Cute Bats for Halloween

baby bat

Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Durban, South Africa





A baby bat rehabilitated at the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife outside of Durban, South Africa. I love the shadow of this little guy!

In a tree where no one would notice were many eyes looking down.

Best photo opportunity I’ve ever had for bats! They are actually quite cute contrary to the whole ‘Vampire’ thing. The Twilight Series, meh.

Real bats. Amazing!

Happy Halloween from Species Spectrum! Next year one of these guys will be featured on a greeting card!


Review of Blackfish, the Documentary about Sea World’s Orca Whales

Answer this question: Is keeping Orca Whales in a tank humane? An animal that in the wild swims miles a day and lives it’s entire lifetime in a family pod?

Vanity Fair described ‘Blackfish’ as “A mesmerizing psychological thriller”.

Perhaps this is to intrigue more of the general public or maybe Vanity Fair was afraid of being sued by the Blackstone Group, the investment firm that owns Sea World.

If Vanity Fair had said, “Blackfish reveals the horrors endured by the killer whales of Sea World,” would some ninny Sea World spokeswoman explained that the animals are ‘happy’?

Kudos to Blackfish for being the first feature documentary addressing the decay and abuse of Orca whales in captivity, specifically at Sea World.

However, what is the call to action at the end of viewing the pain and suffering?

I wanted to see Blackfish harnessing the power of viewers perhaps drawing people to a specific website. While there are multiple ‘Set Orcas at Sea World Free’ campaigns, they are not united enough to contribute upheaval.

UPDATE: It is incredibly comforting to see the ‘Blackfish Effect’ uniting and that both Netflix and CNN continue to air Blackfish.

Peta has a good one:

Blackstone Group is more than welcome to operate as a ‘theme park’ but NOT at the expense of killer whales like Tilikum being used as a sperm bank and kept in fish bowls. The calves born in the Sea World program are often separated from their mothers. Is this ‘humane’?

Sea World cannot claim their role in ‘conservation’ when the animals are performing on behalf of bank rolls and maintained in an an artificial environment that could never be healthy.


1. Boycott Sea World – The numbers of attendance MUST drop. Educate yourself and others.

2. Sea World targets Teachers and Youth – Educate your students, they are never too young to learn! For God’s sake educate teachers and Parents!

3. SOUTHWEST is a Sea World Partner – Petition SOUTHWEST to cut ties to Sea World, The easiest partner target.

4. Coca Cola is a Sea World Partner (This is a tough one because they supply their product to Sea World).

5. Panama Jack is a Sea World Partner – Do NOT buy their products.

6. Emmy award? Sea World claims they have an ‘Emmy Award winning DVD’. Who  issued that?

Weaken the system that strengthens Sea World to make the change so Orca Whales are no longer living out their lives in a bathtub.

Thank You.

Jes McKay Gilmore

Hadeda Friendly

Goofy, a Wild Hadeda, CROW Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife

Hadeda birds are all over the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa. I knew nothing about them before arriving in South Africa. They have a loud and strident call that makes their presence known. Goofy, an otherwise wild hadeda hangs out at CROW in Durban and seems to prefer the company of people. He had followed me around part of the day bringing me sticks and at one point sitting in the chair next to me. When it was time to leave he appeared and after saying hi to my boyfriend, he hopped on the car roof as we were about to pull away. Even when Goofy makes his ‘CAWWWWWA’ right in your face it’s hard not to still like this special hadeda!


Living with Vervet Monkeys in South Africa

Vervet Monkey

Vervets at Home

Feeding wild vervet monkeys is kind of a catch 22: On one hand (pun intended) they are classified as vermin in South Africa and not feeding them may help them keep their distance from humans. On the other hand, with encroachment upon their natural habitat they are in fact the neighbors of many in the Kwa Zulu- Natal province of South Africa.
CROW- Centre for Rehabilitated Orphan Wildlife in Durban, South Africa takes in many vervet monkeys during the year offering sanctuary and a chance for some to return to the wild. Check out this non-profit and learn more!


Parrot Photos

Well familiar with homeless dogs and cats, it’s always incredible to hear the stories of such a vast range of species, most recently parrots. While providing a suitable home for such extraordinary creatures proves too much for many people, it was intriguing to find out that in more than several instances parrots were displaced because they took a dislike to their original owner. Perhaps this is no different than a person that prefers the company of one friend over another. But if trusting a parrot’s judge of character is accurate, one must wonder about the parrot flying through the house ready to inflict pain on her human owner. Maybe it’s just a sense of entrapment of being a captive parrot and they have nothing against anyone at all if only they could fly free.

