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Music For Your Enjoyment

Archive for the ‘Exotic Animals’ Category

I want Friday’s to bring awareness to other organizations that are doing wonderful things for animals. If you have information you want to share, send me a paragraph on the topic with a link to the website, by 11am on Thursday.  I will do this each Friday.  Please pass this link on to bring awareness to these wonderful organizations, thanks!

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1. Have you ever thought about the food you eat?  How does it affect your body and health?

There is a new movie called Food, Inc.  It educates people about the food they eat. Oprah dedicated one of her shows to this topic.  Alicia Silverstone wrote a book called “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet”. She also discusses this topic.

When we used to cook quality food at home our health care costs, and medical needs, were much lower.  Our world has changed.  People buy fast food an average of 4 times a week.  With that increase there has been an increase in health issues and health care costs.  Animals are force fed and given all kinds of hormones.  This impacts the animals, as well as the humans that consume them.  A few of the topics discussed in the movie:

  1. Where our food comes from
  2. How it affects our health
  3. How to purchase quality food at the best price
  4. Restaurants that serve high quality food that has been raised caged free

What are your thoughts about this?  You can comment below.

baby bears

2. They say bears hibernate in the winter, right?  Watch the video below to see what they really do in the comfort of their own caves!  This is live video inside a bear’s den!

A team of  biologists go to a black bear den to study a female bear and her two newborn cubs. The group recorded each cub’s weight and gender and examined the mother bear.   Please listen to what they have to say about the bears and humans interacting.  Sound familiar about other animals in the wild?

THESE ARE WILD ANIMALS, PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS ON YOUR OWN!!

Web Kirsten Bole 3. Kirsten Starcher plays bass in a Vancouver-based rock band and while performing in Toronto, Canada in 2006, took a poignant photograph of a homeless man with his dog nestled in his arms.  Her photo has touched many hearts around the world.  Her consent to “Pets of the Homeless” to use her photo set a wave in motion.

“Years later, it still amazes me how this one tiny action, which almost didn’t happen, has had a ripple effect I never would have predicted,” wrote Kirsten for an article in the March 2010, Pets of the Homeless Newsletter.

People started writing to tell Kirsten about how the photo affected them.  More charities asked to use it in their writings; artists asked to paint their own versions of it; a musician wrote a song about it. She received email from a woman in South Africa who found it on a flyer on the beach and was deeply moved. One of the artists planned to give a percentage of his gallery’s earnings – for a month – to a local homelessness charity, by way of appreciation.

This stunning photograph can be seen on the Pets of the Homeless website.

I want Friday’s to bring awareness to other organizations that are doing wonderful things for animals. If you have information you want to share, send me a paragraph on the topic with a link to the website, by 11am on Thursday.  I will do this each Friday.  Please pass this link on to bring awareness to these wonderful organizations, thanks!

Enjoy the 6 posts below:

Bidr 11.  A Love Story: A) Here, his wife is injured and the condition is fatal.  She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.

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B) Here he brought her food and attended to her with love and compassion.

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C) He brought her food again but was shocked to find her dead. He tried to move her….a rarely-seen effort for swallows!

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D) Aware that his sweetheart is dead and will never come back to him again,he cries with adoring love.

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E) He stands beside her, saddened by her death.

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F) Finally aware that she would never return to him, he stays beside her body with sadness and sorrow.

Millions of people cried after seeing this picture story in America and Europe and even in India .  It is said that the photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the most famous newspaper in France .  All copies of that newspaper were sold out on the day these pictures were published. And many people think birds and animals don’t have a brain or feelings!!

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  1. 2.  On December 15th, 2009 the SPCA of Texas took custody of 26,000 exotic animals from US Global Exotics in the largest animal seizure in US history. USGE was a major distributor of exotic animals from wallabies to hamsters; warehousing them in horrific conditions until they could be brokered to stores, breeders and retailers. Thousands of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, arachnids, and many other animals were cruelly confined in filthy conditions, literally crammed into cattle-feeding troughs, boxes, bags, and even pop bottles. They did not have food, water, or veterinary care. According to reports 500 animals a day were dying at USGE, ending up tossed in their dumpster.

