20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Horse Lovers, people with a passion for life

March 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Animal News, Catch All, Horses

Horse people honor and celebrate just about everything, but with a wonderful horseman’s twist!

Horsemen and women are passionate about anything horse. Websites, facebook pages, and blogs dedicated to horse lovers are filled with pictures and quotes that embrace the finest qualities we each strive for.

Strength and courage, passion, love, hard work and endurance spread across the pages. But the simple everyday riches of life are also embraced like smiles, spring, horse shedding season, and even the fact that it’s a Friday! Quickly I find myself being drawn in, and loving it!

I was so fortunate to be raised in a family where horses were a big part of our activities. My father, raised on a ranch in Eastern Montana, felt horsemanship was a fundamental part of life. Trail riding, cattle herding, and rodeos were all part of our fare.

The short summer seasons were filled with exploring on horseback, heading out with a packed lunch, and swimming gear incase we chanced upon a stream or pond. During the long winter season, the horses were kept at a highland ranch, where moving cattle between pastures was an ongoing affair. With 10 children, local ranchers loved to have us show up at branding time. All those extra hands helped the work go smoothly and quickly. Then the arrival of springtime had my brothers trying their hands at bronco busting in local rodeos. All these wonderful parts of a young, blossoming horse person set the stage for my life as a passionate horse lover.

Light Horse - AndalusianLight Horse – Andalusian.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Tanja Mikkelsen

Owning a Horse… the ultimate passion

Horses are still used for ranching and other types of work, but the joy of riding and keeping them as companions is what stirs the hearts of even more people today. Each horse breed has its unique abilities and charm, and there’s a horse for every type of person.

Getting the right horse depends on what you imagine doing with it. There are many types of horses, each with their individual breed characteristics. They come in a variety of colors and vary greatly in height and size, as well as temperament. Be patient and take the time to determine what you want, because owning a horse is not only a fabulous experience, but a big responsibility.

Horses are commonly divided into three groups; Light Horses, Draft or Heavy Horses, and Ponies.

Draft Horse - Gypsy Vanner named BonanzaDraft Horse – Gypsy Vanner named Bonanza.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Maria Wahlberg of Sweden
  • Light Horse Breeds – The majority of the riding horses are found in the light breeds. All Light Horses originally descended from the Arabian type. They have great strength and stamina, and depending on the breed, can be used in a variety of show disciplines, with some specialized as racing breeds.
  • Heavy Horse Breeds – The heavier types, commonly known as Draft Horses were developed from the bulkier equines found in the northern hemisphere. They generally have a quiet calm temperament, but they are big and strong.
  • Pony Breeds – Ponies on the other hand, are small. The Pony Breeds are durable horses that evolved smaller in stature, but strong and hardy, because they came from areas where there was often inferior nutrition and harsh environments. They are very durable and usually require less care than the other two groups, but they are also more independent.
Pony Breed - Shetland PonyPony Breed – Shetland Pony.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy ken taylor

Horse paraphenalia… extending the passion

Whether you own a horse or not, once you become a horse lover you’ll find yourself drawn to anything that has to do with horses. I find myself perking up with interest when watching movies or television, whenever a horse comes onto the scene. The super bowl halftime is a favorite, just to see those beautiful Clydesdales in the Budweiser commercials. A recent episode of the fantasy drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” even includes an Andalusian, the beautiful Pure Spanish Horse.

The Internet is great for finding all sorts of tack, equipment, and riding gear. But it is also a great place to find all sorts of cool horse related accessories, knickknacks, and collectables.

I collect Painted Ponies from the popular “Trail of Painted Ponies” project. Rod Barkser, a writer who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, started the project. He was actually prompted to begin the Trail of Painted Ponies project because of a public art exhibition entitled “Cow Parade” that he came across while passing through Chicago during a research trip. He was charmed by these artistically transformed cows, and took it to a new level. He was inspired by the ponies of Santa Fe, and today many artists submit designs for competition, and the results are wonderful pieces of collectable art!

There are too many different types of collectibles to even begin to outline them here. But if you are a horse lover and collector of horse related art, accessories, and collectables, you can check out the horse section of a website called The Collectionary.

The Horses Collectionary is a growing library of horse collectibles and nostalgic items that are fun to peruse, and you can join and share your collections as well.

Happy horse loving, enjoy your passion!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Insects and bugs are on the menu, hungry?

