" companion. At a local shelter she found Roscoe. Roscoe wasn't aggressive. He wasn't old. He wasn't sick. What classified Roscoe as unadoptable were . . . ahem . . . his looks. To some, Roscoe lacked a certain canine aesthetic. Was it the wart on his nose? Could it be the scruffy coat and uneven ears? Perhaps because of his prominent lower lip? (Have you ever seen a dog with lips?) Regardless, he languished until our Staff person saw his inner beauty. Roscoe is a dog who enjoys other dogs and people, long walks on the beach and an energetic game of tug-o-war. But most of all, Roscoe enjoys just sitting with his owner, radiating unquestionable affection, loyalty and love. What can be more beautiful than that?

Roscoe P. Coltrain III

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meet the Staff

Do you know of any company pets? Surely you've walked into a little boutique or a quirky bookstore and been met by the cat, dog, budgie or bunny that thinks they run things. Interaction with animals reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and prolongs your good health. We, at the Jungle Store, take our health very seriously and so our President has made sure to give us plenty of company pets to keep us calm and happy.

Malcom likes to stay close by our office's front doors. He's great at letting us know when guests arrive.

We have to keep Norton and Bruno at opposite ends of the warehouse. They tend to fight. Once we installed the company pool though, Norton got a lot happier. He spends the majority of his day there. The staff won't swim with him anymore as he tends to splash.

Patty, Maxine and Laverne help us oversee climate control. They get rather territorial about that thermostat.

Last week it was my turn to sort out a brief altercation among the Jamison Brothers. I don't know how many times we have to say it. Everybody gets just one donut on Fridays.

Iggy spends the warmer part of the day keeping the parkway free of weeds. What would we do without him?

Susan tends to the landscaping. She'll probably need more staff before the summer is over.

Last but not least, when something absolutely, positively must be there overnight, we ask Spike to take it. He's got a way with big packages.
Happy April Fools