우리가 헤아릴 수 없는 수많은 강아지들이 번식농장에서 태어납니다. 인터넷 매매중 가정견이라고 말하는 분양의 실상도 전문 번식업자로부터 나오는 것이 대부분입니다. 종견장 말티즈의 죽음 사건(보러가기)과 같이 대부분의 종견들은 햇볕 한번 제대로 보지 못하는 공간에서 아기 낳는 기계의 삶을 살다가 종견으로서의 가치가 떨어지면 식용으로 가거나 버려지거나 처치 곤란의 애물단지로 전락하게 되어 비참한 말로는 맞게 됩니다. 아주 극히 일부의 양심적인 사람은 있을 수 있으나 철저하게 생산성 기계로만 취급받는 동물들이 그 이용가치가 떨어질 때 겪을 일은 종국엔 비참한 죽음 외엔 존재할 수가 없습니다. 그것은 산업적으로 이용되는 동물들의 예정된 불행입니다.


여러분들이 귀하게 생각하고 가족처럼 지낸 그 동물들이 태어난 배경에는 종견들의 극한의 고통이 고스란히 배어있는 것입니다.

마음이 아프신가요? 그런 줄 정말 모르셨나요?

이제 아셨다면, 이제 느끼셨다면, 여리고 작은 동물들에게 가해지는 그런 비극을 종식시키는 데에 동참해주세요!

사지마세요! 유기동물보호센터에서 입양하세요.                   
                      
하지만 무엇보다도 더 심각하게 생각하여야 하는 아래 두 가지는 꼭 알아두세요!

- 인터넷으로 어린 생명을 사지마세요!

공장에서 찍어내듯 어린 생명을 낳게 하는 자체도 심각하지만, 이를 더욱 부추기는 것은 인터넷 매매입니다. 동물자유연대가 번식업, 판매업 실태를 일부 조사하는 과정에서는 인터넷 매매로 1억의 거래량을 움직이는 인터넷 전문업자도 있어 그는 애견경매장에서 VIP 대접을 받을 정도라는 업계 관계자의 증언을 들은 바도 있었습니다.

이처럼 인터넷 매매는 강아지와 고양이의 무분별한 번식에 절대적인 영향을 미치고 있으며 이는 어미 개, 어미 고양이들을 가혹한 환경과 비극적인 종말로 내모는 결과를 초래하는 것입니다.

또한 인터넷 매매는 속칭 '사기 분양'이 더 활개치고 있어서 정식으로 판매업 등록을 한 애견 판매장보다 건강하지 못한 어린 생명들을 매매하는 위험성이 훨씬 큽니다..

그럴 경우 적절한 보상을 받기가 어렵습니다. 생명은 보상을 담보로 하는 대상이 아닙니다. 다만 인터넷 매매는 비도덕적인 업자들에 대한 규제 장치가 상대적으로 훨씬 더 취약하다는 것을 설명하는 것입니다.

애견 번식 및 판매업을 하려면 해당 시, 군에 판매업 등록을 하여야 합니다. 그러나 현재 대부분의 번식업자들은 불법 상태에서 영업행위를 하고 있으며, 인터넷으로 매매하는 업자들 대부분 불법 영업자들입니다.

이런 불법적인 행위에 가담하지 마세요! 그 손해는 구매행위를 한 당사자에게 전가되는 것이며, 가장 치명적인 것은 채 피워보지도 못한 어린 생명체들과 그 어미들이 모진 고통의 경험을 하게 하는 것입니다.

- 키우던 동물을 인터넷에 분양하지 마세요!

살다보면 부득이하게 헤어져야 하는 경우도 생길 수 있습니다. 그러나 정말 그 사정이 도저히 피할 수 없는 사정인지요? 그렇다면 여기를 참고해주세요! (바로가기)

동물자유연대는 간혹 분양 사기에 관한 제보를 받습니다.

