Top Ten Critically Endangered Animals

posted May 7, 2015, 5:15 AM by Unknown user

Jessica Lawrence

  1. Amur Leopard

A rare subspecies, the amur leopard has adapted to life in the temperate forests that make up the northern-most part of the species’

range in the Russian Far East.  Known as the world’s rarest cat, the amur leopard’s population consists of approximately 60 individuals, and averages a life of 10-15 years in the wild.
  1. Black Rhino

Poaching is the number one reason for the endangerment of many species today, and during the 20th century it was especially problematic.  European settlers arrived in Africa during the early 1900s to colonize the land and establish farms and plantations, but not without the brutal, senseless continuation of the slaughtering to these innocent animals.  For this reason there are less than 5,000 black rhinos left in the world, and bringing the population back to what it once was is proving more difficult than expected.

  1. Cross River Gorilla

Due to the wariness of these gorillas, scientists have been unable to count many of the cross river gorillas directly.  Researches have recently used indirect signs, like counting nests, to estimate the number of these creatures and have determined there are only 200 to 300 of these gorillas left in the world.  Cross river gorillas are scattered in at least 11 groups across the lowland montane forests of Cameroon and Nigeria, only twice the size of Rhode Island.

  1. Hawksbill Turtle

With a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges, these colored and patterned

shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as “tortoiseshell” in markets.  Hawksbills are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds.
  1. Javan Rhino

As the most threatened of the five rhino species, the javan rhino has as few as 35 surviving individuals in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia.  Javan rhinos were killed by trophy hunters during the colonial times.  Poaching remains an ever-present threat and ultimately was the reason for the wipeout of the javan rhinos in Vietnam in 2010.

  1. Leatherback Turtle

Leatherback turtles are the largest sea turtle species and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Pacific leatherbacks migrate from nesting beaches in the Coral Triangle to the California coast to feed on the abundant jellyfish every summer and fall.  Numbers of these turtles have seriously declined during the last century due to intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch, most commonly found in Southeast Asia as a culture of legal egg collecting.

  1. Mountain Gorilla

Thicker fur helps these gorillas survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing; but as humans have increasingly moved into their territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and deadly conditions.  Despite an encroaching human population and poaching, mountain gorillas have increased their numbers in recent years, though there are still less than 1,000 of them.
  1. Pangolin

Often referred to as “scaly anteaters” because of their preferred diet and outward appearance, pangolins are increasingly victims of illegal wildlife crime in Asia and Africa for their meat and scales.  There are eight pangolin species, and all are protected under national and international laws, and two are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

  1. Saola

Often called the Asian unicorn, little is known about the saola since it’s discovery in 1992.  None exist in captivity and this rarely-seen mammal is already critically endangered.  They are found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos.
  1. South China Tiger

The South China tiger population was estimated to number 4,000 in the 1950s.  Throughout the next several decades thousands were killed as the subspecies was hunted as a pest.  The Chinese government banned hunting in 1979, and by 1996 the population was estimated to be just 30-80 individuals.  Today the South China tiger is considered by scientist to be “fundamentally extinct,” as it has not been sighted in the wild for almost three decades.

Photos courtesy of: (fair use)

H2O, Where Did You Go?

posted Apr 23, 2015, 11:42 AM by Unknown user

Emily Anderbery


With the snow fall for California being at a record low this year, California faces one of the most severe droughts in history. In January, Governor Edmund Brown declared a drought State of Emergency, and directed officials to make necessary preparations to prepare for the water shortages.

State Water Board Chair, Felicia Marcus, states in a recent announcement, “Today’s announced February results are very disturbing

 and provides even more support for the Governor’s call for an immediate 25 percent mandatory reduction in urban water use statewide. I know many communities in the state stepped up since last summer and dramatically conserved water. But not enough communities in the state have saved enough water. Beginning today, to assure their own water security as well as help others, communities should restrict outdoor irrigation to the bare minimum. If we dramatically stop watering out-of-doors, we should be able to reduce water use by 25 percent or more in the next several months since an average of 50 percent of urban water use is used outdoors.”

According to, on April 1, an Executive Order was issued by Governor Brown, mandating the 25 percent reduction in water use for urban water users. A sliding scale will be used, where the districts with a greater reduction will be able to use a greater percentage of water, compared to those who have reduced water use. This will confront the problem of certain urban area’s lack of conservation.

The State Water Board is using an expanded emergency conservation regulation in order to save the state’s remaining water 
supplies. The state hopes that the measures that are being taken will help aid the occupants in the fourth consecutive dry year.

The Dangers of Tanning

posted Apr 23, 2015, 10:53 AM by Unknown user

Morgan Drake

It’s prom season once again and selfies of people in tanning beds are popping up all over Instagram. What may seem like an easy way to look sunkissed for your dress is actually deadly. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) states that tanning bed radiation is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation. Think that’s not too bad? Tanning beds have joined others on the list such as plutonium and certain types of radium.

