A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.

-Wayne Gretzky

If you visited us in the past weeks you would have noticed that we are shifting a few things around again. For Esther van der Westhuizen, owner of Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary, staying ahead of the pack (or puck) is as normal as it is for a monkey to climb a tree or for a chameleon to change its colours.

Saying that…did you know that chameleons don’t actually change their colours to blend in with green surroundings? The green is their normal colour. It works like this:

Chameleon skin has 3 layers. The top is see through, the second is yellow and the third contains tiny granules, called Melanin Granules. The Melanin Granules can move around becoming more and less dense depending on the chameleon’s mood.

So when the chameleon is just doing its thing, eating and waiting to eat and eating and waiting to eat (which is pretty much all they do) the Melanin Granules are quite far apart so most of the light is absorbed. Only the blue light is bent back up when it hits the third layer of Melanin Granules. As it travels back through the yellow layer, the 2 colours mix and as you know, Blue + Yellow = Green. We see a green chameleon!!! I tried to draw this here…

Compare the Melanin Granules in the two diagrammes and see how the changing colour-thing works…

So why will a chameleon change colour when you put it on a box of Smarties? It’s because of their mood swing. (Put me on an empty box of Smarties, shout in my ears and watch me change colour too, by the way!!) A hormone inside of it is released as the chameleon is stressed or excited. This hormone shifts the Melanin Granules in the third layer closer together. So now more colours of the light spectrum gets bent back, goes through the yellow layer and we see it as “The Chameleon is changing colours!! It’s camouflaging!”

However, it’s not camouflaging …it’s showing off…making itself more visible. (It does this to impress the girls too.) So it’s actually camouflaging when it’s green and quietly going about its life among green leaves.

… Kay, back to changes at Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary…

One of the changes we are introducing is our name. Although we are, by definition, a zoo, the term does not entirely describe who we are. We take in wild animals that were confiscated or discarded as pets. So because we provide shelter for animals that otherwise have no other option, we are now known as Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary.

Those of you who follow trends in animal attractions will know that fewer and fewer attractions are still taking unwanted pets in from the public. More than often the animals are given away long after they have lost condition or when they have shown signs of stress for some time, so the rehabilitation is a lengthy and sometimes, costly process. The majority of attractions prefer to buy animals of their choosing from reputable breeders rather than have to make do with types and shapes and numbers that come in.

As drop-off options are dwindling, we are experiencing an increase in the animals that we get in. We are taking in almost 50 creatures per week at the moment!!

Some days it feels like we have to grow more arms to keep building enclosures, feeding, cleaning, caring, and watering the over 700 creatures now at the sanctuary! Eight arms will do please!!

Now the Mimic Octopus lives for change!! …and maybe because of change.

This guy can literally change itself into a poisonous flat fish while it’s moving along. Shape, colour, texture, motion… the works … right there in front of your eyes…transformed! And then, as you watch it swim along (“because it’s now a fish”), it suddenly slows down into low range and starts imitating a Lion Fish by waving the ends of its tentacles backwards and forwards just like the deadly fish would do.

And the move of all moves! It hides its body and exactly 6 of its legs away. That leaves 2 legs for all to see. It will then spread these 2 legs out in opposite directions pretending to be a sea snake. The one end is the head of the snake and the other end the tail, complete with the black and white bands you will find on the venomous serpent. Genius move!!

Do yourself a favour and watch the video link here.

We have listened to the experts, our day visitors and school groups and we are happy to announce the following changes!

We have listened to the experts, our day visitors and school groups and we are happy to announce the following changes!

  1. The restaurant is coming back to the front reception area!
  2. The skeleton park is moving to the current creepy crawly room.
  3. The creepy crawlies are in the house that used to be the restaurant.
  4. A brand new animal kitchen and care centre has also moved into the house! You can watch how our chefs prepare the food for the animals.
  5. And then there are some changes to our aviaries and also brand new animals never seen here before will be joining us soon, but that will remain our secret…

So, as you can see, we are keeping both eyes on that proverbial puck and consequently we are moving and shifting and building.

Flatfish…This is what it seriously look like!

Pretty much like the Flatfish. It hatches like any other fish, but then it starts to swim sideways and ends up with its one side flat on the sand. If it doesn’t change something, it will always have one eye stuck in the sand and of no use. So what does it do? It CHANGES!! One eye will begin to migrate to the side that faces up, making the fish permanently blind on the side that lays on the ocean floor and giving it two eyes where it matters.

So, there are many significant changes underway at Butterfly World Animal Sanctuary.

Our usual visitors love it, and the staff….well, let’s just say we are never bored!!

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