Animal lovers, rejoice!

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Hey everyone, so I decided that my blog wasn't the direction I wanted to take my message with. I thought about different avenues and decided for right now that making an email list would be most beneficial. So if you want to get weekly updates on different conservation issues along with just some tips and tricks for raising your own puppies and kittens (and snakes and potbelly pigs and... well you catch my drift) then sign up! You'll be able to learn about different issues, get a good laugh at my silly puns and find out some cool random facts in every email. So sign up, see you on the Flipper side :)

Making a bit of a jump, but still on conservation!

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Hey guys, so this conservation blog has grown a bit stagnant as school took over my life. But now that summer is here, I'm back in full effect and ready to make a change! I still want to give you guys endangered species facts and keep you all entertained at the same time. I'm just making a bit of a move. I feel as though blogspot has treated me good but squidoo seems to have what I've been looking for so far. So you can catch up on my conservation trials here.

You can also see some of my lenses. One deals with sea otter conservation and facts while the other focuses on asian elephant conservation and facts. I even have a lens dedicated to my cute australian shepherd puppy! So come and check it out :)

Waking Up Should Just be the Start of a Dream

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So today I wanted to step away from conservation and have a post talking about me. I know, I know, that sounds very self-centered and Tyra Banks-like but I assure you it's not. I think that by allowing you guys to know who I am, it can bring a certain personification to past and future posts. You guys are awesome readers and the least I can do is let you all know a little bit more about me. So please, sit back and enjoy my boring life!

It all started on July 7th 1990 when my dear mother shot me out of her womb and into the world. She was climbing the peaks of Mt. Everest on that day when her water broke. Luckily, not only was she a certified underwater basket weaver, but she was also a practicing OB/GYN. She delivered me on the spot and wrapped me up in her own clothes, bearing the freezing weather like the true yeti she was. No really. She was a yeti. Anyways, fastforward a few years, oh say 18, and you get me. A college kid hellbent on saving the world and making a name for himself.

But there's more to me than conservation. See my career goal is to hopefully get into medical school and become an MD. I just finished shadowing a child psychiatrist and found the job amazing, so I may just specialize in helping out kids that should be able to live out a normal childhood. But that's my career goal. My dream goal is to become an accredited film actor. I know, two completely different sides of the spectrum. Like ying and yang, chocolate and vanilla, night and day, Alec Baldwin and the hot messes of brothers he has. Which throws me into a huge conundrum. I can't really pursue acting without putting medschool on hold, but I can't do acting if I do go to medschool. Soooo, it throws me in a little bit of a pickle. Besides, my yeti mom really would rather me to stick on track with medicine. And don't get me wrong, I love medicine, but the thought of acting just makes my heart race. So do you guys have any advice on what the hell I should do?


Also, since we're on the topic of acting. I recently submitted an audition to If I Can Dream and would forever be in your debt if you vote for me. You can vote for me once a day, sooo if you find yourself looking for something to do after you come back from wrestling bears, please please lend me your vote. It means the world to me. And if I do end up getting a big break, then medschool would just have to go on hold.


Oh and if you still don't want to vote... do it for my puppy!

The Cove; Dolphin Awareness Brought to a Whole Other Level

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This post has been moved and updated to here.


The California Condor; Mother Nature's Garbage Disposals

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The California Condor. They look like a cross between Larry King and the Grim Reaper. Sure they may not be the best looking birds out there, but that is absolutely no reason to shun them and seal their fate as doomed. These interesting birds are the largest North American land bird and one of the world’s longest living birds, reaching ages of up to 50 years. They are a type of vulture and commonly feed on dead and decomposing organic matter. If you think about it, it’s absouleltly amazing how nature adapts. Instead of evolving big garbage trucks (which we engineered anyway) nature came up with a much more efficient way of disposing trash. Who else do you know would pick up some road kill and pack it up for lunch the next day? I’m pretty sure that if I was in the cafeteria on dead animal day I would probably run the other way, making sure I don’t throw up at the same time. Yet these birds feast on dead things like Hasselhoff on a hamburger, and we all know that’s pretty voracious. They are immune to diseases that would otherwise cripple us and enjoy the taste of dead meat.


