The 20th January Penguin Awareness Day is the time to bring your attention to the Erect-Crested Penguin.

This distinct looking penguin has seen it’s range shrink considerably through the 20th Century and in to the 21st. They now occupy only a few small islands off the southern coast of New Zealand and are rarely spotted elsewhere. At one time their range included most of the coast of New Zealand as well as the more northern Antarctic shores. They are classed as endangered because of their rapidly declining population.

They spend most of the winter at sea feeding, rarely coming to land. During the breeding season they come to land and in pairs build small nests on the rocky sea shore. Unusually they typically lay two eggs, discarding or losing the first egg very quickly before incubating and hatching the second egg.

A very interesting and sadly not very understood species. But now you are aware of it.

Today at the zoo

Today while working my volunteer shift at tigers, I had a mom and her daughter(probably my age) come up and were looking up at the tigers. The mom pointedly asked if the tiger was unhappy, because he had been pretty focused on the back gate, where the keepers work. I explained to her that because the keepers were nearby that he, like some of our other animals, would become fixated on them and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a distressed or unhappy animal. The mom then says to the daughter “see, do you feel better?” And she must have seen the curiosity on my face because the mom says “she hasn’t been to a zoo in who knows how long, i had to drag her to come.” Indicating that she wasn’t a fan of zoos.

Now up until now the daughter hadn’t made eye contact at all and just looked unhappy to be there. Because her obvious perception was that the animals were bored and unhappy, I started explaining the different enrichment we use, the fact we use perfumes and spices like cinnamon to keep them stimulated. And she laughed in surprise for the first time and looked at me: “wait really?” And I went on to explain training and even our ultrasound trained polar bear, our conservation efforts, our nonprofit status, and finally that she was contributing to us helping save species just by coming. She was helping us save the very tiger that she was concerned for at the beginning, and I thanked her for helping us save tigers and so so many other animals from extinction. By the end of it, she was moved to tears and hugged me, thanking me for changing her view on zoos, and that she’d had no idea we were making such an impact.

This is exactly why I do this. This is why good zoos matter. And this is what keeps me working towards my zoo career.

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As we eagerly approach the end of the year, we cannot forget that wildlife conservation is a never-ending story. Major successes and minor setbacks reveal the continued fight to save species from extinction. Before we ring in the new year, take a look at some of San Diego Zoo Global’s highlights from 2016 to ignite passion for wildlife in the year ahead—and support for the planet and all of its creatures. Visit EndExtinction.org to learn more. (source)

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The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) is a subspecies of ringed seal (Pusa hispida). They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 320 individuals. The only existing population of these seals is found in Lake Saimaa, Finland (hence the name).This seal, along with the Ladoga seal and the Baikal seal, is one of the few living freshwater seals.

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All subspecies of Panthera tigris in human history.

Three extinct, one extinct in the wild, two critically endangered and declining, one endangered with virtually none in zoos, and two endangered that might be showing a promising future.

It’s all because of us.

Let’s make sure we don’t lose any more.

Norway plans to cull more than two-thirds of its wolf population

September 16, 2016 - Norway is planning to cull more than two-thirds of its remaining wolves in a step that environmental groups say will be disastrous for the dwindling members of the species in the wild.

There are estimated to be about 68 wolves remaining in the wilderness areas of Norway, concentrated in the south-east of the country, but under controversial plans approved on Friday as many as 47 of these will be shot.

Hunting is a popular sport in the country. Last year more than 11,000 hunters applied for licences to shoot 16 wolves, a ratio of more than 700 applicants to each licence.

The government has justified this year’s planned cull – the biggest in more than a century – on the basis of harm done to sheep flocks by the predators. Environmental groups dispute this, saying the real damage is minimal and the response out of all proportion.

The government did not reply to a request from the Guardian for comment.

The government has taken action to prevent illegal wolf hunting. Wolves are also an attraction for some tourists to the country. But the new legal hunting limit is beyond anything that the wild population can withstand, according to Norway’s leading green groups.

Under the arrangements, 24 wolves will be shot within the region of the country designated for wolf habitat, while another 13 will be shot in neighbouring regions and a further 10 in other areas of the country.

According to environmental groups, the number of wolves the government plans to kill this year is greater than in any year since 1911.

Nina Jensen, chief executive of WWF in Norway, said: “This is mass slaughter. We have not seen anything like this in a hundred years, back when the policy was that all large carnivores were to be eradicated.

“Shooting 70% of the wolf population is not worthy of a nation claiming to be championing environmental causes. People all over the country, and outside its borders, are now reacting.”

