Archives for category: animals








It was very disappointing to discover that the bats at Sydney’s Botanic Garden are no more. One of my fondest memories of Sydney was seeing these large creatures known as the grey-headed flying foxes roost in a small corner of the Garden. Wandering through their habitat and seeing them hang from the trees made me realize that I was truly in an exotic environment.

Under Australian law, the bats are classified as a threatened species. Nevertheless, the authorities thought it more important to protect some of the Botanic Garden’s palm trees, which are mostly introduced and not threatened, rather than set aside a portion of the Garden for the bats. The bats needed this refuge since their natural coastal habitats have been destroyed by urban development.  

So the “eviction” of the 22,000 bats came as a surprise when I visited the Garden this morning. It reminded me of Brisbane’s decision not to rebuild its unique Mangrove Boardwalk

The Botanic Garden’s new palm plantings, where the bats once lived, was pretty but seemed stark and sterile.

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It was very disappointing to discover that the bats at Sydney’s Botanic Garden are no more. One of my fondest memories of Sydney was seeing these large creatures known as the grey-headed flying foxes roost in a small corner of the Garden. Wandering through their habitat and seeing them hang from the trees made me realize that I was truly in an exotic environment.

Under Australian law, the bats are classified as a threatened species. Nevertheless, the authorities thought it more important to protect some of the Botanic Garden’s palm trees, which are mostly introduced and not threatened, rather than set aside a portion of the Garden for the bats. The bats needed this refuge since their natural coastal habitats have been destroyed by urban development.  

So the “eviction” of the 22,000 bats came as a surprise when I visited the Garden this morning. It reminded me of Brisbane’s decision not to rebuild its unique Mangrove Boardwalk

The Botanic Garden’s new palm plantings, where the bats once lived, was pretty but seemed stark and sterile.

Me and the Flies

Flies! That is the memory that I will take away from my visit to Kangaroo Island. The travel guides don’t mention the flies that seem to be everywhere. Locals characterize the swarms as everything from “shocking” to “usual for December.” 

Taking a hike is nerve-racking and eating outdoors is miserable. The moment you step outside, they descend on you by the scores. They buzz around your face and settle on your back. Looking at a group of people in the distance, you see them waving their hands around. If you didn’t know they were frantically swatting at flies, you might think that everyone on this island was engaged in passionate conversations using hand signals.


Remarkable Rocks
Admirals Arch


Don’t get me wrong. Kangaroo Island is a very interesting place. Close to half of the island is either natural brush land or national park. It’s surrounded by pristine waters, and contains arid landscapes and lush eucalyptus forests. KI is home to 15,000 kangaroos, 6,000 seals, 5,000 koalas, numerous dolphins, and 600 rare Australian sea lions; but clearly the dominant species is the fly.

Me and the Flies

Flies! That is the memory that I will take away from my visit to Kangaroo Island. The travel guides don’t mention the flies that seem to be everywhere. Locals characterize the swarms as everything from “shocking” to “usual for December.” 

Taking a hike is nerve-racking and eating outdoors is miserable. The moment you step outside, they descend on you by the scores. They buzz around your face and settle on your back. Looking at a group of people in the distance, you see them waving their hands around. If you didn’t know they were frantically swatting at flies, you might think that everyone on this island was engaged in passionate conversations using hand signals.


Remarkable Rocks
Admirals Arch


Don’t get me wrong. Kangaroo Island is a very interesting place. Close to half of the island is either natural brush land or national park. It’s surrounded by pristine waters, and contains arid landscapes and lush eucalyptus forests. KI is home to 15,000 kangaroos, 6,000 seals, 5,000 koalas, numerous dolphins, and 600 rare Australian sea lions; but clearly the dominant species is the fly.

Here’s a cute picture of a toddler encountering
a Wallaby near Cataract Gorge just
outside Launceston, Tasmania
Here’s a cute picture of a toddler encountering
a Wallaby near Cataract Gorge just
outside Launceston, Tasmania
In the 1971 movie Willard, an army of rats carry out

a kind of vigilante justice by punishing unscrupulous and evil people. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid because it portrayed rats as intelligent and loving animals, albeit with a taste of revenge in their hearts. Here’s a feel good story from NPR about some folks in Boise, Idaho that have created a rat sanctuary. Listen and enjoy this twist on Willard

Marketers have known for a long time the power of innovative packaging. In Costa Rica, creative packaging has gone a step further and saved the lives of many abandoned dogs. 

Bravo India! India has joined Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile in recognizing the Dolphin’s right to life and liberty. India stated, in part:

Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, . . .  [dolphins] should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes. (bold added)

Unfortunately, Norway, Japan, and Iceland still permit commercial whaling, a savagely cruel practice.

Bravo India! India has joined Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile in recognizing the Dolphin’s right to life and liberty. India stated, in part:

Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, . . .  [dolphins] should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes. (bold added)

Unfortunately, Norway, Japan, and Iceland still permit commercial whaling, a savagely cruel practice.