A Handsome Fellow

Here is the fellow

I met yesterday,

I don’t know his name,

He didn’t say.

But he was so handsome,

So elegant was he,

I quietly admired him,

Or was he a she?

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Can somebody tell me – is he a partridge?  And is he a he or a she?

Such a beauty 😀

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bird, birds, animals, wild animals, wildlife, garden, garden birds, poem, poetry

Z is for Zoo

Zoo    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  zoological garden: public garden or park with collection of animals for exhibition and study.

Our definition:  Place where wild animals are kept and/or bred in captivity.  Zoos are prisons.  Prisons in which innocent individuals are kept incarcerated for their whole lives, though they have committed no crime.

Elephants, for example, in the wild, are used to travelling many miles a day in herds of about ten related adults and their offspring. They are very social animals.

elephants captive and wild

In zoos, elephants are usually kept in pairs or even isolated.  Their enclosures are incredibly small, compared to what they are used to in the wild, and as a result they often show many signs of being stressed out or bored, like engaging in repetitive movements.  Stress behaviours can include repetitive movements, pacing back and forth, head bobbing, rocking, repeatedly retracing their steps, sitting motionless or biting the bars of their enclosure or themselves.

What makes life so difficult for zoo animals is that they hardly have any privacy and lack mental stimulation and physical exercise.  Even though you might think that zoo animals would get used to a life in captivity, they really don’t.  Even animals that are bred in zoos still retain their natural instincts after many generations of captive breeding.

Hippos captive and wild

Animals like polar bears or felines are used to hunting; this habit is replaced by the zoo with regular feedings.  Most animals kept in zoos would naturally roam for tens of miles a day.

Zoos claim to help with conservation. However, hardly any zoo registers their animals on an international species database and most zoo animals are not endangered at all.

Even though there are thousands of endangered species, zoos have only been able to return about 16 species to the wild with varying level of success. Most zoo animals released in the wild don’t survive. This is because zoos don’t provide the right environment for a successful captive breeding project. The animals would need to live in habitats resembling their natural ones, especially in terms of climate and fauna. The animals would also need to be raised with minimal human contact and in populations large enough to provide a natural social balance and a suitable gene pool.

Surplus animals are the unwanted animals for whom there is no more space, when zoos have bred yet another cute little baby to attract visitors. They can even be the cute babies themselves when they’ve stopped being cute at the end of the season. Zoos have a systematic “overproduction” of animals. These surplus animals are either killed – and sometimes fed to their fellow zoo habitants – or sold to other zoos or dealers.  Selling animals is a profitable way for zoos to dispose of them. Dealers will sell them to hunting ranches, pet shops, circuses, the exotic meat industry and research facilities. Surplus animals are also found for sale on the internet.

To sum up: DON’T GO TO THE ZOO!  If a school trip is being organised, tell your teacher why you don’t like zoos and ask them to take you somewhere better.  If they won’t listen, explain what zoos really are to your friends and then get together to petition the school.  If they still won’t listen, just ask your parents to let you stay home from school that day.  Maybe they could take you on a better trip instead, such as to a museum or art gallery.

That reminds me – see what Luke Walker, ‘animal stick up for-er’, did when he was forced to go on a trip to the zoo – now that’s a boy who acts on his conscience! (Though he is sadly unappreciated by those who know him 😉 )

W is for Whiting

W w

Whiting    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  small edible sea fish.

Juvenile-whiting

Juvenile-whiting

Our definition:  Whiting (Merlangius merlangus) fish are similar in appearance to their larger relatives,  cod, haddock, coley and pollack.  They have three dorsal fins separated by small gaps, the third fin extending almost to the tail fin.  The tail is not forked, having almost a square end.  The two anal fins are very close together, nearly touching one another and, together with the anterior fin, are elongated.  The pectoral fin is also long and projects beyond the base of the anal fin.  A whiting’s upper jaw projects slightly beyond the lower, and the lateral line is continuous along the length of the body.  In colour, individual fish vary quite a lot, and there is often a small dark blotch at upper base of the pectoral fin.  They can grow to up to 50 cm long.

Whiting matures at between three and four years of age, and spawning takes place at a depth of 20 to 150 m.  The time of the spawning varies from location to location: from January to spring in the Mediterranean; from January to September in the area between the British Isles and the Bay of Biscay; and throughout the year in the Black Sea.  A large female can produce up to one million eggs.  The eggs float in the open ocean and the larval whiting swim with other sea plankton until they have attained a length of around 10 cm.  The fish grow quickly, with females growing faster than males, and can live to about ten years of age.  The diet of the whiting consists of bottom-living organisms, such as crabs, shrimps, small fish, molluscs, worms, squid and cuttlefish.

The biggest threat to whiting is “over-harvesting” (euphemism) by the fishing fleets of many nations (of course).

Click here for the W page, and here for the rest of the vegan dictionary 😀

R is for Rat

Rr

Rat    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:   1. large mouselike rodent.  2. colloquial unpleasant or treacherous person.  verb  1. hunt or kill rats. 2. colloquial inform on.