Thanks to an undercover PETA investigation the animals were permanently awarded to the SPCA of Texas on Feb 1, 2010. Love or hate PETA you have to give them credit for this one.  Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary was proud and honored to be selected as one of 30 rescues in the nation to receive some of the rescued animals from the US Global Exotics animal cruelty and neglect
case. Located in Northern Illinois Critter Camp board member Shary Stelter made the trip to Nashville, TN to meet up with the SPCA of TX transport on Superbowl Sunday where she was interviewed by Nashville Television station WSMV.  See the 75 critters from USGE now calling Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary their home, including adorable Texas Spotted Ground Squirrels, short-tailed opossum , Roborovski hamsters and little white mice; and find links to more information on our Global Exotics Rescue Page:
Click Here For More Information.

Critter Camp is the only exotic pet sanctuary of its kind in the U.S. giving a safe, healthy happy home to the elderly, sick, disabled and aggressive un-adoptable exotic pets that have nowhere else to go, currently caring for over 300 animals of 36 different species!  Click Here to go to Their Website

pepsi 3. Pepsi is funding grants in various categories until 2/28. Many Houston dogs are euthanized due to heartworms in a good economy, it is at a horrendous pace currently.

The drug to treat this is very expensive and each bottle only treats 22 lbs. This group is desperate to move up into the funded top ten. More information and pictures of saved dogs are on the site.  This could help dogs at many rescue groups and shelter.  People can vote every day, until the 28th. PLEASE, CLICK HERE to go to this site to vote today, and everyday until the 28th.

elephants

4. TAKE ACTION TODAY!!! 36,000 elephants were killed last year for their ivory. In 16 DAYS 111 tonnes of ivory will be traded at the CITIES* conference if certain countries have their way.

This will pretty much kick-start the ivory trade in a massive way meaning the end for tens or even hundreds of thousands of elephants.

If this bothers you too, please try and stop this happening by signing this petition, CLICK HERE (you’ll need to confirm your signature).

5.   A documentary was just completed.  It’s about No Kill Pet Rescues and Shelters as well as the challenges they face. In November of 2008 a family adopted a new family member from the Animal Welfare Society and learned about the lack of awareness of the No Kill shelters.  They took it upon themselves to finance and create a program about these shelters.   They have pledged 60% of all profits to go to the AWS and if they can get great distribution, will split some for other local shelters in the Detroit area.

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6.   Dachshund Rescue of Bucks County & NJ  have on-line workshops. They are hosted by dachshund experts and are designed to help you have a long and happy relationship with your doxie of any size.  There is a small donation fee charged for attendance with all proceeds donated to DRBC for the high medical fees incurred in the rescue and rehabilitation of our beloved breed.

This Month’s First Topic: Dental Disease and Your Dog
Those amazing toofers. How to keep them clean, bright and where they belong.  Are doxies more prone to dental disease?   How often should I clean my dogs teeth. How often should my vet clean my dogs teeth?   Dental and cardiac disease,yes, they are related.  Did you know there is anew vaccine to eliminate 4 out of 5 of the causes of tartar?   You can find out all about it at this session.

Click Here To Register

dr_dresser_345What do you think about cloning the DNA from an endangered animal to keep it from going extinct?  Dr. Betsy Dresser, senior vice president of research for the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, is doing just that.  She takes the DNA from an endangered animal and uses it with a non-endangered relative.  An example is the typical house cat and the African Wildcat.

She takes the egg of the house cat and sucks out the DNA.  She then takes DNA from the skin cells of the African Wildcat and places it inside the egg.  She uses electrodes to spit the eggs.  If everything goes well she places the egg inside the house cat so it can mature and product a new kitten.  It has been going so well, the cloned cats are mating and giving birth to very healthy kittens on their own.

african wildcat

This procedure might sound easy but it’s not.  There is a lot of scientific research that goes into this.  Take the Woolly Mammoth.  They don’t know the gestation period for an animal like that so they would have guess.  The goal is to keep endangered species from going extinct, not to bring back the Woolly Mammoth.  She would like to do work on the Lynx to keep it from going extinct, or the bongo, cousin to the antelope.

