Skip to main content


Illustration of the Whekau
 by John Gerrard Keulemans
The Whekau, or Laughing Owl, is one of the many island bird species that have gone extinct in the past few hundred years. When European settlers arrived in New Zealand in 1840 this bird was abundant on the islands. After only 40 years they declined to rarity, and the last Owl was found dead in 1914.

Whekau  lived in rocky, open, relatively dry areas, where they fed off of insects, rodents, small birds, and reptiles. One interesting tidbit is that these Owls actually hunted on foot! they had long, sturdy legs that helped them to chase down prey.

The Laughing Owl name comes from the fact that these birds had a very unique call. It was very loud, and sounded like a series of repeated "dismal shrieks."

Whekau went extinct for a number of reasons. Habitat loss was a major factor, as was the introduction of feline and mustelid predators to the islands. Before their extinction several specimens had been sent abroad for museum study, and luckily a handful of naturalists were able to observe the birds in the wild before they completely disappeared.

Since 1914 numerous unconfirmed sightings have popped up, and cracked egg shells were allegedly found in 1960. While the Whekau is probably extinct, it is nice to imagine that there might just be a couple of them still out there.

Status : Extinct (?) since 1914
Location : New Zealand
Size : Length 15in (38cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae -- Genus : Sceloglaux -- Species : S. albifacies


Popular posts from this blog

Bornean Orangutan

The Bornean Orangutan is one of two extant Orangutan species in the world. It is the third largest primate (after Gorillas) and is the largest primarily tree-dwelling animal in the world. Males are substantially larger than females, and average at around 165lbs. Bornean Orangutans are largely solitary. A handful might live within a small range but they will seldom interact with one another. Males and females only meet up to breed, which happens only once every several years. A young Orangutan will stay with it's mother for about five years, and the females tend to go about eight years between births. That is the longest interim period of any animal! Sadly, the Bornean Orangutans are in a lot of trouble. They need large forests in order to thrive, and deforestation and habitat degradation has left many homeless. They are also hunted for meat and for traditional medicines. Conservation areas are being established to help these guys in the wild, and it is believed that there are a


For anyone who was counting, yesterday was our birthday-- four years! Four years filled with animals from A to Z, more than 1,100 of them! I can't thank my readers enough, it's been wonderful! And in celebration of that milestone... I'm taking a break. Hopefully not forever, but for a little bit at least. In the mean time I plan on getting a new layout out, along with some updates to some of the older articles. I'll post updates here and on the Facebook page, I'm also brainstorming some new animal-related projects, so keep an eye out! Thanks again for four awesome years!


The Binturong ( Arctictis binturong ) also has an equally awesome alternate common name, the Bearcat! However, it really isn't much of a bear OR a cat. While it is true that it is part of the Feliforma suborder, it is not a member of family Felidae. Binturongs are a part of their own family, Viverridae, which is shared with Civets, Linsangs, and Genets. There are six subspecies of Binturong, all of which have slight differences based upon location and habitat. Binturongs range in body size from 60-100cm in length, (not including their tail which has roughly the same length) and weigh between 20 and 30lbs. Binturongs are nocturnal animals native to the rain forests of South East Asia. The species range spans through several countries including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are tree dwelling mammals, and have fully prehensile tails that basically double their body length and can be used to cling to the trees or to grasp food. Binturongs are phe