L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: WebClawer

WebClawer: Pets trip up their owners, mittens foil territorial birds, crabs feel pain?


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

--Lindsay Barnett

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.

WebClawer: Seeing-eye horse causes controversy, Michael Jackson in the doghouse with PETA

From dormice to gerbils to horses to...Michael Jackson?  Put your fears to rest; these stories are all animal-related, we promise.  (Even the one about M.J.)

-- Tabitha Darling, a Fort Worth, Texas resident who is legally blind, has stirred up a controversy with her choice of service animal.  Darling rides her seeing-eye horse, Trixie, to places horses usually aren't allowed, including the local Target store and Dairy Queen drive-through line.  "She's kinda pretty much my life," Darling said of the horse, who wears bright-pink hoof covers on her frequent trips around Fort Worth. "We've been together for about eight years now. She gives me the independence in getting out there."  But the government is considering restricting the types of animals that can be classified as service animals, perhaps excluding not only horses like Trixie, but also monkeys, ferrets and other species.  Some types of animals "have not been trained in the methods that a service animal needs to be trained in. They are not trained to do specific tasks," said Becky Barnes, manager of consumer outreach for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.  ABC News

-- BBC star Jonathan Ross stirred up a heap of trouble when he made a joke about British celebrity dormouse Dozey on his BBC1 show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Showing a photo of Dozey, Ross suggested that the dormouse had been woken from hibernation for a photo shoot -- an illegal offense under Britain's Animal and Welfare Act.  Outraged viewers called police to complain, leading to a "raid" on the wildlife rehabilitation center where Dozey is being treated.  "We had a handful of complaints from the general public and then we had the police turn up on our doorstep.  We told them that the dormouse had never been woken up. They were very good about it, but said they had to follow up the complaint," the center's spokesman, Jamie Baker, explained. "It must have wasted about eight hours of police time altogether."  Ross issued an on-air apology, citing his "uncanny knack for causing trouble."   Telegraph

-- A "plague of gerbils" -- yes, you read that right -- has descended upon the Xinjiang region of China, and forestry officials are fighting back with a contraception-abortion pill to halt the rodents' rapid population growth.  The gerbils' burrow systems have begun to cause damange to the root systems of the few plants that can survive in the Gurbantunggut Desert and have also harmed local agriculture.  About 440 pounds of the contraception-abortion pellets have been scattered in the area, and officials say the drug has "little effect" on other animals.  AFP

-- Famed former chimp owner/pop star Michael Jackson has incurred PETA's wrath for reportedly planning to use exotic animals -- including elephants, panthers and parrots -- in his upcoming concert series at London's 02 Arena.  "These exotic animals belong in Africa, not the O2 Arena among screaming fans, bright lights and stage explosions," a PETA representative told music magazine NME.  "These wild animals are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them when they are forced to perform under stressful conditions.  Michael needs to learn to leave exotic animals alone."  MTV U.K.

--Lindsay Barnett

Video: CNN Video

WebClawer: Great elephant bird of Madagascar's egg for sale, science finds truth in theory that pets look like their owners

Lookalikes! From dogs to bears to extinct birds, these are a few of the animal-related stories that turned our heads today:

-- A new report published in the journal Psychological Science says there really is scientific evidence that pets resemble their owners (at least, purebred pets do).  UC San Diego researchers Nicholas J.S. Christenfeld and Michael M. Roy had 28 judges try to match photos of 45 dogs to photos of their owners.  They were correct almost two-thirds of the time when presented with purebred dogs, although the research found little or no evidence of resemblance between mixed-breed dogs and their owners.  "When you pick a purebred, you pick it specifically because of how it's going to look as a grown-up," Christenfeld said, adding that he thinks mixed-breed dog owners make more spur-of-the-moment decisions when choosing their pets.  San Francisco Gate

