About the Project

The ZooTrophy Animal-a-Day project began on October 15th, 2013 as illustrator Angela "LemurKat" Oliver began working her way, systematically but selectively, through the alphabet and presenting, via social media, an illustrated animal to the world. Daily.

All pieces are drawn as 2.5 x 3.5 inch collectible cards, using a combination of polychromos and prismacolor pencils, along with other art materials. Many are still available for purchase ($10) or trade, so drop her an email if anything captures your eye or if there is an animal you wish to request.

It is predicted this project will take her at least two years to complete - with approximately 36 animals being drawn for each letter. She has also used the images to create a collectible hardback encyclopedia series, playing cards and a desk calendar, as well as the ZooTrophy collectible trading card game.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#774: Turkey

The Turkey is a large gamebird native to North America. He lives in hardwood and mixed hardwood forests with good leaf cover. His diet consists mainly of seeds and plant matter, but he will also eat small vertebrates and insects. The male, much larger and bulkier than the female, struts to attract a mate, puffing out his feathers and gobbling and booming. He mates with as many females as he can and plays no role in the raising of the chicks. Turkey has become a staple in the human diet, and domesticated Turkeys are farmed throughout the world.

Monday, December 28, 2015

#773: Tadpole Shrimp

Tadpole Shrimp are omnivorous crustaceans. They are considered a living fossil, having not changed significantly since the Triassic Period. With a worldwide distribution, they are found in freshwater and brackish ponds.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

#772: Tuna

Tuna is one of the most popular table fish, with cans of this handsome fellow being a staple in most pantries. What most people don't realise is that Tuna are massive: the Atlantic can reach lengths of over 4m, and the Bluefin averages 2m. This makes him one of the largest carnivorous fishes in the world. He is an active and agile predator - the Yellowfin can reach speeds up to 75 km/hr. Tuna grow fast and breed young, but Bluefins may live up to 50 years.

Tuna are seriously overfished. The Southern Bluefin is Critically Endangered, and almost every other species is catagorised from "Near Threatened" to "Endangered". Some fisheries have experimented with farming and ranching tuna, with limited success. Without careful management, these majestic ocean predators could disappear from our oceans.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Creature Feature #771: Turaco

Turacos are medium-sized birds of Africa. There are a number of species, characterised by their semi-zygodactylous toes and short rounded wings. None are strong fliers, and they prefer to run through the canopy. Diet is predominantly fructivorous, and they have a fondness for bananas, which has earned them the bird Family of Musophagidae (literally: "banana eater"). They also dine on insects and leaves. This fine fellow is Ross's Turaco.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#768: Trout

Trout are several species of common freshwater fish, closely related to salmon and charr. They favour cool, clear freshwater lakes and streams and are native to Eurasia and America. Several species - specifically the rainbow and the brown - are popular in recreational fishing and have been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. Predatory in nature, Trout hunt invertebrates and smaller fish, proving to have anegative impact on native fish to the areas in which they've been introduced. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#767: Tropicbird

Tropicbirds are pelagic seabirds, spending most of their life airborne, hovering and diving for fish. With only small, weak feet, she is clumsy on land, and only comes ashore to breed. For this she favours rocky cliffs with some shelter. Elaborate, aerial courtship dances help her to determine her choice of mate. Once paired, the two form a monogamous bond that often last several breeding seasons. Both male and female have elongated central tail feathers, making the Tropicbird unmistakable in flight. Like many seabirds, she has suffered from rising temperatures and el nino weather fluctuations, with recent breeding seasons becoming decreasingly succesful.

This is a Red-billed Tropicbird.

Monday, December 21, 2015

#766: Trilobite Beetle

Trilobite Beetles are named such for their superficial resemblance to the prehistoric, extinct arthropod.They can be found in the rainforests of India and South-east Asia. Females remain in this form - the larval form - for their entire life, whereas males become actual beetles. Preferred habitat is leaf litter, and very little is actually known about them - including the diet, which may be other arthropods or decaying plant matter. Mating is a one-time affair for the male, who dies shortly afterwards, whilst the female goes on to lay around two hundred eggs, then dies a few weeks later.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

#765: Tree Frog

There are numerous species of Tree Frog, a term given to any species that, as an adult frog, follows an aboreal lifestyle. Probably the most recognisable is this Red-eyed Tree Frog of Central America. These red eyes act as a deterrent to predation, for he opens them wide if danger nears, suprisingly any potential predator and giving the frog the opportunity to free.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