대부분의 사례는, 키우던 개를 더 이상 키우지 못할 사정이 생겨서 인터넷을 통해 분양을 했는데, 정말 잘 키워 달라고 사정과 당부를 하며 보냈고 상대방은 그러리라 약속했는데, 소식을 알고자 전화해보면 개를 데려간 사람은 전화를 끊어 놓고 있어서 개의 안전이 염려된다는 제보입니다.

이럴 경우 순혈성이 높은 개들은 평생 동안 종견으로 이용되다 죽음을 맞게 될 가능성이 크고, 종견으로 이용할 수 없는 개들은 식용으로 희생될 가능성이 큰 상황입니다.
심지어는 2010년 1월에 우리를 경악케 했던, 8마리의 개를 잔인하게 학대하여 죽음게 한 사건 의 범인도 인터넷에서 성견을 분양받아 그런 잔인한 범죄를 저질렀습니다.
이렇듯 당신이 무책임하게 분양한 동물이 상습적인 폭력에 이용될 수 있습니다.

이 모든 것은 보호자들의 부주의와 책임의식 결여로 인해, 한 때나마 가족처럼 생각했었던 동물을 비참하고 잔인한 죽음으로 몰아낸 것입니다.

어떠한 경우에도 인터넷 분양을 하지 마세요.
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Sometimes called the spiny anteater, the short-beaked echidna (pronounced e-kid-nuh) measures 30-45 cm (13.5-17.5 in.) long and weighs 2-5 kg (6.5-14.5 lb.). Although it resembles a porcupine or hedgehog, closer inspection of the echidna reveals some of the animal's more unusual traits.

Echidnas are monotremes, or mammals that lay eggs. They have a lower body temperature than other mammals, maintaining temperatures around 31-32° C (87.8-89.6° F). Similar to reptiles, their legs protrude outwards and then downwards, resulting in a waddling effect when they walk.

Two types of fur cover their body. A coat of short, coarse hair insulates echidnas from the cold, while longer hairs act as spines, protecting them from predators. Their sharp, creamy-colored spines are 50 mm (2 in.) in length and are composed of keratin, the same material that makes up our fingernails.

Consuming ants, termites, grubs, larvae, and worms, the echidna is specially-adapted to hunt its prey. It has a pointy snout that can sense electrical signals from insect bodies. Once it detects its prey, the echidna uses its long, sharp claws and short, sturdy limbs to dig into the soil and expose the invertebrates. It finishes the deed by licking them up with its long, sticky tongue. Echidnas do not have teeth, but they do have horny pads in their mouths and on the back of their tongues which grind the prey.

Short-beaked echidnas are found all over Australia and southern New Guinea, in contrast to long-beaked echidnas, which reside only in the highlands of New Guinea. Limited only by an insufficient supply of ants or termites, short-beaked echidnas live in a range of climates and habitats. They are able to find shelter in rocks and fallen trees.

When confronted by predators, such as goannas (large Australian monitor lizards), dingoes, foxes, feral cats, dogs, eagles, and Tasmanian devils (which even eat the spines), the echidna employs several tactics for defense. On hard surfaces, they may run away or curl into a ball exposing only the spines. In other cases, they may dig into the soil or wedge themselves into a crevice or log, again only exposing the spines.

Echidnas are largely solitary creatures and only convene to mate. At the beginning of the mating season, which spans from July to August, the female echidna develops a pouch. A few weeks after mating, she digs a burrow and lays one soft, leathery egg into her pouch. After 10 days, a blind, hairless baby echidna (known as a puggle) hatches and attaches itself to a milk patch inside the pouch. For the next 8-12 weeks, the puggle nurses inside the pouch until it develops spines. At this point, the puggle must vacate the pouch, but it still stays in the burrow for the next 6 months and continues to suckle.

Conservation Status

Although short-beaked echidnas are considered common and widespread, they are protected by law in Australia. Threats include road accidents, bush fires, and droughts.