-- A Kent, U.K., antiques dealer and paleontologist is offering for sale a giant egg laid by a great elephant bird of Madagascar.  Asking price?  £5,000 (more than $7,000 U.S.).  The egg, thought to be one of the biggest in the world, has a circumference of more than three feet.  It once held a baby elephant bird, but at some point in its history it was broken and repaired and is now hollow.  Elephant birds were the world's largest flightless bird -- weighing half a ton and standing more than 10 feet tall -- before becoming extinct in the mid-1600s.  "The egg has a great social history. The Madagascan Elephant Bird was the only giant bird to exist with man, and man caused its extinction," said egg seller John Shepherd. "It's nice to be able to show children today about environmental issues that have been going on for hundreds of years."  BBC

-- A 4-month-old Shih Tzu puppy was recovered unhurt by Southeast Area Animal Control Authority officers after being thrown into a storm drain by a man during a shouting match with his girlfriend.  "He told us he got upset and threw the dog into the drain. He indicated he wanted the dog gone," Sgt. Alex Irizabal of the Downey Police Department said of the incident. "The good thing is we were there fast. Thank God the animal wasn't hurt."  The man, identified as 21-year-old Juan Lopez of Los Angeles, was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty and released after posting $20,000 bail.  L.A. Times

-- Suburban Seattle wildlife officers are trying a novel approach to dealing with the black bears that sometimes wander into backyards in search of food.  They've added a dog to their staff -- a Karelian bear dog named Mishka, to be exact.  Mishka helps officers track down the bears and assists with a pilot project that uses "bear-shepherding" techniques.  Rather than tranquilizing the bears and moving them to a different area, officers are using scare tactics.  First they tranquilize and tag the bear, then allow it to wake up in the suburban area in which it was found.  When it wakes up, it's pelted with rubber bullets or beanbags.  Officers set off fireworks and shout, and Mishka is trained to bark menacingly, all in an effort to persuade the bear not to return.  Officers say this practice is actually less dangerous for the bear than transporting it elsewhere, since it may face starvation in its new home if it's unable to find adequate food there.  "We give 'em a chance to become a better bear," said state Department of Fish and Wildlife officer Bruce Richards. "If they come back, they're in trouble."  Seattle Times

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Paul and Buddy, winners of JetBlue's JetPaws Pet Look-Alike contest.  Credit: PRNewsFoto / JetBlue Airways

WebClawer: Hero parrot wins award, Belfast Zoo searches for elephant savior, U.K. pig may be the real-life 'Babe'

Heroic parrot Willie From parrots to pigs, from kangaroos to elephants, animals are making news all over the world today:

-- A Quaker parrot named Willie has been given the Denver Red Cross chapter's Animal Lifesaver Award for alerting his owner to a little girl's choking emergency.  Last November, Megan Howard, Willie's owner, was babysitting a toddler named Hannah.  Howard briefly left the room just before Hannah began to choke while eating her breakfast.  Willie shouted "Mama, baby!" repeatedly and flapped his wings; Howard returned to find Hannah turning blue and successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on the little girl.  (Associated Press)

-- During the "Belfast Blitz" of 1941, the Ministry of Public Security decreed that some animals at the Belfast Zoo -- among them a tiger, a black bear, a lynx, a hyena, two polar bears and six wolves -- be killed for fear that a blast could allow them to escape and attack the city's residents.  One of the lucky survivors was a baby elephant named Sheila, who instead was evacuated to a nearby backyard.  The zoo, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, has now embarked on an effort to find the rescuer, who has never been identified and is known only as "the elephant angel."  "The care provided by our mystery lady is unique to zoo history and we would like to make contact with her family and properly document this gap in our past," said zoo manager Mark Challis.  Sheila survived World War II and was moved back into the zoo after its end, where she lived another twenty-plus years before dying of a skin complaint in the 1960s.  (Telegraph)

Continue reading »

WebClawer: 'Couch cat' reunited with owner, flossing monkeys, real-life pink elephant found

Callie, the cat found in a couch in Spokane, Washington

From cats and dogs to monkeys and elephants, it's a wild day in the animal kingdom:

