Posts Tagged ‘Jack Hanna’

Yesterday, this blog got nearly 500 hits from the search term “zorilla.”

I had only mentioned this species on a post in which I revealed the identity of a spotted skunk’s skeleton. I also explained the origin of the term “polecat” for skunks, which comes from a misunderstanding that zorillas and skunks are close relatives. Zorillas are also called “striped polecats,” but as we now know, skunks and stink badgers are in their own family, Mephitidae. Zorillas and other polecats are in the family Mustelidae, which includes otters, mink, true badgers, weasels, wolverines, martens, stoats, fishers, and tayras. Most mustelids do have the anal glands that can produce the strong odor that we associate with skunks, and the zorilla has particularly potent scent glands. But that still does not make them skunks.

The reason why I posted the information above is that a zorilla appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Jack Hanna was the guest, and as anyone who has seen him on television knows, he brings out zoo animals and talks about them.

When I did a Google search on zorillas, I found that many people reporting on Jack Hanna’s presentation were calling the zorilla an African skunk. I wondered if Jack Hanna got something wrong, so I looked for the clip. When I found it, it turns out that it was Dave Letterman who calls it a skunk, but Jack Hanna clearly says that it is “like a ferret.” Hanna didn’t get a much of a chance to talk about the animal, because he was too busy putting it in Letterman’s shirt and then saying that it was the smelliest animal in the world. Nice gag, but I think the viewing public misunderstood what a zorilla is.

Here’s the clip:


Zorillas are not skunks at all.

They are a really good example of parallel evolution. Both of these animals share a common ancestor in the order Carnivora, in the suborder Caniformia, and the superfamily Musteloidea. However, both zorillas and skunks developed very strong anal secretions and the black and white “warning” color pattern independently of each other. No other Musteloids have this coloration.

I’ll say it one more time: Zorillas are not not skunks.

Read Full Post »

Jack Hanna with a spectacled bear cub-- not the one who charged him.

Granted, it was a cub that charged him, not its mother.

Still, a 125 pound cub could do some damage.

He’s just lucky the mother bear didn’t take the spraying of her cub as a direct threat.

She probably realized that her cub just needed to learn the hard way.

I remember hearing something a while ago about some people who bought some bear repellent (mace). Thinking  it was like bug spray, they sprayed themselves.

It was not a particularly good experience, and I doubt that they’ll do that again.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: