Science Made Simple: How'd That Fish Get On Your Plate?

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science a little less confusing.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.

 


Today’s Topic: How’d That Fish Get On Your Plate?

 

 Short Version: The way that seafood is caught matters. Overfishing has drastically reduced the amount of fish in the ocean. Supporting practices that encourage sustainable fishing and harvesting will improve the health of the ocean, allow marine populations to recover, and ensure that seafood stays on the menu.

Confusing Science: “More than 80% of the world’s fish stocks are considered fully exploited or overexploited (FAO, 2012) and the global marine fish catches have stabilized around 80 million tons annually since the early 1990s (FAO, 2012). However, the effort spent to catch fish has steadily increased after the catches peaked (Anticamara et al., 2011), and the fishing fleets have expanded toward deeper and more remote fishing locations (Swartz et al., 2010)” (Emanuelsson et al., 2014).

What That Really Means: To put it plainly, people love seafood. Whether it be shrimp, halibut, Bluefin tuna, or one of many other fish species, we’ve all got our favorite seafood choice. Unfortunately, to put these fish on your plate, many species are being overfished. Overfishing means that the fish are being taken out of the ocean much faster than they can reproduce. Even though more and more commercial fishermen are out on the oceans, the total amount they catch isn’t increasing. This is a good example of overfishing.

Confusing Science: “Ecosystem health and human health are closely connected and interdependent (Fleming et al. 2006). Therefore assessing and promoting sustainability requires a focus on both ecosystems and people, and active participation and commitment by the latter” (Micheli et al., 2014).

What That Really Means: If we don’t pay attention to how seafood is caught, many different types of fish will not only disappear from our menu, but also from the ocean. Luckily, there is a growing movement that is working to keep the ocean healthy by fishing sustainably. Fisherman and companies that provide seafood can make changes that will ease up on the pressure we’re putting on the ocean and allow fish populations to increase. However, if the average person doesn’t show that this issue is important, there’s not a reason for companies to make a change!

fish blog

Confusing Science:  “Generic seafood sustainability labels may not convey sufficient meaning to compel action, since consumers may fail to connect their purchases to contributing to a more sustainable fishery” (Gutierrez & Thornton, 2014).

What That Really Means: You can tell if seafood has been harvested sustainably by reading labels in restaurants and the supermarket. That’s important because as more people buy fish that was caught or farmed in environmentally responsible ways, we as consumers can show commercial fishermen and companies that we want to protect the oceans while still enjoying seafood.
What Can YOU Do?: You can help in the most deliciously simple way. All you have to do is eat or buy sustainable seafood. Next time you are buying seafood in a restaurant or in the grocery store, take 1 extra minute to read labels or ask if the fish was responsibly harvested. Promoting these environmentally friendly practices will allow us to keep a healthier planet and ensure a future for marine life! For more details on sustainable seafood, be sure you check out Seafood Watch.


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,
-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!


References:

Anticamara JA, Watson R, Gelchu A, Pauly D (2011) Global fishing effort (1950–2010): trends, gaps, and implications. Fish Res 107(1– 3):131–136

Emanuelsson, A., Ziegler, F., Pihl, L., Sköld, M., & Sonesson, U. (2014). Accounting for overfishing in life cycle assessment: new impact categories for biotic resource use.International Journal Of Life Cycle Assessment, 19(5), 1156-1168.

FAO (2012) The state of world fisheries and aquaculture. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome

Fleming, L., Broad, K., Clement, A., ( 2006). Oceans and human health: emerging public health risks in the marine environment. Mar Pollut Bull 53: 545–60.

Gutierrez, A., & Thornton, T. F. (2014). Can Consumers Understand Sustainability through Seafood Eco-Labels? A U.S. and UK Case Study. Sustainability (2071-1050), 6(11), 8195-8217.

