Friday, August 29, 2014

What DOES The Fox Say?

Howdy everyone! This week, I've got some terrible news to share about an actor from one of my favorite movies of all time (just wanted to give you warning). But Joy's latest article should quickly cheer you up. So let's get started.

Days till:
It is: 2 days till Labor Day
It is: 14 days till Patriot Day
It is: 15 days till Dolphin Tale 2's theatrical release!

In the Spotlight:
OK, here is a piece of really sad news: Richard Attenborough, the man who portrayed John P. Hammond in Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World passed away on August 24, 2014 at the age of 90.

Richard Attenborough passed away on August 24, 2014.
John Hammond was one of my favorite characters from the JP franchise, so it's really sad to see him go. You can read more about his death here. I will miss him dearly. I'm not sure what this means for Jurassic World, the fourth Jurassic Park film. Even when he was alive, it would have been extremely unlikely that he would be in the movie due to health and mental issues. However, I am hoping that in the movie franchise, Hammond lives on, though we probably wouldn't see him onscreen (I don't think any other actor could portray Hammond better than Attenborough). Granted, I won't hate Jurassic World if he is dead in the franchise. Still, this is very sad news for me and all other Jurassic Park fans. Rest in peace, Richard Attenborough.

Topic of the Week by Joy Hammond
We've all heard the song . . . but what does the fox really say?
The red fox has made it onto the big screen, sort of. A song written by Ylvis has gotten the attention of curious fans (if you haven't seen the video, you can watch it below). What does the fox say? Before that can be answered, learning about the red fox would be a great idea. The red fox is found around the world; the northern hemisphere to the Arctic circle, Central America, and Asia. The fox comes from the group, Vulpes and has Eurasian origin. They have a thin body and short legs. Their fluffy tail is half the size of their body. The red fox can jump over a six feet-seven inch high fence and they are also good swimmers. The females also have smaller skulls the males.

The red foxes are omnivores. They eat many things but mostly rodents; voles, mice, ground squirrels, hamsters, gerbils, woodchucks, pocket gophers, and deer mice. They also eat birds, porcupines, reptiles, and other insects, along with berries. The foxes compete with other fox species, such as the grey foxes. They also have many predators, like wolves and eagles. Most mythology states that the foxes are cunning and deceitful. They never got caught and they steal things.

Isn't this fox's coat a beautiful color?
Drum roll, please! Now it's time for the big question. What does the fox say? Foxes actually have a huge range of sounds: adults have up to 12 different arrangements and the kids or kits actually, have 8. There are contact calls and and interaction calls. Contact calls consist of 3-5 barking sounds, like wow-wow-wow, when two foxes meet. Interaction calls sound like a submissive animal whin. When they're aggressive it sounds something like, 'gekkering.' One call that isn't in this category is a funny sound like a 'Waaaaaah!” The red fox is an incredible species. If you ever spot one, just call it to it like WAAAAAAHHHHHH! Nah, don't do that . . . it's not a great idea. Well, so long for now!

Now we finally know what the fox says! An ancient mystery answered!
DisclaimerMany (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via one or both of the email addresses above.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Adventure at the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum

Hello everyone! Today, instead of doing what I normally do on this blog (writing nonfiction articles on various topics), I will do what blogging was originally intended for: talking about a recent "event" I took part in. Based on the title of this article, you'll know that I recently went to the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum with my family. I had a blast! Today, I'll tell you all about what the museum was like for me and of course, I'll post some of the many pictures I took. But first, it's time for:

Days till:
It is: 10 days till Labor Day
It is: 22 days till Patriot Day
It is: 23 days till Dolphin Tale 2's theatrical release!

In the Spotlight:
Now, the latest news for Jurassic World concerns the actor Jake Johnston, one of the actors in the upcoming movie. Thanks to a few interviews (one with AICN and the other is the Elvis Duran morning show), we now know a little more about what his character will be doing in the film and a little about his personality. Here is what he had to say in his interview with AICN:
"Capone: I’ve got to ask you about JURASSIC WORLD. Who do you play in that? It’s great you guys are getting back with [SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED director] Colin Trevorrow and [SNG writer] Derek Connolly.
JJ: I’m actually not allowed to talk too much about it.
Capone: Yeah I figured, but tell me anyway.
JJ: [laughs] Bryce Dallas Howard is in there, you’ve got Chris Pratt, and I get a few texts here and there from Colin saying they’re having the time of their life. It’s awesome. And the script’s really great. Derek and Colin wrote this one together, and they’re going for it. They’re not just adding on to the franchise. They’re fans of it, and they want to take it to the next level.
Capone: I interviewed them in Austin for SAFETY and quickly realized that these guys are like nerd central. They love this stuff.
JJ: The only thing I can give you about my character that’s fun in terms of nerding out about JURASSIC is that my character loves Jurassic World and Jurassic Park. We’re playing with this idea that they know the legacy of the park. But that’s all I can give.
Capone: I know your character is a tech guy who is running it from the control room for a while. See, I know a few things about it.
[Johnson gets a slightly nervous look on his face]
JJ: You said that though, not me.
So, what do we know about Jake Johnson's character? Well, he's apparently the tech guy at the theme park Jurassic World, suggesting he'll portray someone with a similar role to Ray Arnold in the first movie. Hopefully he shares a different fate than Arnold does!

