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Author Topic: For All Daemon Souls and Dog Lovers  (Read 83999 times)
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« Reply #90 on: Sep 05, 2013, 08:09 AM »

1,150 chickens will fly the coop to New York thanks to anonymous benefactor

California hens were due to be gassed having reached the end of their egg-laying life but were saved by generous donor

Amanda Holpuch in New York, Wednesday 4 September 2013 19.34 BST      

Thousands of Californian hens have escaped being gassed after an anonymous donor provided $50,000 for some of them to be flown across the US on a charter flight to a happy retirement on the east coast.

The hens, who have reached the end of their egg-laying life, were due to be killed – a common practice in the US.

But after an approach from the Animal Place sanctuary in northern California, 3,000 of them will enjoy a comfortable retirement instead. Thanks to an unnamed benefactor, 1,150 of them will be flown to New York to be distributed to sanctuaries in the eastern US.

"It's certainly the first time this many adult birds have been flown across the country," said Marji Beach, education director at Animal Place.

Commercial airlines would not accept the 1,150-chicken load, which is why the group had to turn to a private jet company. Beach said the jet company did not seem shocked by the request.

Beach said she was also surprised that the egg farm allowed it to rescue the hens. "The big battery-cage operations – where the hens are crammed into cages so small they can't even flap their wings – we just didn't think they would ever be open to an animal rights organization going to their property and pulling hens, but this person was," said Beach.

This batch of two-year-old rescued hens is expected to live two to four more years on these farms.

Animal Place has saved 12,000 birds since it started in late 2010, the largest rescue operation it has saved 4,460 hens.

"If you met a chicken, they have unique personalities like dogs and cats and we think they deserve the same amount of compassion and respect that we give to dogs and cats – I promise we're not crazy," said Beach.

An employee from Sasha sanctuary in Manchester, Michigan will make the eight to nine hour drive to New York to pick up one hundred birds to join the sanctuary's collection of cows, pigs and other farm animals.

"It's going to be a challenge, it's going to cost us a lot of money, but we're glad to do it, these birds deserve a chance, unfortunately we can only take a small proportion," said Sasha director Dorothy Davies, who started the sanctuary in 1981.

Davies said the last time she remembers any rescue animals being flown across the country was after hurricane Katrina, when shelters took in displaced dogs. She said that it was an uncommon sight and that hens raised to lay eggs are "almost never" rescued. "I don't know how they pulled it off," said Davies.

Chickens raised to lay eggs have a different genetic makeup than birds raised to be used as meat. Once the egg-laying birds lose their ability to produce a profitable amount of eggs they serve no commercial use.

"It's not your all-purpose bird that grandma had in the backyard – got a couple eggs, had them for sunday dinner – it's not like that anymore," said Davies.

At the sanctuaries, the birds will be kept separate from other chickens to be screened for health and monitor their adjustment to farm life.

"They have not walked around, they've been in cages, they've never seen the sky before so it's going to be quite an adjustment for them, hopefully they will adapt and be happy," said Davies.

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« Reply #91 on: Sep 10, 2013, 07:35 AM »

Runaway circus elephant kills petanque-playing French pensioner

Security of circus outside Paris under investigation after elephant escapes and strikes 84-year-old man

Kim Willsher in Paris, Monday 9 September 2013 18.34 BST   

An elephant that escaped from a circus on the outskirts of Paris on Sunday killed a French pensioner who was playing in a nearby petanque competition.

The animal was in an enclosure surrounded by electric wire after finishing his performance in the afternoon. Witnesses said the elephant grabbed a tarpaulin and placed it over the electrified fence to make its escape.

The 84-year-old man was playing in the petanque competition at Place de la Republique at Lizy-sur-Ourcq in the Seine-et-Marne area, south of the French capital, when the elephant struck him with his trunk, knocking him to the ground. The man was taken by helicopter to hospital where he died.

Local officials said the private circus was installed with "perfect security conditions" and described the incident as "extraordinary".

"Witnesses saw the elephant take a tarpaulin and place it on the electric fence," a gendarme told French journalists. "It then escaped into a second area with barriers and trailers. The elephant was quickly caught by its keepers."