March 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Animal News, Catch All

Insects are also good foods for reptiles and amphibiansInsects to eat at a market stand in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy An-d

Is it time to revisit the Paleo Diet, and go beyond to a diet of insects, bugs, and arthropods?

The idea of snacking on bugs reminds me of Pumbaa in the Lion King movie, smacking his lips and contentedly saying, “Slimy… yet satisfying!” Bugs are small compact packages of food packed with nutrition. But are they scrumptious? That depends on where you live and how you were raised.

Imagine sitting down to the dinner table where the usual fare is accompanied with a selection of succulent dishes concocted with bugs. That may make you a little squeamish if you didn’t grow up with it. People in Western cultures tend to be abhorred by the idea of eating anything that crawls around with six, eight, or more, legs. Yet there are many cultures where the consumption of bugs is commonplace.

Bugs are eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. It’s estimated that between 1,400 to 2,000 species of bugs are eaten in more than 100 countries. These include butterflies and moths, beetles, ants, bees and wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, termites, cicadas, dragonflies, and more. Even before hunting or farming became prevalent methods of food production, insects and other creepers are believed to have been an integral part of the human diet.

Bugs and the Paleolithic Diet

The latest diet craze, the Paleolithic Diet, takes it cues from the Stone Age. The recently popular best seller by Dr. Loren Cordain, The Paleo Diet, reflects this age as the idea behind this diet. Basically, if our early ancestors couldn’t have eaten something, than we shouldn’t be eating it today.

Cordain and other Paleo Diet advocates and researchers emphasize early man as skilled, aggressive hunters, feeding the tribes on meat. Paleo Diet advocates make an excellent point. Hunting and gathering were not only a primary part of our evolution, but are still vital practices throughout the world today.

According to Daniella Martin, in her article The benefits of eating bugs, Meet the new Paleo diet, “Cordain suggests that prior to the agricultural revolution, early humans ate this Paleo Diet for 2.5 million years.” And he further points out that farming, popular for only the last 10,000 years, is just a “drop in the chronological bucket when compared with the millennia leading up to it. He further says that “the hunter-gatherer diet our ancestors lived on is far more deeply and indelibly imprinted into our DNA than our habits of the last few thousand years.”

Yet Martin’s article is very insightful on another front, that of bugs! She suggests that in the long evolution of man, there are piles of evidence indicating that early man may very well have gotten a significant portion of their diet from insects and other creepy crawlers.

She describes how early hunters could score a big game kill on average only about 20% of the time. If this had been their only food source, they would have starven. To feed the tribe in between kills their regular fare would have to include lots of food items they could gather and forage. She says these would include tubers and greens along with small animals, the bulk of which would be insects and other invertebrates.

Skewered locusts, Beijing, ChinaSkewered locusts to eat in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv

Bugs, nutritious and delicious

The practice of humans eating bugs for food is called Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

An Entomophaga diet primarily consists of insects, those six-legged creepy crawlers with two antenae, but it also includes certain arthropods. Arthropods are not insects but are still creepers. These include arachnids like spiders, tarantulas and scorpions, and myriapods like centipedes. Crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp are also arthropods, but they are not included in the definition of Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

The nice thing about eating bugs, from a nutritional standpoint, is they have so many of the things that the human body needs. They contain protein, iron, calcium, the healthy unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), and other nutrients.

Martin says they are a much higher quality food compared to things like leaves, fruits, flowers, and nuts. Plant sources do contain many of these same nutrients, but in a much smaller concentration. She indicates the difference is because “insects are a two food source — they themselves have eaten, and thereby concentrated in their own tissues, the nutrients found in plant sources.” For people, this higher concentration means less work for the same nutritional benefits.

Deep fried giant waterbugs, ThailandDeep fried giant waterbugs (Lethocerus indicus) are often seen at local markets in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Takoradee

Bugs, on the market

There are some food bugs available in the US, but these are mostly found in specialty restaurants or as novelty snack items. Some of these delectable items are:

  • Chocolate covered insects: These edible, farm-raised insects include scorpions, superworms, silkworms, bees, ants, and crickets.
  • Crickets: Farm raised crickets can be found flavored with salt & vinegar, bacon & cheese, and sour cream & onion.
  • Larvets Worm Snacks: These edible, farm-raised larva are flavored in cheddar cheese, BBQ, bacon & cheese, and Mexican Spice.
  • Casu marzu: More commonly known as maggot cheese, this is a cheese laced with maggots.
  • Insect Lollipops: Transparent candy lollipops that have scorpions (the harmless California scorpions), mealworms, or crickets encased inside a delicious candy coating.
Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli)Diverse Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli) known as Mbinzo. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Francis Hannaway

