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Just the Zoo of Us

Ellen & Christian Weatherford

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Join us, Ellen and Christian Weatherford, while we review your favorite species of animals and rate them out of ten in the categories of effectiveness, ingenuity and aesthetics. More information can be found at justthezooofus.com 😊 Got a species you want us to review? Submit your animal friend to us at ellen@justthezooofus.com and when we review your animal we'll give you a shoutout! 😊 Cover art by Mrs. Brainbow (Taylor Gordon-Wood). Theme music by Louie Zong.
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If it lacks a backbone, we're interested. In this podcast, we're exploring the world of invertebrates, discovering the amazing lives they lead, and thinking carefully about our relationhips with these much-maligned creatures. With the help of experts, we are lifting stones, peering into the water and grubbing in the filth.
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Join Ellen & special guests Owen Ever and Laine Kaplan-Levenson for a revue of gay animals! We discuss manatee wuzzles, elephant matriarchy, giraffes necking in more ways than one, eagle throuples, the impact of prejudice on science, and so much more. This episode is a celebration of love, family, and community in - as our guest puts it - the anima…
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Christian bubbles over with hype for the diving bell spider & Ellen tells some fish tales about the legendary oarfish. We discuss Hotwheels sisyphus, Doordash for spiders, diving technology, Pokemon, sea serpent mythology, bioluminescence and so much more. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the…
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Join Ellen & special guest, naturalist and birder Dara Miles Wilson, about some of the brightest and boldest members of the corvid family: the tenacious and charming blue jays. We discuss the audacity of jays and their amazing hawk impressions, what to put in your birdfeeder and why you might want to add a little spice, why blue jays aren’t actuall…
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Join Ellen & special guest, wildlife biologist and author Sophie Osborn, for a review of the skydiving champions of the animal kingdom: peregrine falcons. We discuss the adaptations that let these incredible birds tear through the sky at literally breakneck speeds, biomimicry in aircraft design and sporting goods, the plague of pesticide and how we…
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Ellen earns her stripes with zebras & Christian DOES care about the honey badger. We discuss the mysteries of stripes, video games as scientific experiments, the important role of cool jackets in wildlife rehabilitation, zebras in unusual places, viral videos from 2011, venom resistance, cheetah mimicry, and so much more. Links: For more informatio…
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Join Ellen & special guest, biologist Dr. Chris Anderson, for a review of the funkiest lizards in the world: chameleons! We discuss ballistic tongue projection, color changing and how cartoons get it wrong, eyes that move independently of each other, prehensile tails that act like a fifth leg, and so much more. Links: Learn more about International…
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Join Ellen & special guest, conservationist and co-host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Peter Gros, to talk about the iconic red wolf and their ongoing recovery from the brink of extinction. We discuss the shifting landscape and attitudes in wildlife conservation over the last few decades, the role that captive breeding and re-introduction have p…
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Ellen & special guest Isaac answer questions from young listeners! We discuss the smallest animals, giraffe sounds, polar bear buoyancy, sturgeon skin, metabolism, and more. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, Facebook, Instagram & Discord! Follow Ellen on TikTok!…
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Join Ellen & corvid scientist Dr. Kaeli Swift for a review of the clever little goths rummaging through a trash can near you: American crows. We discuss the twists and turns of a career in science, what crows can learn from funerals, how to tell a crow from a raven, and lessons in crucial skills like cheeto thievery and pizza crust gardening. Links…
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Christian explains why not to mess with the coral snake & Ellen puts the common cuckoo on blast. We discuss deadly neurotoxin, microfarts, what's up with those annoying flickering lightbulbs, sneaky disguises, evolutionary arms races, brood parasitism, bird genetics, and so much more. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to…
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Join Ellen & evolutionary morphologist Dr. Kassandra Ford as we get amped up about electric fishes. We discuss fish who use electricity to make mind maps, sabotage each other by jamming their signals, starve themselves with their own teeth, and ask the important questions like, “do you have a favorite fish skull?” Links: Learn more about Dr. Ford's…
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Curious about the exclusive bonus content for Maximum Fun members? Enjoy some free samples from special episodes: "The Dewlap-Foraging Slug," Let's Learn Everything's "RATS! Cheddar Heist," "The Fakémon Lab," and "Our Favorite Animal." If you like what you hear, head over to https://maximumfun.org/join and sign up to get access to the entire bonus …
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Ellen & Christian answer questions from the audience! We discuss the podcast's humble origins, magical spells, our favorite ducks, and more. Be a part of the MaxFunDrive & sign up to become a supporting member of the network and get access to exclusive content and beautiful gifts! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Facebook, Instagram & Discord! Follow E…
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Ellen softens up to the chinchilla & Christian breaks the ice with the walrus. We discuss Jackie Chan Adventures, fur slips, dust baths, tusks, whiskers, bells & whistles, Odysseus, and Lewis Carroll. Goo goo g'joob. Links: Get involved with the MaxFunDrive & check out this year's awesome gifts & bonus content! For more information about us & our p…
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This special network wide event is a celebration of the MaxFunDrive! If you’d like to support podcasts you love for just $5 a month and get bonus gifts in the process, go to maximumfun.org/join. We’re kicking off the most exciting time of the year for the MaxFun Network with a trivia game show featuring hosts from tons of great podcasts! J. Keith v…
