Snapping Turtle Crittercam

Greg Marshall, inventor of the Crittercam (a camera that attaches to animals to record their activity from their perspective) came to Connecticut to work with Mystic Aquarium turtle expert Dr. Tobias Landberg.  Together they figured out a safe and secure method to attach the Crittercam to a snapping turtle’s shell.  They released the turtle into the wild and will be able to learn about its habits and movements in the water.

The Mystic Aquarium has used the Crittercam before on beluga whales.

Help Big Cats While Trick-or-Treating

Leopard grooms cub

A mother leopard grooms her cub. You can help big cats like these with "Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats".

This Halloween, you can make the holiday extra special by helping big cats! National Geographic has organized a campaign called Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats, which encourages kids to collect donations for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative as they trick-or-treat.

According to Alexander Moen, VP of Explorer Programs at the National Geographic Society, “The Big Cats Initiative is working with scientists and conservationists around the world to halt the decline of these iconic animals. By supporting their work, together we can ensure that future generations won’t talk about big cats the way we now talk about dinosaurs.”

Free Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats collection boxes are available at Pottery Barn Kids stores nationwide, participating schools, National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at causeanuproar.org, where people can request boxes sent directly to homes, schools, clubs and other community locations.

Everyone who participates is eligible to receive a thank-you gift, including magazine subscriptions, apparel and digital downloads (eligibility based on the amount of funds submitted by November 30, 2011). Detailed information on gifts and how to participate can be found at www.causeanuproar.org.

Miracle Babies

On Tuesday, September 13 and Wednesday, September 14, starting at 8pm both nights, Nat Geo WILD is airing a special program devoted to sustaining vulnerable species called Miracle Babies.  In five hour-long episodes, viewers gain a window into the world of baby pandas, leopards, Tasmanian devils, lemurs, koalas, wallabies, ibises, parrots, and more.

Watch a video below of cute baby pandas raised in captivity in Chengdu, China:

Watch a video below of adorable baby sifaka lemurs:

Watch a video below of two baby Tasmanian devils (one baby even gets hiccups after feeding):

Deadly 60 on Nat Geo Wild

Deadly 60 follows Steve Backshall and his camera crew as they seek out the deadliest animals on the planet. Monday will have two episodes airing back to back at 10 and 10:30 on Nat Geo Wild. In the first episode Steve travels to Namibia to meet leopards, lions, and spiders. In the second Steve heads to Thailand to observe king cobras, big cats, and the Topay gecko.

Killer Shots on Nat Geo WILD

Ever wonder what it’s like to get those amazing shots of animals you see in magazines and on tv? Nat Geo WILD’s Killer Shots takes you along side Andy Brandy Casagrande IV as he pursues the perfect shot. ABC, as Casagrande likes to be called, is fearless in his camera work – getting unbelievable close to great white sharks on the hunt.

Killer Shots airs Fridays at 10 starting July 8 on Nat Geo WILD.

National Geographic Channel’s Expedition Week

Bengal Tiger

A Bengal Tiger caught on a camera trap (India). (Photo Credit: © Steve Winter/Panthera)

From April 3-9, National Geographic Channel is hosting Expedition Week, which features 13 new programs over 7 days taking viewers to never before-seen-places all over the world.

Two of the programs feature stories about tigers:

LOST LAND OF THE TIGER (Friday, April 8 at 9PM ET/PT)

Go in search of an undiscovered tiger population rumored to be hidden in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.  This pristine country of lush forests, clear rivers and icy mountains could hold the key to safeguarding the future for these big cats.  But first, the team must trek across Bhutan’s wildest terrain and face its extreme weather — pushing the expedition to its very brink.  With cameras strategically placed, the team is closing in on capturing key evidence of the tigers said to be living here.

Watch a clip of the team reviewing footage from the camera traps they set around Bhutan:

TIGER MAN (Friday, April 8 at 10 PM ET/PT)
A seemingly impossible dream: to create a new population of wild tigers outside their natural habitat. One man, John Varty, did just that. Starting with two young, zoo-born tigers, Varty now has more than 15 tigers at his Tiger Canyons reserve, and has used ever-present cameras to document two years of their lives. Whether mating, birthing or hunting, Varty shows these magnificent tigers with remarkable, “up close and personal” detail. His methods can be controversial, but it’s a gripping, intimate look at tigers as never seen before.

Watch as one of the tigers, Shadow, gives birth:

Catch these stories and more April 3-9 on the National Geographic Channel.

Beast Hunter on NatGeo

Ragunan Zoo Jakarta - Indonesia: Pat with seven-year-old female Orangutan 'Pinky' in Ragunan zoo Jakarta. (Photo Credit: © Icon Films)

The world is filled with strange and fascinating creatures, and throughout the ages, scientists have identified a multitude of species. However, there are still some creatures known only by the folklore and stories surrounding them; their appearance and characteristics becoming more and more fantastic with each retelling. But their existence has yet to be verified.

