Rat Island by William Stolzenburg shows the darker side of endangered species conservation. Islands make up just 3 percent of the Earth's landmass, but contain more than half of its endangered species. These ecosystems historically existed in isolation, their flora and fauna developing in ways not found on the mainland. The island ecosystems have been catastrophically disrupted either by humans or the animals humans bring with them- rats, cats, goats, and pigs primarily. To save these island ecosystems and their native inhabitants, ecologists have teamed up with a variety of people including professional hunters, semiretired poachers, and many more. Goats are shot from helicopters, rat poison is dropped onto mountainous islands. Rat Island reveals the modern "cruel to be kind" philosophy of conservationism.
Did you know that great white sharks lurk just off the California coastline? On a nasty group of
islands just a few hours boat ride from San Francisco are the Devil's Teeth, also known as the Farallon Islands. Devil's Teeth features Susan Casey's memories and experiences on the islands, which are a seasonal nesting ground for many seabirds, marine mammals and the hunting ground of the great white shark. There are many fascinating anecdotes in the book, such as Casey's attempts to sleep in a boat off the islands stormy coast, the biologist's clash with local "shark seeing" tour boats, and one scientist's mission to be the first man to surf the waves at the Farallons despite the presence of 20-foot great whites known as "The Sisters."
Without sea otters, sea urchins are stripping California's coastline of its kelp. Without wolves to hunt deer and elk, those species are eating Yellowstone's fragile population of young trees. Without large meat eaters to check their populations, smaller predators such as raccoons and opossums are eating through the United States' population of songbirds and other small animals. The disappearing bear and cougar has resulted in an explosion of deer, which have out-competed many other fauna for food and are stripping our wilderness of its flora. Where the Wild Things Were explains how ecosystems depend on these top-tier predators as "keystone species." The removal of these species due to humanity's attempts to manage the wilderness causes the rest of the ecosystem to crash. The book is written well, and in language that doesn't require a degree in biology to understand.
Reviews by volunteer Robert D.
Would you like to learn how to juggle? Would you like to watch a professional juggler as he balances watermelons and raw eggs? Would you like to see him do his tricks while riding a six-foot-high unicycle?
This event has been temporarily postponed. Watch for the announcement of a new date. Can you spell zoology? Do you like animals and conservation? Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is hosting a Conservation Spelling Bee. Bring your blankets and come to watch or sign up online to participate. From conservation terms to animal species, the spelling bee will focus on words associated with the natural world and is open to students in 2nd – 5th grade. All participants will receive free admission to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo and should arrive by 1:00 pm. For attendees the program is included in the day's admission to the park. Prizes will be awarded to top competitors.