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, June 30, 2015

#613: Puffin

The Puffin are a Family of pelagic sea birds, consisting of three species. He dives for his prey - small fish and zooplankton - using his short wings to navigate underwater. Rather than swallowing and reguigitating fish for his offspring, he carries it crosswise in his specially-adapted beak. In this manner he can carry over a dozen small fish. He forms a long term monogamous bond with his mate, and their nest is constructed in a colony on the coast.

Although this Atlantic Puffin is not currently considered under threat, his life cycle is largely tied with the herring. Increasingly, less and less Puffin chicks are fleding and colonies are shrinking. Their food supply is declining, with rising ocean temperatures and over-fishing having a noticeable impact. Since 2005, the largest breeding colony in the Westman Islands, has been a total failure.

Learn more about this alarming trend here:

Monday, June 29, 2015

#612: Porcupinefish

The Porcupinefish are morphologically similar to the Pufferfish Family, but not closely related. Wehn threatened, he inhales great mouthfuls of water or air, bloating up to almost twice his vertical height, and raises his spines. These make an uncomfortable mouthful for any predator, and added to that is this fish's neurotoxin, which is many times more potent than cyanide. His lack of a pelvic fin makes him reliant on his pectoral fins for locomotion and he is not a strong swimmer. When inflated, the added buoyancy requires him to swim upside-down. He favours a diet of crustaceans and other invertebrates, which are cracked open with his teeth, fused together into a sort-of bill.

The genuine Pufferfish was dealt with in F, for Fugu.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Creature Feature #611. Puffbird

The Puffbird are a Family of small-to-medium-size Passerine birds found in South America. Like their sleek and colourful cousins, the Jacamar, they are sit-and-wait predators.Many species are secretive and shy, vocalising only at dawn and dusk. he nest is a burrow in dirt, rotting wood or a termite mound, in which 2-3 eggs are laid. Chicks hatch naked and blind, but within a few days of age will crawl to the entrance to meet their parents.

This fellow is a Collared Puffbird.

The Nunbird Genus also fall within this Family. They are the gregarious and garrulous members of the Family.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

#610: Pudu

The Pudu are the smallest deer in the world, with the northern species measuring only 32-35 cms at the shoulder. He is found in the temperate rainforests of South America, using the thickets and bamboo to protect him from predators. Solitary in nature, he will come in contact with the female only to mate, and leave soon after. Leaves, buds, fruit and other plant matter are his favoured food, although his small stature means he must stand upright on his hind legs to scent for food. He will also climb on low branches.

I am quite disatisfied with this picture, so may draw another - possibly featuring a mother and calf since baby pudu are one of the most adorable things imaginable.

Friday, June 26, 2015

#609: Ptarmigan

The Ptarmigan are three species of Grouse who make their home in tundra or cold upland areas. He is a hardy vegetarian, with chicks feeding on insects. This Willow Ptamigan feeds predominantly on willows: leaves, buds and catkins. In the winter months, most species (excluding the Red Grouse, a subspecies of the Willow) moult out their browner plumage in favour of white, allowing them to camouflage against their snowy environment. The male Willow Ptarmigan's wattles, usually indistinct above his eyes, turn a vivid red in the breeding season, a stark contrast to his bright head. Males gather together in breeding areas, setting up and defending their territories in preparation for the arrival of the females. Here he courts his potential mate, and forms a (more-or-less) monogamous relationship.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#608: Proboscis Monkey

The Proboscis Monkey lives on the island of Borneo, characterised by the large, fleshy protrudence that is the nose. This is significantly larger in males, and can exceed 10 cm in length. Like many mammals, the females are extremely social, whilst the males lead a more solitary lifestyle. His diet is largely vegetarian, favouring fruit and leaves, with flowers, seeds and insects occasionally taken. Due to habitat loss and hunting, he is classified as Endangered.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#607: Przewalski's Horse

