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Domestic Animals

Rat Assist Feline Recovery

Betty Smythe
A café in Brooklyn has become an unexpected center of diplomacy for two of nature's most adversarial animals: cats and rats.
In partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, the Brooklyn Cat Café in New York City typically houses about 20 cats that are up for adoption. Visitors can stop by for treats and to interact with the animals, some of which may end up finding new homes.
In one case, though, a kitten housed at the café was diagnosed with feline leukemia and had to be isolated from other cats to prevent the disease from spreading. Feline leukemia is one of the most common infectious diseases seen in cats. An estimated two to three percent of cats in the U.S. have the virus, which is contained in bodily fluids and is spread by close contact, like mating or bite wounds. After being diagnosed with the condition, cats live for only about two and a half years.
The situation prompted the café owners to seek out a different kind of companion animal for the black kitten, named Ebony. That's how they came to adopt a white rat from a nearby rescue center, which they named Ivory. Rats cannot contract the feline leukemia virus, making Ivory an ideal companion for the small kitten.
Ebony died after five months, but the café owners believe her life was "immeasurably enriched" by having a companion. After two years Ivory died (rat lifespans average around two years), and the café decided to continue bringing in companion rats from a nearby animal rescue center, starting with a pair named Remy and Emile.
According to the café's website, rats are unafraid of kittens because they're relatively similar in size. The kittens often chase and pounce on the rats' tails, which the café says is OK as long as the kittens are gentle.
Domestic cats evolved to be solitary hunters, and kittens learn hunting behaviors from their mothers. When separated early from their mothers or the rest of their litter, some kittens can show too much or too little aggression, according the Humane Society. And when they become adults, their potential relationship with rats gets more complicated.
Katie Lisnik is the director of cat protection at the Humane Society International. She notes that regardless of anecdotal stories about interspecies relationships, cats still act on instinct, and rats are their natural prey.
"Even though bonds are formed, rats can move in a certain way that triggers the cat's [hunting] response," she says.
Sarah Gibbens, the reporter, is an associate digital producer at National Geographic

