Feb 9

Welcome back! Given that it is the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation this week, today we’ve gone down the regal route and are joined by two of the West End’s own nobility: musical theatre rock royalty Kerry Ellis, and Legally Blonde’s fitness queen Aoife Mulholland.

Will their favourites be terrestrial African species like Gina Beck and Tori Johns’ choices? Or will we be plunged back into the depths of the marine realm like we were with Oliver Tompsett and Sarah Earnshaw?

Kerry Ellis

I am a huge animal lover and to choose my favourite species is just impossible, there are so many!

We at ARKive certainly don’t blame Kerry for not being able to decide! There are nearly 1.9 million species on our planet, and they’re just the ones we know about; scientists are constantly discovering new and exciting species, and it is estimated that there are many millions more that we haven’t found yet, which is pretty mind-blowing!

Spinner dolphin image

Spinner dolphins are named after the spinning motion they exhibit during leaps out of the water

Kerry has had some fantastic and unforgettable wildlife experiences, “I have been lucky enough to swim with dolphins, and I’ve also been walking with lions, which was surreal; being that close to them makes you realise what powerful creatures they are.

Lion cub image

Until they are about 16 months old, lion cubs are dependent upon adult lions in the pride

Did you know?

  • There are two recognised subspecies of lion, the African lion and the smaller Asiatic lion.
  • There are thought to be fewer than 360 Asiatic lions remaining, as a result of extensive hunting in the past.
  • The lion is the only truly social cat species, living in a group known as a pride.
  • It is the female lions that do most of the hunting, and this species tends to hunt at night.

Despite how much she enjoyed seeing a variety of different species abroad, Kerry still admires the beauty of her local wildlife, “We are also surrounded by incredible wildlife here in the UK. I live in the country in Hertfordshire and often see foxes, rabbits, lots of different birds and, of course, squirrels when walking my dogs, which is wonderful.

In fact, one of Kerry’s favourite wildlife experiences actually occurred in her house!

When I was young I remember finding a bat in my brother’s room that had made its way through from the loft. We managed to get it out eventually but it was cool to see a wild bat so close.

Honduran white bat image

The Honduran white bat constructs its own roost from the leaves of plants

It is highly unlikely that the bat Kerry found in her house was this Honduran white bat, as it is only found along the Caribbean lowlands of Central America, but we thought we’d include it as it is a rather unusual looking critter!

Kerry is concerned about the state of wildlife, and has chosen the hedgehog to highlight the need for conservation, “I heard not long ago that there were not many hedgehogs left in the UK; I can’t even imagine that sometime soon there could be none at all. We are lucky to have all this great wildlife around us and we should protect it, they have just as much right to be here as we do.

Kerry is quite right; in the 1950s there were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs roaming the UK, but the population has since declined dramatically, only numbering 1.5 million in 1995, a figure which has probably dropped further since.

Hedgehog image

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, and they hibernate in winter


Aoife Mulholland

Perhaps inspired by the glacial conditions we’ve had in the UK of late, Aoife has pointed us towards the Arctic for her chosen species, “My favourite species is the beluga whale! I love their gorgeous white colour and it’s cool the way they are so flexible!

Beluga whale image

The beluga whale inhabits cold arctic waters, usually near to the ice edge

Did you know?

  • Unlike most cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), the beluga whale has an extremely flexible neck, allowing it to turn its head almost 90 degrees to the side.
  • The beluga whale also has flexible lips, and can form many facial expressions.
  • This species does not have a dorsal fin, and its genus name Delphinapterus means ‘dolphin-without-a-wing’.
  • The beluga whale has blubber which can be as thick as 15 centimetres!
  • The clicks, grunts, squeals, screeches and whistles of the beluga whale can be heard through the hull of a ship, hence sailors nicknaming this species the ‘sea canary’!
Beluga whale image

Beluga whales are able to dive to depths of over 1,000 metres, but tend to spend most of their time at the surface of the water

Far from the icy climes of the Arctic, Aoife had an incredible wildlife experience involving Gina Beck’s favourite species, the African elephant, “I went on safari in South Africa and I loved it. One day I was reading outside my room when an elephant came along and started eating a tree about five metres from where I was sitting. Scary, but amazing!

African elephant image

As well as eating grasses and leaves, the African elephant likes to feed on the woody parts of trees and shrubs

Aoife agrees with Kerry’s views on conservation, and has these words of wisdom for us, “We should do everything in our power to save species in danger of extinction.

Join us again soon for our final instalment of this blog series, when we will be joined by Ramin Karimloo and Verity Quade.

Get involved

Why not have a browse around the ARKive website to seek out your favourite species? You might be surprised at what you find! Then help spread the wildlife love by tweeting about your chosen awesome animal or peculiar plant using the #LoveSpecies hashtag!

  • Terry Ellis (February 9th, 2012 at 7:51 pm):

    Kerry saw a pipistrelle bat.we had over 100 nesting in our roof.they used to come every year.

  • Kathryn Pintus - ARKive Team (February 10th, 2012 at 11:52 am):

    Hi Terry!

    Many thanks for letting us know about the pipistrelle bats! The pipistrelle is a protected species here in the UK, and it’s cool that you got to see some every year!

    Here is a nice image of one of them on ARKive: http://www.arkive.org/pipistrelle-bats/pipistrellus-pipistrellus-and-pipistrellus-pygmaeus/image-A4407.html

    Do you have a favourite species?!