The IARC report cited research showing that tanning is especially hazardous to young people; those who use sunbeds before age 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. The authors also pointed to studies showing a link between UV radiation from indoor tanning devices and melanomas of the skin and eyes. Melanoma will kill an estimated 8,650 people in the US this year alone. And melanoma isn't the only problem: people who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma kills an estimated 2,500 Americans a year.

The report received widespread publicity from news organizations, and brought attention to a lack of laws and oversight limiting minors' access to UV tanning devices. This lack of controls affects millions of teenagers: A 2003 study found that almost 37 percent of white females and over 11 percent of white males between 13 and 19 years old in the US have used tanning beds. Some states permit children under 14 to tan if they are simply accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In June, Texas drew attention from all over the country when it enacted the strictest tanning law in the nation, banning children under age 16 from indoor tanning and requiring in-person parental consent for everyone under 18. In Delaware, a recently passed law prohibits those under 14 from tanning facilities unless they have a doctor's prescription and requires those under 18 to have a parent or guardian sign a consent form in the presence of a tanning facility operator. Bills pending in Georgia, Hawaii, and Kansas would require the written, in-person consent of a parent or guardian for those under 18. And Minnesota is considering a law that would ban those under 16 from using tanning facilities; this is already the law in Wisconsin.

Keep this in mind next time you slather on tanning oil or hop in a tanning bed. You might regret it later on when you have skin cancer or look like a leather couch...or both.

Zoos: The Pros and Cons

posted Apr 23, 2015, 10:37 AM by Unknown user

KiaLynne Bland

    Last Friday, Biology I and F.F.A. students took a trip to the Toledo Zoo to walk around freely and view animals. There were, as always, several different animals to gawk at and enjoy, but if you looked closely, you’d notice many of them laying lifeless in their cages, or pacing back and forth in their “environment”. This is mostly a result of distress from the animals, as they feel anxious and uneasy residing in a small cage with hundreds of people around them everyday.

At the end of the trip, Biology I students were to answer a number of questions regarding to zoos and how they treat their animals. This brought up a discussion in my class period on whether zoos are more harmful and hurtful than helpful and entertaining. Many were indifferent or torn between the two options, as it is very easy to view both sides of the controversial topic.

I decided to look into the pros and cons of zoos with myself being wishy-washy on the issue. Here is a list of all the possible pros and cons of zoos that I could think of/find.

  • Endangered species

Pros: Many of the animals held in zoos are endangered, and keeping their species in zoos could potentially prevent the species from dying off faster if it were to be living in its natural habitat. Zoos could offer protection from its predators such as other animals and humans.

Cons: While it may seem that this could help the endangered species grow, it might not. With many of the endangered species being held in zoos, the animals of the same species who are not residing with them in the zoo could die off quickly, as there are less and less of their own species living with them. It could make it harder to reproduce in its original environment, which could result in the population of the species to drop.

  • Educational/research purposes

Pros: The main purpose for my field trip to the zoo was to inform us about the type of organisms and species that roam around on our planet. Zoos are a great way to get an upclose look at the animals that we don’t see in our backyards, concluding in getting a better understanding of how their habitat is suppose to be, what they eat, and how they react with one another. They could possibly interest someone in animals, which could spread awareness for the species. And for those who are trying to research the species, it is easier to do so in a zoo, as zoos provide a limited amounted space for the animal, making it easier to view and study the animal with getting a closer look to it.

Cons: As horrible as it sounds, many people don’t think about how the animal is doing in captivity as they are viewing it. Most people don’t go to the zoo for educational purposes, even if the reason why they are there is to learn about animals. They go for entertainment, and it’s hard to care about the animal’s well-being if you are seeking for entertainment from it. The animal is often provoked by teasing from its viewers, which could cause some psychological damage to it. Researchers also don’t get accurate results or information while studying in the zoo. Zoos don’t provide 100 percent of the animal’s natural environment, and because of that, researchers don’t truly get to see how the animal reacts within its habitat or with its species.

  • Environment

Pros: A species’ natural environment may not be the safest place for it to live in; there are several dangerous things among their habitat that could cause a threat to it and its species. With that being said, zoos protect its animals from living in deadly environments, which ties in with the protection of endangered species.

Cons: Zoo animals are kept within a cage or fenced in area. Their space and freedom is limited, and the environment in which it is living in is truly not its environment. Zoo animals are put under stress with not being able to run around like it normally would, and with several people being around it daily. Animals being captured from its original environment and taken to an “off-version” of it is cruel, and those being born into a zoo will never get a real taste of what it could be living in; if they were to be set free for some reason, it would struggle immensely.

