Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

World’s largest egg up for sale

March 28, 2009

Believed to be the planet’s biggest egg laid in the 17th century by an elephant bird of Madagascar, the huge orb is up for sale in a Chelsea antique fair.

Offered for 5,000 pounds (about $7,000) in UK this week, the egg has a circumference of more than a meter. It is supposed to have been laid by a now-extinct flightless big bird larger than an ostrich —scientifically called (Aepyornis maximus) which stands about 10 to 11 feet. The egg’s volume is about 160x more than that of the chicken. (Photo Credit: wikipedia; http://wagerwebentertainmente/) =0=

Elephant Bird (Aepyornis maximus)

Class: Aves
Order: Struthioniformes
Suborder: Aepyornithes
Family: Aepyornithidae
Thumbnail description: Extinct, large, flightless birds of massive build, known only from fragmentary fossil remains
Size: Some species probably 10 ft (3 m), 880 lb (400 kg)
Number of genera, species: 2 genera; 7 species
Habitat: Thought to have inhabited woodland and forest in southwest Madagascar
Conservation status: Extinct
Distribution: Madagascar


The danger of keeping a chimpanzee at home

February 20, 2009

There is that report of octuplets born to a jobless, unmarried, emotionally unstable woman on welfare in California with already 6 children. A 13-year old boy in Great Britain became a father after his 15 year-old girl friend gave birth to a newborn baby girl. On Monday, February 16, 2009, a rampaging chimpanzee owned by a 70year old lonely widow mauled a lady-friend who sustained severe facial injuries and body mutilation before the animal was gunned down by policemen who responded to an emergency call for help.

These are three recent incidents which make us think of what must be done with our society. Are we ready to accept a woman’s decision to have 14 babies even if she can’t afford raising them? Who is to take responsibility when a boy who has no inkling of what fatherhood is all about sires an infant? Why do we allow ordinary citizens to keep dangerous pets like this chimpanzee that savagely attacks people?

Sandra Herold took care of Travis like her own child until the 14-year old chimp turned violent almost killing 55 year old Charla Nash of Stamford, CT. Herold’s husband and daughter died years ago and she had been so bonded to the chimpanzee, a 176 lbs. hairy animal so dangerous to keep at home.

Authorities have not said whether Herold will face criminal charges. Connecticut state law allowed her to own the chimp as a pet, though several state leaders are calling for tighter restrictions in the wake of Monday’s attack.”—AP (02/19/09, Christoffersen, J)

The distraught and grieving widow said she gave her primate friend all-out love, offered him the best food, droved him to enjoy car rides, served him wine in tall glasses, and shared a bed to sleep together. However, the unusual bond between the two is worrisome. It makes us seriously consider the human limits in dealing with animals. Wild animals deserve to live in the wild. With the gory incident, it is time to enact laws against raising dangerous pets at home. (Photo Credit: Claire Middsy) =0=


Hundreds of dolphins disoriented in shallow Philippine waters

February 11, 2009

There’s a great deal of empathy that was elicited by the sight of hundreds of dolphins stranded in shallow waters of Orion and Pilar, Bataan, somewhere close to Manila Bay in the Philippines. For reasons that aren’t clear, the docile and friendly sea mammals were stranded on Tuesday, February 10, 2008, unable to swim back to deeper waters.

Fishermen and town folks from neighboring villages came in droves to help drive the melon-head dolphins, numbering about 200 to 300, back to sea. Admirably, the villagers followed the appeal of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to help and not harm the marooned animals.

“The unusual occurrence may have been triggered by a sea quake that could have damaged the dolphins’ eardrums and disoriented them, or the pod could have been following a sick or injured leader, Malcolm Sarmiento, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said in a telephone interview.”—-AOL News/ AP (02/10/09, Marquez, B; Cerojano, C)

Though the group of agile air-breathing animals eventually made it to the open sea, there were three dolphins found dead. One was pregnant and one was a young baby. According to the animal doctor who examined the remains, two adult dolphins revealed fractured eardrums. (Photo Credit: Malaya) =0=


Aardvark in Detroit Zoo

December 30, 2008

Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a nocturnal animal of Africa that thrives on ants and termites. Because of its pig-like features, it is also called earth pig or earth hog.

Known to live in savannahs, grasslands, and rain forests, the mammal with a characteristic elongated snout, hairy body, sharp claws, and large ears shares some features of the South American anteater. In captivity it grows to 88 to 123 lbs and lives to up to 23 years.

