August, 2020
For August, we're still in Australia, but taking a side trip to the island of Tasmania where we'll meet more amazing natives!
 A Portrait of Joy!
Platypuses are amazing animals! They're monotremes. And that's so rare that in all the world there are only four other living monotreme species - four species of echidna (also native to Australia). So what's so special about monotremes? They lay eggs! But once the young hatch from their eggs, mom nurses them - just like every other mammal.

As an egg-layer, with its beaver tail, duck bill, and otter feet, it's not surprising that the first specimens sent back to Europe were often judged to be hoaxes.

Apparently its appearance was also notable to Australian aborigines who had an interesting belief about the animal. One of their stories claimed that although the animal groups - the land animals, the water animals, and the birds - all tried to get the platypus to join them, he refused them all, declaring he didn't have to be part of a group to be special. Now there's wisdom to live by!

For me, their easy, graceful, and strong movements in the water are among their most endearing features. I hope you'll enjoy this short video of two young brothers in the Victoria zoo in Australia. I absolutely love how thrilled their keepers are with these special creatures.

I've tried to capture their joie d' vie in this mixed media piece.

Where are You?.
These eyes haunt me, and I don't know what I'll do with this piece, but hopefully, when I come up with the answer, it will be something special as befits the Tasmanian tiger (also sometimes known as the Tasmanian wolf, but, officially, the thylacine). These creatures became officially extinct (that is, no verified sightings in 50 years) in 1986, 50 years after the passage of the last known Tasmanian tiger, "Benjamin," who lived in the Hobart Zoo.

In their time, they were the largest carnivore - and a marsupial - in Australia. Despite their extinction, the creatures feature prominently in Australian and Tasmanian culture, including their depiction in Tasmania's coat of arms. (The Latin means "fertility and faithfulness" - somewhat ironic.)
Many believe isolated individuals or small populations of the Tasmanian tiger still remain, and there have been several projects to search for them. Last year, Josh Gates did an episode of his TV show 'Expedition Unknown,' on the search for the thylacine. Unfortunately, there haven't yet been any fully accepted sightings. And, because of its extinct status, it's been removed from the Endangered Species list.

I'm hopeful, though, that they still walk the wilds of Tasmania, that they can be documented and protected, and that they then make a rebound. Meanwhile, they live on in many hearts, including mine. 
Tasmania, yes! Devil, no!
Being a 'now and then' contratian, as soon as I connected the name of this animal with its sweet face I decided that it must be mis-named! As the largest living carnivorous marsupial (though only the size of a small dog), with its enthusiastic and competitive table manners and a impressive set of teeth which the creatures are only too happy to display, I can understand how they got the name. But of course they're not devils, they're only themselves.

Until 3,000 years ago, these creatures lived both in Tasmania and on the Australian mainland, but now wild populations are limited to Tasmania. 

They gained protective status in 1941 after they had been hunted to near extinction by ranchers concerned about their herds. Since then, scientists have come to believe those concerns were both exaggerated and misplaced. Then, to make things worse, in the late 1990s a new disease, devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) has drastically reduced the existing population. There are now efforts underway to create and protect disease-free populations. You can read about one of them (and see several delightful photos) here. 

I have attempted to honor this wonderful creature with this mixed media piece. The background, which is barely visible, is a map or Tasmania. Next, I wrote my thoughts about these guys, then did the drawings, the little text insert about their evolution, and finally, the decorative border elements.

Enjoy! By the way, Tasmanians often refer to themselves, as well as things Tasmanian, as "tassie." Accordingly, I've named this piece "Tassie Pride."
August Coupon - Sales Proceeds go to Animal Rescue Organizations

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, a 20% discount in my Etsy shop, TheFoxesGarden. And, this month, I'm donating all proceeds to animal rescue organizations. Any sales from the Bear section will go to Idaho Black Bear Rehab. Proceeds from all other sales will go to Sierra Wildlife Rescue. Everything in the shop is hand made by me.  From August 1 to August 15, just use discount code FORWILDLIFE20 at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and domestic shipping is free.  Click on the image of my needle-felted river otter to visit my shop! (By the way, the only item that's not discounted is my book Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor. If I discounted it, I'd be selling it at a loss.)
The News from Milkweed
In November 2019 I published my first illustrated fiction book, Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor. This year, I'll be publishing two more, Dark Days at Milkweed Manor (the sequel to Tales) and A Milkweed Christmas 2020. My days are filled with writing and illustrating these books about the animals living in the Milkweed community, and I'm pleased to brings you news from this charming place.
There's not a lot of news this time of year from Milkweed. Like all the other residents, the squirrel girls, Lily and Effie, are mostly just passing the time in the hot weather, looking forward to autumn when they'll began the great gathering of the forest's bounty.

But today, Effie has decided her younger sister should learn the finer points of taking tea! Their mum let them use her special Royal Winton rosebud teapot and matching cup and saucer.
Next time?
Animal Spirits
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Glad you're here!
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Copyright © 2020 Kaaren Poole, All rights reserved.

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