Tag Archives: endangered animals

BV-worthy new exhibit

 

The California Academy of Sciences has long been beloved by the author of BV, figuring in her elementary school field trips, and, more recently, looming large in her consciousness as an example of stunning sustainable architecture. And a friend is employed there, I am proud to say, as a plant taxonomist– though, traitorous wench that she is, she will soon be abandoning us all to pursue a PhD in Chemistry on the east coast.

Pah. stupid PhD in chemistry. Stupid east coast.

In any case, If you would like to see an exact cast of Ida, the  Darwinius masillae that is a distant cousin of all of us today, you can do it at this exhibit. You can also learn about extreme adaptations (neat!) , reproduction (wink wink, nudge nudge) , and extinction (boo!).

Personally, the author of BV is excited to learn that the state fossil of California, Smilodon Fatalis, will be on display. She is also not a little bemused to discover that california *has* a state fossil.

which led the author on a rather amusing little digression into internet research-land, where she discovered the following:

California has the expected emblems, that is, a  state…

BIRD: California Valley Quail
ANIMAL: California Grizzly Bear
TREE: California Redwood

as well as a

 song
 seal
 motto
colors
nickname
flower
and flag (social studies history reports come flooding back to some of us) 

But is also has a state…

FOSSIL: Smilodon Fatalis (sabertooth tiger, see above)
INSECT: California dog-face Butterfly (well, it’s mother thinks it’s beautiful)
FISH: California Golden Trout
MARINE FISH: Garibaldi
MARINE MAMMAL: California Grey whale
REPTILE: the Desert Tortoise

not to mention:

 gemstone
Gold Rush ghost town
 Silver rush ghost town
grass
military museum
mineral
Fife and drum band (very cool)
Prehistoric artifact
rock
soil (SOIL!?!?! we have an official  SOIL. inconceivable)
tall ship
tartan
and theater.

And a poet laureate to write about all of ’em. (Which she doesn’t, at present. She seems to write a lot about love and death and architecture. But that’s a snap judgement)   

Seriously. Don’t believe me about the soil? look here. And expect a California series on BV in the near future.

sick of my rambling and want to read more about the exhibit? Read the articles from SFGATE and/or SFAppeal.

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Red-Letter Day for Captive Dolphins

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist

 

It is a red-letter day, dear readers. For it was reported today that Chris Porter, infamous dolphin trader working out of the Solomon Islands, plans to release his last 17 captive bottlenose  dolphins to the wild. In a recent interview, Porter admitted that 

“I have a bad name. I have been deemed the Darth Vader of dolphins. But I have decided to release the remaining animals back to the wild. It’s driven by the incident with Tillikum and I’m disillusioned with the industry.” 

From the start, says Porter, he had the best interests of these animals at heart, believing that the animals he captured and trained would act as “embassadors” an aid in educational efforts. But according to an article in the Times ColonistPorter  “is beginning to doubt the value of shows, where animals are forced to perform tricks”…’Are we really educating and providing the best representation of wild animals in an aquarium,'” where the environment is artificial and they are forced to perform tricks? He asked in an interview. 

His own answer is now “no,” and the author of BV thinks it’s about damned time. Should you place the author in a tiny pool and force her to dance for her supper, you can bet this blogger would be dragging you into the depths as well. 

Porter’s former opponents are reserving judgement about his decision– not because they disagree with his sentiment, but because they would like to inspect the animals to ascertain their health and readiness to return to the wild. Porter promises, moreover, to continue to feed any of released dolphins who continue to return for feeding times. 

the trick now, dear readers, is to pray (in whatever form you prefer– the author of BV prefers interpretive dance, usually in the shower, accompanied by current guilty-pleasure pop music) That the locals will embrace the idea of eco-tourism over the practice of hunting dolphins for their teeth… and that Porter’s landmark change of heart will trigger a ripple effect– so to speak– in the hearts and minds of the ocean-going world at large. 