Micheli, F., De Leo, G., Shester, G. G., Marione, R. G., Lluch-Cota, S. E., Butner, C., & … Sáenz-Arroyo, A. (2014). A system-wide approach to supporting improvements in seafood production practices and outcomes. Frontiers In Ecology & The Environment, 12(5), 297-305.

Swartz W, Sala E, Tracey S, Watson R, Pauly D (2010) The spatial expansion and ecological footprint of fisheries (1950 to present). Plos One 5(12):e15143.

Science Made Simple: Is Using Recycled Paper Really That Important?

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science a little less confusing.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.

 


Today’s Topic: Is Using Recycled Paper Really That Important?

Short Version: Trees are being cut down at an alarming rate in order to make all the different types of paper we use every day. From printer paper to toilet paper, you can help protect forests and the animals that live in them by recycling your paper and buying paper made from recycled content!
Confusing Science: “One of the most produced sanitary papers is toilet paper. The most important raw material is pulp, originates either from primary (virgin) cellulosic fibers or recovered fibers” (Vlase, 2013).

Cutting-it-down

What That Really Means: It shouldn’t surprise you that people want/need toilet paper. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, it’s pretty much recession proof and grocery stores usually devote an entire aisle to it. Wood pulp is needed to make toilet paper, and lots of trees have to be cut down as part of the production process. As we’ve talked about in previous Science Made Simple posts, anytime trees are cut down, we reduce the habitat available to animals that rely on these forests for survival.

Confusing Science: “Between 2010 and 2030, the global demand for timber products is expected to rise by 70 % (FAO 2009). In this time period, the global demand for wood-based panels will increase from 280 to 500 million tons per annum, while the production of paper and paperboard will grow from 400 to 700 million tons annually” (Obidzinksi, 2012).

What That Really Means: The amount of paper we use for writing, printing, toilet paper, etc. is astronomical. I tried really hard to find a way to put the numbers above into perspective. The picture below is a United States Navy Ford-Class aircraft carrier. The Navy specifications on this type of aircraft carrier list a weight of approximately 100,000 tons.

Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier [Media]. U.S. Navy. Retrieved from http://www.navy.com/about/equipment/vessels/carriers.html
Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier [Media]. U.S. Navy. Retrieved from http://www.navy.com/about/equipment/vessels/carriers.html
So if that ship weighs 100,000 tons, you would need FOUR THOUSAND of those ships to equal the weight of the paper currently made each year! It’s nearly impossible to think about that amount of paper.

Confusing Science: “The logging that goes toward disposable paper products is especially frustrating given how much paper continues to be wasted. Each year, US consumers dump about 35 to 40 percent of all the paper they use into dumps and landfills. According to University of Colorado’s Environmental Center, “in this decade Americans will throw away over 4.5 million tons of office paper and nearly 10 million tons of newspaper … almost all of which could be recycled” (Robbins, 2010).

wipeWhat That Really Means: In short, we are throwing away far too much paper that could be made into other products. Recycling used office paper or newspapers can reduce the number of trees needed to meet our paper demands and preserve valuable wildlife habitat.

What YOU Can Do?: Fortunately, there are lots of companies that use recycled paper in their products. You can protect forests and the animals that live in them by recycling your paper and buying paper products that are made from recycled content. Here at the  Houston Zoo, we only use toilet paper made from recycled paper, and you can help animals by doing the same!


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,
-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!


References:
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) (2009) State of the world’s forests 2009. FAO, Rome

Obidzinski, K., & Dermawan, A. (2012). Pulp industry and environment in Indonesia: is there sustainable future?. Regional Environmental Change, 12(4), 961-966.

Robbins, N. (2010). NOT A SQUARE TO SPARE. Earth Island Journal, 25(3), 57-60.

Vlase, R., Viorel, I., & Gavrilescu, D. (2013). RESOURCE CONSERVATION IN SANITARY PAPER MANUFACTURING. Environmental Engineering & Management Journal (EEMJ), 12(4), 757-762.

