Habitat loss

I appreciate that climate change gets a lot of attention (possibly because it has the potential to have the highest economic costs if left unchecked) but it is my duty to remind everyone that the biggest threat to wildlife and ecosystems today is habitat loss. Not climate change. Not trophy hunting. Not even pollution–though a habitat can become so degraded from pollution that it becomes unusable.

The very best way to curb global destruction of habitat is to implement large-scale changes to our development patterns, energy production, and agricultural system. So be sure to support those efforts politically. You can also support sustainable, multi-use development in your communities(many municipalities talk about community-wide projects at city counsel meetings!). Live densely. Eat less meat. Call out self driving cars for the sprawl-supporting pact with satan that they are. Support public transportation! Don’t support sprawl and McMansions! Recognize that suburbia in general and lawns in particular are a facsimile of greenness that destroy actual usable habitat and replace it with sterile monocultures that require gallons of water, pesticides, and fertilizer to maintain. Stop using products with neonicotinoids altogether. Make your yard wildlife-friendly. Consider a brush pile. Keep your damn cats indoors. Plant native plants. Remove invasive plants. Maybe don’t freak out and call animal control every time you see a bat or snake or coyote in your neighborhood since they were literally there first and we’ve left them no place else to go. Watch out for herps crossing the roads in the breeding season, especially our salamanders. Plant a NATIVE tree. Support your local parks, forests, and waterways, big and small. 

A Japanese paradise flycatcher feeding its baby. This migratory species is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline as a result of habitat degradation and loss on its wintering grounds.

Reserve in Namibia, Africa ©

I bet you didn’t know that the Giraffe as a species is in serious trouble since populations have plummeted by nearly 40% in the past two decades across Africa.

Why? Well, it’s mainly due to major habitat loss, habitat degradation, and population fragmentation, worsened by illegal hunting and human population expansion. At the end of 2016, the Giraffe was uplisted on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species from “least concern” to “vulnerable”. While other African animals such as the rhino and elephant are known to be threatened worldwide, the Giraffe has not gained much attention at all and is silently slipping towards extinction. What no one realizes is that there’s actually less Giraffe than there are elephants…
Rigorous conservation efforts will need to be undertaken in order to restore declining populations. Greater awareness of this issue is the first step.

Reaching up to 4ft in length the Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle (Chitra chitra) is one of the largest fresh water turtles in the world, but also one of the most endangered. Listed as number 12 of the top 25 most endangered turtles and tortoises. This species has been heavily affected by poaching and habitat destruction, and could be lost without our protection.


In case you’ve ever wondered what zoos do for reptile conservation, the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans has a fantastic breeding project going on. A large chunk of their reptile house is dedicated to the Louisiana pine snake. These cages are simple, and they all have two snakes in them right now- because it’s breeding season. See, the Louisiana pine snake is one of the rarest snakes in North America. It is extremely threatened by habitat loss and development, and so it has a Species Survival Plan in place to help protect it as a species.

See those enclosures? Each of those is a temporary home for a snake not on exhibit. Each of those represents a healthy adult who could potentially breed. Each of those cages houses precious genetic information. The captive population of Louisiana pine snakes is low- it started with less than 100 individuals- and only four zoos have gotten them to successfully breed, the Audubon Zoo being one of them. Females only lay three to five eggs per year, and so every potential baby snake is important. If you look at the first picture up top, you’ll see some of the things the zoo records about each snake. They note where the snake came from, how they were hatched, how old they are, and the locality. This helps ensure that the gene pool is as diverse as possible. 

But this isn’t just ex situ conservation! Several hatchlings are released each year into a protected habitat. The zoos’ collective goal is to establish a self-sustaining population in a restored habitat where the species has been long extirpated. Eventually, the pine forests of Louisiana might see this beautiful snake slithering around- which wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for captive breeding efforts! 


The Blue Crowned Pigeon is considered one of the most beautiful members of the pigeon family. They are found in the rain forests of Indonesia. They are hunted for food and its plumes. Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range and overhunting in some areas they are known as a threatened species. (Source)

Our children’s book, “Everything is Connected: An Ecological Tale” has reached 50% funding on Kickstarter!

Please continue sharing with your friends and family so we can reach our goal!

The story follows a coywolf pup and her mother through their territory as they encounter different degrees of habitat loss. Readers will be inspired by the beauty and wonder of nature, and will want to protect wildlife and their environments.


I think a lot about this illustration from May Theilgaard Watts’ 1975 book Reading the Landscape of America. Watts was a completely singular human, whose expansive mind was able to draw intricate connections between operating parts of ecosystems and whose expansive heart seemed driven by a need to bring you with her so that you could enjoy/understand the natural world as deeply as she. 

As you read the A track through this image, you can see how many of the places that appear to be natural actually represent a loss that is almost entirely irrevocable. And since Watts first wrote this, there are more stressors as yet unidentified to that little patch of shrinking forest - fly dumping, invasive species, climate change. This makes the need to fight for them even more dire.

