Due to its bizarre appearance and unique adaptations, the aye-aye of Madagascar is often considered one of the strangest primates in the world. Physically, the aye-aye stands out because of its incisors (front teeth) that are continually growing, its extremely large ears, and its elongated middle finger which is almost skeletal in appearance. This specialized middle finger is used by the aye-aye to locate insect larvae by tapping on trees to determine whether there’s a hollow spot with a grub inside to eat, and then they spear the insect larvae with this digit to pull it out. Behaviorally, aye-ayes fall into a small category of primates that lead solitary lives, only engaging in social behaviors during courtship and child-rearing.
Like other lemur species on the island of Madagascar, the main threat to their survival is loss of habitat due to deforestation. However, aye-ayes also face threats from locals as traditional beliefs have led many local people to falsely believe that, because of their bizarre appearance, the aye-aye is an evil omen which must be killed on sight to avoid bringing bad luck to an entire village.
Captive breeding programs have been established to help protect the genetic-diversity of this declining species - worldwide the population of aye-ayes in human care stands at about 50 individuals.
Photo taken @dukelemurcenter.
An endangered Antillean manatee @dallas_world_aquarium in Dallas, Texas.
While manatees have no natural predators, they have seen declines in their numbers due to human activities. In Florida, this species was historically hunted by Native Americans and later by European inhabitants. In other range countries, the Antillean manatee was previously exploited commercially, and in some areas illegal poaching continues to pose a threat. Manatee conservation efforts can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when the English established parts of what is now the state of Florida as marine sanctuaries for the species. In 1893 a state law was established to protect the manatee, and in the 1970’s they gained additional protection from the U.S. Marine Mammal Act, the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
Today, manatees face major threats from collisions with motorboats, becoming entangled in fishing nets, and the loss of vegetated sea beds due to agricultural and industrial runoff. With a low reproductive rate and an average gestation period (time in the womb) of 12 months, it becomes quite difficult for this species to see quick rebounds in its population numbers when hit with heavy losses.
A female giant Pacific octopus @alaskasealifecenter in Seward, Alaska.
Weighing an average of 50 pounds with an arm span reaching 12 feet or more, this is currently the largest known species of octopus. Like many others of its kind, it has the ability to change the color and texture of its skin to help blend into its environment and to communicate warnings to other octopuses. Their soft, shell-less bodies allow them to squeeze into small crevices where they can lay eggs and hide from predators. The octopus is a highly intelligent creature. Many have excelled at learning how to unscrew lids on jars with treats inside, and in captivity have even been known to sneak out of their tanks to hunt fish in other aquariums!
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It's #bugweek at UF this week! Pictured is a nymph of a southern green stink bug at the University of Florida in Gainesville. This stink bug uses piercing and sucking parts in its mouth to eat entire plants, but they prefer to snack on developing fruits and shoots. They have a life cycle of 65-70 days beginning with five developmental stages, each lasting 7 days. This particular individual is in its fifth developmental stage as a nymph and will soon turn completely green as a fully mature adult.
The UF/IFAS focuses on research and education in order to learn more about arthropods and how they fit into Earth’s complex ecosystems.
Happy #pollinatormonday! Pictured here is a lesser short-nosed fruit bat from the @lubeebatconservancy in Gainesville, Florida.
This bat feeds on the nectar of fruit flowers. While gathering the nectar with its long tongue, pollen becomes stuck to its fur, and is carried to the anthers (the part of the plant where pollen is made) of the next flower on the menu, allowing the fruit to reproduce. More than 300 species of fruit rely on bats for pollination, including bananas, mango, guava, and cocoa. The economies of many countries are dependent on the exports of these fruits, and would cease to flourish without these graceful pollinators. To see another image of this bat check out @natgeo.
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#sponsored#dawnhelpssavewildlife Sometimes it's not pretty to view the results of human industrial activity, but since we just crossed the seven-year-anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we wanted to look back at one very special (and lucky) pelican. This bird got caught up in the spill and brought into the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana. He was successfully de-oiled and eventually released back into the wild where he could fly free again. The expert care the bird received was thanks to the team from the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research and the International Bird Rescue, who have specialized in oiled marine animals for 45 years. Believe it or not, their 'secret' weapon is actually Dawn dishwashing detergent, which has been used by wildlife rescue experts for more than 40 years to clean everything from shore birds to sea otters because it's great at getting rid of grease while being gentle on animals’ delicate skin and feathers.