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Ellen & special guest, marine biologist Amani Webber-Schultz, suck up to the brilliant little moochers of the ocean: remoras. We discuss shark scales, suction cups, the most efficient way to eat tacos, scrapped Pokemon designs, and so much more. Links: Check out Amani's podcast, Sharkpedia! Follow Amani on Instagram and TikTok! Learn more about MIS…
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Join Ellen & special guest Owen Klessel for some well-deserved PR for the most bizarre and fascinating and incredible animal you’ve never heard of: solenodons. This episode, much like the animal itself, is full of surprises like nose bones, echolocation, an unexpected defense mechanism, butt nipples, and a scourge of mongooses. Links: Follow Owen's…
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Christian fishes for compliments about the fishing cat & Ellen goes rock climbing with rock hyraxes. We discuss cat eyes, fishing strategies, buck toothed vampires, toe shoes, Wikipedia drama, and more. For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, Facebook, Instagram & Discord! Follow …
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Join Ellen & special guest Shannon Roivas who brings us first-hand insight straight from her time spent in the forests of Tanzania studying our very own wild cousins: chimpanzees! On top of fascinating topics like the primate family tree, toe thumbs, termite popsicles and fear grimaces, our guest shares her unique experiences like naming chimpanzee…
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Romance is in the air as Ellen commits to the trumpeter swan & Christian catches the lovebug bug. We discuss clown shoe runways, air horn duets, bird monogamy, a mysterious case of missing bugs, and the true meaning of going out with a bang. Links: Trumpeter swan sound found here via freesound.org Learn more about native swan conservation & how you…
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Today, its time for a lofty subject, as it were: Tom is joined by Abbey Hayes to discuss the original (and best?) form of flight: insect flight. We’ll be delving into millenia-long developments, and considering wild unknowns. We'll speculate, exploring genetics and molecular tools, as well as settling big questions like 'who's got the best wings?'.…
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Join Ellen & science educator and nature hype man Nick VanAcker to sing praises for some of our favorite true bugs: cicadas! We discuss how and why cicada choruses sing the song of the summer, why they spend so much of their lives underground before emerging and what’s so special about prime numbers anyway, the real parasitic fungus that inspired a…
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Christian makes some noise for the Freddy Kreuger frog & Ellen picks a bouquet of bone-eating snot flowers. We discuss life as a mouth with legs, being born into literal Hunger Games, meme lore, whalefalls, and eating the bones. Links: It Is Wednesday My Dudes Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale) by Sweet Fern Productions For more information about u…
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Join Ellen & special guest, deep sea biologist Dr. Thom Linley, for a literal deep dive into an animal that just might change the way you think about the creatures of the abyss: the ethereal snailfish. We discuss what it’s like to be among the first humans to ever see a species, life in the trenches - like, the actual Mariana trench, freedom from b…
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Ellen gets the zig-zagging zoomies with tiger beetles & Christian has an existential crisis over the giant siphonophore. We discuss the REAL fastest land animal on Earth, literally blinding speed, reverse Naruto running, world record technicalities, zooids (not Zoids), and what it means to be an organism. Links: For more information about us & our …
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Join Ellen & special guest, environmental educator Jamison Cole, for a review of our very own backyard apex predators: bobcats! We discuss topics including but not limited to tail nubs, ear tufts, coyote pee, the bobcat’s Final Smash, relationship tips from nature, tomcat jowls, and the interconnectedness of every member of the ecosystem from the t…
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Ellen & Christian share stories, observations and inspiration from special guest: you! We discuss what sounds fish make, memory transfer via cannibalism, and what to do when you're attacked by a zebra. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, Facebook, Instagram & Discord! F…
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Join Ellen & returning special guest, wildlife biologist Alex Troutman, for a review of some of our favorite mohawked chatterboxes: belted kingfishers. We discuss topics including but not limited to the vicious mockery of birds who fish better than us, biomimicry in train engineering, the truth behind Hollywood bird calls and lion roars, and storie…
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Alert! Alert! This is a time sensitive episode! The new year monarch count is nearly upon us, and if you want to get involved, now is the time! www.westernmonarchcount.org Whether or not you are geographically able to count the monarch, I'm sure you'd love to learn more about one of our most charismatic invertebrates. The monarch butterfly is a mig…
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What on earth's an alvar? In this episode, you can discover precisely what an alvar is, and learn about the spiders that live there. We consider what it means to study a place with reference to animals, and vice versa. Jillian Suh Kurovski-Legris joins Tom to share her alvar expertise, rhapsodise about spiders, and consider the challenges and pleas…
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We're out traveling this week! In the meantime, please enjoy this episode of Bugs Need Heroes, in which Ellen joined hosts Amanda Niday and Kelly Zimmerman for a conversation about bug-type Pokemon, the real-world bugs that inspired them, and the ecology we can learn from the world of Pokemon. Originally aired on the Bugs Need Heroes podcast on Nov…
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Christian digs into the star-nosed mole & Ellen goes for a deep dive into the Devil's Hole pupfish. We discuss flowery tentacles, mole lore in Avatar: the Last Airbender, waves in the desert, a Supreme Court ruling, and the future ecological impacts of nuclear testing. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Fo…
