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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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Domestic Animals

Votes2 DateNov 4, 2016

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Domestic Animals

Goat Who Lost His Legs Loves To Run

One World Blue, LLC
This goat has a wheelchair — and he loves to use it.
Video by: Keren Aronoff Masser

Votes1 DateOct 20, 2016

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Domestic Animals

Pankun Eats Ice Cream

Iris Pirchesky
HAPPY 2016

Votes2 DateFeb 9, 2016

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Domestic Animals

Monkey Helps Dogs to Cross River

Iris Pirchesky
HAPPY 2016

Votes4 DateJan 10, 2016

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Domestic Animals

That Guy With The Birds!!

Iris Pirchesky
Dear John,
My Special Friend and Someone who we Admire so so Very Much:
My son, Joel Pirchesky, founder and CEO of this wonderful network Blupela.com, of which we spoke with you about this dream so long ago, myself Iris Pirchesky, and the whole One World Blue Community want to wish you the very very best for 2016 and many years to come.
You are in our prayers and we wish you a speedy and quick recovery so you may go back to the holy and very important work you do in taking care of G-d's creations.
You are so very very special to me and many many people and of course so very very special to all of the incredible souls you take care of with the parrots and numerous birds you look after who are all Angels to G-d.
Thank you so very very much from the bottom of my heart.
When I myself went through treatment those many years ago, you were so kind to take in and rescue three of my precious birds I was not able to take care of:
I miss them so much but I know you have taken such incredible care of them, like no one else could.
Our Prayers are with you from all of us for a speedy recovery in 2016.
May you live a long long healthy life and continue to be a keeper of the Earth of G-d's holy creations.
Much Love,
Iris Pirchesky
Director of Animal Welfare for the One World Blue Corporation
From John's Website, Please Blupela Community See below and if you are able please follow the link to the GoFundMe Page that has been set up to help John in his recovery.
Thank you all so very much. May you also be blessed with a wonderful 2016
A little bump in the road
Hi everyone. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Ken Sprouse Jr and I help maintain the "That Guy With The Birds" website as well as this Facebook page for John Lege who IS That Guy With The Birds.
John has recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer and I have setup a "Go Fund Me Page" to help him out. I would really appreciate if everyone would take the time to look at the page, read the story behind John and then of course if you would be so kind, donate and help a true, kind hearted friend out.
Johns surgery was a complete success! He is now in the process of Chemotherapy and looks forward to a full recovery!
Note from John-
I don't have the words to thank all who have sent so many prayers....the kindest of words and show how much you care about myself and the birds. We are limited in the number of shows we can do at this time, but we'll be back strong very soon. Sincere Thanks, John Lege-That Guy With The Birds!
About John
As a child John developed a passion for birds.
As an adult the passion continues.
John has volunteered his time at the Pittsburgh National Aviary
and Is a member of PEAC.(Pittsburgh Education & Adoption Center)
John has also been featured on WQED Multimedia "On Q Magazine" and KDKA Pittsburgh TODAY Live.
Through a program developed by John, he is able to reach out to anyone.......
from children to adults from schools to nursing homes.
With music - magic - and hands on interaction, be a part of this educational experience an up close adventure with these awesomely intelligent creatures!
Retrived from:
What People Say About John
Here is just some of the wonderful feedback that John has received!
Bernie Erb-11/29/13
John and his birds were here again today at Baptist Homes, Mt. Lebanon, and the residents (and staff) loved every second of his show. John's show is "jaw dropping" and "eye popping"! We can not get enough of him and his wonderful birds! Thank you, John and all you Sweethearts!
Janet Hinkley-11/17/13
The many birds were gorgeous and so healthy looking and the show was amazing! I was so impressed that the birds had no clipped wings and yet they stayed where they were supposed to without flying away. It was exciting to hold one of the beautiful macaws. The show was very educational.
Karin Galligan-10/06/13
Thank you, John, for a wonderful and very interesting show today at the Hickory Apple Festival in PA. You made learning fun for kids and adults alike. Your caring for and skill with the birds was awesome. I've never seen such beautiful and happy birds. Your rescue deserves every support. I'll be forwarding your information to our school in the hopes that they will invite you for a show. A big thanks for sharing Poppy the Beautiful with us; my daughter and I loved cuddling with her and it will be an experience we will never forget.
Barbara Robinson-09/22/13
I was fortunate enough to see your show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center on Sept. 22, 2013. I found your show both entertaining and very educational. I was amazed at the calmness of your birds amidst all the barking of dogs, squeeling of children and general activities all around them. I have an umbrella cockatoo, two lovebirds and a green cheek conure. Thank You for sharing your birds with us and it was heartwarming to see the love your birds have for you.
Casey Rendick-09/09/13
