All posts by Goatee Toni

How to raise a loving child?

Being led by the right education, kids can foster a loving heart through the appreciation of not only the adorable-looking animals but also the ones look a bit chubby, slimy and creepy on the outside.

If adults show a gross face towards these cold blooded critters, it will develop a sense of discrimination in the kids.

If adults show a you’re-not-so-handsome-but-i’m-still-happy-to-meet-you face, kids will develop a loving heart and we will have a peaceful world.

It’s actually a gift for parents of this generation that we STILL have such a great variety of small animals living on earth we can let our kids explore. When these kids become parents, a lot of species now we see will have gone extinct.

So now, give your kids an experience in interacting with our amazing critters. Safe and fun!

 

Welcoming Slither the legless lizard

The legless lizard, our newly joined animal ambassador, just made her debut and got her name – SLITHER! It was nominated and voted by all guests of Animal Encounter at JG Club last weekend.

It was closed. SQ(u)EEKY lost by only 1 vote. We might use this name for another of our animal star.

Slither is a female European legless lizard, aka Sheltopusik (means yellow belly in Russian).

This is a true freak, seems to be developed with full of contradictions.

Being a lizard and it chose to lose its limbs and reduce its mobility. It prefers dry habitats but would often have to go to wet habitats to find its favorite food – earthworms, snails and slugs. It is the largest species of all legless lizards, reaching over 4 feet and being the king of its own clan, but it would drop off its own tail when threatened like a tiny gecko.

You might think that a lizard with no legs is like a snake. But when you look closely you will find her very different from a snake in many ways. The eyes, the ears, the tail, the scales, the tongue, the behaviors, nothing alike.

If snakes derived from lizards, then the legless lizards must have been like an abandoned experiment.

Slither has started her ambassadorship. Check her out at our events and experience the extreme side of nature.

20,000 Leatherback Babies Crashed by Heavy Machinery

(AP Photo/Papa Bois Conservation)

Within 2 weeks time, the earth has lost its last remaining Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, and up to 20,000 Leatherback sea turtle hatchlings. Both species have a natural lifespan of over 100-150 years.

The former species was the world’s largest tortoise, which is just extinct.

The latter is even bigger. It is the largest of all living chelonians. The largest recorded specimen was 10 ft long and over 2,000 lbs, found in 1988.

Giant animals might be stronger than smaller animals physically. But when it comes to survivability under human-caused threats, a chihuahua in a lady’s handbag can be stronger.

The Leatherback is a unique turtle not only because it is the largest turtle. It also has a special carapace covered by skin and oily flesh instead of a hard bony shell like other turtles. The only extant member of the family Dermochelyidae, now it is listed as critically endangered – one step beyond extinction. With an environment like now, we estimate it will go extinct within 10-15 years.

This time, a Ministry of Works employee operates a bulldozer next to destroyed as many as 20,000 leatherback eggs and lively hatchlings on the banks of the Grande Riviere Beach in Trinidad. It was claimed to be working with a shifting river that was threatening a hotel where international tourists watch the rare turtles lay their eggs. That is ironic.

It, again, proves that eco-tourism has to be done by professionals with conservation background. Otherwise it only kills the nature.

The critically endangered sea turtles are not only treated by tourism, pollution is another as everyone knows. But maybe not everyone knows how exactly. I have done autopsies on dead sea turtles washed ashore. The turtles were gut-loaded with plastic bags. Plastic bags floating in the sea look like jellyfish, which is their main diet.

Learn more, people. You don’t see blood doesn’t mean you haven’t killed them.

 

 

 

When you are down, stay with an animal

When you are weak or feel uneasy, stay with a smaller animal. Take care of some vulnerable little baby animals then your confusion flees away. Because when you have others life in your hands being strong becomes your only option.

When you find the world small and yourself big, stay with a bigger animal. Wrestle a gator or tug of war with an elephant then they will show you your hidden weakness and humble you big time.

Art with the Giant

Tiffany the tarantula becomes a mom of hundreds

I’m happy to announce that Tiffany, our famous tarantula, Rosie’s sister, gave birth to hundreds of babies successfully.

It was her first time but everything went well. For the past month Tiffany has been doing a great job looking after her babies in the egg sac.

After coming back from the movie The Amazing Spider-Man we decided to open the egg sac. Nothing about the movie but it was the right timing. Tiffany is always a sweet girl but when it comes to protecting her babies she shows me her fangs. It took a while for us to remove the egg sac by distracting her with some juicy high protein treats.

This was Tiffany before she got gravid.

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Sneak a peek inside the sack.

Spiderlings

Opening the sack

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Some trailblazers stepping out of the nest to explore the world.

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Now the eyes can be easily seen before body turns dark.

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Little baby fangs. The tenderest moment of these killing weapons.

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Spiderlings are only about 5 millimeters.

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Spiderlings are moving slowly and very fragile. Now they do not have to feed until they grow to the next stage. Actually they are not able to kill a prey until their body gets more developed.

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In the wild, spiderlings at this stage are totally vulnerable and make the easiest meal for all insectivores. Survival rate can be lower than 10% in some areas. But in here these pink babies have nothing to be worried about. I cannot wait to feed them their first bug and let you meet them soon!

Goodbye Lonesome George

Yesterday was one of a few days I shed my tears in recent years, because a tortoise has died.

I did not shed a single tear when my grandfather died. Indeed, this 100-year-old giant tortoise means much more to me.

His name is George, Lonesome George. He’s the first tortoise I’ve ever heard of when I was a kid and the first specific animal I would make a special trip to visit.

