Tag Archives | Animals

Accepting Alternate Forms Of Intelligence In The Animal Kingdom

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.

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Should Medical Marijuana Be Legalized For Dogs?

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.

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Kentucky Town Terrorized By Swarm Of Millions Of Birds

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.

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Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

Beagle and sleeping black and white kitty-01Continuing the media assault on cats, the Wall Street Journal says that canines outsmart felines:

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.

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The Great Porcupine

Picture: Pearson Scott Foresman (PD)

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

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Wild Dolphins Give Treasured Gifts To Humans

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.

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German Zoophiles Outraged Over Plan To Prohibit Sex With Animals

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.

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Brazil To Clone Animals In Danger Of Extinction

After our planet’s climate drastically changes, the wildlife of today will exist in cloned form in tomorrow’s zoos, Inter Press Service reports:

Brazilian scientists are attempting to clone animals in danger of extinction, like the jaguar and maned wolf, although the potential impact on the conservation of these threatened species is still not clear.

The cloning initiative is being undertaken by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, and is now in its second phase. “We already have 420 germplasm samples stored in our bank and are going to continue collecting,” [said] EMBRAPA researcher Carlos Frederico Martins.

Eight animals have been chosen, including the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). The bank has also been stocked with germplasm from the bush dog (Speothos venaticus), coati (genus Nasua), collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and bison (genus Bison).

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Researchers Discover The Four Personality Types Of Elephants

Animals have distinct personality types, the Telegraph reveals

In a new study of African elephants, researchers have identified four distinct characters that are prevalent with a herd – the leaders, the gentle giants, the playful rogues and the reliable plodders. Each of the types has developed to help the giant mammals survive in their harsh environment and are almost unique in the animal kingdom, according to the scientists.

Professor Lee and her colleague Cynthia Moss studied a herd of elephants in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya known as the EB family – famous for their matriarch Echo before she died in 2009. Using data collected over 38 years of watching this group, the researchers analysed them for 26 types of behaviour and found four personality traits tended to come to the fore.

The strongest personality to emerge was that of the leader. The researchers looked for those elephants that tended to influence the movements and direction of the group.

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How To Clone Animals

Vice visits a clone farm to see the process at work. For now, the intended result is to establish a way of creating superior livestock which are resistant to disease. But perhaps in a few decades this will serve as a look at how babies are made:

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