With many sides and debates being brought up of zoos, it is hard to pick a solid side, which is why I, along with many others, may never have a clear opinion on zoos and their purpose.


posted Apr 23, 2015, 10:36 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 23, 2015, 10:39 AM ]

Walter Scott Shooting

posted Apr 13, 2015, 5:32 AM by Unknown user

Morgan Drake

On April 7, 2015, Michael Slager, a white South Carolina police officer, was charged with murder after a video surfaced of him shooting Walter Scott, a supposedly unarmed black man multiple times in the back.

Slager said he feared for his life because Scott had taken his taser in a fight after a traffic stop for a broken taillight. However, the video clearly shows Scott running away from Slager without anything in his hands, followed by eight shots fired at Scott’s back. Slager then proceeded to yell at and handcuff Scott’s dead body, then drop something by him (said to be the taser Scott “stole” fromImage result for walter scott shooting him).

With previous police shootings occurring in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York, this only made previously calmed issues heat up again. These deaths, along with Walter Scott’s have sparked a national debate on whether police are too quick to use force, particularly on black men. Despite this, Scott’s family have called for peace, asking that “justice run its course.”

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident and Scott’s family said they will be filing a civil lawsuit against the police. Slager has not commented on the incident since his arrest, but before the video surfaced, he said he fired because he feared for his life when he and Scott fought over his taser.

So is Slager innocent or guilty? When can police legitimately shoot at a convict? Police are only allowed to shoot if:

  1. they are protecting their life or the life of someone else;

  2. they are preventing a suspect from escaping when there is a probable cause that the suspect “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

While the immediate response would be that the officer is guilty, unfortunately there is more to the case than just this video evidence. For both circumstances, it doesn’t matter whether there is an actual threat when deadly force is used. All that matters is the officer’s “objectively reasonable” belief that in that moment, there was a threat.Image result for walter scott shooting

Therefore, what this case ultimately comes down to is whether or not Slager had a good reason to believe 50 year old Scott posed a threat to him or others when he fired the eight shots. Although some argue that this gives law enforcement a license to kill, police officers say that it is essential to their safety. Slager has not yet been convicted  for this incident, as evidence is still being reviewed, and a verdict must be reached.

A History of St. Patrick's Day

posted Apr 13, 2015, 5:26 AM by Unknown user

Morgan Drake

St. Patrick’s day, the day people pretend to be Irish, is a beloved holiday to many, but what’s the story behind all the green?

Did you know St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish? Although he wasn’t born Irish, St. Patrick was considered the patron saint of Ireland. He became a huge part of Irish heritage due to his services throughout Ireland in the 5th century.

Born in the later half of the 4th century, Patrick had a normal childhood. That is, until he was kidnapped by pirates and sold in slavery in Ireland. He was there for a total of six years and spent most of the time imprisoned. It was there that he is said to have experienced God, and legend states that because of this he was able to escape on a getaway ship. Image result for st patrick's day

After his escape, Patrick joined a monastery in France and studied there for 12 years. After becoming a bishop, he had a dream that he needed to go back to Ireland and tell people about God. Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts among the royal families. Patrick was arrested several times, as it upset the Celtic Druids, but escaped each time. For 20 years he had traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.

By the end of the 7th century Patrick had become a legendary figure and the legends continue today. Ever wonder why Image result for st patrick's dayshamrocks are a symbol of St. Patrick’s day? It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, hence its strong association with his day and name. There also is a legend that Patrick put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland, forcing them into the sea where they drowned. 

True, these are mostly legends. But, after some 1500 years, these legends have been inseparably combined with the facts, and together they have helped us know much about the Saint and the spirit behind celebration of the day.

Although it was originally a Catholic holiday, it has become a much more secular holiday. The St. Patrick’s day that we know today has become a day filled with leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and lots and lots of green!

Staying Safe From the Superbug

posted Apr 13, 2015, 5:22 AM by Unknown user

Morgan Drake

For nearly a century, bacteria-fighting drugs known as antibiotics have helped to control and destroy many of the harmful bacteria that can make us sick. But in recent decades, antibiotics have been losing their punch against some types of bacteria. In fact, certain bacteria are now unbeatable with today’s medicines. Sadly, the way we’ve been using antibiotics is helping to create new drug-resistant “superbugs.”

Superbugs are strains of bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics. Each year these drug-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people nationwide and kill at least 23,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and staph infections are just a few of the dangers we now face. Image result for superbug

Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs for people. They’re also given to livestock to prevent disease and promote growth. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections, such as strep throat and some types of pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and ear infections. But these drugs don’t work at all against viruses, such as those that cause colds or flu.

Unfortunately, many antibiotics prescribed to people and to animals are unnecessary. And the overuse and misuse of antibiotics helps to create drug-resistant bacteria.