Further, we can see when Trump talks about opening up our public lands for development, the extent to which his drilling, roads and walls will do more damage than merely to the immediate area and in the short term. Perhaps under another leader, certain concessions could be brokered for our country that were in good faith, but our racist dried apricot of a despot has proven that his only good faith is to himself. He must be resisted in every venue he brings his policies and rhetoric - even the places that are, for now, most quiet. 

Brecht said you can’t write poems about the trees when the woods are full of policemen, but maybe we can write poems where the trees are teaching the policemen what justice actually is, how sharing works, the ways in which governing should also be a healthy, functioning ecosystem. Maybe May Watts was the best policeman we ever had.

Helmeted water toad (Calyptocephalella gayi)

The helmeted water toad is found in central Chile, and possibly adjacent west-central Argentina. This very large toad weighs up to 0.5 kg. It is aquatic and found in deep ponds and small reservoirs. It is threatened by capture for human consumption, habitat loss, pollution, and introduced trout. It can reach a snout–to-vent length of up to 12 cm in males and 32 cm in females. Their food in the tadpole stage is vegetation. Adults vary their diets to live animal prey, feeding on fish, invertebrates, small birds, small mammals and frogs.

photo credits: José Grau de Puerto Montt


photos by lui weber of a pink underwing moth larva (phyllodes imperialis), which, when threatened, rears its anterior body segments and curls in its actual head to reveal markings otherwise hidden in a fold skin that resemble giants eyes and teeth. a second set of markings that resemble reptilian eyes can also be seen when not in its defensive crouch.  

found in the australian rainforest, where it lives in and survives on the vine carronia multisepalea, this caterpillar is listed as an endangered species, due largely to habitat loss from logging.

(see also: previous entomology posts)


Limpkin (Aramus guarauna

One of my favorite birds, the limpkin! (A close second to caracaras).

Limpkins are also called crying birds from their haunting cry that echoes through the swamps. There is an South American folktale about a man who never made time to grieve for his deceased mother and was eventually so overcome with grief that he turned into a limpkin and that is why the bird cries.

Limpkins almost vanished from Florida due to habitat loss and their main food, the Florida apple snail, disappearing. Limpkins were saved by an unlikely species, an invasive apple snail from South America. This new food source brought back Limpkin (and Snail Kite) populations that were once so close to disappearing from Florida forever.

anonymous asked:

Can you talk about why the passenger pigeon went extinct? we were breeding pigeons LONG BEFORE them so why did conservation fail so badly?

At the time, extinction was an utterly alien concept. It was like suggesting a Trump presidency in the 1990’s. You have to understand: this was the MOST populous bird in North America. Flocks could potentially take HOURS to pass by overhead.

This super gregarious nature made them easy prey. Particularly large tunnel nets could catch as many as 3,500 birds in a single go.

i’m gonna talk about how these birds nested for a bit: so a mommy pigeon and a daddy pigeon would settle down to raise a family, along with thousands of their closest friends. These babies would grow really, REALLY fat. Parent pigeons wouldn’t wait until their baby could fly. They’d just take off and leave the baby to figure it out on its own. These nestlings would be particularly vulnerable to predators (including humans). Now, for most of passenger pigeon history, this didn’t really matter. Most predators could eat their fill and not make a dent in the literal millions of pigeons.

And then the railroads came. Finally, humans had a way to DELIVER millions of pigeon corpses all across America. They didn’t just hunt until they weren’t hungry anymore. We could hunt more and more and GET MONEY FOR IT. This was actually embraced by society as a whole, since passenger pigeons were ‘agricultural pests’. The first attempt to protect their population was in 1857 and it was laughed out of the Committee. The birds were described as “wonderfully prolific”.

By the 1870’s, their population was noticeably smaller and conservation groups took action.

It didn’t go well. Despite laws, people continued to trap and kill the birds because 'eeeeyyyy there’s still plenty to go around!’ People were looking at distinct populations rather than the one as a whole. It was the modern version of going, “we’re not in a drought because it rained YESTERDAY”.

Captive breeding didn’t go well either because these birds NEEDED huge flocks to reproduce. No flock, no reproduction. Zoos with as many as 250 birds STILL couldn’t get them to raise their babies. Today, we MIGHT have had a chance using the mirror trick (flamingos are frequently induced to breed by setting up mirrors to make them feel like they’re surrounded by 20 of their best friends).

So, to answer: it was a many-fold mistake. Large-scale hunting, rapid habitat loss, and an understanding of their social needs that came far too late.

Do you care about our planet?

The animal industry has done a really good job of paying off the right people to keep their mouths shut about their role in hurting our planet, because everyone only talks about cars and light bulbs.

However, animal agriculture is the number one cause of:

• greenhouse gases
• habitat loss/deforestation
• species extinction
• ocean acidification
• ocean dead zones
• coral bleaching
• climate change
• water shortages
• desertification

Earth Day is meant to celebrate the earth and bring awareness to how much we need to protect it. So in light of that, today would be a great day to go vegan!

