Friday, July 31, 2009

Dancing with the Clownfish

You may recognize the clown anemonefish or clownfish because of its bright orange color and three white stripes. Or you might recognize it from the movie Finding Nemo. This clownfish is named after the sea anemones in which it inhabits. A layer of mucus surrounding the fish’s skin protects them from the anemones’ poisonous sting. To become comfortable amongst the anemones, the clownfish performs a ritualistic dance with an anemone before deciding to live there. In exchange for protection and food scraps, the clownfish scares off intruders and removes unwanted parasites.

Bonus Fact: All clownfish are born male. They can change sexes; however, they only do when they want to become the dominant female of the group because the change is irreversible.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weighing in on Elephant Teeth

Did you know that one elephant's tooth weighs about 9 pounds? The average human tooth weighs less than 10 grams!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birds of Paradise Dance for Mates

Birds of Paradise are some of the world’s most attractive and unique-looking birds. Their bright colors and long, ruffled feathers make them stand out. Even their mating rituals are one of a kind. To gain attention from females, the males engage in various dances and rituals to flaunt their appearance even more. These performances can last hours and often consume a large portion of the male’s time. Watch the video below to see what I'm talking about:

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Numbing Stingray

Stingrays hunt with electrical sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini, just like sharks. These organs, located around the mouth, can detect the natural electrical charges of surrounding prey. Stingrays usually feeds on clams, oysters and mussels, but their spine or barb can produce enough venom that can be deadly, or at least numbing, to humans. In fact, in Ancient Greece, dentists used the stingray’s venom as an anesthetic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Whales Hunt in Packs

Orcas or killer whales hunt in pods or packs of up to 40 whales, similar to the way wolves hunt. They also use echolocation to communicate and hunt together. By producing sounds that bounce off of other objects, they can determine the location, size and shape of their prey. Largest of the dolphins, the killer whale is a predator that hunts on fish, seals and other whales.

Make sure to check out the Jungle Store for whale souvenirs

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pit Bull Terriers Can Be Your Best Friend Too

My dog, Sahara, turns one this week, so in honor of her, I wanted to take a moment and explain to people why I love her, even though she is a pit bull terrier. Pit bull terriers are one of the most misunderstood breeds. While, yes, people in the past have raised these dogs to fight, that doesn’t mean that they’re an aggressive breed. In fact, it only reflects on their obedience and easy-to-train traits. They are actually a very good family dog because they’re loyal, and they love people. In fact, the American Pit Bull Terrier was the most popular family dog in the first part of the 20th century. It’s not this breed’s fault that the wrong people took this eager-to-please breed and trained them to fight. And it’s also not their fault that the media blew these stories out of proportion. I just wanted to take today to explain my love for this breed because I hate that people act nervous or scared every time I tell people what kind of dog I have. After reading this, I hope that you give pit bulls a second chance and actually hold out your hand to them because all they’re going to do is sniff it and lick it, not bite it. 

Unfortunately, the only photo I have of her is when she was only a couple of months old (pictured above), but I found one that looks exactly like her now, except she’s all black instead of having a white spot on her chest (pictured below).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sea Turtles Swim Far

Loggerhead sea turtles are the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles. They have large heads, strong jaws and a reddish-brown shell, and they can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. On average, they’re about 250 pounds though. As far as turtles go, the sea turtles are fast, swimming up to 15 miles per hour. In fact, female loggerheads will sometimes swim thousands of miles to lay her eggs in the exact place that she was born. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Walruses Use Their Tusks

Both female and male walruses have tusks that can grow up to three feet long and grow throughout their lives. They use these tusks to haul their bodies through cold water, to break ice and to protect themselves from other animals.

For walrus stuffed animals and other walrus products, visit the Jungle Store

Friday, July 17, 2009

Need a Giraffe? Zoo Animals Look for Place to Live

Our economic turmoil has reached a new low. Two state-funded zoos, Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, may have to close due to an over 50 percent budget cut imposed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. They originally were granted $6.5 million for the 2010 year, but now that number has dropped to $2.5 million. If the zoos don’t get that money back, they will have only two options: to either send animals off to other zoos or to euthanize them! Lawyers are looking into getting the $4 million back, but if they don’t, the zoos will need to find new homes for over 1,000 animals. Of course, there are cutbacks at other zoos too, so my guess is they will not find enough places for these animals to go. While a zoo is usually thought of as a place that protects animals, now the exact opposite may happen.

