Penguin Awareness Day

Penguin awareness Day takes place annually on 20 January. The purpose of Penguin Awareness Day is to educate people concening the issues faced by penguins and bring international focus on the conservation of penguin habitats.

Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds of the order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscida . There Are many species of Penguin including the Emperor, King, Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap, Galapagos and Macaroni Penguins. They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos penguin, found north of the equator. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sea life which they catch while swimming underwater. They spend roughly half of their lives on land and the other half in the sea.

Although almost all penguin species are native to the Southern Hemisphere, they are not found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin live so far south. Several species are found in the temperate zone, and one species, the Galápagos penguin, lives near the equator.

The largest living species is the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri): on average, adults are about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall and weigh 35 kg (77 lb). The smallest penguin species is the little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor), also known as the fairy penguin, which stands around 40 cm (16 in) tall and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb). Among extant penguins, larger penguins inhabit colder regions, while smaller penguins are generally found in temperate or even tropical climates (see also Bergmann’s rule). Some prehistoric species attained enormous sizes, becoming as tall or as heavy as an adult human. These were not restricted to Antarctic regions; on the contrary, subantarctic regions harboured high diversity, and at least one giant penguin occurred in a region around 2,000 km south of the equator 35 Million years ago, in a climate which was warmer than today.

Other National Events or Holidays taking place 20 January

  • National Disc Jockey Day
  • Camcorder Day
  • National Buttercrunch Day
  • National Cheese Lovers Day
  • Penguin Awareness Day
  • Take a Walk Outdoors Day
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Peter Cook

The late great English actor, satirist, writer and comedian Peter Cook tragically died on 9 January 1995, aged 57, having suffered a gastrointestinal haemorrhage. He was born 17 November 1937. he is regarded as An extremely influential figure in modern British comedy & a leading light of the British satire boom of the 1960s & has been described by Stephen Fry as “the funniest man who ever drew breath”. Cook was closely associated with anti-establishment comedy which emerged in Britain and the United States in the late 1950s. Educated at Radley College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, Cook joined the Cambridge University Liberal Club & It was at Pembroke thatCook performed and wrote comedy sketches as a member of the Cambridge Footlights Club, of which he became president in 19which was60′s, & wrote for Kenneth Williams, before joining a four-man group satirical stage show, Beyond the Fringe, with Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore, which included Cook impersonating the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.In 1961 Cook opened the Establishment club in central London. Cook said it was a satirical venue modelled on “those wonderful Berlin cabarets… which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War”. Cook befriended and supported Australian comedian and actor Barry Humphries, who began his British solo career at the club. Cook’s chiselled looks and languid manner led Humphries to observe that whereas most people take after their father or mother, Cook seemed more like an aunt. Dudley Moore’s jazz trio also played in the basement of the club during the early 1960s.

In 1962, the BBC commissioned a pilot for a television series of satirical sketches based on the Establishment club, cacook That Was The Week That Was ‘.Around this time, Cook provided financial backing for the satirical magazine Private Eye. For a time, the magazine was produced from the premises of the Establishment club. Cook ‘s first regular television spot was on Granada Television’s Braden Beat with Bernard Braden, where he featured his most enduring character: the static, dour and monotonal E.L. Wisty.Cook’s comedy partnership with Dudley Moore led to Not Only… But Also. Using few props, they created dry and absurd television. Cook played characters such as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling and the two men created their Pete and Dud alter egos. Other sketches included “Superthunderstingcar”, a parody of the Gerry Anderson marionette TV shows, and Cook’s pastiche of 1960s trendy artsdocumentaries – satirised in a TV segment on Greta Garbo. A compilation of six half-hour programmes, The Best of What’s Left of Not Only…But Also. Cook and Moore began to act in films together such as With The Wrong Box (1966) and Bedazzled (1967) , the underlying story of Bedazzled is a comic parody of Faust, which stars Cook as George Spigott (The Devil) who tempts Stanley Moon (Moore), a frustrated, short-order chef, with the promise of gaining his heart’s desire – the unattainable beauty and waitress at his cafe, Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron) – in exchange for his soul, but repeatedly tricks him. The film features cameo appearances by Barry Humphries as Envy and Raquel Welch as Lust. Moore composed the soundtrack music and co-wrote (with Cook) the songs performed in the film. In 1968, Cook and Moore did four one-hour programmes entitled Goodbye Again with John Cleese ,which were based on the Pete and Dud characters.

