Cry at the sloths

800px-SlothDWA

By Sergiodelgado – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6559888

Okay, so anyone who doesn’t know what a sloth is has clearly been living under some rock… in the desert… since the dawn of YouTube. Maybe it was that Syd from Ice Age who first brought these sweet and slow creatures to our attention, maybe it was Cute Overload, or perhaps ZooBorns. Whatever the case may be, smiley-faced sloths have been giving Maru and the LOL Cats a good run for their money.

So much so that I’ve even been dreaming about them. Okay, I only had one dream, but it was very vivid and involved a tiny, tiny sloth hiding under a leaf… right here in South Africa. Somewhere.

Anyway, I told my cousin, Tanee, about it and she in turn told me about this crazy interview she had seen on the Ellen Degeneres Show with Kristen Bell (of Heroes, Veronica Mars and Gossip Girl narrator fame) who was getting all emotional about a sloth named Melon her boyfriend had hired to attend her recent birthday party. Weird, I know! But, hey, I wouldn’t say no to that either.

800px-MC_Drei-Finger-Faultier

By Christian Mehlführer, User:Chmehl – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3340774

Anyway, as things go on the web, the interview – which you can watch a little snippet of on Cape Town Girl’s blog – of course turned into a funky little tune by the Gregory Brothers, the people behind Antoine Dodson’s legendary Bed Intruder song and that guy enraptured by the double rainbow, that can’t not be watched.

Check it out below:

So, in the light of all this, I’ve decided to add them to the Monday Menagerie. 

And before I go, a few funky sloth facts:

1. Their closest relatives are armidillos and anteaters who have similar sets of claws to sloths.

2. They live in trees in the jungles of Central and South America

3. Names for the animals used by tribes in Ecuador include Ritto, Rit and Ridette, mostly forms of the word “sleep”, “eat” and “dirty” from Tagaeri tribe of Huaorani.

4. Which brings me to the point that sloths may be super cute, but they’re also a bit gross. If you really want to read more about the 2-toed sloth’s habit of climbing into outside toilets and eating their contents, check out this article.

5. At least their own toilet behaviour is somewhat more civilized, as they “go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards.” This makes them particularly vulnerable to predators.

The loneliest whale in the world

Imagine wandering around the world talking and talking, calling and calling, singing, screaming, whispering… and never getting a response. Never even crossing paths with anyone vaguely similar to you. (Okay, emo kids, it may FEEL that way to you at times, but it simply isn’t true.)

Deep in the ocean, lives a whale with this tragic fate.

Her name is 52 Hertz, she is an unknown species of baleen whale, sings a melancholy song no other whale will answer and travels the ocean alone. As in completely alone – no family to enjoy a meal with now and then, no mate to hook up with every few years, not even one fellow Cetacean friend.

According to a New York Times article from 2004 :

The animal is called the 52 hertz whale because it makes a distinctive stream of sounds at around that basso profundo frequency, just above the lowest note on a tuba. [Other baleen whales sing at a frequency of between 15 and 25 Hertz]

 

Its sonic signature is clearly that of a whale, but nothing like the normal voice of the giant blue or the next biggest species, the fin, or any other whale for that matter, said Mary Ann Daher, a marine biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod.

 

She was first discovered by the US Navy in 1992, when they picked up her sad solo on their classified array of hydrophones used to monitor enemy submarines. Soon after they discovered that this poor creature was way off track – travelling a route that no other whales follow.

Since then, she’s caught the attention of various marine biologists and captured the imagination of cryptozoologists and animal lovers alike. But so far no one’s been able to figure out for sure why she is what she is.

The cryptozoologist Oll Lewis speculates that the lonely whale might be “a deformed hybrid between two different species of whale,” or even “the last surviving member of an unknown species.”

You can listen to 52 Hertz’s unanswered song here and the songs of other whales here.

Now, check out the Sometimes Zoo where I first came across this sad, but strangely magical story. 

 

Sandokan, the hipster

It’s official. My kittie. Is. A hipster.

I mean look at him. Wearing one of those hipster bandannas, camera tucked in tight by his side.

Sandokan, the hipster with a bandanna. Nadia Krige

Doing that longing, far-off gaze thing to absolute perfection.

Sandokan, the hipster. Nadia Krige

Posing in a well-lit window, showing off how unattainably relaxed and awesome his life is.