He was the last survivor of the Galapagos giant tortoise, the world’s largest tortoise, subspecies being lonely for over 40 years. His death means an extinction of the Pinta Island giant tortoise.

I will always remember your special smell when you sneezed in front of my face. An extinction was not unexpected but I thought that day would come after I die.. Rest in peace, George.

The Galapagos giant tortoise is not only the largest tortoise on earth, and the symbol of the Galapagos, it also helped Charles Darwin much with the Theory of Evolution.

What makes the tortoise go extinct?

Galapagos is one of my favorite places. When you go to a rainforest or desert and encounter an animal, it would normally have fled away before you can reach it. But animals in Galapagos are surprisingly laid-back. Mostly it looks like they do not care when people come close and even touch them. It looks like they are lack of a sense of self protection, or actually they don’t need it because it is a peaceful land. It was, before people entered the islands.

The island was home to thousands of tortoises before people arrived. Sailors took the tortoises as a valuable source of meat. What made it worse is they used to collect mainly females which are smaller and easier to carry on the ships. It heavily reduced the number of tortoises on the island. The sailors had to look for another option of meat, so they introduced goats. The population of goats kept going up and soon it had dominated the island and eaten up most of the vegetation that the tortoises used to rely on and destroyed tortoise eggs. In 1906, research reported that there were only 3 male tortoises left. Afterwards 2 of them died, and George remained the last survivor for over 40 years.

It is always heartbreaking to see an animal die, especially some long living ones like tortoises. They can live to 200 years, but at the same time their life is very fragile. They take over 20 years to become mature enough to mate so every egg counts. Galapagos is already one of the most peaceful paradise for the animals. You cannot imagine how dark is the future of tortoises of the rest of world. I can understand why people would have to take tortoises as a food source back in the 1900’s. But now in 2012 how could there be some people still eating turtles?

 

 

 

Winter Silkworms

Since kid we learned that silkworms are only active during summertime and go into hibernation before winter.

This year, now in mid December at 55°F, I found these worms unexpectedly! This is unusual. Probably they somehow did not manage to pupate, or it is a small-sized big indication of global warming.

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From Big Game Tragedy in Ohio to Legal Killings in HK

Merely a month after the fire that kills 3,000 high-end top quality snakes in a reptile facility in Colorado, now there is another heart breaking loss in Ohio.

R.I.P. to the 50 magnificent animals killed. 18 highly endangered Bengal tigers, 17 lions, grizzly bears, gray wolf, mountain lions, chimpanzees, a baboon and more were shot to death by the Sheriff’s deputies of Zanesville, Ohio on Wednesday after the owner of an exotic farm threw their cages open and committed suicide.

The media and Animal rights advocates are mostly aiming at the state regulations of dangerous exotics possession but my first question was why would they have to kill them all instead of trying to bring them down with tranquilizers? It is well understood that their job is to ensure public safety and for the deputies tranquilizer darts are not as easy to practice as shooting to death like big game. So I would not say it is a fault, but there were better options. At least they should not have shot the monkeys. Carrying disease does not sound like a good enough reason to me to kill them immediately. Anyways there seems not much the police can do.

Those animals are infamously built for the ability of taking out a human, although the possibility of them killing someone is in fact very low. The tragedy in Ohio was sad but the holocaust was somehow unblamable. But right here in Hong Kong there have been many animals being killed unnecessarily. The wild animals in here considered dangerous are mostly snakes. We do have native venomous snakes in here but in fact they are way less dangerous to people than what they are known for. I have often seen tiny little snakes being smashed to death in order to “ensure public safety” but many times those were non-venomous. Another times there were issues of wild boars attacking people then authorities allowed legal hunting. They can attack but after all they are just pigs. They don’t kill people.

Most times the authorities like to tackle problems and avoid responsibilities the easiest way for them but that is definitely the worst way. In a metropolis like Hong Kong, animals would never like to attack humans until they are forced to. Killing only generates hate. Killing endangered animals is even the worst sin that no one is able to compensate.

Jurassic Garage is going to be born

Dealing with wild wild animals both in the jungle and in the farm is always what I enjoy doing. But since when did I begin handling kids as well? 🙂 That’s a good one I haven’t really thought about.

Everything started off unintentionally with being invited to give a speech in an international school.  Then the number and variety of bookings we received keeps growing. My team and myself have been providing animal presentations for some good 6 years.  Now, it has become an enhanced program loved by so many kids and most happily been described as “the best party ever”.

It’s all good now. For me it means we are set for going on the next step.

In Hong Kong there are hardly any places good for kids to learn about and interact with animals, let alone an expat-friendly one. That’s a shame but we all know why there’s none. The running cost of business is so high and it only keeps going up. Animal educational facilities do not make good money, so no one dares to risk.

As you all know I’m a risk taker. It is not about the bucks, gain or loss. but as I see how adults are pushing more and more animals to face extinction I see how important it is to foster some good sprouts who will change the world. This is a very natural rule. Maybe you won’t harm something you hate. but you must protect something you like. So my job here is to create opportunities for kids to meet some nice little-known animals, and to guide them to appreciate and foster an interest in them.

Now, on my birthday, I proudly announce that the project of our brand new animal facility on the Hong Kong side is confirmed. I named it Jurassic Garage. It will be like a club for members to visit and have parties.

The place is about 4,000 sq feet located in the east side. We have checked out Central and Ap Lei Chau but there is nothing available for such a size.

This idea initially popped up in my mind years ago. It took years to turn the research into practice. We clearly understand this is quite a risk in terms of business. But I also understand this is worth a risk for the mighty mission of education!

So I assume it takes a few months for us to build up and decorate the club. Its website www.jurassic-garage.com will be launched soon. Stay tuned.