Friday, November 26, 2010

Rhinos and Poachers

Monday, September 13, 2010

Calgary Zoo Tiger Cub

In my last post re the birth of 2 tiger cubs at the Calgary Zoo (in which the Zoo had no idea the female was pregnant), I reported that one cub had died and the second was in intensive care. Alas, that cub has died as well. Zoo officials say it died of severe head trauma after being carried too firmly in the mouth by its inexperienced mother. Of course, if the zoo had known what they were doing, perhaps both cubs could have survived. I still want to know why the zoo remains open.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

17 puppies, oh my!

A record 17 puppies was born to a Golden Retriever in Winnipeg September 1, 2010. According to the Canadian Kennel Club, it's the largest single litter ever had by a Golden Retriever in Canada. Per the owner, all the puppies are "thriving." Giselle, the Golden, is nursing her pups every 2 hours while her owner Dinah bottle feeds the other half. At the 2 hour interval mark, they switch. "It's very time-consuming." But well worth it, said the owner. Just wait another 4 or 5 weeks when they all start running loose!

B.C. bear scales 3-storey building for tomatoes

CBC News - British Columbia - B.C. bear scales 3-storey building for tomatoes

A black bear in British Columbia decided to scale a 3-storey building to get to tomatoes growing on a balconey in a window box. Using his claws and teeth to get a grip on the window siding, up he went until he reached his intended target. A resident of the condo grabbed his vidoe camera to record the amazing feat.

Click on the link in the titile above to see the video.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Calgary Zoo Debacle

The Calgary Zoo has come under fire before - death of 41 sting rays, death of a capybera (a South America Rodent), death of a hippo, death of a wild goat, death of an Asian elephant calf, and a gorilla holding a knife inside its enclosure - and now, they're under the gun again. After admitting they had no idea one of their female Siberian tigers was pregnant (despite having a tiger breeding program), 2 cubs were born to the mother (Sept. 8, 2010), one of which was found dead - an investigation is under way - and the other now in critical condition fighting for its life.

Siberian tigers are critically endangered with less than 400 remaining in the wild. The Calgary Zoo has 5 Siberians and why they're even breeding them at all makes absolutely no sense - it's not like the cubs will be returned to the wild - they would never survive!

A national zoo watchdog wants an independent auditor brought in to investigate and with good reason. My question is: why is this zoo still open??!!

© Shelley Vassall

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Horses of Sable Island

While horses in captivity are what we see and read about most, it's the wild horses we don't hear about very often. On a place called Sable Island, wild horses still roam free.

Sable Island is a little known corner of the world that is 30 miles long and less than a mile wide. It's located about 100 miles southeast, very far offshore from Canso, Nova Scotia. The island has been the focus of speculation for about 500 years. Shipwrecks and wild horses are all part of what has given this place the mystery that surrounds it. Extensive scientific research is conducted on the island on an ongoing basis and there have been many documentary films and books on the subject. A variety of birds and seals are commonly found on the enclave, but the most famous animals on Sable Island are the wild horses.

To this day, there's still a romantic notion that the wild horses that inhabit Sable Island are descended from shipwreck survivors. If it were true, it would make the mystery surrounding them all the more fascinating, however, the horses currently living there are descendants of animals brought to the island in the 1700s.

There are other wild horse populations in the world some of which include the horses on Assateague and Shackleford islands, which are both off the east coast of the United States. Unfortunately, many of these equines and those living elsewhere, are subject to interference from people, including rounding them up to both tame and ride them. The wild horses living on Sable Island, however, roam freely without any management whatsoever. Since 1961, the Sable Island wild horses have been legally protected by the Sable Island Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act.

While Sable Island is monitored, there will never be any opportunity to see the horses living there given people aren't permitted on the island. It's unfortunate, but a necessary precaution so as to preserve both the island and these beautiful creatures.

© Shelley Vassall

Hi-Ho Silver!

If you're a true horse lover, then you're likely quite familiar with some of the famous equines that have appeared over the years in both television and film (Black Beauty, Trigger, Buttermilk, Mister Ed, Flicka). While some of these horses are more 'notorious' than others, there is only one that began it all and subsequently carved a path for all other famous horses to follow.

Silver the horse, first became known to the public in 1933 when “The Lone Ranger” series was broadcast on the radio. In that same year, The Lone Ranger himself, along with his trusted steed Silver, were to make their first ever public appearance; for the event, a horse named “Hero” was the horse that went on to portray Silver. Following that, in 1949, a televised series of the radio version of “The Lone Ranger” was about to make its debut and the star of the show Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) personally chose the horse which would go on to play the role of Silver; “White Cloud” was a Morab Tennessee Walking Horse cross stallion from the Hugh Hooker Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, California. When selected for the role of Silver, he was 12 years old and stood 17 hands tall. While “White Cloud” didn't know many tricks he was very gentle and had a high rear that became the hallmark of The Lone Ranger and his horse.

