The Marius Effect: A Giraffe, Food, and Invasive Research

The killing of a young healthy zoo giraffe is an anthrozoological gem. It clearly shows we have very confused, troubling, and paradoxical relationships with other animals. Why get upset with killing a giraffe and allow animals to be harmed and killed on factory farms and in research labs? Why the disconnect?

Healthy Giraffe is Killed at Zoo Despite Offer to Save Him

Yesterday I wrote about the plight of Marius, a young giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo who was to be killed because he didn't fit into the zoo's breeding program. Today I learned he was killed despite another zoo offering to save him. To quote from a BBC article: The director of a wildlife park in the Netherlands said, "Zoos need to change the way they do business."

Grief of an Emperor Penguin Mother Will Rock Your Soul

This video is the most moving I've seen in a long time. You can hear and feel the pain of the mother who lost her chick and also rejoice when another penguin consoles her. Words can't adequately describe this short film and it leaves no doubt that the mother is deeply grieving her loss. Displays of grief are being observed in more and more animals, not only mammals.

Healthy Young Zoo Giraffe to be Killed: "Zoothanasia" Redux

A healthy young male giraffe will be killed because he doesn't fit into the Copenhagen Zoo's breeding program. This is another reprehensible example of "zoothanasia" in which an individual is killed, not euthanized, because they are considered to be disposable. When is this reprehensible killing going to stop? None too soon. Compassionate conservation offers sage guidance.

Sport Killing Dogs Sochi Style: A New Olympic Event

Clearly, human-animal relationships are all over the place. How can people who say they love dogs support the Olympics and handle these inconsistencies? Numerous dogs are paying a dear price.

Happy Cows: A Heart-Warming Video Offers an Important Lesson

Watch rescued cows free to run gallop around with unmistakable joy and glee. These are truly happy cows, not "happy" cows. View this video for an up and share it widely. It is worth countless words and offers a valuable lesson.

Animal Smarts and Emotions: A Scholars' Circle Discussion

A Scholars' Circle discussion about animal intelligence, animal emotions, and animal protection in which the similarities and differences between human and nonhuman animals are considered by myself, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz (co-author of Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health), and Stan Kuczaj, who studies dolphin cognition and behavior.

Animal Abuse at Animal Planet: Drugs, Death, and Neglect

Animal Planet's show "Call of the Wildman" is a fake and involves animal abuse according to recent articles in Mother Jones magazine. It is essential that people not only know about the wanton abuse of nonhuman animal stars but also what they are seeing aren't true stories, but rather fabrications made to sell.

Zoo Conservation Efforts Lack Strategy and Are Too Random

A new published report concludes that conservation programs in zoos are too opportunistic and not strategic. Zoos need to change their ways to do a better job for preserving various species, including those that are endangered. Regardless of one's position on zoos a summary of the longer published paper and a shorter review essay make for very useful reading.

Carole Noon's Tireless Work to Save Chimps: A True Heroine

A new book by Gary Ferguson called "Opening Doors" tells the story of Dr. Carole Noon's selfless work and some of the many very fortunate chimpanzees who benefited from being cared for at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida. Supported by many organizations including the Arcus Foundation, Dr. Noon gives many reasons to keep ours and the animals' hopes and dreams alive.

Is Killing A Rhino For $350K Really Good For Other Rhinos?

In today's New York Times Richard Conniff published an essay called, "A Trophy Hunt That's Good for Rhinos". He writes, "auctioning the right to kill a black rhino in Namibia is an entirely sound idea, good for conservation and good for rhinos in particular." This conclusion is too fast for me, and he does not present data that support this claim.

Perils of Pooping: Why Animals Don't Need Toilet Paper

Animals don't use toilet paper and don't need it because they don't walk tall. We are indeed exceptional in matters of "the bottom"—they define us—but not in many other areas, so to speak.

Empathic Rats Free Known Trapped Rats From Being Restrained

It's well established that rats display empathy and now we know this prosocial behavior is influenced by social experience. Unfortunately, what we know about the emotional lives of rodents and other animals has not been factored into the U.S. Federal Welfare Act in which rats are not considered to be animals. We must use what we know about other animals on their behalf.

Black Rhino Auctioned for $350K in the Name of Conservation

A Texas hunting club auctioned off a black rhino purportedly to save other rhinos and their homes. This sale raises many questions about how we try to save other species. One major question is, "Should we kill in the name of conservation?" People disagree. My take and that of compassionate conservation is this is not acceptable. The life of every individual matters.

Tool Use By a Dog: A Crafty Beagle Uses a Chair to Get Food

A recent video clearly shows goal-directed planning by a dog trying to get chicken nuggets from a toaster oven. "Operation Nugget Liberation" is well-worth watching. Cleverness in tool manufacture and use is clearly widespread among diverse animals, as shown by the numerous examples in a recent book, a wide variety of experiments, and observations by citizen scientists.