Votes1 DateSep 3, 2017

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Domestic Animals

Horses Saved in "Harvey" Flooding

Richard Margolis
Floodwaters in Houston, Texas, continue to rise as people scramble to higher ground. However, humans are not the only ones in danger of the flooding waters. Over 70 horses were saved in Northeast Harris County. One of the volunteers who helped save the horses was Mongol winner Justin Nelzen who rescued 15 horses from floodwaters in Houston, Texas. Justin didn’t travel by boat to save the horses; he bravely jumped in the water, and swam them to safety.
The owners of the Cypress Trails Equestrian Center did not believe that the water would rise so much in their area to be a threat, but they were wrong.
Darolyn Butler, the owner of Cypress Trails Equestrian Center in Humble, said, “They have an evacuation plan and they practice several times a year.” However, even with all their practicing, they waited until it was too late and the barn was already flooding.
She said that she watched the weather news until 2 a.m. and saw the cells were splitting, that the storm was about over. They went to bed and woke up an hour later to discover the stables were filling up with water.
“We woke up around 3 and it was already too high to get the trailers out.”
Over 100 deputies, constables, firefighters, and good Samaritans volunteered to help save the horses. Some used boats while others swam in the water as they tried to reach the frantic horses. Reports vary, but it’s estimated that 70 to 100 horses were involved. However, how many horses were actually saved and may still be missing remains unknown.
Videos showed horses treading as they tried to keep their heads above water. Some horses became tangled in fences as they were “seen trying to get over what appeared to be a flood-inundated fence in the area near Cypress Creek.”
Some horses were exhausted and needed help in holding their heads up when they came near the edge of the road. Rescuers jumped in the cold water to assist the horses as they led them to an area where they could finally stand on the ground.
Veterinarian Dr. Dori Hertel checked over the horses, amazed that after all they went through the horse calmly allowed themselves to be checked over. Dr. Dori Hertel said that so far, she had not seen any serious injuries.
Horses are like people and they tend to panic in certain situations. Sometimes they make bad decisions. However, they tend to follow each other and if the volunteers can get the more “levelheaded” horses going in the right direction, the others tend to follow.
Judge Ed Emmett posted an update on his Facebook page, “For those of you that may have seen the news reports of horses trapped in the water at Cypress Trails Equestrian Center, all but a few of the horses have been rescued or have been seen on higher ground. 3 or 4 are still loose but don’t appear to be in grave danger.”
Judge Ed Emmett also reported on his Facebook page, “We’ve heard that most of the 80 horses at Cypress Trails have been rescued. A few still loose but not grave danger. Will update when we hear.”
In another heartwarming story of a horse being saved from the raging waters is an almost blind horse. Devon Horn bravely rescued a frightened horse named Boomer. It was a struggle for a while as the frightened horse could not see well enough to know where to go or what to do, but somehow, Devon managed to lead Boomer back onto the higher ground. Devon said at one point they tried to get out at one location, but they were swept down the river about 300 feet. Sheriff’s deputies assisted Devon and Boomer to dryer ground.
Videos capturing the dramatic horse rescue flooded Facebook, and many of the comments were unkind to the owners of the stables. Many posts claimed that some of the horses were tied so they could not escape, and those were the ones that drowned. One wrote, “I have lived by this stables for 20 years. They move the horses EVERY TIME there is a flood.” While another wrote, “They didn’t move them because we were only expecting 8 inches of rain which wouldn’t flood the property but we got 16 inches last night that they didn’t expect.”
However, it’s not only the horses who need rescuing. The video below shows the wildlife that’s been displaced out of their homes because of the flood waters.
There is one story that stands out, and this is about a horse that was presumed dead. Mac Stanford posted, “There were many prayers being said aloud, and there was no doubt that God was present today in all of His glory. There are going to be some EXHAUSTED Guardian Angels in Heaven’s beds tonight!
Suddenly, at 2:02 p.m., without warning, this glorious beast burst through the surface of the water beneath the bridge and pulled himself up the concrete embankment with no help from any human. The crowd above was absolutely stunned into silence…then ERUPTED with cheering and applause. The horse was so exhausted that he could barely walk. He wandered towards the crowd, and gave a loud neigh when the woman that owns him and was boarding him there, broke through the crowd and grabbed his bridle. I got the whole thing on video!”
Read Mac Stanford’s entire account of the event here.
[Photo by David J. Phillip/AP Images]

Votes3 DateAug 29, 2017

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Oceans

Growing Coral

Richard Margolis
Dr. David Vaughan
Executive Director, Summerland Key Campus
Dave Vaughan is Executive Director of Mote's Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration in Summerland Key, Florida. He is also the manager of the Coral Restoration program and manages the Protect Our Reef Grants program. Dr. Vaughan directed research and education programs previously at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and the Oceanic Institute.
From:
https://mote.org/staff/member/david-vaughan
About Mote
Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
We are scientists, explorers and stewards of the ocean. Driven by research, education and excitement we work to create a better environment for ourselves and our children. The answers are in the ocean. Together, we will find them.
We are an independent marine research institution comprised of world-class marine scientists committed to the belief that the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education.
From our humble beginnings in a tiny shed in a small Florida town, our efforts have expanded to include:
•Sarasota - 10.5-acre Base Campus and Aquarium
•Sarasota - Aquaculture Campus
•Key West - Field Station and Public Exhibit
•Summerland Key - Field Station
•Boca Grande - Outreach Office
Originally focused on sharks, our research has expanded to include studies of human cancer using marine models, the effects of man-made and natural toxins on humans and on the environment, the health of wild fisheries, developing sustainable and successful fish restocking techniques and food production technologies and the development of ocean technology to help us better understand the health of the environment.
Our research programs also focus on understanding the population dynamics of manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and coral reefs and on conservation and restoration efforts related to these species and ecosystems.
The ocean is our passion. And science is our catalyst to help our oceans heal, thrive and continue to be havens of sustainable life, life-improving science and life-giving solutions.
www.mote.org