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Darth%20Vader%20dolphins%20release%20bottlenose/2741326/story.html#ixzz0jm54wcyw

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Dissertation Owls Asleep on the Job

Folkes, while the dissertation elves, tiny little owls that creep into grad students’ bedrooms to madly type pages whilst the tortured souls sleep, are on furlough,  I have been working furiously on my thesis. The result? A certain lack of Beastliness. And vocabularity.

This will be remedied shortly, just as soon as the Muse goes on strike again, as she (the fickle bitch) is wont to do.

– sj

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Tickle-me Elmo’s friend, the Slow-Loris

 

The author of BV would like to be clear: wild and exotic animals are not pets. They belong in the fields and forests and streams, making nice with other wild and exotic animals. And the Slow Loris, a south/southeast asian primate currently considered threatened/endangered, is no exception. These little charmers, which have long been hunted for their eyes (used in local traditional medicine), deserve a break,  and should NOT be sought and poached, ripped heartlessly from their native lands,  for no reason but our own gratification.

That said… I kinda want one.   

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Petaluma Bird Sanctuary Threatened

There is a new asphalt plant planned for a site along the Petaluma River.

GOOD NEWS, right!? Industry, new jobs in a  ravaged marketplace… But, in this case, the costs may be too high.  Because in this case, the proposed development is slated for a site right across from Schollenberger Park, which just happens, dear readers, to be one of the premier bird sanctuaries in North America.  And, you know, sits within spitting distance of a dozen or so parks and schools.   

So when a group of mothers heard that the council was all set to vote on the building permits and zoning changes, and learned about the toxic brew of noxious chemicals for which Asphalt companies are famous, they got a good whiff of something rotten in Denmark and promptly formed themselves into an advocacy group that they dubbed “Moms for Clean Air.”

In a typical gynocolocially inaccurate rhetorical ploy deigned to minimize the credibility of  unruly females, certain critics have called  the Moms “hysterical.” … You tell me, dear readers: Someone has threatened your kids– and your BIRDS, for goodness sake– and you don’t have good cause to be just a wee bit hysterical? Just a wee bit? Or might the emotion these critics are searching for be something closer to “righteous indignation?”

Hysterical, indeed.

In any case, the city and county apparently turned deaf ears on ths Moms’ complaints, so the mothers did what every parent who has been through PTA basic training knows to do. They went over the county’s head. 
At long last, these mobilized mothers  found an advocate in California Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a Democrat from Southern Sonoma who, according to a Chanel 5 report,  “organized the first comprehensive hearing on the issue, bringing together regulators from the EPA, Fish and Game, The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and other agencies, most of which are just beginning to look at the project.”

The company that wants to the build the plant, The Dutra Group, says that “This is the right plan, and this is the right location.” Shockingly, the spokeswoman who delivered this little pearl of persuasive wisdom is named Dutra. What a coincidence.  

Isn’t it also the funniest coincidence that Dutra’s other asphalt plant has already been cited–multiple times– for environmental violations?

Need more?

In 2001, Marin County Grand Jury accused the company of illegally expanding operations.

In 2006, Dutra was fined $735,000 for dumping sludge near the Farallon Islands.

The Dutra family denies these incidents ever happened. Apparently, they have never heard of a little thing called “public record.”

So far,  only one council member (Zane) has been willing  to publicly announce  opposition  to the asphalt plant. The other four, stalwart souls all, are refusing comment.    But, s hould you have a comment, dear reader, and should you be of the same mind as the author of BV, you may follow the links to the Moms’ site, and tell them that they have your support. You may also follow this link to a PDF of their mission statement.

Go, Moms!

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Banker Invests in Duckling Futures.

Joel Armstrong , a 43-year-old banker in Washington state, had been been watching a mother duck  nest on a ledge outside his office window for  35 days, so he was not surprised to see them when he got to town on saturday for the city’s annual Lilac festival. 

He was, however, surprised to see two of the little yellow bundles launch themselves from their preciptous perch.  The mother duck, who stood watching at ground level, might have anticipated the worst– had Armstrong not stepped up to the plate.  