The gendarme added: "For the moment we're taking statements from witnesses and those present at the scene of the drama. We have to establish if the security norms were respected."
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« Reply #92 on: Sep 11, 2013, 07:19 AM »

September 10, 2013

Romania: Parliament Approves Plan to Euthanize Stray Dogs


Parliament voted Tuesday to allow officials in Bucharest to capture and kill tens of thousands of stray dogs in the city. The chamber approved the measure 226 to 23. The mayor of Bucharest, the capital, who had planned a referendum on the issue, said he would seek to cancel the referendum. In recent years, a Bucharest woman was killed by a pack of strays, and a Japanese tourist died after a stray severed an artery in his leg. Last week, a 4-year-old boy was fatally mauled. The bill must be signed by the president.
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« Reply #93 on: Sep 12, 2013, 09:23 AM »

More than 60 eagles killed in last 5 years by wind-power turbines

Government biologists tallied eagle deaths attributed to the growing wind-power industry, a key element in plans to transition to clean energy sources and reduce pollution blamed for global warming.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Wind-energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the past five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new study by government biologists.

The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation’s growing wind-energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Obama’s plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.

But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states, including Washington, have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was quickly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One eagle counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.

The vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was “an alarming and concerning finding.”

A trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, said the figure was much lower than other causes of eagle deaths. The group said it was working with the government and conservation groups to find ways to reduce eagle deaths.

The scientists said their figure is likely to be “substantially” underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The study also excluded the deadliest place in the country for eagles, a cluster of wind farms in Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 a year.

“It is not an isolated event that is restricted to one place in California; it is pretty widespread,” said Brian Millsap, the national raptor coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and one of the study’s authors.

The study excluded 17 eagle deaths for which there was not enough evidence. A study footnote says more golden and bald eagles have since been killed at wind-energy facilities in three additional states: Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

It’s unclear what toll the deaths could be having on local eagle populations. And while the golden eagle population is stable in the West, any additional mortality to a long-lived species such as an eagle can be a “tipping point,” Millsap said.

The research affirms an Associated Press investigation in May that found dozens of eagle deaths from wind-energy facilities and described how the Obama administration was failing to fine or prosecute wind-energy companies, even though each death is a violation of federal law.

Documents obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act show that in two cases in Iowa, federal investigators determined a bald eagle had been killed by blunt-force trauma with a wind-turbine blade. But neither case led to prosecution.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which employs the six researchers, has said it is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and seven have been referred to the Justice Department. The authors noted the study’s findings do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, although some of their data was obtained from staff.

Meanwhile, the wind-energy industry has pushed for, and the Obama administration is evaluating, giving companies permission to kill a set number of eagles for 30 years. The change extends by 25 years the permit length in place but was not subjected to a full environmental review because the administration classified it as an administrative change.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornadolike vortexes.

Wind farms in two states, California and Wyoming, were responsible for 58 deaths, followed by facilities in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Texas, Maryland and Iowa.

In all, 32 facilities were implicated. One in Wyoming was responsible for a dozen golden-eagle deaths, the most at a single facility.

The research was published in the Journal of Raptor Research.

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« Reply #94 on: Sep 13, 2013, 05:52 AM »

The Christian Science Monitor

Orangutans plan their trips in advance

By Elizabeth Barber, Contributor / September 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm EDT

Sumatran orangutans plan their trips through the Indonesian jungle in advance, according to a new paper published in PLOS ONE. The new research upends yet again the belief that humans are unique in the animal kingdom, suggesting that orangutans, like humans, can plan for the future, at least to some degree.

“There are many scientists (mainly working on human cognition) assuming that only humans are capable of thinking about the future,” said Karin Isler, a researcher at the Anthropological Institute and Museum in Zurich, Switzerland and a co-author on the paper, said in an email interview.

But, according to this latest research, that isn’t the case, with orangutans joining us in planning their routes with forward-thinking aplomb – and without the gentle guidance of Apple’s Siri.

Orangutans, the red-haired, big-bellied primates, have often roiled prevailing theories of what makes a human a human, flagrantly displaying abilities that remind us of, well, us.

In a 2003 paper, published in Science, researchers reported that orangutans exhibited what could be construed as “culture,” proposing that separate groups of animals’ unique rituals were not just adaptive strategies suited to their different environments, but were cultural practices. Then, a 2006 paper, also published in Science, found that captive orangutans and chimpanzees can choose and store tools and then remember to use them 14 hours later.