What You Can Do to Help

If you live in Australia or New Guinea, you can help echidnas by driving carefully, keeping pet dogs under control, and leaving gaps under fences so echidnas can roam freely.

Echidna Distribution


Short-beaked echidnas live in a range of climates and habitats all throughout Australia and southern New Guinea.

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Found only in the southern part of Madagascar in the dry forest and bush, the ring-tailed lemur is a large, vocal primate with brownish-gray fur and a distinctive tail with alternating black and white rings.

Male and female ring-tailed lemurs are similar physically. They are roughly the same size, measuring about 42.5 cm (1.4 ft.) from head to rump and weighing roughly 2.25 kg (5 lb.).

Highly social creatures, ring-tailed lemurs live in groups averaging 17 members. Their society is female-dominant, and a group will often contain multiple breeding females. Females reproduce starting at 3 years of age, generally giving birth to one baby a year.

When born, a ring-tailed lemur baby weighs less than 100 g (3 oz.). The newborn is carried on its mother's chest for 1-2 weeks and then is carried on her back. At 2 weeks, the baby starts eating solid food and begins venturing out on its own. But the juvenile is not fully weaned until 5 months of age.

Although they are capable climbers, ring-tailed lemurs spend a third of their time on the ground foraging for food. They range far to find leaves, flowers, bark, sap, and small invertebrates to eat. When the lemurs travel over ground, they keep their tails in the air to ensure everyone in the group is in sight and stays together.


Aside from using visual cues, ring-tailed lemurs also communicate via scent and vocalizations. They mark their territory by scent. A male lemur will also engage in stink fights during mating seasons, wiping his tail with the scent glands on his wrists and waving it at another male while staring menacingly. Eventually one male will back down and run away.

Vocally, ring-tailed lemurs have several different alarms calls that alert members to danger. They have several predators, including fossas (mammals related to the mongoose), Madagascar Harrier-hawks, Madagascar buzzards, Madagascar ground boas, civets, and domestic cats and dogs.

Conservation Status

Ring-tailed lemurs are a near-threatened species. The main threat to their population is habitat

destruction. Much of their habitat is being converted to farmland or burned for the production of charcoal. However, the ring-tailed lemur is popular in zoos, and they do comparatively well in captivity and reproduce regularly. In captivity, ring-tailed lemurs can live for nearly 30 years, compared to up to 20 in the wild.

What You Can Do to Help

You can help ring-tailed lemurs by contributing to the Lemur Conservation Foundation through volunteer work or donations. The WWF also provides the opportunity to adopt a lemur. The money donated goes to help establish and manage parks and protected areas in Madagascar.

Ring-tailed Lemur Distribution


The ring-tailed lemur is found only in the southern part of Madagascar in the dry forest and bush.

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Polar bears, or "sea bears," are the world's largest land predators, weighing up to 600 kg (1300 lb.) and measuring up to 3 m (10 ft.) tall. On average they live to be about 25 years old, reaching sexual maturity at around 4 years.

Although they appear white or yellow in color, their fur is actually clear and hollow, and their skin is black. Their visibly pale coloring is caused by the reflection and scattering of light.

Inhabiting the ice and sea of the Arctic, polar bears are well-equipped for survival in a harsh environment. Two coats of fur and a thick layer of blubber help insulate the polar bear's body from the cold, keeping its temperature at an even 37° C (98.6° F). In addition, polar bears' paws are especially adapted for walking on the ice and swimming in the sea. Hairs and bumps on the soles of their feet provide traction, while webbing between their toes allows for effective swimming strokes.

Polar bears are also equipped with strong noses. They use their powerful sense of smell when hunting for seals, their main source of food. They can smell a seal's breathing hole, or aglu, up to one mile away. Once located, a polar bear will wait patiently by the hole and attack the seal's head when it comes up for air. In ideal hunting conditions, the bear will just eat the seal fat, leaving the carcass for other animals. However, when food is scarce, polar bears will eat just about anything. Supplemental foods include walruses, short-legged reindeer, birds, bird eggs, kelp, and beached whales. When in proximity to human settlements, they have even been known to eat garbage such as Styrofoam.