-- The "surprise" cat who was found inside a $27 secondhand sofa in Spokane, Wash., has been reunited with her owner. Vickie Mendenhall bought the couch at a Spokane Valley Village store to furnish her new home; she and her family heard faint meowing sounds but, she said, whenever they looked for the source the sound stopped. "We thought it was coming through the vents into the house," Mendenhall explained.  (Her 9-year-old son thought the house was haunted by a cat.)  Eventually, Mendenhall's boyfriend felt something move under him while sitting on the couch; he found a hungry, dehydrated calico cat inside. Mendenhall, who works at the local animal shelter (called SpokAnimal), took the cat there and went on a mission to find her owner.  Employees at Value Village had no record of the person who donated the couch, but local media reports caught the ears of Bob Killion, who said he was "thrilled" to claim the cat, 9-year-old Callie. Killion said he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001 and told he had a year and a half to live; he credits Callie and his two other pets with getting him through that difficult time.  Spokesman Review

-- A pink elephant was spotted by a cameraman filming a herd of African elephants in Botswana for a BBC wildlife program. (No word on what the cameraman was drinking at the time.)  Experts believe it's actually an albino, a condition that's rare but not unheard of in African elephants. The elephant, thought to be a 2- to 3-month-old calf, was seen walking in the shade of its mother -- which ecologist Dr. Mike Chase believes may be a good sign for its long-term survival in the severe climate of its environment. "This behavior suggests it is aware of its susceptibility to the harsh African sun, and adapted a unique behavior to improve its chances of survival," said Chase.  "I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival."  BBC

-- Musher Lance Mackey, who won his third consecutive Iditarod this week, says the race was the last for his lead dog, Larry. "Even if he wants to do another, I'm not going to let him," Mackey said. "He's got a lot of miles under him." Larry is 9 years old and has competed in eight Iditarods.  Anchorage Daily News

-- Researchers at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute made an unusual discovery while observing female long-tailed macaques living in a monkey colony in Thailand: The monkeys were seen teaching their young to floss their teeth using strands of hair. "I was surprised because teaching techniques on using tools properly to a third party are said to be an activity carried out only by humans," said Professor Nobuo Masataka.  Telegraph

-- Have you ever wondered what became of your favorite animal actors after their stardom waned?  PeoplePets catches up with Mr. Bigglesworth; Kelsey Grammer's co-star Eddie; the Taco Bell dog (who knew her best friend was Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde" chihuahua co-star?); and more.  PeoplePets

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Vickie Mendenhall and found cat Callie .  Credit: Christopher Anderson / Associated Press

WebClawer: Sam the koala gets an agent, Oprah's puppy "holding steady", Memphis Zoo gets mini moos

Sam the koala From koalas to walking catfish to two-foot-tall cows, animal news abounds today:

-- Sam, the koala who was photographed receiving a drink from a firefighter's water bottle, quickly became a superstar as the touching photo made the rounds.  Now the injured koala has an agent -- and may soon have book and movie deals, as well.  Australia-based legal firm TressCox Lawyers has said it is fielding offers from media outlets around the world.  The profits from the koala's appearances are to go to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter, where she and other wildlife are receiving treatment for fire-related injuries.  Sam also has a website, SamTheKoala, where well-wishers can track her progress.  Outposts

-- A spokesperson for Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions says Sadie, the cocker spaniel puppy Winfrey adopted from a Chicago-area shelter who is being treated for parvovirus, is "holding steady for now."  Sadie's littermate Ivan, who was also adopted by Winfrey, died recently of the highly contagious disease to which puppies are especially vulnerable.  Chicago Tribune

-- The Memphis Zoo's newest residents are tiny, but shouldn't be mistaken for babies: Little Cloudy and Darwinia are both more than a year old and are miniature cows.  Cloudy stands 25" high at the shoulder; the slightly larger Darwinia measures 36".  "What we're showing here is the evolution of farms, because people can keep (miniature cows) on smaller homesteads," the zoo's assistant curator of mammals, Gail Karr, explained.  Memphis Commercial Appeal

-- A U.K. angler found a walking catfish -- an air-breathing fish native to southeast Asia that does what its name implies by wriggling with its pectoral fins on land -- in the Thames Estuary at Woolwich.  The Environment Agency warned that catfish could pose a "significant risk" to native species by competing for food and habitats and spreading disease or  parasites.  "Let's hope this isn't a sign of things to come. The last thing we need is a bunch of walking catfish taking to the streets. Hopefully we've caught this in time and we're not going to face an invasion of these bloody things," said local resident Graham Telfer.  Telegraph

