Black Rhino

The word Rhinoceros comes from the Greek word rhino, meaning nose, and ceros, meaning horn. The Black Rhinoceros is the most well-known of the five living rhinoceros species. Like the White Rhinoceros, the Black Rhinoceros is brownish gray in color.

A main feature of the Black Rhinoceros is its prehensile lip; its lips look like a hook and work like fingers, grasping and pulling leaves and shrubs into its mouth. This huge animal can run fast at 40 miles per hour, almost as fast as a car on the highway! They look for food in the early morning and late afternoon; the rest of the day, they rest in the shade or go "swimming" in the water pools, coating their skin with mud for their "sunscreen" and to make biting flies avoid them.

There are two horns on the Black Rhinoceros; the front horn is the much larger one. Rhino horns grow as much as three inches a year and can grow up to 5 feet! Female rhinos use their horns to protect their babies, while male rhinos use their horns to fight off attackers.

In 1970, there were 70,000 Black Rhinos in the world. Today, there are only 3,600. This drastic fall in the Black Rhinoceros population is the main reason why this huge animal is a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES. Some reasons why they are endangered:
1. Hunting - Poachers hunt the Black Rhinoceros for its horn. People in Asia use the horns for medicinal use, while people in North Africa and the Middle East want the horn material to make knife handles.

2. Habitat destruction -The Black Rhino lives in open grasslands and plains. As the people move into these places and develop them for homes and buildings, the White Rhino is left with smaller and smaller places to live.
Black Rhino Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Diceros Bicornis
Type: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore
Height: 11 to 13.75 feet
Weight: 3,168 to 7,920 pounds
Range: Africa, India, Southeast Asia
Diet: Watergrass and leaves

To make a Black Rhinoceros Paper Model, click on the image or here.

The Siberian Tiger

The Siberian Tiger is the world's largest cat. Other names for this feline are Amur Tiger, Manchurian Tiger and Ussuri Tiger. Local people think of the Siberian Tiger as almost God-like and refer to it as "Grandfather" or "Old Man" with respect. Even the most elite unit of the Chinese Imperial Army in the Manchu Qing Dynasty is called Hu Shen Yin, meaning "The Tiger God Army".

Among the tiger subspecies, the Siberian Tiger is the larges, with male Siberian Tigers as long as a stationwagon! The Siberian Tiger has the palest orange coat and the fewest stripes. Each tiger has its own stripe pattern, just the way humans have fingerprints. Researchers can identify individual tigers by their unique stripes.

Tigers are very patient, following their prey for 20 to 30 minutes before pouncing. They used their powerful jaws to grab a prey by the neck to suffocate it. Tigers' rough tongues are used to scrape of the last bits of meat from the bones of the meal. Tigers rely on their colors as camouflage; their black stripes provide the perfect cover while they wait for prey in the tall grass.

Despite the fact that the Siberian Tiger (and other tigers) is a symbol of strenth and courage and are admired, there are only 450 Siberian Tigers left on the CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES list. Most of these large cats are already in zoos and are protected. The Siberian Tiger is not that difficult to breed in captivity; it is when they are released in the wild that they are not able to survive. Some reasons for the endangered classification of the Siberian Tiger include:
1. Hunting - The Siberia Tiger is hunted mainly for sport. Others hunt it so that the tiger will not attack a village or livestock. Tiger parts are also valued for the medicines made out of them. Trade in tiger skin is also increasing.

2. Habitat loss - As land becomes developed to meet the demand for houses and other buildings, the environment of the Siberian Tiger shrinks as well. This includes natural prey species that the tiger hunts. With the presence of more people, even the tigers' meals are being hunted.
Siberian Tiger Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Panthera Tigris Altaica
Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 10.75 feet long
Weight: 660 pounds
Range: Russia, China, North Korea
Diet: red deer, boar, hare, rabbit, fish, bears

To make your own zoo habitat for the Siberian Tiger, click on the image or here.

The Florida Panther

The Florida Panther is a subspecies of the mountain lion. It is the state animal of the state of Florida and is one of the most endangered animals on earth. Other names for the panther include mountain lion, cougar, puma, painter and catamount.

This slender wild cat is powerfully built and very agile, as most felines are. They are tawny brown in color, have long bodies and unusually long back legs. These back legs give the panther the ability to have bursts of high-speed running and jumping, used to kill its prey. The Florida has a long neck, a small broad head and a long cylindrical tail with a black tip.

The Florida Panther is a habitat generalist - which means that it lives in a variety of habitats like forests, prairies and swamps. They like to be alone and will travel hundreds of miles within their home range. This characteristic requires a minimum space of 200 square miles (75 square miles for females) for the Florida Panther. That's a lot of space!