#762: Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is a diminutive songbird found in the eastern United States. He is common in both the urban environment and deciduous woodlands. While he mainly eats insects, he also forages for seed, nuts and berries, and the popularity of bird feeders in gardens is helping him to spread north. curious by nature, he is known to peek through windows to investigate what's behind. Nests are build in natural tree cavities, lined with soft materials - including fur plucked directly from dogs.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#761: Titi

Titi are New World Monkeys, notable for their tails, which are longer than their body. There are numerous species known, varying in colouration and size, but all sharing similar body shapes. Titi live in family groups of up to seven individuals. They maintain and defend their territory, shouting and chasing off intruders.  Partnerships are monogamous, and pairs will often sit or sleep with their tails entwined. The father takes charge of their sole offspring, bringing it to the mother for nursing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#760: Timneh Parrot

The Timneh Parrot is closely related to the African Gray Parrot and until 2012 was regarded as a subspecies. He is slightly smaller, and has more of a maroon tinge to his feathers. Like the African Gray he is intelligent and vocal, and a superb mimic. This has earned him favour in the pet trade, and with the African Gray on the decline (entire populations have been extirpated due to poaching), it is likely he will be the next target. His natural habitat is dense forest.

I know I've said this before, but parrots do not make good pets. Unlike cats and dogs, parrots have not been domesticated; many are either wild-caught or have recent ancestors that are wild-caught. They are social and demanding and need a lot of care and attention. In some cases, demand exceeds the captive-born supply, and poaching is rampant. African Grays are disappearing fast, the Timneh is likely to be next. Being long-lived and intelligent, if you own a parrot, you will need to think of what will happen if you outlive it. They get jealous easily and tend to fixate on one person. Captive born birds that are bonded or imprinted to humans are unlikely to breed. Rescue facilities in the US are full-to-bursting with parrots that have been surrendered because they're too noisy, too needy, too emotionally screwed up, to remain with their human "mate". It's heart-breaking. If you do want a parrot - consider adopting one of those.

Monday, December 14, 2015

#759: Tiger Shark

The Tiger Shark is an apex predator and will eat almost anything - from crustaceans to whales, even smaller sharks and inedible manmade objects. She is considered one of the most dangerous shark species as she often comes close to shore and thus into contact with people. However, she is far more at risk from us than we are from her; she is hunted and killed for her fins, flesh and liver.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

#758: Tiger Salamander

The Tiger Salamander is one of the Mole Salamanders. He lives in North America. Whilst the larvae are aquatic, the adults are terrestrial and live in burrows. His diet consists predominantly of worms and small insects, but he is also known to eat baby mice and smaller amphibians. Juvenile Tiger Salamander resemble axolotls and if terrestrial conditions are not suitable, some may become sexually mature while still in the larval form. This is known as Neoteny. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#757: Tiger

The Tiger is the largest of the Felid Family, with the Siberian subspecies reaching 3.38 m  in length. It is he who is truly the King of the Jungle, and he once roamed the forests as far north as Siberia and as far south as Bali. Now his range is more restricted and fragmented due to hunting and deforestation. He is solitary, but his range often overlaps that of several females, and will sometimes even share his kills with them (and they with him). His favoured food is medium-sized ungulates, especially deer. An ambush predator, he lies in wait and uses his size and strength to disable the prey, before dispatching it with a bite to the throat.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#756: Thylacine

The Thylacine was a large carnivorous marsupial, named the Tasmanian Tiger for his striped hide. He is an example of convergent evolution - being a dog-like predator related to the Tasmanian Devil and the Quoll. Unlike most marsupials, both male and female had a pouch: the male's acting to protect his external reproductive organs in his thickly forested home. He had a very large gape, capable of opening his jaws to 120 degree angle.  Already extirpated from the mainland due to competition with the introduced Dingo (as well as disease), his last refuge was the island of Tasmania. Early settlers decided that he posed a threat to their lifestock, and set about diligently eliminating the species.  The last wild speciman was shot in 1930, and the last captive died in 1936.
There are a surprisingly large number of unconfirmed Thylacine sightings, both in Tasmania and south-east Australia. Thylacine can be distinguished from a dog by his long, stiff tail which is held more akin to that of a kangaroo's, and an awkward gait (described by one maybe-sighter as "resembling bad CGI"). I know I am not alone in hoping that there are still some of this strange carnivorous kangaroo-like creature roaming the wooded areas of Australia. And, indeed, would dearly love to have my own own unconfirmed sighting to add to the list. Maybe next year, when we go to Tasmania...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#755: Thrush