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Ellen is joined by a familiar voice, science communicator Ralph Crewe, back with us to review the wiggly little living fossils full of teeth and blood: Pacific lampreys. We discuss the intersection between the natural and manmade world, what lampreys can tell us about the history of vertebrate evolution, the unique adaptations that have let them th…
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Ellen gets hooked on the loggerhead shrike & Christian makes a clean getaway with the five-lined skink. We discuss tomial teeth, impalement, dropping tails, and regeneration. Links: Check out Sparkbird and listen to their music on Spotify! For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, F…
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Join Ellen & special guest, fish biologist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Brenda Pracheil, for a review of the gentle giants that have been swimming up and down our rivers since the dinosaur age: sturgeon. We discuss being a fish lawyer, ancient genetics, scales, whiskers, caviar, woosh tubes, and more. Links: World Fish Migration Day…
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Christian leaves a glowing review for the bark scorpion & Ellen casts a vote for the pūteketeke. We discuss neurotoxin, biofluorescence, the ghostly penguin dance, and John Oliver's impact on the Bird of the Century. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, Facebook, Instagr…
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Ellen & special guest, Bachelor star turned science communicator Kendall Long, review pigs! In this episode, we discuss pigs and their achievements in some surprising endeavors, from digging up truffles and thriving in the wilderness to playing video games and basking on the beaches of the Bahamas. Links: Check out Kendall's podcast, Little Curiosi…
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Ellen falls down a rabbit hole with the stoat & Christian looks up to the barreleye. We discuss the weasel war dance, rabbit assassins, paradoxical eyes, and deep sea body horror. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, Facebook, Instagram & Discord! Follow Ellen on TikTok!…
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Whats going on with these jellyfish then? What are they, and what are they up to? In this episode, Tom is joined by jellyfish scientist Bailey Steinworth to wrestle with the challenge of the jellyfish. How much sense can we make of a gelatinous and translucent animal? What is it doing, why is it doing it, and what does it feel like to live the jell…
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In celebration of World Lemur Day, Ellen is joined by anthropology professor Ben Freed for a look up into the treetops of northern Madagascar to review crowned lemurs. Our guest brings his insight from experience studying these charismatic primates to discuss topics like the rainforest dress code, what your cell phone has in common with lemur cogni…
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Ellen & special guest, ecologist and entomologist Kelly Zimmerman, review one of the world’s deadliest creatures. This killer could fit in a teaspoon, and yet humans just can’t seem to get rid of the darn things. In this episode, we discuss the humble mosquito’s formidable resilience, defend their often underestimated role in their ecosystems, and …
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Christian turns heads with the snowy owl & Ellen lands a slam dunk with the polar bear. In this arctic-themed episode, we discuss why owls turn their head so much, feather acoustics, irruptions, fur fiber optics, and polar bear basketball. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Thr…
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Ellen and special guest, science communicator and educator Alana Baliga, review the iconic little birds zooming around the cactuses and tumbleweeds: roadrunners! We discuss things like the glamorous highlights of working for a science museum, what Looney Tunes got right and wrong about Mr. Runner, and how these fascinating animals are able to thriv…
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Microscropic laughs are lurking in the green. Come and discover tardigrades, rotifers, nematodes and more with Andy Chandler-Grevatt, educator and man-of-moss. We discover 'the big 5' of the moss world, think about life at a wholly different scale and sit in a gentle awe as we consider quite how much is going io, close at hand yet out of sight.…
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Ellen joins the band of coatis & Christian gives us the buzz on gharials. We discuss Star Wars names, banana wars, animal influences on computer science, problematic age gaps, and the funkiest crocodilian snout. Links: For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follow Just the Zoo of Us on Threads, Facebook, Instagram & …
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Join Ellen & wildlife ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant for a review of savannah royalty: African lions! We discuss what it’s like to be an ecologist working in the field alongside truly awe-inspiring wildlife, what makes lions such iconic big cats from their impressive mane all the way down to their surprisingly tactical tail, and why their relationshi…
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Christian does the spider shake with daddies long leg & Ellen tells the story of the imperiled panda of the sea, the vaquita. We discuss spider myths, web design, porpoises, and what happens when wildlife conservation meets organized crime. Links: Learn more about Earth League International & their efforts to save and protect the vaquita at their w…
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Ellen & special guest, zookeeper Kailey Hart, review the humble earth pig. We discuss their evolutionary loneliness, unique hodge-podge of surprising traits, tube-teeth, Pokemon, the PBS cartoon Arthur, and pro tips for planning your next zoo trip. Follow Kailey on TikTok! For more information about us & our podcast, head over to our website! Follo…
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Ellen soaks up the sun with the leaf sheep & Christian gets biblical with the miraculous basilisk. We discuss photosynthesis, losing your head over parasites, outrunning physics, and mythology. To learn more about the All for Animals walk at the Woodland Park Zoo, visit their website & join our team if you're able! For more information about us & o…
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