About the Project

The ZooTrophy Animal-a-Day project began on October 15th, 2013 as illustrator Angela "LemurKat" Oliver began working her way, systematically but selectively, through the alphabet and presenting, via social media, an illustrated animal to the world. Daily.

All pieces are drawn as 2.5 x 3.5 inch collectible cards, using a combination of polychromos and prismacolor pencils, along with other art materials. Many are still available for purchase ($10) or trade, so drop her an email if anything captures your eye or if there is an animal you wish to request.

It is predicted this project will take her at least two years to complete - with approximately 36 animals being drawn for each letter. She has also used the images to create a collectible hardback encyclopedia series, playing cards and a desk calendar, as well as the ZooTrophy collectible trading card game.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Creature Feature #745: Tarantula

There are approximately 900 species of Tarantula, with a range that encompasses much of the tropics and subtropical regions. The smallest species is the size of a fingernail, the largest as big as a dinner plate. These hairy arachnids come in a variety of colours, with brown being popular, but there is also the brilliant blue Peacock Tarantula, and various other species, including this Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula. Some species are aboreal, others terrestrial. All are predators, using ambush techniques to hunt their prey - which ranges in size from tiny insects, up to lizards, mice and even birds, depending on the species (and the size).

Tarantulas are sometimes kept as pets. They  are all venomous, but there are no recorded fatalities from being bitten. Once again, the venom varies across species - some being no worse than a wasp sting, others causing muscle cramps, severe pain and hallucinations.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

#743: Tanuki

Tanuki is the name given to the subspecies of Racoon Dog found in Japan. He is well known in mythology as mischevious, jolly and a bit of a trickster. The Asian Racoon Dog is a member of the Canine Family, and one of two Canid species that regularly climb trees. His diet is omnivorous and varies with the seasons - fruit, grains, vegetables and eggs in summer, rodents and other small prey in the colder months. Despite having an extremely thick fur coat, he hibernates in winter. This thick pelt has found favour in the fur industry. This has led to the species being introduced into Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, either intentionally or as escapees from fur farms. Whilst in his natural range numbers are declining, in this introduced range, he is at risk of becoming an Invasive Pest.

Friday, November 27, 2015

#742: Tang

Tang are various species of Acanthuridae fish, related closely to Unicornfish and Surgeonfish. This particular species, the Blue Tang, is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific, but not common anywhere. She is very popular in the aquarium industry, despite following a fairly delicate diet and being prone to parasitic infections. She feeds on algae and plankton. When she is ready to breed, her colour lightens to a pale blue. Males will court her aggressively, rushing to release their sperm into the water with her eggs. These float upwards, attached to a bubble of bouyant oil. These will hatch in a day into tiny transparent larvae.

If she looks familiar, that's because she's Dory from "Finding Nemo". Look, I found her!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#740: Tamarin

The Tamarin monkeys are tiny New World monkeys, occupying different patches of Amazon rainforest. This fellow is one of the Lion Tamarins, the Golden. The other Genus lack the manes that give this genus their name. The Golden Lion is endangered due to deforestation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#739: Tamandua

The Tamandua are two species of Anteater, the Northern and the Southern, adapted to an aboreal lifestyle. Both are characterised by their black "waistcoat" and prehensile tail. His diet consists almost entirely of termites and insects, which he laps up using his long, sticky tongue. The middle claw on each forefoot is modified into a hook, perfect for ripping open insect nests. Tamandua are generally solitary, coming together only to mate. The single baby spends the first few weeks sheltered in a tree hollow, then rides around on the mother's back.