Studies have also found orangutans to be adroit at deceiving each other, picking up linguistic skills, and making decisions based on reciprocity.

But whether or not orangutans can plan their routes in advance has been unclear. The distinction between orangutans truly planning ahead, as opposed to just acting on their immediate needs, is difficult to tease out.

“Many animals know where they are heading, but it's difficult to say whether these plans are beyond their current motivation (e.g. being hungry or thirsty, and moving directly to a food or water source),” says Dr. Isler.

Over a period of five years, researchers from the Anthropological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich collected 1,169 long calls from flanged male orangutans in Suaq Balimbing, a peat swamp forest in Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia. (“Flanged” means that the orangutans are sexually mature and can emit calls using their throat pads.)

About 696 of those calls, emitted on 320 days, came from a dominant male, the orangutan that commands female attention in his group, as opposed to the unfortunate, submissive males who do not win the hearts of girl orangutans.

The researchers found that flanged, dominant male orangutans emit long calls in the direction of their planned travel route, emitting a new call before each change in direction. The orangutan’s commitment to its called direction held true even after a night’s rest, proving that the calls did not represent immediate needs but long-term plans, the authors say. If an orangutan sounded a directional call at night and then went to sleep, it would resume travel in the direction indicated the night before upon waking the next morning. In fact, the orangutan would continue in that direction for 22 hours after the directional call was given.

“These findings therefore indicate that flanged male Sumatran orangutans make their travel plans at least a day in advance and announce them through their spontaneous long calls,” write the scientists, in the paper. “He remembers the main travel direction in the face of numerous distractions, sometimes lasting for hours, or even overnight.”

The paper authors also note that orangutan’s directional planning differs from that exhibited in migrating birds and homing pigeons, as the orangutan is capable of changing his route and destination throughout the trip.

These calls have an audience: female orangutans. The researchers propose that the females use the dominant male’s calls to tail their preferred mates and avoid the lower-status male orangutans pining for them. After hearing the call, females moved closer to the dominant, call-emitting males, remaining within earshot, the researchers found. The subordinate males, however, plodded away from the stronger male’s given destination.

The researchers do not identify the mechanisms responsible for the planning, noting that the position of the sun, a mental map, or some form of magnetic orientation abilities could be factors in the orangutan’s route mapping. And the results do not necessarily suggest that orangutans are like humans in setting distant goals and pondering the future.

“Planning travel routes does not directly allow for inferring other planning abilities,” says Isler.

The researchers expect that route planning abilities could be found in apes and other large-brained animals. Still, proving that to be true will be complicated, as other animals, unlike the orangutan, might not be so vocal about their plans, the authors write.

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« Reply #95 on: Sep 13, 2013, 08:21 AM »

The Christian Science Monitor

Frog photobomb: NASA launches rocket, frog (+video)

By Elizabeth Barber, Contributor / September 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm EDT

One frog, of unidentified species, is in “uncertain” condition after the LADEE launch from Virginia's Wallops Island last week, according to NASA.

The space agency reported on Wednesday that a still camera recording the LADEE spacecraft launch at Pad 0B at Wallops Flight Facility, had taken “an intriguing photo of an airborne frog.”

The frog was probably enjoying a water pool that NASA scientists had put on the launchpad to protect the pad from damage, Universe Today reported. As the rocket lifted off, the amphibian was photographed shooting upward in a 2552 degrees Farenheit (roughly) steam cloud. It has not been seen since.

NASA confirmed in a statement that the frog is not a joke: It really did launch a frog, it says. But the agency did not comment on whether it intended to launch the frog as part of its $263 million mission to the moon.

“The photo team confirms the frog is real and was captured in a single frame by one of the remote cameras used to photograph the launch,” NASA said in a statement.

“The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain,” it added.

The report of the frog’s one giant leap comes just four years after a bat was incinerated during a launch of space shuttle Discovery. In that episode, a fruit bat was discovered napping on the shuttle’s fuel tank just before blastoff. NASA said it hoped the bat would leave. It did not. The rocket boosters ignited.

The bat was posthumously named Brian.

Click to watch:

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« Reply #96 on: Sep 13, 2013, 09:13 AM »

Chihuahua Miracle Milly world’s smallest dog

Miracle Milly is shorter than a soup can, standing at 3.8 inches tall when measured from backbone to paw, Guinness World Records said.