ln 1970, Cook took over a a satirical film called The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer . As a reult Cook became a favourite of the chat show circuit sadly his own effort at hosting one for the BBC in 1971, Where Do I Sit? didn’t work and He was replaced by Michael Parkinson, which started Parkinson’s career as a chat show host. Cook and Moore used sketches from Not Only….But Also and Goodbye Again with new material for a stage revue called Behind the Fridge. Which proved very popular and won Tony and Grammy Awards. When it finished, Moore stayed in the U.S. to pursue a film career in Hollywood. Cook returned to Britain and recorded the more risqué humour of Pete and Dud like “Derek and Clive”. One of these audio recordings was also filmed Two further Derek and Clive albums were released, the last accompanied by a film.In 1978 Cook appeared on British music series Revolver where emerging punk and new wave acts played . Cook also played multiple roles on the 1977 concept album Consequences, which was A mixture of spoken comedy and progressive rock with an environmental subtext. Cook appeared at the first three fund-raising galas staged by humourists John Cleese and Martin Lewis on behalf of Amnesty International. The benefits were dubbed The Secret Policeman’s Balls, where he performed on all three nights of the first show in April 1976, A Poke in the Eye (with a Sharp Stick), as an individual performer and as a member of the cast of Beyond The Fringe, which reunited for the first time since the 1960s. He also appeared in a Monty Python sketch, taking the place of Eric Idle. Cook was on the cast album of the show and in the film, Pleasure At Her Majesty’s. He was in the second Amnesty gala in May 1977, An Evening Without Sir Bernard Miles. It was retitled The Mermaid Frolics. Cook performed monologues and skits with Terry Jones.

In June 1979, Cook performed all four nights of The Secret Policeman’s Ball – teaming with John Cleese. Cook also performed a couple of solo pieces and a sketch with Eleanor Bron, PLUS the “End Of The World” sketch from Beyond The Fringe., he also wrote and voiced radio commercials to advertise the film in the UK. He also hosted a spoof film awards ceremony that was part of the world première of the film in London in March 1982. Following Cook’s 1987 stage reunion with Moore for the annual U.S. benefit for the homeless, Comic Relief (not related to the UK Comic Relief benefits), Cook repeated the reunion for a British audience by performing with Moore at the 1989 Amnesty benefit The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball. In 1980, Cook moved to Hollywood and appeared as an uptight English butler to a wealthy American woman in a short-lived U.S. television sitcom The Two of Us, In 1980, Cook starred in l Peter Cook & Co. which included memorable, comedy sketches, such as a Tales of the Unexpected parody “Tales Of The Much As We Expected”. The cast included John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Beryl Reid, Paula Wilcox and Terry Jones. ln 1983 Cook played the role of Richard III in the first episode of Blackadder, “The Foretelling”, which parodies Laurence Olivier’s portrayal. He narrated the short film “Diplomatix” by Norwegian comedy trio Kirkvaag, Lystad and Mjøen, which won the “Special Prize of the City of Montreux” at the Montreux Comedy Festival in 1985. In 1986 he partnered Joan Rivers on her UK talk show. He appeared as Mr Jolly in 1987 in The Comic Strip Presents’ Mr Jolly Lives Next Door.In 1988, Cook appeared as a contestant on the improvisation comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Cook was declared the winner, his prize being to read the credits in the style of a New York cab driver. Cook returned to the BBC as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling for an appearance with Ludovic Kennedy in A Life in Pieces. The 12 interviews saw Sir Arthur recount his life based on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Unscripted interviews with Cook as Streeb-Greebling and satirist Chris Morris were recorded in late 1993 and broadcast as Why Bother? on BBC Radio 3. On 17 December 1993, Cook appeared on Clive Anderson Talks Back as four characters – biscuit tester and alien abductee Norman House, football manager and motivational speaker Alan Latchley, judge Sir James Beauchamp and rock legend Eric Daley. he also read links for Arena’s “Radio Night”. He also appeared, in the 1993 Christmas special of One Foot in the Grave (“One Foot in the Algarve”), playing a muckraking tabloid journalist.

