Life Expectancies Among Animals--Including Humans

Who do you think lives the longest?

When it comes to an animal's lifespan, we all vary so widely, yet it's really easy to forget that there are lots of creatures who outlive humans by many, many years. Yet the fact that humans have pretty much doubled their lifespan throughout our evolution makes you wonder which other species have, or might, do the same. This visual is humbling when it comes to just how many--and what kinds of--species actually outlive humans.

A freshwater pearl mussel, for example, lives to be 130 years. A mussle lives an average of 50 years more than a human! And we all know that the giant tortoise and some whales outlive us by more than two times, which has always been amazing to me, but both of them are outlived by the greenland shark, which lives to 272 years, and the barrel sponge lives for over 2,000 years! And of course there are the immortal jellyfish, who can just not die. Unbelievable!

Which animals were you surprised by, and which ones did you think would live longer or shorter lives? What animals not on this list do you know of that have strange life cycles? Share the odd facts you know in the chat. 

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The Great Backyard Bird Count is This Weekend!

Where will you be participating from?

Citizen science projects are one of the most safe, enjoyable ways for us all to connect with one another, learn from each other and experience a nationwide (if not global!) sense of community. How wonderful that we can all be participating in an activity together at the same time to help benefit animals! The Great Backyard Bird Count begins this Friday, and for days we can all do just that with one another.

All weekend, folks will be watching and listening for birds in their area, then cataloging those birds using the Cornell Lab and Audubon app to count them for scientists. You only have to participate for 15 minutes, but why not make it a big activity by joining friends, going camping, sitting outside to visit and watch birds or even go on a hike with family? 

How do you participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, or any other Citizen Scientist programs? Which programs do you suggest doing for beginners, and which ones do you want to try? Share your experiences in the chat. 

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Retire the Memphis Zoo Pandas

Billie Eilish asks for the freedom of Ya Ya and Le Le

Zoos hold such a complex space in my heart. Many zoos offer protection, conservation and education, and work hard to provide a large, safe space for their animals. My own local zoo has made such strides since I was a kid and I can only hope they continue. That said, I remember seeing animals languishing in our zoo, and there were specific creatures I'd write letters about and avoid seeing--like bears or elephants who were obviously distressed, making repetitive movements.

When I saw the photos of Ya Ya and Le Le, I had those same feelings again. 

This is not what we are meant to do.

This is not what zoos should be for.

In the Memphis Zoo, the pandas appear to be suffering mental and physical anguish, as well as emotional pain. In Defense of Animals is teaming up with singer Billie Eilish to ask the zoo to retire the pandas and let them go to a sanctuary in China where they can be happy and less stressed. The pandas aren't eating enough and In Defense of Animals says they are even engaging in self-harm. This is so terrible. Please contact the Memphis Zoo and ask them to retire these pandas.

Do you have actions to take for any other animals this week? How about any great success stories about animals who are doing well? Share them in the chat.

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Animals with Tube Feet

What are the strangest ones you've seen?

Tube feet are incredibly cool-looking features on echinoderm creatures. Their actual name is podia but honestly they look like alien tentacles out of this world! They're found on sand dollars, starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittlestars and feather stars--the latter two of which I'd never even heard about. Sometimes you have to wonder why we spend so much on space exploration when our own ocean is a vast otherworld in and of itself!

Creatures with tube feet have water running through their bodies instead of blood, so these podia help them move about. In feather stars, they also help the creature eat. The tube feet move in a wave-like motion to provide mobility, but in some creatures they can also assist with grasping objects, as many have witnessed with starfish hanging around in aquariums.

What other cool animal appendages have you learned about this week? What weird animals did you come across for the first time? Share your knowledge and links in the chat!

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Cat Killer Shouldn't Be Child Role Model

In Defense of Animals Asks That Biologist Dave Riensche Not Lead Children's Programs

As a cat lover, it is really difficult for me to imagine someone purposefully killing cats. East Bay Regional Park Districtt biologist Dave Riensche, who calls himself “Doc Quack," murdered 18 cats or more in 2020 with a shotgun when the cats crossed onto park land. He's obviously killed more and for a longer time, since he gave a much higher estimate when originally asked, saying he was thinking of prior locations before the one in question. He even bragged about taking out "a baker's dozen" of cats to coworkers.

Riensche isn't allowed to shoot cats anymore but he continues to serve in the District's Wildlife Volunteer Program. This man killed cats for overtime pay, saying that "Our children are knocking down ducks." He continues to kill animals for the sheer joy of it, inviting entire families and kids to his "gunner" events at private hunting reserves. This is not a person who respects animals and shouldn't have anything to do with protecting or teaching about them. 