Looking at Porsche, Emerald, Leilu, Ruby and Chester it is impossible not to be captivated. For as much interest as I have in them, they reflected the same inquisitiveness in me. It was the first time photographing where an animal spoke the phrase in plain English, “What cha doing?”.  I turned around to see Chester, an Amazon Parrot watching me as I snapped photos of Emerald the Macaw. Nearly everyone is drawn to the incredible color palette of a parrot’s feathers, but in photographing each parrot, it was a quiet, pale pink parrot who stood out. Something in her expression, or the little dance she did, or maybe seeing her feeble looking lower body of which she had plucked near to naked. Still filled with spirit, her sweet expression and her being remind me of why sharing these stories is so essential. Porsche, quite a name… she is the first slide in the above clip.

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Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves

Having just met four captive Mexican Gray Wolves yesterday (including the oldest living captive Mexican Gray Wolf), we wanted to share a friend of Species Spectrum recent letter:

As a supporter of Mexican wolves, I was pleased to read the article “Lawsuit Against Wolves Withdrawn” in a local paper. The same anti-wolf interests that filed this lawsuit are now working to strip our beleaguered Mexican wolves of Endangered Species Act protections. The little lobos only number 50 animals in the wild and they face extinction.

In his essay “A Monument to a Passenger Pigeon,” Aldo Leopold states, “For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun.” While perhaps true in 1947, unfortunately, now species go extinct at an alarming rate.

But to allow the extinction of the lobo is unacceptable. They are critical to their ecosystems and they are well-loved. According to one survey, seven in 10 New Mexican voters support the recovery of Mexican wolves. The extinction of the lobo is not worth a couple of cattle.

Recently, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill (SB 249) that would strip endangered species protection from all gray wolves (Canis lupus). If passed, the result will spell wolf eradication—but it is especially significant to the Mexican wolf because it is so imperiled.

We need Congress to uphold the tenets of the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of all wildlife, and not to take protection away from a species for a vocal few and their big-business political allies.

To paraphrase Leopold, there will always be wolves in books and in museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. Book wolves know no urge of seasons; they feel no spring kiss of their young, no sun in summer nor wind in winter. They live forever by not living at all.

Christina Hartsock

The Monkey Mind: The Humans Not the Chimps


Chimp Mom Greeting Card

Chimp Mom Greeting Card by Species Spectrum


Recently I observed and photographed eight former research chimps who now reside at a zoo.  Knowing some of each chimp’s background I felt even more compelled to simply watch them.

For a while I was the only one around. One chimp sat with her arm around another. They sat that way for a long time. In the same area was a mother chimpanzee named Elaine. She was born in 1976 at a research laboratory. She spent 26 years as a research subject before being moved to the zoo. Now she sits in the sun holding her baby “Kianga”, which means “burst of sunshine” in Swahili. I’m marveling at her gentle hands wrapped around her baby when another flood of boisterous school kids race through the chimp exhibit area.

Sitting on the ground engrossed in the chimps I don’t break my gaze to notice the children standing around me. A little girl holding a pencil exuberantly glances at the chimps before asking a chaperone, “Are they violent? Would they hurt me?”

I’m astonished that such a young child immediately draws such a conclusion. Rather than marveling at the chimpanzees her first question is laced with fear and the potential of personal bodily harm. Where does a child not even ten draw such a question?

Feeling a surge of momentary misanthropy I chime in: “Actually, we humans are much more violent than any other animal”. The chaperone hears me and agrees. “That’s true”.

I overhear the chaperones suggesting chimps as an animal for a school project. I chime in again explaining how the chimps at this exhibit have spent many years living in a research facility. My goal was to understatedly address the plight of research chimps in an educational way for the kids. By the sound of things, I’d inspired them, if only momentarily.

I find it ironic for a young child to express concerns about chimpanzee violence when it is us that have taken chimps from the wild, sent them into space, and examined how disease affected them. If a little girl is old enough to question violence of another species, she’s probably old enough to dream a better vision for animals when given the knowledge.

At the other end of the age spectrum, I observed an elderly woman in a wheelchair with (I presume) her daughter behind her. She watches one of the younger chimps exploring for a minute before breaking the silence: “ Remember all those chimps they sent into space? ….Never to return….So sad.”

A moment later they wheeled on.

In passing thought, I like to imagine more than just a day at the zoo. Is the little girl or the elderly woman still pondering chimpanzees as I write this? Probably not. Before distracted by the noise of the next event, I want to draw attention to the quiet grace that exists in each and every animal regardless of whether life has been harsh or kind. We think many thoughts but it is what we do with them that makes a difference!