In honor of Endangered Species Day, the Photo Ark is “taking over” digital billboards in major cities across the U.S. The Photo Ark images are being displayed on the digital billboards in downtown New York City, urging people to look into the eyes of the many species that we can all be working to #SaveTogether. And soon, More than 45,000 locations will show these animals around the U.S., so keep your eyes peeled! Thanks to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America for making this happen! To learn more about this campaign, check out today’s article @usatoday
Today, on endangered species day, we celebrate the many successes we have seen in saving wildlife, while also taking time to acknowledge those species that still teeter on the edge of extinction. The Photo Ark is dedicated to telling the stories of all creatures, big and small, and bringing us face-to-face with what we stand to lose. But there is hope. The species featured here are all at risk of suffering losses that will push them past the point of no return, but tireless conservation efforts are helping some of these animals to see steady increases in their numbers. While these programs are highly valuable in restoring species, this work will not stand the test of time unless we all make the choice to take-action in order to ensure their survival. And don’t forget; when we save other species, we’re actually saving ourselves. This is because a healthy planet is vital for humans as well. So what can you do? Use reusable grocery bags, support your local zoos and wildlife conservancies, avoid purchasing products made with unsustainable palm oil, say no to single-use items, do not use chemicals of any kind on your yard, and plant local plants that support pollinators. This is only a small snapshot of the actions we can all take to make a difference. Long after I am dead, these pictures will continue to go to work everyday to save species. There’s no more important mission for me. Now, how about you?
Music by @xambassadors
An eastern long-beaked echidna named J.R. at the @TarongaZoo.This species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and little is known about their reproductive behaviors, so unfortunately it has been very difficult to breed this species in captivity and maintain its population. Although eastern long-beaked echidnas are legally protected in their native lands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, they are still killed by hunters and suffer from a continuous loss of habitat due to deforestation.
This photo was taken using a Nikon. ISO: 640, Aperature: 9, Shutter: 1/250
Endangered horned marsupial tree frogs at the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center. The female of this species keeps her eggs tucked into a pouch on the lower portion of her back (swipe to see). These frogs have completely disappeared from many of their original habitats. It is thought that this species is extremely susceptible to chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease in amphibians caused by the chytrid fungus that is wiping out frogs in Latin America. These individuals are part of a conservation breeding colony maintained by the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project @amphibianrescue in Panama. #savetogether#frogs#amphibians#herps#marsupialfrog#endangeredspecies#natgeo#photoark
A toco toucan at @theomahazoo. This toucan’s beak is the largest of any bird’s relative to body size and contributes to 30-50% of the toucan’s entire length. This bird’s beak serves many functions including peeling and picking fruit, territorial displays of defense, sexual selection and even body temperature regulation. Research has shown that instead of sweating when they get hot, toucans send a rush of blood into their beaks and allow the heat produced there to radiate out of their bodies and into the air. When these birds get chilly, they can restrict the amount of blood sent to their beaks and retain that heat to stay warm. #tocotoucan#photoark#savetogether#birdsofinstagram
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Did you know that pollinators aren’t just bees and butterflies? A pollinator is any creature that assists in bringing the pollen of a plant from the anther (part of the plant where pollen is made) to the stigma (part of the plant where pollen begins to germinate) in order to allow for reproduction. Many species are important for pollination, including birds, lemurs, rodents, possums, ants, beetles, lizards, and bats!
Pollinators affect a big part of our lives—food. As many of the world's crops rely on pollination, lunch would certainly be a lot less interesting without pollinators. Stay tuned for more food-for-thought on how you can protect nutritional diversity by saving pollinators. @plzenzoo@zoosvictoria@houstonzoo@stlzoo@lubeebatconservancy#pollinatormonday#food#natgeo#photoark
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, including all others we share the planet with like this endangered pileated gibbon with her eight-month-old son photographed at the @GibbonConservationCenter.