The Thrush are medium-sized songbirds of the Family Turdidae. Many species, like this Song Thrush, have a speckled belly, but this Family also includes the American Robin (named such for his red breast), the Blackbird and the Ouzel. The Blackbird and the Song Thrush are English in origin, but have been introduced to New Zealand, where they are a common sight in urban gardens. Thrush follow an insectivorous or omnivorous diet. The Song Thrush is particularly fond of snails, and will often use a favourite stone as an "anvil" to crack open the shells. He will also rummage through leaf litter in search of worms and insect prey.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#754: Thorny Devil

The Thorny Devil is an Australian lizard, named for the spiny protrusions that cover her body. These not only protect her from predation, but also collect condensation overnight. Her body is covered in hygroscopic grooves, which channel the water into her mouth. She inhabits arid scrubland and desert and lives on a diet of ants - consuming thousands in a day. Eggs are laid in a burrow, and hatch after a few months.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#753: Terrapin

Terrapin is the name given to several species of small turtle, such as this Diamondback Turtle. Like the dove and the egret, terrapin is a name more of convenience than serving a taxonomical purpose. Due to their small size, they have become fairly popular in the pet industry and Diamondbacks are farmed as food. Diamondbacks are almost entirely aquatic, coming ashore only to breed. Although most Terrapins favour freshwater, the Diamondback lives in the marine environment, although she stays close to shore. To obtain fresh water, she sips rainwater from the surface, or catches it as it falls.

Monday, December 7, 2015

#752: Tern

Terns are various species of seabird, specialised for an aerial lifestyle. In flight, he can be differentiated from a gull by his long, tapered wings. Many species also have a forked tail. Species are spread across the world, with one - the Arctic Tern - flying annually from the Arctic to the Antarctic, thus never experiencing a polar winter. Terns spend much of their time on the wing, scouting the water for appropriate prey and diving to catch it. They are known to follow dolphins and other large predators, as these drive prey close to the surface. Breeding colonies are large and noisy, sometimes neighbouring those of other seabirds. In most species, the eggs are laid on the bare ground. The White Tern, however, lays her egg on a tree branch.

This fellow, the Chinese Crested Tern, is Critically Endangered. and was actually considered extinct until four pairs were found in 2000. With less than 50 individuals currently surviving, his future seems pretty grim.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

#751: Termite

There are around 3000 species of Termite, occuring in every continent except Antarctica. Like ants, they are eusocial, being divided into four castes: sterile workers and soldiers, and fertile kings and queens. The workers and soldiers are blind, and lack eyes, relying on their antennae as their main sensory organ. Workers are the labourers, collecting and digesting food in the form of decaying wood and other detritus. It is then fed to the juvenile termites. Soldiers, characterised by their powerful jaws, protect  the nest from predators - of which there are many. Termites live in large nests composed of faecal and plant matter, in some species, these mounds can be 4 m high and 2.5 m wide, forming large and complex structures.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

#750: Tenrec

The Tenrecs are a range of small mammals found in Madagascar and parts of Africa. They have diversed to fill a range of niches, especially on Madagascar. There are aquatic Otter Tenrec, spiky Hedgehog Tenrec, and this vividly coloured Lowland Streaked Tenrec, arboreal species, burrowing species and the rotund and plump Common (or Tailless) Tenrec. Tenrec follow a mainly insectivorous diet, although some also consume fruit. The Lowland Streaked can erect her spines to deter predators. Those around her head are barbed, and can be angled to drive into a predator's face. The ones on her back are not barbed, and are used for communication; she vibrates them to produce a faint start. She can give birth to litters of up to 8 youngsters, the Common Tenrec can manage up to 35.

Friday, December 4, 2015

#749: Teledu

The Teledu, or Sundan Stink Badger, is a mustelid more closely related to skunks than to badgers. Found in Malayasia, he is nocturnal and thus rarely seen. He is also not particularly well studied. His diet is omnivorous, and he uses his claws to dig for worms and other invertebrates, as well as taking eggs and carrion. If threatened, he can spray a foul-smelling substance from his anal glands - it has a range of 15 cm.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#748: Teal

"Teal" is generally the name given to small ducks, which generally seem to have a larger head in proportion to body-size than the generally considered "duck".