The last of the truly wild horses, Przewalski's Horse became extinct in the wild in 1969. Every living horse is descended from 9 of  the 13 animals in captivity in 1945.  With careful selective, captive breeding, combining and crossing bloodlines from stock scattered in zoos across the world, this captive population was increased, and the population now numbers over 1,500. From the 1990s onwards, small herds have been released into the wild. Herds consist mostly of females and their foals, led by a dominant male. Once the juveniles reach maturity, they leave their natal herd. Lone and old stallions sometimes form bachelor herds.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#606: Prevost's Squirrel

Prevost's Squirrel is one of a Genus of rodent that are considered the "beautiful squirrels" of Asia. He is noted for his tricoloured pelt. Solitary and arboreal in nature, he forages through the treetrops for fruit, nuts, seeds, flowers, insects and birds eggs.

Monday, June 22, 2015

#605: Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis are named for her posture, where her front limbs are folded in such a manner as to give the impression that she is praying. If she is praying, it is for an insect to come near, for she is an ambush predator. She is also famed for her sexual cannibalism. During mating, the female may turn on the mounted male and bite his head off - as she does with typical prey. This occurs in around 90% of species and is more frequently observed in captivity than in the wild.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

#604: Prawn

Prawn is the general name given to large swimming crustaceans or shrimp, especially those which commonly find their way onto menus. It is more frequently used in the UK than the USA. In most species, the eggs are laid directly into the water and no parental care is given. These hatch into tiny free-swimming larvae, and then grow through several moults into their adult form. Prawns follow an opportunistic omnivorous diet, ranging from small detritus particles up into larger organisms, including small fish.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

#603: Possum

The Possums are a diverse range of medium-sized marsupials, found in Australia. They are named after the oppossum from the Americas, to which they bear not-really-that-much of a resemblance. This fellow is the Brushtail Possum. He is omnivorous, feasting on leaves, fruit, flowers, insects, birds eggs and occasionally the birds themselves. Adaptable in nature, he can be found in urban environments, using powerlines as a means of locomotion and occasionally denning down in the eaves of houses. Introduced to New Zealand in the 1850s, in the hope of establishing a fur industry, he flourished and became an invasive pest. Now perhaps 30 million possums inhabit the New Zealand forests, defoliating trees and destroying the fragile ecosystems. Like all marsupials, baby Possums are born after a short gestation period, before developing further within the mother's pouch.

Friday, June 19, 2015

#602: Porcupine

The Porcupines are rodents, characterised by their long spines, modified from hair follicles. They can be classified into two Families: the Old World and the New World. This Crested Porcupine is an Old World Porcupine. He can be found in parts of Africa and also in Italy. When threatened, Porcupine will raise their quills, shaking them ominously. If this does not deter predation and the predator attempts to attack, he will be rewarded with a face-full of painful barbs. Contrary to folklore, Porcupine cannot fire their quills, however they dislodge very easily, to become embedded in the potential predator. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Creature Feature #601: Pondskater

The Pondskater or water strider is a predatory insect. His long, slender legs allow him to evenly distribute his weight across a wide area, and he takes advantage of surface tension to literally run on water. Striding across the water, he watches for the ripples caused by prey beneath the surface and grabs it, piercing its exoskeleton and sucking out the innards. When hunting for a mate, he communicates using ripples. If another Pondskater is near, he sends out a "repel" signal. If a similar signal is not returned, he knows the other is a female and will send out a courtship signal instead. Should she be a female, and receptive to his advances, he will mount her - and remain there for the entirety of the reproductive season.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Creature Feature #600: Polecat

There are several species of Polecat, long-bodied mustelids, but the one most familiar to us is the European Polecat. She can be found in western Europe and north Africa. Her favoured diet are small mammals, but she will also eat birds and amphibians. Polecat mating is brutal, with no courtship rituals, the male simply grabs the female by the neck, drags her about (which stimulates ovulation), before mating with her for up to an hour. She is the ancestor of the domestic ferret, and the two can readily interbreed. Now feral ferrets have become established in the wild, usually in isolated environments where no mammalian predators are already established.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#599: Polar Bear