The Audubon Nature Institute is located on 1,200 acres of land.  It seems part Serengeti, part high-tech medical facility.  She knows there is a lot of controversy on this topic.  Her opinion, she doesn’t want our next generation of kids to only know an elephant from a text book.  She wants the kids to be able to see these animals alive, in their own environment.  If she doesn’t do this now, then we will be losing a lot of animals for future generations.

She is known as the lady with the “frozen zoo”.  She collects tiny skin samples from thousands of different animals, representing hundreds of species, and is storing them at 343 degrees below zero in tiny canisters inside tanks filled with liquid nitrogen.  She has samples from tigers, bears, frogs, rhinos and many more animals.  She feels there is no reason not to save DNA from every species since the cells can survive for hundreds, if not thousands of years in these tanks.

Woolly Mammoth

The Woolly Mammoth is her poster animal because the thought of it is inspiring.  Imagine the face of a 9 year old child.  This child sees a picture of the Woolly Mammoth and knows that there might be the possibility of brining that animal back to life.  Talk about inspiring for a kid to want to get involved in science that way.  If not, there is the message to do something to improve our environment NOW so we are not impacting and affecting animals is such a negative way.  We all live on the same planet and are connected to each other.

No one has yet found the intact cell it would take to resurrect that Woolly Mammoth, but in Siberia, two years ago, a reindeer herder discovered a remarkably well-preserved one month old baby mammoth that had lain frozen in permafrost for 40,000 years.

Its DNA was in better shape than any previously found, raising hopes that between new finds and new technology, it may just be a matter of time.

Watch the Frozen Zoo  video



bear 1Polar Bear: ‘I come in Peace “

Norbert Rosing’s striking images of a wild polar bear coming upon tethered sled dogs in the  wilds of Canada ‘s Hudson Bay .



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The photographer was sure that he was going to see the end of his dogs when the polar bear wandered in.


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It ‘s hard to believe that this polar bear only needed to hug someone!

ringling picElephants working in the circus have been a hot topic for quite sometime.  Recently people have been commenting on the footage, and pictures, I took at the Ringling Brother’s Center for Elephant Conservation.    Several months ago I had been invited to go see the Ringling facility, as well as the new born baby that was only one month old at the time.  Obviously they knew I was coming so they were prepared.  I was limited to certain areas of the facility.  They told me it was for my safety as well as the elephants.  The people I met were very nice and knowledgeable.  Many of them had been with Ringling their whole lives and so had their parents.  It seemed like a “family”. You can also read the specific piece I did on the Asian elephant back on December 10, 2009.

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I am not an expert in animal training or behavior.  I have seen dogs being trained by ”experts” and in my opinion it was extreme.  There are a lot of people who criticize Cesar Millan and say he is “abusive” in the way he trains dogs.  In the end, the goal is reached, the behavior is changed and the dog does what Cesar, and the owners, wants them to do.

A few months ago I had been notified of a local dog sanctuary.  They take dogs most people would not want because they are aggressive and untrained.  These dogs might not be alive if it had not been for the man who has the sanctuary.   He seems to be able to bond with these dogs and the dogs listen to him.   They live out in the swamps of Florida and the conditions are brutal.  My heart went out to these dogs because of the environment they were living in.  Then I realized, this guy lives on the property with them.  If he can do it, why can’t the dogs?  I’ve spoken to some dog trainers and behaviorists who have sent dogs there.  They told me that the dogs love this man.  The dogs don’t know how rough the living conditions are.  They are fed, have lots of other dogs for companionship and get love from this man.  That is where the difference between humans and animals can be so different.  Animals seem to want very little but give so much.

elephant kneesI was sent pictures and information from PETA.  Here is an excerpt:  Bound with ropes in the practice area, baby elephants are wrestled by several adult men—some using sharp bull hooks and electric shock prods—slammed to the ground, and aggressively pushed and pulled into positions that will eventually be incorporated into a circus routine. The frightened baby elephants cry out, but according to the whistleblower, Ringling uses loud music to muffle their screams.