Taking on the search for such creatures is Pat Spain, a wildlife scientist and great-nephew of famed paranormal investigator Charles Fort. As he searches for these bizarre creatures (such as the Mongolian death worm – a 2-5 foot long worm whose touch results in instant death), Pat interviews locals and often undergoes cultural rituals to gain their trust. Pat uses the information he gathers from interviews and the latest technology to find scientific explanations for these animals.

You can join Pat on his adventures starting Friday, March 4 at 9pm on the National Geographic Channel.

Watch a clip of Pat interacting with Pinky the orangutan below (filmed while shooting the premiere episode, “Man Ape of Sumatra”):

Watch more clips from the show here.

Crocodile Expert Brady Barr

Dr. Brady Barr

Dr. Brady Barr speaking at the Garde Arts Center.

The editors of Animal Fact Guide had the pleasure of attending a talk this evening given by Dr. Brady Barr at the Garde Arts Center in New London, CT.  As a herpetologist with the National Geographic Society, Barr has experienced a multitude of close encounters with reptiles in the wild.

In one entertaining story,  Barr recounted an episode where his team was trying to measure the speed of Komodo dragons using a radar gun.  His role was to run around with strings of goat meat tied around his waist to entice the large reptiles to give chase.  And chase they did!  Barr was chased left and right by the dragons, who took turns wearing him out.  Finally, out of breath, Barr took refuge up high in a tree.  Komodo dragons can be extremely dangerous creatures as their mouths are filled with many strains of bacteria, making their bite very hazardous.

Although Barr works with many reptiles, including salamanders, geckos, turtles, and snakes, his main passion is with crocodilian species: crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials.

On many occasions, Barr has gotten up close and personal with crocodiles, often called upon to relocate “nuisance” animals.  Barr and his team have captured many crocodiles known to attack people and have relocated the animals to wildlife preserves and zoos.  By doing so, Barr saves the creatures from being exterminated by the locals.

Throughout his presentation, Barr stressed the importance of conservation, noting that many reptile species are at high risk of extinction.

To learn more about Barr and his adventures, watch Dangerous Encounters on Nat Geo WILD. You can also buy the Best of Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr DVD from Amazon.

Unlikely Animal Friends 2

Polar bear and dog play

Polar bear and husky play (photo credit © courtesy of National Geographic Channel)

Last year, National Geographic Channel aired a program about unlikely animal friends.  Premiering Friday, January 7, 2011 at 9pm EST is a second installment of bizarre animal pairs: Unlikely Animal Friends 2.

The one-hour special takes a look at friendships between a sheep and an elephant, a goat and two dogs,  huskies and polar bears, a leopard and a golden retriever, and a lion, tiger and dog.

Watch a sneak peak here about an orphaned elephant calf befriending a sheep:

Big Cat Week on Nat Geo WILD

Monday, December 6 kicks off Big Cat Week on the Nat Geo WILD channel — seven nights of programs dedicated to the world’s fiercest felines.  The event is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment by the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo WILD to stop poaching, save habitat, and raise the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world.

lion eyes

Photo by Beverly Joubert

Don’t miss the premieres of these films:

Big Cat Odyssey: Monday, December 6, at 9pm ET/PT
Award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert set out 30 years ago on a quest to get close to big cats. Big Cat Odyssey chronicles their meticulous work over three decades of filming, photographing and documenting the behavior of big cat species in Botswana.

Two lion cubs

Photo by Beverly Joubert

The video below depicts the attack of a buffalo by a whole pride of lions.

Leopard Queen: Tuesday, December 7, at 9pm ET/PT
Filmmaker John Varty, who filmed a wild female leopard for 17 years, opens an extraordinary window into the lives of Africa’s most secretive big cat.  Leopard Queen follows the life of “Manana,” a wild leopard whose territory spans the heart of the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa.

Leopard in tree

Photo by Susanne Baden

In the video below, watch Manana as a cub, exploring the world around her and learning essential survival skills.

Lion Warriors: Wednesday, December 8, at 9pm ET/PT
In the Great Plains below Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya, Maasai warriors have a centuries-old tradition of killing the lions that kill their cattle. But now only about 2000 lions are left in the country (and the number is dropping), so Maasai elders and chiefs have forbidden the warriors to kill them. Wildlife filmmaker Kire Godal, with the support of executive producers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, captures firsthand the struggle of these modern-day warriors, who are reinventing their traditions to help save the lions they once prided themselves on killing.

Lionness

Photo by Richard Jones

The video below shows the initiation of two Maasai teens where they will officially become warriors and men.

Lions on the Edge: Thursday, December 9, at 9PM ET/PT
Ruaha National Park in Tanzania used to be a true paradise for wildlife gathered around the rich Ruaha riverbanks. Now, the worst drought in decades is pushing all the animals on a march to find water. The animals follow the dry riverbed upstream for water, while circling prides of lions position themselves close by, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Watch the hunting strategies of the lion pride as they attack a herd of zebras in the video below.

Also featured during Big Cat Week are two specials that take place in Botswana’s Okavango Delta: Eye of the Leopard, which captures the life of a female leopard, from cub to feared predator, and Relentless Enemies, which focuses on the fight for survival of highly specialized lions that prey almost exclusively on buffalo.