Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ABC Wednesday: T is for Tapir

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This is a South American or Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris). They are about 2m long and have a shoulder height of 1m. At that size, Brazilian Tapirs are the largest land mammals in South America and have few predators - jaguars are known to hunt tapirs and crocodiles will prey on them, too.
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Tapirs live secretive lives in the dense rainforest and prefer to keep close to water if there is some in their habitat, they will often seek refuge in the water when something startles them. They can swim very well, but are also surprisingly quick on land.
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The snout is very mobile and can be used to grasp small twigs, to dig in the earth and of course for smelling, it's common to see tapirs moving their snout around to be able to smell better, especially when bulls are following the scent of a female, this is called the Flehmen response and looks like this
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The babies of all Tapir species look like wild piglets, with stripes and spots that make them invisible in the undergrowth. The mother is pregnant for 13 months and gives birth to a single baby. Tapirs can reach an age of 25-30 years.
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They feed on plants, fruit and berries and will follow existing trails in search for food. Tapirs that live near a river or lake will feed on water plants and may even dive to get at them. Like pigs (to whom they are related) they like to wallow in mud to cool off and to get rid of parasites. Edit: I stand corrected - they are not related to pigs, as The Language Hammer pointed out in the comments.
Tapirs are hunted for their meat and skin, but the biggest threat for them is the destruction of their habitat. I have the sad feeling that I've written this phrase in almost all of my animal portraits. If you want to do one thing for the many animals depending on rainforests as their homes, avoid oil palm products - large areas of rainforest are destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations.
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What I like most about Brazilian Tapirs are their ears - look at those cute white eartips. The ones at Hagenbeck, where I took all the photos, also like to be scratched and will bliss out when you get to the right spot (one in particular will even start to drool).

What else does T stand for? Find out with ABC Wednesday

Monday, November 22, 2010

ABC Wednesday: S is for Spotted Thick-knee

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The Spotted Thick-Knee (Burhinus capensis) is a tropical bird that is common in the south of Africa. They belong to the Stone-Curlew or Dikkop family .
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Spotted Thick-Knees are nocturnal and feed on insects, lizards and even small mammals. They nest on the ground and will always lay two eggs, the chicks are able to follow their parents right after hatching.
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They can reach an age of 20 years, even in the wild, and will stay mostly in one place for all their life. They may migrate over a distance if heavy rains flood their habitat, but will return after a while.

Photos taken at Frankfurt Zoo (adult with chick) and Duisburg Zoo
What else does S stand for? Go to ABC Wednesday and find out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

R is for Red Panda

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The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is not really related to the Giant Panda, but it has got its name due to the fact that it also eats mainly bamboo. It's about the size of a big cat and it can climb extremely well, going down a tree head-first is no problem.

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Another similarity to the Giant Panda is the false thumb that allows it to grasp bamboo stalks and other food. The "thumb" is a bone extension of the wrist

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The are most active during the night and around dusk and will spend the day sleeping in hollow trees or stretched out of a branch.
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Even if you have never seen a Red Panda at a zoo or in the wild, you may have encountered one in Kung Fu Panda The Red Panda Network is a great resource for more information about this beautiful animal. They are protected in their natural habitat, but the species is still listed a vulnerable on the Red List and it's threatened by habitat destruction and poaching. Even though they are successfully bred in zoos and captivity bred red pandas have been released into the wild, they won't stand much of a chance until their natural environment is better protected.
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Photos were taken at Hagenbecks Tierpark (red panda in the snow) and Tierpark Berlin (all others).

What else does R stand for? Find out with ABC Wednesday

Monday, November 8, 2010

ABC Wednesday: Q is for Quail

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This is a Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), a bird species that's common in the Southwestern United States. They are found in pairs during the breeding season, but will gather in flocks of thirty to a hundred birds during the winter months.
They feed on seeds, but will also take fruit, green leaves and insects when they have the chance.
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They lay up to 16 eggs and the parents will lead the chicks for weeks, teaching them how to find food and protecting them.

Scaled Quails prefer running for cover when they spot a predator to flying away and they look a bit like wind-up toys, I think:

The video show the white crest nicely that is typical for scaled quails. The quails live at Burgers Zoo.
See what else Q stands for over at ABC Wednesday

Monday, November 1, 2010

ABC Wednesday: P is for Prickly Leatherjacket

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Prickly Leatherjackets (Chaetodermis penicilligerus) are also called Tassled Filefish. They live in the coastal areas of Malaysia, southern Japan and can also be found at the Great Barrier Reef.
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As a slow swimmer, they prefer habitats with a lot of vegetation to hide in. Their body is covered with shreds of skin that help to camouflage them by blurring the body outline of the fish.
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They are usually found alone or in pairs and feed on algae and small invertebrates. Prickly Leatherjackets may reach a size of 30cm (12") and live up to three years.

Photos were taken at Hagenbecks Tierpark. See what else P stands for at ABC Wednesday