Desperate to escape those Monday blues? Our round-up of July’s animal news stories is guaranteed to make you smile! We’ve selected our top 5 favourite stories from around the globe, from world-firsts in interspecies relationships to some incredible fundraising efforts made by a special little boy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy July’s News In Review!
(Picture by Joop Van Der Linde)
Our first story today takes us to Tanzania, where the first case of interspecies nursing has been monitored in the wild.
The incredible image of a mother lion allowing a leopard cub to feed was captured by Joop van der Linde, a guest at Tanzania’s Ndutu Safari Lodge. The scene is described as being a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, and has immortalised a ‘truly unique’ relationship between two very different big cat species.
Dr Luke Hunter (President and Chief Conservation Officer for the world-renowned wildcat conservation organisation Panthera) was keen to acknowledge the rarity of the case. ‘We know there are cases where lionesses will adopt other lion cubs, but this is unprecedented. I know of no other case – between any large cat, for that matter – where the species has adopted or nursed the cub of another species.’
Typically, in nature, most lionesses would attack or kill a baby leopard if they found one, since the latter cat is another predator in an already-competitive food chain. Five-year-old Nosikitok’s willingness to take in the young leopard, speaks volumes for the formidable nature of a maternal lioness, proving that a big cat can extend their protective nature to any cub – even when the cub is of an entirely different species.
It is undetermined where the little leopard came from, or what the future holds for the animal – while Nosikitok has been incredible caring for the animal, it is uncertain if her own young will be so attentive as they get older. Dr Hunter suggests that it would be best for the leopard to return to mum, if at all possible, but remains fascinated by what could come next.
‘It's a unique thing, it will be fascinating to see how it unfolds. Nature is unpredictable. Up until earlier this week, we would have said, Nah, that never happens - and now it happens!’
The 17th of July marked the beginning of Shark Week, a week-long schedule of shark-based programming on the Discovery Channel. The schedule has always drawn large audiences since its conception in 1988 and, with every passing year, Shark Week becomes even greater of an event. This year, anticipation reached fever-pitch when it was revealed that decorated Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps would be taking part in the programming – by racing a Great White Shark.
Obviously, the programme’s title (Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White) was hyperbolic to say the very least. There a multitude of reasons why America’s prized athlete shouldn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t really get in the water with a Great White: how would you convince the animal to go along with the race? How do you prevent an athlete being devoured on television? Of course, these questions seemed to evade much of the viewing public, with numerous complaints being made shortly after the episode went live. Why is Phelps racing against a CGI shark?! Fake news!!!
The upset surrounding the situation is, ultimately, rather comical – but while Discovery die-hards have been left reeling by the lacklustre reveal, surely the outcome was to be expected. Disregarding safety concerns and logistics, the Discovery Channel has a habit of telling half-truths, tailoring its programme titles to be bait-y at best (see: Shark-Croc Showdown; Devil Sharks; even Alien Sharks!)
On top of a plethora of far-fetched titles, the scheduling of Shark Week does little to dispel the misconception that sharks are bloody thirsty killing machines, put on this earth simply to destroy. Sure, the official Discovery Channel website includes a couple of cute facts about conservation efforts; they also point out that humans are a far bigger threat to sharks than they are to us. But here’s the problem: a brief overview on a website, alongside a handful of redirect links, will do little to diminish a dangerously pre-conceived idea that these animals exist only to threaten us. Titles such as Great White Shark Killer Lives, Great Hammerhead Invasion, and Return To The Isle of Jaws are unlikely to put viewers at ease and, taking into account that most people will be watching via their television sets, it’s pretty pointless to suddenly take the stance of caring conservationists online. Besides, Shark Week has made its success off the back of inciting fear – do any of us really expect things to change?
(Picture via @TheBlueHouseKR)
In an act that may actually incite change across the country, it has been reported that Korea’s president Moon Jae-In has adopted a rescue dog, saving it from the most tragic of fates.
The newly-elected president adopted the dog from Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), a group that rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected animals across South Korea. The dog, a mixed breed called Tory, has been desperately seeking a home for two years: even after the harrowing ordeal of existing on a dog meat farm, any potential owners were soon put off of adopting poor Tory due to the ‘superstitious’ colour of his coat.