-- Pet adoption website Petfinder is holding a contest for rescue dogs in need of behavior training.  Petfinder users are encouraged to vote for their favorite among the contest's five finalists.  The dog with the most votes when the contest ends March 22 will receive a free consultation from celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stillwell; the dog's eventual adoptive family will receive a consultation as well.  Among the finalists are one L.A. dog, a "painfully shy" American Staffordshire terrier named Liza Bean who's available for adoption through the rescue group Marley's Pit Stop.  Petfinder Blog

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Sam the koala at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Victoria.  Credit: Rebecca Michael/AFP/Getty Images.

WebClawer: Oprah Winfrey's puppy dies of parvovirus, spineless hedgehog found, U.K. duck thinks it's a dog

Owner Steph Tuft, 25, takes duck Essy on a lead for a walk with her Staffordshire cross dogs Rachka, aged 2 left, and DD, aged 4, in Bournemouth, England From ducks to dogs to spineless hedgehogs, the Web is crawling with animal news today:

-- A Dorset, U.K., duck named Essy has become something of a local celebrity. Raised alongside two dogs from the age of 8 weeks, Essy apparently believes she's a dog too.  She wags her tail, tries to bark and sleeps with the dogs even though she has her own "bedroom" in a cupboard.  "She eats from [the dogs'] bowls, plays with them, forages with them. She's so funny to watch because she picks up little balls and throws them around the house with the dogs," owner Steph Tufft explained. The dogs are protective of the duck and often walk on either side of her.  BBC

-- Sad news from Oprah Winfrey: One of the cocker spaniel puppies she adopted recently from the Chicago-area PAWS shelter has died of parvovirus, a highly infectious disease to which puppies are especially vulnerable. The puppy, named Ivan, was a littermate to Sadie, another cocker spaniel Winfrey adopted and proudly introduced to her television audience.  Sadie is being treated for parvo as well, but, according to a Winfrey spokesperson, "is getting stronger."  "It was just a little bit too late. All the veterinary community got together to save his life. The puppy didn't make it, but he's teaching others how important this is to get vaccinated at the right times," said Dr. Jean Dobbs, a veterinarian who treated both puppies. Ivan apparently contracted the disease after receiving one parvo vaccination but before having a crucial booster shot.  PeoplePets

-- Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, the U.K. veterinary clinic that recently made headlines for successfully fashioning tiny casts to heal the front legs of a frog who'd been shut in a door, is in the news once again.  This time, the good people at Tiggywinkles are treating a hedgehog named Spud who is mysteriously devoid of spines. "Spud was brought to us last year after someone found him in their garden. He's had biopsies and skin tests, but we've had no answers," said Tiggywinkles founder Les Stocker.  "He seems quite happy and does all the things a hedgehog should. We're now appealing for someone to come forward with ideas about what has caused his problem and suggestions for treatment, whether it's homeopathy or some other natural treatment."  Veterinary staff believe Spud is physically able to grow spines because they had to remove an ingrown one. Because he was found as an adult, they're unsure if he's had his condition from birth or if it developed later.  They are also treating a bald squirrel named Smoothie.  Daily Mail

-- Two California sea lions captured recently as part of an effort to protect endangered fish in the Pacific northwest have been euthanized.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it had planned to transfer the sea lions to an aquarium until they tested positive for a viral illness.  "Our primary goal is to place healthy animals in the approved facilities that have asked to receive them," said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the department. "These animals had an infectious disease that was potentially contagious and could not be placed in a zoo or aquarium without endangering other animals."  Outposts

-- Because no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.), a practicing allergist before his election to Congress in 2006, has an interesting suggestion for the Obama family:  "Get a golden retriever and shave it," Kagen reportedly told the first lady.  Kagen is a fan of the breed and had one of his own, named Champ, until the dog's death.  He says a close-cropped cut would cut down on the first dog's dander and adds about his proposed buzz cut, "Champ loved it."  Washington Post

-- Lindsay Barnett

*A link to the story about Essy the duck was replaced.  The original link lead to a Telegraph story about Essy; it has been replaced with the BBC News version of the story.

