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.

Friday, August 12, 2016

#886: Tanager are colorful passerines of the tropics.

When I first drew a Tanager for T, I drew a Western Tanager. Some research determined that Western Tanager were not, in fact, actually Tanager at all, but more closely related to cardinals. Therefore, it has taken a bit of time to get to draw an actual Tanager - in this case the Green-headed Tanager. Yes, I know his head is actually blue...

Tanagers are small passerine birds of the New World, with most species found in the tropics of South America. Flocks are smaller, generally consisting of pairs or up to five individuals, although they may flock together with other species. He follows a predominantly insectivorous diet, with different species using different hunting techniques including hawking and gleaning. Most nests are cup-shaped, although some are almost globular. The female incubates the eggs, tended to by her mate. Several species have been show to utilise helpers in raising the chicks; these are possibly offspring from a previous brood.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

#885: The Treeshrew has the highest brain:body ratio of any mammal.

The Treeshrews are not actually a shrew at all. Currently, she is considered to be more closely related to the colugo and primate Families. There are 20 species, spread across Southeast Asia. Her brain to body ratio is the highest of any other mammal, including humans, although this is in part due to her small size. She favours an omnivorous diet, feeding on insects, small vertebrates, nuts and seeds. Her maternal skills are relatively weak - her young are born weak and hairless, into a nest of dried leaves, and she suckles them only for a few minutes each day. They grow fast, and will leave the nest within a month and become sexually mature at about four months old.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ecosystem: The Ocean covers 2/3s of the Earth's surface.

Ocean covers two-thirds of Earth's surface and contains a variety of ecosystems with greater diversity than those found on land, from the frozen polar reaches, to the warm coral reefs of the tropics and down into the deep and lightless trenchs. There are three main oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian, through which great ocean currents swirl, some carrying warm water, others cool. These influence the world's weather systems.

Life in the oceans ranges from microscopic plankton to the massive blue whale, it is populated with terrifying hunters, deepsea creatures that look to have crawled from your nightmares and other life forms so strange that it is hard to believe they are real. The ocean floor is referred to as the benthic habitat whilst the water itself is the pelagic, both supporting a plethora of life. It is the coral reef, however, that is perhaps the richest in diversity.

There are many threats the ocean and its inhabitants must face, including over-fishing, bottom trawling and pollution. 80% of litter in the water comes from land: anything that ends up in our waterways eventually ends up at sea. Plastic bags, bottles and other non-biodegradable litter has been carried by the currents to form a massive patch of rubbish, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This plastic disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces, being consumed by creatures and eventually killing them.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ecosystem: Grasslands

True to their name, grasslands are areas dominated by a variety of grasses, sedge and rush. They occur on every continent excluding Antarctica. They grow in areas with an annual rainfall between 500 and 1,500mm, where the soil is too low in nutrients for woodland or frequently disturbed by fire or grazing. The roots of the grass form a dense mat, protecting the soil from wind and rain erosion. In many countries (such as Madagascar) degradation of forest habitat by humans has lead to the growth of grassland. Others, like the savannah of Africa and the pampas grasslands of South America, are a natural adaptation to the climate and resources. They provide a variety of habitat, especially for ruminants such as antelopes and their predators.

In countries not historically dominated by grasslands - such as Madagascar and New Zealand - native animals are few, but some - especially hawks - flourish with this more open hunting ground.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

#884: Yuhina forage in mixed-species flocks, feeding on insects.

Surprise! You thought I was finished, didn't you?
Well, we recently unpacked my "Birds: The Definitive Visual Guide" book, turned to the index and found ... a bird that starts with Y and isn't "Yellow-something". So, how could I resist?
He will replace the Yellowhammer in my XYZ Animal Encyclopedia.

