Thoughts & Ramblings

List of animals I want to see in my lifetime

#078

I am a self-confessed wildlife lover… I believe I have made this clear in my previous posts and in my continued addiction to the Nat Geo, Discovery, and BBC channels. (Animal Planet sucks!!)

I lap up every animal related documentary that I can lay my hands on. Although I must confess that I am a sucker for good production and high quality visuals. This is why I was blown away by the latest Planet Earth II series on BBC.

I make it a point to visit as many zoos, botanical gardens and biological parks as possible to get a closer look at the animals. I have even visited a couple of private zoos where wild animals are kept as pets. (Not proud of it, but…)

My fascination began when I was a child and was fueled by my late father who bought me every wildlife related book that he could afford. By the age of 8, I could identify and name plenty of animals based on their natural habitat. By 10, I could even name plenty of dinosaurs and was shouting out their names while watching Jurassic Park in the movie theater.

Although all forms of wildlife interested me, I was more drawn towards apex predators from the start. For those who are not familiar with the term, an apex predator is on top of the food chain in any given habitat. But there are a number of animals I always wanted to see. I had made this list back in 1996 while still in school in Dubai. I happened to find that in an old diary a couple of months ago.

So in no particular order, here goes that list with updates on where I managed to see some of them.

 

Polar Bear

00473-06209Well, this majestic beast is truly a sight to behold. The polar bear is the largest land carnivore and its pure white coat seems to somehow make it seem spectacular in its natural setting.

Interesting Fact – The polar bears skin is actually black and its fur is transparent.

My 1st sighting – The old Dubai Zoo in Jumeriah used to have one in the past.

 

Komodo Dragon

komodo-dragon-head-onThe largest lizard and the closest thing to the mystical dragon. The Komodo Dragon is the apex predator on the tiny island of Komodo in Indonesia and its bite is so toxic because of the bacteria in its saliva.

Interesting Fact – Female Komodo Dragons can lay eggs without mating.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Sloth

large-three-toed-sloth-photoAn animal so lazy that it has one of the 7 sins named after it. The sloth is so slow that it could take months for it to move from one tree to another.

Interesting Fact – The sloth only comes down from the tree to poop.

My 1st sighting – Green Planet, Dubai.

 

Black Panther

9b4a99fd0851c6032403501c4d480659This might seem like a pretty common sight but for a 10 year old, it was an awesomely fearful sight. I remember being scared for days after seeing my first one.

Interesting Fact – They are regular leopards or jaguars with a melamine overdose in their skin.

My 1st sighting – Old Dubai Zoo, Jumeirah

 

White Tiger/Lion

white-lion-white-tigerWho doesn’t want to see one? These top cats are now unfortunately used as advertising material to promote zoos without educating the public on their deformity.

Interesting Fact – They are not a separate species but albino versions of regular lions and tigers

My 1st sighting – A private collection in Dubai.

 

Koala Bear

313c8c242b479aa42a14c89256839e18These cute cuddly creatures are natives of Australia and feed exclusively on eucalyptus leaves.

Interesting Fact – The Koala Bear is not related to bears in any way.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Kangaroo

kangaroo-dreamsThe Kangaroo is one of those animals that generate a lot of curiosity and hype, especially because of its body shape and the way it raises its young – in a pouch.

Interesting Fact – There are more Kangaroos than humans in Australia.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Liger

liger-08A Liger is what you get when a male lion mates with a female tiger. This can never happen in the wild and the only possibility is in captivity. A liger is much bigger than both its parents and is the largest living species of cat. A true SUPER CAT.

Interesting Fact – The mouth of a Liger can open as wide as the shoulders of a man.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Tigon
download-1A Tigon is what you get when a male tiger mates with a female lion. Like the Liger, this can never happen in the wild and the only possibility is in captivity. Much smaller than both the lion and tiger, it is extremely rare even in captivity.

Interesting Fact – Male Tigons are infertile while females can breed and give birth.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Cheetah

cheetah_factsThe fastest land animal on the planet and native to the African savanna. These incredibly sleek cats are mesmerizing to watch when in full flight.

Interesting Fact – Cheetahs can turn in midair while sprinting.

My 1st sighting – Al Ain Zoo.

 

Rhinoceros

rhino4The Rhinos are an endangered species that have been mercilessly poached through decades for their horns which supposedly have medicinal qualities. There are hardly a few left in the wild.

Interesting Fact – Rhinos are the second largest land animal and can weigh up to 3.5 tons.

My 1st sighting – Al Ain Zoo.

 

Beluga Whale

beluga-whale-bubble_782214iI always had a fascination for this white marine mammal. Somehow they manage to look cute and extremely intelligent at the same time.

Interesting Fact – Beluga Whales can swim backwards.

My 1st sighting – Valencia Bioparc, Spain

 

Great White Shark

great-white-shark-on-blueAfter watching Jaws for the first time, I was scared of the beach. This fear however turned into awe and admiration for one of the most feared inhabitants of the ocean.

Interesting Fact – They have to keep swimming to be able to breathe.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Killer Whale/Orca

Killer Whales are not actually whales. They are actually huge, mean and extremely intelligent dolphins. I believe that they should never be kept in captivity and made to perform those stupid stunts. No enclosure is big enough for these giants.

Interesting Fact – Killer Whales cannot smell.

My 1st sighting – Old Al Ain Aquarium (Does not exist anymore)

 

Blue Whale

blue-whale-621674The biggest, largest and longest living creature on the planet. If you really want to be humbled by how small you are, just google for size comparison between human and blue whale.

Interesting Fact – Blue whales are larger than any dinosaur fossil ever found.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Andean Condor

male-andean-condor-in-flightAnother endangered species on my list. The Andean Condor is considered to be the largest flighted predator and is exclusive to the Andes Mountains.

Interesting Fact – The wingspan of an Andean Condor can reach up to 11 feet.

My 1st sighting – Haven’t seen one yet.

 

Hammerhead Shark

hammerhead-shark-underwaterOne of the weirdest creatures on the planet. But if you look at the other mind-blowing offerings that the less explored sections of our oceans, they appear pretty normal.

Interesting Fact – They can give birth to up to 50 live young in a year.

My 1st sighting – Dubai Mall Underwater Zoo, Dubai

 

Giant Panda

panda_lazy_on-rock_0-22bmbelThe Panda once again came into prominence with the release of Kung Fu Panda. The reality couldn’t be farther away than the depiction in the movie. Forget Kung Fu… I haven’t see a Great Panda even move fast.

Interesting Fact – A group of Pandas is called an “embarrassment”.

My 1st sighting – Beijing Zoo, China

 

There are many more animals that I want to see before either of us die out. My real list today is actually very long and the desire to see them in their natural habitat is stronger than ever.

Hopefully I will be able to cross off more of my list as the years go by…

 

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