Tuesday, November 18, 2008

settled our brains

There is lots of good news about tortoises and turtles in my drafts folder. As a huge fan of the reptiles, I've collected several stories over the past two weeks. First the turtles. South Carolina has seen a big increase in sea turtle nests on its shores this year. The numbers are almost double last year's and almost quadruple 2004's.

The Knoxville Zoo has a long history of success breeding exotic turtle and tortoise species. The News Sentinel had another article about the program earlier this month. The zoo has over 225 individual turtles, including a one-eyed, black breasted leaf turtle named Willie. Visitors often see his eyeless side and think he's dead.

Meanwhile at a zoo in Ecuador, a 90-year-old Pinta Island tortoise named George has been unable to reproduce. Scientists are trying to figure out if he's doomed to die as the last of his subspecies. There's still a slim chance he could father some hatchlings with a female of a slightly different subspecies.

A family in Carson Valley, Nevada, just added three hatchlings to the ten desert tortoises they already had. The Nevada Appeal ran a nice story about them with a couple of super-cute photos of the day-old babies.

Last but not least, there's joy in Cupertino because Butch is back. The 150-year-old pet had been missing for weeks. He was apparently taken from his family's yard on September 25 and was returned on November 10. His first order of business? Take a long winter's nap.

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, May 08, 2008

artful dodger

Stories about animal cruelty often evoke a greater response than stories about cruelty to humans. The news about a box turtle in Brooklyn has gotten my attention. Myrtle was found covered in the same orange paint used at construction sites. I thought everyone knew that you aren't supposed to put paint on a turtle.

When I was a kid, we would visit my grandparents' house on Long Island every summer. I loved walking through the nearby woods to look for toads and box turtles. Sometimes I would bring one back to the house and feed it some wild raspberries before eventually letting it go. There's at least one box turtle who lives near my house here in Knoxville. Perhaps you remember the time I saved it from drowning in my pool.

Myrtle's story was first reported on Monday by a Brooklyn blog called Gowanus Lounge. Since then it's been picked up by the wire services and the local media. WCBS-TV has a video report you can watch.

The outlook is good for Myrtle. A painted shell is much more harmful to baby turtles than to one that's full grown. The Gowanus Lounge readers posted links to the Turtle Rescue of Long Island, which may be able to help. Another reader suggested using a product which worked for a turtle named Goldie. It would be fitting for the orange paint to be removed by a product called Fast Orange.

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

lead us not into temptation

Only a week into Lent and I'm feeling the pressure. The culprit is cupcakes. They are everywhere lately. Last night some showed up at the Einstein Simplified show for Dave Snow's birthday. Although I didn't eat any myself because of Lent, I did persuade several of my fellow improvisers to twist the tops off to make cupcake sandwiches. Or icing sandwiches, if you prefer to call them that.

A few days back I spotted some turtle cupcakes at Food City. As a fan of both turtles and cupcakes, I had to take a picture. I saw a different take on turtle cupcakes at a store in Pigeon Forge recently. They sell a soft plastic mold for a pull apart cake, which is one step better than the cupcake cakes I saw at Wal-Mart last year.

While I was adding the links to Saturday's post, I saw a picture of a New York Giants cupcake on Slashfood.com. The accompanying story had a link to Clever Cupcakes, the Montreal bakery that made it. Slashfood gave us a homemade chocolate cupcake over the weekend too. Following a series of links that started on that site eventually brought me to a blog called Cupcake Project.

On top of all that, today's News Sentinel is all about the cupcake. The food section has a great picture that will make you hungry, which therefore qualifies the photo as "food porn," the snarky blogosphere term for glamour shots of anything edible. The pictured cupcakes are from VG's Bakery in Farragut.

The article also mentions MagPies Cakes in the Old City. Despite the pie in their name, they sell celebration cakes and cupcakes. The photos they posted on Picasa certainly could be called "food porn" too. As I looked at the pictures, I wondered why I've never succumbed to their enticement. After all, I've been going to the Old City on Tuesday nights for almost six years. I've also been in that part of town on several Sunday afternoons for practice sessions with people auditioning to join our improv group. MagPies' operating hours give me the answer. They're closed at 4:00 on Tuesdays and all day on Sundays, which means I've never seen them open.

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, August 10, 2007

the hare only went 15 yards

The staff at Roanoke's Mill Mountain Zoo feared the worst. Had someone stolen their Burmese mountain tortoise to make soup? It was unlikely to have climbed out of the enclosure on its own. Fortunately a zoo visitor spotted the missing tortoise 20 yards away and all was well again. Zookeepers still think somebody lifted the creature over the wall.