About fiver hundred years ago, these impressive condors could be found all throughout the American Southwest as well as the West Coast. Now they are one of the rarest birds in the world, with only about 380 left in both the wild and captivity. In nature they don't have any natural predators, until we intervene (do you see the pattern here). The birds were nearly hunted to extinction back in the 80s since farmers thought that they were killing their cows, instead of eating the already dead ones. They also faced threats from egg poaching and lead poising. How did they get poisoned, you ask? Well the birds started to feed on the left-over carcasses from hunters. These carcasses still contained the lead bullets from the hunters which effectively killed the condors. 


So the government decided to undergo one of the most expensive conservation missions to this day. They collected all the wild condors (which wasn't to hard since there were only 22 left) and partitioned them between Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. At first things didn't seem to bright. But researches began using a technique where they would remove the egg from the mother condor which would result in her laying another one. This ended up doubling the reproductive rate of these birds and helped a great deal in bringing back their numbers. Now, captive condors are conditioned to avoid people and power lines (which was another major cause of death) and there is a new law that prohibits hunters from using lead bullets in condor territory. 


They aren't in the clear yet. Like I said there are only around 380 condors alive, which is an incredibly small number. You can help out by Adopting a Condor or Donating. There is also the book titled Return of the Condor: The Race to Save Our Largest Bird from Extinction. If I didn't have so much to read for school, I would definitely pick this book up. Education and spreading awareness are two of the most important tools in conservation, so remember that when you run out of conversation topics on a date. Just bring up conservation and get the ball rolling.



Cool Random Fact: Condors poop on their feet to lower their temperatures. Remember that the next time your air conditioning breaks.


Signing Out
Danny



The Pygmy Hippopotamus; Bite-Sized Ball of Love

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The pygmy hippopotamus. An animal you just want to go up to and hold in your arms, rocking it to sleep and singing it lullabies. Unlike it's much larger cousin, these little tikes come in at half as tall as a regular hippo and 1/4 their weight. That means they weigh in at about 400-600 pounds and stand at about 32 inches high. You won't see them on the Victoria Secret runway anytime soon, but they sure as hell are cute. They also have a sloping back, unlike the straight spine of their larger relatives. This allows them to maneuver through the bushes much easier than Rosie O'don... I mean a regular hippo would. This is important because these little pygmy hippos live in the swamps of Western Africa, so they need to be used to a lot more foliage than larger hippos. Another difference is that the pygmies spend more time on land than their cousins. They still spend most of their lives in the water but they are more adapted to the water. Their skin dries and cracks pretty easily so they need to be around water so that they won't turn to dust.


Pygmy hippos are mainly herbivores, feeding on all sorts of different vegetation. They also feed on aquatic plants, something that larger hippos don't do. Their digestive track is pretty much the same as a cows which allows them to obtain the most energy they can from the food that they eat. Since plants are very hard to digest, having multiple stomach chambers and longer intestinal tracks allows them more time to absorb as much energy as they possibly can. Imagine have more than one stomach? How crazy would that be. Jenny Craig would make a killing, that's for sure. But since we also eat meat, our digestive tracks don't have to be so specialized.


These small hippos also differ from the larger variety through their behavior. I'm sure you have all seen the classic scene of a ton of hippos bathing in one watering hole, but pygmies never do this. They are much more solitary and don't gather in larger groups. Instead they maintain a territory and only interact with each other to mate. When they do cross paths, they would rather ignore each other than put up any sort of fight. Seeing these adorable little creatures fight would probably be pretty brutal anyways. Another difference is that larger hippos only mate and give birth in the water but pygmy hippos can do both on either land or water.

As for conservation, their biggest threat is habitat destruction. They are sometimes hunted by bush hunters since their meat is said to be of very high quality. But since they are pretty scattered, they aren't such a target. Their tusks also don't have any value, unlike their regular cousins, so they aren't poached as often either. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any conservation programs we can help out, besides a few zoos. I'm sure there are plenty out there though. In the meantime, try and avoid acts that promote deforestation. For example, try and recycle paper or use recycled paper. Also try to avoid products that use imported lumber which could have been a vital piece of habitat to a pygmy hippo, or any other forest dwelling animal.

Cool Random Fact:  The pygmy hippo can be heard eating from up to 150 feet (45 meters) away! 