Votes2 DateAug 12, 2017

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Oceans

Whale Sanctuary Project

Al McNeal
Mission
The mission of The Whale Sanctuary Project is to establish a model seaside sanctuary where cetaceans (whales and dolphins) can live in an environment that maximizes well-being and autonomy and is as close as possible to their natural habitat.
Background to The Whale Sanctuary Project
The Whale Sanctuary Project had its origins at a meeting at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in August, 2015. The group, consisting of 23 people, discussed the potential for the development of a seaside sanctuary and the ongoing care of whales and dolphins who might be retired from entertainment facilities or rescued from injury or sickness in the wild. The group included marine mammal scientists, veterinarians and trainers, engineers and architects, marketing, public relations and fund-raising specialists, managers and relevant NGOs.
The meeting concluded with a first draft of the mission and goals for a future organization.
Public Workshop: In December, at the 2015 Society for Marine Mammalogy conference in San Francisco, Dr. Lori Marino, Executive Director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, and Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute, presented a day-long public workshop entitled Sea-Pen Sanctuaries: Progressing Toward Better Welfare for Captive Cetaceans.
The workshop focused on the key issues relevant to developing and maintaining a permanent seaside sanctuary in North America for formerly captive and injured/sick whales and dolphins. There are sanctuaries for other large highly social and wide-ranging mammals, including elephants and great apes, but there are none anywhere in the world yet for dolphins and whales.
The workshop included presentations from some of the most experienced scientists, veterinary clinicians, engineers, attorneys, trainers, business experts and advocates in this field.
Group Workshop: The following day, a group of 25 people with expertise of various kinds related to the creation of a seaside sanctuary met at the offices of Earth Island Institute in Berkeley, California, to discuss the formation of an organization and to agree on its mission and goals, which can be viewed here. There was discussion of legal and policy issues related to the location of a sanctuary and the best way to go about a comprehensive search in North America.
It was agreed that such a sanctuary would be primarily for orcas, belugas and dolphins endemic to colder waters being retired from entertainment facilities or rescued from the ocean. Rescued animals might be returned to the wild, but those retired from the entertainment industry, who have never known life in the wild, would be unlikely candidates for release.
The sanctuary would be open to the public on a regularly scheduled basis in a manner that avoids disturbing the animals, and it would offer a comprehensive conservation and education program.
It was agreed that the next stage of the project was to begin an extensive site search that would narrow possible locations to three or four sites that would need detailed, on-site inspection; and to draw up a strategic plan for the building of the sanctuary, for the transport and continuing care of the first residents, and for the funding necessary to enable all of this.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE AND SUPPORT THIS PROJECT HERE:
http://www.whalesanctuaryproject.org/home-2/

Votes1 DateJul 4, 2017

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Oceans

The Ocean Cleanup

Jack Calen
OVER 5 TRILLION PIECES OF PLASTIC CURRENTLY LITTER THE OCEAN
Trash accumulates in 5 ocean garbage patches, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. If left to circulate, the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health and economies. Solving it requires a combination of closing the source, and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean.
Ocean garbage patches are vast and dispersed
Ocean currents concentrate plastic in five areas in the world: the subtropical gyres, also known as the world’s "ocean garbage patches". Once in these patches, the plastic will not go away by itself. The challenge of cleaning up the gyres is the plastic pollution spreads across millions of square kilometers and travels in all directions. Covering this area using vessels and nets would take tens of thousands of years and cost billions of dollars to complete. How can we use these ocean currents to our advantage?
VISIT
https://www.theoceancleanup.com/
To learn more about how you can get involved, donate and help out

