Read on for this month’s round-up of stories from across the animal kingdom!
(Photo Credit: Rob Zugaro/ CSIRO)
Kicking off this month’s list is a report from Australia, where a deep-sea discovery has left the world blushing. An unusual statement to make, perhaps, considering that scientific breakthroughs are often met which much exultation – however, there is something a little…different…about this latest find.
Red spiny crabs, flesh-eating crustaceans and so-called ‘faceless fish’ are just three unusual specimens to have been found during a descent of 4000 metres, but as bizarre as these findings may be, they are not the strangest amongst the bunch.
Those with guttural minds, look away now.
Meet…the peanut worm.
(Photo Credit: Rob Zugaro/ CSIRO)
Go back, read that again, and like I said – get your mind out of the gutter. The peanut worm is just one of 1000 oddities observed from deep beneath our earth’s surface and, thanks to its (frankly phallic) appearance, you may cringe at the thought of such a creature floating by you during an otherwise relaxing dip. Fortunately, the odds of ever encountering the peanut worm are very slim indeed: otherwise known as a ‘sipunculan’, this kind of creature tends to keep itself to itself, hiding in burrows or in the discarded shells of hermit crabs. Some of them even bore their way into solid rocks at to make shelter for themselves. Other sipunculans can be found in shallower waters (their body-sizes only really ranging up to 10cm), but in the case of the peanut worm, their habitats seem to be much, much further below.
Other species found during the ocean plunge are the tripod fish, sea pig, and dumbo octopus (cute or creepy? You decide), yet there were a few nightmarish marine-dwellers across the bunch. The cookie-cutter shark, for example, seems to be one nasty little mite: found in depths of up to 1000m, this bioluminescent beast (with its sharp, serrated teeth) preys on big fish, dolphins, and even whales. Once they get a good grip of their victim, the cookie-cutter shark gouges at the flesh with its teeth, gobbling down cookie-sized chunks of the innocents it attacks. Hence, the way it gets its name. Who else will be sleeping well tonight…?
Next up is a story of success; something which, really, has been rather a long time coming.
It may come as a surprise to many of you that, up until this month, the use of wild animals has been permitted in New York’s circuses. For a city so renowned for its forward-thinking and modern standpoints, it is shocking that New York has taken so long to get on board with this change.
Before now, a desire to end this kind of cruelty seemed to have fallen on deaf ears: for 11 years, council member Rose Mendez has been fighting to see the bill pass, with a verbal slanging match between fellow council member Corey Johnson and the famous Ringling Bros’ representatives taking part just last October. With animals escaping from (and even dying at) Ringling’s circuses, there were already plenty of valid reasons to ban the use of animals – add to that the plain, simple fact that the animal entertainment industry is just abhorrent, it really is a wonder that Ringling’s circuses have been able to cash in on cruelty since the early 1900’s.
At last, New York has followed in the footsteps of other major cities such as Los Angeles, calling for an end to the use of wild animals in circuses. With a council vote of 43-6, it is clear that the change was ready to be embraced, and the city’s animal-rights advocate of a Mayor (Bill de Blasio) reportedly cannot wait to sign the legislation. Victory!
Another major win for the animal kingdom, although with some way yet to go: we now turn our attention to the horrific Yulin Meat Festival in Guangxi, China.
Long-considered one of the most egregious instances of animal cruelty, the Yulin Dog Festival (otherwise known at the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival) is an annual celebration, held in China during the summer solstice. It is thought that the tradition of eating dog meat began over 400 years ago, with practitioners of folk medicine believing that dog meat would help to ward off the intense heat felt during the summer months…that said, the Yulin festival only began in 2009. In these times of modern knowledge, where so much more is known about medicine and remedies (including those that obviously do not work), what excuse is there for a 21st century festival to indulge in the deaths of thousands of innocent animals?
Despite locals claiming that the consumption of dog meat is ‘no different from eating pork or beef’, the festival has received intense backlash from across the globe, with campaigners stating that the animals are ‘treated abominably’ and witnesses even claiming that some of the dogs killed were actually stolen household pets.
