Archive | Saving Our Animals

The Latest (And Cutest) Endangered Animal Ever!

Some may say ‘freaky’ looking; I personally think it’s the most adorable sea animal ever!  And sadly enough, I discovered it because their status on earth is ‘seriously threatened with extinction’ due to water pollution and destruction to its environment.  Want a visual to help teach children about water preservation and helping our environment?  Get ready…this creature is seriously cute.

Picture from Treehugger site

There are several pictures on the Treehugger article about these animals and they look like they’re smiling in every shot!  Their official name is the Axolotl salamander, otherwise known as the Mexican walking fish or Mexican water monster.  The Axolotl has been listed endangered on the annual list from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but researchers now say it could disappear within 5 years.  Millions once existed in lakes where Mexico City was built, but between draining lakes to create city growth and with pumping waste-water into waterways, things have changed for this animal.

According to the Yahoo News/Associated Press:

“If the axolotl disappears, it would not only be a great loss to biodiversity but to Mexican culture, and would reflect the degeneration of a once-great lake system,” says Luis Zambrano, a biologist at the Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM.  The number of axolotls (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) in the wild is not known. But the population has dropped from roughly 1,500 per square mile in 1998 to a mere 25 per square mile this year, according to a survey by Zambrano’s scientists using casting nets.

When I showed the pictures of the Axolotl to my children they shrieked and thought it looked like an alien, but at least it got their attention.  I think it’s adorable and thought it might remind us what cute little creatures are affected by our decisions with habitat destruction and water pollution.  Show this to your children and see what they think.

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Ultimate Eco Activity For Your Family

Back in April, I wrote an article highlighting an eco-friendly project for kids – Kid Friendly Eco Project.  The activity involved storm drain marking with fish decals to remind the public that water ways lead to fish.  I was very excited to reserve my marking kit with the city, but because of a fish decal shortage, I only received it this week.  I’m wanted to report back on the success of the activity.

Well, my sons and I loved marking the drains.  Actually, there is nothing my boys didn’t enjoy with this project.  I think I feel a paper route coming in their near future because they loved delivering the educational literature to the houses the most.  Of course at the beginning of this adventure, hitting the fish decals with the mallet was pretty fun too.  <smile>

The entire process of storm drain marking is wonderful for a family project. You put on a reflective vest, brush away debris from the road where you plan on putting the decal, then you pour the glue onto the road, peel and stick the fish decal, then pound it with a mallet approx. 100 times.  When you see the roadway bumps coming through the decal, you’ve done a good job.  These decals need 48 hours to completely stick to the road, so I’m really hoping people don’t lift them up before this time.  I guess this is another wonderful thing about having children.  Continue Reading →

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Tips For Home Owners To Be Bear Aware

With two bears shot and killed in my neighborhood last week, I’m reminded of the fragile balance of living so close to nature.  Did you know that bears have an amazing sense of smell?  They can smell garbage from great distances and once they learn that garbage means food, they’ll keep returning to eat.  Because human odour is on the garbage they learn to associate people with food. Like the case of the woman that got mauled (while gardening) in my city last week, bears may become aggressive, expecting food when they see or smell people. Here are some tips for discouraging bears at your home.

Garbage should stay inside until pick-up.  Occasionally wash bins and empty cans and jars that are waiting to be picked up in the recycling box.

Did you know that bears are attracted to petroleum products such as paint, kerosene, and turpentine?  Put these products away.

Backyard composts should be sprinkled with lime to decrease the odor.  Actually, if your compost stinks, you’re doing something wrong.  You can turn your compost with leaves, lime and soil to further reduce odours. Unrinsed eggshells, fish, meat, fat, oils, or cooked foods should not be composted in summer or fall. 

Pick fruit daily from fruit trees on your property.  Don’t allow a large amount of dropped fruit to accumulate on the ground. 

Keep your BBQ equipment debris and grease free after use.

Feed pets indoors and between April and November remove bird feeders.

Don’t store food in outdoor freezers or coolers.

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Avoiding Bear Encounters & Safety Tips For Forest Walks

I’ve come to the realization that the only place all four of my kids are completely happy is on the beach or on a forest walk.  With the different ages, it’s too hard to keep them all happy for an extended period of time at parks, the aquarium, science world, etc.  They all head off in separate directions and everyone ends up frustrated.  But get them near the ocean, tide pools, a forest with stumps to climb…magical things happen.  Everyone is happy and that makes my life SO easy!  The only drawback to this wonderful discovery is that bears are almost as common as dogs in the forested areas where I live as many neighborhoods back onto green belts and new neighborhoods have built homes high up into the trees.  It is not uncommon to see either a coyote, deer, or bear in our local neighborhoods. Yikes…it’s scary!  I don’t know how I would handle myself if I was alone in a forest with 4 small children and ran into a black bear.