The Associated Press

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico can now boast it is home to the world’s smallest dog, when it comes to height, at least.

The brown Chihuahua named Miracle Milly is shorter than a soup can, standing at 3.8 inches tall when measured from backbone to paw, Guinness World Records announced Thursday.

She is nearly 2 years old, weighs roughly 1 pound and is known for often sticking out her tiny tongue when someone takes her picture.

“She knows how to pose,” owner Vanesa Semler said.

Miracle Milly dethroned Boo Boo, a long-haired Chihuahua from Kentucky that stands 4 inches tall.

Guinness has a second category for world’s smallest dog when measured by length. That title is held by Heaven Sent Brandy, a Chihuahua in Largo, Fla., who measures 6 inches long.

When she was born, Miracle Milly weighed less than an ounce and fit in a teaspoon, Semler said. Her mouth was too tiny to nurse from her mother, so Semler gave her milk every two hours through an eyedropper.

She slept in a doll’s crib next to Semler’s bed, growing stronger as the months passed.

The Chihuahua now sleeps in a baby’s crib and will eat nothing but food cooked by humans. “She really likes salmon and chicken,” Semler said, noting that she eats four times a day.

Miracle Milly is close to her two sisters, both of which are of normal size, but she prefers the company of people. “She does not understand that she is a dog,” Semler said. “She thinks she’s a kid.”

She doesn’t bark and likes playing with the plants in Semler’s backyard. If there are birds to chase, even better.

Miracle Milly is one of 10 Chihuahuas that Semler owns and is the most popular. “People are amazed when they see her because she is so small,” Semler said. “And she has a big personality. People love her.”

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« Reply #97 on: Sep 14, 2013, 06:24 AM »

09/13/2013 02:48 PM

Dog Attacks: Romania to Put Down Thousands of Strays

By Keno Verseck

A deadly dog attack on a four-year-old boy in Bucharest has brought new attention to an old problem: Romania's hundreds of thousands of stray dogs. Government plans for mass euthanasia have animal welfare activists up in arms.

Little Ionut and his older brother Andrei just wanted to play. Their grandmother had taken the boys, four and six years old, respectively, to a park in Bucharest's Tei neighborhood. After a while, Ionut and Andrei walked out of the park -- they wanted to play on an abandoned lot nearby.

Their grandmother sat on a park bench as they played, and didn't see that her grandchildren had vanished. When she finally did notice, it was too late. Andrei ran to her. The dogs had only bitten him in the leg. "Grandma, the dogs have Ionut," he said.

Police later found the four-year-old boy in the bushes, half-eaten. Medical forensics experts later determined he had been bitten hundreds of times, and had bled to death from external injuries.

'Dogs Have Conquered Romania's Cities'

The deadly attack by feral dogs played out a week ago, and has drawn new public attention to a problem in Romania that has existed for years. Thousands of stray dogs have roamed the country's cities, and they are becoming increasingly dangerous.

In recent days, parents have protested angrily in Bucharest under the motto, "We're not dog food!" Ionut's death is the main story being covered by the Romanian media these days, and it is the subject of a lively debate on Internet forums. A recent poll shows that three-quarters of Bucharest residents support killing the feral dogs.

The outrage is hardly surprising. The authorities estimate there are several hundred thousand street dogs roaming through Romanian cities and communities, including around 65,000 in Bucharest. The Anti-Rabies Center at the Institute for Infectious Diseases has reported 10,000 people in the capital have been given immunizations after dog bites this year alone. Two-thousand of those patients were children. Last year, 16,000 residents of Bucharest reported being bitten by wild dogs -- 3,000 more than the year before. This recently prompted Romanian journalist Iulian Leca to write, "The street dogs have long since conquered Romania's cities. At night, especially, it is they and not the police who control the streets."

Parliament Passes Law to Allow Dog Cull

Authorities took action very swiftly after Ionut's death. After Romanian President Traian Basescu called on the government to quickly pass a bill that would permit the dogs to be euthanized, lawmakers approved the legislation Tuesday with a large majority. Under the new rules, stray dogs can be killed if authorities are unable to place them in animal shelters and if they are unable to find an owner within 14 days after a dog is captured.

