About Author: Matt Steele
Posts by Matt Steele
While birds don’t feel emotion like we do, it sure seems like they do sometimes. If birds could feel human emotion, these would be the angriest.
This secretary bird is tired of your lame secretary jokes.
This burrowing owl just can’t believe it.
This kingfisher doesn’t want to have to tell you again.
This ornate eagle hawk kind of wants to have you for dinner.
This scarlet macaw thought he had seen it all.
This secretary bird really, really needs anger management classes.
Matt Steele is senior social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, 13 Animal Phobias for Friday the 13th.
What better day than Friday the 13th to talk about animal phobias? While many phobias play an important evolutionary role, some…not so much. With that said, here are 13 of the most common animal phobias.
Zoophobia – Fear of animals
Being Zoo folks, we clearly don’t understand this one. Like, not even a little.
Ailurophobia – Fear of cats
We all know the silly superstitions surrounding black cats, but some people fear all cats. Even Mr. Snookums the house cat.
Apiphobia – Fear of bees
While bees are incredibly important pollinators, it’s important to have a healthy respect for those stingers.
Arachnaphobia – Fear of spiders
This is perhaps one of the most common phobias. Spiders do occasionally bite (rarely causing serious harm), but are actually good to have around because they help control the insect population.
Chiroptophobia – Fear of bats
Bats are great pest control and rarely bite humans. And how could you fear this face?
Entomophobia – Fear of insects
Sure, insects may seem strange to us mammals, but they’re actually a vital part of our planet. Without them, all life would cease to exist.
Herpetophobia – Fear of reptiles
For the record, reptiles are NOT slimy. Their scales are dry, smooth and gorgeous.
Mottephobia – Fear of butterflies
If you have this, you probably shouldn’t come to the Safari Park’s annual Butterfly Jungle event. Just sayin’.
Ornithophobia – Fear of birds
We think birds are pretty awesome, but clearly some people don’t. Hitchcock didn’t help the cause either.
Selachophobia – Fear of sharks
I blame the movie “Jaws” for this one. You have a much greater chance of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark.
Icthyophobia – Fear of fish
Not that many fish can actually harm you, so I’m not sure where this one comes from.
Scoleciphobia – Fear of worms
Worms can seem weird to some of us vertebrates, but you can thank them for healthy soil.
Cynophobia – Fear of dogs
Believe it or not, some sources claim that dogs kill over 180 people every year. However, the overwhelming majority of dogs are total sweethearts.
Matt Steele is senior social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, Animals Who Totally Own Winter.
Valentine’s Day just isn’t your thing. Honestly? Because you’re just not that into it.
And you’re not really a fan of “getting all cleaned up” for that big date.
You’re also not big on PDA, like holding hands (or tails).
And you’re definitely not a hugger.
And if you see one more candy heart with a generic love message on it you’re going to lose it!
And chocolates? Meh. They kind of make you gag.
When you get the bill after a super fancy dinner you can barely hide your shock.
Because you’re easy to please. You don’t need some fancy meal. You’re fine eating what you always do.
And honestly, you’re not a big fan of crowds anyway.
You’d just rather stay in and relax.
And hang out with your boo, just the two of you, just how you like it. Because that’s what Valentine’s Day should be. No stress, no obligation, just love.
Matt Steele is senior social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, Animals Who Totally Own Winter.
Mitigation-driven Animal Translocations Are Problematic – Study Indicates Importance of Science-based Animal Moves to Conservation
The use of animal translocations as a means to mitigate construction projects and other human developments is a widespread animal-management tool. A paper published today, produced through collaboration of conservationists from San Diego Zoo Global, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Kent UK, University of Newcastle and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, reviews the success rates associated with these moves from a species-conservation standpoint.
“Mitigation-driven translocations outnumber and receive more funding than science-based conservation translocations,” said Ron Swaisgood Ph.D., conservation biologist for San Diego Zoo Global. “Yet the conservation benefit of the former is often unclear, since outcomes are often poor and rarely monitored. There are other, more strategic, priorities where our limited conservation resources should be allocated.”
