What does a baby moose look like? (photos)

June 12th, 2011

Moose and mom are doing fine. Photo courtesy of ZSL's Whipsnade Zoo.
Moose and mom are doing fine. Photo courtesy of ZSL’s Whipsnade Zoo.

It’s true that moose, also known as European elk (Alces alces), are odd looking animals, yet that doesn’t prevent their babies from being as endearing as any others. This baby moose, named Chocolate (get it?), was born at Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo in late May.

The moose are apart of the European Breeding Program. Photo courtesy of ZSL's Whipsnade Zoo.
The moose are apart of the European Breeding Program. Photo courtesy of ZSL’s Whipsnade Zoo.

A closer look at Chocolate, the moose. Photo courtesy of ZSL's Whipsnade Zoo..
A closer look at Chocolate, the moose. Photo courtesy of ZSL’s Whipsnade Zoo.

Happy world oceans day! (photos)

June 8th, 2011

Coastline in Colombia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Coastline in Colombia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Celebrated since 1992, today is World Oceans Day! As apart of the day’s festivities, conservation organization Oceana is asking people to become Ocean Heroes by pledging to recycle, clean up a local waterway, or eat only sustainable seafood for the summer!

Purple-striped jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Purple-striped jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Leopard shark in a kelp forest at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Leopard shark in a kelp forest at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Overlooking the ocean at dawn on Bunaken Island in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Overlooking the ocean at dawn on Bunaken Island in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Tufted puffin in Alaska. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Tufted puffin in Alaska. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mangroves and seagrass in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler
Mangroves and seagrass in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Red starfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Red starfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Rain coming in over beach in Suriname. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
Rain coming in over beach in Suriname. Photo by: Jeremy Hance..

Moon jellyfish (Aurelia labiata) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Moon jellyfish (Aurelia labiata)at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Critically Endangered leatherback sea turtle returning to the sea in Suriname after laying eggs. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
Critically Endangered leatherback sea turtle returning to the sea in Suriname after laying eggs. Photo by: Jeremy Hance..

Islands off Bird's Head, northern New Guinea . Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Islands off Bird’s Head, northern New Guinea . Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Humpback breaching in Alaska. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Humpback breaching in Alaska. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Green sea anemone at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Green sea anemone at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Overlooking the ocean at sunset on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Overlooking the ocean at sunset on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Antelope release! (photos)

June 7th, 2011

Red hartebeest release. Photo courtesy of Colchester Zoo: Action for the Wild.
Red hartebeest release. Photo courtesy of Colchester Zoo: Action for the Wild.

Three antelope species were recently released at the Umphafa Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in an ongoing effort to restore an over-cultivated area. In all 7 impala, 21 red hartebeest, and 22 blue wildebeest were released.

“These recent releases are exciting developments for UmPhafa. The releases of the wildebeest represent the first for this species on UmPhafa and the new populations of red hartebeest and impala will serve to top up our existing herds. It is hoped that these species will go on to breed in the future and help us on our way to reaching carrying capacity for these species,” said Rebecca Perry, Conservation Director, in a press release.

The reserve was opened in 2006 by Action for the Wild, the conservation organization of Colchester Zoo. To date, 13 species have been released in the 5,000 hectare protected area, including giraffe, zebra, blesbok, servals, African rock pythons, common reedbuck, nyala, waterbuck, leopard tortoises and white rhinos.

Impala release. Photo courtesy of Colchester Zoo: Action for the Wild.
Impala release. Photo courtesy of Colchester Zoo: Action for the Wild.

Blue wildebeest release. Photo courtesy of Colchester Zoo: Action for the Wild.
Blue wildebeest release. Photo courtesy of Colchester Zoo: Action for the Wild.

Happy world turtle day! (photos)

May 23rd, 2011

Baby marine turtle taking its first step out to sea in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Baby marine turtle taking its first step out to sea in Costa Rica. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Yes, there is a World Turtle Day created by the American Tortoise Rescue! And today (May 23rd) is that day!

Ancient leopard tortoise in Uganda. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Ancient leopard tortoise in Uganda. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Sumatran freshwater turtle. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Sumatran freshwater turtle. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Leatherback sea turtle returning to the sea after laying eggs in Suriname. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
Sumatran freshwater turtle. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.

Radiated tortoise in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Radiated tortoise in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

T-rex leech discovered in a person’s nose just one of the top ten new species of 2010 (photos)

May 23rd, 2011

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University has selected its top ten new species from 2010. While all the species are extraordinary, one was discovered in a most baffling--one may say painful--manner: taken from the nasal mucous membrane of a person in a Peruvian clinic. This 2-inch leech is named Tyrannobdella rex, which means 'tyrant leech king', because of a resemblance to the extinct T-Rex: both share a massive jaw and gigantic teeth. Imagine having that up your nose! The image above shows  the Tyrannobdella rex's anterior sucker exhibiting velar mouth and longitudinal slit through which the dorsal jaw protrudes when feeding. Scale bar is 1 mm.
The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University has selected its top ten new species from 2010. While all the species are extraordinary, one was discovered in a most baffling, manner: taken from the nasal mucous membrane of a person in a Peruvian clinic. This 2-inch leech is named Tyrannobdella rex, which means ‘tyrant leech king’, because of a resemblance to the extinct T-Rex: both share a massive jaw and gigantic teeth. Imagine having that up your nose! The image above shows the Tyrannobdella rex’s anterior sucker exhibiting velar mouth and longitudinal slit through which the dorsal jaw protrudes when feeding. Scale bar is 1 mm. .