Over time, if more and more people take antibiotics when not necessary, drug-resistant bacteria can continue to thrive and spread. They may even share their drug-resistant traits with other bacteria. Drugs may become less effective or not work at all against certain disease-causing bacteria.

You can help slow the spread of drug-resistant bacteria by taking antibiotics properly and only when needed. Don’t insist on an antibiotic if your healthcare provider advises otherwise.While scientists search for ways to beat back these stubborn bacteria, you can help by preventing the spread of germs so we depend less on antibiotics in the first place.

The best way to prevent bacterial infections is by washing your hands frequently with soap and water. It’s also a good idea not to share personal items such as towels or razors. And use antibiotics only as directed. We can all do our part to fight drug-resistant bacteria.

Addicting and Deadly: OCD

posted Apr 13, 2015, 5:20 AM by Unknown user

Although many television shows and movies depict Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, as a comedic disease, it is far from that. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a common anxiety disorder that causes one to be obsessed with a number of different things, such as organizing or keeping up a routine. OCD also causes unnecessary fears like the fear of contamination or fear of death. This disorder is often very dangerous to one’s health, both physically, emotionally, and socially.

Everyone has habits. You might have to organize your room or else it drives you insane. You might be a clean freak, therefore you’re Image result for ocdalways washing your hands. These common habits don’t even come close to the obsession and compulsion those with OCD struggle with. They have intrusive, disturbing thoughts or fears that cannot be ignored and compel the sufferer to engage in ritualistic, irrational behaviors to relieve the resulting anxiety.

An excessive fear of germs may prompt repetitive hand-washing or a refusal to touch doorknobs or use objects handled by another person. But the rituals they perform may be unrelated to the anxieties that trigger them: opening and closing doors an exact number of times, for example, or stepping over every crack or line, or counting to a certain number before performing an activity.

People with OCD know that their thoughts and actions are not realistic, but they cannot stop themselves from behaving this way. Performing compulsive rituals only temporarily relieves their anxiety, resulting in a need to re-enact them again and again.

All of these rituals take up a great deal of time, making it next to impossible for one to live a normal life. Compulsions such as hoarding can make it hard to have people over, and cleanliness can cause people to become isolated in fear of becoming contaminated by friends and family.

Image result for ocd

Without the correct treatment, OCD will not be resolved on its own. Therapy is the number one method of treatment, forcing patients to push themselves beyond their limits. Many have to come face to face with their fears and overcome them. Certain anxiety medications may be used as well.

One in three people have some form of OCD, and it is a serious problem. The best thing to do when dealing with someone with OCD is to just be patient. They want the problem to be gone as much as anyone else.

Ferguson's Never-Ending Crime

posted Mar 23, 2015, 11:20 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 23, 2015, 11:21 AM ]

KiaLynne Bland

    It all started Aug. 9, 2014, when Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old man was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white Ferguson, Miss. police officer. Since then, Ferguson has been the city known as a never-ending crime scene.

Wilson was decided by a grand jury as not guilty on Nov. 24, 2014. Though several protests occurred throughout America because of the grand jury’s decision, Ferguson was kept off the news for many months since Wilson’s fate. That all changed March 4, 2015, when The U.S. Justice Department announced they would not prosecute Wilson in Brown’s death, and released a report criticizing the city’s police department and law enforcement for racial bias.

According to The U.S. Justice Department’s report, Ferguson’s black citizens are subjected to excessive police force such as wrongly stopped traffic stops and getting stopped just for walking down the street. Racist emails were also unfolded, some insulting President Barack Obama for his race.

As a result of the reports, several more protests took place throughout Ferguson, and Thomas Jackson, Ferguson’s police chief resigned. Jackson’s resignation is effective March 19, and is one of six Ferguson police department’s employees to be fired or to resign.

Image courtesy of:

In addition to the unfortunate events that took place in Ferguson, two St. Louis surrounding police officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department during a protest on March 12, one in the shoulder and one in the face. A massive manhunt for the shooter took place, and eventually led to 20-year-old Jeffrey Williams. Williams was arrested and charged with 1 count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, 2 counts of first-degree assault, and 3 counts of armed criminal activity. His bond is set for $300,000 in cash, with a possibility of more counts being added on, along with others being charged with him. Though Williams’ motive is unclear, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says, "We could have buried two police officers. I feel very confident that whoever did this --- came there for whatever nefarious reason that it was."

With all that has happened in Ferguson over the past months, it’s obvious that the city is in need of desperate need of healing. Many news reporters, including Ferguson’s citizens, agree that in order for healing to occur, all major officials need to step down in order for Ferguson to start new and fresh. However, mayor James Knowles says he has no plans to resign, and continues to try to provide support for the city. The citizens are not pleased by this, and are working to try to persuade Knowles to step down.

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