La de da de da, sang the Arum
As she rustled her giant leaves
It was her seventh birthday today
And she was oh so very pleased!
She was feeling especially grand today
As she nestled her very first bud
She was going to flower any day
A thing of beauty rising from the mud.
That night when the moon was high in the sky
In the lush rainforest of Sumatra
The Titan Arum sat in prideful state
As her bud blossomed into flower
She giggled and shook her big big leaves
Sending out waves of her special pong
Her smell reminds some of smelly cheese
Others of socks that have been worn too long!
The rotting smell is a sweet bouquet
For dung beetles and flesh flies
They settle onto the new bloom
Inhaling her smells with happy sighs
The magnificent flower stays facing the sun
A splash of burgundy red colour
Its frilly edges rippling in the wind -
An upturned bell on the forest floor.
Three days and nights the Arum flower blooms
And then collapses onto the ground
Its short life was one big adventure
Of funky smells and insect sounds!
Seven years on, there will be a new bud
For forty years this cycle will repeat
But in between the hulking plant returns
To its quiet life on its hillside steep.
In the tropical rain forests of Nicaragua
There’s the cutest little animal
Always smiling, forever lounging
He keeps his movements to a minimal
Despite the fact that he’s quite blind
And lives his life in slow motion
He’s got a keen nose and can recall where he goes
He’s also the undisputed pull-up world champion!
He’s three times as strong as you and me
And yet he digests only a leaf a month
Hugging and smiling, napping and grazing,
He does only super slow things for fun
One day Slow Mo fell off his tree
Remember, his reflexes are very slow
He plummeted down a hundred feet
Crashing into the vegetation below
But lo and behold! He was whole
Unhurt he crawled out of the brush
It took him four days and twenty one hours
To ever so slowly climb back up
He decided he didn’t like such adventures
Because poor Slow Mo also had vertigo
And as he was climbing he had this odd feeling
That his ears had changed places with his toes!
But he made it back home, a smile on his face
As he settled himself at the top of his tree
He took three hours to pick a delicious flower
And once again began his multi day feast
In the great Himalayan and Karakoram ranges
There lives a brave herbivore
He scales the sheer wooded cliffs
The beautiful, agile Markhor
His name is a hybrid of two words
Mar: the snake, and Khor: the eater
Despite the fierce legend he wields
He’s quite the gentle barnyard bleater
He’s known for his dexterous climbing skills
And is also a fabulous forager
He’ll search for grasses and for leaves
He’ll roam like an adventuring voyager
He looks like an interesting mix
Of both a boy and a girl I’ve heard
Sporting a lovely russet coat
And also a spiffy little beard
He also has tremendous horns
Like five feet long corkscrews
Weapons to keep bullies at bay
And to dig up clumps of grass too
The Markhor is the national animal
Of the south Asian country of Pakistan
She’s quite iconic, a logo classic
Even featuring in puppet shows in Afghanistan
And there we leave this regal Capra*
As he walks with grace, his head held high
Master of all that he surveys
Majestic horns spiralling into the sky.
* The markhor was one of the 72 animals featured on the World Wide Fund for Nature Conservation Coin Collection in 1976.
* Markhor marionettes are used in the Afghan puppet shows known as buz-baz.
* The markhor has also been mentioned in a Pakistani computer-animated film known as Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor.
* The Markhor is present on the logo of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the intelligence agency of Pakistan.
* CAPRA: a genus of mammals consisting of goats, the markhor and ibexes.
A soulful fluting sound is heard
From the rainforests of Queensland
Also the whirr of an electric saw
And the toots and da-dums of a brass band
They’re not the sounds of a jungle party
Nor a trumpeter tuning his instrument
It’s just the superb lyre bird
Showing off his vast vocal talents.
He can be found in the theatres he builds
In the dense brush of his forest abode
In which he dances like a prima donna
For all the girls in his neighbourhood
He fans out his beautiful lyre-like tail;
The girls all watch with interested eyes
He’ll also sing a little melody
His courtship rituals are quite sublime
He then goes up to the nearest bird
And asks her if she likes his dance
If she says “Oh yes! I do good sir”
Well, then its the start of a little romance
The superb lyrebird sets out to impress
Not one girl but a score of them
He’ll sing for up to four hours a day
Until every last one is in love with him
With each passing year he performs ever more
Incredible acts of song and dance
Better and better are his displays
As he entertains his special audience
If you ever chance to come across
A particularly friendly lyre bird
Say something to him a few times
And he may just mimic your magic word.
Kaboom! Boom! Biff! Biff! Thud!
That’s the sound one hears from this stomatopod
As she pummels her prey like a wrecking ball
Breaking them up shells, pincers and all
She’s a warrior of an ancient line
Fierce and savage is this lass
She can punch the living daylights out
Of anyone who dares to show her sass
She has independently roaming eyes
Nothing escapes her fearsome glare
Your friend and you can run and hide
Ms. Mantis will follow you each with her stare
She’s not all bad; she has friends
They even have a secret code.
Their bodies iridescent in the sun
As they dance in their shallow pool abodes
She has a cousin whom she loves
Who lives in the warm Pacific waters
They meet up once in a while
And get up to all sorts of fun and laughter
If you chance to come very near her home
In the balmy swells of the Indian ocean
She’ll growl at you in scary tones
And get her boxer mode full on
And there we leave Miss Mantis Ali
Of the Mantis Shrimp family
Boxing champion of the deep blue
Fearless daredevil of the sea.