The T-rex nose-embedding leech is not the only species though. There’s also the Mozart glowing mushroom, the fruit-eating giant lizard, the spider that weaves the strongest silk, the antediluvian cockroach, among other biological marvels!

To read more and see photos:

Photos: the top ten new species discovered in 2010

(05/23/2011) If we had to characterize our understanding of life on Earth as either ignorant or knowledgeable, the former would be most correct. In 250 years of rigorous taxonomic work researchers have cataloged nearly two million species, however scientists estimate the total number of species on Earth is at least five million and perhaps up to a hundred million. This means every year thousands of new species are discovered by researchers, and from these thousands, the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University selects ten especially notable new species.

Bird-dinosaur, only recently dead, discovered in Iran (or big hoax)

May 15th, 2011

An photo of the reported recently-deceased bird-dinosaur. Real or faked? .
An photo of the reported recently-deceased bird-dinosaur. Real or faked? Photo from the Islamic Republic News Agency.

A corpse reportedly showing a bird with a skull like a canine’s has shown up in northwestern Iran, reports the Islamic Republic News Agency. The animal has two bird-like legs, but a head that looks like a mammalian or reptilian predator, giving the media the ability to dub it a dinosaur bird.

A team of Iran’s Environment Protection Organization (EPO) were sent to investigate. Reportedly, the bizarre animal was living in a cave in the region.

To see more photos: Islamic Republic News Agency

Photo: baby Grevy’s zebra makes appearance

May 12th, 2011

Born at the beginning of the year, a Grey's zebra foal has made its first appearance at the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Bronx Zoo. Photo by: Julie Larsen Maher.
Born at the beginning of the year, a Grey’s zebra foal has made its first appearance at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo. Photo by: Julie Larsen Maher.

Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) population has fallen by 50% over the past two decades. As of 2008 there was estimated around 750 adult animals survive in the wild. The species survives in Kenya and Ethiopia. It may be present in Sudan as well.

Grevy’s zebra has suffered from increased competition for water and food with local livestock. Juveniles, particularly, have a difficult time surviving. Loss of water to irrigation and in places hunting are also of concern.

Pictures of baby animals with their mothers for Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2011

Mother tarsier and baby on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother tarsier and baby on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother and baby orangutan in tree in Sumatra. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother and baby orangutan in tree in Sumatra. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother Panamanian golden frog with green baby. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother Panamanian golden frog with green baby. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

 Southern Tree Hyrax with baby in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Southern Tree Hyrax with baby in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

 Baby crowned lemur clinging to its mother in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Baby crowned lemur clinging to its mother in Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) with babies in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) with babies in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother lion sleeping with cubs in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother lion sleeping with cubs in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother and baby Matschie's Tree-kangaroos (Dendrolagus matschiei). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother and baby Matschie’s Tree-kangaroos (Dendrolagus matschiei). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother ringtail lemur with baby on stomach. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother ringtail lemur with baby on stomach. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Mother capybara with baby in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Mother capybara with baby in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

African elephant (Loxodonta africana) mom and juvenile drinking in the Chobe River . Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.
African elephant (Loxodonta africana) mom and juvenile drinking in the Chobe River . Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

Smiling mothers with babies on their backs in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
And people too! Smiling mothers with babies on their backs in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo outside of Cuzco, Peru. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Photos: ugly is the new adorable when it comes to saiga babies

May 3rd, 2011

A pair of saiga calves.  Photo by: Igor Shpilenok.
A pair of saiga calves. Photo by: Igor Shpilenok.

Few species have seen a worse decline in the past 15 years than the Asian antelope, the saiga. Once known for making up one of the world’s largest migrations, the saiga population has dropped from 1.25 million in the 1990s to 50,000 animals today, plunging over 90% and landing itself on the Critically Endangered species list.

The Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA), which is working hard to save this species from extinction, has turned to a new model to help: eco-tourism. The group, along with travel company Saga Voyages, is organizing a tour of a unique, rarely visited region in Russia to see and support the saiga. But that’s not all: birding, other wildlife viewing, and cultural visits are also apart of this unique trip. SCA hopes the tour will help convince locals in the region that saiga and other wildlife can bring economic investment and interest from abroad.

Saiga calves.  Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.
Saiga calves. Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.

An adult male saiga.  Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.
An adult male saiga. Photo by: Nils Bunnefeld.

About the tour: First International Saiga Ecotour to Southern Russia

For more information (and photos from the region):

New eco-tour to help save bizarre antelope in ‘forgotten’ region

(05/01/2011) Imagine visiting a region that is largely void of tourists, yet has world-class bird watching, a unique Buddhist population, and one of the world’s most bizarre-looking and imperilled mammals: the saiga. A new tour to Southern Russia hopes to aid a Critically Endangered species while giving tourists an inside look at a region “largely forgotten by the rest of the world,” says Anthony Dancer. Few species have fallen so far and so fast in the past 15 years as Central Asia’s antelope, the saiga. Its precipitous decline is reminiscent of the bison or the passenger pigeon in 19th Century America, but conservationists hopes it avoids the fate of the latter.

Photo: emerald toucanet

May 2nd, 2011

An emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
An emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) in Belize. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Fortunately the emerald toucanet is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. It is found throughout Central America and South America down to Bolivia.

To see other photos of birds in Belize: click here.