Pileated gibbons are sexually dimorphic, meaning females are white or grey while males have black hair. Infants are usually born with silvery hair, like their mother’s, but as the males grow their color darkens. These gibbons form strong social bonds, and reinforce those relationships by grooming one another. Breeding pairs are dominated by the female and are strengthened by a special ‘duet’ during which the two gibbons vocalize to one another. It is believed that this behavior is also used to mark the family’s territory. Pileated gibbon populations are rapidly decreasing due to uncontrolled poaching and severe fragmentation of their habitats due to logging and human development. There are ongoing efforts to protect this species in their native ranges, however if deforestation continues this species will not survive.
The Gibbon Conservation Center promotes the conservation, study, and care of gibbons through public education and habitat preservation. They have successfully reproduced 7 gibbon species, and assist with gibbon rescue programs in Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia.
A chambered nautilus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This mollusk’s shell pattern is specialized to disguise them from predators. When seen from above, the dark stripes help blend the animal into the seabed, and when seen from below, their bright underside blends with the reflecting sun on the water’s surface. To float, the nautilus sends air through a tube to its many shell chambers. They thrust water into and out of their shells, using jet propulsion to swim. .
A European wildcat at @ParcoNaturaViva in Italy.
Recognize this little guy? That's because this species is likely an ancestor of the common house cat-- though wildcats like this one are slightly larger and have a more stout figure. They may look tame, but they're actually wild animals and absolutely not suitable as pets.
IUCN reports that true wildcat populations are difficult to estimate due to hybridization with domestic cats, and unfortunately this species is thought to be nearly extinct in many parts of Europe. Despite being legally protected, they are often mistaken for feral cats and killed by humans who consider them pests.
The opportunity to photograph this animal was made possible by @greenteenteam, an organization promoting youth involvement in nature and wildlife conservation.
To see a video of this wildcat, check out @natgeo!
An old world harvest mouse at @theomahazoo in Nebraska.
The harvest mouse is the smallest rodent in Europe, weighing only 6 grams when fully mature (that’s about as heavy as a quarter). Although this mouse is listed as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List today, the people of Britain were once worried that intensive farming would harm the species. In 2001, in an effort to conserve the mice and to encourage breeding, some of the 36,000 tennis balls used at the Wimbledon tournament were donated and recycled to be used as nests for harvest mice.
A Hoffmann's two-toed sloth at the PanAmerican Conservation Association in Gamboa, Panama. This nocturnal species can be found hanging from the branches of the rainforest canopies in Central and South America. The word sloth literally means “lazy”, but this animal’s slow, deliberate movements are actually survival adaptations to its low-energy diet of leaves. These slow movements also make sloths quite difficult to spot amidst the rainforest branches, which is their main defense against predators. They move at a pace of .46 feet per second and travel an average of 41 yards per day. Sloths are arboreal, only venturing to the ground to change trees, mate, or relieve themselves, which they do once every 3-8 days. That's right, they climb slowly, all the way down to the ground, once or twice a week, to go to the bathroom.
The APPC (Asociación Panamericana para la Conservación) Wildlife Rescue Center in Gamboa-Panama receives and rehabilitates hundreds of injured, sick and orphaned animals every year, giving them special care before returning them to their natural habitat. Since its foundation in 2005, APPC has rescued more than 3,500 wild animals, returning more than 90% of them to their natural habitat.
To see another shot of this sloth, check out @natgeo!
A full grown endangered Madagascan dwarf chameleon. These chameleons are the second smallest species of lizard ever documented, reaching a maximum length of just 3.4 cm. They consume tiny prey like fruit flies and springtails. If ever threatened, these chameleons will close their eyes and remain completely still, camouflaging with the branch they’re on. If touched or shaken, they will fall to the ground like a piece of bark and play dead until the predator moves on. These chameleons live in the northwest lowland forests of Madagascar and are severely threatened by slash and burn agriculture as well as habitat loss due to logging.
A male, endangered, mint morph terrible poison dart frog. On his back are several tadpoles, which he carries until he can find a suitable wet place to drop them off so they can develop into young frogs. Often, these adult frogs drop their tadpoles off in the pools of water that collect in bromeliad plants, high in trees and away from predators. This species of frog can be found in Colombia and is considered one of the most intelligent of all frogs/toads, not to mention one of the most toxic.
A female pink orchid mantis at the @stlzoo.
