Disney Nature: Monkey Kingdom

We recently saw Disney Nature’s newest documentary titled Monkey Kingdom, and it was pretty good. What I loved about this film that was different than previous Disney Nature pics was that they showed the interaction between the monkeys and their human neighbors. As humans develop more and more into previously wild areas, there will inevitably be some overlap. You get to see the difference in how they live between their wild home, and the one in the big city. Their sleeping habits are affected, their diets, and even their social structure. Narrated by Tina Fey, it had the typical style of other Disney Nature documentaries where the subjects are named, and the events take place from a particular animal’s perspective, in this case, an adult female monkey low in the social order. It follows the amazing journey of these monkeys from their home territory, to the big city, and back, and the female monkeys journey from the bottom to the top of the social hierarchy. I recommend this movie to both adults and children looking to learn more about nature and get a good story at the same time.


The Sea Lions of Pier 39 in San Francisco

Here are some pictures I took of the wild  California Sea Lions who lay out on the floating docs at San Francisco’s Pier 39. These are from Labor Day Weekend 2013. It was pretty crowded, both for the sea lions on the docs and for the tourists on the pier. But it is definitely a cool site to see if you are ever in the area! There are also food places and shops on the pier and Fisherman’s Wharf is a short walk away.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Best Week of the Year!

This week is the best week of the year. It’s SHARK WEEK! A week that the Discovery Channel dedicates entirely to one of the ocean’s most feared and misunderstood predators. I usually spend shark week glued to my TV, only leaving to eat and sleep. But this year I am working full time so I will have to miss out some. Lucky for me, Shark Weeks from years passed are available for instant play on Netflix. Any posts I make this week will be dedicated to sharks everywhere.

Shark Week runs from today, August 4th, through Saturday, August 10th.

Visit Shark Week’s page on the Discovery Channel website for more shark-tastic information and fun!


Review of ‘Wild’

I’ve always been into wilderness adventure books, but what I loved about this one was the raw detail that the author uses to describe her journey. Wild is a true story, more of a memoir, written by Cheryl Strayed about her summer hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to rediscover herself and come back from a dark place in her life.

Following the early death of her mother and the subsequent dissolve of her family, Cheryl’s life went into a downward spiral of drugs and devious sexual behavior. Then she found a guide book about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that started the snowball affect towards her healing.

She spares no dirty detail of her trip hiking the trail alone, though she meets some nice people along the way. You feel as though you are right there with her on the trail. You cry with her, you laugh at the funny anecdotes, and you feel like maybe you are growing and changing too. This books is inspirational to those who may have hit rockbottom and need to find a way out. It’s an inspiration to people like me who have an adventuresome spirit but may chicken out of some of the big challenges.

I read the first half of this book before hitting the road to California and listened to the rest as an audio book while driving. I definitely couldn’t put it down or stop listening. It’s so well written. I have deep respect for Cheryl doing what she did and then having the guts to write all about it without sugar coating. I definitely recommend this book.

Check out Cheryl’s site for more information: http://www.cherylstrayed.com/wild_108676.htm

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ks_QnNQ__OM]

Blackfish: A film about the largest orca in captivity and what drove him to kill

I can’t wait to see this documentary. It played at the Sarasota Film Festival while I was living there but I wasn’t able to attend. This film is about Tilikum, the largest killer whale in captivity, who has attacked and killed more than once. Tilikum lives in Sea World Orlando along with multiple other killer whales. I read somewhere that over half of the killer whales in captivity have Tilikum’s genes because of his extensive use in breeding and artificial insemination.

He, along with two other orcas, was captured from the wild in the waters of iceland back in the early ’80s. That this happened is so sad. He was only 2 or 3 years old and torn from his mother’s side. It is no wonder that he apparently has great anxiety and aggression. He is psychologically disturbed. Whales, and all cetaceans, are some of the most intelligent species on earth. There are some animals that shouldn’t be in captivity, especially those that would reside in a much larger habitat in the wild than can be provided in a park. Orcas travel the world’s oceans, live in family pods, dive deep, and have social relationships. To take such massive and sentient animals and essentially put them in a swimming pool is, not surprisingly, very controversial. The Shamu show is what draws in the big crowds to Sea World, but it is not in the best interest of the animals.

In my opinion (which you do not have to agree with), Sea World and any other place like that should not be allowed to breed cetaceans. The animals they currently own have lived in captivity so long that they cannot be released, they wouldn’t survive. But no more animals should be born into this life. It is one thing if an animal is rescued for rehabilitation and then is deemed unreleasable because of injuries or illness that wouldn’t allow it to survive in the wild. It is a completely different thing thing to intentionally kidnap them from the wild and then use them to breed even more in captivity. This is not conservation. Those animals aren’t being breed to ultimately be released and help the wild populations grow. They are being breed to be trained for a show.

I highly recommend that everyone see this film. Here is a link to showings and theaters.

Check out the trailer for Blackfish here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93beiYiE74]

A Force for Conservation: Disney

As if classics like The Lion King and Tarzan or parks like Disney World (Orlando, FL) and Disney Land (Anaheim, CA) weren’t enough to make us love Disney, they also devote a major part of their company to conservation and environmental efforts.

Those who have been to Animal Kingdom in Disney World Orlando have likely experienced the Kilimanjaro Safari ride which takes you in a large vehicle through their preserve where you can see animals like giraffes, elephants, hippos, lions, and more. These animals aren’t just for show, they are studied by Disney’s conservation research scientists. If you pay a little extra, you can even go on a more behind the scenes tour called the Wild Africa Trek. I did this a couple of years ago and you are led by a wildlife biologist guide who can answer all of your questions about the animals and the research efforts. At the end of the trek, we were able to select a conservation organization for a portion of our tour fee to be donated too. It was a really fun experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In Epcot (where I celebrated my birthday yesterday), there is an aquarium called The Seas with Nemo & Friends. At The Seas, there is a Finding Nemo ride, and the ride exits into the aquarium where you can see fish, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and more. These animals are also part of research and they even have educational displays about these animals throughout the building.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In Epcot, there is also a ride called Living With The Land that takes you through a little educational display about the history of agriculture and some of the environmental damage some practices may have caused. You then go through Disney’s greenhouse where you learn about new farming techniques they are studying with the USDA to find more efficient and less environmentally detrimental ways to farm. You even learn that a lot of the fruits and vegetables served throughout the park are grown on Disney grounds in their greenhouse.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Epcot is also home to one of my favorite rides starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy called Ellen’s Energy Adventure. On this ride, you travel into Ellen’s dream and go back to when the dinosaurs walked the earth to learn about where our fossil fuels come from and then Bill Bye teaches her about the future of alternate energy sources like wind and solar power.

On top of the environmentally educational attractions in the parks, Disney also funds and collaborates on a lot of conservation projects through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and through their Disneynature documentaries.

The Disneynature documentaries come out every year on Earth Day and always give you great information and glimpses into the lives of living things. Favorites of mine have been African Cats, Chimpanzee, and Oceans. The film that will be coming out on Earth Day 2014 is to be called BEARS.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFl6guPcHvg]

Disney does so much in the way of conservation and education and teaching the next generation about conserving the world around them. It’s no wonder I love Disney so much. I feel like there are probably a lot of people out there who may not realize all that Disney does.

Epcot: The Seas With Nemo & Friends

Some pictures from my birthday trip to Epcot today. They have some really cool animals at the Seas With Nemo & Friends (and Animal Kingdom, but we didn’t go there today).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.