What do you think about budget cutbacks at zoos? Please comment below.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Smoothest Shells

The golden cowrie is a marine snail — the largest of its kind. Its shell is smooth and polished; in fact, they protect their shell with their mantle lobes whenever they move. Golden cowrie shells were once used as currency and religious symbols in the South Pacific, and tribal leaders would wear one around their neck as a sign of status. Nowadays, these shells are considered treasure among shell collectors because they are some of the hardest to find.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Transsexual Fish is Friendliest in the Sea

The blue groper is a favorite among scuba divers because of its friendly nature. This transsexual fish also has the ability to change gender. To stay protected from other animals, there is usually a certain amount of male gropers in the group, and that gender ratio rarely changes. If a male dies off, the most dominant female takes the role of changing into a male. However, unlike some transsexual animals, once a groper changes from female to male, they can’t go back. This means they can no longer breed or produce eggs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From the Surface

Manitees, often called sea cows, are marine mammals that never leave the water, but must breathe air at the surface. They are born underwater, but their mothers instantly help them up to take their first breath. After only an hour, they can swim on their own, but at only 15 miles per hour. They are known for being rather slow mammals.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Millions of Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs live in underground burrows that have an extensive amount of tunnels and rooms. They’re very social rodents that live in family groups (a male, a few females, and their young) or even communities called towns. The largest prairie dog community ever discovered was in Texas. It covered about 25,000 square miles and was home to almost 400 million prairie dogs!

Friday, July 10, 2009

As Prickly as a Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are named after their foraging skills. They search through hedges and other brush to find food, such as insects, worms, mice, frogs and snakes. They use their coat as a defense to warn off predators, by closing up into prickly balls that appear unappetizing. They often stay in this position when they’re sleeping during the day, and then they wake up to hunt at night.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Otters are Waving

My boyfriend recently visited the beach and claims to have had “a moment” with a sea otter. In fact, he swears one waved at him! Whether or not I believe him — I’m not sure I do — I was intrigued and decided to learn more about this neighborly animal.

Sea otters are very social animals, floating in groups of sometimes less than 10 to more than 100 (and occasionally waving at humans). They are the smallest marine mammal, but an adult can weigh up to 70 pounds and reach 5 feet in length. Sea otters are especially known for their fur, which is the finest of any mammal, consisting of 850,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch. They depend on their fur to keep them warm in the water. Early in the 20th century, otters almost became extinct because of fur trappers, hunting them for their coats, but now there are up to 150,000.
Check out the Jungle Store for some otter stuffed animals and other otter-related gifts.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

California Sea Lions: Fastest of Their Kind

The California Sea Lion is the fastest of any other sea lion or seal, reaching to speeds of about 25 miles per hour. It has a sleeker figure, and doesn’t have the typical lion-like mane. California sea lions have the ability to slow their heart rate down, allowing them to dive under the water and hold their breath for ten minutes at a time. Sometimes they will hunt continuously for up to 30 hours with several dives lasting three to five minutes throughout the hunt. They are very cooperative animals and are often the ones in circus shows balancing balls on their noses.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blue Feet Attract Mate

The blue-footed booby has some attractive feet — at least to its female counterpart. The male blue-footed booby takes pride in its blue feet because they are a big part of its mating ritual. Apart from their vivacious color — the bluer the feet the more attractive the mate — they show off their feet in a high-stepping walk to attract females. However, these feet aren’t just for show; they can also be used to cover the up their chicks and keep them warm.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Colony of Organisms Creates One Man-Of-War

The Portugese Man-of-War resembles a jellyfish, but it’s not even related to one; in fact, it’s a siphonophore, which is an animal made up of multiple organisms. The man-of-war is made up of four separate parts: the large jellyfish-looking bladder, the mass of tentacles, one part containing digestive organisms and one made up of reproductive organisms. Altogether, these four different kinds of organisms create a larger than six-foot long mass that has venomous tentacles up to 165 feet long. These animals can be sometimes found in groups of 1,000 in warm waters. In the event of a sting, they would most likely just cause pain instead of death to a human, although their tentacles are quite venomous.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Don't Touch a Lionfish

The lionfish, also known as the turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, is small, but deadly to most animals that touch it. Its 18 twig-like dorsal fins are equipped with venom used mainly for defense. It uses its feathery fins to group small fish into a smaller space, where the lionfish can then swallow them. Although the lionfish carries venom, it rarely causes death in humans.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Liger vs. Tigon

Ligers (left) and tigons (right) are similar because they both are the result of a crossbreed between a lion and a tiger; however, they have some distinct differences. Ligers are more common because the breeding process for them is easier. A liger is born to a male lion and a female tiger, inheriting most characteristics from its lion father. However, like their tigon ancestor, the liger loves to swim when most lions do not. The liger is usually a golden color with muted stripes (from the tiger parent) and spots (from the lion parent). They inherit the best qualities from both parents, including their size, which makes the liger one of the biggest cats in the world (unlike its tigon counterpart). There is greater interest in the liger specifically because of its massive size.
The tigon is born to a male tiger and female lion, and it is significantly smaller then the liger and usually both parents. It has the same features — muted stripes and spots and a golden coat — of the liger; however, it is often born prematurely and has a shorter lifespan. Both the liger and tigon are members of the genus Panthera; they don’t have a scientific name because of their human assisted ancestry.