Cook made his last TV appearance in November 1994. Cook died in the intensive-care unit of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London. Days earlier he had been taken in and announced, “I feel a bit poorly”. Dudley Moore attended Cook’s memorial service in London in May 1995 and he and Martin Lewis presented a two-night memorial for Cook in Los Angeles the following November, to mark what would have been Cook’s 58th birthday.Cook is acknowledged as the one of the main influence on British comedians from amateur dramatic clubs of British universities to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and then to the radio and television.ln 1999 the minor planet 20468 Petercook, in the main asteroid belt, was named after him.Ten years after his death, Cook was ranked at number one in the Comedians’ Comedian, a poll of 300 comics, comedy writers, producers and directors. Channel 4 broadcast Not Only But Always, a TV film dramatising the relationship between Cook and Moore, with Rhys Ifans portraying Cook. At the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe a play, , examined the relationship from Moore’s view, Pete and Dud: Come Again. Tom Goodman-Hill played Cook.At the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Goodbye – the (after)life of Cook & Moore was presented at the Gilded Balloon. The play imagined the newly dead Moore meeting Cook in Limbo, also inhabited by other comic actors with whom they had worked, including Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams. In May 2009 the play was seen again in London’s West End at the Leicester Square Theatre ) with Jonathan Hansler as Cook, Adam Bampton Smith as Moore and Clive Greenwood as everyone else.A green plaque was unveiled by the Heritage Foundation at the site of the Establishment club on 15 February 2009.

Gerald Durrell

British naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter. Gerald Malcolm Durrell, OBE was born 7 January 1925 in Jamshedpur, India. He was the fourth and final child of Louisa Florence Dixie and Lawrence Samuel Durrell. Durrell’s father was a British engineer and, as was commonplace and befitting the family status, the infant Durrell spent most of his time in the company of an ayah (nursemaid). Durrell reportedly recalled his first visit to a zoo in India and attributed his lifelong love of animals to that encounter. The family moved to Britain shortly before the death of his father in 1928 and settled in the Upper Norwood, Crystal Palace area of South London Durrell was enrolled in Wickwood School, but frequently stayed at home feigning illness.

Mrs. Durrell moved with her three younger children (Leslie, Margaret and Gerald) to the Greek island of Corfu in 1935, joining her eldest son, Lawrence, who was living there with his wife. It was on Corfu that Durrell began to collect and keep the local fauna as pets. The family lived on Corfu until 1939. This interval was later the basis of the book My Family and Other Animals and its successors, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods, plus a few short stories such as “My Donkey Sally”. Durrell was home-schooled during this time by various family friends and private tutors, mostly friends of his eldest brother Lawrence (who later became a successful novelist).

Theodore Stephanides, a Greek doctor, scientist, poet, philosopher and a friend of one of Durrell’s tutors, became Durrell’s greatest friend and mentor, his ideas leaving a lasting impression on the young naturalist. Together, they examined Corfu’s fauna, which Durrell housed in a variety of items including test tubes and bathtubs. Stephanides’ daughter, Alexia Mercouri (born 1927), accompanied the two on their field trips. Another major influence during these formative years, according to Durrell, was the writing of French naturalist Jean Henri Fabre.