Science Made Simple: How Recycling Phones Helps Animals

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science a little less confusing.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.

 


Today’s Topic: How Recycling Cell Phones Helps Animals

Short Version: “Ingredients” used to make your cell phone are destructively mined from sensitive wildlife areas. Recycling your old cell phone and other electronics like cameras and laptops can help reduce the harmful mining, allowing the materials to be reused in newer devices. You can drop your old cell phone off at the zoo!

This week, I’m taking a look at what’s inside your cell phone. Don’t worry, I’ll be focusing on the hardware, not all the selfies. I’ve found a few great articles on our topic that have been published in scientific journals that should help us get a better look at what is going on. Let’s make science simple! 

ResizeConfusing Science: “At the core of eastern Congo’s regional violence are the country’s rich mineral resources. Specifically, DRC contains substantial deposits of what are commonly known as the “3 Ts”: tungsten, tantalum, and tin, as well as gold (Enough Project, 2009).” (Veale, 2013)

What That Really Means: You might have heard the term “Congo”, which is often the used to talk about The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),  a country in Central Africa. These beautiful rainforests are  home to animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, okapis and mandrills. This area also holds lots of minerals underground which are very valuable all over the world.

Confusing Science: “More than 60% of tantalum is consumed by the electronics industry for use in electrical capacitors (Bauchman, 2010) and tin replaced lead for use in the circuitry of most electronics (Montgomery, 2011).” (Veale, 2013)

What That Really Means: Tantalum is an element that is used in all sorts of electronics, including your cell phone! Because cell phones and electronics are so popular, there is a high demand for tantalum in order to make new phones and electronics. Unfortunately, getting tantalum out of the ground isn’t easy or environmentally-friendly. Huge amounts of rainforest are cut down to make room for mining operations that are destructive to wildlife. The animals near the mines are forced out because their habitat has been destroyed and the area is stripped of nearly all wildlife.

SMS-Gorilla

Confusing Science: “Further, as roads cut into previously inaccessible forests, they will pave the way for an influx of commercial bushmeat hunting to supply major urban centers and foreign labor (Wilkie & Carpenter 1999; Cowlishaw et al. 2005; van Vliet et al. 2012), and wildlife traders, who supply the international trade in pets, ivory, or medicinal products (Stiles 2011; Luiselli et al. 2012; Maisels et al. 2013). These are major extinction threats to many large bodied mammals and traded species (Barnes 2002; Fa et al. 2005).” (Edwards et al., 2014)

cell phone recycle boxWhat That Really Means: To get deep into the rainforest where the materials like tantalum are, new roads have to be made. More trees have to be cut down, and less habitat is available for the animals. The sudden growth of people in these areas causes a rise in bushmeat hunting. Bushmeat hunting is when animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, and other rare or endangered animals are hunted for food. Even more troubling is that animals near the mining are trapped or killed so that they can be sold illegally around the world.

What Can YOU Do?: It’s simple! Recycling your old cell phone and other electronics like cameras and laptops can help protect the animals in these sensitive areas, because the materials from old electronics can be reused in newer devices, reducing the amount of mining needed. You can even drop your phone in our special cell phone recycling box at the zoo!


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,

-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!


References:

A Comprehensive Approach to Congo’s Conflict Minerals – Strategy Paper | Enough Project. (2009). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.enoughproject.org/publications/comprehensive-approach-conflict-minerals-strategy-paper

Barnes, R.F.W. (2002) The bushmeat boom and bust in West and Central Africa. Oryx 36, 236-242.

Bauchman, M. (2010, December 1). Tantalum Capacitor Market Update. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.ttiinc.com/object/me-tti-20101201.html

Cowlishaw, G., Mendelson, S. & Rowcliffe, J.M. (2005). Structure and operation of a bushmeat commodity chain in southwestern Ghana. Conserv. Biol. 19, 139-149.