The study, available online ahead of print and scheduled for the March issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment the study estimates that millions of dollars are spent annually on moving animals out of the way of human interference, and may not be meeting the goal of preserving the populations as intended by legislation.
“Because mitigation releases are economically motivated, outcomes may be less successful than those of releases designed to serve the biological needs of species,” said Jen Germano, lead author of the paper. “Evidence suggests that many mitigation-driven translocations fail, although the application of scientific principles and best practices would probably improve the success rate.”
An additional challenge, pointed out by the paper, is the lack of information accompanying many of these translocations.
“Just determining how many animals have been moved and to what effect is challenging, since records are not kept or are difficult to obtain,” said Simon Clulow of the University of Newcastle, Australia. “This documentation is essential if we are to learn lessons and improve our methods.”
Researchers point to successful science-based animal relocations and releases as forming good models for the future.
“We’ve learned a great deal from carefully designed, conservation-driven translocation research over recent years, and this needs to be better applied to mitigation translocations,” said Richard Griffiths of the University of Kent, UK. “Unfortunately, mitigation translocations often do not meet the legislative intent of preventing the decline of protected species. This can be changed in the future to give these species a better chance at long-term survival.”
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) is the UK’s leading charity working to help frogs, toads, newts, lizards, snakes and turtles. ARC owns and manages nature reserves, runs dedicated conservation projects across Britain, leads monitoring and science programmes, and presses for stronger policies to help amphibians and reptiles. For more information, see www.arc-trust.org.
The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) is a Research Centre based in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent, UK. DICE focuses on interdisciplinary training, research and conservation implementation around the world. See http://www.kent.ac.uk/dice/
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
The conservation biology group at the University of Newcastle provides biotechnological solutions for global biodiversity and conservation management in collaboration with government agencies, local councils and animal welfare groups.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
With a lot of the US experiencing record cold, and all this talk of another “Polar Vortex,” I thought it would be fun to explore how certain animals deal with extreme cold. Nature has concocted some pretty awesome ways to thrive in cold weather, often involving stylish winter coats, cozy fat insulation, and other clever mechanisms to overcome extreme cold. Check out these animals who absolutely own winter.
Takins have some pretty cool adaptations that help them stay warm and dry during the bitter cold of winter in the rugged Himalayan Mountains. A thick, secondary coat is grown to keep out the chill, which they shed for the summer. Their nose also plays a role in keeping them warm. A takin’s large, moose-like snout has big sinus cavities to warm up the air inhaled before it gets to the lungs. Without this adaptation, takins would lose a large amount of body heat just by breathing.
Polar bears have an outer coat of long guard hairs that stick together when wet and protect a dense, thick undercoat of fur. On land, water rolls right off of the guard hairs. Even though polar bears look white, their hair is really made of clear, hollow tubes filled with air. Scarring or residue on the fur can cause the “white” fur to appear to human eyes as cream colored, yellow, or even pink in the Arctic light. Fat also plays a major role in a polar bear’s ability to survive cold. Fat acts as energy storage when food can’t be found and may provide the ability to generate heat to help insulate polar bears from the freezing air and cold water. This 2-4 inch think layer of fat may also help the bears float in water. Big is beautiful!
Native to the Arctic region of the Northern Hemisphere, the Arctic Fox has a dense, multi-layered coat that provides excellent insulation against the cold. It also has an impressive layer of fat that provides extra insulation, as well as a a specialized body shape that minimizes exposure to cold. This cleverly adapted canine also has fur on its feet to help it walk on snow and ice without issue.
Snow leopards move to different altitudes along with the summer and winter migrations of their prey animals, so their coats vary from fine in the summer to thick in the winter. Snow leopards have a relatively small head with a short, broad nose that has a large nasal cavity that passes cold air through and warms it. Their huge paws have fur on the bottom that protects and cushions their feet for walking, climbing, and jumping. The wide, furry paws also give the cat great traction on snow.
