A tiny, critically endangered Rodrigues Flying Fox almost didn't live past her first day at the Oregon Zoo, but the pup is now one-month-old and well on the road to recovery.
"Rods," as Rodrigues Flying Foxes are often called in zoological circles, were once considered the most imperiled bat species on the planet, and each birth is considered an important step toward ensuring their long-term survival.
Oregon Zoo keepers were justifiably thrilled when, Sara, one of several Rodrigues Flying Foxes at the zoo's "bat cave," gave birth to a new pup on March 10. However, the day after the pup’s birth, excitement turned to concern when keepers found the tiny bat on the floor of the habitat, apparently rejected by her mom.
"Rods are big and fuzzy, and most of the time they keep their babies tucked up underneath a wing," said Laura Weiner, Senior Keeper for the zoo's Africa section. "When you see a baby on the ground, that's not a good sign."
The pup, which weighed less than 2 ounces, felt cold to the touch. Keepers scooped her up and rushed her to the zoo's veterinary medical center, where she was warmed, given fluids and determined to be in good health.
After several attempts to reunite the pup with her mother were met with rejection, the baby was returned to the vet hospital, where animal-care staff worked in shifts to administer formula feedings. She's out of ICU now, but she'll remain behind the scenes, until fall, during a long hand-rearing process that currently involves nine bottle feedings a day.
Weiner says the tiny survivor is not only "adorable," but a testament to one of the most inspiring conservation stories in history: living proof of the impact people can have, both positive and negative, on wildlife and species conservation.
"Every birth is significant for these bats," Weiner said. "Forty years ago, the Rodrigues Flying Fox was perilously close to extinction. The fact that they are here today shows what a difference people can make in helping wildlife."
The species is native only to Rodrigues, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean about 900 miles east of Madagascar, and plays an important ecological role on the island, where few other pollinators or seed dispersers exist. By the 1970s, much of this fruit bats' forest habitat had been cleared, and the species was on the brink extinction. After a cyclone hit the island in 1979, only 70 individuals remained, making the Rodrigues Flying Fox (Pteropus rodricensis) the most rare bat in the world.
The bats found a champion in English naturalist, Gerald Durrell, who translocated some survivors to form the nucleus of a breeding colony aimed at repopulating the species.
Although the Rodrigues Flying Fox is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, the population has now increased to around 20,000, thanks to 40 years of conservation activity, including the Rodrigues Environmental Educator Project launched by the Philadelphia Zoo in 1998.
The Oregon Zoo began housing "Rods" in 1994, and has raised more than 40 pups since then, periodically sending bats to other zoos as part of the Rodrigues Flying Fox Species Survival Plan. (SSPs are Association of Zoos and Aquariums programs to ensure species that are threatened or endangered in the wild have sustainable populations in zoos and aquariums).
Ever wondered what your pets would say if they could talk?
Well, these awesome comics by Jimmy Craig will tell you everything you've ever wanted to know. These excellent illustrations are found at the website "They Can Talk," and as you will see, the rest is fairly self-explanatory.
April has been light on Big Idea posts because I’m on tour (don’t worry, May’s gonna be packed), but let’s make sure we don’t get through this last week of the month without a fine piece of work for you to consider. Today: Maurice Broaddus brings you all the details on his new novella Buffal0 Soldier, including who the work is a love letter for.
My novella, Buffalo Soldier–in fact the entire saga of its hero, Desmond Coke–is essentially one long love letter to my mother.
Growing up, my mother would take any opportunity to regale us with stories from her homeland of Jamaica. ANY opportunity: during family meals, before bedtime, Saturday mornings, during our favorite television shows (not hers though: she had what could only be described as an unhealthy fascination with the show, Hee Haw). She spun all manner of duppy (ghost) stories, even a long running tale of the duppy that haunted our family (which, as it turned out, was the spirit of her grandmother looking out for us).
For some reason she still found it surprising that I grew up to be a writer.