Edwards, D. P., Sloan, S., Weng, L., Dirks, P., Sayer, J., & Laurance, W. F. (2014). Mining and the African Environment. Conservation Letters7(3), 302-311. doi:10.1111/conl.12076

Fa, J.E., Ryan, S.F. & Bell, D.J. (2005). Hunting vulnerability, ecological characteristics and harvest rates of bushmeat species in afrotropical forests. Biol. Conserv. 121, 167-176.

Montgomery, M. (2011, January 25). Tantalum. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://tantaluminvestingnews.com/1146/rising-tantalum-prices-wodgina-mine-back-into-production/

Roots of the Crisis – Congo. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.enoughproject.org/conflict_areas/eastern_congo/roots-crisis

van Vliet, N., Nebesse, C., Gambalemoke, S., Akaibe, D. & Nasi, R. (2012). The bushmeat market in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo: implications for  conservation and food security. Oryx 46, 196-203.

Veale, E. (2013). Is There Blood on Your Hands-Free Device?: Examining Legislative Approaches to the Conflict Minerals Problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cardozo Journal Of International & Comparative Law21(2), 503-544.

Wilkie, D.S. & Carpenter, J.F. (1999). Bushmeat hunting in the Congo Basin: an assessment of impacts and options for mitigation. Biodiv. Conserv. 8, 927-955.

Science Made Simple: Ocean Plastic

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science not so confusing.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.

 


Today’s Topic: Ocean Plastic

Short Version: Buy a reusable water bottle and reusable canvas grocery bags instead of the plastic alternatives.

This week, we’ll take a look at how plastic in the ocean impacts the environment. I have found a few great articles on our topic that have been published in scientific journals that should help us get a better look at what is going on. Let’s make science simple!

sunsetConfusing Science
“The current plastic load in surface waters of the open ocean was estimated in the order of tens of thousands of tons… The abundance of nano-scale plastic particles has still not been quantified in the ocean…although available observations point to a significant abundance of microplastic particles in deep sediments…” (Cózar et al., 2014).

What That Really Means:
HUGE amounts of plastic trash are in the ocean. This plastic pollution gets into the ocean by washing down rivers and streams, blown by the wind, or simply dumped into the water. As the plastics like bottles, containers, and bags move around the ocean, they break up into smaller pieces, but do not break down all the way. Because these bits of plastic are so tiny, it is really hard to figure out how much is out there. Plastic can take centuries to decompose and until then, the small pieces will continue to pollute the ocean or sink to the ocean floor.

Ocean-ray

Confusing Science:
The literature on ingestion (and entanglement) of plastic items in marine debris is voluminous and often repetitive, and the widely reported environmental problems identified are global in character. These include: wounds (internal and external), suppurating skin lesions and ulcerating sores; blockage of digestive tract followed by satiation, starvation and general debilitation often leading to death; reduction in quality of life and reproductive capacity; drowning and limited predator avoidance; impairment of feeding capacity; and the possibility that plastic resin pellets may adsorb and concentrate potentially damaging toxic compounds from sea water (e.g. Gregory 1978, 1991; Laist 1997; Mato et al. 2001; see also the discussions in Oehlmann et al. 2009; Teuten et al. 2009)” (Gregory, 2009).

What That Really Means:
Plastic is really dangerous to animals that live in the ocean. Small pieces are often eaten, which can make animals sick or even kill them. Other types of plastic such as fishing line can become wrapped around flippers or fins, making it hard (or even impossible) to swim. Ocean animals need to swim to eat, get away from animals trying to eat them, and reproduce. Getting tangled in fishing lines or nets is often a death sentence.
Turtle-entangelment

Confusing Science:
“Though significant proportions of meso- and macroplastics may be stranding on coastlines (where some of it could be recovered), removal of microplastics, colonized by biota or mixed with organic debris, becomes economically and ecologically prohibitive, if not completely impractical to recover” (Eriksen et al., 2014).

