Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interior Crocodile Alligator

I really don't know what to say about this except that the montage is awesome... Freshwater crocodiles never looked so cool. :D

Friday, January 23, 2009

Severe Budget Cuts Proposed to the WCS

Governor David Paterson of New York recently offered one solution to help with the slumping economy: to cut funding for the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, both managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, by 55% this year and totally eliminating support by 2010.

Needless to say, this is a disastrous blow to an organization that got its start in 1895, and since then has contributed to major successes in the conservation of various species. The WCS not only manages one of the most reputable zoos in the country, but also leads conservation projects around the world and provides funding for other hard-working organizations (such as the Virunga National Park Rangers protecting mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo).

These proposed budget cuts will be devastating to the animals, to the employees, to the education of the public in regards to the environment and wildlife issues, to scientific research, and to the future of many conservation projects. In a time when the world is in more need of aid and care than ever before, this is one of the worst things that could happen to an organization that supports the cause.

Please visit the WCS's website, and click on the links to find out more, and find out what petitions you can sign. Write a letter to Gov. Paterson. It shouldn't take you more than ten minutes. Show that not just New Yorkers but Americans from every state care about the survival of the WCS and the animals under their care.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Species Found off the Coast of Australia!

I'm copy and pasting this article from I get so stoked whenever new species are found; it reminds us exactly how much about our planet we still don't know and reminds us to tread lightly! Please read!

Scientists find new creatures of Australian deep

SYDNEY (AFP) – Scientists said Sunday they had uncovered new marine animals in their search of previously unexplored Australian waters, along with a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt and ocean-dwelling spiders.

A joint US-Australian team spent a month in deep waters off the coast of the southern island of Tasmania to "search for life deeper than any previous voyage in Australian waters," lead researcher Ron Thresher said.

What they found were not only species new to science -- including previously undescribed soft corals -- but fresh indications of global warming's threat to the country's unique marine life.

"Our sampling documented the deepest known Australian fauna, including a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt, sea spiders and giant sponges, and previously unknown marine communities dominated by gooseneck barnacles and millions of round, purple-spotted sea anemones," Thresher said.

Using a submersible car-sized robot named Jason, the team explored a rift in the earth's crust known as the Tasman Fracture Zone, a sheer two kilometre (1.24 mile) drop to 4,000 metres (13,200 feet) below the ocean's surface.

Blogging on board the ship, researcher Adam Subhas said the team witnessed some "cool biology" as they descended the fracture, including the sea squirt, which he described as "basically an underwater Venus fly trap, but much bigger."

The sea squirt, also known as an ascidian, stands 50 centimetres tall on the sea floor at a depth of just over 4,000 metres. It traps prey in its funnel-like front section if they touch it when they swim past.

"The geology was fascinating too -- the sediment was incredibly fine and lightly packed; it made me think of powder snow," Subhas wrote.

Fossil coral fields were found, dating back more than 10,000 years. Thresher said samples taken would provide ancient climate data for use in global warming projections.

"Modern-day deep-water coral reefs were also found, however, there is strong evidence that this reef system is dying, with most reef-forming coral deeper than 1,300 metres newly dead," he said.

Though close analysis of samples was still required, Thresher said modelling suggested ocean acidification could be responsible.

"If our analysis identifies this phenomenon as the cause of the reef system's demise, then the impact we are seeing now below 1,300 metres might extend to the shallower portions of the deep-reefs over the next 50 years, threatening this entire community," he said.

Rising sea temperatures are blamed on global warming caused by the build-up in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide -- which is also blamed for higher acidity in sea water.

A UN report warned in 2007 that Australia's Great Barrier Reef, described as the world's largest living organism, could be killed by climate change within decades.

The World Heritage site and major tourist attraction, stretching over more than 345,000 square kilometres (133,000 square miles) off Australia's east coast, could become "functionally extinct", the report said.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Conservation in Action: Budongo Forest

Here is a new video that I made of my old coworker from the Oakland Zoo, Sarah Cramer. In it she talks about her visit with the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda where she got an exclusive lesson on how snares are used by poachers and their effects on the forest's resident wildlife. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Food for Thought

I just began reading Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, by Lawrence Anthony, when I came across this passage that I felt compelled to share:

"I knew noting about Iraq and the politics of war. But what I did know was that in all human hostilities animals have suffered horrifically and often anonymously. Unable to flee or defend or feed themselves, they either were slaughtered wholesale in the initial assaults or died agonizingly from thirst and hunger later, locked and desperate in their cages. Or worse, they were callously shot by blood-crazed soldiers just for the hell of it.

"It happened when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait; it had happened in Kosovo; it had happened in Afghanistan.

"In fact, the awful images of the Kabul Zoo crippled in the aftermath of the Afghan Taliban war still haunt me. When the American forces liberated the city from the Taliban, they found the last remaining lion, Marjan, alone in his filthy cage. Starving and dehydrated, he had shrapnel embedded in his neck and jaw and was half-blind from a grenade attack and riddled with mange and lice. It was too late to save him."

This of course hits home with me.

All animals affected by war are victims. Including those that are trained to aid in the violence.

"An Israeli army dog attacks a Palestinian woman as soldiers carry out an army raid in the West Bank village of Obadiya, near the Biblical town of Bethlehem, 21 March 2007. According to eye witnesses the dog saw the woman from across a field and ran towards her, as Israeli soldiers tried to control the canine. The Israeli military carried out several raids into the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank, arresting Palestinians and killing one man in the northern city of Nablus." (Courtesy of Ghetty Images)

"A U.S. soldier holds a dog in front an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib prison on
the outskirts of Baghdad in this undated photo." (AP/The Washington Post)

"An unmuzzled dog frightens a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Two military dog handlers told investigators that intelligence personnel ordered them to use dogs to intimidate prisoners." (AP/The Washington Post)

Food for thought.