Because Armstrong  channeled his inner A-Rod by rushing to the scene, fielding each fuzzy yellow pop-fly handily as they launched themselves into the air and hurtled towards the ground.

Emboldened by their fellows’ good fortune, four more hatchlings followed suit. Armstrong’s catching arm was strong: he lowered each one safely to the impatient mother duck, who seemed to approve of Armstrong’s technique. (Armstrong ultimately had to use a ladder to retrieve the final two ducklings, who were more risk-averse, or less enthsiastic baseball fans, than were their brothers and sisters.)   

 Finally the mother duck and Armstrong, task completed, led the ducklings, side by side, down two blocks of the parade route to the Spokane river, hearkening to the resounding cheers of the approving parade-goers who lined both sides of the street, providing witness to Armstrong’s infield skills- neglected since grade school, but the best investment this banker ever made.  

(the link below is to video of the event)

http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=7618021

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Bovine rampage in Norway: Revenge of the Beef

250px-CH_cow_2

 

In 2002, a series of bizzare bovine incidents in the Norweigian countryside alarmed residents, and alerted us to the  possibility that cows are beginning to strain at the agricultural tether.

The first victim, 23-year old Stian Skoglund, was “bashed and trampled by a furious cud-chewer” according to one publication.  

The incident occurred when Skoglond noticed that one of the cows he was attempting to gather for milking appeared “uneasy.” Apparently under the delusion that he had psychic animal powers, Skoglond “made eye contact with the animal” and “tried to calm it.” Unsurprisingly, the cow “became provoked:”

 “The cow butted me and I fell,” Skoglund reported. Frightened, our failed animal mesmerist scrambled to his feet and tried to make a dash for it, but the cow, undettered, knocked him to the ground. Pleased with her work, she then began—according to the same  Norwegian  English- language publication—to  “hop and trample him,” ceasing only when her victim gave up the fight and played dead.

Skoglund suffered a shattered leg, several broken ribs, numerous lacerations, and multiple contusions. He later wondered whether the attack was done in retaliation for his part in hauling away the body of a calf that had died days earlier.

“Maybe,” quoth our budding animal psychologist, “it was her motherly instincts being aroused. I’ve also heard that I shouldn’t have made eye contact with her, that only provokes them.”  

No shit, Stian.

Other incidents include a 45-year-old farmer who was hospitalized after a cow charged his wife (The farmer found himself in this unfortunate position after he attempted to wave his arms and distract the cow from its attack on his wife), and a nearby farmer who was trampled to death by rampaging bulls.

But by far the most shocking occurrence, dear readers, was the incident of the cow who fell  from the sky and died, nearly taking a car full of Norwegian travellers with her.

The story begins like a joke, with four men traveling in a car and debating the source of “a large shadow in the sky.” Was it a bird? No. a plane? No. nor was it a caped adventurer. It fell to earth with a mighty thump, mere feet in front of the moving vehicle.

Driver Olav Kjeldstad reported that, having barely managed to avoid hitting the mysterious object, he stopped the car and he and his three passengers looked behind them to where a cow lay in the road; according to one passenger, the fallen bovidae bovinae “only managed a few moos before dying.”

Kjelstad admitted that he “was pretty shaken afterwards” but also admitted– with typical Norse pragmatism and an inborn appreciation for dramatic subgenre–  that “we had a laugh as well;” the entire situation, he said, “was tragicomic.”

Perhaps  Kjelstad should have loaned his well-thumbed Companion to Norse Drama to poor Stian Skoglund,  upon whom the subtleties of tragicomedy were clearly lost.

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Money Might Not, But Barnacle Geese Do (grow on trees)

img4465

 Source: British Library Images Online Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 36r

What medieval-inspired bestiary would be complete without the Barnacle Goose?  According to Sir John Mandeville, who wrote in the 14th century CE, this fantastic creature is–or was– a species of goose that grows on trees. Not in trees, mind you. On trees.