The whistleblower is former elephant handler Sam Haddock, who worked at Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation, a breeding and training center, in Polk City, Florida, off and on between 1997 and 2005. His late wife had urged him to do the right thing and expose Ringling’s torturous treatment of elephants at its so-called “conservation center.”

elephant legs

The pictures really bothered me and I wished I could take these animals home with me.  I sent the pictures and information to a friend of mine who is in Asia helping the elephants over there.  Here is what she wrote to me regarding the Ringling elephants:

What is this world coming to? My God…it’s heartbreaking!

Actually the sad truth is, what happens in real life is far, far worse than those Ringling pictures. What I saw in Asia, those poor elephants had so many deep cuts and lots of blood from their ears, head, legs, chest and sometimes their eyes are gouged to render them blind (easier to control),  it’s that brutal! The beatings happen round the clock too- they take turns for days and nights in a row until the elephant is dead or almost, no food or water is given to them for a week. If it is unfortunate to survive the torture, the rest of its life will be succumbed to slave-like conditions, daily beatings, poor nourishment, no love and neglect.  And/or they get shipped around the world to zoos and circuses only to endure the same treatment, as you can see. The white man is no better!

The video footage, the pictures and what I saw in person was far more disturbing, which is why I couldn’t turn my back on it, it made my blood boil! But sadly, yes those pictures are very similar to what I saw. I guess it’s standard practice everywhere to torture and abuse the animals into submission. In Thailand this process is called  “the Pajaan”, in India they call it “The Kraal” etc. AKA “Spirit Crusher”…believe me it’s not just the elephant’s spirit that is crushed!! Anyone with any humanity will be crushed seeing that, I don’t understand those “people” who can do it, and have they no ounce of compassion?

So many battles to fight…

elephant side

I don’t have the answers but I do want to put information out there so that people can see what is going on, different points of view and can take action in their own way.

Here you can watch the birth of an elephant.


elephant wallThe Asian elephant is an endangered species.  I have always heard that they are very sensitive, loving and emotional animals.  When babies are separated from their moms they become extremely depressed.  I have always been told they have feelings that match the feelings that humans have.  My friend, Hanna,  is in Asia doing a documentary about them called “Elephant Nature Park“.

One elephant she told me about is Menaka.  She was rescued by the Forest Department.  Menaka was emaciated and had a bad case of gangrene when she was picked up.  She could no longer dance or even stand on her feet.  She had been housed in appalling conditions in a garage in a Gayatri Temple in Yeshwantpur.  The only water was she had access to was from a small spicket.  The 17 year old elephant had been exploited. She is in such bad shape it is assumed she will not make it.  She receives medical services at Bannerghatta, Biological Park, and animal shelter.  Unfortunately, there are 9 other elephants that are being treated as well.  They were all rescued from Temples in the area.  It is so costly to care for these animals (RS 15 K a month for food alone) that they can only stabilize the animals before sending them on.

baby elephant

Menaka had been born with 22 other elephants in an elephant camp.  At 3 years old she got separated from the herd and was sold to Gayatri Temple, where she has been earning revenue for the temple.  She was made to walk on tarred roads in the scorching sun damaging her health and psyche.  The captive elephants suffer from untrained and unaffectionate mahouts and lack of water resources, which is essential for bathing.  The animal can turn violent if it is subjected to unlivable living conditions.

Lek, which means “little” in Thai, is a very special lady.  The name might mean little but she has a lot of courage!  She is now touring and filming a documentary, Elephant Nature Park”.  The Indian elephant is the symbol of the Asiatic elephant.  There is an urgent need to protect the wild elephant, as well as the ones suffering in human captivity.  Lek was successful in creating an artificial forest close to a village for rescued elephants.  Today 33 elephants live a hassle-free life on the 50 acres.  The Maytag River cuts across so the elephants have a lot of water.  Currently elephants have no support from the Government in Bangkok.   Lek says there are ways to help end the conflict between humans and animals.

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Currently, elephants that are captured are brought to submission so the can do hard physical work, paint for the public, give rides, etc.  Many don’t survive the process of “breaking” them.  If they do it can be a very hard life.  Elephants bring in a lot of revenue for the Asian people.

I will be posting more information once I get updates from Hanna.  Here is a link to a photo gallery.

