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WebClawer: Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd vs. Iceland; dogs and the 'love drug'

February 1, 2009 | 10:19 am

Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson aboard the ship Steve Irwin From Japan to Iceland, from England to a football-type stadium not entirely unlike the one where the Super Bowl will be played, the globe is hopping with animal news:

  • Iceland has announced plans to increase the amount of whales it kills each year, and many conservationists are up in arms.  "Iceland has spat in the face of marine conservationists around the world with their extremist announcement that they wish to slaughter 150 endangered fin whales and 100 minke whales this year," said the the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Paul Watson, who's urging like-minded folk to stage a boycott of Icelandic products and tourism.  Outposts
  • Two researchers from Japan's Azuba University report that dog owners feel the same surge of emotion when looking at their pets as mothers do when they see their human infants.  Miho Nagasawa and Takefumi Kikusui studied two groups of dog owners during play sessions with their dogs -- one group was told to make eye contact with their pets; the other was told to avoid eye contact.  Those who made eye contact were found to experience a 20% rise in oxytocin levels, while those who avoided it experienced a slight drop in oxytocin.  "[Oxytocin is known] as the 'cuddle chemical' or 'love drug', it has been found to dampen stress, combat depression, and breed trust in humans."  Daily Mail
  • An African Gray parrot in Gloucestershire, England has learned to mimic his owner well enough to fool her other pets.  Barney, the parrot, shouts commands like "come here" to the cat and three dogs who share his household -- and even praises them when they obey in a voice so uncannily similar to his owner's that the other animals believe it's her orders they're following.  "Barney's got a really high opinion of himself and he certainly likes to think he's my favourite out of the pets," says owner Margaret Sullivan.  "He's not – but I would never tell him that."  Telegraph
  • For those less than excited at the prospect of spending hours watching a certain football game, the folks at Animal Planet have come up with an adorable alternative: Puppy Bowl!  Producers found the puppy participants in local shelters through Petfinder.  How did they decide which made the cut?  "We’re pretty shallow.  If we look at a picture and go 'awww,' they're in," says executive producer Melinda Toporof.  PeoplePets

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society aboard the boat Steve Irwin.  Credit: Luis Enrique Asqui / Animal Planet.

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