Category Archive: Mammals

Jul 13

Bullfighting: Death by Tradition

I have no objection to animals being killed for food, providing it is done as humanely as possible. Nor do I object to local people killing wild animals for medicine, pelts or for certain aspects of their culture. What I do object to are animals being killed for medicine that doesn’t actually work, or for …

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Oct 06

The Conservation Crisis: Frog Vs Panda

There is a reason why the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has adopted the giant panda as its symbol. The panda’s unique combination of cuddly looks, distinctive markings and gentle demeanor has made it a beloved animal throughout the world and is probably the greatest icon of conservation alive today. But on the other side …

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May 03

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Star-Nosed Mole

From certain angles, the star-nosed mole almost looks like any other mole. It’s small and black, with thick velvety fur and big, burrowing feet. But then you notice that outrageous nose. It looks like a cross between a group of wriggling maggots and a pink sea anemone. This nose is the most sensitive tactile instrument …

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Apr 10

To Cull or Not to Cull?

At this moment in time, there surely cannot be a more controversial animal in the United Kingdom than the badger. Accused of transmitting bovine tuberculosis (bTB) to cattle, which has cost £500 million in the past ten years to control, the badger has divided opinions across the country. Some people, especially farmers whose livelihood depends …

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Mar 08

A Slothful Existence

‘Sloths are the lowest term of existence in the order of animals with flesh and blood,’ French naturalist Georges Buffon wrote in the eighteenth century. The man was clearly very irritated by these creatures. He disliked their small eyes, their goofy faces and their fur, which resembled dried, matted grass. Most of all, though, he …

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Feb 12

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Aye-Aye

The native people of Madagascar have many strange superstitions and customs. ‘Do not sing while you are eating or your teeth will grow long’ is one of them; another is ‘do not point at a tomb or else your finger will fall off’. Most, while undoubtedly eccentric, are largely harmless, but that’s not always the …

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Feb 06

The Stench of the Skunk

You’re traipsing through an American forest and you come across a dancing skunk. What a delightful little creature, you might think; maybe it’s been trained. Oh look, it’s even doing a funny handstand for your amusement. A few minutes later, you smell so appallingly bad that it’s caused you to vomit, your nostrils are burning …

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Jan 31

Extinct Animal: Trials of the Thylacine

You’ve probably heard of the Tasmanian devil. It’s a vicious, noisy creature that is sometimes seen spinning around in cartoons. It also has the distinction of being the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. A century ago, however, the Tasmanian devil didn’t hold that title. It was beaten in size by another Tasmanian resident, the thylacine. It …

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Jan 24

The Urban Myths of Urban Foxes

If one British mammal has caused more controversy than badgers over the past few years, it must surely be the red fox. There has been quite a lot of anti-fox hype recently. If the media is to be believed, the population of urban foxes is rising and so, too, are fox attacks on small children. …

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Jan 10

The Puzzling Problem of the Platypus

The year was 1799. George Shaw, eminent English zoologist of the British Museum, had just received a dried and most unusual animal specimen from Australia. This creature seemed to have so many strange qualities about it – the tail of a beaver, the bill of a duck, the body of an otter – that the …

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