In 1939 Gerald, his mother, his brother Leslie and their Greek maid Maria Kondos moved back to Britain. However It was difficult to find a job during the Second World war and post-war years, especially for a home-schooled youth, but the enterprising Durrell worked as a helper at an aquarium and pet store. His call-up for the war came in 1943, but he was exempted from military duty on medical grounds, and asked to serve the war effort by working on a farm. After the war, Durrell joined Whipsnade Zoo as a junior or student keeper fulfilling a lifelong dream. Durrell left Whipsnade Zoo in May 1946 in order to join wildlife collecting expeditions of the time, but was denied a place in the voyages due to his lack of experience.

Durrell’s wildlife expeditions began with a 1947 trip to the British Cameroons (now part of Cameroon) with ornithologist John Yealland, financed by a £3,000 inheritance from his father on the occasion of his turning 21. The animals he brought back were sold to London Zoo, Chester Zoo, Paignton Zoo, Bristol Zoo and Belle Vue Zoo (Manchester). He continued such excursions for many decades, during which time he became famous for his work for wildlife conservation. He followed this successful expedition with two others, accompanied by fellow Whipsnade zookeeper Ken Smith: a repeat trip to the British Cameroon, and to British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1949 and 1950 respectively and met and befriended the shrewd and colourful Fon of Bafut Achirimbi II, an autocratic West African chieftain, who helped him organise future

Durrell was dedicated to looking after the animals he collected and housed and fed his captives with the best supplies obtainable, never over-collecting specimens, never trapping animals having merely “show value”, or those which would fetch high prices from collectors. Unfortunately Durrell and George Cansdale, superintendent at London Zoo, fell out and Durrell was blackballed by the British zoo community and could not secure a job in most zoos, ultimately securing a job at the aquarium at Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester where he remained for some time. Gerald Durrell married Jacqueline (‘Jacquie’) Sonia Wolfenden in 1951 after eloping due to opposition from her father They moved to Durrell’s sister Margaret’s Bournemouth boarding house. Jacquie accompanied Durrell on most of his following animal expeditions and helped found and manage the Jersey Zoo. With encouragement and assistance from Jacquie, and advice from elder brother Lawrence, Gerald Durrell started writing humorous autobiographical accounts to fund his expeditions and conservation efforts. His first book The Overloaded Ark was such a success, he wrote others including My Family and other Animals, A Zoo in My Luggage, Beasts in my Belfry, The Stationary Ark, Garden of the Gods. He visited South America again in 1954 however this was abandoned due to political unrest in Paraguay.

The publication of My Family and Other Animals in 1956 made Durrell a notable author and brought him public recognition as a naturalist and also helped to fund Durrell’s next expedition. Durrell’s disliked the way zoos were run, and believed that they should primarily act as reserves and regenerators ro conserve of endangered species, this made him contemplate founding his own zoo. So in 1957 he journeyed to Cameroon for the third and last time to collect animals which would form the core collection of his own zoo. This expedition was also filmed, as “To Bafut with Beagles”, this together with his autobiographical radio programme Encounters with Animals, made Durrell a regular with the BBC Natural History unit. On returning from Bafut, Durrell and wife Jacquie stayed with his sister Margaret at her boarding house in Bournemouth. His animals were housed in her gardens and garage on a temporary basis, while Durrell sought prospective sites for a zoo. This experience provided material for his book A Zoo in My Luggage.

In 1959 Durrell founded the Jersey Zoological Park (now Durrell Wildlife Park) to house his growing collection of animals. The site for the zoo, was a 17th-century manor house, Les Augres Manor, which Durrell leased to set up his zoo on the redesigned manor grounds. In the same year, Durrell undertook another, more successful expedition to South America to collect endangered species. The zoo was opened to the public in 1959. Both The zoo and the number of projects undertaken to save threatened wildlife in other parts of the world expanded and Durrell was instrumental in founding the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (now Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust), on 6 July 1963 to cope with the increasingly difficult challenges of zoo, wildlife and habitat management.