Polar bears do not hibernate like other bears, but females do enter into a dormant state while pregnant. After mating in the spring, a female polar bear spends the summer ingesting large amounts of food and building a maternity den in a snow drift to prepare for the arrival of her cubs.

In the fall, she enters into a dormant state, remaining this way even as she gives birth. The litter, usually two cubs, will spend two years with their mother learning essential hunting and survival skills.

Conservation Status

Global warming greatly impacts the fate of the polar bear. After conducting a series of nine studies in

2007, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has predicted a loss of two-thirds of the world's polar bears by 2050 due to declines in ice habitats. Specifically, a reduction of large masses of ice results in limited access to seals. Not only does this adversely affect the health of adult polar bears, it also hinders the successful reproduction and nourishment of new bear cubs. Rising temperatures also result in unstable maternity dens, as snowdrifts melt and collapse.

In light of these findings, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has created a proposal urging the US Government to include polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. They are currently listed as vulnerable by IUCN's Red List.

What You Can Do to Help

To help save the polar bear habitat, you can take measures to reduce your carbon emissions in order to curb global warming. This includes walking or taking public transportation instead of driving, using energy saver appliances and light bulbs, buying locally grown produce, recycling, and more. For more information, visit the Inconvenient Truth website.

Polar Bear Distribution



Polar bears inhabit the sea and ice masses of the Arctic circle.
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An animal with a bill like a duck, a tail like a beaver, and feet like an otter sounds like something a mad scientist would create. Add to the list the ability to lay lizard-like eggs and shoot poison out of your foot, and you have a unique creature indeed. You have the platypus, a monotreme (an egg-laying mammal) that is indigenous to freshwater rivers and lakes in eastern Australia and Tasmania.

Roughly the size of a house cat, the platypus is between 30-60 cm (12-24 in.) in length and weighs 1-2 kg (2-4 lb.). The platypus is covered in thick, dark brown hair over most its body. The thick hair is waterproof and helps keep the platypus warm and dry when in the water, where it spends most of its time. Webbed paws and short legs that protrude from the sides of the body allow it to swim and dive with ease. Naturally buoyant, platypuses must keep swimming in order to stay underwater. Although you would think their wide tails are used to propel them while swimming like a beaver, they are actually used to store fat.

While submerged underwater, the platypus closes its eyes and ears. In order to hunt, it relies on its bill to sense other animals. The bill, which is actually a soft, leathery snout, has electro-receptors that pick up on the small electrical signals sent by animals when they move. These help the platypus find worms and freshwater shrimp to feed on.

The platypus will then store the food in its cheeks and wait to resurface before eating. Although they have no teeth, platypuses have grinding pads in their mouths to crush and grind their food.


The male platypus also possesses two small spurs, one on each hind paw. The spurs release enough

toxic venom to kill a small animal or be incredibly painful for a human. While this weapon is used against predators if threatened (the platypus would actually rather run than fight), it is primarily used against other male platypuses during mating season. They fight to show dominance and scare away potential mating rivals.

The platypus mating season is between June and October. Around 2 years of age, both male and female platypuses are ready to mate.

After successfully mating, two or three eggs develop in the female. After about a month, the female lays the eggs, which are soft like lizard eggs. She will incubate the eggs by curling around them for 10 days before they hatch. The male will have nothing to do with the eggs or newborns.

Newborn platypuses are helpless. They are blind and hairless. They feed on their mother's milk, which is expelled through pores on her body. The babies suckle on milk for 3-4 months.

Conservation Status

Platypuses have a lifespan of over 10 years in the wild, but they do face a few threats. They have several natural predators, such as snakes, foxes, and birds of prey. Platypuses are also susceptible to habitat destruction, but that is at a minimum. They are protected from being hunted. As such, their populations are stable and they are listed as low risk for extinction.