Africans admire the aardvark’s relentless search for food at night. The porcine-like warm-blooded animal lives in burrows and comes out at night to forage in an area that can extend form 10 to 20 kilometers. With poor eyesight, the earth hog whose natural predator includes leopards and lions is hunted by humans for bush meat. In a Detroit Zoo a newborn aardvark is born showing how unusual animals try to survive in captivity. (Photo Credit: Mark Gaskill/ Detroit Zoo)=0=


Pygmy tarsier of Indonesia rediscovered after 85 years & a five-petalled mountain flower in Mindanao, Philippines named

November 23, 2008

The Indonesian Pygmy Tarsier (Tarsius pumila)

This week, Indonesia’s pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), the close cousin of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta,) is reported to be thriving in the tropical forest of the island of Sulawesi. Said to be extinct since 85 years ago, the small primate which looks like a monkey approximates the size of a mouse, weighing about 2 ounces and measuring 4 inches.

The nocturnal tailed animal which lives on trees mainly thrives on insects but also eats small crustaceans, lizards, and other tiny animals. Covered by thick brown-gray fur reminiscent of the “gremlins,” it has a characteristic big pair of eyes, proptosed like oversized shiny buttons.

A group of scientists headed by Texas A & M University Sharon Gursky-Doyen have been following up the pygmy tarsiers until they captured three which were fitted with radio collars for more studies.

Coincident to the rediscovery of the pygmy tarsier is the identification of a new plant species which grows in Cagayan, Philippines. Named after Leonard Co, a botanist of the Conservation International, Rafflesia leonardi is unique for its 5-petalled parasitic blooms with no leaves, stems, and roots.

Rafflesia leonardi

Found in the rainforest of Kidapawan, Mindanao, 300 to 700 meters above sea level in the environs of Mount Apo, the rare flower fully blooms in about 10 months and wilts in 7 days. The new species which was identified last May 2008 is the 4th Rafflesia discovered in Luzon and the 8th in the country.

Two things come to mind. First is the growing need for nature conservation in the face of the dangers of extinction of both fauna and flora. Second, human interference (i.e. loss of habitat, predation, pollution etc.) in the lives of these plants and animals may have both beneficial and deleterious consequences which may affect species survival. (Photo Credits: YahooNews/SharonGurskyDoyen; YahooNewsPhilippines; Mediatejack) =0=

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

Outside the Philippines, a number of relatives of the Philippine tarsier can be found, among them the Bornean tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) of Borneo and Sumatra, the spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrum), the lesser spectral tarsier or pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), and Dian’s tarsier (Tarsius dianae) of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The pygmy tarsier, by the way, is considerably smaller than the Philippine tarsier, while the pygmy mouse lemur, found only in Madagascar, is now being recognized as the smallest primate in the world.

The tarsier was first introduced to Western biologists through the description given to J. Petiver by the missionary J.G. Camel of an animal said to have come from the Philippines (Hill, 1955). Petiver published Camel’s description in 1705 and named the animal Cercopithecus luzonis minimus which was the basis for Linnaeus’ (1758) Simia syrichta and eventually Tarsius syrichta. Among the locals, the tarsier is known as “mamag”, “mago”, “magau”, “maomag”, “malmag” and “magatilok-iok”.” Source: Tarsier Foundation.

RELATED BLOGS: “Palawan wildlife faces near extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 9/14/2008; “Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 10/23/2008

My caged munias & the birds in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s mind

November 20, 2008

The captive munias (rignos, mayas; chestnut mannikins,) didn’t escape my mind when I read the old elegant lines from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s paean for the birds, part of what he wrote in May-Day and Other Pieces. The 19th century American essayist-poet’s beautifully crafted words made my heart thumping as thoughts of childhood crossed my mind. All the birds which I wanted as pets died. I was regretful. From the ugly experience, I wondered if I truly learned wholesome values mentioned by the great inspiring American writer-philosopher in the following lines:

O birds, your perfect virtues bring,
Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight,
Your manners for your heart’s delight,
Nestle in hedge, or barn, or roof,
Here weave your chamber weather-proof,
Forgive our harms, and condescend
To man, as to a lubber friend,
And, generous, teach his awkward race
Courage, and probity, and grace!”

—from May Day and Other Pieces by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I felt remorse over keeping those mayas in a small bamboo cage. For measly 5 centavos each, I bought the tiny birds at the gate of the grade school where I studied. At home, I was excited to play with the popular avian species which frequent the grasses and rice paddies of Bicol. With fast wings ready to fly, their feet were restrained by strings tied on my hand.

The mayas were good to see inside the bamboo cage on the window sill. Each time I went near, feathers hummed like the sound of an electric razor. Brighter and more vibrant than Joseph’s dream coat, their fluffy feathers and tiny feet were wonderful.

I sensed their fear and boredom even if I fed them with rice grains from the fields. It was stupid of me to egg them to bathe in a water basin the way ducks do in the marsh. Recalling how they groomed when rain left pools of water on the pavement outside, I watched them flap their fiery brown wings. I craved that they lay eggs in a nest I made from dried zakate leaves.