I figure knowledge is empowering, so hopefully by the end of this article, I’ll feel more confident to explore the amazing nature that surrounds us in BC.  It is such an amazing lush and beautiful province, filled with trees that take your breath away.  This time of year the salmon have completed their annual run up the rivers to spawn, but wild berry bushes have started to sprout everywhere you look, which bears love to eat!  I would say a bigger problem in our community is people that leave their garbage at curb side the night before pickup and that property developers have built huge communities where the forest once remained untouched.  There has been lots of housing development of late.  But when deep in a forest, you are in the bear’s backyard, so you need to adapt. Here are tips to avoid bear encounters:

Avoiding Bear Encounters In The Forest:

→  Travel with others.  haha..with my kids I always have company.  Inviting friends with an adult to join us for walks would be a good idea.

→  Avoid wearing strong perfumes.

→  Keep children and dogs close to you at all times.  Stay together as a group.

→  Watch for fresh bear signs: bear poo (large with seeds visible), tracks, scratches on trees.

→  Make noise.  I smile as I type this because there is no louder gang than my brood all together.  You can clap, sing, talk loudly to warn a bear you are coming.  I will invest in some bear bells for the kids.  They are inexpensive and my kids would love the novelty of wearing them!  Anything that helps keep them a little safer.

 

If I can learn how to use it properly, I’ll also invest in some bear spray.  On most given days I have no clue where my wallet or car keys are…I’m not sure how effective finding bear spray in a stressful situation like a bear encounter would work for me.  <smile>  But, you can bet if one of my kids was in danger of being attacked, I could figure it out quick.

 

I don’t know where I heard ‘scream and run’ as the advice for encountering a bear at close range, but I’ve learned this information is not correct.  If you encounter a bear you should stand still, speak to it firmly but calmly, and wave your arms slowly or clap so that the bear will recognize you as a human.  You retreat slowly and quietly without making eye contact with the bear.

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Build-A-Bear and Educating Children About Endangered Animals

I discovered a few interesting facts involving endangered animals that I wanted to share.  I’ve had endangered animals on my mind since the boys and I visited our zoo last weekend.  We never miss an opportunity to discuss animal issues, especially when we say hi to the tigers that Francesco believed he’s rescued from extinction from his birthday party donations.  The boys mentioned at the zoo that perhaps it would be nice to save a different animal species at his birthday party next year.  The impact and dialogue that resulted from Francesco requesting donations in lieu of gifts, just continues to build.  Every hawk/eagle that circles the sky, one of my boys always comments that we’ll have to save them next.  I love that they are thinking of helping animals above the fun of receiving presents. I’m still receiving positive comments and feedback from parents about this idea.

The highlight of our zoo visit is the miniature train you can ride that tours the entire zoo.  The part that I enjoy the most is the train conductor who gives interesting and adorable animal facts over their loud speaker while driving the train.  They are such cute bits of information for the kids – here are a few:

♦  All zebras have the same number of stripes…they are just organized in a different pattern on each zebra.

◊  If you shaved all the fur off a tiger, the stripe pattern would still be visible on their skin.

♦  Flamingos are not naturally pink.  The alpha and beta-carotene in their diet makes them this color…without it they would be gray.

◊  A giraffe’s heart weighs 25 lbs.  Also, a  giraffe only sleeps for 1/2 hour per day (24 hour period).  If a giraffe naps for 1 minute…that is considered a deep sleep.  (Yikes!!)

♦  And lastly, what started me on this topic – the Siberian Tigers at our zoo, will likely be extinct in the wild by the year 2010.  Right now they are considered extremely endangered.

Francesco has always loved those tigers at the Vancouver Zoo and it makes us so sad to think about how endangered their species is.  It got me thinking that a ‘softer’ way to introduce a younger child to the plight of endangered animals is to engage them in a really fun activity.  Take them to Build-A-Bear!  This may sound like a contradiction to most Eco activities, but we are talking about a great way to provide information and education without the child even realizing it.  Build-A-Bear makes it easy by featuring World Wildlife Fun Friends.  For every animal purchased in their WWF Collection, Build-A-Bear will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund.  What a great idea! 

hmmmm ..can you imagine if Webkinz did the same thing?  With how many Webkinz creatures they sell…the dollar amount would be incredible!  I’m just thinking out loud, but I might need to send off an email.  <smile>

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