It has been announced that nine sheep born this past October at Uruguay’s Institute of Animal Reproduction have been developing normally and living contentedly. The sheep were genetically engineered to contain a gene from a jellyfish which spurs the production of green fluorescent protein, a modification which will no doubt soon be a common one for designer house pets:
Tag Archives | Animals
We know what kinds of rodents and lizards we are sending up into space, but the question is, what sort will return? Yahoo! News:
Geckos, mice and gerbils and other animals launched into orbit Friday to begin a month-long Russian experiment to study how space travel affects living creatures. The space mission, scientists assure, will return the animals to Earth alive.
A Russian-built Soyuz 2 rocket carried the Bion-M1 space capsule, with 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos and numerous other species. They are expected to spend a month in orbit, flying 357 miles above Earth while scientists on the ground monitor the health of the capsule’s passengers.
While the project is run by Russia’s Federal Space Agency, an international team of scientists is overseeing the mission’s many experiments. Bion-M1 is Russia’s first mission dedicated to launching animals into space in 17 years. The last Bion mission carried rhesus monkeys, geckos and amphibians into orbit for 15 days in 1996.
Will this be how the world ends — covered in snail slime? Tampa’s WTSP reports:
Since September 8, 2011 when the snails were first found, the Florida Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have collected more than 40,000 of the Giant African snails.
The Giant African land snail is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to eight inches in length. State officials said this invasive species eats at least 500 different agricultural crops, can cause damage to plaster and stucco on homes and though rare, can carry rat lungworm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.
The last reported outbreak and eradication of the Giant African land snail in Florida occurred in 1966 when a boy smuggled three Giant African land snails into Miami as pets and his grandmother released the snails into her garden. It’s not known how the latest outbreak started, but it’s illegal to bring the snails into the US without a permit.
Our inability to perceive animal intelligence revealed the limits of our own. Via the Wall Street Journal, Frans de Waal writes:
Who is smarter: a person or an ape? Well, it depends on the task. Consider Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University who, in a 2007 study, put human memory to shame. Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares.
I tried the task myself and could not keep track of more than five numbers—and I was given much more time than the brainy ape. In the study, Ayumu outperformed a group of university students by a wide margin. The next year, he took on the British memory champion Ben Pridmore and emerged the “chimpion.”
A growing body of evidence shows, that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence.
Pet website Dogster.com writes that veterinarians are awakening to the miraculous abilities of cannabis to heal sick animals:
Christine L.’s Rottweiler, Sampson, had a rare form of blood cancer. After giving Sampson cannabis flower-bud material mixed with virgin coconut oil, whereas before Sampson had been too weak to walk, almost overnight he became a born-again youngster. “He was a puppy again, happy and playful,” Christine recalls. “Cannabis saved my dog’s life,” she says. “It brought him back from the brink.”
Since Sampson’s passing, Christine consoles herself by reaching out to others in a similar situation. Online, she found Dr. Doug Kramer, whose mission is to improve pets’ quality of life by outlining safe and effective dosing guidelines.
Kramer’s become an outspoken, tireless advocate of pain control for animals and has established a veterinary practice, Enlightened Veterinary Therapeutics, specializing in palliative and hospice care. He’s the first vet in the country to offer cannabis consultations as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for pet patients.
Will global warming do us in by provoking multitudes of agitated, disease-laden birds to descend upon us? Via the Bangor Daily News:
Millions of birds have descended on a small Kentucky city this winter, fouling the landscape, scaring pets and raising the risk for disease in a real-life version of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film, “The Birds.”
The blackbirds blacken the sky of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, before roosting at dusk, turn the landscape white with bird poop, and the disease they carry can kill a dog and sicken humans.
David Chiles, president of the Little River Audubon Society, said the migratory flocks’ roosting in the city rather than flying further south is tied to climate warming.
The birds also pose a serious health hazard because their droppings can carry a fungal disease which can cause lung infections and symptoms similar to pneumonia. It is particularly dangerous for people with compromised immune systems or respiratory ailments.
With half as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as cats—and half the attitude, some would say—dogs are often taken to be the less intelligent domestic partner. While dogs drink out of the toilet, slavishly follow their master and need a chaperone to relieve themselves, cats hunt self-sufficiently and survey their empire with a regal gaze.
But cats beware. Research in recent years has finally revealed the genius of dogs.
Like other language-trained animals—dolphins, parrots, bonobos—dogs can learn to respond to hundreds of spoken signals associated with different objects. What sets dogs apart is how they learn these words.
If you show a child a red block and a green block, and then ask for the chromium block, not the red block, most children will give you the green block, despite not knowing that the word “chromium” can refer to a shade of green.
In the spring of 2006, I was living in Madison, WI and going through a painful divorce. I decided the best remedy was for me to spend large stretches of time alone communing with nature. My work schedule at the time allowed me four days off after working three overnight shifts. So after work, I would drive five hours North to the Nicolet National Forest. The forest is a marvel of modern conservation. Reduced to clear cut stump fields by the turn of the century, it was restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. Today it is a lush, healthy second growth forest teeming with wildlife - even wolves and black bears.
After one of my many long drives to Nicolet, I parked my car in the gravel Parking lot of my favorite lakeside campground and backpacked down a cross country ski trail which at this time of year was completely deserted by humans.… Read the rest
A peace offering from our aquatic brethren? Discovery reports:
On 23 occasions over the past several years, wild dolphins were observed giving gifts to humans at the Tangalooma Island Resort in Australia. The gifts included eels, tuna, squid, an octopus and an assortment of many other types of different fin fish. While these gifts might not be your choice for Christmas, some of the items that were offered to humans are highly valued food sources for cetaceans such as dolphins.
The wild dolphins that were observed giving gifts to human in Australia were regular visitors to a provisioning program at the Tangalooma Island Resort. Dolphins of diverse ages and both sexes engaged in the gift-giving behavior, and scientists are not entirely sure of what is motivating their behavior.
Is bestiality the world’s strangest civil rights issue? Der Spiegel reports:
The German government plans to ban zoophilia — sex with animals — as part of an amendment to the country’s animal protection law, but faces a backlash from the country’s zoophile community, estimated to number over 100,000. They say there’s nothing wrong with consensual sex and that the true violations of animal rights are taking place in the farming industry.
Zoophilia was legalized in Germany in 1969 and animal protection groups have been lobbying for a ban in a campaign that has been fuelled by heated debate in Internet forums in recent years. In the future, having sex with an animal could be punished with a fine of up to €25,000 ($32,400).
“We will take legal action against this,” Michael Kiok, chairman of zoophile pressure group ZETA (Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information), told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “We see animals as partners and not as a means of gratification.