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01/##/2003: Snake
Wine

Jamie

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The origin of snake wine dates back thousands of years.

Records indicate snake wine was drunk during the Western Zhou dynasty in 771
BC. Other countries consume the concoction; including India, Vietnam, China,
and parts of Southeast Asia. The beverage consists of a whole snake steeped in
alcohol; usually rice wine or grain liquor. Typically poisonous snakes are
used, infusing the animals’ “essence” and venom into the wine. As the
mixture steeps, the ethanol denatures the venoms’ proteins, making the beverage
safe to consume. The type of wine produced is dependent on the parts of the
animal used. A steeped variety utilizes the entire snake. A mixed version only
uses the animals’ bodily fluids. Many believe the traditional Chinese medicine
possesses a wide array of health benefits. These claims range from curing hair
loss to improving ones’ libido.

 

09/##/2008: The
Ring-Tailed Lemur

Jamie

The ring-tailed lemur is a species of primate endemic to
southwestern and southern Madagascar. Characterized by a distinct black and
white ringed tail, the ring-tailed lemur is the most well known of its kind. On
average, fully grown adults weigh 4.9 lbs and measure between 15 to 18 inches.

These animals are social and live in medium-sized groups, made of up to 30
members. Individuals are often seen huddling together. This behavior is
essential for two reasons; to increase body heat and strengthen social bonds.

Females dominate the social hierarchy, a common characteristic among this
species. Habitats include spiny scrubs, gallery forests deciduous forests and
humid montane forests. Due to their diurnal nature, they are most active during
the day, with minimal to no activity at night. As opportunist omnivores, diets
primarily consist of fruit and a variety of vegetation. Depending on food
availability, these primates will also consume insects, small vertebrates, and
arthropods. Ring-tailed lemurs are among the most vocal primates.

 

09/##/2008: The Western
Lowland Gorilla  

Jamie

The Western Lowland Gorilla is species of primate widely
distributed throughout parts of Central Africa. Preferred habitats typically
consist of lowland swamps and primary, secondary, and montane forests. Due to
the animal’s dense and remote habitats, biologists are unable to calculate the
exact number of individuals in the wild. This subspecies of the gorilla is also
one of the very few raised in captivity and kept in zoos. Several
distinguishing characteristics are used to tell the Western Lowland Gorilla
apart from other gorilla species; including color and size. They are
significantly smaller and appear brown-grey with aburn chests. Adults weigh up
to 600 lbs and reach heights between 4 to 6 feet while upright. Individuals often
form groups and travel together within a home range. Groups often overlap with
one another as a result of not displaying any territorial or aggressive
behavior. Individuals reach sexual maturity between 8 to 9 years of age. As a
result, females produce few offspring. During the breeding season females give
birth to a single newborn, with a gestation period lasting approximately nine
months. The Western Lowland Gorilla consumes a wide variety of vegetation; such
as tree bark, fruit, pulp, and roots. The types of food eaten depend on the
season.

 

 

09/##/2007: The
Bumblebee

Jamie

The Bumblebee is a class of insect typically found in
regions with temperate climates and higher altitudes. Over 250 species exist,
inhabiting many parts of the world; including South America, Europe, New
Zealand, Tasmania, and the United States. The majority of species form
colonies, consisting of a single queen and up to 50 individuals. Most species
share similar physical features; such as plump and furry bodies. Subtle differences
exist among species. Biologists use color patterns to recognize particular
bumblebees. Bumblebees feed on the nectar of flowers illustrating the bee
pollination syndrome. A long, hairy, tongue-like extension called a proboscis
collects the nectar. Bumblebees will continually forage on the same group of
flowers as long as they produce nectar. Bees also play an essential role in
agriculture, pollinating a variety of crops and flora. Regarding pollinators,
bumblebees have become a popular choice in agricultural production. Unlike buzz
pollinators, bees can pollinate tomatoes and other plants grown in greenhouses.

 

 

09/##/2004: The
Indian Wild Ass  

Jamie

The Indian Wild Ass is a species of mammal closely related
to the family Equidae, or horse family. Formerly the Indian Wild Ass was found
throughout southern Pakistan, western India, south-eastern Iran, and
Afganistan. Now critically endangered, the remaining population inhabits the
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, located in Gujarat. As numbers increase, individuals
are slowly colonizing into neighboring areas. These animals occupy a variety of
environments including grasslands, shrublands, and saline deserts. Both sexes
exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males being larger than females. Adults weigh
between 200-290 kg and measure between 2.1 to 2.5 meters in length. Mating
season takes place during the rainy seasons, lasting for several months. Males
compete with one another for access to mares. Stallions are somewhat social,
with individuals living alone or forming territorial groups with others. Family
herds are significantly larger. As herbaceous animals, diets consist of fruit,
grasses, leaves and other types of vegetation.

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