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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Creature Feature #558: Oyster

Oyster is the common name given to various Families of clam, found in both marine and brackish waters. They are filter feeders, drawing water in through their gills and straining it of nutrients, which are then trasnported to the mouth. Each Oyster is capable of filtering up to 5 litres of water an hour, improving the water quality of their environment. Many species of Oyster are harvested for the food industry, with the internal organs being considered a delicacy and reported to have aphrodisiac properties. They are high in zinc and other nutrients, whilst also being low in calories.

Creature Feature #557: Oxpecker

The Oxpeckers are two species of passerine, both making their home in the open savannah of sub-Saharan Africa. They feed almost exclusively from the bodies of large herbivorous mammals. Diet consists predominantly of ticks and other parasitic insects, although research shows that they also open wounds and enlarge existing ones, drinking the blood of the mammal. This suggests a rather less-than mutalistic relationship. Some hosts actively try and dislodge their Oxpecker hitch-hikers. Courtship and mating occur on the back of the host, during the rainy season. Nests are built in cavities: both tree and rock, and up to five eggs are laid.

This is the Red-billed species.

Note: I will not be drawing an Ox, even though this is the most commonly associated mammal with the letter "O". This is because Ox are not actually a species - although some species are called "wild oxen" as a colloquiolism. Officially, Ox are neutered bull cattle. Therefore, they do not qualify for this project.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Creature Feature #556: Owl Moth

The name “Owl Moth” is given to several species of moth - and butterfly - characterised by the “eyespots” on their upper or lower, inner or outer, wings.Apart from these spots, the moths are crytpically coloured, offering them ample camouflage as they perch during the night. However, the eyespots are an example of mimicry, designed to fool a potential predator into mistakingly believing that they are to become the prey, and deter it from attacking.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Creature Feature #555: Owl

The Owls are an Order of birds, consisting of two Families and around 200 species. They are nocturnal predators, superbly adapted for their environment. Large eyes allow them to see, even in very low light levels. Because they are positioned on the front of the face, Owls have excellent distance perception and are far-sighted. Because their eyes are fixed in their sockets, an Owl must turn her head to view what is to the sides - and she can rotate it almost 270 degrees. Her ears are assymetrical, one being positioned higher than the other (do not confuse ears with the feathery "horns"). She can adjust the feathers of her flat facial "disc"  to pinpoint prey with deadly accuracy.

This specimen is a Long-eared Owl. She belongs to the so-called "True" owl Family which contains the majority of the species. The other Family consists of Barn Owls and their ilk.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Creature Feature #553: Oxapampa Poison Frog

Today is  the 7th annual “Save the Frogs” day. So, I figured I would track down a frog that started with O. This was not as easy as you might think, being that I have already drawn the Ornate Horned Frog. Luckily, thewebsiteofeverything introduced me to this fellow, the critically endangered Oxapampa Poison Frog.

The Oxapampa Poison Frog is found only in a patch of montane rainforest in Peru, near - you guessed it - Oxapampa. He was first discovered in 1998. diurnal in habit, he likely forages on terrestrial insects and has been found sleeping beneath leaf litter, near water. Most of the other frog species within his range favour nocturnal foraging. Due to logging and the cultivation of chili peppers, his habitat is badly fragmented and the introduction of rainbow trout to the region put him further at risk.

Here’s a chance to help save the frogs and receive beautiful art in this stunning hardback book “Amphibian Love”:

Or you can just go here and donate or learn more: http://www.savethefrogs.com/

Friday, April 24, 2015

Creature Feature #552: Ouzel

The Ouzel are alternate names for members of the blackbird Family. This is a Ring Ouzel of the European high country.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Creature Feature #551: ʻŌʻū

The ʻŌʻū was a large, plump finch, endemic to the Hawaiian islands. He favoured a frugivorous diet, feeding predominently on the fruit of the ʻieʻie vine and the buds and blossoms of the ʻōhiʻa lehua (as pictured here). A seasonal migrant, his foraging took him up and down the mountains on the islands, and also between islands. This proved to be his undoing, as it brought him into range of the lower-altitude mosquitoes and, like many of his kin, he fell victim to avian malaria and also fowlpox. The last recorded sighting was in 1989 and although not yet proven extinct (still classified as "Critically endangered"), this unique Hawaiian bird has probably vanished forever.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Creature Feature #550: Otter

There are thirteen species of Otter, aquatic members of the mustelid Family. They range in size from the Giant Otter, at almost two metres in length, to the diminutive Small-clawed Otter, at 60cm. The other large species, which I have not yet drawn, is the marine Sea Otter.