Platypus Distribution


Platypuses are indigenous to freshwater rivers and lakes in eastern Australia and Tasmania.

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Orca Killer Whale

Fish 2011.08.21 02:25

With sleek black backs and bright white bellies and eye patches, orcas (aka killer whales) are easily distinguishable from other aquatic animals. One of the ocean's largest predators, male orcas can grow to 9.5 m (32 ft) in length, while females are slightly smaller at 8 m (23 ft). They live primarily where the water is cold but can live anywhere from the polar regions right up to the equator. This massive range makes orcas the most widespread of all sea creatures.

True to their name, killer whales are effective hunters. They prey on seals, sea lions, fish, sea birds, turtles, octopuses, and squid. Orcas will even attack other whales, including the enormous blue whale which can measure over three times their size. They have also been known to breach the surface to grab sea lions and seals, even partially jumping onto ice floes to reach their target.

Orcas hunt in pods, or groups, in a way similar to wolves. They circle their prey and force them into smaller areas before attacking. Once cornered, the orcas take turns biting and ramming their prey.

Sending sound waves that travel underwater, orcas use echolocation as a means for hunting. The reverberating sound provides information about an object's location, size, and shape. Echolocation is also used as a form of communication. Each pod has a distinctive sound it uses to communicate among its members.

There are thought to be three types of pods: transient, resident, and offshore. Transient pods are constantly on the move following food sources. Resident pods generally stay in one area close to shore, while offshore orcas prefer the open waters. Currently, scientists are not clear as to why there are contrasting pod behaviors. Some believe it is because there are actually several species of orca, but more research must be conducted in order to test that theory.

In resident pods, killer whales of both genders will live with their mothers for their entire lives, forming matrilines. In this way, resident pods consist of very tight, stable bonds and can comprise of 10-50 whales. Offshore pods are also large, made up of 30-60 whales. Transient pods, on the other hand, tend to be smaller (around 2-5 whales), as offspring will generally leave the group when a sibling is born.


When females reach 6-10 years old, they are ready to bear young. Males need to be older to breed,

roughly around 10-13 years of age.

Mating can take place at any time of year and only occurs between members of different pods to avoid interbreeding. After 17 months of gestation, calves are born in the water tail first. Female orcas can give birth every 3-10 years.

Newborns are very carefully protected within the pod. Often younger females will help new mothers protect their calves. Orcas are also known to shelter injured or ill members of their pod from danger.

Conservation Status

At present orcas are not endangered. They have not been widely hunted by humans but are susceptible to some of the same threats as other marine mammals, including pollution, overfishing of their prey, and habitat infringement. They live an average of 30 to 50 years in the wild.

What You Can Do to Help

You can help orcas by spreading awareness about their special abilities to hunt, communicate, and live cooperatively. Write to your legislator about preserving their ocean habitat and keeping it free from pollution.

Orca Distribution


Orcas can live anywhere from the polar regions right up to the equator. This massive range makes orcas the most widespread of all sea creatures.

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Narwhal Monodon monoceros

Fish 2011.08.21 02:20

Narwhals are mid-sized whales living in the cold waters of the Arctic Circle near northern Canada and Greenland. They grow between 4 and 6 m (12-20 ft.) in length – a similar size to their relative, the beluga whale.

But they are easily distinguished from their beluga kin. Male narwhals possess a great spiraled tooth that projects from their heads. The long, hornlike tooth can reach up to 3 m (10 ft.) in length and grows continually to replace wear. Researchers are unsure of the exact purpose of the tooth. Some believe it serves as an attractive ornament for mating, while others believe it is used as a weapon to fight rivals. One researcher concluded that the tooth has the ability to detect changes in water temperature and pressure.

Narwhals also have a second tooth that measures about 30 cm (1 ft.) long, but it remains embedded in the skull. Some females have been spotted with a protruding tooth, though not nearly as long as that of the males. There have even been some males with two long protruding teeth.