Luckily for Tory, his long wait has been worthwhile. He will now live out the rest of his years in absolute comfort, alongside Jae-In’s other pets (10 y/o dog Maru, and a rescued shelter cat named Jjing-jjing.) It’s also heartening to know that Tory holds the honourary title of being the very first homeless mixed breed to serve as the country’s ‘first dog’, and a prominent position in the public eye may well encourage other Koreans to take a chance on dogs just like him. We wish Tory every happiness in his new home!
(Picture via The Dodo. Credit to Christina
Landon Knestrick is just like most other 5-year-olds. He enjoys playing with toys, he likes to watch television, and he loves animals. But, unlike other children his age, Landon’s favourite animal is a little unorthodox: he simply adores pangolins!
While most kids are keen to cuddle furrier friends, such as cats or dogs, Landon focuses his attention on protecting an altogether scalier animal. His obsession with pangolins began when watching a tv show called Wild Kratts, where he learned about the struggles these small mammals face every day. But as Landon soon became an expert on pangolins, it took some time for his family to understand which animal he was even talking about.
‘He began rattling off all kinds of facts about them, only we thought he was talking about a penguin, so we were a bit confused at first,’ Christina Knestrick, Landon’s mom, told The Dodo. ‘He then would just say, it's like a scaly anteater and it lives in Africa and Asia. It's not a penguin Mommy — just Google it! Once we Googled it, we realized what it was and he instantly wanted to know more!’
In addition to educating his parents on pangolins, Landon became desperate to spread the word about his new favourite animal. On Halloween, he even had his parents carve a pangolin into their pumpkin, enticing people to ask about the unusual design and allowing Landon to tell them all about the inspiration behind it!
But it didn’t stop there. Landon was so intent on spreading the word about pangolins that he would go to school and tell his teachers all about the threats pangolins face. His Spanish teacher was so impressed by the young man’s knowledge and passion, that she encouraged him to lead classes based on the animal.
By the time Christmas has come around, Landon’s only wish was to save the pangolins and, thanks to a meeting held between his parents and Santa Claus, Landon was able to take one step closer to completing his mission: he had had a pangolin adopted in his name!
Knowing how much the cause meant to Landon, the boy’s parents also looked into ways in which their son could raise money to help save the pangolins on his own. ‘One of our local farms had a craft show and let little junior entrepreneurs have a free table at the event,’ Knestrick said. ‘Landon made ornaments to sell to help raise money for the pangolin. He also had us post on Facebook, and my husband shared Landon's mission with coworkers, who also bought ornaments. He has raised over $400 so far.’
With so much money raised (over £300 to date), Landon is understandably proud of his achievements, and doesn’t intend to halt his mission any time soon. He’s still raising money; still spreading awareness; and still surrounding himself with reminders of the cause every day (he’s now the proud owner of pangolin teddies, t-shirts and toys!) Of course, all of those things are just the icing on the cake: the cherry on top comes from the fact that Landon has been nationally recognised for his efforts. The little lad has featured on numerous news stations and commercials, and has also received a reward for all of his hard work. Best of all? He got to meet his heroes, the Kratts brothers, and took the opportunity to share his story. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Landon, and we’re thrilled that he’s making an effort to save a species in need.
(Picture via Buzzfeed. Credit to Madison Sorrels)
Over in Oklahoma, you can find the Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter, a sanctuary which takes in animals in need (be they strays, unwanted pets, or animals whose original owners are no longer with us.) A few weeks ago, 20-year-old Madison Sorrels paid a visit to the sanctuary, and was due to pick up a sweet 2-year-old dog named Norman.
However, before she could pick Norman up, Sorrels spotted an older gent walking into the office with a bag full of tennis balls. It turns out that the man was there to donate the tennis balls in memory of a beloved dog which, we’re sure you’ll agree, is just too cute and emotional! The picture quickly went vital, with thousands of people sharing the image on social media sites such as Twitter. We think that this gentleman's gesture is incredibly sweet, and he's sure to have made a number of puppers happy - as well as making his dearly departed doggo proud.
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