Here is a statement Hanna sent to me:

“When you meet one in life and look into their eyes, it is so painful to think of how they are treated. They are such intelligent animals with compassion (they do weep!) and incredible memories. At Lek’s sanctuary- all of them come from a morbid past, and  though they have suffered for years at the hands of humans, they can forgive and are extremely gentle with all people who surround them. Probably because they can feel the love and a safe environment. It’s the closest to paradise they’ll get!”

elephant woods

Here are some facts about Asian elephants:

1. Giant herbivores, Asian elephants can tear down huge tree limbs or pick up small objects with their muscular trunks.

2. Physical Description: Asian elephants are huge gray animals inhabiting Asian tropical forests. Their gray coloration conceals them in their shady habitat. Elephants’ trunks, unique among living mammals, are versatile, enabling them to reach the ground, manipulate tiny objects or tear down huge tree limbs, squirt water over their backs or into their mouths, or blow dirt onto their backs during dust baths. Female Asian elephants usually lack visible tusks as do males in some populations, such as those in northeast India. Wide, padded feet enable them to walk quietly. Large, flappable ears help these huge animals cool off, although elephants often must retreat to the shade or water during the hottest part of the day.

3. Size: Asian elephants grow up to 21 feet long, stand up to 10 feet tall, and weigh up to 11,000 pounds. Females reach around eight and a half feet tall and weigh less than males. Despite their size, elephants are able to walk silently.

4. Geographic Distribution: Asian elephants live in large blocks of forest near water sources and grasslands, habitat that has been greatly reduced in the last half century. They inhabit India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and southern China.

5. Status: The Asian elephant is listed as endangered on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals.

6. Habitat: Asian elephants inhabit a variety of tropical forest habitats from moist, evergreen lowland forest to dry semi-deciduous teak forests to cooler mountain forests up to 10,000 feet. They also frequent adjacent grasslands and farm areas. Their varied diet enables them to live in disturbed forests as long as they have plenty of space to move around and exploit different foods without coming into conflict with people.

7. Natural Diet: A dexterous trunk and large, rasping molars allow Asian elephants to gather and process a wide variety of vegetation, including grasses and herbs, leaves, fruit, farm crops, and bark.

8. Reproduction: Older and larger males—especially those in musth (condition of heightened testosterone levels) dominate the breeding, winning the acceptance of females in heat. Gestation takes 20 to 22 months, and usually only one calf is born. Female Asian elephants can usually breed by age 14 and usually give birth to one young every four years.

9. Life Span: In the wild, Asian elephants may live up to about 60 years but most do not live that long.

10. Behavior: Female and young male Asian elephants live in cohesive herds of related adults and their offspring. The matriarch, usually the oldest and largest female, sets the pace of the group’s activities. Herds often join with others to form large groups called clans. Males leave herds at puberty, around their 13th year, and travel alone or in bachelor groups. Elephants wander widely in search of food. Movements vary widely depending upon food availability. Asian elephants communicate via rumbles, growls, bellows, and moans. Some of these varied, low-frequency sounds may travel a mile or more.

Past/Present/Future: Asian elephants once ranged from Iraq east through Asia south of the Himalayas, into southern China and possibly south to Java. However, centuries of hunting and habitat destruction caused dramatic declines. Males are still killed for their tusks, although this happens less often today thanks to a global ivory ban, in place since 1989. Today, Asian elephants thrive mostly in large remote reserves as well as in and among human habitation. Where elephants and people inhabit the same area, conflicts often occur.

Elephants can cause great damage to crops, and they occasionally kill people. Males in musth are responsible for the majority of attacks. Elephants play important roles in the cultures and religions of countries in most of their range, which inspires support for habitat protection measures, continued studies about elephants and their conservation needs, and efforts to mitigate conflicts between elephants and people.

Information found here.

There are all kinds of animals that could use your help.  Sometimes saving an animal is as simple as signing a petition.  Below are links to a number of different petitions.  Pick one, or all of them, and help animals all over the world.  Please pass our link on to other people in your database so they can do the same thing.  Thanks to everyone for all you do to make the world a better place.

wolf1. Since 2003, Alaska‘s aerial hunting program has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 wolves. During these hunts, wolves are shot from the air or chased by airplanes to the point of exhaustion before the pilot lands the plane and a gunner shoots the animals point blank. Sign the petition below and urge Alaska Governor Sean Parnell to end the state’s irresponsible and cruel aerial wolf-killing program immediately.