She said the losses to farmers from wolves had been minimal, and pointed to settlements by the Norwegian parliament in 2004 and 2011 that stipulated populations of carnivores must be allowed to co-exist with livestock.

“This decision must be stopped,” said Silje Ask Lundberg, chair of Friends of the Earth Norway. “With this decision, three out of six family groups of wolves might be shot. We are calling on the minister of environment to stop the butchering. Today, Norway should be ashamed.”

Source

The Hawaiian monk seal may have colonized the Hawaiian Islands as early as 10 million years ago, but today this seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with only about 1300 remaining in the wild. 

Most Hawaiian monk seals now live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, but some live in the main Hawaiian Islands, including in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Young Hawaiian monk seals sometimes become entangled in plastic debris and derelict fishing nets and can drown – so one of the best things you can do to help these endangered seals is to reduce the amount of single-use plastic you utilize and to participate in a beach cleanup near you! 

(Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)

Our elders have been warning us about this for generations now—they saw the unsustainability of settler society immediately. Societies based on conquest cannot be sustained, so yes, I do think we’re getting closer to that breaking point for sure. We’re running out of time. We’re losing the opportunity to turn this thing around. We don’t have time for this massive slow transformation into something that’s sustainable and alternative. I do feel like I’m getting pushed up against the wall. Maybe my ancestors felt that 200 years ago or 400 years ago. But I don’t think it matters. I think that the impetus to act and to change and to transform, for me, exists whether or not this is the end of the world. If a river is threatened, it’s the end of the world for those fish. It’s been the end of the world for somebody all along. And I think the sadness and the trauma of that is reason enough for me to act.
—  Leanne Simpson, Nishnaabeg writer and theorist
wildaid.org
BREAKING NEWS: China Announces Domestic Ivory Ban
BEIJING (30 December 2016) — The end of the world’s largest ivory market was announced today by the Chinese government as it released a detailed timetable for ending its legal ivory trade. Domesti...

This is huge!

“The end of the world’s largest ivory market was announced today by the Chinese government as it released a detailed timetable for ending its legal ivory trade. Domestic ivory sales will be banned by the end of 2017 with the first batch of factories and traders to close their business by 31 March 2017”

Source: WildAid

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Visiting the New Bears Ears National Monument

In an area as vast and diverse as the new Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah, it’s hard to know where to start in exploring. Here are some ideas for capturing a sampling of what the new National Monument offers.

On the Northern end, take state route 211 into spectacular Indian Creek Canyon. Stop at Newspaper Rock, a large and spectacular petroglyph panel with carvings dating back to 2,000 years. Further along, the canyon opens up into a wide valley rimmed by Navajo Sandstone. The iconic “Sixshooter” spires soon become visible. Look for rock climbers scaling the narrow cracks in the vertical Navajo Sandstone.

Further south, Take Highway 261 and 95 onto Cedar Mesa. The twin Bears Ears rise just north of the mesa. This is one of the most significant archaeological regions anywhere, with ancient pueblos tucked into endless canyons. Visiting many of the pueblos require planning ahead as they include hikes and some also require visitor permits. However, a view of the spectacular Butler Wash Ruin is a one hour round trip hike from a developed trailhead while the Mule Canyon Ruin is located along the highway.

Driving south along the rolling pinion uplands of Cedar Mesa does not prepare one for the descent of Highway 261 via the “Moki Dugway”. The route drops precipitously with views of Monument Valley in the distance. Similar landforms to Monument Valley’s famous formations are found along a 17 mile unpaved loop drive beginning at the base of the Dugway which traverses the Valley of the Gods.

A final stop along the southern border of the monument is also a must see. The viewpoint at Goosenecks State Park takes in a spectacular sequence of tight and colorful meanders of the San Jun River carved into the sandstone cliffs.

Many parts of the new national monument are remote and there are no services. Make sure to stock up with supplies in Monticello, Blanding or Bluff which all offer a full array of services as well as accommodations.

Take Care: Behind The Scenes With MoMA’s Conservation Team

Art conservators are equal parts artist, scientist, detective and surgeon. Fighting against time and decay, they repair damaged artwork, discover hidden secrets of an object’s creation, and use historical techniques and cutting edge technologies to preserve pieces of art for generations to come.

This season, join @momateens​ in an incredible behind-the-scenes journey as they learn how to examine, repair, and maintain artwork. They’ll work alongside MoMA’s Conservators in the studio to gain the real world skills needed to care for our vast collection of Modern and Contemporary art. No previous art or conservation experience needed to apply! Apply here or email momateens@moma.org.

[Photo by Kaitlyn Stubbs]