Insects and other bugs are a delicacy, and often a staple in many countries throughout the world. Here are some good food bugs, starting with mealworms and crickets which pet keepers in the US are very familiar with, and ending with some familiar arthropods:

  • Mealworms: (Netherlands) Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. These are good sources of protein, copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Crickets: (Taiwan) Crickets are one of the most common food items in this country. (NE Thailand) Crickets laden with eggs are considered a tasty snack in this country.
  • Ants: (Malawi) Candied ants are a favorite in Malawi. (Thailand) They consume Weaver ant eggs in this country.
  • Flies: (Malawi) They use flies to make fly pancakes!
  • Fried spiders, CambodiaFried spiders for sale at the market in Skuon, Cambodia. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Mat Connolley
  • Grasshoppers: (So. Mexico) In Southern Mexico grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, called chapulines, are widely consumed.
  • Locust: (Thailand) Locusts feed primarily on the leaves of rice plants, they became a staple when they experienced a major locust problem in this country.
  • Termites: (South America, Africa, parts of Indonesia) Consuming termites is commonplace. They are rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty and amino acids, and high in protein, most with about 38%, but a species found in Venezuelan, Syntermes aculeosus, contains as much as 64%.
  • Cockroaches: (Thailand) They eat many types of insects in this country!
  • Giant Water Beetles: (Thailand)
  • Stink Bugs: (Asia, South America, Africa). These insects are rich in nutrients including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Skewered scorpions, Beijing, ChinaSkewered scorpions to eat, in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv
  • African Palm Weevil: (Africa) This insect is fatty along with potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, several amino acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Mopane Caterpillars: (So. Africa) Mopane caterpillars are the larval stage of the Emperor Moth Imbrasia belina.
  • Maguey Worms: (Malawi) (Mexico) Maguey Worms are the larvae of a giant butterfly, the Tequila Giant Skipper Aegiale hesperiaris.
  • Witchetty Grubs: (Australia) This is a staple in the diet of the aboriginal people.
  • Tarantulas: (Cambodia) These are favored delicacies here!
  • Spiders: (France) Some spider species are dipped in chocolate and fried as treats. (Africa) Spiders are regularly mixed into all the meals.
  • Scorpions: (Singapore, Beijing) These are a common food, usually fried and then skewered.

Bugs, solving the world’s food crisis

In a world pushing a population of 8 billion, and expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 according to the United Nations (UN), food resources are becoming stretched. Insects and other creepers are highly nutritious, readily available, and have a very efficient reproductive capacity. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

In his article, Why Insects Should Be in Your Diet, biochemist and entomologist Dr. Aaron T. Dossey says insects “hold great promise for thwarting an impending global food crisis” and he believes that they “can realistically become an important part of our future.”

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Brilliant New Soft Coral Species Discovered, Psammogorgia hookeri

February 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Animal News, Aquariums, Catch All, Corals Mini-Reef

Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea WhipsPhoto Courtesy Yuri Hooker Peru Underwater

A beautiful bright red coral species, described as Psammogorgia hookeri, has been found in the Peruvian region of the Eastern Pacific!

It was the brilliant reddish color of this soft coral that first caught the attention of Yuri Hooker in 2002, and he collect the first specimens at that time. Hooker came across it again in 2008 while he was researching marine sponges, and at that time he was able to collect new specimens.

Dr Yuri Hooker is a biologist and naturalist at the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University in Lima, Peru. In an article published by El Comercio, A new species of coral inhabiting the waters of Paracas, he says that with the 2008 specimens he began to “start the scientific process of identification and description”. It was then validated as a new soft coral species in 2014 by Odalisca Breedy, a research specialist in Octocoral Taxonomy at the University of Costa Rica (CIMAR), and her associate Hector M. Guzman, a marine biologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Scientific description

This new coral species has been named Psammogorgia hookeri in honor of Dr Yuri Hooker. Breedy and Guzman describe this honor in their report, A new species of alcyonacean octocoral from the Peruvian zoogeographic region, published by Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014, as bestowed “in recognition of his (Hooker) indefatigable and valuable contribution to the knowledge of the marine invertebrates and natural history of Peru.”