Have you ever seen a creature
Disappear in front of your eyes?
No crazy magic, no maddening tricks
But by dint of its natural disguise?
Come, I’ll let you in on a secret:
Hidden away in the branches of trees
Are master camouflage artists
Who are never quite what they seem
They’re not grasshoppers nor crickets
Nor cicadas nor cockatoos
I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with Trick
And that’s exactly what they do
They trick you into believing
You’re seeing a dead old twig
When they’re hiding in plain sight
These incredible walking sticks!
Also called the stick insects
They come in greens, browns and blacks
Trees and shrubs of all kinds
Are the platforms for their acts
The Giant Prickly is probably
The coolest of the pack
When disturbed it strikes a pose
Like a scorpion poised for attack
So if you’re ever near a tree
Look closely at its branches
And if you’re lucky you might see
A stickie on its haunches.
There is this strange old bird that has
A bill like a wooden shoe
Sharp as a knife with a hook at the end
He looks like he could gobble up me and you!
He has a big old nest he’s built
On marshland in South Sudan
He is a loner, a solitary roamer
Doesn’t like the look of beast or man.
He wades in mud-thick waters
Looking for a bite to eat
Monitor lizards and lungfish,
Crocodiles, snakes and eels.
The people in his neighbourhood
Keep far away from him
They think he brings them bad luck
They think he’s a bad omen.
But despite his reputation
And his mean looking face
The shoebill stork is a lovely bloke
And he keeps a tidy place!
He’s always looking out for
The perfect friend for him
Another stork, a red river hog
Or a majestic elephant
He walks among the weeds and plants
Loudly clattering his bill
Sending sound waves across the marsh
Announcing his arrival.
And there we leave old Shoebill
To his African exploits
Where sometimes he is very good
And other times he is not!
There is this special little guy
Who lives in Sri Lanka
He is only eight inches tall
His friends call him Podi Sanka*
He’s a shy little primate
And comes out only at night
His eyes shine like bright lanterns
And glow in red torch light
He sits quietly in the trees
He does not make a sound
Even when he plays hide and seek
With the fireflies that float around
He feeds on tiny insects
And fruits and flowers too
He also has the one-off reptile
For the occasional protein boost.
The grey slender loris
Is an endangered species
Their tree homes are protected
Is what that really means
If you’re very lucky and
Visit Ceylon’s dry zone
You may just spy Podi Sanka
In his snug little tree home.
* Podi Sanka: Podi means “Small” in Sinhalese. Sanka is a name.
There once was a salamander
That lived near Mexico City
She had baby pink feathery gills
And was really rather pretty
She was called Axolotl
After the ancient Aztec god
Who changed into a salamander
To avoid the blade of the sword
But Axie was a wise amphibian
She was already ten years old
She swam in the waters of her lake
Eating larvae, fish and worms
Axie also had a brother
He was called Axie-2
He’d swim about and gaily shout
At tadpoles that hatched anew
But when there was danger
From birds and Axo-catchers
The Axo siblings hid away
In the depths of their lake waters
So if you’re ever roaming around
The lakes of Mexico City
You might just see the Axie twins
So have your camera ready!
The Aye Aye is a primate
That lives in Madagascar
She lives in trees and won’t come down
No matter how nicely you ask her
She has big round yellow eyes
That are her torches in the night
They help her look for juicy bugs
That are hiding out of sight.
Tap tapping with her fingers long
She knocks on the trunks of trees
She’s quite polite and lady-like
And will enter with an “If you please”
But once she finds an insect horde
She quickly rips away the bark
Then she perches on a branch
To dine finely in the dark.
For fun she scampers all along
The branches of the trees
Her squirelly tail like a balancing rail
Helps her jump with perfect ease
And thats the tale of the oddity
That looks like a little bear
The Aye Aye with her shining eyes
That lives in Madagascar.
There was once a spider small
He was only a quarter inch tall
But what he lacked in height and strength
He made up for with his confidence
He was quite an exceptional dancer
A funny leg shaker, a cheerful prancer
He had bright blue and red stripes on him
This happy little spider called Sparklemuffin
Sparklemuffin was always showing off
His marvellous dance skills to his lady loves
And when he was being especially cute
He’d wave his dancing legs all about
He’d wiggle and waggle his body around
Sending love signals through the ground
The girls would twitter upon their twigs
As Sparkly performed his wonderful jigs
Then the ladies would all cheer and clap
As he finally shook open his belly flap
Performing his grand finale for them
He’d mix salsa with some moon-walking
His show done, he’d climb up on the fence
And bow and curtsy for his audience
You’ll never see a more absurd drama king
Than the rocking and rolling little sparklemuffin.
Dumbo was an octopus
Who lived on the ocean floor
He was the cutest little thing
And had elephantine ears
But they were not really ears you see
Just fins that flopped about
He looked like Dumbo the elephant
So that’s also the name he got
Dumbo the little cephalopod
Was as lonely as can be
He didnt mind the zero sunshine
But how he wished for some company!
One day while nibbling on some snails
Wondering what colour to wear that day
He spied a stranger floating above
Had another octopus come down to play?
He umbrella-drifted towards his new friend
Blowing bubbles along the way
He gaily waved his eight tentacles
But the stranger kept floating away
Dumbo blinked and saw that he had
Mistaken a bunch of old seaweed
For a buddy who’d play fun games with him
Diving, swimming and hide n seek.
He decided to wear [put your favorite color here] that day
Changing the colour of his skin
Dumbo knew that some day soon
He would drift into his best friend.