Archive for March, 2008

Microchips Could Speed Up Detection Of Livestock Viruses

March 31, 2008

Some of the worst threats to farm workers and farm animals such as bird flu, foot-and-mouth disease and other emerging viruses could soon be quickly identified by using a simple screening chip developed by scientists from the Institute for Animal Health, scientists will hear March 31, 2008 at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting.

“The last major SARS outbreak — severe acute respiratory syndrome — which started on the border of China and Hong Kong was identified using a microarray chip. Fortunately, because of the rapid identification of the virus it was brought under control, and in spite of its seriousness caused relatively few deaths,” says Dr Paul Britton of the Institute for Animal Health in Compton, near Newbury, Berkshire. “We need a similar way of quickly identifying viruses that attack chickens, cattle, pigs, sheep and other farm animals.”

The scientists have developed a microarray, called a chip, which contains specific small regions of virus genes that react with any viruses in the samples being tested, showing up as coloured spots on glass slides. The method can also be used to see if a sample contains two or more viruses.

“At the moment the common methods for detecting viruses rely on some previous knowledge, such as recognising the clinical signs of a disease,” says Dr Paul Britton. “A system that can be used by almost anyone, and that can quickly and accurately be used to identify the particular virus early on is vital to control these diseases before they spread, and will have much wider applications.”

Click here for the full article.

Visiting the zoo’s geriatric ward

March 30, 2008

They are a group of senior citizens unlike any you’re likely to find at a typical retirement home. But that’s because their retirement community is at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.

First, there’s May, a fennec fox who is losing her hair at the ripe old age of 11. Virginia, an 18-year-old grey seal, is going blind from glaucoma. And Marta, the black leopard, is battling severe arthritis at her advanced age of 18 years.

“Animals are very similar to humans,” said Robin Barbiers, vice president of the zoo. “As they age, the animals face the same conditions that humans do.”

Animals often live much longer in captivity than they do in the wild, which means zoos increasingly deal with geriatric animals who need the kind of care that is often associated with geriatric humans.

Click here for the full article.

Woman mauled by cheetahs in Florida

March 30, 2008

Wildlife officers are investigating after two cheetahs mauled a woman at a wildlife sanctuary in Florida.

Judy Berens, who owns and operates the Panther Ridge Conservation Center near West Palm Beach, has been hospitalized after the two animals attacked her during an exhibition Saturday[…]

The sanctuary provides homes for exotic cats.

Witnesses say Berens was alone in an enclosure with two male cheetahs conducting an exhibition when a ball bouncing nearby distracted one of the animals.

Witnesses say Berens was knocked down when the cheetah moved toward the ball. They say the cheetah then started biting and clawing her. The other cheetah attacked shortly after.

Several people entered the enclosure and rescued her.

“Anytime you work with animals, and I don’t care what it is, I don’t care if it’s domesticated animals, wild animals, there is always a risk factor,” wildlife sanctuary curator David Hitzig told WPEC. “And yes, there is a greater risk factor when you’re working with large, wild animals.”

Click here for the full article.

For another unfortunate run-in with a cheetah, read this blog post.

Bunnies gotta get clean. And they gotta look cute during the process.

March 30, 2008

Birds moonwalk better than Michael Jackson!!!

March 30, 2008

Elephant paints self-portrait and single-trunkedly blows audience’s minds

March 30, 2008

You can find more information about the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project here.

Here’s a bit of info from their website:
The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project (AEACP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding people in need and to saving the diminishing number of Asian elephants left on our planet through its work with domesticated elephants. The AEACP raises funds through the sale of artwork created by elephants in order to generate money and create awareness for the people and elephants of Asia.

The AEACP is a continuing work of art by conceptual artists, Komar & Melamid. In its creation, Komar & Melamid brought the idea of teaching elephants how to paint from US zoos to the impoverished countryside of Southeast Asia, where the much needed ban on logging in the late 80’s left the remaining few thousand elephants and their caretakers out of work. The extensive logging of the countryside and the explosion of the human population in the area led to the destruction of much of the elephants’ natural habitat, leaving them with no wild to return to. Thousands of elephants and their lifelong caretakers were left without financial support and have since been forced to beg for food on crowded city streets. The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project is designed to help these surviving elephants and the people that care for them. The project is grounded on the basis of art functioning as charity, or art for the betterment of people as a whole.