The Yuhina are a genus of Asiatic zosterops, inhabiting tropical and subtropical rainforests. All of the eleven species are crested. He is a sociable bird, occasionally gathering in mixed-species flocks with other Yuhina species. Here he forages on insects, gleaning them from tree branches, or nectar and fruit.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ecosystem: The Waterways are the lifeblood of the Earth.

Waterways such as rivers, ponds, lakes and streams, are an important part of the ecosystem. Not only do they provide habitat for fish, aquatic mammals and many invertebrates, but they are also play an important role in the lifecycle of many insects and amphibians. Rivers begin at a source - or several sources - and flow towards the sea, entering it at a mouth. The longest river is the Nile in Africa, 6, 650 kms long and the Amazon is the widest - up to 40 kms wide in the rainy season.

Unfortunately, humans have had a powerful influence on many rivers - draining them or building dams, polluting them with both organic and inorganic effluence, and cluttering them with traffic. All of this has an impact on the wildlife that make their homes here. Many aquatic species face extinction - the axolotl's lake habitat has been drained and the extinction of the baiji dolphin resulted from pollution and river traffic.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ecosystem: The Rainforest is like a living pharmacy

Tropical rainforests are among the most bio-diverse habitats on the planet. They are located around the equator - Brazil, central Africa and Madagascar, Southeast Asia, Northern Queensland and numerous islands. They are characterised by their warm temperature and high humidity. Whilst tropical rainforests cover less than 6% of the planet, they account for more than 50% of the world's terrestrial plant and animal species, and there are more that have yet to been discovered (mainly in the form of invertebrates).

There are four layers to the rainforest: the forest floor, where little light penetrates and leaves and dropped fruit decay very fast; the understory, which mostly consists of large leafed plants, trying to capture what light filters through; the canopy, which forms a roof above the forest, and is abundant with life and epiphytes and the emergent layer, where the tallest trees stick out. Considered the "lungs of the planet", rainforests are not responsible for as much oxygen as was originally thought, but they are sort of like a living pharmacy. Some of the most popular foods and flavours originate from the rainforest: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, as well as fruit, like bananas.

Rainforests are a highly threatened environment. Deforestation - where trees are cleared for mining, farming or for fuel, charcoal or paper - removes large portions of forest that will never fully recover. Madagascar, for example, has lost 90% of its original forest and contains hundreds of animals found nowhere else in the world.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

#883: Zosterops

The Zosterops are tiny passerines, with species spread throughout Africa, Southeast Asia and Australasia. Many are characterised by the white rings around their eyes. He follows an insectivorous diet, favouring fruit and nectar during the warmer months, and consuming more insect prey in the colder months. This fellow is the critically endangered Mauritius olive white-eye. He feeds on nectar and insects, with a special preference for rare endemic flowers, which have been largely overtaken by introduced plants. His nests are also destroyed by introduced pests like rats and macaques.


And thus concludes the last in my animal alphabet, but not truly the end, for I have a few animals to fill in the gaps from previous and will be taking requests, preferably around 17 to bring me up to the #900. If you wish to request an animal that has not already been included, comment here or email me: lemurkat@gmail.com, subject: ZooTrophy.

And I will, at some point in the not TOO distant future, be undertaking a similar, but smaller, project on prehistoric animals.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

#882. Zorro

The Zorro are six species of South American canids, sometimes known as the South American foxes, although they are a different Genus from the "true" foxes. This fellow is Darwin's Zorro. His range is very restricted; he is found only on Chiloé Island and in an isolated patch of Chile. There are considered to be less than 400 individuals in the wild. He lives in dense forest, hunting small vertebrates and eating fruit, and occasionally carrion.

Only one day to go and I've finished the Z's!