Photo: Essy and her canine companions, Rachka and DD.  Credit: Chris Ison / Associated Press

WebClawer: It's grunion run time again, man cited for pet hyena, pet store mistakenly gets shipment of human body

Grunion From fish to dogs to hyenas to whales, animals are all over the news today:

-- It's grunion run season once again, and you know what that means: Folks from far and wide will gather to watch the sardinelike fish perform their strange spawning ritual.  The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro begins hosting its annual grunion-viewing events tonight at 9 p.m., with the little fish expected to make their appearance between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.  The aquarium says the runs usually happen three to four nights after new and full moons.  Cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for children, students and seniors.  Grunion can also be seen on beaches from Point Conception, Calif., to Point Abreojos in Baja California.   Daily Travel & Deal Blog

-- A Lincoln, Nebraska man who lost part of his finger trying to save his choking dog says helping his pet, a chocolate Labrador named Nick, was his top priority.  Bob Larson was playing fetch with Nick when the ball became caught in the dog's throat.  "I tried to get the ball out of his mouth one more time, and he came down on my finger," Larson said of the panicking dog (who didn't intentionally bite him). "I pulled my finger out and just lost the tip of it."  Larson managed to get Nick to a veterinarian before getting himself to a hospital.  The vet was able to remove the ball and resuscitate the dog.  MSNBC

-- Humpback whales are a bit early arriving in the Santa Barbara Channel on their annual migration path.  Alex Brodie, fleet manager for the Channel Islands cruising company Island Packers, says the humpbacks are hamming it up for whale-watchers -- on a recent trip one swam up to the boat and rubbed its head against the railing, scraping off a few barnacles!  Blue whales and killer whales have also been seen in the channel already this year.  Outposts

-- A Philadelphia pet store called Pets Plus Pet Center was in for a shock when a shipment it  expected to contain exotic fish turned out instead to contain a human corpse.  Jon Kenoyer, a California man, had donated his body to Life Quest Anatomical for scientific research.  A statement from US Airways said in part, "The mixup occurred due to a verbal miscommunication between a delivery driver and the cargo representative. We are working to rectify the situation and are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this has caused."  Pets Plus noticed the error before the box containing Kenoyer's body was opened, and it was rerouted to Life Quest.  Kenoyer's widow took the event in stride, saying she saw the humor in the fact that her husband had been afraid of flying during his life.  "He's just playing the last practical joke on me for putting him on a plane," she said.  CNN

-- A Myrtle Beach, S.C. resident was cited for owning and displaying a wild or exotic animal when police discovered a 3-year-old hyena named Bubbles living in a chain-link pen in his backyard.  Bubbles was removed and placed in the local Alligator Adventure animal park.  Associated Press

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Grunion during their annual spawning ritual.  Credit: Gary Florin

WebClawer: Monkey kills owner with coconut, rats fix mouse problem in India, octopus fails at crabbing

Truman the octopus is seen squeezed inside an acrylic cube at the New England Aquarium in Boston From octopus to salmon, from rats to frogs, animals are making news all over the globe:

-- An "enrichment activity" planned for a 7-foot-long, 30-pound octopus named Truman didn't go quite as planned last week.  Staffers at the New England Aquarium locked delicious, delicious crabs in a small box placed inside a larger locked box, about the size of a milk crate.  In his haste to get at his meal, Truman bypassed the larger box's locks and instead squeezed himself into it through a 2-inch hole.  He spent about half an hour inside the box before slithering back out again, and (FAIL!), never managed to get the small box of crabs open.  Associated Press

-- A monkey whose owner forced it to climb trees to retrieve coconuts apparently took revenge by throwing a coconut at the man and hitting him. The man died instantly.  A Thailand newspaper reported that the owner, 48-year-old Leilit Janchoom, sold the coconuts for money and beat the monkey if it showed hesitance at climbing a tree. "It seemed lovable. We called him Brother Kwan," said Janchoom's wife, who said the couple had bought the monkey for about the equivalent of $180.  Daily Mail