Meanwhile in Knoxville, a less rare species was out on the town for a supervised visit. I was excited to see a Western Box Turtle from the Knoxville Zoo at the Mayor's First Day Festival yesterday. The first turtles I ever knew were the Eastern Box Turtles I would see at my grandparents' summer cottage in Noyac. Both varieties of box turtle have the distinctive hinged plastron that creates a tight seal. However the Easterns have much more colorful shells and skin. It was an Eastern Box Turtle that I saved from my pool almost two years ago.

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

friendly neighborhood turtle-man

Turtles and tortoises were the true stars of a documentary on PBS last night. I saw a blurb about the show on the Pop Candy blog and was able to set my TiVo before going out for the evening. The film moves slowly, as you might expect from something turtle related. "The Chances of the World Changing" follows a New York writer whose life unravels as he tries to care for 1,200 turtles and tortoises. He and the turtles get pressured to move out of his Manhattan apartment and his deal to buy land in New Jersey falls through. He had hoped to build an institute for the preservation of his beloved turtles, many of which were endangered species. He began his difficult journey when he saved a turtle from being made into soup at a Chinese restaurant. Ultimately he realizes that he cannot keep his huge collection together and he has to find new homes for the turtles. I learned from the documentary that there is a Turtle Survival Alliance. This TSA has its annual conference next week in Atlanta.

During my first year in Knoxville, I was invited to see the turtle collection of a local lawyer and his wife. As I recall, the husband was also a metal sculptor and the wife was an actress. They eventually moved downtown and donated their turtles to the same facility in Sevierville where I went last year to see some rescued baby sliders. More recently some friends from church have invited me to see their turtles. We need to find a mutually convenient time for me to bring a camera and take some photos for the blog.

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, April 21, 2007

caught up in the Internet

This morning at 3:00 a.m Central Time, several people from Wisconsin ended up at my site after searching for information about a Frank Murphy who beat somebody up in the third grade. Of course I never delivered a smackdown in the third or any other grade. My son tells me that there is a scene in the movie "I, Robot" that may have prompted the flurry of web activity. I should watch it one of these days.

A list of predictions from 1900 has been making the rounds on the Internet this past week. Some of the items seem too accurate to be true. I expected to find a debunking of the list at Snopes.com but did not.

Another site making the news is GreatTurtleRace.com. It tracks leatherback sea turtles as they swim to the Galapagos Islands to lay their eggs.

As I read more about the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I stumbled across a cartoon that moved me. It shows the mascots of other Virginia universities consoling the Virginia Tech Hokie. A larger version of the drawing can be found at LansingCartoons.com. When seen side by side with the other mascots, it is apparent that my alma mater needs to update theirs.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, September 24, 2006

how about a nice Hawaiian pest?

Turtles and frogs have always been among my favorite animals. As kids, my cousins and I would look for box turtles and toads at our grandparents' summer cottage. Since starting this blog, I've saved a turtle and many tadpoles from my pool.

Whenever my parents traveled to Puerto Rico on business, they would hear the call of the coqui. One time they even brought back a coqui hand puppet for me. Coquis were recently celebrated at a Florida zoo. Knowing that, it's no wonder that a decorative front license plate caught my eye in a local parking lot. The plate had a picture of a little frog and several Spanish words on it including a word that I recognized: coqui!

I was photographing the truck when the owner approached and demanded to know what I was doing. I told him about my parents and the coqui and asked him to translate the rest of the license plate for me. He said that "Boricua" refers to someone from Puerto Rico and the rest of it means that he is as native as the coqui.

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, September 18, 2006

not to be confused with White Castle or Krystal

Hong Ta Show was arrested last week. He was charged with illegal possession of wildlife after being caught selling baby turtles at a local flea market. A blog reader mentioned the story out of the blue in their comment to last Tuesday's post.

The turtles are the red-eared sliders that many of us had as pets when we were kids. They used to come with an inadequate clear plastic container that you would partially fill with water and then stick a plastic palm tree into the island in the middle.

The TWRA relocated the turtles to a tourist attraction in Sevierville called RainForest Adventures. My family and I went to see the little sliders yesterday. The facility is a lot like the reptile house at the zoo. I didn't even try to count all the species we saw. Some of my favorites were the tortoises, macaws, lemurs and a king cobra that put me in mind of Harry Potter and other parselmouths.

Two vending machines offered containers with shed skins from your choice of either venomous or non-venomous snakes. At 3pm, the keeper put on a presentation with birds, an alligator, a tarantula, a toad, a hedgehog and several other animals. Some we could not touch, like the snapping turtle, but others we could, like the snake we draped over our shoulders. The gift shop offered mostly animal related toys and souvenirs but it was a totally random t-shirt that made me laugh.

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button