If the name Gabjas sounds familiar to you, it is probably because she is one of the most active Earth Rangers on the Wild Wire. Whether it’s creating amazing stories or naming a friendly Animal Ambassador (thanks to her, Earth Rangers’ pine marten is called Timber). How do you reward a dedicated Earth Ranger with such a passion for animals? You ask her to write a top ten list!
Here are Gabjas’ Top 10 favourite animals!
1. Barn Owl (from the family Tytonidae)
I love all owls but I could only choose one. If you are interested in owls, I urge you to learn more.
Location: Every continent except Antarctica, even on many of the oceanic islands.
Description: Their wingspan is about 45”. Males weigh about 15¾ oz and females about 17½ oz.
Coolest Facts: They are silent flyers thanks to their special comb-like feathers, called ‘Flutings’ or ‘Fimbriae,’ that muffle noise and reduce turbulence. Their heart-shaped faces allow them to hear sounds at frequencies undetectable to the human ear.
Status: Highly Vulnerable because of habitat loss, farming and destruction of abandoned barns
2. Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos)
Wolves are majestic creatures that never fail to amaze me. They belong to the same family as common, domesticated dogs and foxes and they all share similar traits.
Location: Around the Arctic
Description: Shoulder height can be 25-31″ and their body length about 3-5 ft. An adult male weighs about 175 lbs. In captivity, they can live up to 17 years but only 7 in the wild. Their fur may have hints of red, white, grey or black.
Coolest Facts: Thanks to its amazing coat, it can endure years of sub-zero temperatures. They eat everything they kill including skin, meat, fur and bones.
Status: Threatened because of human encounters.
3. Swift Fox (Vulpes Velox)
The Swift fox is an interesting creature; sadly I have never laid eyes on one. I hope their situation will take a turn for the better.
Location: In the grasslands areas of North America.
Description: They weigh between 4-7 lbs and are up to 16” tall. Including its tail, it can be up to 31” long! They have greyish to yellow-tan bodies, black-tipped tails and large ears.
Coolest Facts: They are the smallest wild dogs in North America and can reach up to 30 mph!
Status: Endangered (extinct in Canada) but efforts have been made to reintroduce them to Canada, where it is illegal to disturb them in their dens.
4. Orangutan (Pongo abelli and Pongo pygmaeus)
I thought for a long time that Orangutan ended in a ‘g’? I was corrected by a primate loving zookeeper at the Calgary Zoo. The word ‘Orangutan’ comes from the Malay words ‘orang’ (meaning man) and ‘hutan’ (meaning of the forest)
Location: Islands of Sumatra and Borneo
Description: Males can weigh 200 lbs and females are usually 1/3-½ his size. Perhaps their most distinctive feature is their bright orange or red hair.
Coolest Facts: They live the majority of their lives in trees and are the largest tree living mammal in the world! They can live up to 40 years in the wild and into their 50s in captivity.
Status: Critically Endangered. There are less than 40,000 left in the wild
5. Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia or Panthera uncia)
Snow Leopards have been a favorite of mine since I saw them at the Calgary Zoo for the first time. I noticed their shy nature very quickly. They’re so tolerant and calm, such beautiful creatures.
Location: Central Asia
Description: They are about 24″ at the shoulders and are over 6 ft in length (plus 3 ft for tail length). They weigh up to 125 lbs with females being the smaller of the genders.
Coolest Facts: Snow leopards live on Mountains and are found at altitudes of up to 17,000 ft.
Status: Endangered because of the Fur Trade. There are about 3,500-7,000 in the wild, with 600-700 populating world-wide zoos.
6. African Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
The elegant cheetah (sigh) is an astounding creature that is known for its remarkable speed and ravishing coat pattern. Need I say more?
Location: Africa, South Asia and Middle East
Description: These spotted felines are up to 4½ ft long, plus over 2 ft for the tail.
Coolest Facts: Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal. They can run up to 70 mph, which makes them amazing hunters.
Status: Endangered because of illegal hunting and trade. There are less than 15,000 in Africa and less than 100 in Iran.
7. Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos)
I have always had a certain affection for bears, they seem like such calm and collected creatures. Every time I think of a bear, I think of hugging one. (Please do not hug a bear for your own safety, thanks).
Location: Areas of North America
Description: They vary from 3-3½ ft at shoulder height and about 6-7 ft in length. Adult males can weigh up to 850 lbs and females up to 450 lbs.
Coolest Facts: Grizzly bears are generally solitary except for breeding and raising young. They can also run really fast, reaching speeds of 35 mph!
Status: Threatened. There are thought to be around 30,000 Grizzly bears in Alaska and only 1,000-2,000 remaining in the rest of the USA.
8. Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
The Giant Panda is a gentle creature that enjoys feasts of plentiful bamboo, who wouldn’t love that?
Location: Mountain regions of central China
Description: They reach between 2-3 ft at the shoulder and 4-6 ft long. An adult male can weigh up to 250 lbs, while females are usually less than 220 lbs.
Coolest Facts: They have bumps on their paws that act like thumbs. This helps them grab bamboo stems and is how they can eat while sitting upright like humans.
Status: Endangered. There are fewer than 1,600 pandas but there are over 50 panda reserves, which protect more than 2.5 million acres and over 60% of the population!
9. Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)
These spunky little critters are very popular among zoos goers. Who can resist their adorable faces?
Location: Cool temperate bamboo forest of China.
Description: They are about 42” long, including tail and weigh between 7-14 lbs. They have red and white markings which they use as camouflage.
Coolest Facts: They use their tail to balance on trees and have special bones that allow them to grip bamboo stalks.
Status: Vulnerable because of habitat loss. There are less than 2,500 adult Red Pandas.
10. Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
The Koala is a calm, cute and cuddly creature from Australia. I have never seen one in person.
Description: An average adult male weighs about 23 lbs and the female weighs about 18 lbs
Coolest Facts: These marsupials rest for about 20 hours a day to conserve energy since their diet is low in nutrients and they are slow to digest it.
Status: Vulnerable. In the early 20th century, they were so close to extinction due to sport hunting that protective rules were put in place. Since then, they have made a great comeback.