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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Creature Feature #583: Phalarope

The Phalaropes are three species of migratory waders. Unusual amongst birds, the female is the larger and more colourful during the breeding season. She actively pursues her mate, claiming him and defending him from other females until he begins incubating her eggs. She will also bond with several males. At the end of the breeding season, she lays her last clutch then migrates southward, leaving the males to hatch and raise the chicks.

This is a Red-necked Phalarope.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Creature Feature #582: Petrel

The name Petrel is given to three different Families of Procellariiformes seabirds. They are characterised by their tubular nasal passage, which is used for locating the patchily distributed prey. They also drink sewater, and exude the salt via a special gland at the base of the bill, dripping a saline solution from their nostrils. Marine foragers, the majority of their life is spent gliding above the ocean, and snatching fish or squid from near the surface or diving for it. This fellow, the Cape Petrel, is a common Antarctic and sub-Antarctic species.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Creature Feature #581: Perrier Sifaka

The Perriers Sifaka was once considered a sub-species of Diademed Sifaka. He is Critically Endangered, with the entire population consisting of an estimated 500 individuals and limited to a small area of northern Madagascar. His diet is somewhat versatile (for an eastern Sifaka), consisting of fruit and seeds during the wet season, and leaves during the dry. Groups consist of 2-6 individuals. Infant mortality is high and breeding is slow, making the future of this species uncertain.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Creature Feature #580: Penguin

The Penguin Family originated in New Zealand :) (or at least I heard that in a documentary about NZ prehistory - Australia "stole" the kiwi, but we could claim the Penguin).

Penguins are a Family of flightless birds, uniquely adapted for a life at sea. Their wings have become modified into flippers, and their large bodies store fat - perfect for insulating them against the icy waters of their polar homes. As a Family, they are restricted almost exclusively to the Southern hemisphere, with many species occuring in the sub-Antarctic. However, there are species found in the Galapagos Islands and southern Africa. There are between 18-20 species, ranging in size from the diminutive Little Blue Penguin to the Emperor Penguin.

Some species will be dealt with individually: The Emperor and the Macaroni have already been dealt with, and the Rockhopper and Yellow-eyed may well make an appearance at a later date. This wee fellow is an Adelie Penguin, the smallest species found in Antarctica.

I have previously drawn the Little Blue as well:
(This is from my to-eventually-be-released "Happy Avian Families" card game)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Creature Feature #579: Pelican Spider

I recentlystumbled upon this arachnid whilst researching something else entirely and couldn't believe it existed and that I've never heard of it! I mean, a spider with a neck???!!! And that's ignoring the long jaws. But real it is, indeed. And, I suppose if you can get weird looking insects, weird looking arachnids are not entirely out of the question.

The Pelican Spider is named such for its completely superficial resemblance to the water bird. She is also sometimes known as the Assassin Spider because her favoured prey is spiders. She does not build a web, using her silk mainly to help manouvere. No larger than a grain of rice, her elongated jaws allow her to impale her prey and inject it with venom, whilst holding it far enough away that it cannot harm her.

Firstly, the Spider uses her short front legs like antennae, to detect a spider web. Once located, she begins to move slowly across the web, so slowly that the resident spider feels no impending sense of doom, but may venture over to investigate the slight plucking. Then, she strikes, her jaws impale and the prey is poisoned. Once movement has ceased, she lowers it to her mouth - which is situated at the base of her neck.

There are 25 species found in Australia, South Africa and Madagascar.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Creature Feature #578: Pelican

The Pelican are a very distinctive Genus water bird, containing eight extant species and a number of extinct and prehistoric ones. He is characterised by his bill, which is long and hooked, equipped with ahuge gular pouch. The bill is used to scoop fish out of the water, and is then held aloof while the water drains out. This can take up to a minute. Gulls have been observed perching on a Pelican's head and pecking at it, to distract it, before seizing food from the open bill. However, Pelicans have been known to capture and consume smaller birds - although this is rare. Small fish are swallowed directly, larger ones are caught between the tips of the bill, flipped in the air and swallowed head-first.