"Decoding Your Dog": Honoring What Dogs Want and Need

A new book offers valuable guidelines for giving dogs the best life possible by our learning what they want and need, what they're telling and asking us, and respecting their desires. It also stresses positive, rather than abusive, training. I like to think of dog "training" as dog "teaching" that centers on a close reciprocal respectful relationship between dog and human.

Elephant Matriarchs, Untethered Brains, and Nature is Good

Female elephants lead, human brains have many more connections in the association cortex than nonhuman brains and size isn't everything, and getting outside has long-term benefits on mental health.

Dolphins Get High With a Little Help From Their Friends

What a way to begin 2014. Dogs who poop and pee aligned with the Earth's magnetic field and now dolphins who get high on pufferfish. New video shows that young dolphins chew on and pass around pufferfish who produce a neurotoxin that seems to produce an altered state of consciousness. We're not exceptional in getting high with a little help from our friends.

Dogs Line Up With the Earth's Magnetic Field to Poop and Pee

A recent study supports the conclusion that dogs line up with the Earth's magnetic field to poop and to pee. The data show not only do dogs prefer the North-South direction when pooping and peeing but also that they avoid an East-West direction. This is the first demonstration of magnetic field sensitivity in dogs. What an interesting start to 2014.

We Are Animals and Therein Lies Hope for a Better Future

By paying attention to who other animals are we can learn many valuable lessons about ourselves and keep alive our hopes and dreams for a much better world. Sensationalist media that portrays other animals as brutal bloodthirsty beasts is thoroughly misleading. We should be proud to be members of the animal kingdom and therein lies hope for a better future for all beings.

Animal Minds: Some Big Questions Motivated by Dolphins

Denise Herzing's recent TED talk on dolphins made me think of "big" questions about animal minds. Are "they" like us? Do other animals have language? Are dogs smarter than cats or vice versa? Are there "higher" and "lower" animals? Many animals experience emotions ranging from contagious joy to deep sadness, make and use tools, and some play "just for the hell of it."

Endangered Przewalski’s Horse Dies as Zoo Releases Report

Just as investigations expand into neglect at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., news breaks of another endangered animal's death, this time a young Przewalski’s horse who broke his neck, at their Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Animals in Print: Three New Outstanding Books

Three new, outstanding, and well-researched books, "Behemoth, The History of Elephants in America", "Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering", and "After Darwin: Animals, Emotions, and the Mind", are well worth the read.

Crafty Crocodiles Use Sticks to Lure Prey and Zoo Problems

Is the fascinating observation of the use of sticks to lure prey by crocodilians really tool use and what's the National Zoo going to do about new charges of serious animal neglect that are reminiscent of what happened more than a decade ago?

"What a Wonderful World" Narrated by David Attenborough

If you need an "up" please watch this video narrated by world renowned British broadcaster, naturalist, and filmmaker David Attenborough and marvel in our magnificent world. You may find yourself going to this video more than once over the next few weeks as end of the year stress wears you down. Ample research shows these experiences are good for all of us.

Dogs Protect Cheetahs and Acidic Water Makes Fish Anxious

Guard dogs reduce livestock loss due to predators and acidic ocean water stresses fish. In this essay I also review some recent discussions about whether fish feel pain, and I conclude they do even if it's not the same sort of pain that humans feel. And, there's no reason to expect that fish or other animals would feel pain just like we do.

Exposed: Human-Animal Interactions and the War on Wildlife

In "Exposed: USDA's Secret War on Wildlife" you'll see former federal agents and a Congressman blow the whistle on Wildlife Services' barbaric program and expose the government’s secret war on wildlife. U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio notes, “Wildlife Services is one of the most opaque and least accountable agencies I know of. It is not capable of reforming itself."

Redecorating Nature: Have We Really Killed Pests Too Rarely?

An essay in Time suggesting killing urban wildlife is okay is profoundly disturbing. The author tries to argue that killing these "pests" is just what's needed to solve the problem of their success and our addictive invasive ways as we redecorate nature. This anthropocentrically driven essay deserves careful reading and dissemination to get much-needed discussion going.

Slaughtering Sentience: There's No Reason to Eat Turkeys

Why kill turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving? Millions upon millions of turkeys are horrifically raised and killed, but why? There really is no reason at all to mercilessly slaughter and to eat these fascinating sentient beings in the name of a holiday, and it is very easy to choose alternative meals. Animals shouldn't be used as mere token objects of joyous festivities.

Thanksgiving Relief for Research Chimpanzees: "Free" At Last

President Obama signed a bill to support the retirement of chimpanzees to sanctuaries. These individuals have suffered far too much and for far too long and deserve their "freedom" and now there's hope that millions of other animals will also be spared being used and abused in research. What a nice way to celebrate thanksgiving. And, what an inspirational message of hope.

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