A long time ago, the panther could easily be found all over the eastern United States. Now, there are only 30 to 50 panthers left, all found in Florida or a state park or a zoo. With these numbers, the Florida Panther is on the CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES list of animals due to the following:
1. Habitat loss - This is mainly due to the developing that people do. The Florida Panther's environment is lost because trees are cut down, land is taken away for home and buildings or for farming.

2. Collision with vehicles - As the Florida Panther roams the land in search for food or mates, it has to cross roads and highways, which are always deadly for the animal. Conservationist groups have been working to put up more Wildlife Crossing areas to make it safer for the panthers and other wildlife to cross safely under roads and highways.

3. Territorial disputes between panthers - Although this is normal behavior between male panthers, this has increased because habitat loss makes territorial areas for each male Florida Panther smaller and smaller.

4. Poisoning - Environmental toxins find themselves in the Florida Panther, which are fatal. From the pollution that people produce which goes in the air, it goes into the swamps and rivers of the environment and is absorbed. The animals that eat and drink from these places also absorb the poison. And the Florida Panther, at the top of the food chain, eats these same animals that have absorbed the toxins.
Florida Panther Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Puma Concolor Coryi
Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 3.25 to 5.25 feet
Weight: 132 pounds
Range: Florida, USA
Diet: white deer, rabbit, racoon, armadillo, birds

To answer a crossword puzzle about the Florida Panther, click on the image or here.

Short-Eared Owl

When we think of owls, we think of them as nocturnal, coming out at night. The Short-Eared Owl, however, also flies during the day ("diurnal") and is the most diurnal of all the owls. They are mostly seen in the late afternoon and at dawn. When it flies, the Short-Eared Owl flies like a moth or like a bat, flying low over grasslands or marshes, flying back and forth with slow, irregular wingbeats.

Short-Eared Owls are medium-sized owls with small ear tufts that look like two short ears sticking out of its head. The Long-Eared Owl has ear tufts almost three times as long. The Short-Eared Owl usually lets these ear tufts lie flat on its head, giving it the appearance of being bald. When it is surprised or scared or on the defensive, the ear tufts stand straight up.

The Short-Eared Owl has large eyes, a big head, a short neck and wide wings. Feathers are brown and the upper breast is streaked. Females of the species are slightly bigger than the males. The yellow orange eyes are emphasized by black circles around each eye and its white face.

This Owl hunts frequently throughout the day, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. It flies between one to ten feet above the ground, will hover above its prey for a few seconds before pouncing on its meal. The Short-Eared Owl uses its excellent hearing to locate prey. It feeds on small rodents, insects, and small birds.

Despite the fact that the Short-Eared Owl is present in most continents, its rate of decline has alarmed researchers. These birds have decreased in numbers from 3.5% to as much as 11.5% each year. This is a main reason why the Short-Eared Owl had been listed as VULNERABLE worldwide, but is a STATE-ENDANGERED SPECIES in the northeastern United States. Some reasons for the fast decline in numbers include:
1. Loss of habitat - The large, open and undisturbed areas where the Short-Eared Owls breed are being replaced by homes and buildings.

2. Pesticides - The presence of pesticides in the Short-Eared Owl's prey may cause harm to the bird.
Short-Eared Owl Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Asio Flammeus
Type: Bird
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 13 to 17 inches
Weight: 7.27 to 16.77 ounces
Range: Most continents
Diet: Small rodents, insects, and small birds

To make Rock Owl Paperweights, click on the image or here.

Tiger Salamander

The word "salamander" is a name for amphibians that have tails when they are adults. Most animals in the salamander order look like a mixture of frog and lizard. They have the wet, smooth skin of frogs, and a long tail like lizards. Other names for a salamander include olm, axoloti, spring lizard, water dog, mud puppy, hellbender, triton, and congo eel.

The Tiger Salamander has the stripe pattern of their mammalian namesake. The Tiger Salamander is usually brown or greenish or gray in color and has yellow stripes or yellow dots or dark brown splotches throughout its body. Some have no markings at all.

The Tiger Salamander is the largest land-dwelling salamander on earth. They have thick bodies with short snouts, sturdy legs and long tails. They live in burrows (deep holes) up to two feet below the surface. They go out of their burrows at night to hunt for worms, insects, frogs and even other salamanders.

This amphibian is listed as Least Concern in the endangered species list because researchers have a hard time recording numbers for the Tiger Salamander since they spend a lot of time in their burrows underground. However, Least Concern is a a step before Near Threatened, so if people started early enough, the Tiger Salamander MAY be kept off the endangered list altogether! Some threats to the life of the Tiger Salamander include:
1. Predatory fish - The Tiger Salamander cannot live with predatory fish in its environment. Bass, catfish and other such species pose to threat to the Tiger Salamander, who is small enough to be eaten by these fish.