This is an Australian Pelican.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Creature Feature #577: Peccary

The Peccary is a medium-sized pig-like ungulate found in the Americas. Three species are well-known to science, and a fourth may exist. This is a Collared Peccary. She is a very adaptable omnivore, and is equally at home in rainforest and grasslands, as well as within the urban environs. Social groups are known as "bands" and contain between 8-15 members of various ages  Bands are lead by a dominant male and do much of their foraging at dawn and dusk. Omnivorous in diet, she will eat almost anything: berries, roots, grass, and in the drier parts of the range, she relies on the prickly pear cactus for water. Insects and lizards are also consumed.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Creature Feature #576: Paradoxical Frog

The Paradoxical Frog is sometimes known as the "shrinking frog" and is found in the nrothern regions of South America. The female frog lays her eggs among the water plants, which hatch into fairly small tadpoles. Over the next four months, these tadpoles will grow up to 25 cm in length. When she undergoes the transformation, her tail is absorbed back into the body, which leads her to shrink down to half - or even quarter - her tadpole size. The frogs lead a largely aquatic existence, feeding on larvae, small insects and other invertebrates. She uses her long toes to stir up the debris on the riverbed, and with it her prey.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Creature Feature #575: Peafowl

No tarantula, sorry. You'll have to wait until "T".
The Peafowl are three species of gamefowl, characterised by the eye-catching colouration and elaborate plumes of the male. The most commonly known species, the Indian Peafowl, has been domesticated and can be found in wildlife parks across the world. Peafowl practise a polygamous mating system, and during breeding season the male raises his plumes, spreading them in a fan-like shape. This cannot fail to capture the female's eye. Outside of the breeding season, he sheds these feathers. Despite their ungainly appearance, Peafowl are skilled fliers, and frequently roost in the trees to escape predation.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Creature Feature #574: Peacock Jumping Spider

The Peacock Spiders are a Genus of Jumping Spider found in Australia. The male performs an elaborate courtship dance where he raises their third pair of legs and their abdomen, flashing their brightly colours to attract a mate. He inhabits low bushes and the ground, and like all Jumping Spiders follows a nomadic lifestyle, stalking and hunting insect prey.

If you're really lucky, you might get a second peacock spider tomorrow. Otherwise it'll be an actual peacock!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Creature Feature #573: Patas Monkey

The Patas Monkey leads a terrestrial existence in the semi-arid regions of west and east Africa. He is the fastest running of any monkey species, reaching speeds of up to 55 km/hr. Troops contain up to 60 individuals, mostly female with one adult male. The males tend to gather into smaller bands or lead a solitary existence. When the females come into oestrus, however, these male bands will invade with the sole aim of mating with the females. One remains afterwards with the troop, whilst the others return to bachelorhood.

Patas Monkeys avoid dense woodland, favouring open savannah and arid regions. His diet consists of insects, tubers, gum and seeds.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Creature Feature #572: Passenger Pigeon

Once there were a billion passenger pigeons
So many flew by, they darkened the sky
But they were clubbed and shot
Netted, Gassed, and Burned
Until there was nothing left
But vines of empty nests
I can't believe how easily
A billion birds can disappear
                                - Handsome Family "Passenger Pigeons

The Passenger Pigeons story is as tragic as that of its hapless, flightless relative, the Dodo.
It began as a success story - the most abundant bird in North America, accounting for more than 25% of the total bird population across the continent. Yet, within 50 years, the entire population consisted of one bird, Martha, in the Cincinnati Zoo. She died on September 1, 1914 and with her came extinction. The Passenger Pigeon was an extremely social bird, travelling in vast flocks and leading a nomadic, migratory existence. His preferred diet was the seeds of beech and oak trees, and during the mast seeding seasons, the population boomed. Deforestation likely contributed to their abrupt decline. They were also massacred: adults shot in flight, fledglings killed on the nest, nesting sites destroyed. Such a full-scale slaughter caused a dramatic decline in the population.