Narwhals also differ from belugas in skin color. Narwhals have black and white mottled skin. Appearing to resemble the bodies of drowned soldiers, the name narwhal derives from the old Norse word nar meaning corpse.

At birth, narwhals are approximately 1.5 m (5 ft.) in length. At maturity, which is between 6 and 9 years, females grow to about 3.5 m (11.5 ft.) in length, and weigh around 1,000 kg (2,200 lb.). Males reach between 4 and 6 m (13 and 20 ft.) and can weigh 1,600 kg (3,500 lb.).

Once they are mature, females will give birth to a calf once every 3 years. The pregnancy lasts for about 14 months, and calves are born in the spring.

Like many other whales, narwhals travel in groups. Their pods average 15-20 whales. Sometimes multiple pods will meet in social groups of up to 100 whales, although it is hard to get exact numbers. Narwhals have proven difficult for researchers to tag and track, mainly due to the cold and icy water conditions and the fact that narwhals do not come very close to shore.

Narwhals feed more regularly in the winter, consuming fish like cod and halibut, shrimp, and squid. Preying on creatures primarily on the bottom of the sea, they dive on average 800 m (.5 mi.), but can go twice that. The dives last around 25 minutes. In the summer, narwhals feed rarely, having stored up enough energy during the winter feeding season. They return to the same feeding grounds each year.

Narwhals are preyed upon by polar bears and walruses if they get trapped by shifting ice. Off shore they are attacked by orcas, to whom they are also related. In the summer, narwhals are also hunted by Inuits using kayaks and spears.

Conservation Status

Narwhals are currently considered near-threatened. Exact data is not known regarding the number of narwhals in the world. There are concerns with specific populations near the coasts of Eastern Canada and Greenland due to intense hunting. Many of the areas inhabited by narwhals are also subject to drilling and mining, which produces waste that is dangerous to all animal populations.

What You Can Do to Help

One way you can help is to get involved with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Narwhal Distribution


Narwhals inhabit the cold waters of the Arctic Circle near northern Canada and Greenland.

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The mountain gorilla, a large, strong ape inhabiting Africa's volcanic slopes, has few natural predators. Yet due to detrimental human activity, such as poaching, civil war, and habitat destruction, the mountain gorilla has become the most endangered type of gorilla, with only around 700 mountain gorillas living in the world.

Currently, the mountain gorilla's habitat is limited to protected national parks in two regions of Africa. One group of gorillas lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The other group is spread over three national parks in the Virungas mountain region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Mountain gorillas are as shy as they are strong. But when threatened, they can be aggressive. They beat their chests and let out angry grunts and roars. Group leaders will charge at the threat. Mothers will fight to the death to protect their young.

Mountain gorillas live in groups of up to 30. The group, or troop, is led by a single alpha male, an older silverback. These males are called silverbacks because of the silver stripe they develop on their backs when they mature. The oldest males of the group are at least 12 years old. These troops also include several younger males, adult and juvenile females, and infants.

In addition to providing protection to group members, silverbacks maintain order and decide all activities within their troop. They schedule feeding trips, resting time, and travel. They also father the majority of the young in the group.

Female mountain gorillas can produce young beginning at age 10. They carry one or two babies at a time and give birth after a 8.5-month gestation period. In general, they will bear between two and six offspring in a lifetime.

Newborn gorillas weigh about 1.8 kg (4 lb.) at birth. They are as weak and uncoordinated as human babies. For the first four years of their lives, they get around by clinging to their mothers backs. By 3.5 years of age, the young gorillas are fully weaned from their mothers milk and start the same diet as mature mountain gorillas: plants, leaves, roots and shoots.

Fully-grown male mountain gorillas can weigh up to 180 kg (400 lb). Females weigh half that at about 90 kg ( 200 lb). Aside from the silver stripe on their backs, male mountain gorillas are distinguished from females because they have a crest of fur on their heads. Both genders have similar thick black hair covering their body. Their thick hair keeps them warm in cold mountain temperatures.

