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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Creature Feature #528: Ocellated Turkey

The Ocellated Turkey occurs naturally within the the Yacatan peninsula. He is closely related to the wild turkey, but smaller and more dramatically coloured. He leads a terrestrial existence, preferring running to flying. At night flocks will take to the trees to roost, away from nocturnal hunters. Nests are built on the ground, with teh chicks hatching after 28 days. They are precocial in nature and will leave the nest within 12 hours, following their mother as she forages.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Creature Feature #527: Ocean Sunfish

From one ocean giant to another, meet the Ocean Sunfish. This collossus of the piscian world weighs in at around 1,000 kg - the heaviest bony fish in the world. He is dorsally flattened, and sustains his bulk on a diet of jellyfish, with the occasional cephalopod, crustacean or small fish. His thick skin and massive size make him undesirable as prey, but bluefin tuna, shark and orca will occasionally eat juveniles. Sea lions have been known to "play" with them, ripping off the fins and leaving the handicapped fish to die. Female Sunfish produce more fry - around 300 million at a time - than any other vertebrate.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Creature Feature #526: Oarfish

The Oarfish is one of the largest fish in the sea - an adult Giant Oarfish can grow up to 11 m in length. He is a solitary fish, venturing to depths of 1,000 m. Despite his size, his diet consists primarily of zooplankton, small fish, jellyfish and squid. The name "Oarfish" may come from his shape, or from the fact that he uses his elongated pelvic fins to row himself through the water.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Creature Feature #525: Nyala

The Nyala is a spiral-horned antelope of South Africa, where he lives in thickets and woodland. During the dry season, he browses, eating leaves, fruits, flowers and even twigs. When the rains come and make the grass lush, he grazes. Herds can be single gender or mixed, although adult males prefer to be alone.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Creature Feature #524: Nutria

The Nutria, or coypu, is a semi-aquatic rodent of South America. It is not to be confused with the unrelated otter (Nutria nutria). Due to her thick, water-resistant hair, the Nutria was popular in the fur industry. When her popularity declined, captive animals were released into the wild. Thus populations have become established in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Here her tendency to dig into river banks and devour all plant matter has marked her as an invasive pest.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Creature Feature #523: Nuthatch

The Nuthatch are small passerine birds found in the woodlands of the northern hemisphere. He follows an omnivorous diet, dining on a mix of insects, seeds and nuts. When foraging, he hops vertically up and down the trunk of the tree, using his slender, but strong, bill to probe into crevices. Larger food will be wedged in a crevice, then pecked at repeatedly until it splinters enough to be consumed. Nests are constructed within a tree hole, and some species will reduce the size of the entrance with mud and resin, offering some protection from woodpeckers. Another species smears blister beetles about the entrance, the stink is thought to deter squirrels.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Creature Feature #522: Nutcracker

The Nutcracker are three members of the Corvid Family. Their bills are specially adapted to feed on the nuts of pine trees. Using his bill, he removes the seeds, and stores the surplus for later consumption. As many as 30,000 seeds will be stored, and the bird will remember the location of around 70% of these. The remainder are left, sometimes to sprout, and thus help to re-establish pine forests in areas that have suffered fire or logging. Breeding occurs early in the season, with the nest being built in a pine tree, and both parents care for the offspring.

This is a Spotted Nutcracker, found across Eurasia. Other species include the Large-spotted Nutcracker, of the HImalayas and Clarks Nutcracker, who has colonised North America.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Creature Feature #521: Nurse Shark

The nocturnal Nurse Shark makes his home in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. He is a sluggish fish, hunting dormant prey. During the day, he returns to his favourite resting spots - often under a submerged ledge or in a crevice. Some have been observed resting on the ocean floor, body suported on his fins. This provides a false shelter for crustaceans, which he can then ambush and eat. Nurse Sharks can grow up to 14m long, and are equipped with strong jaws and serrated teeth. They are not, however, dangerous to humans and will only attack if harrassed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Creature Feature #520: Nursery-web Spider