The Yulin Meat Festival has been subject to intense scrutiny, with many political superpowers joining forces to bring an end to this despicable display of inhumanity: as well as the US calling on the Chinese government to prohibit the dog meat trade, the Phillipines Department of Agriculture have released a plan to see the trade eliminated by 2020, and Taiwan have lead the way for Asia by making the consumption of cat and dog meat illegal in their country. Both cruelty concerns and a risk of rabies are at the heart of these changes and, as pressures against China’s government increase, the number of dogs being slaughtered at the festival has dropped dramatically (from 10,000-15,000 in 2015, to around 1000 in 2016.) But more must still be done.
At the time of writing, the Yulin Meat Festival is still underway and will continue until the end of June. It is harrowing to consider the animals that we know so well as our beloved companies, are being devoured at this very moment in time, and we must work to bring an end to this horrific trade. The Humane Society International is one such group which aims to make the festival a thing of the past, and on the eve of this year’s festival a rescue was carried out to save 1000 dogs and cats condemned to death.
Upon learning of a trucked carrying crammed cages to a slaughterhouse, a local group affiliated with the HIS followed the truck some 1948km before intercepting the vehicle, negotiating with the driver to release the captive animals. The group reported the sound of distressed wails coming from the truck, with the animals inside seemingly starved and with disease spreading through their confines. It was revealed that the animals were without health certificates (something which is necessary for transport, according to regulations), and that many of the breeds found in the truck were typical of being pets, suggesting that they had indeed been stolen.
Many of those involved in the release of these dogs were young adults, signifying a step forward for animal rights activism in China. We can only hope that their noble efforts will continue to inspire others, bringing an end at last to the festival in Yulin and other examples like it.
Security at Boston’s Logan International Aiport were alarmed after discovered a 20-pound, live lobster concealed in a passenger’s luggage…but, bizarrely, the find itself was not all that unusual.
Security staff have said that the collosal crustacean is the ‘largest they’ve ever seen’ at Logan International, leading us to believe that huge, hidden lobsters are somehow the norm in Boston. But while the US Transportation Security Admission does not explicitly ‘forbid’ lobsters, it does request that live animals must be carried in a ‘clear, plastic, spill-proof container.’ Wait, what?!
Clearly, better nature (and, y’know, the regulations outlined above) were not enough to prevent one passenger from attempting to smuggle the lobster out of the country; rather, the only things stopping the animal from snipping its way out of the suitcase were a couple of bits of tape on its claws.
Despite what was surely a traumatic experience for the lobster, it apparently ‘co-operated quite nicely’ with the screening process at the airport, though not much is now known about the animal or the individual travelling.
(Photo credit: Second Home Pet Resort via The Dodo)
Let’s round today’s blog off with something worth smiling about, shall we?
As we all well know, we’re now in the swing of summer, and with the changing of seasons comes some seriously intense weather (here in our UK office, we’ve been positively melting at our desks!) But during this hot weather, spare a thought for all the animals kept in shelters across the world: cramped conditions, poor ventilation (or a lack thereof) and the idea of freedom being, for some, a distant dream, means that life in a shelter can become that much harder for these poor animals.
Luckily for some shelter dogs in Arizona (which has recently been subject to a serious heatwave), a cool respite and the taste of freedom could be found just around the corner.
Second Home Pet Resort is a renowned holiday destination in Arizona – at least, when it comes to pets, that is! The owners of the property have always adored animals, and when an employee of Maricopa County Animal Care And Control got in touch with a sweet proposition, the folk at SHPR simply could not resist. They were about to hold a pool party specifically for shelter dogs!
On a hot summer’s day in the middle of June, SHPR opened its doors to eight excitable little doggos: Rogue, Grayson, Bean, Henry, Loki, Ozzie, Polo and Benito all bounded into the building, and even got to spend a little time getting to know each other before heading out to the pool. And as soon as these little guys set their sights on the glistening blue of the water, well…you can imagine the look on their faces.
Bet you were picturing a little something like this, right!
One of the most endearing things about the pool party, was that volunteers could come and take part. Some got in the pool to swim alongside the puppers; others preferred to sit back and watch their furry friends enjoy a taste of freedom. The goal here, says Jordan Cowan (resort director), was to find the dogs a new home: ‘Whatever we can do to help pets get adopted, we are in.’ We just know that the volunteers would have fallen in love with the dogs, and hopefully they’ll be able to give the animals new homes, too.
Enjoy some more pictures from the party of the summer!
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