Friday, April 22, 2016

#881: Zorilla

The Zorilla, a striped polecat, bears both a physical and behavioural resemblance to the skunk. If threatened, he arches his back, raises his tail, and sprays the predator with a foul musk from his anal glands. This both burns the predator's skin and can temporarily blind them. He leads a solitary existence, foraging at night for insects, invertebrates and small vertebrates, which he digs up with his clawed paws.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#880: Zono

Zono, or Zona, is the name given to various species of small, colourful rainbowfish, endemic to Madagascar. Several species are popular in the pet industry, and are capable of hybridisation. Inhabiting fast-flowing streams, he favours the calmer, shaded areas and feeds on insects that fall into the water. Eggs are attached to vegetation and left unguarded. Juvenile larvae remain near the banks, whilst adults occupy the deeper waters.

#879: Zokor damages plants & soil as he excavates and forages.

Zokors are six species of burrowing rodent, living in Asia, and bearing a superficial resemblance to the mole. He is characterised by his powerful front claws, adept for digging. Solitary in nature, his preferred diet is plant roots and shoots. He can have a powerful ecological effect on a region, causing damage to plants and soil.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#878: Zigzag Heron

The Zigzag Bittern is a small member of the heron Family. She inhabits subtropical and tropical swamps in the Amazon basin. She is elusive and well camouflaged, making her rarely seen and little studied. Her diet is thought to consist of fish and flying insects, and she has been observed foraging through leaf litter. As further tracts of the Amazon are being cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, she is now considered Near Threatened with extinction.

Monday, April 18, 2016

#877: Zebra Spider males dance to impress the females.

The Zebra Spider is a small and common jumping spider widespread across Europe, North America and the United Kingdom. Like all jumping spiders, he uses his large eyes to locate prey - anything his size or smaller that tastes good (ie: not ants) - before stalking it in a manner not unlike a feline.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

#876: Zebra Loach

The Zebra Loach is endangered in the wild, but readily available in the pet trade. He is a freshwater loach, native to the Western Ghats of India. A bottom-feeder, he hunts for invertebrates in the substrate, and has a particular fondness of snails, which make him popular with aquarists. If kept singly or in pairs, he can become reclusive and stressed; it is recommended to keep at least five. As with many popular pet species, poaching is a problem and Zebra Loach do not readily breed in the captivity. Commercial aquarists breed them with the use of hormones.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

#875: Zebrafish

The Zebrafish is a small minnow, native to the Himalaya regions. He has also found some popularity in the pet trade. He was the first vertebrate to be cloned, and has amazing regenerative properties. He is used in heart research and has also been genetically modified to be fluorescent, branded as a GloFish.

Friday, April 15, 2016

#874: Zebra Finch

The Zebra Finch is an Australian finch, well represented in the pet industry. In the wild, he inhabits the interior of Australia, gathering in flocks in the outback. He dines mostly on seeds, dehusking them with his sturdy beak, however he will also take fresh food such as plant matter and fruit when it is available. Breeding occurs after heavy rain, regardless of the season, and nests will be constructed in any crevice or crack available: termite mounds, rabbit burrows, buildings, as well as trees and shrubs.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#873: Zebra Duiker

The Zebra Duiker is a small antelope. His natural habitat are the closed-canopy rainforests of West Africa, centered around Liberia. He is shy and reclusive, rarely seen except on camera traps. He is greatly affected by logging, and is Vulnerable to extinction. Although his diet consists predominantly of fruits, seeds and sometimes leaves, he has been observed eating rodents and frogs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#872: Zebra Dove

The Zebra Dove is a ground dwelling pigeon, found in Southeast Asia.  She forages in short or barren ground, in pairs or alone, feeding on grass seeds, insects and other small invertebrates. Her plumage offers her some camouflage against the barren ground. Whilst widespread and common, in some areas she has become scarce, as specimens are captured for the pet trade.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#871: Zebra

There are several species of Zebra, striped equines found in Africa. Like other equines, Zebra are social creatures and live in herds, mostly consisting of females and their foals and lead by a single stallion. Male Zebras live in small bachelor groups, or alone, until they are strong enough to challenge the breeding stallions.Although Zebra have been long considered to be white with black stripes, evidence indicates that they are, in fact, black with white stripes. These stripes break up their outline, making it hard for predators to single one Zebra from another in a herd and helping to confuse predators.