Breedy and Guzman, both experts in soft coral taxonomy and ecology, identified this new species based on colony characteristics and examinations using both light and scanning-electron microscopy. This species is described as a member of the Alcyonacea order of soft corals in the Holaxonia suborder of gorgonians. It belongs to the Plexauridae family, which are soft corals that form branching colonies and are often known as sea rods or sea fans. Within this family it is placed in the genus Psammogorgia, which now contains 14 described species, with Psammogorgia hookeri being the newest member.

Distribution

The discovery of this new soft coral has created quite a stir. The rich coral red coloring makes it an undeniable beauty, but it seems to have a very limited occurrence. It has only been found from Isla San Gallan, in the Paracas National Reserve. This reserve is located in Ica, Peru and contains the Paracas Peninsula, coastal areas, and extends inland into the tropical desert areas.

This vibrant coral is thought to possibly be endemic to the Paracas National Reserve. During his research, Hooker says he has traveled almost all of the Peruvian coasts, from Tumbes to Tacna, but has only found these soft corals in the Paracas region.

The waters of this region are cool in contrast to the more congenial waters of other eastern Pacific tropical regions, where temperatures can exceed 82.4° F (28° C). Breedy and Guzman say, “the diversity of Peruvian shallowwater octocorals may be low, but species and ecosystems have adapted to dramatic coastal oceanographic changes.” They suggest that both “seasonal and inter-annual upwellings” and El Nino impact the region, changing the surface temperatures of the water. That in turn creates a “turbid green-to-brown ecosystem”, and thus effects the bio-productivity.

Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea WhipsPhoto Courtesy Yuri Hooker

Description and habitat

Breedy and Guzman describe Psammogorgia hookeri colonies as small, bushy, and branching. They are about 3″(8 cm) wide with branches that reach about 7 3/4″ (12 cm) in length. They are a bright coral red color with translucent polyps.

The scientists described the coral’s colony habitation as clusters on rocky ledges and cliffs, and then spreading along the substrate. They say that areas they inhabit are generally “surrounded by other organisms such as sponges, worms, sea urchins and brachiopods among other sessile creatures.” However this coral is not a shallow water species. It has not been found at depths of less than 65′ (20 m).

Availability

Interestingly, this soft coral has been seen attached to mussel shells in local fish markets! However its availability for the reef aquarium is pretty slim right now, as finding Psammogorgia hookeri specimens in fish stores or online is difficult, if not impossible.

Learn more about the types of soft corals categorized as Gorgonians at Types of Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea Whips on Animal-World, which also includes coral guides for different species with pictures, background information, and the aquarium care needed for keeping them in a mini reef.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

PlanetXingu Project, A win for Catfish and the Xingu River

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Animal News, Aquariums, Catch All, Freshwater fish

Catfish Varieties: Royal Plecostomus, Panaque nigrolineatusRoyal Plecostomus or Black Lined Panaque, Panaque nigrolineatus. Color forms of this species are found in the Rio Xingu. Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs.

Two Thumbs Up! To Planet Catfish and the PlanetXingu Project

Planet Catfish and founder Julian Dignall truly deserve our praise and recognition for their successful fundraising project, PlanetXingu. Julian conceived PlanetXingu almost a year ago to help research into the Rio Xingu in Brazil.

PlanetXingu has been a great success. Big kudos to these guys in the UK for stepping up to the plate. Hundreds of aquarists and fish lovers became engaged and donated both money and time to the project. They not only reached, but exceeded their $11,000 goal!

Julian will be hosting an exciting event this coming Sunday, Feb 9th, 2014, where you can meet two of the major players on the project, Mark Sabaj Perez and Nathan Lujan. There will be two online sessions , one at 1900 GMT and the other at 1900 EST. Sign in at: http://tinychat.com/planetcatfish

The project evolved due to the plight of the endemic and migratory species of the Xingu River in Brazil. The Brazilian Government is currently constructing the Belo Monte Dam on one of the Amazon’s major tributaries, the Xingu River. It is estimated by Amazon Watch in their article, Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam, Sacrificing the Amazon and its Peoples for Dirty Energy, that this will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam.

This project brought to light many concerns over the impacts this will have on communities, rivers, and forests throughout the Xingu basin. Amazon Watch says it is designed to divert 80% of the river’s flow, “devastating an area of over 1,500 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest”.

