Tag Archives: African spurred tortoise

Local wildlife updates…including a very animated Darwin

I thought you might like to have an update on our local mountain lion, “P22.”  Until recently he was only known as the focus of federal biologists studying his habits to better understand how mountain lions, a protected species in California, survive in an increasingly urbanized habitat.

Born in the Santa Monica mountains, he crossed the 405 and 101 freeways (if you don’t live here you have NO idea what a feat that is even for a mountain lion) and then proceeded to make his home in Griffith Park, 4,310 acres of both natural chaparral-covered terrain, vast hiking areas, parkland and picnic areas.

P22’s notoriety spiked with last month’s mauling death of Australian-born koala, Killarney. The Los Angeles Zoo, one of the many public venues and landmark locations within Griffith Park, has taken the position of moving the koalas indoors at night while continuing to monitor the situation.

Killarney, an older koala, was not in a tree with the younger koalas, but on the ground, and an easy target. The zoo could have been granted a depredation permit to have P22 captured, relocated or euthanized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but instead the zoo’s official position is to make adaptations to the animal habitats and monitor P22 before making any further changes to his comfort in Griffith Park.

I have a feeling we may hear from him again. Stay tuned.

Sometimes the answer is animal rescue.

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We enjoyed a pleasant day on a recent visit to the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, a center for rescued wildlife. Dedicated to onsite education in wildlife biology it’s a great place to visit with young children. The Center is home to animals confiscated from people who kept them as illegal pets or are no longer able to provide adequate housing. Some have been rehabilitated  after being brought to the center for care, but are determined non-releasable. The giraffe in the photos was on property next door to the Wildlife Learning Center.

It isn’t a very large facility, but it’s worth visiting and supporting. While there, I found these animals charming enough to bring home with me.


And speaking of animals that live in our home, it’s time to share a Darwin update. He continues to be so entertaining. He is no ordinary tortoise. He comes when I call him and follows us around like a dog if he’s hungry.

He didn’t eat much at all from December to February, but he’s making up for it now with pumpkin, aloe, grass, timothy hay, hibiscus flowers and if I didn’t confine him, he’d forage my entire garden.

This past weekend we were in the backyard and heard commotion coming from the greenhouse/potting shed he uses as his winter home. I grabbed my phone and started recording the activity, thinking you might enjoy seeing him in action.

He finally settled into a slight burrow. If we didn’t monitor him, however, I am not entirely sure where he’d end up!

There are many opportunities for urban Angelenos to interact with wildlife and I am offering Darwin as my contribution to Jude’s March challenge to photograph backyard wildlife.

In case you’re not convinced Darwin qualifies as wildlife, let me share from Malibu based American Tortoise Rescue, calling upon the pet industry and private breeders to stop selling sulcatas.

Susan Tellem, co-founder of the organization said, “New owners quickly become aware of the difficulties associated with having a potentially destructive non-housebroken animal of this size. A fully-grown sulcata is strong and aggressive and can easily move furniture and damage or destroy a typical house or apartment wall. When they start to dig up the property, it looks something like a mine field.”

I rest my case.