Sandokan, the hipster in a well lit window. Nadia Krige

Next thing I know, he will be drinking craft water with weirdo chicks.

Chicks.

Or popping his latest collars on a dedicated Tumblr.

Check out these pics of Sandokan in his rave phase.

 

Monday Menagerie: Okapi

Okapi2

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47647

With the elongated head of a giraffe, complete with little horns and lolling tongue, the stripey derriere of a zebra, and a chocolate brownish middle bit, it’s no surprise that the Okapi, along with creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti, was dismissed as a cryptid by European scientists for the longest time.

Being naturally elusive creatures with a distribution limited to the Ituri Rainforest in Northeastern Congo, the Okapi was actually not even a speck on the European radar until brave explorers started taking on the dark continent and sending home reports about the strange creatures they encountered, of course including these.

Press reports covering one, Henry Morton Stanley’s journeys first brought the mythical creature to Western attention sometime during 1887, but it wasn’t until Harry Johnston, an adventurer and colonial administrator, got involved that the Okapi became a real thing.

Okapi_tongue

By kaelin – Flickr: okapi tongue, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31922540

He started by sending skins and skulls to scientists, and finally got some funding to further his research. His lucky break came with the discovery of a carcass. Yes, a carcass, that he unceremoniously shipped off to England to be dissected and then probably displayed in 1901.

Of course it took the capture of a live specimen to banish the last bit of skepticism and the Okapia johnstonia, commonly known as the Okapi was declared a real, live, tangible animal soon after.

Wikipedia says: Today there are approximately 10,000–20,000 in the wild and as of 2011, 42 different institutions display them worldwide

okapi. artistinafrica.wordpress.com

An Okapi and a man. Check how big it is! From: okapi. artistinafrica.wordpress.com

Okapis in popular culture    

Although I have seen quite a few Zoo Borns posts on Okapis, the most interesting reference I’ve come across was in the first chapter Barbara Kingsolver’s heart rending book, Poisonwood Bible

Here’s the extract:

She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn’t. A beautiful animal stands on the other side of the water. They look up from their lives, woman and animal, amazed to find themselves in the same place. He freezes, inspecting her with his black-tipped ears. His back is purplish-brown in the dim light, sloping downward from the gentle hump of his shoulders. The forest’s shadows fall into lines across his white-striped flanks. His stiff forelegs splay out to the sides like stilts, for he’s been caught in the act of reaching down for water. Without taking his eyes from her, he twitches a little at the knee, then the shoulder, where a fly devils him. Finally he surrenders his surprise, looks away and drinks. She can feel the touch of his long, curled tongue on the water’s skin, as if he were lapping from her hand. His head bobs gently, nodding small, velvet horns lit white from behind like new leaves.

 

…That one time and no other the okapi came to the stream, and I was the only one to see it.

Monday menagerie: Bowerbirds

Satin_bowerbird

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1588854

I’ve decided to try out yet another new regular for my blog. Please welcome the Monday Menagerie. As most of you know I am quite an animal enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed cute hunter, so I’ve decided to showcase some of my latest finds right here. Now, quite uncharacteristically, I have managed to stay away from owls, cats and piggies for the first post, and will instead be presenting you with… *drumroll*… the bowerbird!

I’ve heard the name before, but never really knew much about them until I went to check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town (the one in the planetarium building) over the weekend. One of the photos depicted a bird peeping into a nest with a pink paperclip in its mouth. Like so:

Of course, I was enraptured with delight… and became even more so when I read the description.

It turns out this birdie (a male) had built a beautiful little nest and was now trying to attract the object of his affection with this magical find: a pink paperclip.

20110707221304!Chlamydera_nuchalis_bower_-_Mount_Carbine.jpg

According to Wikipedia: “Bowerbirds are most known for their unique courtship behaviour, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate.”

Real little winged-hoarders. Birds after my own heart, if ever there were any. How sweet! Unfortunately they have an Austro-Papua distribution, which basically means if you want to see a bowerbird collection with your own eyes, you’d have to travel down-under.

In the mean time, check out these pics:

They seem to really like blue, or what?

Sleepy, sleepy owl

Most people who know me, know that if given half a chance, I would quit my day job and become the moonlight-loving zookeeper of a nocturnal menagerie. True story!

I just love the caliber of cuteness that seems to crawl out of the woodwork when the sun starts to set: bush babies, badgers, bat eared foxes, caracal, civet and cats of all sorts… not even to mention owls!