Dignall envisioned bringing together a communty of fish lovers and scientist to the aid of Rio Xingu. His inspiration was to help assist both researchers in the field as well as those that keep and breed Xingu basin species in captivity. Thus the launch of the PlanetXingu fundraising project in March 2013. The aim of the project was to raise $11,000 by January 1, 2014 to purchase equipment for studying the river before, during, and after the dam’s construction. You can learn more about PlanetXingu on Planet Catfish’s An Introduction to the project.

We are proud of the efforts of Julian Dignall and Planet Catfish, not only on the PlanetXingu project, but for their years of online information. Their website originated in 1997/98, at about the same time as Animal-World. With well over 2400 catfish varieties, it is a great resource for pictures and taxonomical information on catfish species, and one of our premium references. In fact one of our super team members, Ken Childs, who has over 2 decades of fish experience in the wholesale arena, provided numerous catfish pictures to their database.

Learn about the history and background of catfish on Animal-World, along with aquarium guides for the different kinds of catfish: Catfish Varieties, Fish Guides for All Types of Catfish

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Save our Pets!

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Animal News, Catch All, Wild Animals

Save Our PetsSave Our Pets now and into the future, let your voice be heard! Cat Ex Action Alert

Love keeping pets? Then let’s all help save our pets now and for future generations!

Imagine waking up a few years from now to your child or grandchild asking you what a bunny, hamster, frog or parakeet is.

How could this happen? Well, they would still see them in pictures and read about them on a digital device. If they live in an area where there is a public zoo they may get to see them live through bars. But they can’t actually touch them, watch them up close, or keep and care for them.

If you love animals as much as I do, then that future is unimaginable. What kind of world would this be without wonderful and interesting pets? Yet today, and for the last decade or so, there have been multiple actions to create just such a scenario.

Amazingly enough it’s our love for our pets and animals that has become the fuel for such a bleak future. We can’t stand to see animals abused or abandoned, so we are easily swayed to fight for causes to protect them.

Yet we must be leery of legislation that would undermine our children’s future ability to keep pets. Promoting actions to protect animals is great, but we must also be diligent to save our pets from restrictive legislation. Fortunately there are many people keeping an eye on legislative efforts, identifying those that are excessive and irresponsible.

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) is one such organization. USARK just posted an alert about a proposal that would enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to allow a “Categorical Exclusion” from NEPA requirements.”

They are concerned because “this rule would allow USFWS to add species as injurious (making importation, interstate commerce and interstate transportation illegal) without full due process afforded under the law. This affects reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, small mammals and a huge portion of the pet industry. Any species listed would disappear from the pet community.”

I too am concerned because this ruling would provide an over reaching authority to add any animal without people’s input and discussion, and it affects ALL types of pets. At Animal-World we believe that with the kinship and love that we feel for our pets comes the responsibility of knowing and providing what is best for them.

Public comments are needed from pet lovers right now, before February 21st. Let your voice be heard! See the Cat Ex Action Alert (Deadline 2/21/14). There you will find the USARK sample letter, which you can edit to fit you, along with instructions for where and how to send your opinion.

Spread this information to family, friends and neighbors, so we can all help save our pets today and into the future!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

The Coral Triangle, an Awesome Visage to be Spotlighted by Animal Planet

The Coral Triangle seen in the Philippines

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to scuba dive, the area known as the “coral triangle” is a part of our world that offers a panorama of beauty to sate every artist’s palette.

Animal Planet, a unit of Discovery Communications, plans to share a bird’s eye view of the incredible life swirling beneath the waves of our vast oceans. “WILD DEEP” will be presented as a six-part televised documentary with the first episode featuring “The Coral Triangle” debuting on Tuesday, January 22, at 9:00pm ET/PT.

In the Animal Planet WILD DEEP press release they say the documentary will showcase “the amazing wonders and epic beauty that exist in Earth’s seas and oceans.” Their first episode will start “with a deep dive into the waters of the Coral Triangle near Asia.” Subsequent episodes will involve “series dives into the waters surrounding Africa, Europe, Oceania and the Americas to showcase the dramatic, complex universes beneath their waves.”

Coral Triangle covers 5.7 million square kilometers in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

The Coral Triangle covers 5.7 million square kilometers in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is a roughly shaped triangular region encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

Each episode of the Animal Planet documentary should be a fascinating adventure, but the Coral Triangle region will definitely be a highlight.