What That Really Means:
Cleaning up plastic and trash on the beaches is incredibly helpful, but there’s more to the problem. The big pieces can be picked up, but there’s not a good way to remove the teeny tiny pieces that pollute the water and sand. Instead, we should focus on keeping plastic from getting into the ocean in the first place!

saveaturtle_bag_260pxWhat Can YOU DO?:  You can help the animals that live in the ocean by  using reusable water bottles and reusable canvas grocery bags instead of the plastic alternatives.


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,

-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!

 


 

References:

Cózar, A. a., Echevarría, F., González-Gordillo, J. I., lrigoien, X., Úbeda, B., Hemández-León, S., & … Duarte, C. M. (2014). Plastic debris in the open ocean. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 111(28), 10239-10244.

Eriksen, M., Lebreton, L. M., Carson, H. S., Thiel, M., Moore, C. J., Borerro, J. C., & Reisser, J. (2014). Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea. Plos ONE9(12), 1-15. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111913

Gregory, M. R. 1978 Accumulation and distribution of virgin plastic granules on New Zealand beaches. N. Z. J. Mar. Freshwater Res. 12, 399-414.

Gregory, M. R. (2009). Environmental Implications of Plastic Debris in Marine Settings—Entanglement, Ingestion, Smothering, Hangers-On, Hitch-Hiking and Alien Invasions.Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, (1526). 2013. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0265.

Laist, D. W. 1997 Impacts of marine debris: entanglement of marine life in marine debris including a comprehensive list of species with entanglement and ingestion records. In Marine debris, sources, impacts, and solutions (eds J. M. Coe & D. B. Rogers), pp. 99-139. New York, NY: Springer-Verla

Mato, Y, Isobe, T., Takada, H., Kahnehiro, H., Ohtake, C. & Kaminuma, O. 2001 Plastic resin pellets as a transport medium for toxic chemicals in the marine environment. Environ. Sci. Technol. 35, 318-324. (doi:10.1021/ esOO 10498

Oehlmann, J. et al 2009 A critical analysis of the biological impacts of plasticizers on wildlife. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364, 2047-2062. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.02Teuten, E. L. et al. 2009 Transport and release of chemicals from plastics to the environment and to wildlife. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 364, 2027-2045. (doi:10.1098/rstb. 2008.0284)

Science Made Simple: Palm Oil

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science not so tough.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.


 Today’s Topic: Palm Oil

Today I translate some information on palm oil and oil palm (yup, they’re different) to help everyone get a little insight into the issue. Don’t know what palm oil is? Well… chances are that you’ve probably already eaten something with palm oil in it TODAY!

Confusing Science:
The cultivation of the palm Elaeis guineensis boasts the most rapidly accelerating monoculture throughout the world. Global demand for the oil extracted from this species of plant has exploded as a result of the discovery of its far-reaching applications.

What It Really Means:
There is a type of palm tree that is called the oil palm. The oil palm grows fruit, and that fruit is used to make a special oil that people call palm oil. The two terms can be confusing when they’re used close together, so here’s an easy way to think about it:
“Oil Palm” = The whole palm tree from the sprout to the tips of the branches.
“Palm Oil” = The oil that comes out of the fruit of the palm tree.
Palm oil is an ingredient in products we use daily, including much of the food we eat. There’s a good change you’ve already used something with palm oil in it today! It’s in cosmetics, soaps, food, and much more. Because palm oil can be used in so many products, lots of people and companies want it and that means farmers need more land for growing.

This is what oil palm fruit looks like.
This is what oil palm fruit looks like.


Confusing Science:

Southeast Asian island, Borneo, continues to endure excessive deforestation as palm oil producers engage in the clear-cutting of vast swaths of rainforest for the purpose of expanding plantations and crop yields. These rainforests exist as arks of biodiversity, fostering considerable populations of endemic species.