One of the genres I fell in love with was steampunk. Yet many times whenever I read steampunk stories, with their Victorian ethos and imperialist bent, I usually ended up wondering where the black folks were. All of my steamfunk stories (a term for steampunk stories seen through an Afrocentric lens), beginning with “Pimp My Airship,” all take place in the same universe, one where America lost the Revolutionary War and remained a colony of Albion. And my stories follow what some of the black folks might be up to.
My mother has since retired to Jamaica. During one of her visits here, she began telling me about her trip to a part of the island, governed by the Maroon people, only open once a year to outsiders. The British weren’t able to conquer them, so they had agreed allow the Maroon to have a separate government, and the British would colonize the rest of the island. I grew fascinated with the idea of a Maroon-run Jamaica and started playing with the alt-history repercussions of them totally keeping the British out of Jamaica. Leaving the island in control of its resources, its culture, its wealth, and its technology.
Of course Jamaica would become a superpower. Because, well, that’s what my mom would want.
In this Jamaica, undercover agent, Desmond Coke, gets drawn into a web of political intrigue when he stumbles across a young boy, Lij Tafari. As it turns out, Lij is a clone of Haile Selassie, a messiah figure to the Rastafarians, who the government plans to raise as their puppet to control the people. Desmond frees the boy and goes on the run. This is where the story of Buffalo Soldier begins.
In Buffalo Soldier, Desmond Coke and Lij are chased through the nation state of Tejas and into the First Nations territory. As they hide from Jamaican intelligence, they are pursued by business and political interests. As they search for a place to call home, Desmond tells Lij stories. The heart of the novella is about the power of story and how it helps us create a sense of home wherever we go.
Plus shoot outs, giant robots, assassins, and sword fights because that’s what else my mom would want.
Well … probably.
Stacey had a flowery paper plate she wanted her cake to match, so she brought it in to her bakery and asked them to use it as a reference for the decorations.
Unfortunately, what her baker heard wasn't so much "use this as a color/flower reference" as it was "Take this plate, cram it in the photocopier, print it on edible paper, and smack that shiz on some cake. But be sure to place it at a super weird angle, so it looks wrong no matter which way it's facing.
Yes, really. This is exactly what I want you to do."
Do I even need a drum roll anymore? Tell you what, instead, just imagine more of an "angry chickens thwacking you in the face" kind of sound. Seems more apropos.
[sniff] It's.. IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL.
Thanks to Stacey W., who promises to glare at any and everyone who chimes in to say at least the border icing matches. YOUR MOVE, COMMENTERS.
Here in Australia, scripture is still taught in schools. One of the problems with this is that scripture classes eat up some of the scheduled classroom time, and children whose parents don’t want them to attend religious education are specifically not allowed to do anything during that time which might give them an academic advantage over students attending scripture. So the students not attending scripture are typically not allowed to use that time to study, or do homework, or do anything else that might be “educational” in some sense. Often they just sit in a room and watch videos.
About 15 years ago, a group of people decided to do something about that and offer secular ethics classes during this time when other students are doing scripture. Since the scripture classes purport to be offering ethical education, it couldn’t be argued that the non-scripture children were doing anything additional.
However, this campaign fell foul of religious interest groups, who felt that ethical instruction without religion was inherently evil or something. The religious groups fought long and hard to have secular ethics classes banned from schools.
I’m pleased to say, however, that they lost the fight and some years back a completely non-government-funded volunteer group called Primary Ethics was granted permission by the NSW Department of Education to offer ethics classes as an alternative to religious scripture in New South Wales primary schools. The curriculum very specifically does not attempt to teach children “what is right” or “what is wrong” – rather it teaches them skills in critical thinking, and that many issues are complex and that not everyone agrees on what is right or wrong, and the value of considering things from other people’s points of view.
Since its inception, Primary Ethics has grown to be extremely popular, with many parents (including many religious ones) wishing to enrol their children in ethics classes. The problem is, being non-funded, Primary Ethics needs volunteers to actually teach the courses.
Recently, I volunteered to become an ethics teacher, and I just completed my training (which includes federal police background checks and clearance to work with children). I will be starting tomorrow, with a class of Year 4 students (about 9 years old). I’m proud to volunteer my time to teach a new generation of people the principles of ethics and critical thinking, and I hope they all go on to become better adults because of my efforts.