The elephant Beco plays with ball

Beco, named after his mother, Phoebe, and his father, Coco was born 27 March 2009. As of 12 August, he weighed 690 pounds and is averaging a weight gain of about three pounds a day. At not quite five months old, he is precocious and curious about everything – from drain hole covers to sticks in the yard, he wants to explore everything. Phoebe is a wonderful mother – she keeps a close eye on him while he explores and humours a lot of his rumbustious play. Beco was given the Boomer ball about a week or two ago to introduce enrichment play into his routine (and to give Phoebe a break from his high energy play!). The Zoo gives most of its animals different enrichment activities to stimulate play, natural behaviours, and break up the animals’ routines.

Beco recently had his first swimming lesson from the keepers and Phoebe. While the introduction to the pool went slowly, in the end, he went into the deep end of the pool and swam about using his little trunk as a snorkel, much to the delight of the visitors who got to see his first foray into the pool. All in all, Beco is growing up fast and well, just as a baby elephant should.

Due to habitat loss/degradation and poaching, Asian elephants are considered Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Photo and video credits: Grahm Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Text credits:

The great migration | BBC

Thumbelina - World's smallest horse

Standing just 17 inches tall, she is never going to be a champion show-jumper. In fact, the tiny mare is so small she would struggle to leap over a bucket. But such things are of little concern for feisty Thumbelina who has just been officially recognised as the world's smallest horse. The five-year-old received the title from the Guinness Book of Records after her astonished owners realised she was never going to grow any bigger. She was born on a farm in America to a couple who specialise in breeding miniature horses.

These popular show horses usually weigh about 250lb and reach a height of 34 inches when they are fully grown. But when Thumbelina was born, it was immediately clear she would never grow to this size. At birth she weighed 8lb - the weight of many new-born babies - and eventually she grew to a mere 60lb. Thumbelina's extraordinary size has been put down to dwarfism, which makes her a miniature of a miniature.

But despite this massive difference in size, it is feisty Thumbelina who rules the roost over the stallions and racehorses on her 150-acre farm. 'When she was born, she was so small we thought she wasn't going to make it,' said Michael Goessling, whose parents Kay and Paul bred the miniature horses. 'She weighed eight pounds when she came out and she looked very ill. We feared the worst. 'Because her legs are proportionally smaller than her body and her head, she has to wear orthopaedic fittings to straighten them a lot of the time. 'But we love her and wouldn't want her any other way.'
At a mere 17 inches tall (four hands), the mare measures up to the shins of the 'normal' horses in the paddock. The Goessling family have bred miniature horses for the past 15 years on Goessling's Goose Creek Farm in St Louis, and these usually stand at 34 inches at the withers - the ridge between the two shoulder blades. But the owners of the mini horse began to realise they may have bred a record-breaker when she stopped growing after a year.

'My parents have bred hundreds of miniature horses, but we have never had one as small as Thumbelina,' Mr Goessling said. 'She was just a complete fluke and we call her a mini mini. 'When she was young she found the dog kennels and decided she wanted to bed-in with the dogs, rather than with bigger horses. 'She spends all her time playing with the spaniels, but we have to try and stop her grazing on grass, because she is not allowed to eat too much.'

Thumbelina survives on a cup of grain and handful of hay, served twice-a-day. Normal horses lives for about 35 years, but she is only likely to live up to the age of 17 because of her size. She has the ability to become pregnant and give birth to foals, but her owners have decided not to allow this to happen. Mr Goessling, 39, said: 'There could be complications during the pregnancy, so we think it is better to avoid the risks. 'And although we love Thumbelina, we do not think it is right that the gene which creates dwarfism in horses is carried on through future generations.'

The tiny mare has become sometime of a celebrity in her home town in America, but Mr Goessling insists they will never sell her, no matter what price is offered. 'She is too precious to us to sell,' he added. 'I think my parents would sell me before they part with Thumbelina. 'She has that special Wow factor, which you only get when you physically see how small she really is.'


Cat and baby wrestling match

Phidippus apacheanus - jumping spider (The Apache Jumper)

Vultures attack turtle eggs

In tribute to Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

Stephen Robert Irwin was born on 22 February, 1962, in upper Fern Tree Gully, Victoria. In 1970 he and his family (his parents and two sisters) moved to Beerwah, Queensland, where his folks opened the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park in 1970. Steve grew up loving all wildlife, especially reptiles. He caught his first venomous snake (a Common Brown) at the tender age of six and would often arrive late to school after convincing his mother to pull over so he could rescue a lizard off the road.

By the time he was nine-years-old, he was helping his dad catch small problem crocodiles hanging around boat ramps by jumping on them in the water and wrestling them back into the dinghy. He always had an uncanny sixth sense when it came to wildlife and he spent his life honing that skill. In the 1980s Steve spent months on end living in the most remote areas of far North Queensland catching problem crocodiles before they ended up shot by a poacher’s bullet. He worked with his little dog, Sui, and developed crocodile capture and management techniques that are now utilised with crocodiles around the world.

By 1980, the family wildlife park was called the ‘Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park’ and where Steve called home. Steve and his best mate, Wes Mannion, worked countless hours caring for the wildlife and maintaining the grounds. In 1991 Steve took over managing the wildlife park and met Terri Rains, a visiting tourist, on 6 October. Steve and Terri were married in Eugene, Oregon, on 4 June 1992 at the Methodist church Terri’s grandmother used to attend. Instead of a honeymoon, the couple embarked on filming a wildlife documentary with John Stainton from the ‘Best Picture Show’ company. The show was so successful it turned into a series and the Crocodile Hunter was born.

After Steve’s parents retired in the 1992, Steve worked tirelessly to improve and expand his wildlife park. Re-naming it “Australia Zoo” in 1998, Steve’s vision for the world’s best Zoo was coming to fruition. In July 2006 Steve set out his ten year business plan for his beloved zoo. He couldn’t know he would be gone just two months later, but he believed his conservation work would go on. His two beautiful children will make sure it does.


One day in Serengeti National Park - Tanzania

Elephant fight