Nursery-web Spiders resemble wolf spiders. There are numerous species, the most well-known being the European Pisaura mirabilis. During courtship, the male spider presents the female with an insect, wrapped in webbing. Whilst the female is distracted, her mandibles otherwise engaged, he will surreptitiously mate with her, then make his escape before she decides to have him for dessert. If the female tries to escape wtih the gift, he may feign death, becoming limp and allowing himself to be dragged along until he can "resurrect" and resume copulation. The egg sac is carried in the mother's jaws, until they near hatching, when she constructs an elaborate tent-like nursery, puts her eggs inside and stands guard.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Creature Feature #519: Nurseryfish

The Nurseryfish is a large freshwater fish - growing to around 60cm long - and found in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia. Here he makes his home in brackish waters, estuaries and slow-moving rivers. His diest consists of small fish and crustaceans. A popular game fish, his taste is well regarded and he is commonly eaten. The male's forehead is covered in a cluster of short hooks. These are used to anchor the egg clusters  in place until the hatch.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Creature Feature #518: Nunbird

The Nunbirds - of which there are four species - are members of the Puffbird Family. They are found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Central and South America. This is a White-fronted Nunbird. He favours an insectivorous diet of beetles, crickets and stick insects, and is occasionally seen foraging with flocks of passerine birds.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Creature Feature #517: Numbat

The Numbat is a marsupial insectivore, once widespread across southern Australia. However, the introduction of the fox had a massive impact on this terrestrial species, and now only scattered populations remain in western Australia. In recent years, wild populations have been established from captive bred animals, in two fenced reserves of south Australia. Her diet consists, exclusively, of termites - and she can requires 20,000 a day. She is solitary and territorial, aggressively defending it from other females, but allowing the range of males to overlap - especially in breeding season.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Creature Feature #516: Nudibranch

Nudibranch are a Clade of soft-bodied molluscs, living in the marine environment. There are over 2,300 species recognised and they are all remarkedly strange and colourful. In many cases this colour acts as a warning, for many species of Nudibranch are distasteful or poisonous. All known species are carnivorous, and feed on sponges, hydroids and other primitive marine animals, with some species even seeking larger and toxic prey (like our old friend, the Blue Angel, which feeds on Portugese Man 'o war). CAnnibalism is not unknown, either. Nudibranch are hermaphroditic, but cannot self fertilise.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Creature Feature #515: Noolbenger

The tiny Noolbenger, or Honey Possum, measures up to 9 cm in length. She follows a purely nectarivous diet, using her long pointed snout and brush tipped tongue to gather it. Unable to travel long distances, she is reliant on floral diversity with year-round access to flowering plants. During the heat of the day, she rests inside tree hollows or abandoned bird nests, coming out when it is cooler to feed. When it is too cold, her body enters a state of torpor, allowing her to slow her metabolism.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Creature Feature #514: Noisy Pitta

The Noisy Pitta can be found in the tropical rainforests of Australasia and Indonesia. He is a bird of the forest floor, foraging for worms, insects and snails, as well as fruit. He will often make use of stones as anvils, using these to smash the snails against repeatedly, until the shell crack and disgorge the contents.  Despite his bright colouration, he is more often heard than seen with a distinctive three-note call. Nests are dome-shaed structures, constructed on the ground in a concealed location.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Creature Feature #513: Noddy

There are four species of Noddy, dark-coloured members of the Tern Family. Most are characterised by their wedge-shaped, notched tail and pale foreheads. Like terns, they are masters of the air, with his narrow, tapering wings giving him a graceful appearance. He is a proficient fish  predator, skimming low and scooping it from the water. Noddy will often hunt near large predatory fish, which force the smaller fish up towards the surface.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Creature Feature #512: Noctule

The Noctule are a Genus of vesper bats, found across Europe, Asia and North Africa. There are eight species, ranging in size from the tiny Lesser Noctule at 5 cm to the Greater Noctule, who can grow over 10 cm in length. Like many bats, Noctule are nocturnal and rely on ecolocation to navigate the tree tops. Here they hunt and swoop, catching beetles and insects on the wing. The Greater Noctule, however, seeks larger prey. He regularly preys on birds, snatching them from the air. Being nocturnal, he targets night-flying migrating birds. His voice is pitched to a frequency higher than the birds can hear, allowing him to pinpoint them with deadly accuracy.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Creature Feature #511: Niphargus