To find out more or to speak out against this person volunteering with kids, visit In Defense of Animals. Be sure to share your own actions in support of animals in the chat.


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The Betty White Challenge

What do you think of this charity event?

Most people were devasted to hear not only the passing of Betty White, but also that the beloved actress and activist died just before her 100th birthday. In honor of Betty White's birthday, fans across the nation opted to donate to various animal charities and rescue operations. Tens of thousands of dollars were given to Metro Detroit shelters alone, while single places like the L.A. Zoo received over $70,000.

White, an animal lover and activist, always spoke up for the animals. She was a Board Member of American Humane, and a Board of Trustees member of the LA Zoo in 1974. Fans took to many different animal charities to honor the Betty White Challenge, though, giving to both their local charities as well as those important to her.

What did you think of the Betty White Challenge? Did you donate to any special animal charity? Share your thoughts and actions in the chat. 

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National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest Open For Submissions

It's the 51st year of the competition!

The National Wildlife Federation is hosting its annual Wildlife Photo Contest, which has several different categories that are sure to interest people of all interests and most age groups. The idea is not just to help increase conservation awareness, but to connect folks--both photographers and viewers--with nature and wildlife. Categories include Birds, Landscapes, Baby Animals, Mammals, Young Photographers, Mobile and more!

Young folks who want to enter the Young Photographers category should be between the ages of 12 and 17. Several prizes are available, but the grand prize winner will take home the Nature’s Witness Award as well as a cash prize of $5000! There are entry fees that range with the number of submissions so be sure to check those out before submitting anything to the contest. 

What other wildlife contests have you seen lately? Are there any others that have a range of categories and prizes, or any local ones that you may be interested in promoting? Share them in the chat. 


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Killing "Surplus" Zoo Animals is Wrong

Tell the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria to Protect Gorillas

As often as we hear about protecting gorillas and other animals who closely share our own DNA, it seems unlikely to hear of a zoo organization actually slaughtering them on purpose. But that's exactly what's being considered for a problem created by humans, not gorillas.

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria says that they have a "surplus" of gorillas after breeding them in captivity, so now they're thinking about executing the "extra" gorillas they have. There is no such thing as extra or surplus gorillas, and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria needs to hear that this is wrong. These gorillas are critically endangered as it is! Why on Earth would anyone murder them, especially after breeding them for their own protection? 

The obvious solution here is to let these gorillas into the wild so they can help repopulate the species. But even if that were somehow unfeasible at this time, surely there are other methods, such as other zoos, that can care for them. Tell the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria that you oppose this unjust murder here and ask that they consider alternatives instead. 

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The Coolest Creatures of 2021

Share your favorites in the chat.

At the end of every year, we get to recap all of the odd, incredible and astounding animal findings of that year together. Sometimes there are wonderful new species discovered. Sometimes there are findings about old species we never would've dreamed. There are always new, wonderful and sometimes even creepy animal facts to be found and shared.

In 2021, for example, it was discovered that sea slugs can get rid of their own bodies! Some types of sea slugs can just detach if they have a parasite, wanding around as a head as they develop a healthier body. It was also discovered that the California condor can, in rare circumstances, reproduce with virgin births. The smallest reptile, the Brookesia nana chameleon, was also discovered in 2021.

Unfortunately it was discovered that many animals can get, and even die from, Covid-19. Some animal shelters even had to close as a result. 

What incredible animal facts have you learned this year? Share them with us in the chat. 

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Stop the Planned Slaughter of Bison in Yellowstone

Over 20% of the park's population is at risk!

As folks enjoy the latest season of Yellowstone, the actual park has a very big problem. There's a planned slaughter of 900 to 1100 bison scheduled for this winter, which will eliminate more than 20% of the park's population. This cruel move will allow hunters to come in and shoot the bison, as well as trap them to be killed at slaughterhouses.

Ranchers claim the bison are a threat to their livestock because they carry disease, but there's no recorded incident of any cattle contracting the disease they use as a selling point. This isn't about diseases. It's about ranchers who benefit from public grazing grounds and want to keep the bison away from them. Our government should NOT be allowing this to happen.

You can click here to learn more and find out how to help, including calling Yellowstone and refusing to give any tax dollars to support this needless slaughter.

Do you have other actions to help animals this week? Be sure to post them in the chat so we can take action, too.

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