The new law has unleashed protests by animal rights activists. A spokesperson for Four Paws, a Romanian group, described the new legislation as a "Stone Age law" and said the group planned to file a complaint with the European Commission in Brussels in order to prevent any kind of "mass decimation." Animal rights activists also want to file a complaint at Romania's highest court. It wouldn't be the first time, either. The Romanian parliament passed a similar law two years ago. After it was challenged, the Constitutional Court overturned it in January 2012 because of "procedural errors."

Animal rights activists abroad are also following developments in Romania closely, with social networks buzzing with protest over the apparent massacre of innocent strays. But those kinds of culling operations haven't even been undertaken. On Wednesday, Razvan Bancescu, the head of Bucharest's animal protection agency ASPA, denied such allegations. According to Bancescu, not a single dog has been euthanized since the boy's death.

Government Neglected Issue for Years

With or without the law, it is unlikely Romania will be able to solve its dog problem very quickly. In addition to a lack of money and years of official ambivalence toward the issue, cities and municipalities lack larger animal shelters and the staff to keep the dog population under control. Until Ionut's death, Bucharest employed only 12 dog catchers. This week, it quickly moved to increase that number to 44.

And Ionut's death wasn't the first case suggesting the city needed to take urgent action. In 2012, a retired woman died in the northern Romanian city of Sathmar after a dog attack. Two months later, stray dogs killed a six-year-old boy in an eastern Romanian village. In January 2011, street dogs in Bucharest attacked a female employee of a recycling firm, and she died three days later of complications related to her injuries. In January 2006, a Japanese businessman bled to death in Bucharest after a dog bit him in the popliteal area of his knee and ruptured an artery.

The stray dogs are just one of many difficult legacies of the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaucescu. In the course of the country's forced industrialization under his rule, thousands of rural Romanians flooded into the cities. Beginning in the 1970s, old apartment buildings were torn down to make room for new high rises. Many of the people who relocated didn't take their pets with them -- they just left the dogs behind on the streets, where their population quickly grew.

Although many Romanians support the radical new killing program to solve the issue, animal rights groups like Four Paws are instead calling for a mass sterilization program. This, they argue, would stop the animals from breeding and enable them to live out their lives on the street.

One of the dogs involved in the attack on Ionut has already been identified. Authorities said this was possible because of a chip implanted in the dog's ear. But they also said the dog had been sterilzed and that it belonged to a Bucharest animal rights group. The group, Caleidoscop, had adopted the dog in 2008 and was obligated not to let it loose again. State prosecutors are currently investigating members of the group and may file manslaughter charges.

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« Reply #98 on: Sep 14, 2013, 06:26 AM »

Florida overrun with herpes-infected feral monkeys

By Scott Kaufman
Friday, September 13, 2013 14:10 EDT

A colony of rhesus monkeys that was established in Florida’s Silver River State Park in 1938 has been declared a public health hazard after the majority of its members tested positive for the Herpes B virus.

Monkeys infected with the virus present either no or only mild symptoms, but in humans, can lead to hyperesthesias, ataxia, diplopia, agitation, ascending flaccid paralysis and death.

The Silver River colony was founded in 1939 by the self-appointed “Colonel” Tooey, a tour boat operator who wanted to enhance the realism of his “Jungle Cruise.” In the years since, the colony has grown to number over 1,000. And since the now-feral monkeys learned to swim, the colony is threatening to encroach into neighboring human communities.

The current Silver River tour operator, Tom O’Lenick, defended the transportation of the animals to the New York Post, saying

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« Reply #99 on: Sep 14, 2013, 06:38 AM »

The terrace fills with swift scurryings as the hedgehog family emerges

Ariege, France: They scramble over my feet, stand on hind legs and peer up with twitching noses at the bench and its occupants

Jim Perrin   
The Guardian, Friday 13 September 2013 21.00 BST   

Each evening, as the shadows thicken into opacity, the scufflings and snufflings, the grunts and squeals begin from a bank of dense undergrowth below the terrace. At this time of day, Pyrenean air like cool velvet, I sit on the bench, my cat and dog joining me there and grooming themselves after their dinner.