Females of this species are more than twice the size of their male counterparts and have a unique hunting method. With a soft, pastel color pattern and a body that is specifically adapted for camouflage, these female mantises have the uncanny appearance of a flower. To hunt, they perch on leaves or branches and simply wait. Their floral appearance causes bugs, like bees, to veer off track and fly directly towards them, providing the huntress with an easy meal.
To see a video of this mantis, check out @natgeo!
A critically endangered woylie at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Republic. This tiny marsupial measures 30-35 cm in length and weighs just 2-3 pounds. Woylies were once abundant throughout all of Australia, but today they are extremely rare. Around 1871, red foxes were shipped into the country for use in sport hunting. Soon after, the foxes became established in the wild and the woylie population began a drastic decline. Today, woylies have been reduced to just three remnant populations. The Australian government has developed a detailed national recovery plan for the woylie and the species is protected under multiple wildlife conservation acts.
To see a video of this woylie, check out @natgeo!
A titan triggerfish at Shark Reef Aquarium. (Swipe for more)
With a length of up to 75 cm, this is one of the largest species of triggerfish. They can be found in reefs throughout most of the Indo-pacific, with the exception of Hawaii. They are usually wary of divers and snorkelers, but during breeding season female titan triggerfish become quite aggressive. They will attack anything that comes too close to their nest and can inflict serious injury with their strong teeth.
An oriental pied hornbill at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati, Assam, India. This bird can be found in India and Southeast Asia and is considered the most abundant of all Asian hornbills. They mainly feed on fruit but will also snack on large insects, small reptiles and amphibians. These birds are generally monogamous and are secondary cavity nesters, which means they rely on nests built by other birds raise their chicks. Once the female has chosen her nest, she closes it off with a mixture of saliva, mud, fruit, droppings and bark, leaving a small hole just large enough for food to be passed in. The male forages for food and returns to feed the female and nestlings for several months before the chicks are ready to leave the nest. At that time, the male and female begin to chisel out the opening for all to fly away free, mission accomplished.
To see a video of this bird check out @natgeo!
Win a signed print of this clouded leopard! To enter, tag a friend below who cares about conservation of wildlife and biodiversity. The more people you tag, the more times you will be entered into the drawing. Must be following this account. Contest closes 05/05/17. Open internationally. Let’s spread the word about the importance of conservation!
Clouded leopards are one of the most mysterious animals in the wild. They lead solitary lives in Asian rainforests, with the exception of cubs who stay with their mothers for ten months before venturing off on their own. Clouded leopards are extremely adept climbers. They use their strong claws to help them climb up completely vertical trees and then return to the ground head-first, like a squirrel. They can even hang upside down by bending their hind paws around branches and securing themselves with their claws.
Sadly, these leopards are often killed by poachers for their pelts, and their forest homes in Southeast Asia are undergoing the world’s fastest rate of deforestation, so the clouded leopard population is steadily decreasing. This species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is federally endangered.
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Endangered Laos warty newts at the @rivermuseum in Dubuque, Iowa.
This species lives only in the Northern mountainous areas of Laos. They are mostly aquatic and thrive in streams and pools at high elevations. The main threat to this species is collection and exportation into the international pet trade in Germany and Japan. Since these animals have brightly colored markings and are active during the day, they aren’t difficult to locate and it’s possible for collectors to spot and grab up each and every mature individual to be taken from one site in just a few days, wiping out a local population. Since such a large number can be taken at once, they are often sold in large groups by the kilogram. The Laos warty newt was listed in 2008 as a Category I species in the Lao WIldlife and Aquatic Law, which means all commercial trade of this species is prohibited. So, some protection is possible at least, given proper law enforcement.
A critically endangered red ruffed lemur at the Plzen Zoo in the Czech Rebublic. These lemurs are very clean and spend a large amount of time grooming themselves with their specialized incisor teeth, hind claws, and tongues- which are colored black. They live in matriarchal groups and forage for food together during the abundant wet season. Unlike most lemurs, red ruffed lemurs will often divide and find food on their own during the dry season.
Red ruffed lemurs live in a very small range in the forests of northern Madagascar and are threatened by the huge surge of illegal rosewood logging that began after an undemocratic change in political power in the area in 2009. These lemurs are also threatened by hunting, burning of habitat, the illegal pet trade, and frequent cyclones.
To see a full length image of a red ruffed lemur check out @natgeo!