Monday, November 23, 2015

#738: Takin

The Takin is a goat-antelope found in the Himalayas. It is thought that the fleece of one of the subspecies, the Golden Takin, inspired the story of Jason and the Argonauts. He makes his home in the forested valleys, ranging up into the alpine slopes. Older males lead a solitary existence, whilst younger males and females gather in herds of around 20 individuals. In summer, gatherings may number up to 300. His large snout is an adaptation to the colder climes, as the big sinus cavities help to warm the air before he inhales it. His skin secretes an oily substance which coats his fur, acting as a natural raincoat.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Creature Feature #737: Tahr

The Tahr are three species of goat found in Oman, South India and the Himalayas. The Arabian and Nilgiri species are endangered due to limited range but this fellow, the Himalayan Tahr is still widespread. Very widespread, in fact, as he was introduced to New Zealand, Argentina and New Mexico for hunting; there is also a small population established in South Africa (from an escaped breeding pair). He is adapted for a high-alpine lifestyle, growing a thick mane of fur for the winter months. This is shedded out to a thin summer coat as the temperature rises. His hooves contain a rubber-like core, allowing him better grip on rocky slopes.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#736: Swordfish

The Swordfish is a large migratory fish, named for his sword-shaped bill. Despite its appearance, it is not used as a spear but is occasionally used to slash at his prey, making it easier for him to catch. He is not social, but may swim in proximity to other Swordfish. During the summer months, he travels into cooler waters. He is a popular sport fish, and is frequently found on menus. Due to a ban on fishing, North American populations have improved, but he is considered overfished and of concern in other oceans.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#733: Sunbittern

The Sunbittern is not a bittern - her closest relative is actually thought to be the Kagu of New Caledonia. Her natural habitats are the humid subtropical forests of Central and South America. She is named for her wings, which display vivid colours during courtship or used defensively. For the most part she forages near streams and other watery areas, feeding on insects and small vertebrates. Nests are built in the canopy, with two eggs being brooded at a time. Chicks hatch covered in down, but remain in the nest for the first few weeks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#732: Sun Bear

The Sun Bear inhabits the forests of Southeast Asia. He is the smallest of the Bear species, weighing up to 80 kg. His preferred diet consists of insects and honey, which he uses his long tongue to extract. His large canines and strong bite allow him to rip into the trunks of trees in pursuit of insect prey. Diurnal in nature, he seeks cavities beneath branches or under tree trunks in which to spend the night. Deforestation is a major threat to his survival, but he is also hunted and farmed for his bile. His gall bladder is a component in traditional Chinese medicine. Bile farming is cruel, with the bears being forced to live in close confines, tubes draining his gall bladder of its bile, unable to move or behave in anyway naturally.

If you wish to know more about bear bile farming (and it is a very disturbing procedure) please visit:
Monga Bay: Asian Bear Farming (warning: graphic images)

Monday, November 16, 2015

#731: Sugar Glider

The Sugar Glider is a small gliding possum, native to Australia and New Guinea. Omivorous in diet, the Sugar Glider feeds on sap, honeydew and gum in winter, and insects in summer. Pollen is an important part of her diet and she acts as a pollinator for various Banksia species. Her most characteristic feature is her patagium, which extends from her forelimbs to her hindlimbs. When spread, this creates an aerofoil that allows her to glide from tree to tree. She rarely, if ever, touches the ground. Highly social, the males aid in the care of the youngsters. Juvenile Sugar Gliders are unable to thermoregulate until they are 100 days old, and the parents take turns in keeping them warm.

Sugar Gliders have found their way into the exotic pet market. With their endearing features and interesting behaviour they are attractive to those seeking something a bit different. However, they are also nocturnal, have a fairly specialist diet, are social creatures and will pine if kept alone, and they cannot be house-trained. Currently wild-caught animals are being poached and smuggled into the pet trade, which may have an impact on the wild populations in the future.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#729: Sumatran Rhino

The Sumatran Rhinoceros is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Fewer than 100 individuals are thought to surive in their wild home of Southeast Asia and she has been extirpated from much of her range. Solitary in nature, she roams in cloud forest and swamps. She marks the borders of her territory by scraping the soil, bending saplings and leaving dung. During the heat of the day, she often wallows in mud and is able to swim. At dawn and dusk, she browses on foliage. These Critically Endangered rhinos do not thrive in zoos, and very few have been born in captivity.