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan

Just a few of over 300 amazing animals I saw at the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum.
For those of you who don't know, the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum that features over 300 taxidermy animals on display. The interesting thing about taxidermy animals is that they allow you to get a closer look at animals that would normally be too dangerous to get close to in the wild or in captivity. The Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum takes you on a journey all across the globe in which you can learn about the amazing animals that call earth home. If you are to visit, you will also learn about how and why many animals are becoming endangered in the wild and what is being done to save them. So join me as I retell my trip to the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum!

African Plains

The African plains are home to a number of different animal species.
As you start your journey through the museum, you'll enter into the arid plains of Africa where many animals live. This was one of my favorite exhibits. There are a variety of antelope and gazelle to observe. But in these lands, there are also predators, but I'll get to them in a minute. One of the coolest animals in this section of the museum is the wildebeest. Believe it or not, wildebeest are actually a species of antelope. Thousands of them migrate across the African plains following fresh grazing and water sources. But where there is abundant prey, there are also predators. Lions, hyenas, African painted dogs and jackals also call this part of Africa home. The museum features a display of a pride of lions defending their kill from a pack of voracious hyenas. In this exhibit you'll also see a number of gazelle species that are perfectly designed for life in these plains.
The wildebeest (right) is also called the gnu.
Many types of small gazelle live in Africa.
In the background, you can see a pride of lions defending their kill from a pack of hyenas.

African Rainforest
The bongo lives in the forests of Africa.
The tour takes you to the heart of Africa. At the equator, lush rainforests flourish and there is a variety of wildlife to be seen. I spotted several species of animals in this exhibit, from the fleet-footed nyala antelope, to the shy bongo, to the forest hog and the diminutive and athletic grysbok. The equator is a great place for rainforests because it's where the seasonal variations are least effective, and there's a lot of rainwater! This provides a home for many rainforest species. Nearby, I also spotted some baboons and a leopard, who was resting on a rocky ledge. As I continued on my journey through the museum, I noticed the darkness envelope me as the night approached. But let's not put a damper on our adventure, as it is the night time in which a new cast of creatures come out.
Several species of antelope.

This antelope must be athletic to avoid predators.
The leopard (right) is an ferocious predator; it often eats monkeys like baboons (left)

In the dark of night, a leopard attacks a hapless antelope.
In the darkness of night on my expedition through the museum, I saw one of the largest reptile on the North American continent: the American alligator! While these predators are active during the day, they also hunt at night, lying motionless near the water's edge for prey to stop by, hoping for a drink. Instead, they are snapped up by an awesome set of jaws and taken beneath the water to drown. From my view, I saw the alligators dozens of sharp teeth! Nighttime is also a time for some prey animals to come out, like the springhare. Though it looks like a hare with a tail, the springhare is actually a rodent. A number of other nocturnal animals I saw in the darkness were hyenas, mountain lions, raccoons, great horned owls, a bobcat and even the cute little Ring-tailed cat. Those little mammals were so cute that I just wanted to pick one up and cuddle with it. One part of the museum's nocturnal exhibit portrayed a classic African scene in which a leopard had snuck up on an antelope and attacked! With a quick bite to the neck already set, it didn't appear the antelope was going to see its next sunrise. Fortunately for me, the night was about to end as I climbed into the higher elevations of the world.

Alligators are infamous night hunters.

Many members of the cat family are nocturnal.

Aren't these ring-tailed cats so cute!
The American Highlands
The farther you get from the equator, the further you get from minimal seasonal change. Here in the North American highlands, such as the Rocky Mountains, animals not only have to cope with predators, but also huge fluctuations in temperature. But before heading to North America, I took a quick stop to the South American plains to witness a Rhea and a cougar taking down a small deer.

In South America, a rhea (right) watches a puma takes down a small deer.
Now back on track! Above me, high on the cliffs, I saw an elk. Its antlers were wide and branchy. These creatures are common in North American coniferous forests of the west. I also saw another member of the deer family, the white-tailed deer. Did you know that the common white-tailed deer used to be endangered?!? That's right! They were endangered! In the early 20th century, these hoofed mammals could be hunted without regulations and by 1930, around 300,000 were left. This might seem like a lot, but when you remember that other factors also kill deer, like predators, disease and various natural circumstances, this is a very low number. This is where conservationists and deer hunters come in. They both realized that white-tailed deer numbers were in decline and the government put regulations on the hunting of these animals and commercial exploitation were made illegal. Now the numbers are climbing again and in 2005, there were estimated to be as many as 30 million white-tailed deer in the wild! What a comeback! This is just one instance in which the roles of hunters and conservations are shown to be very important to protecting wildlife. Conservationists obviously protect animals in the wild, but how else do hunters do this? Well, hunters pay to hunt these and other animals and therefore the money can be put forth into saving them. Cool, huh?

