It's a pleasure to write a positive essay about the amazing nonhuman beings (animals) with whom we share our magnificent planet. It's a great way to bring in the New Year and to celebrate good deeds performed by many many people around the world who work selflessly to protect other animals and their homes. 

Brief tours of our most magnificent world

First I begin with three lovely videos that are well worth watching and sharing. The first, produced by OrcaLab, shows lovely images of various animals and magnificent landscapes and can be seen here. It's also an extremely inspirational video for sure. The second video also is very inspirational and shows beautiful landscapes and warns us about the incredible damage we are doing to our one and only planet. Featuring Summer Rayne Oakes this video is a deeply passionate call to action to save our wondrous planet and its stunning landscapes and inhabitants.

Saving Qalandar "dancing" bears

The third video is a TED lecture by Kartick Satyanarayan (see teaser image here) about his and others' work to rescue the Qalandar "dancing" bears in India. At times this is a very difficult presentation but we can and must all be inspired by the amazing work that was done to stop this most horrific practice. What is wonderful is that the practitioners of this reprehensible practice could become part of the solution. A similar solution has been implemented to save elephants in Kenya in which former poachers now protect these amazing mammoths with great zeal. 

Some drug-tested products are now illegal in Israel

Some more good news for animals. As of the beginning of 2013, the sale and import and cosmetics and cleaning materials that are tested on animals are now illegal in Israel (you can read more here). 

Gift-bearing generous dolphins

Dolphins are known to be extremely intelligent and emotional and now we've learned that a team of biologists has observed generosity between dolphins and humans. In a study published in the journal Anthrozoös "wild dolphins have been observed bearing gifts, such as dead 'eels, tuna, squid, [and] an octopus' to humans on 23 separate occasions." The authors of this study conclude, "Gift giving has become an established but infrequent part of the culture of the provisioned dolphins at Tangalooma."

And finally, you can read about "8 Amazing Animal Facts" and watch 10 videos about animals here. The 8 facts include:

1. Parrots Imitate Voices to Distinguish People.

2. Hibernation Heals Bears’ Wounds.

3. Polar Bears Have Been Around A Lot Longer Than We Thought.

4. Cuttlefish Can “Change” Their Sex.

 5. Bears Can Count.

6. Primate Culture Can Change From Troop to Troop. 

7. Mice Woo Mates with Song.

8. Dolphins Greet Each Other by Name.

Stay tuned for more on the fascinating lives of other animals and the magnificent planet that we must share with all other beings with whom we must strive to peacefully coexist. And, a hearty thanks to all of those who work selflessly to protect animals and the land, sea, and sky. Let's make 2013 a year to remember for stopping the pain and suffering we bring to billions of other animals, for helping humans in need, for healing our wounded planet once and for all, and for all of us working as a unified community to add significantly more empathy and compassion to the world. 

The teaser image is of Kartick Satyanarayan.

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