The Giant Otter (above) is the "wolf of the river", living in social groups consisting of a dominant breeding pair and their offspring - from various years. Older, grown youngsters help raise the new pups. Voracious diurnal fishers, they consume everything from crabs and other invertebrates, catfish and characin, and will even devour small caiman. Growing to almost 2 metres in length, Giant Otters are considered an apex predator of their environment, although youngsters are still vulnerable to predation from jaguars.

The European Otter (below) leads a more solitary lifestyle. He hunts at night, spending the day sleeping in his burrow (known as a "holt"). His territory often encompasses that of a female, but after mating he has nothing to do with raising the pups. Fish form the majority of his diet through the summer and spring months, but during winter he relies more on insects, crustaceans, amphibians and even birds or small aquatic rodents.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Creature Feature #549: Ostrich

The Ostrich is the largest extant bird in the world, with males measuring up to 2.8 m tall. He is also extremely heavy - weighing an average of 115 kg. During the winter months he lives in a pair, but when spring comes, females begin to gather together. If there is a drought, also, Ostrich will gather into large flocks of up to 100 individuals, lead by a dominant hen. These groups are nomadic, and will often join other groups of animals in the quest for water. During spring, the male begins courting as many females as he can, but only forms a romantic bond with one hen. Eggs are laid in a communual nest, and the dominant hen lays first. She can recognise her own eggs. Excess eggs will be discarded. The females alternate incubating during the day, the male at night. When the chicks hatch, it is the male who teaches them how to find food.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Creature Feature #548: Osprey

The Osprey is a widespread member of the Hawk Family, occuring across North America, Europe and Australasia, and overwintering in South America and Africa.  He is a specialised piscivore. His outer toe is reversible - meaning he can grasp prey firmly with two claws forward, two back. The underside of his toes are covered in spines, to help hold on to wriggling, slippery prey. Prey is located from the air, with his sharp eyes well adapted to seeking prey beneath water. He hovers for a moment before plunging in feet-first, grabbing the fish with his specially modified talons.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Creature Feature #547: Oryx

The Oryx are four species of large antelope, found in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Of these four, two were critically endangered/extinct in the wild, another - the gemsbok, is common and found in South Africa, also in White Sands, USA where it was released by the Department of Game and Fishing.  Both male and female bear the characteristic horns - which are straight in all species except for the Scimitar-horned Oryx. These horns are permanent and lethal - they can kill lions with them. Preferred habitat is arid, near-desert conditions, and these antelope can survive for lengthy periods without water.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Creature Feature #546: Oropendola

Never heard of an Oropendola? Don't worry, neither had I, not until one turned up featuer din my bird-a-day calendar (this calendar, btw, explains why there are so many birds in this project, the other reason being that I really like birds.)

There are nine species of Oropendola, a South American passerine, of the New World blackbird Family. (not to be confused with the Old World blackbirds, to which they are not closely related). Like his cousin, the Cacique, he is gregarious and vocal, with a wide range of songs. In this species, the Montezuma Oropendola, the male is considerably larger than the female. He forages in flocks, feeding on large insects, small vertebrates, seeds, fruit and nectar. A colonial breeder, each colony contains a dominant male, who mates with most of the females. Nests are woven from fibres and vines, and hang from the branches like strange and unappetising fruit.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Creature Feature #545: Oahu Tree Snail

This fellow is an Oahu Tree Snail. They are one of 41 species of large land snail found only on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. They are beautiful - like living jewels. Found in the moist and dry forests, particularly of the mountainous regions, they climb the trees, grazing on fungus. Of these 41 species, some may well be extinct and the others are critically endangered. Why? Because they are predated by introduced pests such as chameleons, rats, and carnivorous rose snail, which was introduced to eliminate the giant land snail (an agricultural pest and thus a herbivore). Unfortunately, the native snails proved tastier and easier to catch - and many species were literally eaten to extinction.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Creature Feature #544: Orange-tip Butterfly

