Cold facts and urban myths

| Jan 30, 2003

Cold facts and urban myths

First of two parts Depending on where you live in Japan, you may only have experienced a brief flurry of snow this winter. Perhaps if you live in southwestern Honshu or Kyushu, you won’t have seen any at all, except on the TV weather ...

Jan 26, 2003

Golden ages' glitter may be gone

The first exhibit of foreign animals in Japan seems to have been of Asian elephants imported from Vietnam in 1725 by Gen. Yoshimune Tokugawa. Originally a pair, the cow died soon after its arrival in Nagasaki, but the bull survived the overland journey to ...

Should zoos become extinct?

Jan 26, 2003

Should zoos become extinct?

Though I prefer seeing animals in the wild, I confess to being intrigued by zoos. I’m certainly not alone in my interest, as the long and varied history of zoological institutions shows. The first recorded instance of a zoo — or, at least, a ...

Shame in a 'showcase'

| Jan 16, 2003

Shame in a 'showcase'

Second of two parts I ended my last story by saying, “If it is wolves, or winter wilderness, you want to see, don’t waste time wondering — get to Yellowstone! But please, when you’re there, don’t rent a two-stroke snowmobile! I’ll explain why in ...

Vast visions made real

| Jan 3, 2003

Vast visions made real

First of two parts These days the United States may not be pulling its weight and taking any kind of responsible lead vis-a-vis climate change and the Kyoto Protocol. In the past, however, there have been undeniable — if occasional — grand American visions ...

Surviving the season of cold

| Dec 19, 2002

Surviving the season of cold

Plodding — that’s the only way to describe them. Deep snow blankets the winter landscape of the bison in Yellowstone National Park and plod they must through both the winter and the landscape. These mighty beasts don’t waste a calorie of energy if they ...

Vital links in a flyway chain

| Dec 5, 2002

Vital links in a flyway chain

Amazingly, we continue to take fresh water for granted. This precious resource is vital for our survival and that of a vast array of other species, from microscopic creatures and aquatic insects, to fish and hordes of birds. In Lake Baikal in Siberia, at ...

Taking the high way through life

| Nov 21, 2002

Taking the high way through life

If you were an ant, multi-limbed with a ground-hugging body, a trip across the forest floor would present you with a daunting obstacle course. Each fallen twig would be a wall to climb; each wind-blown leaf a teetering trap poised to tip and sluice ...

A venerable flash in the pan

| Nov 7, 2002

A venerable flash in the pan

Among Japan’s amazing diversity of plants that can overwhelm a visitor from overseas, there are (thankfully) some familiar forms. Astonishingly, given the literally hundreds of thousands of plant species on Earth, some here will be familiar whether you hail from North or South America, ...

Birds' island havens failing whole species

| Oct 31, 2002

Birds' island havens failing whole species

Teuri-jima Island is a special place, being a legally protected breeding habitat of seabirds. It was also the main subject of a recent Japan-U.S. government-level symposium in the nearby mainland town of Haboro, Hokkaido. Shocking facts emerged from that meeting. Over recent decades, local ...