Here is some footage of a baby in an Indonesian sanctuary:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#726: Stick Insect

The Stick Insects are an Order of insects named for their resemblance to the foliage they inhabit. This camouflage offers them protection from predators such as birds and small mammals. In case this technique fails, many species have secondary defenses such as toxins, dramatic threat displays or thorny protrusions. With a cosmopolitan spread, Stick Insects are most common in the tropics and subtropics. They follow a vegetarian diet and are capable of breeding via pathenogenesis. Eggs laid in such a manner hatch into offspring genetically identical to the mother.

Whilst many species resemble sticks with legs (and are difficult and a little dull to draw), this fellow is known as the Giant Prickly Stick Insect. She is naturally found in Australia and New Guinea and grows to around 15cm in length. Males are slimmer and shorter. Aside from being well camouflaged against the leaves, she also curls her tail in a pose indicative of a scorpion, in an attempt to deter predation. She is fairly popula rin the pet trade.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#725: Steller's Sea Cow

Steller's Sea Cow was a large member of the Dugong Family, measuring up to 9m in length. Slow-moving and docile, she fed on kelp. Her lips were large and flexible, used to grip the vegetation. Instead of teeth, she had an array of long bristles with which to tear the kelp, and bony ridges along her jawline, which ground it to a pulp. With her large size and passive nature, Steller's Sea Cow easily attracted the attentions of sailors, sealers and fur traders. In 1768, 27 years after her being described (and named) by the European naturalist, Georg Wilhelm Steller, she was extinct.

Monday, November 9, 2015

#724: Star-nosed Mole

Star-nose Moles are perhaps one of the strangest looking mammals in the world. She lives in the north-eastern areas of North America, and inhabits wet lowland areas. Many of her tunnels exit underwater, and she is a strong swimmer. Her most identifiable features are the 22 fleshy appendages surrounding her snout. These act as sensory receptors, helping her navigate and find prey in her subterranean home. These are extremely sensitive, and she is even able to scent underwater.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

#723: Starling

Whilst there are quite a few different species of Starling, the most widely known is the European Starling, aka the "rat with wings". The European Starling is native to Europe, but has been introduced across the world for pest control, as he enjoys a diet of grubs and insects. However, he has become the pest in America (North and South), Australia, South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand and a number of other islands. Firstly, Starlings are flock birds, gathering in large numbers to decimate crops. They are also colony breeders and nest in cavities, which leads to them taking up residence in the eaves of houses. In the UK and Ireland, Starlings are on the decline and they are a protected species.

If you live in North America, you can blame Willian Shakespeare for the Starling. They were introduced to New York because the American Acclimitization Society wanted to introduce all birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. They now range from Alaska down to Central America.

Only three birds make the "top #100 invasive pests" list, and they are the Common Starling, the Indian Mynah and the Red-vented Bulbul.

If anyone has any tips on how to dissude starlings from nesting in your house's roof cavities, please let me know. We are currently playing landlord to at least three starling families and whilst I can cope with the scratching noises and the shrilling chicks, I do not really wish to encourage this continued behaviour due to the mess and other potential damage.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#722: Starfish

Starfish are echidnaderms, named for their star-like shape. About 1,500 species can be found worldwide, living on oceanbeds ranging from the frigid polar waters to the tropics. Starfish are predators, feeding on benthic invertebrates. The more primitive species swallow their prey whole, digesting it internally and ejecting out the inedible parts. Advanced species actually evert part of their stomach, forcing it into the bivalve prey, and digesting it from the inside-out, outside its body. In many species, gender is a fluid concept, with some being gendered, others simultaneous hermaphrodites and some being sequential hermaphrodites and changing gender as they age. Like many relatively sessile invertebrates, larvae are free-swimming. Their diet consists of phytoplankton. They are also able to reproduce asexually, by losing one of thier arms, which then sprouts into a new Starfish.

The Northern Pacific seastar (which I might have to draw instead of this one) has been introduced to Australian waters, where it is a voracious predator doing significant damage to the marine environment. It is ranked on the list of Invasive Pests.