The Polar Bear is specially adapted for her Arctic home. Her diet is almost entirely carnivorous, with seals featuring high on the menu, although she will also take animals as large as a musk ox or as small as eggs and rodents. She is largely solitary and nomadic, not holding a territory but seeking food where she can find it. Although a large bear, she is classified as a marine mammal because of her reliance on the sea for her survival and spends many months roaming on the frozen ice shelves, occasionally diving into the ocean in pursuit of prey. When the ice begins to melt she is forced back onto solid land. Polar Bears are Vulnerable due to climate change, with the melting of the polar ice forcing them off the ice before they have developed sufficient fat reserves for the leaner months (which for them is summer) and increasing the distances of which they have to swim. It is also forcing them into closer contact with humans, as they scavenge for sustenance.

Monday, June 15, 2015

#598: Plume Moth

The Plume Moths are a Family of tiny moths with unusual wings. These are often curled up when they are at rest, giving them a resemblance to dried grass and helping camouflage them against predation. There are around 1,000 species, spread throughout the world. Some species have been used as a form of biological control,  helping to control the spread of  invasive plants.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

#597: Ploughshear Tortoise

The Ploughshare Tortoise is now found only in a small patch of dry deciduous forest in north-western Madagascar. He has suffered greatly from deforestation and being hunted by both humans and pigs, who target the eggs. Unfortunately, poaching also occurs as demand for this attractive reptile is high, despite it being internationally protected as a Critically Endangered species. The term "ploughshare" comes from the male's gular projection - the part extending out the front of his belly shell - which resembles an old-fashioned ploughshare. The is used in courtship, as rival males fight for the right to mate with the female, seeking to overturn his rival, literally.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#596: Platypus Frog

The Platypus Frogs were two species of aquatic frogs, once found in Queensland. They were also known as the gastric-brooding frog. The female swallows her eggs as soon as they are fertilized. Each egg is surrounded by a substance that inhibits the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach - saving them from digestion - and once hatched the tadpoles exude the substance through their gills. During their growth, she does not eat, and when they are fully formed froglets, she regurgitates them one at a time. The last Platypus frog was seen in 1981, one of the early casualties to the chytrid fungus that is now destroying frog populations all over the world.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Creature Feature #595: Platypus

The Platypus is one of five species of egg-laying mammal, known as a Monotreme. His strange appearance - duck bill, webbed feet, beaver-like tail - baffled earlier discoverers and for a time he was considered a hoax. Even when seeing one in the flesh and fur, so to speak, it is hard to believe that this little creature is actually a real animal. Males are also venomous, having a spur on his hind feet that can deliver a cripplingly painful poison. Semi-aquatic, he is most active at dawn and dusk, or on overcast days. He hunts using electrolocation to detect his prey, invertebrates such as crabs, worm and yabbies, sensing the electric fields generated by their muscular motion. During breeding season, the female lays 1-3 rubbery shelled eggs in a burrow, curling her body around them. The infants are vulnerable and feed on her milk, delivered not through a teat, but released through pores to pool on her abdomen and be lapped up.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Creature Feature #594: Pitta

The Pitta are a Family of Passerines found in tropical Australia and Asia. Terrestrial in nature, he spends his days foraging on the forest floor, feeding on invertebrates such as snails and insects. There are numerous species - this is a Malayan Banded Pitta - and most are brightly coloured. Despite this, they are actually extremely hard to see in the dim light of their rainforest home. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Creature Feature #593: Pitohui

The Pitohui are six species of Passerine, endemic to New Guinea. Several of the species - the Variable and this Hooded - are noted for being toxic. This is probably acquired from their omnivorous diet, which includes Choresine beetles, the same beetles that give their toxicity to the Poison Dart Frog. This acts to keep the bird free of parasites and may also, somewhat, deter predatation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Creature Feature #592: Piranha