What a wonderful addition the birds made to our festival. Children and adults alike loved the shows. Mr. Lege was kind enough to let everyone hold and take pictures with his beautiful parrots. Please come back again. Pennsboro Country Roads Festival.
Traci Wargo-08/23/13
Hi John, I recently saw you at Strabane Woods (I'm an employee there) ... and I just loved seeing all the birds you brought to our facility! I wish I would've had more time to see your show, but at least I had time to look at your birds and ask you a question -- which you didn't even mind answering even though I thought I interupted you! I'm the one who asked about my Macaw laying eggs -- thank you so much for the information you gave me. You have a such a great heart! Thank you John so much.
John Kurpiewski-08/19/13
Talked with him after a great event at Cedar Pk very dedicated person with his birds smart too Hope to learn more from him soon
Carrie Didier 3/12/13
I just wanted to say thank you for rescuing and taking in those wonderful birds. I just saw your website from a link for the chicago pet fair and I saw your wonderful pictures. I have a cockatiel- I have always liked birds, but it wasn't until LuLu came into my life that I grew a real appreciation of their different personalities, interests, and range of emotions. Keep up the wonderful work!
From:Palos Park, IL
Tracy laux 3/8/13
Thank you for being available when I have questions about my Indian ringneck parakeet Sam and concerns about my friends blue and gold macaw Frankie. You have been a real lifesaver.thanks.
From:Bridgeville pa
Laurie Stadther 9/23/12
It was so nice meeting you today! Thank you so much for all the excellent information. Can't wait to try out some of the things you recommended for my birds. It's always great to meet a fellow bird- enthusiast! Thanks again!
From:Berkley, MI
Joe 9/21/12
I saw your show twice tonight (9-21-12) at the novi expo center and it was GREAT! Such cool birds, great show, and just a fantastic thing you're doing by rescuing birds. Keep it up and thank you!
From:detroit/Ann Arbor areas
Heather J. Conway 6/28/12
The show you put on of The Cub's Den a child care center at Penn State Fayette was GREAT I loved it. The show was geared for young children as little as a year old up to even the Adults. I had never experienced anything like this in my life. There were birds that did tricks, the children were involved and even birds you could hold. It was AMAZING LOVED THE SHOW.
Joyce Weiss 5/13/12
Bird guy, we saw you at Apollo high school. We all enjoyed your show and display of the beautiful birds. The kids had me print the pictures so they could take them to school. Very informative and enjoyable show. We're gald we came.
From: Elderton PA
Astrid 12/22/11
We just saw you at Highcliff Elementary. Both my boys, a 4th and a 5th grader were in awe of the birds and how good they were. My 4th grader said he wanted to do what you do when he grows up and rescue birds. He told his Dad all about the birds you rescued. Both boys really enjoyed the show. Thank you for all you do!!
Danelle Houslak 12/4/11
Mr. Lege, Womderful show with the birds. My kids couldn't believe how well trained they are. My little one made me print the picture with the blue bird on her head so she could take it to school for her friends to see. Thanks for what you do in saving the beautiful birds.
From:Plum Pa.
Mark 9/11/11
Mr. John. What an amazing show you put on for us. Both children and adults enjoyed the entire show. The bird and you put out a great message. God bless you in your work with these awesome birds.
From:Franklin Park
Pauline Hampshire 8/7/11
Got to see your show at our church picnic and enjoyed it very much. I loved the fact that it was so informative. When you showed the picture of the parrot who had pulled out her own feathers and then she presented herself to us ....wings outstretched - my eyes filled with tears. How magnificent ! How they all must love you. God bless you in your work.
Olesia 7/13/11
Thank you for your appearance at the Community Center in Crafton, PA Monday, July 18, 2011. Your show was a true delight and very educational. My 4 year old daughter, my husband and I enjoyed the entire show. Thank you!
From:Crafton, PA
Dave Gesten 1/6/11
I met you at the jungle safari. I must say excellent show with the parrots. My son was wondering if you were back the next day. We loved it. It was the hit of the evening. Thanks for being there and sharing. Dave and family. Happy new year.
From:Sharon Pa
Gwen 11/6/10
John, you are one awesome individual ! Your heart is amazing ! Your birds are beautiful and I can't imagine how people can abuse and neglect them. I hope to see you again. Keep up the great work!
From:Lower Burrell
Jeni and Skyler 9/30/10
We loved your bird show at the Clarion mall this past week. My son just loved the world of birds you brought to this small town. My family owned many birds while I was growing up. We did a rescue of our own. We had 50 finches in a giant aviary in our living room. We had about 50 parakeets in a giant aviary. We had tons of other parrots and such. Mostly all rescues. We had a lot of the mean, abused birds that people just wanted out of their homes. I wish we could have done the spectacular things you have with your birds. Unfortunately I was too young to make those decisions at my house. Bravo to all your dedication. You are a fascinating person and have fascinating friends! I hope to see more of your shows again. Thank you tons!
From:Clarion, PA area
Carl Mantz 7/23/10
Don't know how you do it, but it's great. I'm handicapped and in a wheelchair and want to thank you for taking the time to let me hold your birds. I never realized how beautiful the parrots are until I was able to get close to them. Bless you in your venture and continue making people happy. Carl
From:Prospect Pa

