Thursday, June 19, 2014

21 Things You Didn't Know About Giraffes

The longest day of the year is June 21*, and is now dedicated to the longest-necked animal in the world!

June 21 is World Giraffe Day. And as such, we want to do our part by spreading knowledge and awareness of this amazing animal, and ways you can get involved too! Because we believe that action always starts with awareness!

Here are 21 facts you may not know about giraffes:
  1. For a long time, people called the giraffe a camel-leopard, believing it was a combination of a camel and a leopard! That's where the giraffe's species name camelopardalis comes from! 
  2. There are 9 giraffe subspecies: Angolan, Kordofan, Nubian, South African or Cape, West African or Nigerian, Reticulated or Somali, Rothschild, Thornicroft, and Masai.
  3. Giraffe coat colors vary from light tan to practically black. The differences occur due to what the giraffes eat and where they live. Each individual giraffe’s markings are as individual as our fingerprints!
  4. Giraffes are not dependent on drinking water, they stay hydrated through condensation and food.
  5. 200 endangered West African Giraffe exist today in 2008 was listed on the IUCN RED List as ‘endangered’.
  6. Giraffes only need 5 to 30 minutes of sleep in a 24-hour period! They often achieve that in quick naps that may last only a minute or two at a time.
  7. The closest relative to the giraffe is the okapi, which has a much shorter neck relative to body size.
  8. It has been estimated that fewer than 5,000 Reticulated giraffes remain in the wild, from an estimated 28,000 as recently as the late 1990s! The Reticulated giraffe is one of the more common captive giraffe with approximately 450 kept in zoos across the world.
  9. Giraffes can live to be 25 years old, and even older in captivity!
  10. Once mature, the defensive kick of an adult giraffe is enough to seriously damage even the most determined predator, even lions have succumbed to the fierceness of the giraffe's soup bowl size hooves. 
  11. The average gestation period for giraffe is approximately 15 months (453-464 days)!
  12. Giraffes give birth standing up, requiring the newborn to fall 6.5 feet (2 meters) to the ground! A newborn can stand up and run within an hour of being born!
  13. A giraffe's tongue is 18-21 inches long!
  14. Even with its long neck, the giraffe has the same number of vertebrae in its neck as humans do, which is 7.
  15. A giraffe's head is 2m (7ft) away from it's heart, which makes for a very difficult challenge to pump blood to the brain! They have a relatively small heart yet extremely high blood pressure (twice what's found in humans), and a heart beat up to 170 times per minute (again, twice found in humans)!
  16. The patches on a giraffe's body, not only act as camouflage, but also as a thermal window releasing heat from the body.
  17. Giraffes' have legs about 6 feet long, allowing them to run 35mph for short distances!
  18. Giraffes may eat up to 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of food per day. They spend most of their day eating, because they get just a few leaves in each bite.
  19. Giraffe's favorite food, acacia trees, have long thorns that deter most animals — but not giraffes. Their 18-inch (46-centimeter) tongues can reach around the thorns, and their thick, sticky saliva coats any thorns they might swallow.
  20. There are fewer than 1,500 Thornicroft giraffes in the wild, and none in captivity. 
  21. There are almost no Nubian giraffes in captivity, and fewer than 250 in the wild. 

How you can get involved in honor of World Giraffe Day:
  • Share what you know to inspire others to get involved in the plight of the giraffe by sharing this blog post on social media using the links at the bottom of this post!
  • Attend an event in your area. Zoos and parks like Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and North Carolina Zoo are holding fun, interactive and educational activities on the day!
  • Donate to organizations like Giraffe Conservation Foundation, WWF, Defenders of Wildlife and African Wildlife Foundation
  • Symbolically adopt a giraffe. Your adoption will help protect giraffes and their habitat.
  • Visit a zoo. Did you know zoos play an integral role in wildlife conservation, education and research!





Which fact were you most astonished by? Share your thoughts in the comment box below! We want to hear!

-the team at Little Critterz


*The longest day of the year is on or around June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. 



Friday, June 6, 2014

11 Ways to Celebrate World Ocean's Day

There are 48 days between Earth Day and World Ocean's Day.

48 days to learn about the land we live on and the water that surrounds us.