The Eurasian Teal (which is not the species currently pictured here, this is a blue-winged which may not technically eb a "teal" at all... alterations to come!) is probably the most well-known, being widespread across Eurasia and migrating south. The green patch across its eyes lead to the naming of the colour teal (in much the same way that "orange" is derived from the fruit, NOT the other way around). He is a dabbling duck, dipping beneath the water to feed on aquatic invertebrates in the warmer months, and turning to greens in the colder.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#747: Tayra

The Tayra is a member of the mustelid Family. found in Central and South America. Her preferred habitat is forest, but she will cross grasslands at night as she moves from one forest patch to the next. She is solitary and arboreal in nature, and can traverse the forest with speed. Her long tail aids in balance and her claws are short, curved and strong. She feeds on fruit and small vertebrates, and also has a taste for honey. Tayra are easily tamed and sometimes kept as household pets to help rid a house of vermin. She does, however, pose a threat to chickens.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#746: Tarsier

The Tarsier are several species of prosimian. They differ from other prosimians in that they have dry noses, slitted, like a monkeys. Tiny and nocturnal, they are characterised by their enormous eyes; his eyeball is larger than his brain. They are fixed in the socket, meaning he must rotate his head to change his field of vision. Tarsiers are also characterised by their elongated tarsier bone (hence the name). The length, plus elasticated tendons, allow these tiny primates to leap great distances. His diet is insectivorous.

I love tarsiers but always have difficulty drawing them. They just don't look real. I think I might have to try this fellow again some time.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Creature Feature #745: Tarantula

There are approximately 900 species of Tarantula, with a range that encompasses much of the tropics and subtropical regions. The smallest species is the size of a fingernail, the largest as big as a dinner plate. These hairy arachnids come in a variety of colours, with brown being popular, but there is also the brilliant blue Peacock Tarantula, and various other species, including this Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula. Some species are aboreal, others terrestrial. All are predators, using ambush techniques to hunt their prey - which ranges in size from tiny insects, up to lizards, mice and even birds, depending on the species (and the size).

Tarantulas are sometimes kept as pets. They  are all venomous, but there are no recorded fatalities from being bitten. Once again, the venom varies across species - some being no worse than a wasp sting, others causing muscle cramps, severe pain and hallucinations.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

#743: Tanuki

Tanuki is the name given to the subspecies of Racoon Dog found in Japan. He is well known in mythology as mischevious, jolly and a bit of a trickster. The Asian Racoon Dog is a member of the Canine Family, and one of two Canid species that regularly climb trees. His diet is omnivorous and varies with the seasons - fruit, grains, vegetables and eggs in summer, rodents and other small prey in the colder months. Despite having an extremely thick fur coat, he hibernates in winter. This thick pelt has found favour in the fur industry. This has led to the species being introduced into Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, either intentionally or as escapees from fur farms. Whilst in his natural range numbers are declining, in this introduced range, he is at risk of becoming an Invasive Pest.

Friday, November 27, 2015

#742: Tang

Tang are various species of Acanthuridae fish, related closely to Unicornfish and Surgeonfish. This particular species, the Blue Tang, is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific, but not common anywhere. She is very popular in the aquarium industry, despite following a fairly delicate diet and being prone to parasitic infections. She feeds on algae and plankton. When she is ready to breed, her colour lightens to a pale blue. Males will court her aggressively, rushing to release their sperm into the water with her eggs. These float upwards, attached to a bubble of bouyant oil. These will hatch in a day into tiny transparent larvae.

If she looks familiar, that's because she's Dory from "Finding Nemo". Look, I found her!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#740: Tamarin

The Tamarin monkeys are tiny New World monkeys, occupying different patches of Amazon rainforest. This fellow is one of the Lion Tamarins, the Golden. The other Genus lack the manes that give this genus their name. The Golden Lion is endangered due to deforestation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#739: Tamandua

The Tamandua are two species of Anteater, the Northern and the Southern, adapted to an aboreal lifestyle. Both are characterised by their black "waistcoat" and prehensile tail. His diet consists almost entirely of termites and insects, which he laps up using his long, sticky tongue. The middle claw on each forefoot is modified into a hook, perfect for ripping open insect nests. Tamandua are generally solitary, coming together only to mate. The single baby spends the first few weeks sheltered in a tree hollow, then rides around on the mother's back.