Friday, November 6, 2015

#721: Stag Beetle

The Stag Beetles are a group of over 1000 species of beetle, characterised by the large jaws of the male. Most commonly, however, the term refers to one species, the English Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus. These large beetles require decaying wood, a habitat that is now threatened due to forest management (which removes older trees). The female lays her eggs in rotting wood, buried in soil, and the blind white larvae feed upon it. It takes 4-6 years, and several instars (developmental stages) before the larvae pupates. After three months, the Beetle hatches and flies unsteadily out into the world. His diet now consists of tree sap and nectar. He only lives a few weeks in this form, long enough to reproduce.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

#720: Squirrel

The Squirrels are various species of small-to-medium sized rodents ranging across the Northern Hemisphere. The most familair and easily recogniseable are the tree squirrels, characterised by their fluffy tails and arboreal behaviour. Many species, such as the English Red and the North American Grey, have adapted to the urban environment, and are commonly found in woodlands, parks and gardens. The Tree Squirrel is  agile and well-adapted to a life above ground. Her feet can rotate backwards, allowing her to descend a tree head-first. Squirrels mostly follow a diet of nuts, seeds, flower buds, fruit and fungi. She is unable to digest cellulose and will occasionally eat insects or meat.

The Grey Squirrel was introduced to the UK in 1870. Being larger and more robust than the native Red Squirrel, it has out-competed her in many areas and not outnumbers her by more than 100-to-1. This is not just due to direct competition, but also to diseases carried by the Grey.

Other Squirrels:
Namdapha Flying Squirrel
Prevosts Squirrel

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#719: Squid

The Squids are around 304 cephalapod species, characterised by their elongated mantles. Squids range in size from 60 cm, to the 14 m Colossal Squid - the largest invertebrate in the world. Like their cousins, the Cuttlefish, Squid have four pairs of legs and two tentacles. In the males of many shallow-water species, two of these legs are modified into reproductive organs. Deep-water Squid, on the other hand, have the longest penis in relation to body size of any moblie animal (the only one longer belongs to the sessile Barnacle).
This fellow is probably a Reverse Jewel Squid.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#718: Springbok

The South African Springbok is a medium-sized antelope, able to reach speeds of up to 88 km/hr. He is named for his ability to "stot" or "pronk": leaping vertically in the air, all four feet off the ground. This is a strategy to demonstrate to predators that he is fine, fit and not worth pursuing, and to show female Springbok that he is definitely worth pursuing. Springbok form herds. Their diet is mixed, with grazing common during the wet season but browsing on trees and shrubs in drier times.

Monday, November 2, 2015

#717: Spix Macaw

The Spix Macaw is the rarest parrot in the world, being entirely extinct in the wild, with the captive population standing at around 100 birds. He is the small blue macaw made famous by the film "Rio".  Spix Macaw lived in the caatinga forest in northeastern Brazil. This is a dry forest of stunted trees, thorny shrubs and cacti (a far cry from the rainforest in "Rio") that has suffered from dramatic deforestation. The last wild macaw was sighted in 2000. With the captive population descended from only 7 birds, this species has a struggle ahead of it to survive. However, areas of the caatinga have been set aside as a reserve, with restoration in process, and the plan is to release captive-bred birds within the next 5 years. One of these captive-breeding facilities is in, of all places, Qatar, and owned by a sheik.

Here's more infomration on the Al Wabra Wildlife Preserve: http://awwp.alwabra.com/

I have also written a short story inspired by the movie "Rio" and the plight of this parrot - and the hope of it one day being released into the wild. It is called "Saving the Blue" (or possibly may be renamed to just "Saving Blue") and has not yet been released as I am contemplating seeking an anthology for it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

#716: Spider Monkey

The Spider Monkey is a New World monkey found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. It is his long limbs and tail that give him his common name. His tail is prehensile, used as an additional limb to help navigate his arboreal home. Spider Monkeys  favour a fruit diet, but also eat insects, leaves and other vegetative matter. The thumb on his hands is reduced to little more than a nub, but his fingers are long and hook-like. This allows him to move swiftly through the trees. Spider Monkeys live in troops; females often leave their birth-troop when they reach sexual maturity, but males stay.