In 1971 The Trust opened an international wing, the Wildlife Preservation Trust International, in the United States, to aid international conservation efforts in a better fashion. That year, the Trust bought out Les Augres Manor from its owner, Major Hugh Fraser, giving the zoo a permanent home. Durrell’s initiative caused the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society to start the World Conference on Breeding Endangered Species in Captivity as an Aid to their Survival in 1972 at Jersey, today one of the most prestigious conferences in the field. In 1972 Princess Anne also became a patron of the Trust. During The 1970s Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust became a leading zoo in the field of captive breeding, championing the cause among species like the lowland gorilla, and various Mauritian fauna. Durrell visited Mauritius several times coordinating large scale conservation efforts in Mauritius with conservationist Carl Jones, involving captive breeding programmes for native birds and reptiles, ecological recovery of Round Island, training local staff, and setting up local conservation facilities and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation was founded in 1984.

Sadly Jacquie Durrell separated from and then divorced Gerald Durrell in 1979. Durrell married his second wife Lee McGeorge Durrell whom he had met in 1977 when he lectured at Duke University, where she was studying for a PhD in animal communication. They married in 1979. She co-authored a number of books with him, including The Amateur Naturalist, and became the Honorary Director of the Trust after his death. In 1978 Durrell started the training centre for conservationists at the zoo, As of 2005, over a thousand biologists, naturalists, zoo veterinarians and zoo architects from 104 countries have attended the International Training Centre. Durrell was also instrumental in forming the Captive Breeding Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union in 1982. In 1985 Durrell founded Wildlife Preservation Trust Canada, now Wildlife Preservation Canada, and launched The official appeal Saving Animals from Extinction in 1991.

In 1989, Gerald and Lee Durrell, along with David Attenborough and cricketer David Gower helped launch the World Land Trust (then the World Wide Land Conservation Trust). In order to purchase rainforest land in Belize as part of the Programme for Belize. Around this time Gerald Durrell developed a friendship with Charles Rycroft, who donated funds towards building works in Jersey (the Harcroft Lecture Theatre) and worldwide conservation work in East Africa and Madagascar. In 1990 the Trust established a conservation programme in Madagascar similar to the Mauritius programme. Durrell visited Madagascar in 1990 to start captive breeding of a number of endemic species like the aye aye. Durrell chose the dodo, the flightless bird of Mauritius that was hunted to extinction in the 17th century, as the logo for both the Jersey Zoo and the Trust.

Sadly The hard, outdoor lifestyle gave Durrell health problems in the 1980s. He underwent hip-replacement surgery in a bid to counter arthritis, but he also suffered from alcohol-related liver problems. His health deteriorated rapidly after the 1990 Madagascar trip. Durrell had a liver transplant in King’s College Hospital on 28 March 1994, but sadly died of septicaemia on 30 January 1995, shortly after his 70th birthday in Jersey General Hospital. His ashes are buried in Jersey Zoo, under a memorial plaque bearing a quote by William Beebe.

A memorial celebrating Durrell’s life and work was held at the Natural History Museum in London on 28 June 1995. Participants included personal friends such as David Attenborough and Princess Anne. Following his death, the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust was renamed Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust at the 40th anniversary of the zoo on 26 March 1999. The Wildlife Preservation Trust International also changed its name to Wildlife Trust in 2000, and adopted the logo of the black tamarin.

Durrell always intended writing books to help environmental causes and as a means to raise funds for his conservation work. Durrell’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, have a wry, loose autobiographical style that pokes fun at himself as well as those around him and are characterised by a love for nature and animals, dry wit, crisp descriptions, and humorous analogies of human beings with animals. A good example is the Corfu trilogy — My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, and The Garden of the Gods which tells of his idyllic, if oddball, childhood on Corfu. The Corfu trilogy was also Later made into a TV series. Gerald Durrell also wrote short stories, like “Michelin Man”, Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium, “The Entrance”. His book Marrying Off Mother and Other Stories also has a few short stories. Rosy is My Relative, is a story about a bequeathed elephant which Durrell claimed is based on real life events, and The Mockery Bird, the fable based loosely on the story of Mauritius and the dodo. The Stationary Ark is a collection of technical essays on zoo-keeping and conservation while The Amateur Naturalist is the definitive guide for budding naturalists. The Donkey Rustlers is set on a Greek island, and The Talking Parcel is a tale of children at large in a land of mythological creatures. Durrell also wrote many books for young children including The New Noah which recounts encounters with animals from Durrell’s previous expeditions, Puppy Tales, Island Zoo, Keeper, Toby the Tortoise, The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure and The Fantastic Flying Journey which are all lavishly illustrated. Durrell’s works have been translated into 31 languages and made into TV serials and feature films. He has large followings in Northern and Eastern Europe, Russia, Israel and in various Commonwealth countries, including India. The British Library houses a collection of Durrell’s books, presented by him to Alan G. Thomas, as part of the Lawrence Durrell Collection. Durrell was also a regular contributor to magazines like Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, and the Sunday Times Supplement and his novels are included in the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.He was also a regular book reviewer for the New York Times.