Every day a vegan can save:

• 1100 gallons/~4167 litres of water
• 30 square feet/~2.8 sq meters of forest
• 45 pounds/~20kg of grains
• 20 lbs/9 kg of CO2 emissions
• 1 animal’s life

It’s one of the single most effective things you can do for our planet, and you can’t go fully vegan, it’s still helpful to cut back whenever you can. If anyone has any questions at all please don’t hesitate to message me.

Please leave all animal products off your plate, not just for the sake of animals and yourself, but for our entire planet. Happy Earth Day!

anonymous asked:

What's the most bizarre animal at your zoo?

anteaters. ok i know you are all sick of hearing about anteaters- but look at them.







They’re perfect.

The Inger’s Asian tree toad [also known as the green tree toad, Pedostibes rugosis] is one of the six arboreal [tree-dwelling] toads of the genus Pedostibes, which includes yellow spotted climbing toads. They can be found in northern Borneo and some parts of Indonesia. Although these toads are relatively common, they have suffered habitat loss due to human expansion and are currently listed as “near threatened” by the IUCN Red List. This specimen was found and photographed in Borneo by Jasmine Vink.

Have you seen this handsome frog hanging out near our Coastal Stream exhibit? The California red-legged frog boasts a distinguished history as the official amphibian of California, as well as the star of Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

During Twain’s time, California red-legged frog territory stretched from British Columbia all the way down to Baja California. Today, due to habitat loss and predation by invasive species, the red-legged frog is rarely spotted outside of a few select pockets in California and it’s listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. You can help red frogs and other species threatened by habitat loss by supporting a habitat restoration project in your area.

Ten Whacky Rare Animals You Dornt See Every Day

Numbor Ten: Big Foot

This Whacky Boy Sure Does Love To Play Pranks On Me! I Often Catch Him Drinking Village Folks Blood But That Can Be Our Little Secret :-)

Number Nine: Benny Barry Bessie 

They Steal My Cameras

Number Eight: Animal. Alive. Breathing. Skeleton

My Time On This Earth Is Short

Number Seven: Rupert Holmes

YIKES! Lets Hope You Dont See This One After Dark Or It Will Give You Such A Fright!!! Hjman Descent

Number Six: Proboscis Monkey

Named For Their Incredibly Large Noses, Which Hangs Over Their Mouths And Can Exceed Four Inches In Length, Proboscis Monkeys Have Webbed Toes, And Both Males And Females Have Bulging Stomachs—In Other Words, Theyve All Got Potbellies. Their Vocal Range Consists Exclusively Of Honks, Roars, And Snarls. So, Its Pretty Obvious Why They Need Some Extra Love. Whats Less Evident Is That They Are Suffering From Habitat Loss: Their Population Has Been Cut In Half In The Last 30 To 40 Years.

Numbers Five Through Zero: Crochet Homunculus Loxodontus


Bees are important, right? That seems to be the general consensus. But is it true? And should you still care even if you don’t eat honey. Phil argues that the answer is ‘yes’ and presents his top five reasons that explain just why bees are so important.

I've been meaning to post this. From the seminar I attend. Catsindoors

The cat population is far from healthy in Canada. In 2011, more than 50,000 were euthanized because the shelters weren’t able to find homes for them. Twice as many cats are dumped in shelters compared to dogs, and whereas 30 per cent of dogs are reunited with their owners, less than five per cent of cats are returned home.

Cats are also frequently run over by vehicles. More than 1,300 dead cats were collected on the streets of Toronto in 2012!

Estimates indicate that most of those cats — as many as 40% — are allowed to roam unsupervised outdoors. Outdoor cats are exposed to a variety of threats, including diseases (e.g., FIV, FLV, cancer, heartworm), vehicle collisions, and fights with wildlife and other cats. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is one of many organizations that urges cat owners to keep their pets indoors unless the cat is supervised or in an enclosure.

While cats’ independent natures might lead some people to treat them like something between pet and wildlife, we owe them the same level of care we give dogs.

Letting cats roam unsupervised outdoors isn’t just bad for cats. It’s bad for birds too, as well as for people. Many of Canada’s birds are in trouble; some have declined by over 90%, and cats add to the list of risks that birds face. The official list of Bird Species at Risk increased from 47 to 86 between 2001 and 2014. Habitat destruction and climate change are taking their toll, but a lot of birds die due to other human actions and decisions. Environment Canada research estimates that, in addition to the impacts of climate change and habitat loss, 130 to 433 million birds a year die as a result of people. While it is extremely difficult to calculate the number of birds killed by pet and feral cats — especially when the number of feral cats is not well understood — cats are thought to cause 75% of those deaths.

For the cats’ sake, for the birds’ sake, and for our own sake, we need to change how we care for our beloved feline friends.