Monday, November 28, 2011

Florida Panthers - and Other Critters

This evening I am attending a Panther Program for children at our county library here in Southwest Florida. Florida panthers are highly endangered. Their first serious encounters with modern man came with hunters arriving to what then was wilderness to track down trophies. Today the panthers' challenge is to outrun the many cars speeding on the highways.

Great efforts are being taken to safeguard panthers here. The small panther is being brought to the library tonight by the Kowiachobee Animal Preserve so children may see what a baby panther looks like and so they can learn of the efforts to protect these precious panthers.

For a children's writer it's going to be fun and interesting to watch the children observing this tiny but exotic cat. And what great story seeds might sprout from here!

In our travels this year we have seen numerous and wonderful animals that would be intriguing subjects for children's books. When traveling in Bhutan we were hoping to see a yak, but alas, yaks only come down to 10,000 feet or so in the winter and in the summer and warmer months graze at around 12,000 to 14,000 feet in the mountains. But we did meet well built oxen that pulled us in carts through green rice fields one evening to visit a local village. We rode elephants, perched on wooden saddles, to tour Chitwan National Park through the jungle. Perhaps the most fascinating were the Gharial crocodiles that we viewed at a crocodile farm preserve near the park. These crocodiles are protected at the farm and efforts are made to encourage growth of their population. The Gharial crocodiles have an astounding snout! From the long tapered snout that resembles other crocodile types is an extension that is 14 to 22 inches long and an inch or so wide and looks like a pirate's sword! They appear to be an amazing leftover from prehistoric times!

What incredible creatures and critters to pop up on the pages of children's books!

I'm going to watch closely this evening and perhaps come home with a glimmer of a new story.

What critters have you encountered lately? .


  1. Trinidad was full of interesting critters -- parrots flew overhead, iguanas sunned themselves on our mailbox, howler monkeys screeched unbearably, and a large rodent called an agouti (like a giant guinea pig/rat) appeared now and then. I haven't written any stories with them yet, but you may have just inspired me. They are fascinating creatures, and fresh to many audiences.

  2. I always love to read about your travel adventures!

    As for me, I'm a sucker for howler monkeys.

  3. Julie and Judy,

    Yes - love those monkeys - but noisy! Also remember the iguanas from Costa Rica! All good subjects!


  4. Last week I encountered a cricket in my classroom sink. Catching it was an exciting start to my day. This visit was quite the coincidence- I had just taught my students about cricket symbolism. They represent good luck and autumn in Asia, while they represent summer in the United States. Crickets worldwide are believed to be harbingers of such things as death, rain, money, pregnancy, and hope. What a small creature with a big influence!