These rituals of stillness and habituation are crucial in watching wildlife. Enacting them reminds me of Chris Ferris's entrancing field journal of a night naturalist, The Darkness is Light Enough (1986). Her assertion that our vision adapts quickly to lack of light is palpably true as I watch for the noise-makers to emerge. My pets, interest assuaged by the sharp discomforts of past encounters, barely twitch an ear. The terrace is suddenly full of swift scurryings as the hedgehog family emerges.

They do not, in Hardy's phrase, "travel furtively". They race around, scramble over my feet, stand on hind legs, peer up with twitching noses at the bench and its occupants, are playful and curious as chasing puppies. What lures them here night after night are the remnants of Phoebe's and Isabella's dinners. These pets of mine being fussy eaters, there are rich pickings to be had. One youngster has scrambled into the cat bowl, while a parent nibbles its way through dog biscuits. All the while each animal keeps up a vociferous commentary, the volume of which tells you that this is a creature with few natural predators and little need to conceal its presence, though I have come across their dry and scooped-out skins over the years in the vicinity of badger setts and fox earths.

The bowls emptied out, those beady eyes and delicate snouts search around for further nourishment. The largest of them munches away at a slow worm, slender and beautifully bronze, while a companion sits upright over a large black slug. The sight of this turns my stomach, though it's a blessing for the brassicas in my vegetable patch.

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« Reply #100 on: Sep 14, 2013, 09:00 AM »

"A baby elephant cried for five hours after his own mother attacked and abandoned him at a zoo in China.

Shortly after the mother elephant gave birth to the calf in August at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Nature Reserve in Rongcheng, China, she stepped on him, according to Metro U.K. Veterinarians hoped it was an accident and treated the baby before returning him to the mother, but he was attacked again. So they removed him from her.

"The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled," an employee said, per Metro. "He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.""
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« Reply #101 on: Sep 19, 2013, 06:16 AM »

France’s new ‘cat cafe’ is predictably full of rescued kitties

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:00 EDT

France’s first “cat cafe” opens on Saturday in Paris with an in house troupe of nine rescue cats ready and waiting to be made a fuss of by cat-loving customers.

Already popular in Tokyo where there are dozens, cat cafes allow customers who cannot have a pet at home to enjoy a cup of something hot with a purring cat perched on their knees.

Margaux Gandelon, the woman behind the new Cafe des Chats in Paris’s trendy Marais district, says the cats were carefully selected for their social skills and stresses that hygiene and their welfare are her top priorities.

“My cats are free all day and all night,” she said.

Cindy Engel from Strasbourg visited the cafe ahead of its opening for a preview.

The 31-year-old welcomed the concept saying it encouraged her to interact with other people rather than electronic devices.

“The cats allow us to not always be connected to our mobiles. What’s more they create social connections,” she said.

“Instead of typing on our computers while drinking a coffee we talk about cats to our neighbours,” she added.

Not everyone, however, was convinced.

“It’s a good experience but eating with cats is not my thing,” said Edward Chrismars, adding that he was just there to please a friend.

“It’s alright to have them sitting on the sofa, that’s OK, but they can’t jump on the table or eat from my plate. It’s not hygienic!” he said.

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« Reply #102 on: Sep 20, 2013, 08:06 AM »

September 19, 2013

Don’t Help Injured Baby Raccoons? Alabama Edict Angers Those Who Love Them


WOODVILLE, Ala. — There are at least two types of Alabamian you don’t want to anger. One is a wild raccoon. The other is a person who rehabilitates wild raccoons.

The state conservation agency that gives permits to volunteers who help injured and orphaned wildlife sent out a letter this month telling 72 groups and individuals to stop rehabilitating certain animals.

Instead, the animals should be left to their fate or euthanized, either with a bullet or at the hand of a veterinarian. From the state’s perspective, the move would help prevent rabies and keep the food chain in balance.

“There is no biological reason to rehabilitate these animals,” said Ray Metzler, assistant chief of wildlife for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “People need to learn to let nature take its course.”

On the list were feral pigs, coyotes, bats and foxes — animals that do not often end up in the care of the volunteers. But at the top of the list were raccoons.

Raccoons have never had it easy in Alabama, where a hunting license and a good coon dog are cultural currency in some parts of the state.

Hunting associations here can legally keep up to 10 raccoons in a cage to train coon hounds. And since the 1950s, the state has offered permits for an event called “coon on the log.”