During his life Gerald Durrell received many honours in recognition of his huge contribution to wildlife cnservation; In 1981 Durrell was awarded the Order of the Golden Ark by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and also became a founding member of the World Cultural Council. In 1982 Durrell received the OBE. Durrell featured in the United Nations’ Roll of Honour for Environmental Achievement in 1988, becoming part of 500 people (“Global 500”) to be given this honour in the period 1987–92. The University of Kent started the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) in 1989, the first graduate school in the United Kingdom to offer degrees and diplomas in conservation and biodiversity. In 1995 The journal Biodiversity and Conservation brought out a special volume of the journal in tribute to Gerald Durrell, on the theme of “The Role of Zoos”. The Gerald Durrell Memorial Funds, were launched in 1996 by the Wildlife Trust to help conservation projects financially. The statue park in Miskolc Zoo, created a bust of Gerald Durrell in 1998. Whipsnade Zoo also unveiled a new island for housing primates dedicated to Durrell in 1998. From 2001 The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife, has given the Gerald Durrell Award for the best photograph of an endangered species. In 2002 The Durrell School in Corfu, was established offering an academic course and tours in the footsteps of the Durrells in Corfu. Botanist David Bellamy has conducted field trips in Corfu for the school.

Gerald Durrell has also been recognised in many other ways. In 2006 The town hall of Corfu announced that it would rename Corfu Bosketto (a park in the city of Corfu) Bosketto Durrell, after Gerald and Lawrence Durrell as a mark of respect. Wildlife Preservation Canada also established the Gerald Durrell Society in 2006 as recognition for individuals who have made legacy gifts. The Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary in the Black River Valley in Mauritius, is the home of the Mauritius Wildlife Appeal Fund’s immensely successful captive breeding programme for the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon and echo parakeet.The Durrell Wildlife Park has a bronze statue of Gerald Durrell by John Doubleday, cast along with a ruffed lemur at his knee and a Round Island gecko at his feet. Jersey brought out stamps honouring the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust and Mauritius brought out a stamp based on a race of a rare gecko named after Durrell. The de-rodentification of Rat Island in St. Lucia by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to create a sanctuary for the Saint Lucia whiptail lizard on the lines of Praslin Island has caused an official change in name for Rat Island. It is in the process of being renamed Durrell Island. The Visitors’ Centre at the Belize Zoo is named the Gerald Durrell Visitors’ Centre in honour of Durrell.

Many rare animals born in captivity have been named “Gerry” or “Gerald” as homage to Durrell, among them the first Aldabra giant tortoise born in captivity. Cornwall college Newquay’s centre for applied zoology has two buildings, one the Durrell Building, opened by his wife Lee Durrell in 2007. Many Species of rare and endangered animal have also been named in honour of Gerald Durrell such as:
Salanoia durrelli: a relative of the brown-tailed mongoose, from Lake Alaotra, Madagascar. Centrolene durrellorum: A glassfrog of the family Centrolenidae from the eastern Andean foothills of Ecuador, Clarkeia durrelli: A fossil brachiopod of the order Atrypida, from the Upper Silurian age, Nactus serpensinsula durrellorum: The Round Island race of the Serpent Island gecko is a distinct subspecies and was named after both Gerald and Lee Durrel, Ceylonthelphusa durrelli: Durrell’s freshwater crab: A critically rare new species of Sri Lankan freshwater crab, Benthophilus durrelli: Durrell’s tadpole goby, Kotchevnik durrelli Yakovlev: A new species of moth of the superfamily Cossoidea from Russia and Mahea durrelli Kment: A new species of shield bug of the family Acanthosomatidae from Madagascar.