In his Travels, Sir John writes that

 I told them of as great a marvel to them, that is amongst us, and that was of the Bernakes. For I told them that in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man’s meat. And hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were an impossible thing to be.

We moderns might be inclined to trow it impossible, too. Yet is it possible that the barnacle goose finds its equivalent in recent college graduates, who find themselves suddenly adrift of the parental money tree, and must function on their own or perish?  Indeed, the author sees many subtle similarities. Barnacle goslings grow on trees that overhang bodies of water; the young birds hang from their sprouting-points by their beaks.  When the birds are “ripe,” they fall. The fortuitous ones, which fall into the water, float and find themselves well on their way to healthy, productive adult lives. But those that fall on land– or go to graduate school– face a harder fate. Some die. The 14th century besties apparently all died, as there simply aren’t many tree-growing geese running about these days.

Yet today’s hapless little geese, who unerringly choose graduate studies in something “esoteric” like “Medieval English” or “Philosphy,” may in fact return to the life-giving tree well into adulthood, until the tree at long last shouts:

“Enough already! how long does a dissertation TAKE, anyway?

sigh.

take it from the author of BV, dear readers. major in something useful, like billiards, or graft.

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Filed under academia, baby animals, extinct species, folklore, human behavior, medieval, parasites, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Humanatee: A dying breed

seen here without a school, this humanatee may never find a home

The humanatee is an ancient, intelligent beast, most often found in large “schools,” though members of far-flung schools frequently gather together in large, gregarious groups called “conferences.” During these  sporadic expeditions, humanatees may demonstrate dominance by flashing the “TT” position. These strange creatures then show off to potential mates by uttering strange, unintelligible  sounds in rapid succession.

Infighting and promiscuous behavior is not uncommon in conferences.

But dear readers, the humanatee, contrary to appearances, is not its own worst enemy. The humanatee is among our worlds most endangered species, and though abundant, is seriously threatened by the rough economic waters currently plaguing our shores and those the world over. Worse, funding for conservation programs has recently been cut dramatically, leading some experts to wonders whether there is adequate habitat  in today’s academe for the humanatees.*

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Amazonian Weasels

As always, the author of BV seeks to bring you information that is relevant and revelatory regarding animal behaviors. News today is that a new species of weasel– the hypocritical amazonian weasel.  

You may sign a petition protesting Amazon’s new unbalanced policies regarding “adult” materials by following the link below:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/in-protest-at-amazons-new-adult-policy

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Exploding frogs (as per request)

it's not easy, being green

it's not easy, being green

 

Well, dear readers, I have recieved my first command performance, and am more than happy to oblige. Here they are, the amazing, exploding frogs.

FUNNY, dark, and clearly not American-made…

 

VERSUS …  just plain sick. You can complain about the following video and it’s juvenile delinquent perpetrators by following the youtube link. Or you can hug your children more. Your choice.

  

Of course, there are actual exploding frogs out and about in the world–or, more precisely, toads. Wikipedia, everybody’s go-to source for questionable information, says the following :

“An exploding toad occurs when a crow, hunting for toad liver, attacks a toad which then puffs up as a natural defense. The phenomenon was first noticed in April 2005 in districts of Hamburg, Germany and near a lake at Låsby, Denmark, dubbed “The Pond of Death.” No other animals in the area were exploding.

What differentiates the exploding toads in these incidents from most other exploding animals is that they explode while alive. Exploding whales, for example, are a result of the buildup of gases during the process of decomposition.”

 

The  BBC’s article on this topic is less certain of the causation, but the two sources agree on one important point: the name of the site where this phenomenon has been observed, i.e., the pond of death.

Pond. Of. Death. 

 The author of B.V. regrets to inform you that there are simply so, so many ways to go with this, that her head has well nigh exploded… exploded like a frog. Like a frog at the pond of death.  

send help.

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every dog has its day… off

and so does B.V. Come back tomorrow for something worth looking at. For today,  consider this: If you were a bee, you could get your legs chewed off for drinking your evening beer.