Their silvery beaks were no match to the rigid bamboo enclosure which they tried to break. Their brown puzzling eyes sought every little chance to escape and be free.

If they could speak, they might have insisted flying up the lemon tree or have them build nests in a bush as thorny as the bougainvilleas. I heard them burst in a beautiful song with the soul of a passing breeze. In spite of my watch, all of them didn’t last. One after another, they died.

Although I was pure and diligent in my care for the munias, I knew they succumbed to stress. The alert birds badly needed liberty and they might have been distressed like the idle prisoners in jail. So self-absorbed of having them, I couldn’t resist keeping them in the cage. At that age, I had little idea what cruelty meant.

Nobody convinced me that my effort to make the birds happy made them even more sad. Had I known, I would have treated them humanely by just setting them free. As Ralph Waldo Emerson whose respect for nature and God were strong when he wrote years ago, I couldn’t resist saying, “forgive our harms, and condescend.” (Photo Credits: Edmondcv210;____; neon2rosell; CharlesLam; floridapfd; GurpalKaher; Nils) =0

T. S. Eliot and the magical cats

October 24, 2008

The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names…” – T.S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot (Sept. 26, 1888-Jan. 4 1965,) the famous dramatist, critic, and poet who won the 1948 Nobel Prize in literature wrote on the cat’s human-like temperament, behavior, and social disposition.

His book of light verse called “ Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats ” is a collection of imaginative poems which he shared with children.

Published in 1939, his written work on Felis catus (Linnaeus) was the basis of the successful long-running Broadway show: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats.” After its closure in 2000 in the Winter Garden Theatre, “Cats” which widely appealed to children and adults alike became one of Great White Way’s most memorable theatre musicales.

The same cats are featured in the 6th Annual CFA-lams Cat Championship in Madison Square Garden in New York, New York which runs till the third week of October 2008. The endearing feline masterpieces are no different from those adored and whimsically described from Egyptian antiquities over the millennia.

In the cat exhibition, the calm aloof winner is Blade Runner, the Russian blue cat with a detached luminous look and seemingly independent, sometimes obstinate disposition. He is dubbed as the best in the show. With his colored award ribbon, he quietly sits still, perhaps to think of important things other than the vanity of winning.

The fluffy brown sleepy ball of fur with pampered chink pair of lazy eyes is called Rusty, the Persian cat. He curls up to take time for his extended nap, an average of 16 hours a day required by his species.

There is the costumed feline glamour with green standing plumage on her head, sporting that erect pair of large sensitive ears and mysterious worried gaze. Her name is Masquerade, the Sphynx cat. She is cared for by doting owner Sandra Alder.

Other notables in the show with remarkable soft manes, proud tails, and splendid names are Pocahontas, Baldwin, Renegade, Winter, Jay Jay, and Rizzo who wowed the feline lovers in the crowd. Nowhere to be found is the sly, agile, and conjuring Mr. Mistoffelees, one of T.S. Eliot’s beloved cats. (Photo Credits: jonathanmoreau; ChipEast/Reuters; FrankFranklinII/AFP;; yokviv; fofurasfelinas) =0=

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.”

Well I never!
Was there ever
A cat so clever
As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees
!” —T.S. Eliot


Weight-lifting parrot

October 8, 2008

In Shenyang, China red-feathered parrot make full use of the beak to lift a barbell to the delight of onlookers. Photo Credit: =0=

Naked chicken can’t mate

October 2, 2008

The featherless chicken developed by scientists of the Rehovot Agronomy Institute in Tel Aviv,Israel has received mixed reviews. Bred from a meaty broiler and a featherless bird, the naked chicken is thought to be genetic engineering’s answer to the costly cooling systems needed to raise fowls in places with hot weather. Without the feathers, preparing the chicken for dinner will be easier.

Yet, others disagree. Feathers are essential natural protection of fowls from changes of weather and infestations of parasites. Constrained in movement, the birds suffer. Without feathers, they become susceptible to skin diseases, mosquito bites, and sunburn. Naked chickens cannot mate because they are clumsy and unable to flap their wings.

Those concerned with the welfare of animals say humans have no business making the chickens ugly. It’s obscene to tinker with genes, produce “frankenfood” for the convenience of the poultry industry. Photo Credits:; xtywebworks) =0=

Mourning Gorilla

August 22, 2008

On August 20, 2008, Gana, the mother gorilla in her home in Muenster, Germany is downtrodden with the death of her newborn.

The loss is as heavy as the subdued emotion she displays in her sullen face. Her baby, compressed, dehydrated, and unresponsive four days after it died, rests precariously on her back before she comes to terms with the unspeakable loss.

Disconsolate and grieving, she silently caresses a baby gorilla, a live one born to Changa, another primate in the zoo. (PhotoCredit: AP/Augstein, F)