The contests, which are rarer these days, are designed to test a coon hound’s mettle. A raccoon is tied to a log and floated into a lake. Owners then release their dogs and see which ones have the fortitude to knock the raccoon into the water.

But rehabbers, as the people devoted to helping injured wildlife call themselves, love raccoons. They are as cuddly as puppies and easy to train when they are young but extraordinarily ornery once they hit adolescence, which is when rehabbers generally release them back into the wild.

John Russ, a 65-year-old former Marine, just last week released two raccoons on his 144-acre sanctuary here.

He and other rehabbers say the new restrictions stem from a conflict between members of one rehabilitation group and local wildlife officials. But they also believe an inherent anti-raccoon bias is at play. “These guys, they have some issue with raccoons,” Mr. Russ said. “They always have.”

A hunter-first mentality, the rehabbers say, led to the state’s suggestion that raccoons, along with possums and skunks, which are also on the list, be euthanized or just left to fend for themselves.

Baby raccoons are often orphaned because trees felled to clear land leave animals homeless or new ribbons of roadways bring more cars, which kill mothers.

“A Ford truck is not nature taking its course,” said April Russ, Mr. Russ’s wife, who is also a rehabber.

The state’s rehabbers have vowed to fight the ban, even if it brings trouble in a state where keeping a wild animal without a permit is illegal.

“If somebody brings me a baby raccoon, I’m not going to turn it away,” Mr. Russ said. “It’s a death sentence.”

Pleas for support have been sent to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and to Ellen DeGeneres and Bob Barker, both animal rights activists. Two petitions with at least 28,000 signatures are being prepared for Gov. Robert Bentley.

Word is getting out to more rehabbers, a tight-knit group that has worked for decades to develop national guidelines. They share best practices, like what to feed a baby squirrel, how large a raccoon nesting box should be or how to make sure animals do not get too accustomed to humans while they are nursed back to health.

“The whole world is going to see this horrific thing happening in Alabama,” said Kim Baker of Coast and Canyon Wildlife Rehabilitation in Malibu, Calif.

Mr. Metzler insists there is nothing nefarious in the new policy, which he said was developed not out of a dislike for rehabbers or raccoons, but after a year of study and consultation with federal wildlife and rabies experts.

He said the goal was to standardize policies that regulate both rehabbers and people who get paid to remove nuisance wildlife, like a snake in a garage or a raccoon in an attic.

“We are not trying to put them out of business by any means,” Mr. Metzler said, adding that rehabbers can still save rabbits, deer and squirrels.

“The point is we would like for people to leave wildlife alone,” he said. “That raccoon that’s accustomed to eating out of the dog bowl — it’s not going to survive in the wild.”

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« Reply #103 on: Sep 21, 2013, 12:35 AM »

Photo and caption by James Morgan

Enal, a young sea nomad, rides on the tail of a tawny nurse shark, in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Marine nomadism has almost completely disappeared in South East Asia as a result of severe marine degradation. I believe children such as Enal have stories that could prove pivotal in contemporary marine conservation.

Location: Sulawesi, Indonesia

National Geographic Photo Contest 2012

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« Reply #104 on: Sep 21, 2013, 05:31 AM »

Why are elephants in Zimbabwe dying from cyanide poisoning? Experts seek answers

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, September 20, 2013 14:15 EDT

Zimbabwean wildlife authorities will dispatch a team of experts to the country’s largest game park Saturday to investigate the poisoning deaths of 64 elephants, an official said.

“Experts drawn from seven ministries will travel to Hwange National Park tomorrow (Saturday) to make findings on the disaster at the park where 64 elephants have died from cyanide poisoning,” the director general of the parks and wildlife authority, Edson Chidziya, said.

“There are fears that there could be more deaths but we need chemists to determine whether the danger is still there.”

The elephants reportedly died in separate incidents after drinking poisoned water. The state-owned Herald newspaper gave the number of elephants killed as 69.

Nine people were arrested on suspicion of poisoning watering halls in the game park to kill the elephants for their tusks and were due to appear in court in Tsholotsho.

Chidziya dismissed reports linking the poachers to a South African businessman.

“We just heard about those reports but from our side we don’t know about that link yet,” he said.

Two years ago nine elephants, five lions and two buffalo died from cyanide poisoning in Hwange national park.

Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere has called for stiff penalties for poachers.

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