A majestic elk.
The white-tailed deer, once endangered, is now thriving!
I trek further and further up the mountains and run into a variety of other creatures, including the beautiful pronghorn, the second fastest animal on the planet, behind the cheetah. Skunks, foxes, ravens, turkeys and wild boar also make their home here. I even saw an instance in which a mountain lion tried to catch a deer. As you can see from the picture below, it didn't fair too well with those antlers! In addition to these creatures, I also saw bighorn sheep, bison, armadillos and even a fox trying to catch a pheasant. Finally, following the trail, I walking into what represented the highlands of the largest continent, Asia.

The raven is a common bird in North America.
The American bison roam in large herds across the American plains.
Turkeys, foxes, pheasants and an armadillo can be seen here.
A mountain lion unsuccessfully attacks a deer and learns a painful lesson!

Many of Asia's grazing animals are caprinaes, creatures closely related to domestic goats and sheep.
While deer and even antelope were spotted in the Asian highlands, there were mainly a lots of relatives of domesticated sheep and goats; members of the Caprinae subfamily. These are animals that look a lot like, but are not true antelopes. The Saiga antelope, even though it looks like a cross between a goat and a tapir, is a true antelope. Covered in thick fur to protect them from the cold, you've probably noticed their strange trunk-like noses. The noses of Saiga antelope are helpful in warming the cold air as they breath. I also saw many species of Ibex and even a grazing European red elk on my mountain hike. I didn't see very many predators in this part of the museum, so I was surprised to find a pair of brown bears. We'll get to bears a little later though. At last, I finally reached the top of the high Asian mountain ranges, where I came face-to-face with several goat and sheep relatives, including different species of ibex, the remarkable markhor with its curved pair of horns and even a species of deer called the Chinese water deer. If you'll look closely at its snout, you'll see that the water deer has a pair of saber-like teeth coming out of its mouth. It reminded me greatly of the extinct saber-toothed cats of the Ice Age. Unlike saber-toothed cats though, these deer use their teeth to fight other males for mating rights. Also, I saw the Tian Shan Argali, the owner of the largest horns in the caprinae family, and the interesting-looking golden shewan takin. Hard as it was to leave the mountaintops, I was urged to start my journey back down. On the way to the American coniferous forests, I saw some strange paintings on the wall of an Asian cliff face.
Deer are common in Eurasia.

The Saiga antelope (left) uses its strange nose to warm the air as it breaths.
The Ronda Ibex can be seen in the center of the picture.
A Eurasian red deer is feeding.
The rare blackbuck.
A pair of Eurasian brown bears.
The Chinese water deer has saber-like teeth.
These guys have some crazy headgear!
Strange ancient wall paintings.

American Forests

Several brown bears fish at a salmon-filled creek.
You can't fully explore the pine forests of North America without running into the largest carnivorous mammals on the continent: the bears. I stopped at a small salmon-filled stream to watch them. There were several bears, both black bears and brown bears. The names of these bears are somewhat deceptive, however, as black bears can be black, brown, tan, brownish-red or even almost white! The real difference between the two besides size (brown bears are larger) is the hump of muscle over a brown bear's shoulders. Black bears lack this feature. As the river was full of salmon, the bears wasted no time trying to catch them. One brown bear had caught a fish, but it wasn't left alone to eat it as it was soon defending its meal from another bear! Let me be the first to tell you, we all know bears are big, but knowing a bear is big, and being next to a big bear are two totally different things! A bear I saw that stood on its hind legs was 7 feet tall, and it wasn't even the largest of the brown bears! You might want to know that there are different subspecies of brown bears. One of the largest is the grizzly bear! Even on all fours, these mammals are massive! But even the mighty grizzly bear is smaller than the largest living bear species of all: the polar bear! It was a sure sign of where I was headed next: the frozen Arctic tundra!

Black bears can actually be black, brown, cinnamon or even almost white!

This bear must be over seven feet tall!

The awesome grizzly bear!

The polar bear is the largest carnivorous land animal on the planet.

