Icelandic Scene ~ Is That A New Camera?

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For Wild Zebra ~ It’s All About The Spots

An elusive zebra having both stripes and spots was observed by wildlife photographer and safari guide Paul Goldstein.

In all his 25 years in the wilds of Africa, Goldstein had never seen a zebra with markings such as this.

The zebra was discovered in Kenya’s Masai Mara, one of the best places in the world for wildlife watching.  After two years of tracking, Goldstein was finally able to photograph this animal.

It appeared that this unique zebra had been ostracized by the other zebra, presumably because of its spotted markings.

According to Goldstein, this unique zebra is shy, “extremely bad tempered” and aggressive towards other zebras and appears to have no mates. However, he does have a lot of scars.

Goldstein states that ‘every zebra in Africa has slightly different markings, but this one has taken that to extremes.’

“The mane is short and completely black. The hooped markings on the legs are completely different to normal ones.  It has the shape of a donkey, but is much darker all over. The spots are very prominent’.

According to recent research done by UCLA Environmental Studies, other spotted zebra have been observed in prior years.

In 1967, a Spotted zebra was photographed in Botswana.

And in 2009 a Spotted zebra was photographed Nairobi National Park in Kenya.

Scientists have been speculating about the purpose of the zebra’s stripes since the 1870s, when Charles Darwin criticized Alfred Russel Wallace’s theory that the stripes provided camouflage in tall grass. Zebras prefer open savannahs, Darwin argued, where the grass is too short to make stripes useful hiding tools.

Since then, some scientists believe zebra evolved in such a way so as to make it easier to recognize each other.

Others say it is to confuse predators when they bunch into groups to avoid attack.

Further suggestions have been that the patterns of dark and light fur might cause air turbulence, helping the animals to cool off.

This year a group of scientists suggested still another theory: that zebra developed stripes to keep blood-sucking flies at bay.

It is known that the patterns covering the zebra are as distinctive as human fingerprints.

But here we are, still at the age old question … how and why did the zebra get its stripes.

Now we have the question … how and why did the zebra get its spots.

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Sources:
UCLA Zebra Research
Discovery News
Mail Online

Photo Credits:
Paul Goldstein/Rex Features
Kenya Wildlife Services
Quagga Project
Brenda Larison
Dan Rubinstein

Two Year Old Saddles Up Miniature Pony ‘Maybelline’ To Compete in Rodeo

This ‘little big-man’ rodeo rider has caused a big stir in the gritty world of barrel racing.

The two 1/2 year old, Royce Gill, from Upper Horton in western New South Wales, Australia should be kicking up tantrums, but instead he is kicking up the dust on his six-year-old pony, Maybelline.

Even though Royce is still wearing diapers, it is no surprise that this young cowboy has taken to the sport of racing barrels at high-speeds.  He is the seventh-generation rodeo rider in his family.

Royce entered his first competition at the Beaudesert Rodeo in the ‘18 year and under’ classification.  Even though he did not win any ribbons in his first try, he has plenty of time to catch up with the much older competition.

His father, Ryan Gill, says his son was born with the passion, ‘I just sit him on and he wants to stay there.’

Mr. Gill, who lives in the country on a 3000-acre property, states that he will help his son move on to bigger calves and ponies as he grows up.

In the meantime, the pint-sized rodeo rider has a busy schedule.  Royce will continue to compete in barrel racing against riders more than seven times his age.

Like father, like son, Royce Gill is sure to follow in the footsteps of his father Ryan who is a champion rodeo rider

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Re-written from News Sources

Photo Credit: Jamie Hanson Newspix

Spring Scene: Love My Mom

Wild Mare and Foal
New Forest, England

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London Police Horse Pals Retire Together

Vincent and Ursula

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Two inseparable horses are set to retire together after spending a total of 30 years in London’s Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch.

Vincent, 22, and Ursula, 21, have built a special bond over the past 18 months after sharing adjoining stalls and playing together in the field at the Met’s stables in Surrey.