2. Bait - Tiger Salamanders, when caught, are used as bait to catch other fish.

3. Loss of habitat - Deforestation and loss of wetland areas, places where the Tiger Salamander lives. The decrease in the area of these places means that the Tiger Salamander also has less places to live and survive in.

4. Vehicles - As the Tiger Salamander scurries from place to place in search of food, it crosses roads and highways, proof of how people are getting closer to the living places of all animals and their environment. The chances of the amphibians being run over by vehicles increase as more and more people take over the land.

5. Pollution - People not only take the lands from animals, the presence of people alone means more pollution in the ponds and other habitats of the animals. Polluting the area poses a threat to the Tiger Salamander (and other animals in the area) because it can eat or be killed by pollutants in the air and water.

Tiger Salamander Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Ambystoma Tigrinum
Type: Amphibian
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 7 to 14 inches
Weight: 4.4 ounces
Range: North America
Diet: worms, insects, frogs, other salamanders

To make a 3-D paper model of a Salamander, click on the image or here.

The Giant Ibis

The Giant Ibis, a wading bird, is found in northern Cambodia and southern Laos in Asia. This huge bird has a large, curved bill and makes a loud ringing call which sounds like "a-leurk-a-leurk".

The adult Giant Ibis is dark with a bald head and neck. There are dark bands across the back of the head and shoulders and the pale wings have black bars across them. Younger Giant Ibises have short black feathers on the back of the head down to the neck. Bills are shorter and their eyes are brown.

The Giant Ibis has official protection from conservationists in both Laos and Cambodia. Both countries are campaigning to reduce the hunting of these large water birds; the Giant Ibis is being displayed on banners and other materials to make the public more aware about this almost-extinct bird.

With only 250 birds in the world, the Giant Ibis is a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES. With so few birds, there are no current research projects that focus on the Giant Ibis. Some reasons that are known to have caused them to be on the endangered list:
1. Habitat loss - Continued trade in logging from Cambodia and Laos cause the deforestation of the natural environments of the Giant Ibis.

2. Hunting - The public, who are not aware of the importance and rarity of the Giant Ibis, continue to hunt the bird for sport and for trophy. There are steps being taken to control gun and rifle ownership.
Giant Ibis Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Thaumatibis Gigantea
Type: Bird
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 40 to 42 inches
Weight: 9 pounds
Range: Cambodia, Laos
Diet: locusts, seeds, crustaceans, small reptiles

To make an origami of the Ibis, click on the image or here.

Philippine Tarsier

Known locally as the Maumag in Cebuano, the Philippine Tarsier is found in the southern part of the Philippines, in the islands of Bohol, Samar, Letye and Mindanao. The name of the tarsier is taken from the animals "tarsus", or ankle bone.

When you look at the Philippine Tarsier, all you'll see mostly is its eyes. It has the biggest eyes relative to their body weight of any mammal! Its eyes are fixed in its skull; they cannot turn in their sockets. To look around, the Philippine Tarsier must turn its head, up to 180 degrees! The Tarsier's huge eyes does provide it with excellent night vision, which allows it to hunt at night.

The Philippine Tarsier has wavy brownish gray fur with a silky texture. The powerful and long legs, whcih are twice as long as its body), are useful for leaping from tree to tree. It has fingers, with flattened nails and claws used for grooming. There are pads on the Philippine Tarsier's fingers and toes to help them cling to branches. The Tarsier spends its day hiding in trees and brances and only come out at night to hunt for food.

Numbering less than 1,000 animals, the Philippine Tarsier is an ENDANGERED SPECIES. Concentrated in a small area of the world, we want to be able to keep this animal, with links to a 45 million year history in the rainforests of the world, healthy and living in large numbers. As with all endangered animals, there are several reasons for their enviornmental status:
1. Habitat loss - The destruction of the natural resources in the Philippines, most especially deorestation and logging will affect these small primates. As more and more people demand space for homes and buildings, the Philippine Tarsier's environment will continue to shrink.

2. Petting - Because of their size, the Philippine Tarsier has been reported to be kept as pets. This is dangerous, since keeping a Tarsier as a pet, they may spread worms and other parasites to their human owners.
Philippine Tarsier Fast Facts
Scientific Name: Tarsius Syrichta
Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 3.8 to 5.2 inches
Weight: 2 to 5.4 ounces
Range: Philippine islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao
Diet: insects, worms, lizards

To answer an online quiz on the Philippine Tarsier, click on the image or here.