Votes5 DateJan 1, 2016

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Domestic Animals

Bunny Talk

Gutman Locks
Bunny Talk
A bunny spoke to me. I know this sounds totally nuts, but it really happened.
My neighbor’s kids have a very small bunny rabbit for a pet. I almost never see it but the kids often leave their door open and the bunny likes to run out into our tiny courtyard to nibble on the green leaves in the potted plants. The few times it would see me it would always run and hide behind one of the plants. But this cold morning it hopped out from between the plants and came right up to me.
I reached down and scratched it behind its ears like animals always like, but it ran a few feet away towards the neighbor’s door.
I thought that was strange. Animals always like it when you scratch them someplace that they cannot reach. Then it ran back to me. I thought, “Ah, you do want to be scratched,” so I reached down and scratched it again, but it ran away again! “What’s going on?”
Then I saw that the neighbor’s door was closed. I walked over and knocked loudly, and the neighbor’s little girl answered the door. As soon as she opened the door the bunny happily ran up to her. She bent over and picked up her pet and smiling they both went into the warm apartment.
Ha! The bunny was locked out and cold and had to get me to open the door for it. Pretty smart rabbit.

Votes2 DateDec 29, 2015

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Domestic Animals

Parrots in Demand

Samuel Posin
KANO, Nigeria—Hundreds of languages are spoken in this country: So which one do you teach a parrot?
It is a decision the pet shops of Nigeria confront every time a talking bird lands in their possession. Last year, a babbling grey parrot arrived at Salisu Sani’s bird stand in this northern city.
There was only one problem. She spoke one of the country’s lesser-known tongues.
“I told her: ‘This is a rubbish language. Try my own,’ ” recalled the lifelong parrot distributor, who spent weeks teaching the animal greetings in Hausa, a more widely spoken vernacular.
Nigeria is one of the world’s easier places to buy a parrot—the garrulous birds are a status symbol for some civil servants. In traffic jams, young salesmen approach car windows holding up cages with birds inside. African greys sell for about $60.
But they sell closer to $100 if you can get them to speak.
The question is what Nigerians want their pets to say. The country’s 182 million people speak 520 different languages, according to Ethnologue, an atlas of the world’s linguistic boundaries, published by the International Linguistics Center in Dallas. Church services drag for hours as deacons translate their pastor’s sermons into three, sometimes four languages. Customer service lines begin with a plethora of options: one for English, two for Hausa, three for Yoruba, four for Igbo.
It makes the parrot business complicated, too.
A parrot will make almost any noise you throw its way. Leave one by a doorbell and it might say “ding-dong.” A rising number of pet parrots re-create the sound of their owner’s ringtone.
So parrots raised among a polyglot populace often wind up speaking the wrong language.
A few years ago in this northern city, Salim Mohammad’s cohort sourced a Cameroonian grey through Lagos, 500 miles to the south. By the time it arrived in Kano, it had picked up Yoruba, a language spoken only in Nigeria’s south. It took several months of standing on the side of the road with the caged bird before a motorist agreed to buy it.
The opposite problem confronts Murphy Taiwo’s Yoruba-speaking parrot peddlers down in Lagos. None of his half dozen bird handlers speak Hausa, but many of his customers do.