Conservation Status

Mountain gorillas are considered endangered by IUCN's Red List. Not only are mountain gorillas threatened by loss of habitat due to human encroachment, they have also become victims of human violence. As civil war rages in Africa, efforts to conserve mountain gorilla populations have been curtailed. Mountain gorillas have also been killed or captured by poachers. Their body parts are sold to collectors, and baby gorillas are sold illegally as pets, research subjects, or private zoo animals.

What You Can Do to Help

To help, you can make donations to the International Gorilla Conservation Program. You can also support the Gorilla Fund International, set up by conservationist Dian Fossey.

Mountain Gorilla Distribution


The mountain gorilla's habitat is limited to protected national parks in two regions of Africa. One group of gorillas lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The other group is spread over three national parks in the Virungas mountain region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda.

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Standing at only 30 cm (12 in.) tall, meerkats, also known as suricats, depend on group cooperation to survive in the Kalahari Desert. They live in groups of 20-50 extended family members in large underground tunnels.

These family groups, called gangs or mobs, are led by an alpha pair, with the female being the most dominant. Most of the group members are either children or siblings of the alpha pair.

The dominant couple (and subordinate pairs) will produce two to four pups a year. Other group members will babysit the pups, even feeding them milk. Because survival of the pups is vital to sustaining their social unit, meerkats have been known to risk their lives trying to protect the young.

One of the most important roles a meerkat plays is that of the sentry, or watch guard. One meerkat will stand on its hind legs, propped up by its tail, and act as a lookout while the rest of the mob is outside looking for food and frolicking in the sun. The lookout scans the area for predators, including hawks, eagles, snakes and jackals. If a predator is spotted, the guard lets out a distinctive bark. At the sound of the warning bark, all the meerkats sprint to the nearest tunnel entrance. The sentry is the first to emerge from the burrow to check if the coast is clear.


Meerkats are specially adapted to living in the harsh desert environment. Dark patches around their eyes help them be effective lookouts by reducing the glare of the sun, much like a baseball player who paints dark lines beneath his eyes. Their eyes also allow them to take in a wide angle view of the scene. This helps prevent predators from gaining an advantage by sneaking up.

Meerkats also possess special adaptations to help them burrow. Their eyes have a clear protective membrane that shields them from dirt while digging. Their ears also close tightly to keep dirt out.

Meerkats have light brown fur with a gray and brown tint to it with stripes on their back. Their dark-skinned bellies are covered with only a thin layer of fur, allowing the meerkats warm themselves by lying face up in the sun.

Eating both plants and animals, meerkats are omnivores. Their diet mostly consists of insects, which they sniff out using their enhanced sense of smell. Meerkats also eat small rodents, fruit, birds, eggs, lizards, and even poisonous scorpions. They can catch a scorpion and pull off its deadly stinger in the blink of an eye. Because they have very little fat to store energy, meerkats forage and hunt every day.

Conservation Status

The meerkat is not currently endangered and is considered at lower risk of becoming endangered. That said, by no means should meerkats be disregarded; they play an important part in maintaining ecological harmony in the desert. They provide food for predators like jackals and eagles, and they curb pest infestation by eating insects.

What You Can Do to Help

You can help meerkats by spreading awareness of their vital role in the Kalahari's ecological balance. You can also support the Meerkat Magic Conservation Project, which uses funds raised through eco-tourism to subsidize landowners and farmers. In this way, development and farming are decreased, allowing for increased preservation of meerkat habitat.

Meerkat Distribution


Meerkats depend on group cooperation for survival in Africa's Kalahari Desert.

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When early European settlers first encountered koalas in Australia, they thought the tree-climbing animals were bears or monkeys. Even today people still incorrectly refer to koalas as "koala bears." But koalas are in fact marsupials, closer related to wombats and kangaroos.

