Pygmy elephants, Kinabatangan River, Borneo, Malaysia, 2010. My husband Sam and I spent three days along this river, spotting hornbills and proboscis monkeys. On the last day, we came across a herd of these gentle mini-giants, who played along the shore of the river for almost an hour, just 10 feet from our boat. Sadly, they are very much in danger of disappearing — the exploding palm oil business is decimating their habitat.
Yellow-eyed penguin, Dunedin, New Zealand, 2010. Unlike most penguins, the yellow-eyed penguin is unique in its mating habits. It likes to nest in the woods, under trees, just like this fellow we found while hiking along the coast of New Zealand. Only a few thousand of these penguins remain, mostly due to excessive tree removal along the coast for pasture land.
Green sea turtle, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, 2010. My mom, a.k.a. Snorkel Mom, read that there was a tiny beach along the North Shore where giant green sea turtles like to chill. There's no sign on the beach, but after several hairy U-turns we found the beach, and several gigantic turtles, lazing at sunset in the sand.
Monkey cat, Koh Libong, Thailand, 2008. After gorging on a huge pile of stir-fried noodles prepared by an elderly lady in a turban, we wandered around the small village in search of even more delicious local food. Instead, we came across this cool little customer. The special love child of one monkey and one cat? Probably.