Piranha have a notorious reputation. These omnivorous fish are found in the Amazon River and its tributaries, where they prey on other fish and mammals, as well as plant matter. They gather in shoals, not so much for feeding purposes but for proptection - because the Piranha features on the  menu of  caimans, dolphins and other semi-aquatic predators. Indeed, they are actually quite shy. They do come equipped with a sharp array of teeth, and have been known to attack people - or livestock - as they ford the rivers, but their wicked reputation is greatly exaggerated.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Creature Feature #591: Pipefish

There are two different Families of Pipefish: the true Pipefish and the Ghost Pipefish, which are considered "false" Pipefishes. Both fall into the same Order as seahorses and their kin.

True Pipefish are similar to elongated seahorses. Locomotion is enabled almost entirely by the dorsal fin. He is thus not generally a strong swimmer. Most species live in a marine environment, although a few are freshwater. Like seahorses and sea dragons, it is the father that raises the infants, hatching the eggs in hisbrood pouch. Females lay more eggs than the males can carry, and thus he may consume some of the embryos, absorbing the energy to help the survival of the others. Once hatched, the fry are free-swimming and independent. The fry of some species join the plankton columns, whilst other species resemble miniature adults.

False Pipefish are characterised by their spiny dorsal fin, the presence of pelvic fins and star-shaped plates on their skin. They are well camouflaged, as they swim through their marine environment and suck small crustaceans up their narrow snouts. In these species it is the female that incubates the eggs and hatches the fry, brooding them between their elongated pelvic fins.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Creature Feature #590: Pinwheel

The Dlinza Pinwheel is a strange and beautiful snail, characterised by the bristles radiating from their almost translucent shell. They are found only in the Dlinza forest, in South Africa, an area that measures only 250 hectares. Preferred habitat is coastal scarp forest, where they can be found beneath the low-level leaves, within the leaf litter and under decaying logs. Although the forest is protected, it lies within an area of urban development and the snail is very vulnerable to habitat disturbance and weather fluctuations.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Creature Feature #589: Pink River dolphin

The Pink River Dolphin makes her home in the Amazon river. She is the largest freshwater cetacean, growing longer than a human - up to 2.4 m. Her neck vertebrae are unfused, allowing her to turn her neck 90 degrees - a necessity for navigating flooded forests. She dines on crustaceans and fish (including piranha), and will co-operatively hunt to herd fish onto the river bank, where it is easier to catch. Adult males have been seen carrying around sticks, balls of hardened clay or other objects, in their mouths. The exact reason for this is unknown, but it is thought to be related to courtship.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Creature Feature #588: Pika

The Pika is a sweet-faced little mammal, related to the rabbits. There are thirty species, spread across America and Eurasia, where they inhabit the colder regions, particularly in the mountains and high steppes. One species, the adorable Ili Pika of Asia, was first discovered in 1983, then not seen again until 2014, when he became an internet sensation. This species is an Collared Pika, found in the Canada and Alaska. Here she leads a solitary lifestyle, gathering grasses during the spring months, and drying them in her burrow for the cold winter. She does not hibernate. During these lean months, she may also collect any dead birds, killed by the cold, and bury them near her burrow, in snow. When she becomes hungry, she digs them out, pierces the skull and eats the brains.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Creature Feature #587: Pigeon

The Pigeon Family contains a versatile range of birds - from some of the rarest in the world to one of the most common. With about 310 extant species, the most easily recognisable is the feral, or rock pigeon. Rock Pigeons are native to Europe, north Africa and western Asia where he is commonly found near the coast. Colonies nest on steep cliffs. He was domesticated several thousand years ago, for meat, pets and the carrying of messages. Some of these pigeons escaped, or were released, and found the urban environment suitable to their requirements. Now, buildings replace the cliffs, and instead of foraging for seeds, he now gorges on bread and other food scraps.