The idea of art as charity is a largely original concept, although based in a long line of art rhetoric. Back in the 1920’s, Russian theorist, Chuzhak, coined the term, “life building” based upon his studies of Alexandar Bogdanov’s Organizational Theory of Art, in which Bogdanov theorized that art, as with any human activity, is based upon organization. Art, Bogdanov argued, was simply the organization of colors, lines, shapes, medium, etc. Under this premise, Bogdanov claimed that art of the future would involve the actual organization of people themselves, hopefully for the betterment of those peoples’ lives.

Fido, Fluffy become more high profile part of law

March 30, 2008

Fido is getting a new name — several, in fact: “plaintiff,” “trustee,” “beneficiary” and even “defendant.”

Dogs, cats and creatures of all sorts are being redefined in an emerging area of legal practice known as animal law. Once considered mere property, animals are being invested with legal standing as they’re increasingly being named as partial beneficiaries of estates, subjects of lawsuits and victims of abuse.

As animals rise in the law, so does the profile of animal lawyers, or lawyers who practice animal law.

Ninety-two of the 196 law schools in the country approved by the American Bar Association now offer courses on animal law, up from the nine that offered classes in 2000, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“You’re seeing this real snowball effect,” said Pamela Alexander, director of the defense fund’s animal law section.

Click here for the full article.

How insects fly

March 30, 2008

Jeff Dawson and a team of researchers at Carleton University are studying how insects fly, right to the smallest detail. The Goal: To use their knowledge to develop micro-air vehicles.

It’s late afternoon and Jeff Dawson is inspecting a locust that is glued to a stand with electrodes stuck in its flight muscles. A student uses software to determine what the insect’s muscles are doing during flight.

In a small room one floor down from this Carleton University biology lab, a locust colony, spread out in half-a-dozen cages, thrives. The creatures eat wheat grass and carrots, fly and mate. They’ll live for about four months under these circumstances and are used for various flight-related experiments in Mr. Dawson’s lab.

Back upstairs, the student is having trouble. This particular creature of biblical renown seems a bit lazy, and the student has to keep blowing air on it to wake it up and get it to fly. As he does, he makes the experiment look pretty low-tech. It all seems like basic biology — except that it has a high-tech purpose.

Click here for the full article.

Cloning may help Scottish wildcats survive

March 30, 2008

 

Britain’s wildest animal could be cloned to save the species from becoming extinct within 10 years.

The number of Scottish wildcats is believed to have fallen to below 400 in their native Highlands, and their continued survival is under serious threat from interbreeding with feral domestic cats, which is diluting the gene pool.

Two kittens were born nine days ago at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent and it is hoped they will prove relatively pure. DNA tests have still to be carried out.

Pound-for-pound, Felis silvestris grampia is one of the most ferocious predators in the world, but there are fears that this famously untameable creature – with its “tiger-stripe” markings and bushy, ringed tail – will be lost forever as the last survivors die off.

It is on the World Conservation Union’s red list of threatened species.

Conservationists believe, however, that a breakthrough in cloning techniques could safeguard its future.

Click here for the full article.

 

S.F. Art Institute halts exhibition showing killing of animals

March 29, 2008

 Citing threats of violence by animal rights activists, the San Francisco Art Institute said Saturday that it is canceling a controversial exhibition that included video clips of animals being bludgeoned to death, as well as a public forum it had scheduled to address the controversy.

“We’ve gotten dozens of threatening phone calls that targeted specific staff people with death threats, threats of violence and threats of sexual assaults,” said Art Institute President Chris Bratton. “We remain committed to freedom of speech as fundamental to this institution, but we have to take people’s safety very seriously.”

The exhibit that sparked the controversy was a one-person show by Paris artist Adel Abdessemed called “Don’t Trust Me,” which opened March 19.

Along with a variety of other elements, the show included a series of video loops of animals being bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer in front of a brick wall. The animals killed included a pig, goat, deer, ox, horse and sheep.

Animal welfare groups had attacked the video clips as degrading and cruel, and accused Abdessemed of killing animals for the sake of art.

Click here for the full article.

Insects not as attracted to flowers as they used to be

March 28, 2008

The scent of flowers may become a thing of the past, say researchers, who suggest pollution is destroying the natural perfume.

As well as swamping the more delicate fragrances, pollution breaks down the natural scents that flowers emit to attract insects. It also reduces the distance the fragrance can travel, meaning that bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are less likely to be drawn to the flower, says the study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Flowering plants can also absorb pollutants, making them less attractive to insects.

Scientists believe this explains the marked decline of some plants and the insects they rely on for pollination.

Jose Fuentes, a professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, who led the study said: “The greater the amount of pollutants in the air, the greater the rate of destruction of the flower scents.”

Click here for the full article.

Financially overwhelmed owners abandon homes, with pets still inside

March 28, 2008

In the swank Country Club area of Anthem, Ariz., Barbara Ward-Windgassen’s rescue group has saved a bichon frise, Lhasa apso and shih tzu — some with their leashes still on — after their owners had abandoned them in their foreclosed high-priced homes.

She’s also helped find new homes for a rottweiler and pit bull that were being cared for over the fence by neighbors for nearly two months after the family left them in the back yard when their house was taken back by the bank.

Call it reckless abandonment. Shelters and animal rescue organizations across the country are packed cage-to-cage with dogs and cats, even birds and reptiles, that have been ditched or dropped off as scores of foreclosed-upon homeowners relocate. It is a disturbing trend and a sign of the tough economic times that has prompted a number of organizations to form hotlines for pet foster homes and to implore pet owners — or what the industry calls “pet parents” — to seek help for their animals before they head off.
 
“There are a lot of people who are just walking away and leaving their pets behind, which breaks everyone’s heart,” said Windgassen, the president of Anthem Pets, a nonprofit animal welfare organization in her community.
 
The number of abandoned pure-bred dogs in her neighborhood alone has jumped 10-fold just since Christmas. “It just boggles my mind,” she said. “It’s cutting across all income levels and age levels.”
Click here for the full article.

Mystery of the missing zoo animals still unsolved

March 28, 2008

The Berlin zoo is under pressure to explain the fate of hundreds of animals which have vanished amid claims they were slaughtered and in some cases turned into potency-boosting drugs.

Claudia Hammerling, a Green party politician, backed by several animal rights organisations, alleges the zoo’s director, Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, sold the animals.

She claims to have evidence that four Asian black bears and a hippopotamus were transported to the Belgian town of Wortel, which has no zoo, but which does have an abattoir.

According to Ms Hammerling these animals were slaughtered. She said the systematic “overproduction of animals” at zoos, designed to attract more visitors, was to blame.

Ms Hammerling said she also knew of several tigers and leopards from Berlin that ended up in a tiger breeding farm in China that promoted itself as a purveyor of traditional potency-boosting medicines made from big cats. She alleges the animals’ remains were turned into drugs.

Click here for the full article.

Giant, Unknown Sea Creatures Found off Antarctica

March 28, 2008

Giant sea stars or starfish that measure 24 inches (60 centimeters) across are held by Sadie Mills, left, and Niki Davey of New Zealand‘s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research on February 15, 2008.

They and other researchers collected 30,000 sea creatures—many new to science—during a 35-day census in Antarctic waters in February and March, according to a March 26 announcement.

The large-scale survey was part of the International Polar Year and Census of Antarctic Marine Life programs, which study the diversity of Antarctic marine life.

Click here for the full article and links to pictures of other weird deep-sea critters found near Antarctica.

Pet hotel near Tokyo airport REALLY pampers travelers’ animals

March 28, 2008

The Pet Inn Royal at Narita airport near Tokyo is exactly what its name implies: a place of overnight lodging where your four-footed friend is king. For some pet owners, that can be a little disconcerting.

“I was actually surprised they knew when our pets went to the toilet and how much food they ate,” said Lisbeth Petersen, a native of Denmark who left her cats, Pooh and Cookie, at the hotel during a recent trip to Singapore. “Normally I would just expect to know if they have been eating well or not,” she said.

The hotel, which opened in 2005, is designed to cater to the extremely finicky needs of Japanese pets, which typically receive hand-and-foot wait services from their owners. But the establishment has also found a solid market among the growing number of expatriates in Japan. These impermanent residents travel frequently and often do not have local friends or neighbors who can watch their pets.

Click here for the full article.

Puppy needs foster/permanent home ASAP! Take the Kitty Mowmow Save the Puppy Challenge!

March 27, 2008

My friend who provides foster care to cats asked me to pass this on to you, loyal reader of Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo.

Do you live within driving distance of Tuscaloosa, AL? Do you know someone who does? And would you or that someone like to give this adorable little puppy, named Galen, a foster or permanent home? Of course you do. 🙂

galen-2-pix-3.jpg

This is the Kitty Mowmow Save the Puppy Challenge: Let’s all work together to find a home for Galen! Call all your family, friends, and co-workers to see if they want to help her. Email me as soon as possible at kittymowmowsanimalexpo AT gmail DOT com and let me know that you want her.

Here’s some info about the Galen, given to me by the shelter:

galen-2-pix-1.jpgGalen, meaning “festive party” in Gaelic, is called that because she is such a joyful little thing. She’s a rescued puppy who during her very short life was chained to a fence with very little water or food, in all kinds of weather. When the guy who owned her released her, we took her to be kenneled and she has been there since last Friday. The nice woman who runs the place gave very favorable reports about her behavior. She said she placed a very, very large pillow in the kitchen and Galen climbed on it and slept all night without any barking. She also has had no accidents in the house. This has not changed. Her behavior is still stable, and the woman says she will make a wonderful pet. She said If she didn’t have so many dogs of her own she would keep her. Galen’s birthday was November 1, 2007, so she is just a little over 4 mos.old. She has had the complete series of shots, is heartworm free, and on her 1st heartworm medication, and is solid black. She will be spayed probably before 5 months old.

We need a temporary fostering situation, one that will enable her to say inside a house and continue to be socialized. She’s a terrific puppy. We will provide food,etc. Because of my strained finances involving animal rescue, it would be nice if the charge is low. I should mention that the woman keeping her committed to watching four other dogs over spring break, so she can’t keep galen later than Friday. Too little time to find her another place!!!

Also:

galen-2-pix-2.jpgThank you, thank you for the follow-through on Galen. I had to keep her with the woman who was kenneling her. Fortunately, a couple of people who had planned to keep their dogs with her during Spring break didn’t go away. I say “fortunate,” but it still is costing me an extra $105.00 for one week!!!!! Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a problem, but we’ve been involved in lots of rescue lately. You know the story. Galen should be spayed like today–at least not more than five months of age. Anyone who fosters her would have to keep her from running around or rough-housing because of stitches. They’re usually removed at 10 days. I’m thinking of taking her to be spayed the end of this week or the beginning of next week, but I wish she had somewhere to go after that. I like [the place and the woman she’s currently staying with], but the $$$ is the problem. It may delay the spaying, if I don’t get a place for her.

Take the Kitty Mowmow Save the Puppy Challenge! Please help the puppy and the animal shelter!  Email me at kittymowmowsanimalexpo AT gmail DOT com if you are interested or need more info.

Next Up: Pets in Space?

March 26, 2008

He’s not very cute or cuddly and he’s certainly not welcome inside the house, but the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are captivated with their new pet: a massive robot named Dextre. The mechanical beast, delivered and assembled by the visiting space shuttle Endeavour crew, stands like a guard dog on top of the U.S. laboratory Destiny.

“He’s built to be brawn, not brains,” said Endeavour astronaut Richard Linnehan. Linnehan, a former veterinarian, is among some who feel real pets will eventually have a place in space.

“I think someday it’s inevitable,” Linnehan told Discovery News in a preflight interview. “We get to the point where we have colonies on the moon and colonies on Mars and we have large areas of pressurized living space. I think pets will be there for sure. Pets follow people around.”

Click here for the full article.

Pets’ weight can mirror their owners

March 26, 2008

Chances are, if you’re overweight and out of shape, so is your pet, says a leading animal health expert.

“We know, unfortunately, that our kind of lifestyle impacts on our pets, and their eating habits, and their exercising regime,” said Abigail Stevenson, scientific communications manager for the U.K.-based Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.

“We know through work done at the Waltham centre that if an owner carries too much weight, then their pets are very likely to be like that as well. All of that impacts on their pet’s health.”

Click here for the full article.

How do you sue a thieving bear who keeps helping himself to your honey?

March 26, 2008

Who do you think said this: “I tried to distract him with lights and music because I heard bears are afraid of that”?

No marks if you said it was Eeyore or Tigger speaking of Winnie-the-Pooh, nor if you said it was Mr Brown about Paddington Bear.

It was Zoran Kiseloski appearing recently as the chief prosecution witness in the case against a brown bear accused of stealing honey.

Click here for the full article and more info on lawsuits against animals.

Mixed news for rhino conservation

March 25, 2008

It has been a decade of quite spectacular triumph and devastating failure for the custodians of Africa’s rhinos.

For the first time in several decades the overall number of white and black rhino has gone up rather than down, thanks to a determined rearguard action and a few frontal assaults by conservationists.

The good news is that there are now almost 4 000 black rhinos compared to the 2, 600 which survived 10 years ago.

The white rhino has fared even better, with the overall population almost doubling from a total of 8, 400 10 years ago, to almost 14 500 individuals today.

That translates into an annual growth rate of almost 7 percent for the white rhino and about 4,5 percent for the black rhino.

Yet it’s still not a very rosy picture, considering that well over 62, 000 black rhinos were slaughtered by horn poachers in the four decades that ended in the early 1990s.

And the bad news is that two subspecies of rhino have almost certainly become extinct over the past five years.

Click here for the full article.