Niphargus are eyeless amphipods, distributed across the freshwater streams of western Europe. The smallest species measures mere millimetres, with the largest reaching up to 3.5 cms. Many species are detritivores or scavengers,  with others feeding on algae. They can be found in ground water or caves, in regions that were not covered, historically, be the Pleistocene  ice sheets. Many of the species are classified as "vulnerable" as their habitats are small, easily fragmented or polluted.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Creature Feature #510: Nine-banded Armadillo

The Nine-banded Armadillo is a very adaptable creature. Originally adapted from a warm, wet environment, he also will happily make his home in prairies, scrubland and even rainforest. However, his small size and poor insulation makes him susceptible to the cold and dehydration. He is an extensive burrower, maintaining a number of burrows within his territory. At dusk, he hunts for insects and small vertebrates. His sense of smell is senstive enough to detect a worm buried 20cm deep.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Creature Feature #509: Nilgai

The Nilgai is Asia's largest Antelope. He is commonly found in the farmland or scrub forest of India. Some were introduced to Texas in the 1920s for trophy hunting, and now a wild population has established from escaped individuals. Although he prefers to live near waterholes, Nilgai can survive for days without water. Outside of the breeding season, Nilgai live in single-sex herds and soemtiems graze with other antelope and deer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Creature Feature #508: Night Parrot

The Night Parrot is a nocturnal parrot, found in Australia's dry interior. He makes his home in triodia grasslands, where he feeds on seeds and herbs. He is so rare and secretive that he is only very rarely sighted and has only once been photographed. From 1912-1979, he was never seen and there was speculation that he had become extinct. Sightings since then have been extremely rare. He is mostly known from deceased specimens.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Creature Feature #507: Nightjar

The nightjar are nocturnal birds, related to frogmouths and oilbirds. He is characterised by his long wings, short legs and short bill. At night, he takes to the air to forage for moths and other flying insects. During the day he relies on his cryptic colouration to stay hidden and some species even lie along the perch instead of across it, thus blending in even further with the bark. Some of these birds are so well camouflaged that scientists are unable to confirm whether they are locally common or extinct. Nightjar nest on the ground, laying a spotted egg amongst the leaf litter.

Some, like this Great Eared-Nightjar, sport characteristic tufted "ears", whereas other species have extremely long tails (the long-trained nightjar) or trailing plumes on their wings.

The Great Eared-Nightjar is classified as "least concern". He inhabits Southeast Asia.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Creature Feature #506: Nightingale

The Nightingale is a relatively dull-coloured Old World flycatcher. The male is famed for his beautiful call - considered one of the most beautiful sounds in nature. It contains whistles, trills and gurgles.  Unpaired males will sing regularly at night, probably to attract mates, whereas a paired male will sing at dawn, during the sunrise chorus, to defend his territory. Nightingale are found in open woodland and scrub of Europe and south-west Asia, joining the migration south, to West Africa, for winter.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Creature Feature #505: Night Heron

Night Herons are, as their name suggests, nocturnal herons. There are seven extant species, spread across three Genera.  During the day, Night Heron's roost in trees and bushes, but as darkness falls he flies down to the water's edge to stalk or wait and ambush his prey of fish, crustaceans, small mammals or invertebrates. Nets are loosely constructed platforms, often built overhanging water. The pair may return to the same nest year-after-year, adding to the construction.

This fellow is a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. He is found in the lower south-east North America, along Central America and into South America.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Creature Feature #504: Nicobar Pigeon

The beautiful Nicobar Pigeon resides in the small islands and coastal regions of the Nicobar Islands. Flocks of these large pigeons travel between islands, sleeping on offshore, predator-free islets and heading to the main lands to feed. His diet consists of fruit, seeds and buds, with grain taken when he can find it. He swallows stones to help grind up food in his crop. These gizzard stones are used in jewellery, with birds being poached for them and also for meat and the pet trade. It is closely related to the Dodo.