So saying, there is still some hope for the Passenger Pigeon, it is considered a candidate for de-extinction/cloning and there are still a few folks in various parts of the eastern US that claim to have seen this reasonably large, pink bellied pigeon. So, who knows, she might make a comeback yet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Creature Feature #571: Blue Whale

Due to various commitments, I have been temporarily stalled on the Ps - I have, however, been drawing quite a lot of animals, and so it is time to take a step back and look at a beast I really should have presented for "B".
The Blue Whale is the heaviest animal ever to have lived, weighing around 177 tonnes and measuring up to 30 m in length. Even her tongue weights 2.7 tonnes. Her diet consists almost exclusively of krill, occasionally copepods; she devours up to 40 million a day. These are sifted through her baleen. She is not social,generally living alone or with a single individual and only gathering in loose groups when food is plentiful. Blue Whales were almost hunted to extinction during the peak of whaling, although their preferred targets were generally the smaller Right or Sperm whales. She is now classified as Endangered.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Creature Feature #570: Pacific Right Whale

There are three species of Right Whale: the North Pacific, the Southern and the Atlantic, with all being so similar in appearance that only genetic analysis can be used to determine species. Once populations numbered over 20,000, now whaling has reduced her population down into an Endangered categorisation and she is the most endangered whale on Earth. She is a large baleen whale, measuring up to 19 m in length. For something so large, her diet consists primarily of copepods, which are sifted through her baleen constantly, with the water cascading out over her lower lip. She must devour millions of these every day.

(The lumps on her head are known as callosities, roughened patches of epidmeris covered in clusters. These are concentrated around her blowholes and rostrum.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Creature Feature #569: Partridge

The Patridge is a gamebird, halfway in size between the quail and the pheasant. There are various species, found naturally through Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This fellow is a Red-legged Patridge. He leads a terrestrial existence, foraging for seeds and only taking flight when disturbed. Nests are build on the ground, and chicks are precocious, able to leave the nest within a few hours of hatching.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Creature Feature #568: Pallas Cat

The Pallas Cat is a distinct and very furry feline. He can be found in the grasslands and montane steppes of central Asia. Like most cats, he leads a solitary existence, preying on pika, rodents and ground birds. Due to his cold habitat, the breeding season is very short. Females give birth to up to six kittens in a den lined with vegetation and fur. Even in captivity, the mortality rate of kittens is high - around 45%.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Creature Feature #567: Paradise Parrot

The Paradise Parrot of Queensland-New South Wales, Australia, was once relatively common within its restricted range. He lived in pairs or family groups, nesting in termite mounds and feeding almost exclusively on grass seeds. By the end of the 19th century, this colourful parrot was becoming increasingly uncommon - predation, habitat destruction and hunting are all listed as probable causes for his decline. The last confirmed sighting was seen in 1927.

Is it a parrot or a parakeet?
Whilst the Paradise Parrot is named as a "parrot", it does bear several traits in common with the birds associated with the parakeet moniker. Essentially, all parakeets ARE parrots, but not all parrots are parakeets. Parakeet is generally associated with small-to-medium sized parrots, characterised by their long tails and a generally colourful.

The most commonly associated bird with the name "parakeet" is the buderigar. And since I missed drawing this colourful critter for B, I may well have to bring him in for P.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Creature Feature #566: Pangolin

The Pangolin is protected by his layers of keratin scales. These overlap, allowing him to roll into an impenetrable ball if threatened. Like the unrelated anteaters and aardvark, he is well adapated for an insectivorous diet. His front claws are long and curved, perfect for tearing open termite mounds. His tongue can extend to 40 cm, allowing him to reach deep inside the tunnels.

Pangolin are the most illegally trafficked and poached mammal in the world, even moreso than tigers, rhinos and elephants. His meat is eaten, scales and other body parts used in "medicine". This is pushing the Chinese Pangolin, and all of the other seven species, closer and closer to extinction. Indeed, just recently five tonnes of frozen pangolin, and several live specimens, were found in an Indonesian raid.

If you wish to help the pangolin, here is a site dedicated to stopping the trafficking: http://www.pangolinsg.org/

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Creature Feature #565: Panda

The Giant Panda is a member of the Bear Family and instantly recognisable to most of us. She is a sluggish animal, her diet consisting almost exclusively of bamboo - which is low energy and difficult to digest. Therefore, Panda are not noted for being particularly active and they will even avoid venturing up slopes in an effort to conserve energy. They are likewise fairly lacklustre with their breeding, showing little inclination to mate in captivity and artificial insemination was widely used. Cubs are born very small and defenceless. If twins are born in the wild, the mother selects the strongest to raise, allowing the weaker one to die. She does not store enough body fat and nutrients to successfully raise both offspring.