Monday, April 11, 2016

#870: Zacatuche

Zacatuche, the volcano rabbit, is a tiny bunny, found only in the mountains of Mexico, more specifically, four volcanoes south of Mexico City. She lives in small groups of 2-5 rabbits, digging burrows and creating runways through the low tussock grass. She lives at high altitude, and is greatly affected by human disturbance. This disturbance has also fragmented the population, pushing her close to the brink of extinction.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

#869: Yucatan Jay

(This is a juvenile, still retaining his yellow bill but having his adult plumage.)

The Yucatan Jay is a Central America corvid, native to the Yucatan Peninsula. He inhabits tropical forest and subtropical dry forests, as well as colonising heavily degraded areas. Fledglings are white feathered. As they mature, they moult into their blue and black adult plumage, but retain their yellow beak, feet and eye rings for up to four years. Breeding is cooperative, with the juveniles helping raise their younger siblings.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

#868: Yonahlossee Salamander

The Yonahlossee Salamander is a large species of woodland salamander. He inhabits the southern Appalachian Mountains of North America. Here he favours deciduous woodland, and can be found at relatively high altitudes. During the day he takes cover in damp, shaded areas, becoming most active on humid or rainy nights, when he forages for insects and other invertebrates.  As the weather grows colder, he migrates underground.

Friday, April 8, 2016

#867: Yeti Crab

This "furry lobster", the Yeti Crab, was only discovered in 2005. His appendages are covered in a fur-like setae, which contains filamentous bacteria. It is thought this may detoxify poisonous minerals from his environment, given he is often found near hypothermic vents.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

#866: Yellow-throated Marten

The Yellow-throated Marten is a large and feisty mustelid, growing up to 720 cm in body length. His natural range is Asia, where he inhabits tropical and sub-tropical forests. He regularly preys on small deer, and even larger species, such as wapiti, wild boars and even panda cubs. Nectar and fruit also feature in his diet, and he is important in seed dispersal.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#865: Yellow-tailed Moth

The furry Yellow-tail Moth is spread throughout Europe and across Russia. Her wingspan can measure up to 45 mm, and she is pure white, except for her yellow abdomen. When at rest, she keeps her wings steepled and, if disturbed, will lie on her side, wings closed, feigning death.

#864: Yellow-headed Day Gecko

The charming Yellow-headed Day Gecko lives in Madagascar, where his range is limited to the North-western area around Antsatsaka. His habitat is bamboo forest, where he favours the yellow bamboo canes, which offer him camouflage. He grows to about 10 cm in length.  His preferred diet is insects and other invertebrates, but he also enjoys pollen.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

#863: Yellowhammer

The Yellowhammer is a songbird native to Eurasia and introduced to New Zealand and several other islands. Male and female are similar in appearance, with males being more brightly coloured, with less brown streaking. His song has made him popular, with birds from different regions having their own variations. Beethoven and Messiaen have composed pieces based on his song structure.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

#862: Yellow Bishop

The Yellow Bishop is a small, stocky weaverbird. He occupies vegetated areas, ranging across many of the African countries. His food consists mainly of seed, grain and the occasional insect. During the breeding season, the male's plumage grows in glossy black, with the yellow rump and shoulders. Outside of that time, he dons more dowdy browns and greys, not dissimilar to the female.

