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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Abuse and death of animals in Hollywood continues despite supposed monitoring by the American Humane Association (AHA). A recent essay in The Hollywood Reporter makes it clear that the AHA isn't doing its job and the phrase "No Animals Were Harmed" they rubber-stamp at the end of films is meaningless. Horses are killed, dogs beaten, and goats drown despite AHA monitoring.
In the past weeks there's been significant news about animals. A new documentary called "Speciesism: The Movie" clearly dispels myths about human superiority and shows how confused we are about our relationships with other animals, and we've also learned that British zoos don't meet welfare standards, fish have personalities, and coldblooded does not mean stupid.
Aging and elderly animals are important in many social systems, including human households, but their role in influencing the behavior of others is often ignored. A recent photo essay about "the beauty and dignity of elder animals" and a novel and seminal book called "The Social Behavior of Older Animals" are very useful guides to what we know and what needs to be done.
Theories about what causes different behavior patterns need more open discussions and study. For example, I would like to see Rupert Sheldrake's ideas and theories about morphic fields revisited because while they are considered to be "radical" we must remember that many causal explanations about why nonhuman and human animals do what they do are constantly being revised.
What does genetically engineering animals such as producing glowing fish and establishing frozen zoos really mean? A book called "Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts" by Emily Anthes made me think deeply about this and other questions and as the field of anthrozoology—the study of human-animal interactions—grows, so too should our concerns.
Kiss a pig contests used by schools to raise money demean everyone involved, the human kissers and the pigs. Students should be to taught to extend kindness to everyone, including other animals. With so many innovative and humane ways to motivate kids, schools are failing themselves and their students by promoting animal exploitation and bullying for cheap laughs.
The way in which dogs wag their tail tells us how they're feeling. A wag to the right indicates a positive emotion and a wag to the left indicates a negative emotion. But, what do dogs themselves make of seeing an image of a dog wag his or her tail to the right or to the left? Is it a form of communication? One researcher thinks it's not. I'm not so sure it isn't.
A new book considers the nature of fieldwork and what we really do and know as a result of this sort of research. It is a must read for practicing fieldworkers regardless of the species in which they're interested and for students who plan a career doing this sort of research. There's no doubt the discussions in this book will make for more ethical and better studies.
A new interdisciplinary book called "The Politics of Species: Reshaping our Relationships with Other Animals" contains diverse essays about animals and us. It is a major contribution to the growing field of anthrozoology, the study of human-animal interactions, and will help to change the ways in which people view and interact with other animals.
Our relationships with other animals are a very messy and confusing affair. Some people say they love animals and then intentionally harm them. I always say I'm glad they don't love me. A new website that presents both sides of the daunting and vexing question, "Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial testing?" is now online and is well worth visiting.
Male marsupial mice (who aren't really mice) put everything they have into sperm production by copulating for up to twelve hours at a time and then dying. This "suicidal sex" seems to be driven by competition for females.
Cyborg cockroaches who can be controlled by smartphones teach many wrong lessons including that they encourage bad citizen science and utterly inhumane education. There is nothing at all good or right about them. They also suggest that neuroscience "research" is something you can do from your home or wherever you may be. What a misguided message this is.
A new book on the state of the animals reveals who they really are. In "Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation" I offer select essays that showcase the cognitive abilities of other animals as well as their empathy, compassion, grief, humor, joy, and love. We can learn so much from them.
It's no surprise that Shadow suffered long-term trauma as a result of being strung up. However, there is a happy ending for this abused husky because the woman who had originally rescued him was able to get him back and help him recover. Shadow is a very lucky dog. Others are not as fortunate.
This top ten documentary challenges common cultural practices about how we annually brutally mistreat billions upon billions of animals who are caught in the web of so-called "civilized society" as if they don't care about what happens to them. The fact is they do care about how they're treated and we should too. It's time to stop the heinous war with animals.
Noninvasive neuroimaging of our best friend's brains shows similarities to ours. Data show they love us and miss us and that we're not being overly sentimental or anthropomorphic when we say this. The work of Emory University's Gregory Berns and his colleagues is a true paradigm shift in how we study the brains of nonhuman animals and learn about what they feel.
In "The Fairness Instinct" biologist L. Sun argues, using research from the biological and social sciences and humanities, that fairness is a DNA-based emotion rather than a product of ideology or convention. In this respect, science can contribute much more to the everlasting issue of fairness.
This video of a Siberian husky playing by himself or herself is a dataset in and of itself. Animals play for various reasons including because it's fun and feels good, during which time they also are otherwise benefiting from the activity.
My book "The Smile of a Dolphin" is now banned in certain libraries and schools in the Lone Star state, but I'm not sure why. There are evolutionary arguments about animal emotions, there are some essays on sexual behavior, and there is a picture of a whale's penis but why in the world would the book be banned? There's much food for thought for anthrozoologists.
Marian Dawkins claims we need to focus on what animals can do for us to get people to care about them - a case of arrogant anthropocentrism - rather than the fact that they are conscious beings. Going against what numerous outstanding scientists now accept as a fact, she claims we don't know enough about animal consciousness to use it on their behalf. She is clearly wrong.