The waters of this area are teeming with vast and extremely diverse life forms. Besides being known as the “coral triangle” it is also called the “Amazon of the seas”, reflecting the great Amazon Basin region which is re-known for the extraordinary beauty and diversity of its own inhabitants.

Even a single coral head is covered with multiple coral species and a variety of saltwater fish

When we see ocean corals and fish above water, viewed in the full spectrum of light offered by aquariums, photos, or videos, we can see the incredible colors they possess.

Yet under water, the red spectrum of light becomes reduced the deeper you go, and the animals present a much more even palette. A soothing elegance of interconnected color is created beneath the waves. Though not necessarily flamboyant, this natural deep-water setting offers an awesome, yet curiously comforting scene.

The The Coral Triangle Center states that “a full 76 percent of known coral species are found here and 37 percent of reef fish species.” Now that’s a lot of critters! There are extensive mangrove forests in the region. Mangrove swamps grow along coastal regions and have massive root systems that are efficient at dissipating wave energy, so they protect the coastal areas from erosion, storm surges, and tsunamis. But they also provide valuable nursery areas for all sorts of aquatic animals.

The Coral Triangle is incredibly diverse with 76 percent of the world’s reef corals and hundreds of saltwater fish species

The reef areas are also rich in life, with animals ranging from corals and fish to many types of invertebrates and algaes. They offer spawning and breeding grounds too, for whales and dolphins, sea turtles, and huge fisheries. According to the Coral Triangle Center, the life encountered in this region has “sustained sea faring island people for millennia.”

The Center says that today this incredible habitat “is recognized as the global centre of marine biodiversity and a global priority for conservation.” The diversity of these reef are the seeding stock for future coral reefs, and can help “ensure adaptation as our natural communities respond to climate change and other global trends.”

GMA News reports that the Coral Triangle region has been recognized “as an area of acute ecological importance and of great concern by many governments”. Countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands have come together to form ‘The Coral Triangle Initiative’. GMA reports that the Initiative’s purpose is to urgently spread “ideas about sustainable fishing practices” and to set up “marine reserves across the region to ensure pockets of this fragile ecosystem are protected and allowed to thrive.”

Animal-World provides pictures and information on a large selection of Coral Reef Animals and Saltwater fish, along with detailed information on the care necessary to keep them in a marine aquarium or reef tank.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Who’s hungry? A Human Smorgasbord for Flesh-eating Piranha!

Swarm of carnivorous piranha attacked hundreds of bathers!

Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs

Christmas was a very warm day along the Parana River near Rosario, Argentina. Hundreds of city dwellers were trying to escape the 100-degree weather in the cooler waters of a popular beach about 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. But then, they began to notice bite marks on their hands and feet.

A swarm of carnivorous fish attacked hundreds of bathers, sending around 70 people to local clinics and emergency rooms for treatment.

The local Director of lifeguards, Federico Cornier, told reporters from BBC and other broadcasters in the area “it’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great… This is an exceptional event.”

A man is treated at a clinic in Rosario, Argentina, after a school of flesh-eating palometas, a type of piranha, attacked swimmers cooling off in the Parana River on Christmas Day. As per LA Times “Flesh-eating fish attack swimmers in Argentine river; 70 injured” (Silvina Salinas / Associated Press Photo/ December 25, 2013)

Cornier said that the fish responsible for the attacks were “palometas”, a type of piranha with large sharp teeth. Dozens of people had their extremities attacked. Paramedic Alberto Manino, speaking with the Associated Press, said that some children he had treated had lost entire digits!

The term ‘palometa’ is a common name used for several types of fish. This includes the Piranha, but it is also used for a Caribbean gamefish Trachinotus goodie and a Western Atlantic fish, the Maracaibo Leatherjacket Oligoplites palometa.

The Piranhas belong to a sub-family called the Serrasalminae, or the ‘serrated salmon family’ consisting of around 60 species. The unmistakable trademark features of the Piranha are their triangular, razor sharp teeth. As described in Piranha: Story of the Piranha Fish from Predator to Prey, these teeth enable them to ‘slice off pieces of meat, fins or scales, literally taking apart their prey piece by piece.’

The palometa that attacked these bathers is most likely the Red Piranha Pygocentrus nattereri, also called the Red-bellied Piranha. This is a very widespread species, occurring in several river basins of South American. Although it typically grows between about 3 to 9 1/2 inches (8-24 cm) in length, one specimen was reported at a whooping 19 1/2 inches (50 cm).