Friday, April 1, 2016

#862: Yeti

The Yeti is a large semi-bipedal bear, occasionally seen in the Himalayas. He is a creature of myth and legend, often mistaken for an ape. Yeti are extremely shy, and when danger threatens will run and hide, even burying themselves in snow. His white pelt offers ideal camouflage against his snow-covered environment. His main diet consists of Himalayan ungulates, such as tahr, markhor and takin. To hunt, he uses ambush tactics, relying on his camouflage to disguise him against the snow until the prey comes close enough to seize.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

#861: Yellow-eyed Penguin

The Yellow-eyed Penguin is native to New Zealand and nearby islands. He follows a piscivorous diet, foraging off the coast and on the ocean floor. The largest mainland populations are on the Otago Peninsula - where he is a tourist attraction - and in the Catlins. He is under threat from habitat degradation and predation, as well as disease.  After breeding season, when the chicks have gone to sea (survival rates are as low as 20%), the adults begin their annual moult. Penguins moult all of their feathers at once, shedding the old for a new, sleek plumage. During this time they cannot enter the water, and are extremely vulnerable to predation or starvation.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

#860: Yazoo Darter

Related to the vermilion darter, the Yazoo Darter is also restricted to limited range - in this case tributaries in north-central Mississippi. Like the vermilion, the Yazoo is under threat from habitat degradation. He requires clear, flowing water to thrive and he is threatened by urbanization. His diet consists predominantly of insects and other invertebrates. The majority of Darters live less than a year, with very few surviving past two.

Another vectored image. I like how clean it makes the images look.
(My husband laughs because I'm vectoring the images using VectorMagic, but since I'm not subscribed to it (yet), I'm screen capping the images and thus turning them back into bitmaps then saving as PNGs. Never fear, VectorMagic, once I am done with this alphabet I will subscribe for a few months and vectorise all of the pictures. All of them!).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#859: Yarara

The Yarar√° is a species of pit viper found in South America. Here, he makes his home in deciduous tropical forest and open savannah. His prey consists of birds and small mammals, which he incapacitates with venom. Although he has a reputation for being deadly, and can inflict a painful & venomous bite, this is rarely fatal. Females are ovoviviparous, birthing up to 20 offspring at a time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

#858: Yapok

The Yapok is a South American marsupial, adapted for an aquatic lifestyle. Her hind feet are webbed, and her forelimbs bear hands, which help her to capture underwater prey. Both the male and female have pouches. A ring of muscle seals the female's pouch firmly shut, preventing the young from drowning, whereas the male's protects his genitalia and keep him more streamlined when swimming. During the day , the Yapok sleeps in burrows on the bank, and she comes out at dusk to forage.

If you are wondering why this image looks a little different from my usual, it's because I used a program called VectorMagic to turn her into a vectorised PNG.

Here's the original JPG:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#857: Yak

The Yak is a long-haired bovid. There are two species, found in the Himalayas, across the Tibetan Plateau and into Russia and Mongolia. One of these species, Bos grunniens, has been domesticated for thousands of years, both for his meat, milk and fibre. He is also used as a beast of burden, but requires grazing pastures for extended journeys. Wild Yaks live in herds of up to thirty individuals. He is perfectly adapted for a high altitude lifestyle, and will not thrive at low altitudes.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

#856: Yag Baligi

This ray-finned fish, belonging to the carp Family, is found only in one habitat within Turkey: Lake Egridir and its tributaries. He was thought to have become extinct, due to the introduction of the zander fish. However in 1993 a small population was discovered. He is now classified as Endangered.

Friday, March 25, 2016

#855: Yaffle

Yaffle is an English folk name for the European green woodpecker, inspired by his laughing call. He is widespread across Europe. Ants make up the majority of his diet, and he forages on the ground for them, probing at ant burrows with his beak. Once located, he uses his tongue to lick them up. His tongue is long enough to curl around his skull. Unlike other woodpeckers, his beak is relatively weak, and is most useful on soil or decaying wood.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

#854: Yabby

The Yabby is a small Australian crayfish, found in freshwater, such as streams, rivers, reservoirs and dams.  He can be found in ephemeral pools and can lie dormant for several years in dry conditions. Nocturnal, he feeds on detritus such as algae, plant matter and decaying animal matter. During the summer months he becomes more active, and fishing for yabbies - using a piece of meat tied with string - is a popular activity. As he is Vulnerable to extinction, catch size restrictions are in place.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#853: X-ray Tetra