Reindeer originally inhabited the tundra and forests of Scandinavia and northern Russia and were then introduced into Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and Canada. They are covered in hair from their nose to the bottom of their feet, and have two coat layers: an undercoat of fine, soft wool that stays right next to their skin, and a top layer of long, hollow guard hairs. The air trapped inside the guard hairs holds in body heat to keep the animal warm against wind and cold. The hollow hairs also help the reindeer float, allowing it to swim across a river, if needed.
Sea lions have a thick, slick, waterproof coat that allows them to glide through cold water with ease and comfort. Their flippers also serve to regulate the sea lion’s body temperature. When it’s cold, specially designed blood vessel in the thin-skinned flippers constrict to prevent heat loss, but when it’s hot, blood flow is increased to these surface areas to be cooled more quickly.
Incredibly adaptable, wolves have inhabited, at one point, virtually all of North America, northern Europe, eastern Africa, and Asia. Employing a wide range of adaptations, wolves tolerate a massive range of temperatures, from -70 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 to 48.8 degrees Celsius). All of their senses are keen, and they can run, climb, lope, and swim incredibly well.
Lastly, here’s an animal that not only doesn’t wear a winter coat, but is a natural nudist. Yeah, naked mole-rats wouldn’t do so well in extreme cold. Be glad you’re not one of these guys this season. Happy winter everyone!
Matt Steele is the senior social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, 5 Turkey Myths Busted.
There are a lot of myths floating around out there about the bird that defines the holiday season, the iconic North American turkey. It’s time to bust some of those myths once and for all and hook you up with some trivia to share at the dinner table to impress your cohorts.
Myth 1 – Turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving
Common folklore holds that the turkey was an important food at the first Thanksgiving, but it’s doubtful the turkey was part of the holiday tradition until the 1800s. It’s more likely that other game birds were served, such as the now-extinct passenger pigeon.
Myth 2 – Turkeys are just big chickens
Turkeys are NOT chickens. The two birds are entirely different species separated by tens of millions of years of evolution.
Myth 3 – Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national symbol
Benjamin Franklin never explicitly suggested that the US adopt the turkey as its national symbol, but he did once praise the turkey in writing as a more “respectable” bird than the bald eagle.
Myth 4 – Turkeys can’t fly
Wrong. Despite having one of the highest body-weight-to-wing-area ratios, turkeys can fly up to 55 m.p.h. and have been observed nesting in trees.
Myth 5 – Turkey makes you sleepy
It’s true that turkey contains tryptophan (an amino acid that produces serotonin, which helps regulate sleep), but most other meat has similar amounts of tryptophan. The sleepiness you’re feeling after that Thanksgiving feast is your body’s exhaustion from consuming an insane amount of calories.
Do you have any other turkey facts or myths to share? Let us know in the comments.
Matt Steele is senior social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, 11 Orange Animals To Get You In the Spirit of Fall.
After a long, warm summer, it’s finally fall in San Diego, and orange is the color of the season. It turns out that orange is also a prominent color in the Animal Kingdom, as proven by these 11 stunning creatures that wear the color beautifully.
Tigers are perhaps the most iconic orange member of the Animal Kingdom. You might think their bright-orange coloration would make them stand out in the lush greenery of their native habitat, but it actually has the opposite effect. Orange and green are in the same color range when viewed in black and white, and it just so happens that prey animals see in black and white. Black stripes help further camouflage tigers, making them near invisible to prey.
Orangutans are another iconic carrot-topped animal. Aside from their stoic problem-solving intelligence and skilled tool use, orangutans are also known for having super rockin’ hairdos.
Red river hogs, native to Africa, are about as orange as it gets. And as cute as it gets.