Signing Out,
Danny

The Jaguar; Better Than The Car

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These powerful and awe-inspiring cats are usually confused with leopards, which look very similiar. There are some crucial differences between the two though. The jaguar tends to have larger rosettes with spots in the middle while the leopard just has plain rosettes without a spot. So basically jaguars have bigger spots than the leopards do. Jaguars also have a much sturdier built body and their heads are shaped differently. The reason for this is that jaguars kill their prey by crushing the skulls, a technique that only the jaguars seem to employ. This not only makes their heads larger, but they also have the strongest bite force out of all the big cats, even tigers and lions!



Jaguars live mostly in Central America but range as far south as Paraguay and as far north as Arizona! Although seeing them in Arizona is rare (actually seeing them at all is pretty rare) they have been found there. Just imagine walking out to get your car in the morning. Eyes still cloudy from sleep and your mood is as bad as Lindsay Lohan running out of... well you can fill in the blank. All of a sudden you see a large cat staring at you from the hood of your car. Damn that lady next door! You think to yourself. I knew I never should have moved next to a cat lady. Too bad your neighbor is staring at you through her window with her mouth gaping in awe. You should have never hissed at my cats, she thinks to herself smugly.



Aside from hunting rude neighbors, these animals hunt other jungle-dwelling creatures. They can take down prey up to 660 pounds, and due to their impressive bite force, they can do it with ease. These apex predators are at the top of the food chain and have no natural predators. Unless you include... you guessed it, us humans! Luckily, national trade of any sort of jaguar parts has been banned. But just like the snow leopards, nothing protects these animals from local farmers who shoot them on sight. And most farmers don't even bother picking up a gun. Instead they higher full-time jaguar hunters to keep them away from cattle! Wow, imagine whoever decided taking up that job coming into a school for Parent day. "So, Timmy, what does your father do?" "Well, Ms. Smith, my dad is a jaguar hunter!" "Timmy, please tell me you're talking about the car. Because if your dad hunts real jaguars, excuse my language, but he needs to organize his shit and stop being such a lowlife". 


Another pretty big threat to these cats is deforestation. Jaguars are a stalk-and-ambush type of predator, needing a lot of foliage to camouflage with. Without any sort of trees or bushes, the jaguars are left out in the open. This makes it much harder to hunt and in turn to survive. And the jaguar's survival isn't only crucial because of how awesome they are but also because they are what is called an umbrella species. This means that their home range is so large that if they were to be protected, a bunch of other species would be protected as well. So they are basically the Rhianna of the forests.



Conservation efforts are underway, but one very interesting fact that gets my blood boiling has to do with United States Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. This wonderful (and I write that with dripping sarcasm) man approved a choice by the George W. Bush Administration (another amazing man... :/) to abandon jaguar recovery as a federal goal under the Endangered Species Act in the United States. This decision, which is the first of it's kind, was made on January 7th, 2008 and has come under heavy fire for obvious reasons. Many people say that the government chose this plan because it would have interfered with the fence building between Mexico and the U.S. which is complete bull. The Bush administration argued that “actions taken within the United States are likely to benefit a small number of individual jaguars peripheral to the species, with little potential to affect recovery of the species as a whole”. Now tell me, did this same argument hold up for the wolves who are now thriving in Yellowstone national park? Did we choose to not help them recover because someone had looked into the future and decided that it wouldn't benefit a large number of wolves? Of course not! It's extremely infuriating that an animal is being sacrifice over childish politics. You can read more on the controversy here and tell me your thoughts. I haven't been able to find if anything has changed, so if anyone does discover a development then please post it in the comments.


Aside from fighting with the United States, there are a couple more things you can do to help out jaguars. You can support the Northern Jaguar Project through donations or gifts or spreading awareness of their cause. If you're feeling particularly adventurous then you can intern abroad and research jaguars in the jungles of Brazil. Of course, there are plenty other opportunities to help out these big cats, so if you find any interesting ones please leave them in a comment. The more we talk about these amazing animals, the more they can be helped.


Cool Random Fact: Melanistic jaguars have been mistakenly called “black panthers.” Black panthers do not exist.


Signing Out,
Danny


BREAKING NEWS: It seems like there is actually hope! Just today, January 12th 2010, the government decided to protect the Jaguars instead of their previous choice! Read about it here. This is awesommmme news!