Okay so I just needed something happy for this week as I enter my third full week of isolation (thanks Covid-19 pandemic). I used to work at my local zoo as an interpreter. I joked that I interpreted the animals for the people and the people for the animals. Zoos have some negative history to overcome but they are phenomenal places for people to connect with and learn about nature and all that we have in common with other animals; they also contribute to conservation in many, many ways. And I have never seen people care more about their jobs than the zookeepers I worked with. So here are some quick animal facts and some photos to hopefully make you smile in your own social isolation.
Peregrine falcons will catch other birds in flight, which I find incredible considering I can barely catch a bird in flight with my camera. These falcons can reach speeds in excess of 320 km/h in a dive called a stoop. But perhaps what is most remarkable is that these birds were on the verge of extinction mainly because of the pesticide DDT. The DDT accumulated in their system (bioaccumulation) and resulted in eggs with thinner shells. The shells would break easily and the babies would die. However through efforts including DDT bans, captive breeding programs, and the cooperation of a lot of people, Peregrine falcons have recovered.
Red footed tortoises are from South America. They live around 50 years or more and the adult males (the larger of the two sexes) can weigh around 20 pounds (9 kg). Males and females use head movements as signals to each other.
The snow leopard is one of my favourite animals. It is such an incredible creature with the ability to chase prey through mountainous terrain and leap six times the length of its body. But my favourite fact by far is that they will use their long tail not only for balance but as a scarf, wrapping it around themselves and covering their nose for protection against the cold. I could sit and watch snow leopards for hours. Of course, being cats, most of that time would be spent sleeping.
The story of the Peregrine falcon shows that we can do good in the world and that is what we need now. So stay home, stay safe, and learn interesting facts to help you rock trivia nights when we get back out there, or just so that you can have a better appreciation for the beautiful world we live in. It seems unbelievable right now that we would ever take it for granted.