Votes2 DateJun 12, 2017

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National parks

Congos Gorilla Doctors

Angela Horne
Story from:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/saving-gorillas-in-a-war-zone
By
Nina Strochlic
Saving Gorillas In A War Zone
Congo’s gorilla doctors hike deep into forests swarming with rebels and genocidaires, risking their lives to treat the endangered mountain apes.
The doctors’ scrubs are khakis and T-shirts, with surgical masks slung below their chins. Their ambulance is a four-wheel drive, light tan with a stern-looking gorilla emblazoned on the side. Their surgical instruments are a camera, GPS, and medical chart. Guiding this medical mission are their nurses: a group of steel-witted trackers armed with machetes.
Separating the doctors from their patients is the dense foliage and rebel-filled jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to a quarter of the world’s last 880 mountain gorillas.
On a hazy morning, Martin Kabuyaya and Eddy Kambale embark on a check-up of a family of endangered gorillas living deep in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo. The men with the machetes walk ahead, hacking through the vines. The doctors take the strenuous uphill climb with long, leisurely strides.
Kabuyaya and Kambale are the only two veterinarians tasked with caring for the estimated 200 gorillas who make their home in Virunga, Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse national park. They’re employed by an organization called Gorilla Doctors in one of the world’s most dangerous regions, a place that is perilous both for the animals and for their caretakers.
Their job is not only medical—it’s diplomatic. Eastern Congo has suffered 20 years of violence and lawlessness from a long-simmering war that has left 5 million people dead. Along with gorillas, the 2 million-acre park is home to at least a dozen rebel groups, including the last vestiges of the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. To reach their patients, the doctors must frequently negotiate with various heavily-armed rebels for access to the gorillas. They’re not always successful.
Hacking through the thick brush, Kabuyaya and Kambale and their team have hiked back to the last known GPS location of the ape family. From that point on, the tracking is done by sight: with eyes trained to the ground, they follow crushed leaves and droppings. They’ve already traveled deep into the jungle when they realize that the trail is no longer gorilla-made—it’s the path of a herd of unpredictable and deadly forest elephants. They quickly backtrack. Discarded bamboo sticks are spotted and feces are examined. A gorilla passed here three minutes ago, the trackers say.
“Now you see,” Kambale says in the confusion. “If one rebel group comes in this jungle how can you find them?”
Kambale, a 42-year-old father of three, is the head field veterinarian. He has spent more than a decade treating mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which means he’s navigated more than his share of wars and rebellions.
Within Virunga National Park, a battle rages over land rights, poaching, deforestation, and, most recently, oil. Decades of fighting have left gorillas—and their conservators—in the crossfire. More than 140 park rangers have been murdered in the park since the outbreak of Congo’s first war in 1996.
Gorilla Doctors was created around that the same time, in accordance with an idea that gorilla researcher Dian Fossey had been working on when she was killed in Rwanda a decade earlier. Today, Gorilla Doctors has veterinary teams working in the forested triangle of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congo, home to the world’s last mountain gorillas.
In the first year of work for both Kabuyaya and Kambale, Virunga National Park was embattled by insurgencies. Kambale started in 2004, the same year a rebel group called the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) invaded the park.
Three years later, they seized area where the gorillas live and occupied it during a vicious two-year battle with the Congolese government. Even deep in the jungle, there was no escaping the conflict. “We can’t go far from politics,” says Kambale.
With permission from the rebels, the doctors continued operating in the park. “They can kill you,” Kambale says. “When we’d come into the forest they were checking our bags. It was stressful. You can lose your life, they can take you out in the forest and you disappear. Nobody would wish to work under those conditions.”
Sometimes, when the road from his home in the nearby city of Goma was too perilous, Kambale traveled a circuitous route into the jungle through the forests of neighboring Rwanda or Uganda. In 2006, he was captured after accidentally stumbling into a rebel’s camping site. They took him and his group into an old building and kept them for the night. He was released after he promised not to come again, but his colleague’s clothes, camera, and car battery were taken.
Yet Kambale shrugs off the work’s dangers, noting that no job in eastern Congo carries a guarantee of zero risk.
After three hours of hiking, a machete swing through the brush reveals a clearing filled with the hulking shapes of a gorilla family. The doctors approach with guttural grunts that signify their good intentions, but the creatures are occupied by a leisurely afternoon snack and barely notice. The doctors strap on their face masks and evaluate their patients.
The enormous, silver-toned patriarch, Mawazo, is lounging on his back, a bamboo stalk in his mouth and a female at his side. His group of eight has sprawled out over a heavily curtained area. There’s a gaping wound on his brow, which is what brought the doctors to him, but they observe it’s healing nicely. “He’s quite strong,” Kambale notes, camera at his eye and notepad in his hand.
Their approach is hands-off. Kambale zooms in with his camera lens as a female yawns, to survey her teeth and tongue. Another gorilla sits down and Kambale counts her breaths to check for respiratory disease, an ailment with the potential to wipe out an entire clan of gorillas. “The animals don’t tell you ‘I have pain here, I’m sick,’” says Kabuyaya. So they must observe from a distance, watching for abnormal behavior.
For more serious medical treatments, a cross-border team of intervention and protection specialists is called in. They might need to dart an animal with sedatives from afar, particularly if it’s a large silverback or a baby protected by its mother, and then perform surgery or take a biopsy on the jungle floor.
This park administration, led by a workaholic Belgian prince, has poured resources into gorilla preservation, with the hopes it will attract the kind of million-dollar tourist industry that has blessed neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Before park warden Emmanuel de Merode took the reins, Virunga experienced what the staff now refers to simply as “the massacre.” Over the course of two months in 2007, seven gorillas were killed by poachers. Body parts were trafficked out of the park and babies were sold. Rangers found a gorilla head discarded in a toilet. Ultimately, the park director at the time was charged with orchestrating the killings—he apparently wanted the park cleared of gorillas so he could deforest for charcoal production without obstruction from conservationists.
“How can people kill these gorillas? They are like humans,” Kabuyaya says. “You realize they must be protected like humans.”
The 33-year-old Kabuyaya graduated from veterinary school in 2009 and joined Gorilla Doctors three years later. His timing was fortuitous—another militia group seized Virunga that same year. The M23 insurgency refused to let the park’s doctors and rangers in to check on the animals for six months. During that time, rebels filled their coffers by leading gorilla tours for unscrupulous tourists.
“It was not strange for me because in the DRC we are used to fighting,” Kabuyaya says of his job’s rough beginning. There were no widespread killings this time, but tragedy struck when a baby gorilla orphan fell ill with diarrhea at the park’s sanctuary, and the doctors were blocked from making the hour drive to deliver treatment from a nearby city. It died overnight.
After more than five hours of hiking, the gorilla doctors have finished their medical trek and are taking a short break in Virunga’s lodge, a gorgeous open porch that looks over miles of jungle. It’s just a short walk from the sanctuary that held the deceased gorilla baby, and now is home to four others. Kambale shakes his head at the memory. “It was sad, so sad. Shameful. Why couldn’t we save it?”
In the past three days the two doctors have already examined five different gorilla families, an impressive feat considering the distance traveled just this morning. They make the journey into Virunga each month and spend a week tracking, observing, and treating various families. The rest of their time is spent caring for lowland gorillas across the region.
This grueling schedule leaves them only a week per month to see their human families. “Sometimes they say, ‘It’s like you married a gorilla,’” laughs Kabuyaya.
But it’s not just a love of the intelligent apes that keeps the doctors going. It’s a deep patriotism and faith in the Congo’s recovery—a belief that a long-awaited calm will come with from conservation and its benefits.
“I tell people, ’You can’t separate human health and animal health,’” Kabuyaya says. “We’d like to be the first to show it’s important to take care of the animals because our life and health depends on [them].”
“Congolese are conserving for all the world,” he adds.
“Sustainability first,” says Kambale. “Then peace.”
The International Women’s Media Foundation supported Nina Strochlic’s reporting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Story from:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/saving-gorillas-in-a-war-zone