Not wanting to separate the two, the staff has arranged for the retiring duo to be sent to the same farm in East Sussex to share out their lives, together.

This was a special exception as horses are rarely retired to one location.

Inspector Alan Hiscox, chief instructor at the Metropolitan Police’s Mounted Branch Training Establishment, said: “Vincent and Ursula have contributed to every aspect of policing in the Mounted Branch, from frontline patrols and ceremonial duties, right through to training our younger horses and new officers”.

The Mounted Branch was established in 1760 and currently has over 140 officers and 120 horses at eight operational stables spread across London.

They have a  variety of roles including, high visibility patrols, public order duties as well as specific crime initiatives and specialist events, such as   trooping the color.

Every officer and horse receives extensive training. They ensure that both horse and rider are well equipped to deal with the rigors of policing in the capital.

Vincent and Ursula have both had illustrious careers having  served at football matches at Wembley and also at the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

Inspector Alan Hiscox  says: “I have had the honor of riding both Vincent and Ursula, they are very special horses.

“It has been very heartening to see them grow close and they deserve many long and happy years of retirement.”

Both horses will now live out their lives together. They will occasionally be ridden, go for walks and spend time in pasture.

They will be well looked after in their deserved retirement.

Spring Scene: Beauty In The Field

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Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm  Comments (5)  
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Attention Horses! Turn Off The Radio!

No more tranquil music for horses
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A woman who plays classical music to her horses to keep them calm has been told she must pay for a public performance license.

Rosemary Greenway has been playing passages of opera and orchestral symphonies on the radio to the animals at her stables for more than 20 years, convinced that it helps soothe them.

But at the Malthouse Equestrian Centre in Bushton, Wiltshire, England there will be no more music, and perhaps some very nervous horses now residing there.

Because her stables employ more than two people, she received a telephone call from the Performing Right Society which has been targeting stables as part of a drive to get commercial premises to pay for the music played around the barn.

In defense, a spokeswoman for the society said: “Of course, we don’t ask people to pay for music played to animals. “Mrs Greenway was only asked to pay for music played for staff, like any other workplace.”

The radio is now turned off except for Sunday when there are no staff at the stable yard.

It has long been thought that music helps to calm anxious animals.

Last year a study at Belfast Zoo found evidence that playing Elgar, Puccini and Beethoven to elephants helped reduce stress related behaviours such as swaying, pacing and tossing their trunks.

Perhaps the Malthouse Equestrian Centre might consider purchasing some soothing CDs to calm any horses that have become anxious over this “no radio” ruling.

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Link: Have A Spooky Horse?  Try Tchaikovsky!

Spring Scene: Keeping Up

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The “999” Pony

“Mayflower”

In Southampton, England there is a pony that is creating a rush of emergency calls from caring people that are driving by her pasture.

The message to the fire brigade is always the same: Come quickly, a poor little pony is stuck in the mud.

The reason for the emergency calls is not that the pony is sunk in the mire, but that she simply has very short legs.

Her owner is considering putting up a sign outside the field to advise motorists that “Mayflower”  is a stocky pony, not a stuck pony.

The problem with putting up a sign is that one day she might actually get stuck and then the fire brigade won’t turn up, says the owner.

“Mayflower” is a cross between a Shetland pony and a New Forest pony.  She inherited the Shetland’s short legs and the New Forest pony’s long body.

Her unusually short legs compared to the other ponies in the pasture that surround her cause Mayflower to stand out, or rather semi-disappear.  Thus the cause for all the excitement.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s animal rescue team have been called out numerous times to rescue the animal since it started grazing on the salt marshes at Redbridge, Southampton.

This has included  a specialist lifting vehicle, 12 fire fighters, two to three fire trucks plus an animal rescue expert.

Every time the highly trained firefighters rush to the scene they find the same horse … “Mayflower”.

So, what does Mayflower think of all this?

She simply trots her little self off to prove that she’s not stuck at all, but quite simply minding her own business doing what ponies do … grazing.

Spring Scene: Isn’t Life Just Grand