Tag Archives: San Diego Zoo – San Diego

Tree Pangolin (Manis tricuspis)

Tree Pangolin (Manis tricuspis)

The pangolin is one of the very few animals that I deeply, yet have (almost) never seen. They are, basically, a walking security metaphor. They are predators, but not apex predators, so they must also engage in defense. They are covered in scales that protect them when they curl into a ball. The edges of the scales, though, are razor sharp and basically fight back against the attacker. They’re not the most impressive, but they are extremely well adapted to their environment.

Or, well, they were. Like security, their biggest enemy is people. There are eight species of pangolin, and they are endangered. They survived for over fifty million years. They’ve had to change their diet. They’ve had to evolve different types of scales. They’ve had to evolve to live in different climates and different habitats.

They did not, however, evolve to not be yummy.

This is the best view I’ve ever had of a living one. If I travel to Asia or Africa, I can probably get a better one. In but one human lifetime, even that will likely not be possible.

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons)

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons)

This is the southern hairy-nosed wombat. At some point in history, the following conversation must have occurred:

“Crikey! I just found a new critter!”
“Looks like a wombat to me.”
“Well sure, but look how hairy it is!”
“Eh, I’ve seen hairier.”
“Yeah, but check out that hairy nose!”
“I saw a wombat with a hairy nose just the other day.”
“Oh yeah!? Where!?”
“I dunno. Up north somewhere, I think.”

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)_1

When I was younger, the bonobo was a type of chimpanzee that was special because they liked sex (a lot). Today, though, they are apparently their own species. One thing that makes them special (besides all the sex that people can’t stop talking about), is their use of tools. I had read about bonobos using branches and twigs to get ants out of their nests, but this is the first time I had seen it.

The zoo has a fake ant mount and provides twigs. I am not sure if they are actually getting ants out of them or if they are dipping the twigs in honey (which seems more likely). Either way, it’s one thing to read about animals using tools. It’s quite another thing to actually see it.

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)_13

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)_14

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)_17