Saturday, December 29, 2012

Baby, it's cold outside!

It was a cold holiday season for us, the intrepid reporters of ANW, as you can see from these photos. But, never fear: we got the scoop! The news is that it's cold here in Canada, and that sometimes the cold gets stuck in your hair. Every animal knows this, and this very important article has now reported it. Since it is in writing, it is therefore true. Good to know!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meowy Christmas!

I couldn't resist. The Jingle Cats have a new video out of "Silent Night," kitty-style, natch. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but it's nice to know, somehow, that these apparently Christian cats are such traditionalists. Although they do seem to have introduced a bit of Nashville twang to the tune, if I'm not mistaken.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Poor Pigs

Fellow animal lovers,

When I started this blog, I envisioned that, through it, I could express my love of animals and show how and why I think they're precious. I thought it would be all about their beauty. In order to honour this original intention, though, I must publish a disturbing post today because sometimes humans damage animals' dignity in such a serious and unforgivable way that we cannot turn our gaze. The big story in Canada today is not really news, for, alas, it has been going on for a long time: pigs are tortured on Manitoba farms. That is no lie. I am ashamed of this fact, and I hope that you will want to sign the petition below. I'm not telling you not to eat meat; that's a personal choice. I'm saying, though, that it's always wrong to torture any creature, and we must make it stop. Below, you'll find the petition you can sign (and send to your friends to sign). Next is a link to the news story that covers the matter. I don't recommend you click on the third link that leads you to the video; I haven't watched it myself. I can't. But I know you might not believe that what I'm saying is true unless you watch it yourself. I hate to show such a shameful side of Canada, but it's the truth.


News story:


Monday, November 26, 2012

Silly Seals

"So I says to him, I says, 'My lips are SEALED!'"
"That's a good one, dude. Really good."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Birds of a Feather

It's not really news, I guess, but I just love the photos of some of the winners and runners-up from the the poultry club's 2011 national show in England. "The poultry club was founded 1877," The Guardian writes, "being established to safeguard the interests of all pure and traditional breeds of poultry chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys." I think it was also established to record the bond between some people and their feathered doubles. Take a look at the photos! You'll be surprised how many of the owners resemble their birds!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Water Bear, Faucet Face

Only the "water bear" part of the title of this posting is scientifically accurate (well, Paramacrobiotus craterlaki is the true scientific name for this microbial creature). But, really, instead of an actual FACE, which the rest of us larger creatures have, this microbial wonder has, er, a faucet. This creature is only one of a "marine treasure trove" of creatures that are now being studied by scholars at the University of British Columbia (yay, Canada!). "These tiny marine wonders offer a chance to exploit a vast pool of material that could be used to create innovative medicines, industrial solvents, chemical treatments and other processes, scientists say. Researchers have already created new enzymes for treating sewage and chemicals for making soaps from material they have found in ocean organisms," they say. We live in a world of wonders -- many of which we can't even see.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Waits at the window, Wearing a face that . . . is an owl's?

Eleanor Rigby has met her match. Meet Gandalf. He would like to meet you, too, but he's a bit shy. You see, he is afraid of flying in open spaces; thus, he spends most of his time watching the world from his very own aviary in a brick shed inside Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


You probably think that my decision to post this photo of an intensely cute bunny is gratuitous and rather shallow, but I have just increased your attention span and ability to concentrate by showing it to you. It seems that Japanese researchers have discovered that looking at photos of adorable baby animals (yes, they must be babies) helps people to concentrate in measurable ways. As if I needed more encouragement to look at baby animals! Now I think my weakness for them is not a little embarrassing or immature, but a rather wise response to my brain's demand for this concentration-aid!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Melancholy Monkey: Long-lost Cousin

Anyone who saw the story this week of the new (to science) monkey, called the "lesula" by locals in the Congo, and  Cercopithecus lomamiensis in scientific circles, had to be struck by the intense beauty of the creature. I keep thinking of these soft, brown, seemingly empathetic eyes when I'm alone. As Jonathan Jones notes in his lovely article (, "A long human-looking nose completes the anthropomorphic sense that we are looking at a close relative. Monkeys are not as closely related to humans as chimpanzees or gorillas are but still, we swung together once, a long time ago." Hello, old friend. I hope we can make our relationship last, for I'd love to see you often!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gorilla Joy