-- More than 75 fishing organizations, including groups in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska, have signed a letter urging President Obama to create a new position in his administration.  That position?  Salmon director.  The letter urges Obama to act quickly to "protect and restore dwindling populations of Pacific salmon and steelhead and the tens of thousands of jobs in our states that depend upon them."  As of yet, there's been no response from the Oval Office.  Greenspace

-- Police in the Indian state of Haryana are taking a novel approach to a pest problem: They're using domesticated rats to scare away the mice who have destroyed countless official documents and pieces of evidence.   "These rats or mice are voracious eaters and have chewed up vital papers; clothing; and even the jute [rough fiber] sacks we normally use to store narcotics, illicit alcohol and weapons confiscated from criminals and crime scenes," said Arshinder Singh Chawla, the senior superintendent of the district of Karnal.  Chawla explained that the rats are released on nightly patrols and, since the experiment began, the mice have disappeared entirely.  He added, "the best part is that our guards don't touch the documents or the poppy husk, we keep them well fed on a diet of fresh milk and roti."  BBC

-- Staff at a U.K. veterinary hospital were able to fashion casts for the front legs of a tiny frog who was crushed in a door.  An endotracheal tube was used to fashion splints for the frog, who measures just 3 inches.  The Sun

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Truman the octopus works to open a box of crabs.  Credit: Associated Press

WebClawer: Elephant gets a new prosthetic leg, monkeys parent like people, angry owl gets even

Rhesus macaque monkeys From monkeys to elephants to belligerent owls, it's a big day for animal news:

-- We're finding out all over the place how similar apes and monkeys are to people.  First Santino the chimp showed researchers that apes, like humans, can carry out plans.  Now scientists are saying that monkeys are more likely to feed their offspring if they notice their crying annoys other nearby monkeys.  Researchers from Roehampton University in London observed 11 female rhesus monkeys on an island called "monkey island" off the coast of Puerto Rico.  "Human studies have shown parents are much more likely to give in to a child's temper tantrum when it is in public rather than private.  We have shown for the first time that similar differences occur in rhesus monkeys," Dr. Stuart Semple, who led the study, explained.  "Mothers became nervous and agitated if high-risk onlookers were around and were twice as likely to provide access to the nipple.  Children's temper tantrums seem to be an evolutionary behaviour handed down from our ancestors with a constant conflict going on between mothers and their infants who are always looking for more."  Telegraph

-- Three-year-old Asian elephant Mosha lost part of her leg when she stepped on a land mine when she was seven months old.  She was brought to the Friends of the Asian Elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand, where staff initially worried she might die.  She refused to eat and was rejected by the sanctuary's other elephants.  Then Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, a specialist who works with human amputees, had an idea: Why not fit Mosha with a prosthetic leg?  "When Mosha first saw her artificial leg she was scared of it," a keeper recalled.  "But as soon as the doctors put it on and she could put some weight on it, she didn't want to let them take it off."  Mosha recently received a new prosthetic after outgrowing the old one; it's made of plastic, metal and sawdust and allows her to comfortably rest her weight.  The FAE sanctuary says many elephants are injured by land mines annually.   BBC

-- A Joint Terrorism Task Force including the FBI, the LAPD, the LAFD, the UCLA Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the "suspicious arson" last weekend of a  vehicle owned by a UCLA neuroscientist.  The militant animal rights organization Animal Liberation Front posted a message on its website from a group claiming responsibility for the incident, which caused no injuries.  The UCLA professor, who was not identified, researches treatments for schizophrenia, drug addiction and other disorders.  UCLA is offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.  L.A. Times

-- Over the past three weeks, at least eight cross-country skiers and several dogs in Bangor, Maine have been attacked by an "ornery, territorial" great horned owl.  The owl swoops down on its unsuspecting victims with talons outstretched -- and smacks them on the head.  It's caused small lacerations but none needing stitches.  Charlie Todd, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says the great horned owl is "the boldest nocturnal raptor and the one that has the best reputation for the occasionally bizarre."  MSNBC

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Rhesus monkeys -- more like humans than we thought? Credit: Bernard Castelein / Oxford University Press


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