The X-Ray Tetra is named for his translucent skin, which allows his backbone to be clearly visible. He is naturally found in the Amazon and Orinoco basins and is somewhat tolerant of brackish water.
He follows an omnivorous diet of plants and animal matter. He is generally peaceable among other species and sociable among his own. This, combined with his unique appearance, makes him popular in the pet industry. However, he is small in size and can fall prey to larger fish and amphibians.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#852: Xerosecta

There are a number of  Xerosecta, a Genus of terrestrial hairy snails found in various locations about Europe. Many of the species, like this Xerosecta giustii, are on the brink of extinction with many classified as Endangered, some even Critical. Xerosecta are simultaneous hermaphrodites, being able to reproduce both as a male and a female. The so-called "love dart" is a calcareous or chitinous appendage, which develops after the snail's first mating. The courtship dance can last for many hours, with both partners circling one another, making contact with one another, and drawing closer. Eventually they will simultaneously fire their darts, locking together, after which mating can begin.

Monday, March 21, 2016

#852: Xerces Blue

The Xerces Blue was a member of the gossamer-winged butterfly Family and endemic to the coastal sand dunes of San Francisco. Here she suffered due to urban development, her habitat disappearing and taking her with it. It is thought that introduced ant species may have contributed. Gossamer-winged butterfly rely on ants in the early stages of larval development. The larvae release a sweet-tasting honeydew which the ants find attractive. They then tend for the caterpillar and are rewarded with the honeydew. Introduced ants may have displaced the naturally occurring ants but not replaced them in the juvenile-care stage.

You can colour the butterfly if you like - the colour is in the name :)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

#851: Xenops

And yes... it's another bird beginning with X. I promise you, tomorrow's critter won't be a bird. At least the Xenops doesn't feel like a cheat!

The Xenops are a Genus of ovenbirds, not to be confused with the ovenbird I drew earlier, which was actually a warbler. Anyway, these Xenops are true ovenbirds and there are three species. This fellow is the Plain Xenops. All three species are found in South America and,although their ovenbird kin  build clay nests into which to lay their eggs, the Xenops  instead fills a tree hole with shredded wood and calls that a nest. Into this she lays her eggs, and both parents help raise their offspring. Xenops are insectivores and scurry up and down tree trunks, prodding into crevices for dinner.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

#850: Xavier's Greenbul

The greenbuls belong to the same Family as the bulbul. Xavier's Greenbul is widespread across central Africa, including the Congo and Cameroon. Here he occupies tropical and sub-tropical forests. His diet consists mostly of insects and other invertebrates, although he also dines upon fruit.

Friday, March 18, 2016

#849: Xantus's Hummingbird


John Xantus was a Hungarian Zoologist who was exiled in 1851 and came to live in the United States. Here he went on to give his name to a number of animals, so many that I could probably fill a (relatively small) encyclopedia volume with his X's alone. Among these discoveries were this, the Xantus's Hummingbird. 

The Xantus's Hummingbird is endemic to Baja California, although he sometimes strays up the west coast to Canada during the summer months. Like most hummingbirds, his diet consists predominantly on nectar, supped in flight with his extendable tongue. He is also noted to take insects on the wing, especially when feeding offspring. The nest is cup-shaped and lined with feathers, spiderwebs and animal hair, with the outside including moss for camouflage. In this the female lays two eggs.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

#848: Wren

There are 80 species of true wrens, all but one species of which are found in North and South America. Wrens from Australia and New Zealand are different species, and unrelated, named for their similarity in appearance to their European namesake. These wee fellow is a Carolina Wren. Wren are small and insectivorous, although they will take other invertebrates and even tiny vertebrates when the opportunity arises. Well camouflaged and secretive, he is more often heard than seen.