Monkey day

Monkey Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated internationally on December 14th. While the holiday is mainly about monkeys, it also celebrates other non-human primates such as apes, tarsiers, and lemurs. The holiday was started in 2000 when artist Casey Sorrow, then an art student at Michigan State University, jokingly scribbled Monkey Day on a friend’s calendar, and then first celebrated the holiday with other MSU art students. It gained notoriety when Sorrow and fellow MSU art student Eric Millikin began including Monkey Day in their artwork and Fetus-X comic strips, and began promoting it online along with other artists. Since then, Monkey Day has been celebrated internationally, across countries like the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

It is described it as the “one day when monkey business is actually encouraged.” The holiday is primarily celebrated with costume parties intended to help draw attention to issues related to Primates including medical research, animal rights, and evolution.

A primate is a mammal of the order Primates (Latin: “prime, first rank”) primates include two distinct lineages, strepsirrhines and haplorhines. Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment. Most primate species remain at least partly arboreal. Most primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia. They range in typical size from Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which weighs only 30 g (1 oz), to the eastern gorilla, weighing over 200 kg (440 lb). Based on fossil evidence, the earliest known true primates, represented by the genus Teilhardina, date to 55.8 mya. An early close primate relative known from abundant remains is the Late Paleocene Plesiadapis, c. 55–58 million years old. Molecular clock studies suggest that the primate branch may be even older, originating near the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary or around 63–74 mya.

The order Primates was traditionally divided into two main groupings: prosimians and anthropoids (simians). Prosimians have characteristics more like those of the earliest primates, and include the lemurs of Madagascar, lorisoids, and tarsiers. Simians include monkeys and apes. More recently, taxonomists have preferred to split primates into the suborder Strepsirrhini, or wet-nosed primates, consisting of non-tarsier prosimians, and the suborder Haplorhini, or dry-nosed primates, consisting of tarsiers and the simians.

Simians are divided into two groups: catarrhine (narrow-nosed) monkeys and apes of Africa and Southeast Asia and platyrrhine (“flat-nosed”) or New World monkeys of South and Middle America. Catarrhines consist of Old World monkeys (such as baboons and macaques), gibbons and great apes; New World monkeys include the capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys. Humans are the only extant catarrhines to have spread successfully outside of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia, although fossil evidence shows many other species were formerly present in Europe. New primate species are still being discovered. More than 25 species were taxonomically described in the decade of the 2000s and eleven have been described since 2010.

Primates exhibit a wide range of characteristics. Some primates (including some great apes and baboons) are primarily terrestrial rather than arboreal, but all species possess adaptations for climbing trees. Locomotion techniques used include leaping from tree to tree, walking on two or four limbs, knuckle-walking, and swinging between branches of trees (brachiation). Primates are characterized by large brains relative to other mammals, as well as an increased reliance on stereoscopic vision at the expense of smell, the dominant sensory system in most mammals. These features are more developed in monkeys and apes and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs. Three-color vision has developed in some primates. Except for apes, they have tails. Most primates also have opposable thumbs. Many species are sexually dimorphic; differences include body mass, canine tooth size, and coloration. Primates have slower rates of development than other similarly sized mammals and reach maturity later, but have longer lifespans. Depending on the species, adults may live in solitude, in mated pairs, or in groups of up to hundreds of members.