The Orange-tip is a butterfly of the English - and European - countryside, commonly seen fluttering across hedgegrows and through damp woodlands. The male is characterised by his brightly tipped wings, the female a more dowdy white. The underside of their wings are mottled green and white, affording camouflage when he perches on flowerheads. Eggs are laid on wild crucifers, such as cuckooflower and wild garlic. Once the caterpillars hatch, they reduce competition for the host plant by practising cannibalism and also eating any unhatched eggs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Creature Feature #543: Ornate Horned Frog

The Ornate Horned Frog is sometimes known as the "Pacman" frog for her diet - which consists not of ghosts, but of anything large enough to fit in her mouth. This includes rodents, lizards, fish, other frogs, spiders and insects. An ambush predator, she sits motionless, relying on her camouflage, and waits for prey to blunder past. She has a reputation for being fearless and will fight back against attackers, no matter their size. She is naturally found in Argentina, but has also been introduced into the pet industry.

She is classified as "Near Threatened" in the wild.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Creature Feature #542: Oriole

The name "Oriole" is given to two unrelated bird Families - one being in the New World, the other in the Old. This brightly coloured fellow is a New World Orchard Oriole. He occupies the eastern US, and extends down into Mexico during the winter months. He favours an omnivorous diet of insects, fruit, nectar and seeds, with insects being the focus during the summer breeding months.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Creature Feature #541: Oribi

And today's animal is a small antelope that you've probably never heard of.

The Oribi is a small antelope widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa. He can be found in open grasslands and thinly wooded regions, generally near to water. Social groups are small, and often Oribi are solitary, but a male may interact with one or two females. His diet is mostly grass, but he will browse when required and visits mineral licks to supplement his diet. Beneath his eyes, two dark patches are his preorbital glands. These secrete an odour with which he can mark the boundaries of his territory. Only the males have horns.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Creature Feature #540: Orca

The Orca is a largest dolphin, and one of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean. She is highly sociable, forming complex social groups, comprised of females and their female descendents. These matrilines combine with other matrilines to form pods. Orca hunt co-operatively, hounding and drowning larger cetaceans or herding and ambushing. They are known to hunt seals along the coast by beaching themselves temporarily before wriggling back out to sea. A captive whale at Marine World would reguigitate fish on the surface of the water, then ambush and eat the birds that descended to devour it. Orca also learn from observation, and teach techniques to their calves. She can live up to 90 years, breeding from 15 years of age, up to 40 and giving birth every 5 years or so. They are one of the few mammals (humans being another) to undergo menopause and live for years after cessation of breeding.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Creature Feature #539: Orb-weaver Spider

Orb-weaver Spiders are a large Family of arachnids, named for their spiral-shaped webs.These webs are an engineering feat, created first by floating a thread on the wind to a nearby anchoring point, then securing it and making a Y shape, upon which the rest of the structure follows. Non-sticky radii are created next, enabling the spider to manouvere about her web without becoming stuck, as she adds in the adhesive layers. She thren retreats under cover and waits for insects to blunder into her web. Once captured she will bite it, paralysing it, then wrap it and store it for future consumption. Every night she eats her web and builds a fresh one.

This is an Autralian Garden Orb-weaver Spider. She comes in a variety of sizes, colours and shapes and is found in gardens all over Australia.

Not that long ago, I watched a spider succesfully subdue a bee, a complicated dance involving much darting forward and throwing silk, then dodging out of the way of her stinger. Eventually the bee weaked and the spider wrapped her up thoroughly, snipped the threads holding the bundle in place and dragged her up to store under the guttering. It was impressive to watch. Someone later suggested that I should have saved the bee - I would like to say that a, we do not interfere with nature and b, it was already pretty sluggish when I began watching the show. A short while later, someone washed our windows and destroyed the web in the process, but luckily the spider had her food and retreated into safety, thus could be back the next day to create another one.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Creature Feature #538: Orangutan