48 days to teach ourselves something new and make an effort to change some our of actions, because how we behave and how our behaviors affect every part of the world. From the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, to how we commute, how we watch TV and prepare meals, how long we let the water run before turning it off to conserve. Every action matters.

Earth Day and World Ocean's day inspires us every year, more than just the days marked by the calendar. We love this season where the connection to conservation buzzes about in the news, online, and in our communities. Hope and action is in the air.

The first step towards action is awareness. If we do not know a problem exists, we cannot fix it. If we are unaware of the vast, beautiful, important world of the ocean, we do not care to protect it.

The ocean provides most of the air we breathe, and is a major source of food and medicine for the global population. In 2008, the UN General Assembly designated June 8 as World Oceans Day. This designation encourages awareness of the challenges facing the global community revolving oceans. We cannot afford for ocean to become a barren wasteland.

11 Ways to Celebrate World Ocean's Day


image via Earth Times

Get involved. Here are 11 ways you can celebrate World Ocean's Day:
  1. Learn more about the day and the importance of the ocean. All action starts with awareness.
  2. Take shorter showers. Did you know a 5 minute American shower uses more water than someone in the developing world uses all day! Challenge yourself to shave off several seconds of your showers by first timing several of your showers. Set goals to shower in less and less time, soon you'll be shaving a minute, or 2 or 3 in each shower! 
  3. Reduce, reuse and recycle because our trash ends up in the ocean!
  4. Green your life by eliminating plastic packaging from your purchases and switch to reusable water bottles, grocery bags and even sandwich bags!
  5. Sign up for a beach clean up.
  6. Check out a thrift store before buying new.
  7. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  8. Eat less meat. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide... far more than transportation. Switching from a meat-centered weekly menu to a diet rich in vegetables and grains could save 2,500 liters of water a day! (source)
  9. Collect runoff water in your home and garden and reuse. Rain water is perfect for watering plants and water from the shower before the heat turns up is great for making tea or coffee!
  10. Eat only sustainably farmed or caught seafood.
  11. Tell someone you know about World Ocean's Day and how we can all get involved to protect our oceans and our world.

What do you pledge to do this year?





Friday, May 23, 2014

Meteor Shower to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend

A very beautiful, and very rare surprise comes just in time for the holiday weekend! Spend late Friday night into Saturday morning stargazing to see the Camelopardalid Meteor Shower!

The Camelopardalid Meteor Shower is forecasted to show 200 to 1,000 meteors an hour between 2am and 4am EST Saturday morning! No one has seen this meteor shower before! “We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s. The parent comet (comet 209P/LINEAR) doesn’t appear to be very active now, so there could be a great show, or there could be little activity,” said Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

“New meteor showers don't come along that often. It'll be the first time in a generation that a new meteor shower will show up,” according to CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris.

The comet 209P/LINEAR is a Jupiter family comet discovered in 2004. Earth will travel through debris ejected from the comet 209P/LINEAR in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries! If the comet was actively producing a lot of dust during that time, the Earth may be treated to a potentially incredible meteor shower.

North America will have the most visibility of the shower, and the best places for viewing in the U.S. will be east of the Mississippi River or in California, as rain in Pacific Northwest and Plains will affect viewing.
Milky Way against silhouetted Owachomo Bridge at Natural Bridges National Park, Utah
Milky Way against silhouetted Owachomo Bridge at Natural Bridges National Park, Utah




We are excited about viewing the sky tonight in hopes for a meteor shower that could rival the prolific Perseid meteor shower in August!

It's exciting, the unpredictability of the shower. Like life, there is no certainly that the outcome will be as expected. We just have to prepare, show up and hope for the best!

For optimal viewing in your area, seek out a dark sky with minimal light pollution.

If you're having trouble seeing it, or if you want to join other amateur astronomers across the country as it happens, NASA's website will host a live chat from 11 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. EDT Saturday, as well as offering a live view of the skies over Huntsville, Alabama.
Milky Way Galaxy at Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania.
A view of the Milky Way Galaxy at Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania.

Dumbbell Nebula through park's telescope at Observatory Park Geauga Park District, Ohio
Dumbbell Nebula as seen through park's telescope at Observatory Park Geauga Park District, Ohio