Nicobar Pigeons are considered Near Threatened, with populations being easily disrupted due to hunting by both humans and introduced predators. I may have to draw him again too, as this picture hardly does this magnificant bird justice.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Creature Feature #503: Newt

The name Newt is given to a number of aquatic salamander species. Like other amhpbian species, Newts go through different developmental stages -an aquatic larval stage, a terrestrial juvenile form and a lizard-like adult form. Some adult Newt species become fully aquatic, whereas others only return to the water to breed. Newts and salamanders are similar in apperance, but a Newt's skin is bumpier. Like axolotls, they have regenerative properties and will regrow damaged limbs and organs such as eyes. His skin is very thin and permeable, making his sensitive to environmental changes. The presence of Newts in water indicates that it is relatively unpolluted.

This is a Luristan Newt - he is Critically Endangered.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Creature Feature #502: Neon Flying Squid

Yes, this is a real animal.

The Neon Flying Squid is an aerial cephalopod. He enjoys a cosmopolitan distribution, following a cyclical migratory between feeding and breeding grounds. The name comes both from his bright colouring, and also from the membranous webbing between some of his tentacles. When threatened, he is capable of shooting out of the water, spreading his tentacles, and gliding for some distance. He has also been observed actively prolonging his time in the air, thus making this more akin to flight than merely gliding.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Creature Feature #501: Net-wing Beetle

Net-wing Beetle are elongated and generally red in colour. This advertises their potential toxicity to predators, detering  predation. There are around 3,500 species, mostly concentrated around the tropics although they range across much of the world. This species is an End Band Net-wing Beetle, and she is found in deciduous forests. Larvae are said to be carnivorous (which means the one above is not eating the leaf, but hunting down the caterpillar that did) by some sources, although others insist they feed on fungi. The adults feed mostly on nectar and other plant juices - if they eat at all.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Creature Feature #500: Nene

The Nene, or Hawaiian Goose, is the rarest Goose in the world. Found only on the islands of Hawaii, he is a terrestrial Goose, favouring grasslands and lava plains. The Nene was hunted heavily, as well as falling prey to introduced predators such as mongoose. By 1952, only 30 individuals survived. Luckily, he breeds well in captivity and new populations were established from captive-bred birds. Now his population stands at around 2500 birds, although there are concerns of inbreeding.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Creature Feature #499: Nekogigi

Nekogigi are a species of small Japanese Catfish, their range confined to one prefecture. He is a relatively small fish, growing to an average length of 10.8 cm. During the day he lurks beneath rocks and in crevices, venturing out to forage at night. His barbels are sensitive organs, containing taste buds, and help him to forage amongst the substrate for crustaceans, plankton and small fish. If threatened, he is capable of excreting a toxic substance from the spine in his dorsal or pectoral fin.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Creature Feature #498: Needletail

The Needletail is a member of the Swift Family, and lives up to his name, for he is the fastest bird in flapping flight (the Peregrine Falcon, fastest animal in the world, achieves her by diving earthwards). He has been recorded at 111 km/hr and is reputed to reach speeds up to 170 km/hr.  A migratory bird, he breeds in central Asia and Siberia, heading southwards to Indian and Australia for the winter months.


This illustration goes out in tribute to the White-throated Needletail that made a rare apperance as a vagrant to Scotland, attracting a large number of bird watchers. Who then watched in horror as it flew into a wind turbine and was killed instantly.

So saying, wind farms might kill the occasional bird but other human-enforced environmental changes: cars, windows, cats, kill a lot more. And hydropower and fossil fueled power have an even more dramatic effect upon the environment, especially with the onslaught of climate change.


Also, should be noted is the difference between "rare" and "endangered". They are not synonyms - "rare" is generally referred to as something that is not usually seen in that particular location - such as a Asian swift in the UK - whereas "endangered" means threatened with extinction. The White-throated Needletail is classified as "least concern".