The largest South American canid and tallest of all canids, the maned wolf, also sports beautiful light-orange coloration and long black “socks.” Despite its name, the maned wolf is not a wolf at all, and despite its fox-like appearance, it’s not a fox, either. It’s actually the only species in the genus Chrysocyon (meaning golden dog).
The red panda, aka “fire fox,” is admired for its charming face and gorgeous orange, white, and cinnamon coloration–as well as for its formidable agility. Despite its name, red pandas have nothing in common with giant pandas. For many years, red pandas were classified as part of the Procyonidae family, which includes raccoons and their relatives. But DNA studies show that red pandas represent a unique family that diverged from the rest of the Carnivore Order, and scientists place them in their own unique family: Ailuridae.
It doesn’t get much more orange than the Guinean cock-of-the-rock. Native to South America, this bird not only has the coolest name ever but also the best fashion sense.
One of the largest African antelope species, the bongo, is characterized by its unique orange coloration with striking white stripes and slightly spiraled horns. They’re also known for being incredibly adorable.
The Gila monster is one of the most-feared orange reptiles, but its fearsome reputation is largely unwarranted. True, they are venomous, and their bite is painful to humans, but it rarely causes death. The biggest problem you might have if a Gila monster bit you is trying to get the lizard to release its grip. But you really shouldn’t worry, as Gila monsters tend to avoid humans and other large animals.
Aside from being known for their unique orange plumage and blue, vulture-like head, capuchin birds are also known for the super-strange call they emit in their native South American forests. Many have likened it to a cow mooing.
With their beautiful fluorescent coloration, poison frogs are a sight to behold. But beware, as their skin contains enough toxins to kill up to 100 people. Poison frogs are often called poison dart frogs because the Choco Indians in South America use the frogs’ poison to coat the tips of the blow darts they use for hunting.
Orange julius butterflies boast striking orange coloration, easily standing out in almost any garden. However, butterfly wings are actually clear—the colors and patterns we see are made by the reflection of the tiny scales covering them.
Did we miss any? If you think of any other orange animals, let us know in the comments.
Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, 13 Animals That Are So Over Being Awake.
We’re having fun with our Facebook followers this Halloween by hosting costume contests. The Safari Park is having a human costume contest, and the San Diego Zoo is having a pet costume contest. By entering, you agree to these terms and conditions. Good luck!
1. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules. The Facebook Halloween Costume Contests (“Contest”) will be held online from 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”), October 31, 2014 (“Contest Start Date”), to 5:00 p.m. PT, Novemeber 1, 2014 (“Contest Period”). Contest is sponsored by the Zoological Society of San Diego DBA San Diego Zoo Global (the “Sponsor”) who is solely responsible for all aspects of this Contest.
2. ELIGIBILITY. The Contest is open to legal residents of the United States of America who are 18 years of age or older as of “Contest Start Date.” Sponsor’s employees and their immediate families are not eligible to participate or claim a prize. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. All federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations apply. By participating, entrants agree to abide by all terms of these Official Rules and to the decisions of the judge, and waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Contest or these Official Rules.
3. HOW TO ENTER.
1.) As of 12:00 a.m. PT, October 31, 2014, the entrant must:
a. Have a Facebook® account: If you are not a member, you may sign-up at www.facebook.com
b. Follow the prompts on the respective Facebook posts found here: https://www.facebook.com/sdzsafaripark/photos/a.191010764248941.58007.143152622368089/1021973594485983/?type=1 and here: https://www.facebook.com/SanDiegoZoo/photos/p.10152885123797147/10152885123797147/?type=1
No mechanically reproduced entries will be accepted.
4. INTERNET LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY. If for any reason this Contest is not capable of running as planned due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, the Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest in whole or in part, at any time, without notice and award the prizes using all non-suspect eligible entries received as of this termination date. The Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. The Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer on-line systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by the Sponsor on account of technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in this Contest or downloading any materials in this Contest. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON (S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a winner, the winning entry will be declared made by the authorized Facebook account holder of the entry submitted at time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to a Facebook account by Facebook, Inc.
