06 January 2012

O HAI 2012

You know what? I'm not even going to go into my (valid) excuses for the blog's falling off last month. Because they are boring. And because wild inconsistency is, after all, the God-given right of the amateur blogger. Instead, I'll just do better in the future--one of my (extremely specific yet unambitious) goals-not-resolutions for 2012 is two blog posts a week. I can do that! I read at least two books a week!

Still, since the year's off to a rough start, I'm beginning with the softest of softie-woftie softballs that is ZooBorns Cats!: The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World's Zoos, a surprise gift from a friend at Simon & Schuster waiting in my work locker when I returned from vacation last week. This adorbs little photobook showcases "the largest number of juvenile feline photos from different species assembled in one publication." Which is essentially all you need to know, and much more articulate than my own limb-flailing THE BEBEH KITTEHS WITH THEIR ITSLE EARS AND FEETS AND NOSES!!!

The coolest thing about ZooBorns Cats!, though, is its sheer range: of course, there are lion and cheetah and tiger cubs, but there are also little-known wild felines from around the world. From South America, there's the Geoffroy's cat, which will stand up on its high legs to survey its surroundings; the round-eared guiƱa; the dexterous margay, which can rotate its ankles 180 degrees--useful for an almost entirely arboreal existence. Asia has the fishing cat, the teensy-weensy rusty-spotted cat (adults top out at 3.5 pounds!), and the Iriomote cat, the remaining 100 wild individuals of which live only on a remote Japanese island. And there's the Pallas's cat, the jungle cat, the pampas cat, the sand cat, the oncilla . . . really, more kittens on heaven and earth than my wildest dreams of floofiness.

Most of them are endangered--through habitat loss and interbreeding with domestic cats. So all this cuteness has a cause: not only to bring attention to animals we've never even heard of, but to spur us to support the efforts of zoos and other conservation organizations to keep these animals from disappearing. Some of these babies represent years of work, money, and science--proceeds from the book go to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund. (The ZooBorns website doesn't limit itself to just cats, or even to mammals: the top story right now is an Andean condor chick named--very appropriately--Muppet.) Donating to which, I realize, needs to be another goal for the year.

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