Votes1 DateJun 10, 2017

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Wildlife

Baby Owl Rescued

Angela Horne
An Oklahoma game warden and a Nowata firefighter took to a flooded creek near Oologah Lake to rescue a baby barred owl Thursday.
Game Warden Joe Alexander received a call from a concerned resident who had spotted the juvenile owl stranded on driftwood in Double Creek.
The owl likely blew out of a nest during a recent bout of stormy weather.
“It’s what we do,” Alexander said. “Outside of our normal law enforcement duties, we have a vested interest in our wildlife.”
Alexander said he attempted to wade into the flooded creek to the mess of timber where the owl was stranded, but water was too deep.
The game warden contacted a Nowata firefighter, Donald Belden, to enlist the use of Belden’s personal boat. In a Facebook video shared by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Alexander can be seen riding on the bow of the boat as Belden approaches the driftwood.
The owl, cold and wet, offered some resistance. But the bird calmed down as Alexander and Belden returned to shore.
Alexander said they wrapped the owl in a jacket and took him to the Wild Heart Ranch, a wildlife rehabilitation program in Foyil.
He said the rehabilitation center contacted him Friday to inform him the owl is doing better.Watch the video below.
Article Source:
www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/oklahoma-game-warden-recues-baby-owl-from-flood-waters

Votes2 DateMay 6, 2017

[image for Planet Spotlight Lionsbacktoafrica.jpg]
Wildlife

Lions Back To Africa.Org

One World Blue, LLC
Please Visit:
https://lionsbacktoafrica.org//
To Get Involved

Votes1 DateFeb 26, 2017

[image for Planet Spotlight dillie1.jpg]
Domestic Animals

Votes2 DateNov 4, 2016

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