5. SELECTIONS AND NOTIFICATION OF WINNERS. Winners will be determined on or after November 1, 2014 by Sponsor’s staff from among all eligible entries. Winners will be notified on or after November 1, 2014 via Facebook and need not be present to win. Only one winner per household. The winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected if a selected winner fails to comply with these rules, cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim a prize, or if the prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission to use the winners’ names, likenesses, and statements for promotional and publicity purposes without additional compensation or limitation unless prohibited by law. All decisions of the Sponsor regarding the selection of winners, notification and substitution of winners in accordance with these Official Rules shall be binding and final.
6. PRIZES AVAILABLE. Two (2) winners will receive two (2) one-day passes to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Substitutions of similar value will be made at the sole discretion of the Sponsor if offers are no longer available. The prize is not transferable, assignable or redeemable for cash and if not used will be forfeited.
7. INDEMNIFICATION AND RELEASE. By entering the contest and participating in any promotions relating thereto, each entrant agrees to release and hold Sponsor and respective affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents, participating retailers, and any other companies participating in the design, administration, or fulfillment of this sweepstakes and their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents, harmless from any and all losses, rights, claims, injuries, damages, expenses, costs, or actions of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participation in this contest or any contest-related activity, or acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the prize or parts thereof, including without limitation personal injuries, death, and property damage and claims based on publicity rights, defamation, or invasion of privacy.
8. TAX INFORMATION. All applicable Federal, state and local tax liabilities and any other incidental expenses, fees or costs associated with the receipt or use of any prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.
9. WINNERS LIST. For an Official Winners List (available after November 1, 2014 and through December 31, 2014) or a copy of these Official Rules (PLEASE SPECIFY WHICH), send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: San Diego Zoo Global, P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112-0551.
10. SPONSOR. San Diego Zoo Global: P.O. Box 120551 San Diego, CA 92112-0551
Let’s face it, sometimes being awake is overrated, and it seems like these critters agree. Enjoy these 13 animals who are so over being awake, and try not to catch a yawn…
Koalas are the sleeping beauties of the animal kingdom. They subsist on nutrient-deficient eucalyptus leaves, so they sleep 18-22 hours a day to conserve energy—and look adorable while doing it.
The king of the Safari Park, Izu, is also the king of naps. Over the course of 24 hours, lions have short bursts of intense activity, followed by long bouts of lying around that total up to 21 hours.
Red pandas, like Lily here, sleep through the hottest part of the day and are most active at dawn and dusk, a strategy adopted by many animals to conserve energy. Sensing a theme?
The mountain lion (aka puma, cougar, panther, catamount) is no different than other cats. It sleeps away most of the day to save up energy for hunting. It’s a rough life.
Meerkats aren’t necessarily known for sleeping, but they’re known for doing so in luxury. A meerkat mob has several burrow systems, complete with toilet and sleeping chambers, within its territory and moves from one to another every few months. Ahh the finer things.
The King of the San Diego Zoo, M’bari, puts his best foot forward when it comes to napping.
Animal Fact: Zebras yawn in black and white.
Polar bears hibernate like other bears, right? Wrong. Despite the long, harsh winter, polar bears don’t hibernate. In fact, most of them (except pregnant females) continue to hunt seals throughout the winter. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t sleep A LOT. If you watch Polar Cam you know what I’m talking about.
Tasmanian devils take shelter during the day, and are more active after the sun goes down. In fact, they were actually named for the eerie, devilish sounds they make at night.
Another koala sleepyhead, because cute.
Most epic yawn ever. Ok Izu, we get it, you’re pretty good at this sleepy-time thing.
We have to hand it to Flynn the red panda though, we’ve never seen anyone hammock this good. Bravo sir, bravo.
Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo global. Read his previous post, 11 Animal Hairdos Humans Should Aspire To.