During Monkey Day there are competitions to see who has the best costumes, who can act like a monkey the longest, or speed knitting of monkey dolls. The holiday cuts across religious boundaries and provides opportunities to share monkey stories and contemplate our simian relatives. Other Monkey Day activities include going on shopping sprees for Paul Frank “Julius the Monkey” fashions, eating Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, and spending the day at the zoo.In 2005, Peter Jackson’s King Kong was released on the fifth anniversary of Monkey Day. King Kong and Planet of the Apes films are popular at Monkey Day parties. Monkey-themed songs, such as Major Lance’s “The Monkey Time”, are also part of Monkey Day festivities. Often, celebrations involve raising money for primate-related issues. In 2008, the official Monkey Day celebrations included an art show and silent auction to benefit the Chimps Inc. animal sanctuary; the show and auction included art by human artists as well as paintings from chimps Jackson and Kimie, residents of the sanctuary. The Biddle Gallery in Detroit also celebrated Monkey Day in 2008 with an annual Monkey Day art sale that included a free banana with each purchase.

National Poinsettia Day

National Poinsettia day takes place annually on 12 December. The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) (also known as Christmas Star) is a commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). The species is indigenous to Mexico. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant to the US in 1825.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres (2–13 ft). The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in length. The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.

The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia. The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. Reports of E. pulcherrima growing in the wild in Nicaragua and Costa Rica have yet to be confirmed by botanists.

The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuitlaxochitl, meaning “flower that grows in residues or soil” Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua or Pascua, meaning Easter flower. In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. n Hungarian, it is called Santa Claus’ Flower, and is widely used as a Christmas decoration.

The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus. Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations in homes, churches, offices, and elsewhere across North America. They are available in large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

Albert Ecke is credited with creating the American poinsettia industry. He emigrated from Germany to Los Angeles in 1900, opening a dairy and orchard in the Eagle Rock area. He became intrigued by the plant and sold them from street stands. His son, Paul Ecke, developed the grafting technique, but it was the third generation of Eckes, Paul Ecke Jr., who was responsible for advancing the association between the plant and Christmas. Besides changing the market from mature plants shipped by rail to cuttings sent by air, he sent free plants to television stations for them to display on air from Thanksgiving to Christmas. He also appeared on television programs like The Tonight Show and Bob Hope’s Christmas specials to promote the plant. Until the 1990s, the Ecke family, who had moved their operation to Encinitas, California, in 1923, had a virtual monopoly on poinsettias owing to a technique that made their plants much more attractive They produced a fuller, more compact plant by grafting two varieties of poinsettia together. A poinsettia left to grow on its own will naturally take an open, somewhat weedy look. The Eckes’ technique made it possible to get every seedling to branch, resulting in a bushier plant.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

The novel Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was published 24 November 1877. The story is narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by the titular horse named Black Beauty and describes conditions among London horse-drawn taxicab drivers, including the financial hardship caused to them by high licence fees and low, legally fixed fares. Sewell uses anthropomorphism in Black Beauty. The text advocates fairer treatment of horses in Victorian England.

The novel concerns a horse named Black Beauty and begins with Black Beauty’s carefree days as a colt on an English farm with his mother, through his difficult life pulling cabs in London, on to his happy retirement in the country. Along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness. Each short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beauty’s life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses, with Sewell’s detailed observations and extensive descriptions of horse behaviour lending the novel a good deal of verisimilitude

Because The story is narrated from Black Beauty’s perspective readers arguably gained insight into how horses suffered through their use by human beings with restrictive technical objects like the “bearing rein” and “blinkers” as well as procedures like cutting off the tails of the horses. The horses in the text have reactions as well as emotions and characteristics, like love and loyalty, which are similar to those of human beings. For instance, Ginger describes the physical effects of the “bearing rein” to Black Beauty, by stating, “… it is dreadful… your neck aching until you don’t know how to bear it… its hurt my tongue and my jaw and the blood from my tongue covered the froth that kept flying from my lips. A page footnote in some editions says that soon after the book was published, the difference between 6-day taxicab licences (not allowed to trade on Sundays) and 7-day taxicab licences (allowed to trade on Sundays) was abolished and the taxicab licence fee was much reduced. The novel Black Beauty has also been adapted for film and television numerous times.