Help save Wolves!

bats

2. Bats play an essential role in healthy ecosystems and should be protected. Unfortunately, an emerging disease is killing North America’s bats. The mysterious white-nose syndrome has already claimed the lives of nearly one million bats, yet scientists still know very little about how to stop the spread of this terrible disease.

Help save our bats!

TigerPetition

3.  Coal Is Not Clean

Indonesia’s Sumatran tiger could be the first large predator to become extinct this century, unless poaching for body parts and illegal logging in the area are stopped. Today, the total population of Sumatran tigers left in the wild is estimated to be of only 400 to 500.

The number of tigers across the world has declined by 95% in the past century, and three subspecies have become extinct, including the two others native to Indonesia – the Bali tiger and the Java tiger, which was seen in the wild as late as the 1970s. With fewer than 400 of the creatures estimated to be left in the wild, the Sumatran tiger is classified as critically endangered, the most vulnerable of all the six surviving tiger subspecies.

Tigers are hunted for skins as well as body parts such as bones, which are ground up and used as traditional medicine in some areas of Asia. Another major pressure this species face is the illegal logging by paper companies, which has eliminated more than 1.2 million acres of tiger habitat since 1998 – at least four tigers, and nine people, have been killed in the past month alone, as the shrinking of Sumatra’s already depleted forests brings an increase in attacks on farmers, hunters and illegal loggers.

Help the Tigers!

polar bear

4. Global Warming is Having an Impact!

Global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing our wildlife and our planet. Scientists warn that our rising temperatures could cause 20 – 30 percent of the Earth’s plants and animals to go extinct between now and 2050. But will the Senate take action to save these species?

The news is grim: Walruses by the thousands are flocking ashore as they flee retreating sea ice, abandoning their young and risking fatal stampedes that could kill thousands. Rising temperatures have cause nesting colonies of rare ivory gulls to plummet by 80 percent in the last twenty years.

And global warming could very well doom polar bears to extinction in our lifetime. Vanishing sea ice is already causing these arctic icons to drown in their search for the sea ice they need for hunting and denning. Some are even resorting to cannibalism to survive as their quest for food becomes increasingly difficult.

Help the Polar Bear!

fish

5. Ten species are in critical need of protection

From black, red and gag grouper that make up the popular fish sandwich to the Warsaw grouper, a gentle giant that can grow nearly eight feet long and weigh up to 440 pounds. Additionally, red snapper populations have plummeted to just 3 percent of 1945 levels, and although they can live up to 54 years, few are older than 10.

Regional fishery managers are currently working on important changes to fishing rules that would strengthen limits on the numbers of fish caught annually, prohibit fishing in some areas of the ocean where imperiled fish live and limit certain kinds of fishing so populations have time to replenish themselves.

Help Save Fish!

turtle6. Prevent the Deaths of Thousands of Sea Turtles

Untargeted or discarded catch from commercial fisheries, also known as bycatch, is an enormous problem throughout the world. Trawl fisheries indiscriminately catch everything in their path, including sea turtles!
The National Marine Fisheries Service recognized this problem in 2007 and issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Although this was a first step to get in the water requirements to protect turtles from trawl nets, more than two years later a satisfactory rule has yet to be proposed! Even with this rule, however, trawls in the waters off New England and the Mid-Atlantic States will continue to catch sea turtles for many years.

Sea turtles have been swimming in the world’s oceans for more than 100 million years. While they have been able to survive many challenges over the years, sea turtles are not equipped to withstand the threat humans pose.

Help the Sea Turtle!

dog and cat7. Help Feed Animals in Shelters

Did you know there is a link you can go to each day and with one click give .6 bowls of food to an animal shelter? Check out this link.

If you can remember, do it everyday.  It will help so many animals!

Thanks again for helping any and all animals that matter to you.  If there are other organizations or sites you would like to promote, please let us know.

ChimpGrieve, humans do it…..what about animals?  There are countless examples showing the connections animals and humans have in this world.  I wrote about chimps, monkeys and apes last week.  Here is another real life example of animals showing emotions, like grief.  Humans are not the only “beings” with emotions.  This article came from National Geographic.  Please read and enjoy.  We welcome any comments and stories you want to share.

