Last week, Alex and I were in Birmingham and we decided to visit the National SEA LIFE Centre. Originally, we weren’t even scheduled to go there – but then we learned that it had recently become the home of the UK’s first – and only – pair of sea otters.
The dormouse has a famously sleepy disposition. It’s an image that was cemented over 150 years ago when a very tired dormouse appeared in the well-known tea-party scene in Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And unlike many animal reputations worldwide, this one doesn’t need exaggerating. No other British mammal sleeps for such a high proportion of the time – it can spend over half of the year asleep, from October through to April or May.
Everyone’s favourite naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, returns to our screens tonight with a brand-new one-off documentary. Called Extinction: The Facts (a follow-up to last year’s Climate Change: The Facts), it will look at how human overpopulation, rampant over-consumption, the illegal wildlife trade, climate change, overfishing, pollution and land-use change are all driving the loss of biodiversity across the world.
Large, lazy and very strange-looking – meet the ocean sunfish. This extraordinary animal is certainly very peculiarly-proportioned. Tall but vertically flattened, with a pale, circular body that seems to end abruptly behind its huge dorsal and anal fins, the sunfish almost looks as though it is simply a massive severed head with a short, frilly tail attached.
Our world holds a whole host of glorious natural spectacles, from great starling murmurations to the ethereal display of coral reef spawning. But to me, none is more thrilling than catching a glimpse of the majestic macaw. Screeching their way through the Amazon rainforest, leaving scattered fruit, broken branches, and a considerable quantity of parrot poop in their wake, parrots are simply animals like no other. But high in the treetops, flying far above the dense, dark foliage below, how can you ensure that you see their bright colours?