From crabs to cows, animals are making news all over the world today:
-- "Old Partner," a documentary by first-time director Lee Chung-ryul, follows rural South Korean farmer Choi Won-kyun and his loving but nagging wife, Lee Sam-sun, as they contemplate the impending death of the beloved cow that has served them for 40 years. The film has become a huge success; it won an award at the Busan International Film Festival and played at the Sundance Film Festival (it's now showing in L.A. at the Mpark4 theater on Wilshire Boulevard). But the publicity has taken its toll on the couple, (aged 82 and 79, respectively), since overnight celebrity means an influx of visitors. "My husband says he gets sick of all this," said Lee Sam-sun. "I told him to behave himself.... I guess I do nag a lot." L.A. Times
-- A new study published in the journal Animal Behaviour shows that crabs can not only feel pain, they also remember past painful incidents and try to avoid future ones. Professors Bob Elwood and Mirjam Appel tested hermit crabs' reactions to small electrical shocks; they found that crabs that received shocks got out of their shells, suggesting that the experience had been unpleasant to them. Elwood says the results may point to a "potentially very large problem" with the way crustaceans are treated in the food industry. "There is no protection for these animals -- with the possible exception of certain states in Australia -- as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain," Elwood said. "With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans." BBC
-- Your dog or cat may trip you or indirectly cause you to fall -- but we're not going to lose any sleep over it. Although 86,000 such cases happen in the U.S. each year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they account for only about 1% of injuries from falls. The CDC study suggests that such falls are more common for women and the rate of injury is higher in the elderly. "I wouldn't say it's common," said Dr. Frederick Carr of Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance. "I see many more people who trip over curbs and speed bumps. I see one or two of those a day." Most of the injuries reported by the CDC are caused by pet owners tripping over their pets; other causes include being pulled down by a leashed dog during a walk, tripping while chasing a pet, and tripping over food dishes and toys. L.A. Times
-- Residents of the Somerset, England, village of Withycombe have taken unusual measures to combat a fiercely territorial bird called the gray wagtail. The birds are attacking the side mirrors of villagers' cars, believing the reflections they see there to be rivals for potential mates. What's a villager to do? Why, make mittens to cover the mirrors, of course. "If there's two they don't seem to bother but the single birds go mad pecking. They'll look at themselves in your wing mirror, then do their business all over it," according to Withycombe resident Marion Badcock. "Many of us just got fed up with cleaning them, so we made covers." Daily Express
-- Scientists have found the world's smallest known frog species in the Cosnipata Valley of Peru. The tiny amphibians are part of the Noblella genus. Adult females, which are larger than males, can grow to about half an inch long. National Geographic
Photo: Choi Won-kyun and his wife Lee Sam-sun with their new cow (its predecessor's death is a central element of the film "Old Partner"). Credit: John M. Glionna/Los Angeles Times.