Saturday, 15 February 2014

Mr Melonhead

I was doing some reading about whales, when I came across this little fella. He looked so happy, I thought I must write about him!

The Beluga whale is 1 of 2 members of the Monodontidae family and it shares this family with the unicorn of the sea, the Narwhal, and it is the only member of the genus Delphinapterus. The whale has a conservation status of near threatened; yet they are one of the most commonly kept whales in captivity due to their gentle and expressive nature.

The Beluga whale is found mostly in the Arctic, around the shores of North America, Greenland and Russia. It has a fairly wide diet, and tends to feast upon fish, crustaceans and deep-sea invertebrates.

In appearance the Beluga whale does not look like a 'normal' whale, it is all white in colour, and lacks a dorsal fin. Moreover it also has a large bump on its head, which is called 'the melon'. It is this 'melon' which allows the Beluga to use echolocation in order to locate other Belugas through sheet ice. Belugas vary greatly in size and can range from the size of a dolphin to the size of a small blue whale. They also have a lot of blubber and when well fed are almost spherical!

Although Belugas are able to see above water, their eyesight is not too great, however as their eyes have cone and rod structures, it is thought that they could potentially see in colour. These whales do not have a sense of smell, but they do have a highly developed sense of touch and they actually crave physical contact from other whales.

Explorer Fact: Beluga females give birth to a calf once every 3 years, with the gestational period being an average of 12-14 and a half months.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The tale of a much loved little giraffe.

Little Marius, was a 2 year old giraffe, who hailed from Copenhagen zoo. The zoo could not keep Marius, as when he matured there would have been a risk of in-breeding, giving rise to possible mutations in their giraffe population. 

An online petition was signed with thousands of signatures urging the zoo not to destroy this gentle giant. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which has a specialised giraffe house, and which had room to cope with a new male in the sanctuary, offered to take Marius. But instead they were turned down and the Copenhagen zoo, killed Marius with a bolt gun and invited visitors of the zoo to watch a dissection of his body. 

Marius' body is expected to be used for research and to feed some of the carnivores at the zoo.

Hundreds of people have taken to the internet to campaign against the death of Marius, with animal activists stating that his death was barbaric and calling the zoo unethical. 

So why didn't Copenhagen zoo want Marius to be rehomed? I for one, would have been willing to have kept Marius, as did many other zoos who offered.

Explorer fact: the joints that look like knees on the front legs of a giraffe are in fact wrists. It is the back legs which have the hinged joint.