What I love about this photo -- and the ones in the rest of the slideshow that you can view here ( -- is that it needs no caption. As the head of Ape Alliance points out, we understand perfectly what is going on in the photo simply by looking at it. These brothers, Kesho and Alf, who were separated for two years, are delighted to be together again. Nuff said.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Congo Comrades

"Maybe there is hope for this world yet."  That was my thought when I saw this beautiful photo of, to quote The Guardian, "Patrick Karabaranga, a warden at the Virunga national park, and an orphaned mountain gorilla in the gorilla sanctuary in the park headquarters at Rumangabo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Virunga park is home to 210 mountain gorillas, approximately a quarter of the world's population. The four orphans that live in the sanctuary are the only mountain gorillas in the world not living in the wild. They were brought there after their parents were killed by poachers or as a result of traffickers trying to smuggle them out of the park." And with this last sentence, my cynicism about "things as they are," as William Godwin would say, settled in again.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sliding Panda Cubs

O.k., I know it's not exactly breaking news, and maybe it's not informational at all, but I couldn't resist posting one of the most adorable videos of pandas I've ever seen. Seriously, it's like they've been to cute-school. They each have a Ph.D. in Cute Studies. How is it possible for any creature to be so amazingly charming? Or have we evolved to find them cute? Hmmmm. . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Death of a Species

ANW regrets to announce the death of Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island giant tortoises and a conservation icon at more than 100 years old (which, nevertheless, is only middle-age for these Methuselahs). Weighing in at about 400 kgs, George was a remaining member of a type of tortoise that helped the great Charles Darwin to develop his brilliant theory of evolution; the odd shape of the Pinta Island giant tortoise's shell suggested to Darwin that creatures evolve to adapt to their specific environments.  George would never mate with other types of tortoises, perhaps because he was depressed from being alone on his island for so many years (scientists thought his species was extinct from over-hunting until they found him in 1972). He thereby gained the handle "Lonesome George." His passing leaves us a little more lonesome and woefully aware that our irresponsible treatment of the environment can very well have a permanent deleterious effect on nature.

RIP, dear George. We are sorry you didn't leave any progeny behind you. But, then, if you did, you wouldn't be Lonesome George.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dappled Things

This post is an homage to variety in nature. The links below will lead you to amazing stories about wonderful oddities in nature, such as a spotless cheetah in Kenya, a white killer whale off the coast of Russia, and a strawberry-coloured leopard in South Africa. Together, they remind me of one of my favourite poems (under the links), by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Jesuit from the Victorian era in England, who, like me, loved the richness and diversity of nature.  It all makes one wonder: why are humans so conservative, so intolerant of difference, when nature teaches us that dissimilarity is the name of the game -- that it is the source of health and evolution?

          Pied Beauty
GLORY be to God for dappled things—     
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;          
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;          5
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.      
All things counter, original, spare, strange;    
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)     
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;         
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:                   10
                  Praise him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Thinker

Never tell me they are dumb.  He certainly seems to be saying, "That's interesting! I've never thought of it that way!"  Just look at the little glint in his eye and you'll agree: he's philosophical.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Peregrine Falcon nest: LIVE!

O.k., I had to include this photo of a beautiful adult peregrine falcon in flight in order to get your attention, but I won't promise that you'll see just such an image in the following link.  What you WILL see is a peregrine falcon nest that is located on top of a hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The link will show you a live feed of the nest. You can see the babies huddling against the cold, the parents fighting over the proper way to feed them, and, in short, the quotidian concerns of raising babies that will grow up to be, well, magnificent -- as is clear from the above photo!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Floating Bear

Surreality: the bear is floating away from the scary men.
Reality: the tranquillized bear is falling from the tree he was hiding in.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lego his home!