In 1952, another horse was chosen to play Silver; the owner of “The Lone Ranger” television show, George W. Trendle, purchased a Morab Saddlebred cross from a farm in Peoria, Illinois named “Tarzen's White Banner.” He was four years old at the time but was renamed and then registered with the name “Hi-Yo Silver.” When actor John Hart briefly took over the Lone Ranger role in 1952, “Hi-Yo Silver” stepped in as the new “Silver.” In comparison to Silver #1, Silver #2 was very high strung and despite training from the famous handler and trainer Glenn Randall, he never could get used to the sounds of the camera. In 1953, Clayton Moore returned to the role he had first made famous on television and continued to use Silver #2 as his trusted horse, however, when scenes required a calm and obedient steed, Silver #1 was used.

For his efforts in a scene when he was required to drag The Lone Ranger to water, Silver #1 received the Animal Award of Excellence. Despite the award, it was Silver #2 that was always used when Clayton toured for publicity events. Eventually, Silver #1 was sold to Ace Hudkin's Stable where he went on to retire. In 1962, Silver #2 was retired and lived with horse wrangler Wayne Burson and his wife until the ripe old age of 29. Silver #2 died in 1974.

By: Shelley Vassall

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Cove PSA - My Friend Is...

Inspired by the Oscar-winning feature documentary THE COVE, stars from film, TV and music band together to help save Japan's dolphins. Please sign the petition and help us get the word out,

Producer: Fisher Stevens, Chris Gartin, Lina Esco
Director: Andres Useche
Editor: Brian Torres, Andres Useche
Camera: Brian Torres, Derek Doneen
Original Music: Andres Useche, Trevor Wayne Howard
Re-recording Engineer: Greg Morgenstein

The Cove - The Dolphins of Japan

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Giraffes and their Necks

Giraffes are the tallest living land animal standing anywhere between 14 and 16 feet. Antelope-like animals could be found on the plains of Africa some 15 million years ago, some of which had the distinguishing long neck feature. Within 6 million years, those same animals evolved into what we known today as the 'modern' giraffe, with half of its height dedicated to that long neck.

There are many under the assumption that the neck of the giraffe evolved the way it did so as to aid the animal in feeding. After all, with their long neck, they're able to reach leaves on trees in which rivals wouldn't be able follow suit. While giraffes found in South Africa do in fact look for food high up in the treetops, in other areas of Africa, even when food is limited, other giraffes don't necessarily bother with the leaves found on the tops of trees. There is however, another theory as to why the giraffes neck evolved in such a way; it could have more to do with competing with other males for a mate.

When male giraffes fight with each other over a female, it's called “necking.” Standing side by side, each male swings the back of its head into the legs and ribs of the other. Giraffes have thick skulls and growths resembling horns (called ossicones) on the top of their heads and as a result they can batter each other so severely, they're capable of breaking bones. With a neck that is long and powerful, it can only serve to help the giraffe in these battles. In addition, studies have shown that males with long necks win their duals over those with shorter necks and female giraffes prefer them overall.

© Shelley Vassall

Beagle Plays Dead

The Lion Whisperer - Kevin Richardson

I want to be him!

Lets see the Dog Whisperer do this!!

The Tigers at Dreamworld

On the other side of the world, there is a place North Americans are likely unfamiliar with: it's called Tiger Island. Tiger Island is home to six Bengal and eight Sumatran tigers. Sultan, in the pic at the left, is the largest cat on tiger island weighing 441 pounds. He was born October 28, 1998.

Tiger Island cats aren't confined to cages (though they're not tame); they're hand raised and play, swim, and wrestle with their handlers on a daily basis. This incredible place, located between The Gold Coast and Brisbane in Australia, offers visitors a one-of a kind and unique tiger experience. If you're ever lucky enough to go down under to visit Tiger Island, you'll be able to see tiger presentations (where you will learn all about these amazing animals), have a photo taken with a real tiger, and watch tigers walk through the park with their handlers (where you can both talk to the handlers and pet the tigers).

© Shelley Vassall

Monday, April 12, 2010

White Tigers

White tigers are in fact, bengal tigers, but instead of orange and black coloring, they're white with black stripes. Contrary to popular belief, they don't come by their coloring naturally and are not a sub-species of tiger – they look the way they do thanks to a genetic defect. In the fifties, a male white bengal tiger cub was found in India which was eventually brought to the U.S. That male was bred at a zoo to an orange and black female which resulted in three litters of 'normal' colored (orange and black) cubs. Unable to figure out why the original male cub was white, he was then bred with one of his daughters from the litter of 'normal' colored cubs; that pairing produced black and white cubs.

In essence, white tigers get their coloring from a double recessive gene. Many of those involved in tiger conservation are of the belief that mating brother and sister cats, etc. is dangerous and unhealthy for the animals since it seems the goal is purely to produce black and white cubs. Genetic defects are often a reality of of inbreeding, as is the case with any animal population where it takes place.