Our definition:

  • Rats take care of injured and sick rats in their group.
  • Without companionship rats tend to become lonely and depressed.
  • Rats have excellent memories. Once they learn a navigation route, they won’t forget it.
  • When happy, rats have been observed to chatter or grind their teeth. This is often accompanied by vibrating eyes.
  • Rats make happy “laughter” sounds when they play.
  • Rats succumb to peer-pressure, just like humans. Brown rats are prone to disregard personal experiences in order to copy the behaviour of their peers. The urge to conform is so strong that they will even choose to eat unpalatable food if they are in the company of other rats who are eating it.
  • Although very curious animals, rats are also shy, and prefer to run away than confront a potential threat.
  • Rats are extremely clean animals, spending several hours every day grooming themselves and their group members. They are less likely than cats or dogs to catch and transmit parasites and viruses.
  • A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.
  • Rats’ tails help them to balance, communicate and regulate their body temperature.

Click here for the rest of the Rr page, click here, or go to the sidebar on the right, for the whole dictionary 😀

Goose

rescued goose

Written by Cheryl Bernstein (Gauteng, South Africa)

It was a hot summer Sunday and my husband and I decided to take our two grandchildren with their bicycles for a ride around our local lake.  Of course, a visit to the lake wouldn’t be the same without taking brown bread and feeding the multitude of ducks and geese that inhabit the lake and its island. There are probably around 200 geese and ducks at the lake. They are all hungry, surviving only on the grass that surrounds the lake.

My two grandchildren, armed with their packets of bread, began feeding the geese and were soon overwhelmed as the birds left the water and surrounded them, squaking and grabbing bread out their hands. Then, in the midst of all the noise, feathers, ducks and geese swimming about, swam a tiny, yellow gosling.

He could not have been more than two days old. He was desperate for something to eat and tried to grab a crumb or two of bread from the water, but the adult geese would have none of it. They pecked his tiny head and some even tried to push his head underwater. He tried to get away and climbed out onto a rock. I walked down to the water’s edge and grabbed him. Immediately, he put his tired little head onto my shoulder and closed his baby eyes. He was exhausted.  I felt his crop and it was empty. His tiny body was just skin, bone and fluffy down. This baby was starving.

My husband, the children and I decided to walk around the lake and look for other families of geese who had goslings to which this baby may belong. We walked and searched in the reeds for about an hour, eventually realizing this baby was abandoned and alone. We decided to take him home and raise him.  I made a gruel of finely grated carrots, carrot tops, celery tops, mashed duck pellets, crushed fresh corn and water, but the gosling didn’t recognize this as food and would only eat tiny crumbs of bread. This isn’t a balanced diet for a water bird.

I had done some years of bird rehabilitation in the past and I knew how to tube feed a bird, so I found the bird hand rearing mixture and tubed him. I then put him in a basket with a hot pad, and he fell asleep, cuddled on top of a fluffy toy I had given him for comfort.

The days passed in a blur of feeding, talking to and raising Goose. I sat with him for hours talking to him and pointing out juicy patches of grass to him. Goose grew big and strong, started eating on his own and his fluffy down was soon replaced with magnificent white feathers. His voice grew from a squeak to a squak and I watched with pride, as he developed into a beautiful bird. The intention was always to release him back onto the lake.

He had imprinted on me and would not let me out of his sight. When I was doing chores in the house, there was Goose — often lying down on the carpet and falling asleep until I was finished.

He followed me into the bathroom and when I showered he showered too with the little droplets of water that landed on his feathers.  He discovered TV and watched with his head to the side. When he got bored, he waddled outside to the pond where he declared his total ownership of the water and would not allow the other ducks to use it. He was very grumpy when he couldn’t get into the house and be with me, and would squak loudly and jabber in a grumpy goose voice till I came out again.

He loved his food and when I brought out his dish, he ran up and down the garden, wings out, screaming with delight. He particularly loved watermelon, and he got a quarter every day. At night, he would sleep outside against my glass bedroom door, chipping to me all night, just letting me know he was there. But come morning he would tap at the glass to be let in.

Decision day came about Goose’s future. I visited the lake again and was really sad to see hardly any geese or ducks on the lake. They had almost all been culled. There was a sinking pit in my stomach knowing that Goose could have been killed in that cull too. Releasing him back onto the lake would spell certain death for him in many ways, mainly being that he would likely be caught up in the next year’s cull. Besides, he was used to being fed a good diet regularly, and didn’t live mainly off grass. He wouldn’t be able to find food for himself.

He was a happy bird, strong and lively, and had the run of a very big garden and pond. But something was missing from his life – and that was companionship. So one night my husband brought home a big cardboard box and inside was the answer to our prayers. A big, beautiful grey female goose. At first Goose showed no interest, nipping her and chasing her. But she was persistent and followed him everywhere, and she eventually won him over with her charm.

Today, Goose is a happy and healthy goose, king of the garden and his duck herd which consists of his lady goose and two ducks,  who follow him around. He knows his feeding times and calls me loudly if I am a minute late with his food. He still comes into the house and plods after me, he sleeps as near as he can to me at night, on the step of my glass bedroom door, and chirps to me. He is probably bigger than most geese due to a balanced diet and regular food.

I visited the lake again on the weekend, and there are hardly any geese on the lake. As much as I would have liked to see Goose on a lake with his own kind, he is loved and cared for in my garden — and much more than that, he is safe.

He will live out a long and fulfilled life, with no threat to his life, ever.

rescued goose

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/starving-baby-goose-falls-in-love-with-his-rescuer.html#ixzz2mosrMlJA