Three hundred miles north, in Abuja, parrot tender Awula Salisu and his co-workers are all Hausa-speakers. They coach parrots on sayings like “ina kwana” (good morning) or “aku” (parrot). But most of their customers speak Yoruba. Frequently, shoppers walk away, unhappy with the selection.
The 37-year-old bird handling veteran could, of course, hire a Yoruba person to come train his parrots. But that person wouldn’t be able to join in on their conversations.
“We are Hausa here,” he said. “He wouldn’t belong.”
The language barrier means some pollys can accidentally squawk parrot profanities.
In Kano, Mr. Mohammad bought a secondhand parrot from an American or possibly British expat leaving Nigeria. When he peered into the cage, the bird blared back: “Waka, waka!”
In Hausa, this is a very bad thing for a bird to say. Roughly translated, it means “your mother.”
“That one was misbehaving,” Mr. Mohammad recalled. “It took a long time to see."
Nigeria isn’t the only place where languages and parrots fly around with equal abandon. By a quirk of geography, parrots tend to live in the most multilingual corners of the world: the Amazon, Indonesia, Central Africa. In these lands, people sometimes struggle to communicate with the village a few miles away.
As it turns out, parrots face some of the same language barriers. There are untold hundreds of different parrot dialects. For example, birds in different parts of Costa Rica don’t use the same greetings, termed “contact calls” by ornithologists.
“In the north, they sound like ‘wah, wah! wah, wah!’ ” said Tim Wright, professor at New Mexico State University’s biology department. “Then in the south, they sound like ‘weep! weep! weep!’ ”
“After many years, I’ve managed to learn these,” he added.
Like humans, parrots tend to stick with birds that speak the same language. It’s how they create close-knit communities that rely on each to find food and avoid danger.
But dropped into a new environment, parrots—especially young ones—will try to crack the local vocabulary. Birds that grow in bilingual forests, where multiple parrot dialects are spoken, are also good at code switching between groups.
“That sociology is a very important part of being a parrot: It’s a survival strategy,” said Rowan Martin, researcher at the World Parrot Trust. “It’s really calls that promote group cohesion, so they’re all saying ‘I’m here! How are you?’ And it’s also saying. ‘I’m one of you.’ ”
This is why parrots mimic human voice, once caged and raised around humans. They’re trying to fit in with us.
These days, West Africa’s languages are slowly disappearing—dozens of Nigerian languages are spoken by less than 100 people. Parrots seem headed down the same path.
The parrots that survive find themselves in a noisier setting. The several birds that Atef Fawaz has owned in Kano have made the sound of cars, honking at his gate. One made the shrill beep that his fuse box emits anytime the power goes out, as it does daily: “He memorized that sound very well,” said Mr. Fawaz, a Lebanese businessman.
At Awula Salisu’s pet stand in Abuja, police routinely blare past, sirens wailing as they escort politicians across the capital. So his birds often make siren sounds.
In August, he received a bird that spoke Igala, the mother tongue of less than 1% of Nigerians. Mr. Salisu figured he would be stuck with the animal for months.
But days later, an Igala-speaking businessman showed up, delighted to find a bird that could talk his language. The man drove away with a broad smile.
Of course, Mr. Salisu had no idea what the bird—or its owner—were saying to each other, he said: “There are too many languages in this country.”
Write to Drew Hinshaw at drew.hinshaw@wsj.com

Votes1 DateDec 1, 2015

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