As marsupials, female koalas have pouches where their young stay until fully developed. Unlike kangaroo pouches, which open towards the top, koala pouches are located towards the bottom of their bodies and open outward. The baby koala, or joey, won't fall out of the pouch because the mother koala uses a strong sphincter muscle to keep the pouch closed.

Koalas have special physical characteristics that complement their tree-dwelling lifestyle. With two opposable digits, their forepaws are well-adapted to gripping branches and picking eucalyptus leaves, their main form of nourishment. Tough textured skin on the soles of their feet along with long sharp claws provide traction, and strong thigh muscles aid in climbing. Extra thick fur on their bottoms and a cartilaginous pad at the base of their spines provide cushioning so koalas can sit comfortably on branches for hours. They also have a curved backbone and two fewer pairs of ribs than most mammals (11 instead of 13) creating a curled skeletal structure that fits well into the forks of trees.

Koalas also have special adaptations that enable them to feast on eucalyptus leaves. Very fussy eaters, koalas use their excellent sense of smell to select the best tasting leaves. Although there are 600 types of eucalyptus trees, koalas generally limit their diet to two or three favorite kinds. In addition, eucalyptus leaves are highly fibrous and poisonous to other animals. But koalas have bacteria in their stomachs that break down the fiber and toxic oils and allow them to absorb 25% of the nutrients. In order to survive on such a low calorie diet, koalas conserve energy by moving slowly and sleeping around 20 hours a day.

Koalas inhabit the forests of eastern Australia, but there are a few differences between northern and southern subspecies. Koalas range in length from 60-85 cm (2-3 ft.), but northern koalas are on the smaller side, weighing 4-8.5 kg (9-19 lb.), while southern koalas weigh 7-13 kg (15-29 lb.). Southern koalas also have thicker fur to keep them warm in the colder winters.

Koalas are territorial animals who live separately in their own home ranges. A home range consists of suitable trees that provide food and shelter and overlaps slightly with other koalas' home ranges. Koalas define their territories by making scratch marks on trees; males also secrete a sticky brown substance from a scent gland in their chests that they rub on the bark. From August to February, koalas meet in the overlapping areas to mate.

A koala's pregnancy lasts 35 days. When the joey is born, it is only 2 cm (less than an inch) long. It is hairless, blind, and has undeveloped ears. But the newborn does have very strong forelimbs and an instinct to climb from the birth canal into the mother's pouch. There the baby finds a nipple, which swells in its mouth keeping the joey in place.

After the joey spends 6 months in the pouch developing, the mother koala will produce a special substance called pap. Pap is a soft, alternate form of fecal matter that consists of the bacteria necessary to digest eucalyptus. In order for the joey to start eating leaves, it will need the bacteria in its intestines. So the joey feeds on pap in addition to milk for several weeks before leaving the pouch.

A joey will stay with its mother for 6 more months after first venturing out of the pouch. In this time, the joey learns how to grasp leaves with its hands and returns to the pouch to hide or sleep. When the joey becomes too large, it may ride on its mother's back or abdomen. At 1 year of age, the joey can live on its own.

Conservation Status

Koalas can live around 10-15 years, and they have only a few natural predators, including dingoes, large owls, eagles, and goannas, which generally only target juveniles. The IUCN Red List classifies the koala as a species of least concern. However, koalas face several threats to their survival. Motor vehicle accidents and dogs are major causes of death for koalas, along with disease. The largest threat they face, however, is loss of habitat caused by land clearing/development, bushfires, and eucalyptus tree dieback. Eighty percent of the original habitat has been destroyed since Europeans settlers came to Australia. Furthermore, the majority of the remaining land is owned privately and is not subject to legislative protection.

What You Can Do to Help

If you would like to help koalas, you can write to the Australian Environment Minister to advocate listing the Southeast Queensland koala population as critically endangered and protecting koala habitat more effectively. You can also "adopt" a koala or plant a eucalyptus tree by donating to the Australian Koala Foundation.

Koala Distribution



Koalas inhabit the forests of eastern Australia.

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