During moonlit nights, off the coasts of southern Japan, Brazil and Argentina, you might get lucky enough to see a flower hat jelly like this one emit fluorescent lights from its tentacles. These invertebrates have no brain, heart or real eyes and yet, incredibly, they are predatory animals. To hunt, these jellies will hide amongst the seagrass, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to swim by. By stinging their prey with their venomous tentacles, they’re able to subdue it and will consume entire fish at a time. While a sting from this jelly will definitely hurt and likely leave a rash, it is not fatal to humans.
This flower hat jelly was photographed at @AquariumPacific, where they are displayed under moonlight conditions to highlight their fluorescence.
Desert cottontails have excellent hearing, which helps to protect them from predators-- but it doesn’t work every day. These fuzzy little creatures are smart enough to know that on windy days, they should hold off on foraging because the noise will interfere with their ability to detect threats. If they're frightened, these rabbits run at speeds of up to 20 mph in zig-zag patterns to evade being caught. When they aren’t out searching for food, desert cottontails can be found cooling off underground in shallow holes that they make by digging with their front paws. Though they don’t form social systems like European rabbits, they don’t mind the company if another cottontail shows up in their burrow.
This desert cottontail was photographed at @theomahazoo.
Happy World Pangolin Day from this mother pangolin and her baby, Opal! These unique looking mammals have tongues as long as their bodies, a prehensile tail, and no teeth! Though their scales may look like something out of a sci-fi movie, they’re actually made of the same material as our fingernails. In many traditional cultures, there is a highly misguided belief that these scales contain therapeutic properties, which has resulted in the poaching of millions of pangolins in the past decade. Now, with Asian pangolins becoming increasingly rare, smugglers have started to turn their attention to African pangolins. Despite being given the strongest international protections, smuggled scales from approximately 110,000 poached African pangolins have been seized just in the past year.
These incredible animals are now threatened with extinction, but thankfully many programs have been initiated to help save them. The two white-bellied tree pangolins (Phataginus tricuspis) pictured reside at @PangolinConservation in Florida, and belong to a collaborative conservation effort called the Pangolin Consortium, where they are also implementing projects to allow the public to engage in pangolin conservation. To find out more about how you can help save pangolins in the wild, click the links in the bios of @PangolinConservation and @VietnamWildlife!
At just four-weeks-old, these two leopard cat kittens (Prionailurus bengalensis) are lucky to be alive! Like most wild cat species, mothers hide their young in a quiet location while they're hunting and return later to nurse them. These babies were found hiding in a field that humans had started to burn for agriculture.
Unfortunately, humans sometimes find these kittens and wrongly presume that they are abandoned or orphaned and pick them up, but in this case it was absolutely the right thing to do or both would have been killed by the fire. A caring Cambodian woman found them just in time and they were transferred for hand-rearing to the @accb_cambodia, a dedicated conservation and rescue center near the ancient temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity regularly receives leopard cats and other wildlife in need and tries to rehabilitate them in order to be released back to the wild if at all possible. Although leopard cats are very cute, they don’t make good pets because they are wild and don’t become tame. It is always a very emotional moment to say goodbye and to release a rehabilitated leopard cat back to the wild.
To see a video of these babies, check out @NatGeo.
Follow @ACCB_cambodia to learn about the vital work they do to save wildlife, and click the link in their bio to donate!
Slender and beautifully-marked coral catsharks like this one are nocturnal and spend most of their day hidden under rocks and among shallow coral reefs. Between that and their striking, slender pupils, it's easy to see the reason for their common name. These sharks are oviparous, meaning they lay egg cases for the juvenile’s to “hatch” from. This particular individual hatched at @theOmahaZoo in 2015 and according to his keeper, he loves to dart in and out of rock structures while scavenging for food. To minimize the the impact of collection from the wild, @theOmahaZoo has begun a breeding program for this species, which is listed as Near Threatened by #IUCN.
Happy Valentine’s Day from this mated pair of citron-crested cockatoos.
