Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hi cutie! Meeting baby pandas in China

Hadley Freeman meets the black-and-white celebrities at the famous panda research base in Chengdu, south-west China

The Guardian, Hadley Freeman, Saturday 3 May 2014

Giant panda in Chengdu panda research base, Sichuan, China.
Photograph: Alamy

Late last year, I found myself waiting on a bench, waiting for my date. I'd been excited about this meeting for weeks, telling all my friends about it ever since it was confirmed. Really, I'd been waiting for this all my adult life. But what, I suddenly worried, if he doesn't like me? I shuffled nervously in my plastic blue scrubs and then the door opened and a woman beckoned me in. He was ready to see me.

I should probably admit at this point that I was not having a romantic assignation; I was not even waiting for another human being. Rather, I was at the Chengdu panda research base in central China, which is also known as the holy land among panda fans.

And pandas do have a huge fan base: a Youtube video of pandas on a slide has, at time of writing, attracted more than 6.3m views since it was posted 18 months ago (cannily, it's entitled, "Cute pandas playing on the slide").


The 2004 film Anchorman satirised TV stations' fondness for furry black-and-white audience pleasers when it had local newscaster Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) sent out on what the station calls Panda Watch! "Great story – compelling and rich," Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) muses in response to Fantana's latest Panda Watch report. When I saw the film at the cinema, everyone in the audience laughed at that point. I, on the other hand, made a mental note to ask my editor for a Panda Watch assignment. Just under a decade later, she finally sent me.

Admittedly, there are many things to do in Chengdu besides look at pandas. Set on the western edge of the Sichuan Basin, Chengdu is a thriving, but pretty, megacity, where tourist attractions alternate between the very old (the beautiful Wenshu Buddhist monastery) and the ultra-modern (the New Century Global Centre, the world's largest building by floor area). While the city has long been known for its tea houses, and for food carts selling dishes spiced with the region's famous red peppercorns, it is also now the place where two-thirds of world's iPhones and 20% of the world's computers are made.

But I'm afraid there was only one statistic that really interested me about Chengdu: 80% of the world's pandas live in Sichuan province. The Chengdu Panda Base, one of the best-known and respected panda conservation centres in the world, comes with some pleasing statistics of its own: it currently houses more than 80 pandas and is a mere six miles from downtown Chengdu. I did feel a twinge of guilt as my plane swooped in to land, wondering what it said about me that I really didn't care the least bit about the culture, religion or food – I just wanted to see some cuddly pandas. But seeing as my plane had a giant panda face painted on the nose (well-played, BA!) and the city itself was bedecked with panda tat, I decided to stop worrying and enjoy panda mecca.

Hadley with ‘her’ panda. Photograph: Hadley Freeman

Chengdu Panda Base turned out to be, much to my relief, nothing like a zoo. The pandas have 240-odd hectares (600 acres) of parkland in which to scamper. And while the centre is very much a tourist destination (don't go on a national holiday or you will find yourself fighting for space with what seems like the rest of China), it is primarily a conservation and breeding centre. The pandas I saw, mostly black and white ones but some little red ones, too, all looked well cared-for, plump and relaxed, happily playing with members of staff (another tip: go in the morning to see the feeding).

After watching the bears loll around and lumber about – and those do seem to be the two main forms of panda action – I joined the long but fast-moving queue to peer into the nursery at the litter of three-week-old cubs. Lying in their cot, they were so small and sweet I had to shove my hands in my pockets to stop myself stealing one.

Just next to the main enclosure is a little villa where, for a fairly hefty fee (about £95) you can hold a panda. As far as I know, this is the only place in the world where you can do this: I would have paid three times that. The one-year-old I already thought of as "my panda" was sitting on a wooden bench, like a small round emperor upon a throne, chewing on bamboo. I nervously sat down and immediately felt his heft and warmth as he leaned up against me. He continued to munch his bamboo thoughtfully and soon turned slowly, sweetly towards me and I looked into his panda face. We had our moment. I had my Panda Watch. And, as an experience, it was more than compelling and rich.

• The trip was provided by British Airways (0844 493 0787, ba.com), which has a four-night trip to Chengdu, including direct flights from Heathrow and B&B accommodation at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel (shangri-la.com/en/chengdu/shangrila), from £979pp. Entry to the Chengdu panda base (panda.org.cn) costs about £5.50

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