Sloth Necklace Giveaway

slothnecklace1

In honor of International Sloth Day which takes place today, October 19, we’re hosting a giveaway for a beautiful, handcrafted sloth necklace by Mark Poulin Jewelry. This whimsical sterling silver charm measures 5/8th of an inch tall/wide and comes with your choice of a silver-plated or sterling silver cable chain in either 16″, 18″, or 20″. More details >

To enter the contest, leave a blog comment on this post telling us your favorite fact about sloths.  Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you for your mailing address if you win. (We will not use your email address for any other purpose.)

After you comment with your answer, confirm your entry by logging into the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open worldwide until October 28, 12 midnight EST. Winner will be randomly selected on October 28. Prize will be mailed out by Mark Poulin Jewelry via Priority Mail within the United States or First Class Mail for International. We are not responsible for any duties, taxes, or customs fees imposed by the home country.

Polite Marmoset Monkey Conversations

Are you as polite as this marmoset monkey? Photo credit: BirdPhotos.com.

Are you as polite as this marmoset monkey? Photo credit: BirdPhotos.com.

Princeton University researchers discovered that marmosets (a kind of new world monkey) take turns speaking with one another, similar to people! During their vocal exchanges, which can last up to 30 minutes, the monkeys wait their turn to speak. They don’t interrupt each other.

According to one of the study’s authors, Asif Ghazanfar:

“We were surprised by how reliably the marmoset monkeys exchanged their vocalizations in a cooperative manner, particularly since in most cases they were doing so with individuals that they were not pair-bonded with.

“This makes what we found much more similar to human conversations and very different from the coordinated calling of animals such as birds, frogs, or crickets, which is linked to mating or territorial defense.”

This research on marmoset vocalizations could provide clues about the early development of conversation in humans.

For more information, see:

Baby Masai Giraffe at Toronto Zoo

Masai giraffe mother and calf

Masai giraffe mother and calf at the Toronto Zoo. Photo credit: Toronto Zoo.

Twiga, a 23-year-old Masai giraffe at the Toronto Zoo gave birth yesterday to a baby female calf!

“The Toronto Zoo is part of the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the birth of this calf is very important to the North American captive population,” says Maria Franke, Toronto Zoo Curator of Mammals.

To learn more about giraffes, see our giraffe facts page.

Rare Rhino Caught on Camera Trap

Park authorities at Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia were able to capture video footage of Javan rhinoceroses going about their business using camera traps. These rhinos are considered critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. Only 40-60 Javan rhinos are alive today, with the majority of the population living in Ujung Kulon National Park. There are no Javan rhinos in captivity.

Rare Crane Chicks at the Memphis Zoo

West African black crowned cranes

Three West African black crowned crane chicks with their parents at the Memphis Zoo. Photos by Sara Taylor / Memphis Zoo.

The Memphis Zoo welcomed three West African black crowned crane chicks last month. This is the first hatching of this type of crane at the zoo, and the first for these parents! According to Carol Hesch, Assistant Curator, “Since early on, they’ve been great parents. I can’t praise them enough for the excellent job they’ve been doing.”

Three crane chicks

In the wild, about 15,000 West African black crowned cranes range from Senegal to Chad in Africa. They are vulnerable of extinction due to habitat loss and capture for domestication.

Learn more about the chicks at the Memphis Zoo website.

Featured Animal: Cougar (aka Mountain Lion)

Meet our featured animal: the cougar!

cougar

Cougars are also referred to as pumas, mountain lions or panthers. Here are five fun facts about them:

  • Unlike other big cats, the cougar cannot roar. Instead, the large feline purrs like a house cat.
  • The cougar is the second largest cat in North America.
  • Cougars can leap over 6 m (20 ft.).
  • During most of their lives, cougars are solitary creatures. They only interact with one another to mate.
  • For the most part, the cougar has no natural enemies and sits atop the food chain.

Learn more about cougars >

Amazing Close-Up Photos of Bees

Closeup of a bee face

A close-up portrait of a type of bee called Osmia georgica. Photograph by Sue Boo / U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

The U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab has been studying the decline of bees over the past ten years. According to Sam Droege, who heads the lab, there are 4,000 bee species in North America, but most people can’t identify the different species.

“We [needed] really high-definition pictures that people can drill into and say, ‘You know the pattern of the crosshatching between the pits on the skin of the upper part of the bee is really different than this one.’”

Side view of the Osmia georgica. Photograph by Sue Boo/ U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

Side view of the Osmia georgica. Photograph by Sue Boo / U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

So Droege developed a system of taking high-definition photographs of the bees in order to document their specific features. Using a high-quality 60 mm macro lens and a device called a StackShot Rail, he takes a series of photos in increments where various parts of the bee are in focus. He later uses program called Zerene Stacker to combine the photos into a single, high-def photo all in focus.

You can learn how to take your own high-resolution photos of insects by watching the video below:

For more information, see NPR’s “Beauty is in the Eye of the Bee-Holder”.

See more high-def bee photos on the U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab’s Flickr page.

Baby Rhino Makes His Public Debut

Eastern black rhinos

King, with his mother Kapuki by his side, makes his public debut. Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Lincoln Park Zoo

Newly-named Eastern black rhinoceros calf, King, made his public debut today at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The baby rhino, who already weighs in at 200 pounds, thrilled zoo-goers as he trotted out into the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit, exploring the sights and scents. He and his mother Kapuki had been bonding behind the scenes since his birth on August 26.

In the wild, Eastern black rhinos are critically endangered due to poaching. It is estimated that there are only 5000 left in the wild in Africa.

King and Kapuki, rhinos at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

After a few timid steps, King gained confidence in the outdoor exhibit, taking in all the new sights and scents. Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Lincoln Park Zoo.

“Breeding programs at zoos are of crucial importance to the survival of these remarkable animals, particularly as the numbers in the wild continue to dwindle,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “King will serve as an excellent ambassador for his species.”

For more information, see the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Zookeepers Hand-Rear Baby Red Panda

The zookeepers at Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska are hand-rearing a baby red panda. The little red panda, named Lincoln, was born in July. Zookeepers separated him from his mother after he developed a wound and she was unable to care for him. The keepers will bottle-feed Lincoln and care for him until he is ready to join red pandas his own age at another zoo.

View a video of Lincoln here:

In the wild, red pandas inhabits the Himalayas and southwestern China. They are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Redlist due to habitat loss and poaching.

Learn more about Lincoln the red panda at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo website.

Snow Leopard Cub at Memphis Zoo

Snow leopard

The Memphis Zoo announced the birth of a baby snow leopard!  The male cub was born to parents Ateri and Darhan. Ateri is a first-time mother and is nursing the cub behind the scenes.

“Ateri is a great mother,” says Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. “This was her first cub, and everything is going smoothly.”

In the wild, snow leopards inhabit Central Asia.  It is estimated there are only 4000-6500 snow leopards remaining, according to the IUCN.

Learn more at the Memphis Zoo website.