These birds are very curious and quirky, but are extremely tender to each other when in pairs. Despite being one of the smallest of the cockatoo family, they are one of the loudest and have very large personalities. They love to play in the wild- with their food, hanging and swinging off branches, and also with each other.
These beautiful birds are currently critically endangered, meaning they’re very close to extinction. Thankfully, though, these two are part of a critical breeding program at Jurong Bird Park, a part of @wrs.ig, which aims to increase the numbers of this highly endangered species. The Park is also currently supporting a regional project on one of the subspecies of Cacatua sulphurea - specifically C. s. Abbotti, which is targeted at protecting the bird in-situ through habitat protection and reinforcement of existing nest sites.
Song: "Planta Baja" by Tres Tristes Tangos
After not being cared for by her biological mother at the @MNZoo, this baby white-cheeked gibbon is now growing up at @theOmahaZoo. Though the baby still requires being bottle-fed by human caregivers, she is thriving and, best of all, she has been adopted by a female white-handed gibbon at the Zoo who will teach her 'all things gibbon' in the coming months and years.
Check out @natgeo to see a video of this sweet girl.
The moment a finger is laid on these five-armed invertebrates, it becomes obvious why they’re named leather sea stars. Due to the small, feathery sacks on their arms which are used for respiration, this sea star has extremely soft, leathery skin. But that’s not their only nickname! They’re also known as ‘garlic stars’ because, oddly, they omit a distinct garlic scent when they’re removed from the water. Leather sea stars like this one at @aquariumpacific inhabit very low intertidal zones and have been found to have a commensal relationship with scale worms, which can be found living inside the grooves in the sea stars’ tube feet.
Check out @natgeo for a video of this sea star!
The tiny blessed poison frog was only just formally described to science in 2008, but it’s already listed as Vulnerable by #IUCN. It can be found only in 6 small patches of rainforest in Peru, where the land is being actively farmed and logged. Like most poison frogs, it is active by day relying on its bright coloration as a warning to predators and, when encountered, will jump erratically to escape. This captive hatched individual resides at the @thelosangeleszoo where it will be part of a large rainforest habitat dedicated to the amazing diversity of the poison frog group.
What big eyes you have! Mohol bushbabies are nocturnal creatures, which is why they're born with such disproportionately large eyes. While they do have excellent sight, they are unable to move their eyes, so to scan their environments bushbabies must move their entire heads back and forth-- just like an owl. Though these tiny primates may look innocent, they aren’t afraid to gang up on a predator and attack as a mob when threatened. To communicate with one another, they use loud calls over long distances which they easily pick up using their large ears.
The @clevemetroparks Zoo, where this bushbaby was photographed, supports, develops and implements unique and collaborative conservation projects that promote wildlife survival, benefit local people and directly address the most vital and emerging threats to wildlife today. Their goals are protecting wildlife, building conservation capacity, and promoting conservation science. #NOTAPET
Like all Palawan hornbills, this one, named Szczurek, is quite timid unless she’s busy playing with leaves and sticks. These beautiful birds are currently listed as Vulnerable by #IUCN, mainly due to hunting and deforestation in lowland Palawan, so it’s wonderful news that this girl was the first of her kind to have hatched and been raised in human care. She was born at @ZooWroclaw, where there are many breeding programs in place with the goal of maintaining the numbers of species that would have otherwise perished.
Normally, in the wild, male hornbills assist their female partners by building a nest made of mud around her, leaving just a small cavity through which he delivers food. The chicks hatch and are raised inside the nest until they’re ready to fly on their own. Now that’s some cooperative parenting!
To see a video of this hornbill, check out @natgeo!
Mealworms might not sound appetizing to you or me, but to an eastern barred bandicoot like this one at Healesville Sanctuary, they’re scrumptious. These little marsupials use their excellent sense of smell to locate their food and then dig it up using their strong claws and elongated noses. Barred bandicoots spend most of their days nestled safely in their homes of grasses, leaves and twigs, but once night falls they almost immediately emerge and begin foraging. These creatures are solitary and only mingle with one another to breed. After the mother gives birth, she’ll keep her babies inside her pouch for around 55 days before she’s ready to let them out into the world.