Other species of pigeon include:
Dodo - large and flightless and extinct
Passenger pigeon: the most common bird in North America until it was hunted to extinction.
Victoria Crowned Pigeon: the largest extant pigeon, close relative of the Dodo.
Nicobar Pigeon: another relative of the Dodo. Near Threatened.
Manumea: strange and critically endangered.
Emerald Dove: more of a lilac dove!
Turtle Dove: named for his call, not any resemblance to a reptile.

There is no technical difference between a "pigeon" and a "dove", the two are basically synonyms, although "dove" is generally used to refer to the smaller species.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Creature Feature #586: Picathartes

Never heard of a Picathartes? Well, don't worry, neither had I until I listened to "A Corner of White" by Jaclyn Moriarty, where she mentioned them in passing. I looked it up (to see if it was real) and voila, found this weird looking bird that I just had to add to my list.

The Picathartes, also known as the bald crow or rockfowl, is neither crow, nor fowl, but a Family in the Order of the Passerines, consisting of two species. This is the white-necked, please colour him accordingly. Both species are found in western Africa, but with limited range and Vulnerable to extinction. His diet generally consists of invertebrates, occasionally frogs and reptiles, with crabs being plucked from shallow water.  Breeding occurs during the wet season, and pairs are thought to be monogamous, sometimes nesting together in small colonies. Nests are made from clay and mud, attached to a cave roof or overhang.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Creature Feature #585: Philippines Eagle

The Philippines Eagle is one of the largest living eagles, comparable only to the Harpy Eagle. She is endemic to the Philippines, where she can be found on four of the islands. Each breeding pair requires a large plot of land upon which to nest, and she has been heavily affected by deforestation. Now only between 180-500 birds remain and she is classified as Critically Endangered. Sometimes known as the "monkey-eating eagle" she is in fact an opportunistic predator who will eat almost anything she can catch: monkeys, birds, colugo, bats, reptiles and even small pigs. She is a sit-and-wait predator, sometimes moving perches as she scans the canopy around her for appropriate prey.

Once again, she is in black and white for YOU to colour. My coloured version is here:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Creature Feature #584: Pheasant

Colouring-in has recently suffered a resurgence in popularity, for adults, thanks to mindfulness and also it's amazing relaxation effect. Now, this is one trend I most whole-heartedly support, because it's something I've been doing for years. My "day job", for example consists almost exclusively of social interactions and customer service, which leaves me drained and anti-social by the end of the day. I relax by sketching, inking and colouring. Whilst I am inclined to argue that my favourite part of the process is actually the initial pencilwork (provided I can get it look more-or-less right on the 2nd or 3rd attempt), too many people are quick to brush away such hobbies with phrases like "I can't draw", but no-one ever says "I can't colour". I mean, pre-schoolers colour, after all.

So here, because this evening I felt like sketching rather than colouring, is the line-art for a Golden Pheasant. It's a large image, a PNG, and I haven't even watermarked it so, if you wish, you can save him, print him off and perhaps you might like to colour him in yourself. If you do, please feel free to drop me an email with a scanned image: lemurkat@gmail.com

I shall colour him in tomorrow, or perhaps the next day. Or, perhaps this week I shall upload every image as line-art, thus allowing you, the viewer, to assist me in my Animal-a-Day project.

Pheasants are another member of the Gamebird family, which for some reason has a lot of members starting with the letter P. They are characterised by the male's long, train-like tail feathers (unlike the peacock's train, which is not his tail) and his general overall gaudy plumage. Which you can't see here (yet), because this Golden Pheasant is currently only lineart. Some species also sport wattles, crests and other adornments. Females are generally pretty drab in colouration - a neccesity as she must remain camouflaged while she incubates her eggs. Pheasants are quite popular in aviculture and also hunted for sport. The most widely recognised is the Common (or Ringneck) Pheasant from Europe, which is not nearly as pretty as this Asian fellow above. There are quite a few species, spread across the northern hemisphere and introduced as ferals to the southern.