The November issue of National Geographic Magazine features a moving photograph of chimpanzees watching the burial of one of their own. Since it was published, the picture and story have gone viral, turning up on websites and TV shows and in newspapers around the world. For readers who’d like to know more, here’s what I learned as I interviewed the photographer, Monica Szczupider.

On September 23, 2008, Dorothy, a female chimpanzee in her late 40s, died of congestive heart failure. A maternal and beloved figure, Dorothy spent eight years at Cameroon’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, which houses and rehabilitates chimps victimized by habitat loss and the illegal African bushmeat trade.

After a hunter killed her mother, Dorothy was sold as a “mascot” to an amusement park in Cameroon. For the next 25 years, she was tethered to the ground by a chain around her neck, taunted, teased, and taught to drink beer and smoke cigarettes for sport. In May 2000, Dorothy–obese from poor diet and lack of exercise–was rescued and relocated along with ten other primates. As her health improved, her deep kindness surfaced. She mothered an orphaned chimp named Bouboule and became a close friend to many others, including Jacky, the group’s alpha male, and Nama, another amusement-park refugee.

Szczupider, who had been a volunteer at the center, told me: “Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group. The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy’s chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration, but perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence. If one knows chimpanzees, then one knows that [they] are not [usually] silent creatures.”

The Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center was founded in 1999 by veterinarian Sheri Speede (pictured at right, cradling Dorothy’s head; at left is center employee Assou Felix). Operated by IDA-Africa, an NGO, it’s home to 62 chimps who reside in spacious, forested enclosures.

Szczupider had submitted the photograph to “Your Shot,” a magazine feature that encourages readers to send in pictures they have taken. The best are published on the website and in the magazine.

Susan Welchman, the Geographic photo editor who sifts through reader-contributed shots looking for winners, was drawn to the candor of the image. “It caught my eye because you just don’t see that much emotion–human emotion–with animals,” she says. “It couldn’t have been posed or faked; there’s no way to make an animal look or act like that. It’s just so real and true, so pure.”

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cougarHistorically the most common pattern in heterosexual couples is an older man with a younger woman, however the converse (older woman/younger man) has increased significantly in many countries.  Factors leading into a search for a significantly younger or older individual with whom to share an intimate relationship can vary wildly. The common perception is that younger mates serve the purpose of a “trophy” or object of status, while older mates are perceived to have greater resources, wisdom, or sexual knowledge.  Older women can bring an exciting new dimension to relationships.

How are cougars and woman similar?  Check out the new show, “Cougar Town” with Courtney Cox.  Is this who she is?  Is this what people think of women from Florida?  A woman who is 35+, sexually cunning, that prefers to hunt rather than be hunted and is non-committal, choosing to move from mate to mate without ever settling down are called  cougars.

cox

The animal seems to be invisible.  Studies have shown that cougars are typically solitary, spending most of their lives in well-defined home ranges that vary in size according to a cat’s gender, the season, habitat quality, and prey availability. Generally, male territories are larger than those of females, with females often sharing overlapping ranges. Cougars mark the boundaries of their territories with olfactory signposts, or scrapes, specifically by building and urinating on piles of dirt, pine needles, and leaves.

The omnipresent but rarely seen cougar is not only the most widely distributed New World cat, but definitely the one with the most names. Depending on geographic region, it is called the puma, mountain lion, red tiger, deercat, mountain devil, king cat, Mexican lion, panther, mountain screamer, silver lion, catamount, even sneak cat.

Found from the Canadian Yukon to the tip of South America, from sea level to fourteen thousand feet or more, these adaptable cats have the greatest distribution of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

Although they cannot roar, cougars have been known to chirp, peep, even whistle. Kittens make a series of short, high-pitched peeps when frightened and adults sometimes produce low, hunting whistles before a chase. The name, screamer, refers to the blood-curdling mating calls produced by a female cougar in estrus.

cougar cub

Cougars are efficient day and night active predators built to leap, climb trees, sprint, and ambush. Cougars have excellent vision, hearing, and olfaction and use these senses to detect and stalk their prey. Long hind limbs in proportion to fore limbs are an adaptation for jumping and easier movement through steep canyons and ravines. Big, padded paws help the cougar navigate through variable terrain and grapple their next meal. Inch-and-a-half-long canines in concert with sheathed claws make them armed and deadly. When prey is detected, the eyes and ears of the cougar fix on the site until the source of motion is determined. With their long tail used for balance, these athletic felines can make incredible leaps in pursuit of prey or to silently disappear into the underbrush.