Meet Harry, the hermit crab who lives in a shell formed entirely from Lego bricks.  He lives in Atlantis Discovery Area at Legoland in Windsor, Berkshire in the UK.  Hermit crabs do not have their own shells and therefore move into other creatures' shells and other findings in the ocean, but Harry's shell was not so much found by him, as fashioned especially for him by his friends at the aquarium.  Imagine their delight when he decided to adopt their design! The best is to see how nimbly he gets around in the apparently clunky shell; he makes Lego look natural! Check it out in this video:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Many-legged Lilli

Meet Lilli, the six-legged calf from Switzerland. It appears that she can't use her two extra legs, but she's still pretty amazing, since her vet predicted that she wouldn't live long after birth. The farmer who owns her says that he couldn't euthanize her, despite the vet's dire predictions of a short life of suffering, because she was just so full of life. And now the Swiss love her for the same reason: in a recently televised video, she leapt and frolicked her way into their hearts. She'll probably never produce milk because her odd appendages have deformed her spine, but, if her run of good health continues, she'll join her bovine friends in the lovely mountain pastures of Switzerland this summer. Remember her this summer as you stray over the grass!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Bower of Love

This lovely, twiggy tunnel was created by a bird, if you can believe it. The Bowerbird, found most commonly in New Guinea and Australia, is nature's architect and interior designer, all rolled into one. The male is most famous for fashioning an intricate nest and carefully arranging the decor around the entrance of the nest to attract mates. They collect all manner of beautiful things from their environment -- shells, lovely stones, butterfly wings -- and  set them around their nests in a very precise way until they are satisfied they have achieved the maximum of attractiveness. The photo here is a kind of tunnel that certain kinds of Bowerbirds build; scientists have recently discovered that the tunnel seems to achieve a kind of optical illusion that makes the male appear larger than he is. Read the story here: An architect, interior decorator, and a magician!

Monday, February 27, 2012

International Polar Bear Day, Monday, Feb. 27th

Well, it's that time, again: it's International Polar Bear Day! These beautiful, enormous creatures are in the spotlight lately because there has been so much talk about their potential extinction. What a sad world it would be without them. Check out this great gallery, with lots of information in the captions, for more information about the world's biggest bear (along with the Grizzly -- go Canada!).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Japanese Snow Monkey Culture

In the last post on ANW, I reported that animals enjoy sports and learn to use tools from older generations -- in other words, I noted that animals have what we call "culture," a shared set of experiences passed down from one group to the next that is not innate or instinctual, but learned. Well, these snow monkeys in Japan prove my point yet further. As you'll see in this video, this particular group of macaques is the only group in Japan that enjoys a fine day at the outdoor spa, just like so many Norwegian humans. They learned to do it from their babies, no less. Watch them take a dip in the hot springs:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snowboarding Crow

When we think of animals playing, we tend to tell ourselves that they do so to hone their skills for living. For example, baby cougars stalk each other and wrestle, skills that they'll need to bring down prey when they're big cougars. But this video is about to make you rethink this explanation for animal play. Why, oh, why, I ask you, does a European Hooded Crow need to practice snowboarding? Answer: he doesn't. He just likes the sensation of whooshing through the snow, just like we do. We're running out of characteristics that divide humans from animals. It used to be "tool use" that made us unique, and then they realized that African monkeys had not only been using tools, but also making them for years -- and that they even passed down their tools from one generation to the next, like a mother passing on her sewing machine to a loyal daughter. So, we said, "Uh, snowboarding? Yeah! That's what makes us different from the beasts!" Think again!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fancy Fowl

"Gorgeous chicken" sounds a bit like an oxymoron. It's at least an uncommon combination of words. But I defy anyone to deny that this is a gorgeous chicken. Its feathers are so perfectly clean and white and wonderfully fluffy! It seems to know how beautiful it is.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gecko Wisdom

This tiny Hawaiian gecko is memorable for more than his part in a fantastic photo. I think he teaches us a good lesson for 2012, something we can take to heart and try to apply to our own lives: we are all perfectly suited to our natural environments, and we shouldn't try to modify it to match some unnatural vision of what humans should be. Let nature lead you, as William Wordsworth wrote, and you'll find your truest self.