The Orangutan are two species of great ape found in Asia - specifically Indonesia and Malaysia. She leads an arboreal lifestyle. Her diet is largely vegetarian, although she has been known to eat insects and the occasional egg. She leads a relatively solitary life, unless she has a dependent youngster. Her range is within  the territory of a dominant male and she will meet with him during mating season. She engages in nest building - creating a platform by manipulating branches and manouvering leaves - on which to sleep during the night, and also to sit during the day. Orangutan are very intelligent, and are under threat from deforestation. Large swathes of their habitat has been destroyed for palm oil plantations with the adults being shot. Youngsters end up being kept by pets or sold to tourists. Luckily help is at hand with sanctuaries rehabilitating those that are rescued and awareness of their plight being spread. However, it may have come too late, with both species declining rapidly in the wild.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Creature Feature #537: Opossum

The Opossum is an American marsupial, not especially closely related to the rather cuddlier Australian possums. They are opportunistic in both diet and habitat, and as such have flourished in the urban environment and are often regarded as a pest. Nocturnal in habit, Opossums are solitary and occasionalyl arboreal, using their semi-prehensile tail to help keep balance. If threatened by a predator, the Opossum will play dead, collapsing with lips drawn back, foaming at the mouth and emiting an unpleasant odour. This is an unvoluntary reaction to stress, and the Opossum will remain stiff and motionless for some time - even allowing herself to be picked up and carried around.

ZooTrophy: Forests and Waterways

Finally, after some play-testing and multiple revisions, ZooTrophy,  an Ecological Card Game is finally availablefor public purchase.

ZooTrophy is a fun - and educational! - race to complete your Ecoystem, from primary consumers to powerful apex predators such as the Jaguar, the Harpy Eagle, the Alligator and the critically endangered Gharial, along with other wildlife - with a fun fact on every card.

 This is a game of strategy and consideration. It is also a game of conservation and science.

There are several ways to buy it:
For $29.99 you can purchase the 2-player Starter Pack - with two decks of 40 cards (that's 50 critters) and two ecosystems - plus full-colour rules booklet and score pad.

Or, you might prefer the more pocket-sized No Frills edition - same two decks of 40 cards, but no score pad and a sheet of rules instead of the pretty booklet. Only $19.99.

Want to customise your own deck? Booster packs are also available!

Here's the bottom of the box, so you can see a mock-up of a game in action:

 (please note: most games are played with one Ecosystem Vs the other)

For more information, view it here at The Game Crafter:

The Game Crafter do awesome, and affordable, print-on-demand board games and game components. I highly recommend them for budding game designers, especially those without a Kickstarter backing them. The user interface is fairly user friendly, although it can take a short while to get used to it, and the print quality is extremely high and professional. I am very pleased with the quality of my decks and I hope you will be too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Creature Feature #536: ʻōʻō

The Hawaiian ʻōʻō was a beautiful nectivorous songbird, endemic to the Hawaiian islands. There were four distinct species, occupying separate islands. The largest measured around 30 cm from head to tail. He was generally considered to be related to the Australian honey-eaters and shared a similar diet - drinking the nectar from flowers. Genetic research has since shown them to be distinctly different, and any similiarities a result of convergent evolution, where unrelated species develop similar traits to fill similar niches.

 The arrival of humans on the islands marked the beginning of the end for the ʻōʻō. Birds on Oahu and Hawai'i were hunting extensively for their yellow feathers, which were worn by nobility. Deforestation claimed their land, rats claimed their nestlings, and like many Hawaiian birds, they proved vulnerable to the introduction of bird malaria. The first to become extinct was the Oahu ʻōʻō in 1837, the Bishops ʻōʻō of Molokai following in 1904 and the Hawaiian ʻōʻō hanging on until the last confirmed sighting in 1937. The smallest, the Kaua'i ʻōʻō survived a little longer - mongoose never made it to that island - being declared extinct then rediscovered on several occasions, but surveys in 1987 found no evidence of their continued existence.

The ʻōʻō, like the huia and oh-so-many beautiful, unique birds, is an example how isolated populations can be extremely vulnerable to outside pressures, especially when they have evolved without the addition of natural land predators. Neither New Zealand nor Hawaii had any mammalian predators until humans came and brought with them the rats and mice, mongoose (Hawaii) and mustelids (New Zealand).