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Homo sapiens sapiens; a brief shining moment of joy

Today’s post is about the human animal. In light of recent events, notably the shootings in Oakland, Pittsburgh (CA) and Binghamton (NY), which has precipitated in the author a sudden need for something like faith, B.V would like to submit the following, in the words of Rabindrinath Tagore:

“Men are cruel, but Man is kind”…

…and, very occasionally, capable of surprising moments of peaceable outpourings of pure exhuberance and joy.

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Sharks: Sisters are doing it for themselves

       scalloped_hammerhead_shark_465x310             

Ladies, listen up: While many of us of slightly-less-than a certain age have started reaching our “scary age”s  and have taken to searching the web for ways to delay (or defeat) the tick-tick-icking of our biological clocks, a few select  members of  superorder Selachimorpha have taken matters into their own hands: a quick search of National Geographic’sarchives generates no fewer than 742 hits on “virgin births” in the animal world. two of note occured in sharks.

In October of 2008, a female blacktip shark in Virginia was confirmed to have successfully committed parthenogenesis– a process by which females of some species can produce young without the sticky contribution and equally sticky commitment issues of males.  

Lest you women out there feel too much jealous animosity towards “Tidbit” (the female blacktip in question), you should also know that she died on the physician’s table during a routine physical exam. It was during the subsequent necropsy that scientists discovered that she was carryng a near-term shark pup, as there had been no previous indication of gestation.  Yes, you read right: she managed to get pregnant on her own and didn’t even have to worry about stretch marks. But then she died.

The first time scientists had witnessed parthenogenesis amongst sharks was at a Nebraska zoo in 2001, when a baby hammerhead was born to one of three possible mothers in the shark tank, none of which had access to males. Sadly, despite the successful full-term birth, the baby hammerhead (see photo, below) was killed within hours by a stingray cohabiting the tank.

The author of BV submits that there is something fishy going on:  these “virgin births” seem to end only in tragedy… perhaps it should be a lesson to us all… 


R.I.P., little shark: this baby hammer head was the result of a virgin birth and died tragically young, giving new meaning to the term "jesus fish."

R.I.P., little shark: this baby hammer head was the result of a virgin birth and died tragically young, giving new meaning to the term "jesus fish."

* Legal disclaimer: the author of B.V. in no way means to insinuate that this fish is actually Jesus, that its fate is related to or sheds light on the Christain belief system, or even that the joke is particularly funny.  Any complaints should be directed to  Rush Limbaugh .**

**Legal disclaimer: The author of B.V. does not claim any affiliation, topical, personal, creative, contractual, or otherwise, with  Mr. Limbaugh or his  production company, but is sure he’d love to hear from you.

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Post-April fool’s edition: (faux) Chupacabra; real shame?

according to one breeder, this dog- likely a Xoloitzcuintle or "mexican hairless"- may have been "doctored" to appear more menacing.

according to one breeder, this dog- likely a Xoloitzcuintle or "Mexican hairless"- may have been "doctored" to appear more menacing.

In 2007, Associated Press ran a story on this frozen critter, which the Cuero, Texas woman who found it described as a “chupacabra,” a legendary goat-killer from south American folktale and mythology. According to media fallout, breeders on “Xolo” sites believed this to be a Mexican hairless dog, and some went so far as to speculate that because the breed is so rare in the U.S., this apparent roadkill may have been an unhealthy or undesirable animal, dumped at the side of the road by an unethical breeder. Subsequent DNA tests suggested that the animal was probably a diseased, mangy coyote

In another instance in 2008, a chupacabra was said to have been caught on tape- again in the Texas town of  Cuero (see clip, below)

 

The author of   not discount the possibility that the chupacabra does or did exist, but for now, we can only speculate that the little town of Cuero has either a high rate of dependency on drug and alcohol… or a high rate of gullibility.**

 

 

 

Cf. http://www.sciam.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=chupacabra-strikes-texas-town-2008-08-13

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