What It Really Means:
Palm oil comes from a plant grown in places that animals like orangutans, tigers, and elephants call home. Unfortunately, the rainforests here are being cut down or burnt to make room for new palm oil farms. This is a really big deal because the rainforests are home to so many different types of animals, and some of those animals aren’t found anywhere else in the entire world. When the trees are cut down, many animals suffer.
Orang-palm-oil-blog

Confusing Science:
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) unites stakeholders from the palm oil industry to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. 1,600 members represent 40% of the palm oil industry, covering all commodity supply chain sectors.

What It Really Means:
Even though palm oil might sound like bad stuff, it is actually an important ingredient in many products. Avoiding items with palm oil altogether isn’t a realistic option, and that’s why groups like the RSPO have been formed. The RSPO helps farmers and other people who are involved in making/using palm oil. The RSPO helps them understand that if they make some changes to how palm oil is grown and produced, we can be sure that the rainforests and the animals that live in them will be around for a long time.

What Can YOU Do?: Next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at the label on what you buy. Just by learning what products contain palm oil can help you understand how important it is to protect the animals that live where oil palms are grown!


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,

-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!

Science Made Simple: Pollinators

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science…not so tough.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.


Today’s Topic: Pollinators

Confusing Science:
In the United States, the economic monetary value of services provided by pollinating insects is estimated at 24 billion dollars.

What It Really Means:
Bees and other insects pollinate so many plants, that adding up the value of all of the food like fruits, vegetables, and nuts growing because of pollinators equals about $24,000,000,000. Keep in mind, that number is just for the United States!

BLOG-pollinator

Confusing Science: 
Public access and support of insecticide applications has resulted in a significant negative relationship to the sustainability of bee colonies. Research is ongoing to determine definitive correlations between non-lethal concentrations of insecticides and lasting colony disorders in bee species; and interesting preliminary studies have been completed which quantify the residual presence of notable chemicals throughout hives.

What It Really Means:
Most home-improvement stores have many different chemicals that are made to kill ants, termites, beetles, wasps, etc. Unfortunately, those chemicals have been wiping out bees all over the world. Because bees land on all sorts of different plants, there’s a good chance at least one has been sprayed with an insecticide. Sometimes the chemicals don’t kill the bee, but cause very serious health problems that may affect its behavior and even how the bee flies. Because bees live in hives, the rest of the hive can be in danger if even one bee returns covered in toxic chemicals. Scientists are working hard to figure out how deadly this can be.

Simple Science Takeaway: Using less insecticides can help bees in a major way.


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,

-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!

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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

So sorry for the loss of this beautiful creature. Kan Balam.

Is this the one that had the limp?

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

So sorry for your loss. He was a brilliant cat and he is at peace now and free.

So sorry they had to go through this, a decision that is emotional and difficult, and necessary.

Thank you to you and your staff for the years of quality care given this magnificant creature.

Sending my love to Kan Balam's keepers ❤️ This is the hardest part of our jobs 💔

We just saw Kan Balam on Monday😔.... he will be missed❤️

I am so sorry for your loss, each of these animals are precious ....

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

Hugs to all of you keepers that took special care of Kan Balam.

Awe, I’m so sad to hear his quality of life was declining. But, I’m happy to know he had a long and wonderful life thanks to the wonderful teams at the Houston Zoo. He was a beautiful cat.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Heartfelt condolences to the veterinary and keeper staff. Thank you for taking care of him

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

Thank you for providing him with a caring and enriched life. So sorry for your loss!

My thoughts of sympathy are with you all. I can't even imagine the sadness you feel today.

So sorry to read this. It is always a hard decision. RIP and run free sweet boy.

I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a beautiful cat.

So sad. Native Houstonian. He was one of my favorites.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less

1

Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?

 

Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

Andrew Kaufmann Look its Richard Jr! 😂

Wow ... good photo shot ... show the world that you need to protect your pipe ... if not, freezing water will expand the pipe and crack the pipe !!!

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

My gutters had glaciers in them!

I fell for the mouse thing too..

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!

Cortez

Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

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