The Panda is classified as Endangered and has become the "poster boy" for the World Wildlife Fund and is treasured in China, her homeland. Unfortunately, despite expensive conservation programs, which have ensured that many captive Panda survive into adulthood, there is not a lot of remaining habitat for them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Creature Feature #564: Palm Cockatoo

The Palm Cockatoo is a very large member of the Cockatoo Family. He uses his extremely long and powerful bill to crack open nuts and seeds. His red cheek patch changes colour when he becomes excited or alarmed. One particularly unusual trait is the tendency for the male bird to break off a sturdy branch, which he then drums against the trunks of trees, creating a sound that can be heard up to 100m away. The purpose of this is unknown but is considered to be either a territorial display or a manner of accessing the durability of nesting hollows.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Creature Feature #563: Painted Wolf

The Painted Wolf, or African Wild Dog, is technically neither wolf, nor dog - although she is a member of the Canine Family. She is a social creature, living in packs with a strict hierarchy. Only the dominant female breeds, and she birthes an average of 10 pups a year. The rest of the pack help her to raise them and if any lower ranked females dare to breed, she will kill or steal their pups. Hunting is a co-operative affair, with several adults pursuing the prey, which they run into exhaustion. Once the prey - typically a medium-sized antelope - can no longer run, the pack move in for the kill. Due to their small size and relatively slender build, they are unable to kill the animal outright, and must instead latch onto any part they can reach, in an attempt to drag the animal down.

Painted Wolves are endangered, due to hunting (they are often blamed for killing livestock), loss of habitat, and diseases contracted from domestic dogs.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Creature Feature #562: Padloper

The Padlopers are a Genus of tiny tortoises, found only in Southern Africa. The tiny Speckled Padloper measures between 6-10 cms (with the females being the longest). The largest, the Greater Padloper averages just over 10cm in length. All species are vegetarian and have a specialist diet, restricted to plants found in their natural region. This unfortunately, does not deter people poaching them and introducing them into the pet trade. Only the Speckled and the Parrot-billed have been shown to adapt to captivity.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Creature Feature #561: Pademelon

The Pademelon is a charming little macropod, found in the thickly scrubbed undergrowth of eastern Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. She dines on leaves, fruits and berries. Like all marsupials, the joey is born after a short gestation, before moving into its mother's pouch to develop. The mother may mate again whilst carrying a joey, and the new embryo becomes fixed in a state of suspended animation. Once her joey begins independent enough to leave the pouch, the embryo begins developing and she can soon have another infant.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Creature Feature #560: Paca


The Paca are three species of terrestrial, herbivorous rodents of South America. They are fairly large for a rodent, measuring between 50-77 cm in length. Habitat is rainforest and cloud forest, and Paca are generally found near water. She is a skilled swimmer, and can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes. During the daytime she mostly rests, foraging in the morning and evening, or sometimes during the night. The three species are fairly similar in appearance, and they also resemble the not-closely related Pacarana, which is sometimes known as the "false paca".

Pacarana can be distinguished by their slightly furrier face and their tail, which is thick and furry. The Paca's tail is almost non-existant.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Creature Feature #559: Oystercatcher

Just as Oxpeckers do not only peck oxen (given oxen is a term given to a neutered bull cattle), Oystercatchers do not feed exclusively on oysters.

The Oystercatchers are a Family of very similar wading birds with a cosmopolitan distribution. This fellow is a European Oystercatcher, characterised by the white chin-stripe. All species are either piebald or pure black (in various shades). With their stocky body and long bill, the Oystercatcher stalks the coastal regions, and open pastures, foraging predominantly on invertebrates such as crabs, annelids and insect larvae. They are also one of the few animals capable of opening oysters - hence the name. The bill shape varies between (and within) species, with some having finer tipped bills for digging up worms, and broader tipped bills for cracking open shellfish. 

And that, my friends, is the final O animal. Tomorrow we begin the Ps.