Arctic Tundra
The tundra is bursting with life!
At first glance, the arctic tundra is a vast, snowy, cold wasteland with little life. There's nothing farther from the truth! Up here near the top of the world, the land is roamed by loads of different types of wildlife. One of the most common grazers on the tundra are caribou, also called reindeer. Great herds of these animals travel great distances, and following them are their main predators: wolves. These pack-hunters aren't the only animals that hunt caribou, others include bears – which normally hunt sick or younger animals – and wolverines – which can attack and successfully kill adult caribou, despite their size. Despite being a bitterly cold and frozen place in winter, in summer, much of the Arctic tundra is boggy and is the perfect breeding ground for gazillions of mosquitoes! These tiny insects can drive herds of caribou wild. Also present in the tundra are musk oxen. These animals are bovines, and related to domestic cows and wild bison (I saw some of them earlier on my journey). These creatures are the largest herbivores in the Arctic. After taking a last look at the creatures of the tundra, I decided to move on. My next destination was not far from where it first began.

Musk ox (far back) are covered in thick wool to keep them warm.
Though they are prey, caribou can defend themselves from wolves with their antlers.
African Savannah 

Various of species of antelope, including the gemsbok (front, right) can be seen here.
Now we're back in Africa, but further south than where we were before, in the Kalahari. Back in the savannah, there are still many animals we didn't see before when we were in Africa, especially around the waterhole. As a sable antelope tried to approach the water's edge, I saw a Nile crocodile that had wanted to catch the creature to eat. Just like their cousins, the alligators, crocodiles are dangerous ambush predators of the waterways. The crocodile I saw wasn't full-grown however; a full-grown Nile crocodile can reach 20 feet in length and weigh up to a ton! That's a big croc! Fortunately, the sable antelope made an escape, by the looks of it. There were other animals near the waterhole too, like the caracal, a small African cat, antelope, many of which hid in the tall grass and a gigantic giraffe! The giraffe was quenching its thirst when I saw it. The giraffe is such a tall animal that it must bend its legs out to the sides to dip its head down near the water. It was an amazing animal. Even bending over, the giraffe towered over my head, which is 5.5 inches above the ground. Not too far away from the waterhole, I saw more marvels of the African savannah; specifically many species of antelope. One species I recognized was the gemsbok. These gray, black and white hoofed mammals have long sharp horns that are perfect for keeping many predators at bay. Perhaps one of the most interesting antelope on display before me was the gerenuk. Unlike most antelopes, gerenuks can rear up on their back legs to nibble the leaves of small trees and shrubs. Despite the peaceful appearance of this place, dangers were still about! I saw an antelope known as the addah fending off a dangerous cobra; I also witnessed an unfortunate zebra become prey to a hungry lion! The cat was in the act of leaping onto the zebra; it would then cling on with its claws and give a bite to the neck or muzzle as it brought it to the ground to suffocate the creature. I was almost finished in this part of Africa when two very different but related animals caught my eye. I saw two antelopes, one was the eland, one of, if not the largest, species of antelope, and below it was the dik-dik, a tiny antelope about the size of a big house cat. It was amazing to think that these two creatures were related at all!

A sable antelope defends itself from a Nile crocodile.

Giraffes can stand 20 feet tall.
Despite the great difference in size, the giant eland and the tiny dik-dik are related.
This dik-dik is no larger than a large domestic cat!
Gerenuks stand on their hind legs to access small trees and bushes.

This antelope narrowly avoids a cobra.
A lion attacks a zebra.
As I concluded my amazing journey through the different habitats around the world, I was able to look out at most of the creatures I'd seen on the balcony. It was an incredible adventure into the world of animals.
This is a great way to view most of the amazing animals at the museum!

The museum's slogan is “We don't inherit the planet from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. In other words, the museum is urging us to preserve the earth for those who are to come after us. This reminded me of Genesis 1:8, in which it says,
God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground'.
Now this does not mean we're to pointlessly use up earth's resources, or kill the different species of animals and plants until they're extinct. The Bible actually says that we are to be good stewards of the earth; we are to take care of it. You see, we as humans are naturally selfish beings, who often use more of earth's resources than they need. This is why all over the world, animals are going extinct. In fact, scientists predict that a species of animal disappears off the face of the planet every day!
The dromedary camel seen just before the exit to the museum.
Could you imagine what the world would be like without great herds of wildebeest roaming the savannah? With rainforests reduced to nothing but tree stumps? Or oceans lacking great schools of fish that used to feed oceanic predators and humans? Or without bison running across the American west? God created humans to worship Him, and He gave us the earth to live on and use. But are we really worshiping God by using what He gives us wastefully? Of course not!

Many people (conservationists especially) are already trying to save animals from going extinct. While there are still many left to save, there are quite a few success stories to share as well, such as the ones of the white-tailed deer (as I explained earlier), the wild turkey and many others.

The world is full of natural resources for us to use, but we must use them wisely and in the end, thank God for giving them to us and for giving us the wonderful place we and all the animals have to live that we call Earth.
Praise the Lord for all the amazing animals He's created to dwell with us on the earth!