Monday, November 23, 2015

#738: Takin

The Takin is a goat-antelope found in the Himalayas. It is thought that the fleece of one of the subspecies, the Golden Takin, inspired the story of Jason and the Argonauts. He makes his home in the forested valleys, ranging up into the alpine slopes. Older males lead a solitary existence, whilst younger males and females gather in herds of around 20 individuals. In summer, gatherings may number up to 300. His large snout is an adaptation to the colder climes, as the big sinus cavities help to warm the air before he inhales it. His skin secretes an oily substance which coats his fur, acting as a natural raincoat.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Creature Feature #737: Tahr

The Tahr are three species of goat found in Oman, South India and the Himalayas. The Arabian and Nilgiri species are endangered due to limited range but this fellow, the Himalayan Tahr is still widespread. Very widespread, in fact, as he was introduced to New Zealand, Argentina and New Mexico for hunting; there is also a small population established in South Africa (from an escaped breeding pair). He is adapted for a high-alpine lifestyle, growing a thick mane of fur for the winter months. This is shedded out to a thin summer coat as the temperature rises. His hooves contain a rubber-like core, allowing him better grip on rocky slopes.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#736: Swordfish

The Swordfish is a large migratory fish, named for his sword-shaped bill. Despite its appearance, it is not used as a spear but is occasionally used to slash at his prey, making it easier for him to catch. He is not social, but may swim in proximity to other Swordfish. During the summer months, he travels into cooler waters. He is a popular sport fish, and is frequently found on menus. Due to a ban on fishing, North American populations have improved, but he is considered overfished and of concern in other oceans.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#733: Sunbittern

The Sunbittern is not a bittern - her closest relative is actually thought to be the Kagu of New Caledonia. Her natural habitats are the humid subtropical forests of Central and South America. She is named for her wings, which display vivid colours during courtship or used defensively. For the most part she forages near streams and other watery areas, feeding on insects and small vertebrates. Nests are built in the canopy, with two eggs being brooded at a time. Chicks hatch covered in down, but remain in the nest for the first few weeks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#732: Sun Bear

The Sun Bear inhabits the forests of Southeast Asia. He is the smallest of the Bear species, weighing up to 80 kg. His preferred diet consists of insects and honey, which he uses his long tongue to extract. His large canines and strong bite allow him to rip into the trunks of trees in pursuit of insect prey. Diurnal in nature, he seeks cavities beneath branches or under tree trunks in which to spend the night. Deforestation is a major threat to his survival, but he is also hunted and farmed for his bile. His gall bladder is a component in traditional Chinese medicine. Bile farming is cruel, with the bears being forced to live in close confines, tubes draining his gall bladder of its bile, unable to move or behave in anyway naturally.

If you wish to know more about bear bile farming (and it is a very disturbing procedure) please visit:
Monga Bay: Asian Bear Farming (warning: graphic images)

Monday, November 16, 2015

#731: Sugar Glider

The Sugar Glider is a small gliding possum, native to Australia and New Guinea. Omivorous in diet, the Sugar Glider feeds on sap, honeydew and gum in winter, and insects in summer. Pollen is an important part of her diet and she acts as a pollinator for various Banksia species. Her most characteristic feature is her patagium, which extends from her forelimbs to her hindlimbs. When spread, this creates an aerofoil that allows her to glide from tree to tree. She rarely, if ever, touches the ground. Highly social, the males aid in the care of the youngsters. Juvenile Sugar Gliders are unable to thermoregulate until they are 100 days old, and the parents take turns in keeping them warm.

Sugar Gliders have found their way into the exotic pet market. With their endearing features and interesting behaviour they are attractive to those seeking something a bit different. However, they are also nocturnal, have a fairly specialist diet, are social creatures and will pine if kept alone, and they cannot be house-trained. Currently wild-caught animals are being poached and smuggled into the pet trade, which may have an impact on the wild populations in the future.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#729: Sumatran Rhino

The Sumatran Rhinoceros is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Fewer than 100 individuals are thought to surive in their wild home of Southeast Asia and she has been extirpated from much of her range. Solitary in nature, she roams in cloud forest and swamps. She marks the borders of her territory by scraping the soil, bending saplings and leaving dung. During the heat of the day, she often wallows in mud and is able to swim. At dawn and dusk, she browses on foliage. These Critically Endangered rhinos do not thrive in zoos, and very few have been born in captivity.

Here is some footage of a baby in an Indonesian sanctuary: