Posts Tagged ‘California’

Toxic Algal Blooms May Cause Seizures In California Sea Lions

June 11, 2008

Scientists, reporting in the current issue of the online journal Marine Drugs, state that an increase of epileptic seizures and behavioral abnormalities in California sea lions can result from low-dose exposure to domoic acid as a fetus. The findings follow an analysis earlier this year led by Frances Gulland of the California Marine Mammal Center that showed this brain disturbance to be a newly recognized chronic disease.

John Ramsdell of NOAA’s Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, SC, in partnership with Tanja Zabka, a veterinary pathologist at the Marine Mammal Center, conducted the first-of-its kind analysis of poisoning by the algal toxin, domoic acid, during fetal brain development. The results, analyzed across multiple animal species, point to the toxin as a cause for behavioral changes and epilepsy that does not become evident until later in life

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Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals

June 9, 2008

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University have discovered what may be a clue to the mystery of why marine mammals around the world are succumbing to a parasite that is typically only associated with cats. The key may just be the lowly anchovy, according to research presented today at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite which causes toxoplasmosis, considered to be the third leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20% of the U.S. population carries the parasite, the only known reservoir of the infectious form of the parasite (the oocyst) are cats.

Over the past decade, toxoplasma infection has appeared in a variety of sea mammals including beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals. It has also become a major cause of death in sea otters living off the coast of California. It is estimated that approximately 17% of sea otter deaths can be attributed to toxoplasma. While many believe fresh water runoff contaminated with cat feces is to blame, there is no definitive science on the source of infection.

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New Threat To Spotted Owl Exposed

May 30, 2008

A new study provides a baseline distribution of blood parasites and strains in Spotted Owls, suggesting a more fragile immune health than previously understood for the already threatened Northern and California Spotted Owls.

The study, co-authored by San Francisco State University biologists, is the first to show a Spotted Owl infected with an avian malaria (Plasmodium) parasite.

“While Plasmodium parasites have been found in thriving owl species, the detection in a Spotted Owl could further challenge the threatened species’ survival,” said Heather Ishak, an SF State graduate biology student who performed the research with Assistant Professor of Biology Ravinder Sehgal and others.

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Giant Pythons Could Spread Quickly Across South

May 19, 2008

As if killer bees and kudzu weren’t enough, the southern United States may soon have another invasive species to contend with — giant Burmese pythons capable of swallowing deer and alligators whole.

Approximately 30,000 of the big snakes, which can reach 30 feet and 200 pounds, already live wild in Florida’s Everglades, thanks to thick-headed pet owners who’ve released them into the swamps when they’ve grown too large to keep at home.

But now the U.S. Geological Survey says Florida is not the only place the Burmese python can thrive.

n fact, the big beasts, which are not poisonous and rarely attack humans, could live happily in the entire southern third of the country, from Southern California to Texas and the Lower Mississippi Valley and up the Eastern Seaboard to Chesapeake Bay.

All it would take would be enough pet releases in various locations to create a breeding population.

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Tiny fish cleans abandoned pools at foreclosed houses

May 12, 2008

While lawmakers in Washington struggle to solve the nation’s foreclosure crisis, officials here are using a small fish to clean up some of the mess.

The Gambusia affinis is commonly known as the “mosquito fish” because of its healthy appetite for the larvae of the irritating and disease-spreading insects. Lately, the fish is being pressed into service in California, Arizona, Florida and other areas struggling with a soaring number of foreclosures.

The problem: swimming pools of abandoned homes have turned into mosquito breeding grounds.

“They are real heroes,” says Josefa Cabada, a technician at the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, a government agency. “I’ve never seen a mosquito in a pool with mosquito fish.”

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California assembly approves bill banning pets from drivers’ laps

May 6, 2008

The Assembly on Monday approved a bill that would ticket motorists $35 for the common practice of allowing dogs and cats on their laps while driving, though some pet owners oppose the bill.

State government statistics indicate 4,300 accidents daily are linked to driver distraction. A national study ranked pets among the top distractions. Experts say insurers are concerned.

Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, whose Assembly Bill 2233 moved to the Senate on a 44-11 vote, said, “You have a potential major risk of an auto accident when you have a live pet that can be around in your face, in the steering wheel, down on the floor under your feet.”

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Is your pet’s name popular in California?

May 3, 2008

Searching for the perfect pet name? Want to know whether it’s more popular to name your pug “Popeye” than “Pugsly”? Search this handy database to see names of more than 60,000 dogs and cats licensed in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. What are the unlicensed dogs called? Don’t ask.

Type in your pet’s name to see its popularity among all dogs, specific breeds of dogs, and all cats. Or, search by animal type, breed and most popular names. Results for a name search will include a total for how often the name is used for all dogs and cats, and a break out of dog breeds. (Source: Animal licensing departments in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose)

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Lawmaker seeks to ban pets from driver’s seat

April 17, 2008

Lawmakers have taken aim at many driving distractions lately, talking on your cellphone and texting to name a few.

But driving with your dog? That’s a new one.

A bill introduced by state Assemblyman Bill Maze (R-Visalia) would ban pets from sharing the driver’s seat with their owners and fine drivers $35 if they were caught with a pet in their lap, the Palm Springs Desert Desert Sun reports.

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Salmon shortage threatens not only fishing season, but entire species

April 16, 2008

There is an ecological disaster in the making along much of the West Coast: wild salmon are vanishing in the region best known for spawning them.

As disturbing as this is for those who catch and sell the fish, it’s even more so for those who are desperately trying to figure out how to save the species.

While it may look picturesque, the fleet at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is frighteningly still.

“We’re going to lose a lot of boats out of this fleet that are going to have to do something else,” said fisherman Larry Collins.

Friday, the council that manages fishing along the West Coast shut down virtually all salmon fishing from Oregon to the Mexican border.

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As Pets Live Longer Too, Hospice Care Helps Owners Say Goodbye

April 11, 2008

…A growing movement toward hospice or “pawspice” care for pets is catching on as owners demand more emotional support and options for end-of-life care such as pain management, alternative medicine or palliative radiation treatments for terminal cancer, said Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist and director of Pawspice in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

“Professionals know there is a cry out there for more home care and more instruction on pets that are treated more like family members than anything,” she said. “It’s a natural next step.”

Many times hospice is as much about serving humans’ needs as those of the animal, Villalobos said. “People really want to have an extended farewell just like they did with family members and parents.”

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Scripps offers naming rights for new species, for a fee

April 8, 2008


f you’ve got $15,000, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego will name a new species of sea slug after you. For $50,000, you could attach your name to a hydrothermal vent worm.

Scripps is offering the chance to name about a dozen newly discovered species for a tax-deductible donation. Bids start at $5,000.

The money will benefit the institution’s collection of ocean life collected over the past century. Scripps lost state funding six years ago and has been struggling to keep the collections afloat.

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Navy releases extensive marine impact study

April 5, 2008

After losing a series of lawsuits, the Navy for the first time today will release a massive study that examines the potential collateral damage to wildlife when training sailors to use sonar, drop bombs, fire missiles and help Marines storm beaches in Southern California.

The environmental impact statement, fatter than the Los Angeles phone book, comes after federal judges have repeatedly ruled that the Navy failed to do a proper assessment on how to protect whales and dolphins from sonar used to hunt submarines.

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Swarm of bees closes California Highway after truck carrying the insects flips over

March 18, 2008

Millions of swarming honey bees are on the loose after a truck carrying crates of the insects flipped over on a California highway.

The California Highway Patrol says 8-to-12 million bees escaped Sunday from the crates in which they were stored and swarmed over an area of Highway 99 and stung officers, firefighters and tow truck drivers trying to clear the accident.

CHP Officer Michael Bradley says a tractor trailer flipped over while entering the highway on its way to Yakima, Wash. The flatbed was carrying bee crates each filled with up to 30,000 bees.

Bradley says several beekeepers driving by the accident stopped to assist in the bee wrangling.

The bees had been used in the San Joaquin Valley to pollinate crops.

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Animal rights activists owe technology a thank you

March 13, 2008

An undercover vegan wired with a camera no bigger than a sugar cube spent six weeks last fall working at a Southern California slaughterhouse. To fit in, he brought sandwiches made with soy riblets and ate them in a dusty parking lot with the other workers.

He tried not to worry about the emotional toll that long days escorting cows to the kill might have. He had more practical concerns, like whether the camera switch hidden in his pocket would fail or a cow would smash into him and crack the recording equipment taped to his body.

The Humane Society of the United States first gave a 32-minute video made from his footage to the San Bernardino County district attorney, then in January released an edited version on its Web site and to a newspaper. The video showed workers flipping sick dairy cows with forklifts, prodding them with electricity and dragging them with chains to be processed into ground meat, some of which likely ended up in chili and tacos at public school cafeterias.

It was as if someone gave Upton Sinclair a video camera and a Web link. Animal cruelty charges were filed, the slaughterhouse was shut down and Congress held hearings. The Agriculture Department announced the recall of more than 143 million pounds of meat — the largest in the nation’s history. (Cows so sick they can’t walk can’t legally be processed into food because they may have mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a form of which can be passed on to humans.)

After more than 25 years of tactics that have included tossing a dead raccoon on to the lunch plate of Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor; boycotting fast-food restaurants; and staging legal challenges, the animal rights movement had a bona fide hit.

A new generation of cameras so small they can be hidden in eyeglass frames or a hat — together with the rise of YouTube and the growing appeal of so-called citizen journalism — has done for animal rights advocates what the best-organized protest could not. Perhaps more than other social agitators, people concerned about animals raised for food have discovered that downloadable video can be the most potent weapon in their arsenal.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

County’s paralysis keeps animals in antiquated shelter

March 5, 2008

For at least a quarter century, Orange County has meant to build a new shelter for thousands of lost and abandoned animals that every year end up in its care.

It has been unable to do so.

“One of the most frustrating problems which has avoided solution during my years as supervisor, has been locating an acceptable site for the South County animal shelter,” wrote Supervisor Thomas F. Riley in a letter dated Jan. 18, 1983.

Riley died in 1998, with the issue still unresolved. And despite decades of plans and promises, Orange County still has essentially the same shelter, in the same spot, as it has since World War II.

“I honestly don’t know what’s taken so long,” said Supervisor Bill Campbell, who this week asked county staffers to move forward on this in earnest. “I’ve been to the shelter. I see the need.”

Others have seen the need as well. The shelter has been the subject of two grand jury investigations over the last decade, finding, among other things, mismanagement, conflicts of interest, deficiencies in animal care and a disregard for public safety. Crowding was so bad that animals were euthanized ahead of schedule to gain space for new animals.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

Pet Sterilization Becomes Law in LA

February 27, 2008

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday signed one of the nation’s toughest laws on pet sterilization, requiring most dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered by the time they are 4 months old.

The ordinance is aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating the thousands of euthanizations conducted in Los Angeles’ animal shelters every year.

“We will, sooner rather than later, become a no-kill city and this is the greatest step in that direction,” Councilman Tony Cardenas said as he held a kitten at a City Hall news conference.

Councilman Richard Alarcon, who like Cardenas is a co-author of the bill, brought his two pet Chihuahuas to the event to be neutered in a van operated by the city.

The ordinance does exempt some animals, including those that have competed in shows or sporting competitions, guide dogs, animals used by police agencies and those belonging to professional breeders.

The average pet owner, however, must have their dog or cat spayed or neutered by the time it reaches 4 months of age (as late as 6 months with a letter from a veterinarian). People with older unneutered pets and newcomers to the city with animals also have to obey the law.

First-time offenders will receive information on subsidized sterilization services and be given an additional 60 days. If they still fail to comply they could be fined $100 and ordered to serve eight hours of community service. A subsequent offense could result in a $500 fine or 40 hours of community service.

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Big cats return to public view in renovated San Francisco Zoo grottoes

February 22, 2008

It was back to normal Thursday morning outside the big-cat grotto at the San Francisco Zoo, where parents and children greeted their old friends for the first time since a Christmas Day tiger attack left a San Jose teenager dead…The big cats had been kept inside since Tatiana the tiger somehow escaped and attacked the teen and two of his friends.

Fans of Tony the tiger, Tatiana’s former companion, Kimani the lion and all the others had counted the days until they could visit them in their outdoor playgrounds again. A heavy downpour for much of the day kept the number of visitors to a few at a time – there were 220 throughout the day. Many seemed to approve of the changes.

“I never felt myself or my kids were in danger,” Drivon said. “I always felt safe here, but I think what they’ve done is great. More zoos should take the precautions.”

It is still unknown how Tatiana got out of one of the grottoes before police shot her dead. Two days after the Christmas attack, the zoo announced the front wall around Tatiana’s enclosure was 4 feet lower than industry standards. Attorneys for Carlos Sousa Jr.,
who was killed in the attack, and brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, who were injured, blame the zoo; the zoo contends the three friends provoked the tiger. Police suspended their investigation without any charges, and no lawsuits have been filed. To prevent an escape of a big cat in the future, the zoo extended the concrete moat walls of the grottoes 4 feet to meet the national guidelines of 16 feet, 4 inches. A glass wall and fencing was placed on top of that to extend the barriers to 19 feet, and hot wires run along the moat wall.

“That will make sure they don’t even think about getting out,” said Bob Jenkins, director of animal care and conservation at the zoo.

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Super Furry Animals perform shortest song ever

February 12, 2008


The Super Furry Animals performed their shortest song ever at a sold-out show at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on Friday (February 8).

Frontman Gruff Rhys took the stage wearing a giant space-helmet in the shape of a lizard, which he sang out of during the first songs of the hour-and-a-half long set.

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Border fence may drive largest American cat to extinction

January 23, 2008


The Bush Administration’s decision to not prepare a recovery plan for the endangered jaguar in its native habitat in Arizona and New Mexico may spell the end for the big cat in the United States, says an environmental group.

The Center for Biological Diversity says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision seeks to circumvent the Endangered Species Act from plans to build thousands of miles of wall on the U.S.-Mexico border without environmental review.

“The wall will short-circuit current efforts by jaguars to recolonize the United States,” said the group in a statement. The jaguar once ranged from Monterey Bay, California, to the Appalachian Mountains, and currently occurs in southern Arizona and New Mexico where it is listed as an endangered species.

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New from EELS, an Animal-esque artist.

January 2, 2008

I received this in my mailbox today and decided to pass it on.  The EELS do a good job of keeping their fans posted.


Dear visitor,

Before EELS head out on the European leg of their 2008 tour they will perform a special warm-up show at The Galaxy Theater (appropriately enough) in Santa Ana, California on Feb. 14th, Valentine’s Day! Tickets have just gone on sale here:

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See all the latest confirmed EELS tour dates here:

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More info:

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