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Creature Feature #535: Onager

The Onager is an endangered equine. Once widespread across the central to southwest Asian countries, her range has now diminshed significantly due to poaching and habitat loss. Despite her resemblance to the domestic donkey, the Onager is notoriously untamable. Females live in small groups with their offspring, grazing on abundant grasses during the wet season and browsing leaves in the dry. She will also crack seed pods and demolish wood vegetation with her hooves.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Creature Feature #534: Olm

Olm are a species of cave-dwelling salamander. Due to the nature of his home - deep below the earth with no light source - the Olm is not only blind, but his eyes are undeveloped. He leads an entirely aquatic lifestyle, never leaving the water, and exhibits neotony (as also seen in the axolotl and the mudpuppy) retaining his gills into adulthood. His sense of smell and hearing are excellent, and help him locate  prey - in the form of crustaceans, molluscs and insects. Gregarious in nature, Olm will gather together beneath rocks. Sexually active males, however, become territorial.

Olm are found in European cave systems and are Vulnerable to extinction.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Creature Feature #533: Olingo

The Olingo are found in Central and South America and bear a striking resemblance to their cousin, the kinkajou. There are four species, including the newly discovered Olinguito. She is arboreal, roaming the canopy at night in search of her favourite food: figs. Her diet consists almost exclusively of fruit, but during the dry season - when fruit becomes  scarce - she drinks nectar and will ocasionally hunt small mammals. She can be distringuished from the kinkajou by her tail, which is not prehensile but used for balance.

The Olinguito is remarkedly similar - which is why she evaded identification until recent years (finally being identified as a distinct species in 2013). One female even lived for a year in Washington's National Zoo, where she showed no interest what-so-ever in breeding with her Olingo cage-mates. She is smaller in size with thicker fur, smaller ears and a shorter tail.

Like their relatives, the kinkajou and the racoon, Olingo are taxonomically classified as Carnivora but follow a largely vegetarian diet.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Creature Feature #532: Okapi

The Okapi is a mysterious ungulate, found in the heart of Africa's rainforest. Her closed relative is the giraffe, which with she shares a similar body structure - but has a much shorter neck. She uses her 35 cm long tongue to strip the leaves from branches. Solitary in nature, she roams her territory by well-worn paths and only comes into contact with the males to mate. Her striped legs originally led the early explorers to believe she was some sort of rainforest zebra, and she is so solitary and elusive that she was not known to the Western world until 1901. Now, due to poaching and deforestation, she is facing extinction and is classified as Endangered.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Creature Feature #531: Octopus

The Octopus are an Order of Cephalopod, named for their eight limbs. As he has no external or internal skeleton - aside from his bony beak - he is among the most flexible of invertebrates. Octopus are able to escape through very small openings. He is also noted for his intelligence and has been shown to be capable of problem solving as well as having a good memory. He has been known to break out of his aquarium and into another one in search of food (small fish, crustaceans). Large wild octopus have even been known to catch sea birds and attack sharks.

This particular Octopus is Australia's Blue-ringed Octopus. Like many Australian residents, he is deadly.  Most Octopus are venomous to a degree, but the venom of the Blue-ringed can kill a human. It is a neurotoxin, resulting in heart failure, nausea, respiratory attack, paralysis, blindness and sometimes death from asphyxiation. There is currently no anti-venom.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Creature Feature #530:Ocelot

The Ocelot is a South American wild cat with a range extending through Central America and as far north as Texas. Like most small wild cats he is territorial, nocturnal and generally solitary. His preferred prey is animals smaller than himself: rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibians. He tracks their scent trails but also has strong night vision. Although he only meets up with females long enough to mate, he will sometimes share a his daytime sleeping place with another male Ocelot. Ocelots are occasionally kept as pets - Salvador Dali owned one - but like all non-domesticated exotics, they are unpredictable and can be dangerous or damaging.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Creature Feature #529: Jackalope

The Jackalope is an unusual species of hare. He was first discovered in Wyoming in the 1930s, and has since spread into South Dakota and further south, through the open prairies, as far as Texas. He is a creature of the open plains, relying on extreme bursts of speed to evade predation. Both male and female Jackalopes are horned, although the male's rack is generally more impressive, and used for defense and in courtship displays. Jackalope communicate using a vast array of calls and engage in mimicry: singing to cattle at night or joining in on campfire songs.