Although cougars prefer to eat deer and elk, their generalist diet can include everything from mouse to moose, including grasshoppers.

Many cougars are shot on sight by unhappy ranchers in southern Arizona, and Texas where they allow unrestrained cougar killing. In Utah, interest in the sport of cougar hunting is increasing, as reflected by the growing number of pursuit permits being issued each year.  While states with cougar populations allow the controlled seasonal hunting of cougars as game animals, California is the only state that, so far, has won a hard-fought battle to eliminate sport hunting for cougar altogether

I’m not really sure how the woman and the animal were tied together but it seems to me that the cougar is a very diverse animal that can adapt to almost any situation, as most woman do…..it has nothing to do with age.

cougar 1 Do you and your kids like wild animals?  There are places all around the country where you can volunteer and be around lions, tigers, bears and the list goes on.   If you don’t want to volunteer then have a fun day visiting these animals.  Most of these rescues survive by having volunteers help with the day to day care of the animals as well as donations from visitors.  The economy has hit all of the sanctuaries and rescues hard.  They don’t have any option but to feed and care for these animals every single day, regardless of the circumstances.  They barter for food and medical care as well.

pig Many of these organizations have petting areas where you can actually pet animals you would only see in the wild.  It is really sad when you hear the stories about these animals and where they come from.  If it were not for these rescues and sanctuaries these animals would not be alive.

I recently visited two organizations in Florida.  One is called, “Lions, Tigers and Bears”  and they are located in Arcadia.  Click here for their link. The other rescue I visited is called, “The Big Cat Habitat”.  They are located in Sarasota.  Click here for their link.

Both of these sanctuaries have very similar stories about their animals.  Many were bought by people thinking that having a wild animal as a pet was a good, and different, idea.  Most of the owners got their animals when they were very young and cute.  Once the animals got larger they were harder to care for, cost a lot to keep, and began to hurt their owners.  The animals were not intentionally aggressive, they just got big and the “cute nip on the hand” became a HARD bite.  Wild animals are still wild and have certain instincts.  Animals are very much like humans as well.  If they are not disciplined and coached properly when they are young, they will do the same things when they become adults.  Some people think that some behaviors are cute when they have a small child or animal.  Once they grow up it’s not cute anymore and they get scolded, or worse, for the behavior.  Unfortunately, they don’t know why they are scolded when it was ok a year ago.  Now it’s completely unacceptable.  MIXED MESSAGES!!

The circus, economy and other circumstances, are reasons these sanctuaries and rescues get animals.  Yesterday I heard that one man has 12 wild animals he was keeping at his home.   He can no longer afford to feed them and if someone doesn’t come and get them he will have to put them down.  He said he got them when they were very young and cute.  Now he sees how much they eat everyday and he can’t afford to keep them.  They are also getting too hard for him to manage.  There are a lot of circus and show animals that would not survive if it were not for these organizations.  Once the animals get too old to work they can’t use them anymore.  The circus can’t afford to keep them so they either find someone to take them or put them down.  It is heart wrenching to think these animals give their lives to entertain us then when they want to “retire”, like we do, it’s usually the end of the road for them.

Many of the animals these days are inbred as well.  When that happens these animals tend to have a lot of health issues.  You might see animals who have crossed eyes, pigeon toed, or just seem kind of “weird”.  Most of them have been inbred.

I am not the expert but I do know that I want to help as many animals as possible, live good lives.  If you like animals and want your children to be exposed to animals only seen in the wild, contact your local sanctuary or rescue.  It’s the experience of a lifetime.  They will learn about the animals, responsibility and meet some very interesting people in the process.

We would like you to share your experiences, pictures and stories with us.  Send us an email, make a “comment” or post about a special animal under “Animals Remembered”.

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