Oh owls! Of all the bright-eyed, large-eared, swift-footed, fast-winged critters that move about at night, owls are, without a doubt, my favourite. And, yes, I know… everyone else’s too!

And that is EXACTLY why you will LOVE this adorable video:

Now that you’re feeling all inspired, why not try this super easy DIY Owl Drawing tutorial? Or enter Gypsified’s hippy girl giveaway where you can win awesome Scarlett Boulevard jewellery, including a pretty owl and key earring.

What the photos on my phone say about me

  • That I’m well on my way to becoming a cat lady.

Not wanting to be left alone

 

  • That I’m unwittingly documenting the lives of Egyptian Geese – and the odd greedy squirrel – in the Company Gardens.

  • That pastel coloured objects seem to catch my eye – especially if they’ve got to do with unicorns.

Unicorn Poo cupcakes and a Unicorn hot water bottle

Not exactly unicornish, but still pastel-coloured

  • Like Charlotte says in Lost in Translation: ” I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses… taking pictures of your feet.”

 

  • That I like Deluxe Coffee so much, I would take a photo of a troubadour who sports a sticker of their logo on his guitar.  

  • That sometimes I get distracted by the view from my office.

 

So, who’s next? What do the photos on your phone say about you?

DIY: Drawing an owl

For incessant doodlers such as myself, being able to draw an owl is of the utmost importance. Mostly because flowers, stars and hearts sort of get a bit old after a while, and also, because sometimes you just need something cute to stare back at you from a blank page when you’re in need of inspiration or a boredom breaker.

So, my very talented graphic designer brother, Imar came up with the perfect owl drawing DIY tutorial. Here it is, for your convenience:

And although I normally like doodelling with a pen on paper, I decided to try my hand at it on the computer instead… and well, it worked out better than I expected, but it’s just not as cute as Imar’s 🙁 (Sense the age old sibling rivalry right now?!)

Check out my scrawny, blotchy little hooting honey:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Snaps: Sandokan

Sphinx

I can lick my elbow... you?

This sun... it's making me...

zzzz

I got to spend some time with my cat, Sandokan, over the weekend. He lives with my parents in Betty’s Bay, and has been living there since last year, because the academy (not the one they thank at the Oscars, just the good ol’ Media24 Journalism Academy) had me traversing the country. And, well, this cat is no fan of the gypsy life. Anyway, whenever I go home, I love bonding with him. It always takes a while, because he’s generally quite haughty, but he soon warms up and becomes a real sweetie!

Since my life has stabilised somewhat this year, I’ve been wanting to bring him to live with me in Cape Town, but my dad keeps convincing me that he is not a city cat, but rather a wild hunter of the coast. It’s kind of true, but I also think my dad just fears the empty nest.

However, the thought of him hating Mother City life and trying to run back to his lovely seaside home all along Kloof Street, Buitengracht, the N2 and Clarence Drive just gives me the hibee jebees! What to do?!

Kitty experts out there, some advice please?

This is him in a very lazy sunny Saturday afternoon mode.

P.S. Doesn’t he just have the cutest little vulnerable pink nose?!

My cat on his thinking post

He stares into the grass, pretending to look for prey.

My cat spends a lot of time sitting on a certain pole that forms part of the fence surrounding our backyard. When he knows we’re around he feels compelled to look as though he’s busy with something constructive – i.e. scanning the bushes and grasses below for a catch to lay at our feet.

But when he thinks we’re not watching, he relaxes. He lifts up his head and stares. He stares at the mountain. Sometimes at the sky. He stares and stares and stares. For hours on end… and I know why.

And he pretends to make a move

BECAUSE…

The naming of cats is a difficult matter
It isn’t just one of your holiday games
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you a cat must have three different names

First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey
All of them sensible, everyday names

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames
Such as Plato, Admetas, Electra, Demeter
But all of them sensible everyday names

But I tell you a cat needs a name that’s particular
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo or Coricopat
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum
Names that never belong to more than one cat

But above and beyond there’s still one name left over
And that is the name that you never will guess
The name that no human research can discover
But the cat himself knows, and will never confess

When you notice a cat in profound meditation
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought
Of the thought
Of the thought
Of his name

His ineffable effable effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular name

(From Cats – the musical)

I called him Sandokan, and even though he sometimes seems to love me... I think he is searching for another name