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WebClawer: Agency sides with allergy sufferers over pets on planes; PETA agrees with chef on cat stew; Tim Burton hates cats; Kobe Bryant is like a beaver?

February 27, 2010 |  2:00 pm

Chipper Kobe

-- How is Lakers star Kobe Bryant like an animal? Let us count the ways. After missing five games due to injury, Bryant said Monday that he felt "like a gazelle" about his return to play. That got Lakers blogger Mark Medina wondering what other species Kobe, who's often described as "the black mamba" after a type of snake, might resemble. Los Angeles Zoo staffers Jason Jacobs and Dana Brown were happy to oblige Medina with their picks for other zoo dwellers with traits in common with Bryant. Among the animals they noted: beavers. "When I think about his work ethic, I think about all of these roles that he plays up to and including of masking his injuries and being there for his teammates and all the preparation he puts in practice and in games," Brown said. Jacobs and Brown also compare Bryant to a pronghorn, among other species. (Lakers Blog)

-- When Canada's largest airline, Air Canada, changed its pet policy to allow small animals to ride in airplane cabins, many pet owners were thrilled. Allergy sufferers? Not so much. Back in July, the Canadian Lung Assn. took aim at the pet policies of Air Canada and the country's next-largest airline, WestJet, which has a similar pet policy, arguing that "inside the small, confined space of an airplane passenger cabin, [dogs and cats] can pose a serious threat to the health of vulnerable people." Thursday, the Canadian Transportation Agency released a decision that seems to be in agreement with the Canadian Lung Assn.'s position. The decision stated that three people with cat allergies who complained about the airlines' policies can be considered people with disabilities -- seemingly a victory for the anti-animals-in-airplane-cabins camp. The decision doesn't overturn Air Canada's and WestJet's policies, but it does mean that the transportation agency will review the issue of pets in the cabin. It's also asked the two airlines to come up with alternate strategies for accommodating both allergy sufferers and jet-setting animals. (The Canadian Press)

-- After Italy's RAI TV suspended cooking-show host Beppe Bigazzi for his on-air comments in defense of a dish called "cat stew," PETA made an announcement that may seem, at first blush, like a strange one: The group announced that it agreed with Bigazzi. During his controversial cat-stew TV segment, the chef compared eating cat to eating other animals like rabbits and chickens. "We couldn't agree more," PETA blogger Logan Scherer wrote recently. "If you think cat stew is cruel and disgusting ... then you must also hate the cruelty behind factory-farmed meat. Pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals slaughtered for food are as intelligent and sensitive to pain as are our animal companions and could just as easily become our pals." (The PETA Files)

-- Tim Burton's soon-to-be-released film version of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" will, of course, include the Cheshire Cat character. But the director recently told The Times' Geoff Boucher that the Cheshire Cat "was a character I had a very specific image of and it's because I just have this thing about cats ... The Cheshire Cat taps into what you might call my hatred of cats." British actor/writer Stephen Fry (who memorably portrayed P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves character alongside his onetime comedic partner Hugh Laurie in the BBC series "Jeeves and Wooster") gives voice to the cat in question. Incidentally, Burton's "Alice" also features another animal character that never appeared in Carroll's books, a bloodhound portrayed by actor Timothy Spall (who plays villainous animagus Peter Pettigrew in the "Harry Potter" series). The bloodhound "may be a reaction against the Cheshire Cat" in the film, Burton said. (Hero Complex)

-- Scientists who support the use of animals in experiments are furious over one shadowy group's assertion that animal activists are planning to distribute leaflets at the school attended by a UCLA researcher's child "in order to educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living." Janet D. Stemwedel, an associate professor of philosophy at San Jose State University, wrote passionately in opposition to the leafleting on Science Blogs. "Nobody's kids should be targeted for harassment because you disagree with their parents. We need to call this behavior out, no matter who does it, no matter what cause they hope to further with it," she wrote. (LAist)

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photos, from left: A beaver swims at the Orange County Zoo. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times. Kobe Bryant drives against Philadelphia 76ers player Jrue Holiday during a Feb. 26 game. Credit: Noah Graham / Getty Images

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