Keeping the Red Piranha in the aquarium is truly a fascination. In the wild the Red Piranha lives in large schools. This type of school is not usually possible in an aquarium, but with the proper environment these fish will show some traits of their wild behavior. In nature the largest fish is the ‘alpha’ animal and in the aquarium it is the most aggressive and bold. The alpha fish will dominate the best spaces in the tank and will basically own the feeding ritual. All other members are subordinate and will take on the traits of servants. Any unwilling ‘servants’ will be quickly and aggressively put in their place by the alpha fish!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and animal species write-ups.

Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings 2013

December 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Animal News, Catch All

Holiday Greetings

Happy Holidays! Wishing you a festive holiday season and a very happy new year!

Our world is filled with so many fascinating creatures – pets, animals and people! Each one has a different path in life, but no matter where we go we find a little of each other.

Peace, love, acceptance and joy are the norm each day for all of earth’s creatures. But for the human species, the holiday season is a special time to reflect and embrace all the beauty of this great earth.

Animal-World Team wishes you a joyous holiday and a new year filled with splendor, hope, and peace!

Making Babies! Once a Year Coral Spawn Event

October 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Animal News, Catch All, Corals Mini-Reef

Tenting a Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis
All Photos included here courtesy Richard Ross
California Academy of Sciences

The Octo Mom pales in comparison to the Florida Keys Coral Spawn

An event that happens just once a year yet results in hundreds of thousands of babies. Imagine have just one such happening to produce all the offspring you could ever want! That’s the annual spawning of Elkhorn, Staghorn and other corals off the Florida Keys.

For just a short period of time each year, by a phase of the moon, thirty thousand coral colonies or more are synced-up and driven to reproduce. This happens in August or September, usually just a few days after a full moon.

See exactly how corals spawn! The Coral Spawn video produced by NOAA Ocean Media Center

Now that type of baby making is enough to stir the envy of any mom, Octo or otherwise! Granted, there’s not the same type of physical interaction mammals have, making babies in the animal world. There’s no dating or marriage, nor ongoing obligations.

Coral parents never actually have sex, nor do the mothers (or fathers) then host and provide sustenance for the developing offspring. Rather corals are sessile invertebrates that spew their gametes (eggs and sperm) into the ocean’s water column in one mass spawning exchange.

Buoyant gamete bundles float about the water column until they meet up with gametes from neighboring colonies. Cross-fertilization, resulting is baby corals, is then a happen stance event.

Staghorn Coral Gamete Bundles
Acropora cervicornis

Coral Spawning, Gamete Bundles

Hundreds of thousands of fertilized gametes quickly evolve into coral planula, which soon becomes free-swimming larvae. A few days later they will begin making their way down to the reef. They will seek a suitable area to on the reef area to settle, attach and form polyps.

These polyps grow into beautiful new coral colonies, expanding the reef.

Coral spawning is a curious event similar to being in an upside down snowstorm. Tons of tiny little flakes begin swirling about. But corals only spawn at night, so to watch this wondrous “dance of the gametes”, it helps to be a scuba diver. It also helps to be experienced in diving at night so that you don’t miss any of this exciting event. This years spawning lasted for 4 consecutive days.

Elkhorn Coral Gamete Bundles
Acropora palmata

Restoration of Corals in the Florida Keys

The Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), based in the Florida Keys, has been working to restore various threatened coral species. I had an opportunity to see some of their cultured specimens of staghorn corals just a few weeks ago at the SuperZoo trade show. Ken Nedimyer, president of the foundation, was very excited about their ongoing efforts in creating offshore coral nurseries, as well as an onshore lab for studying reproduction.

For this years spawning event, CRF joined with 8 other organizations from across the country. Representatives from Akron Zoo, California Academy of Science, Florida Aquarium, Mystic Seaquarium, NOAA, Seaworld and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund joined with CRF to provide help and support. 25 people in all worked to collect spawn from the open waters as well as from selected staghorn specimens spawning in their lab.

Collecting Gamete Bundles
During a Coral Spawn

You and I, and everyone are invited to volunteer and participate in CRF dive programs to help plant specimens. Although the spawning season has passed until the fall of 2014, the restoration efforts are ongoing. The ultimate goal of CRF is to test the fertilization of selective gametes in an effort to propagate more resistant corals and help ensure their survival.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

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