We couldn't send you off into the weekend without something ridiculously cute to look at, so enjoy awwing at the cuteness of Otter 681, who just arrived at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium as part of a joint rescue effort with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the United States Fish and Wildlife Services.
The orphaned six-pound female pup arrived at Shedd last Tuesday after living the first four weeks of her life at Monterey Bay in order to make sure was stabilized.
"Pup 681’s situation was urgent. As an organization dedicated to marine mammal care and conservation, we were perfectly positioned to ensure that this little pup had a home, providing the long-term care needed to survive," Tim Binder, Vice President of Animal Collections for Shedd, said in a statement. "This rescued animal provides an opportunity for us to learn more about the biological and behavioral attributes of this threatened species and to encourage people to preserve and protect them in the wild."
Halloween is upon us, and what animal is more a symbol of the holiday than the bat? It's also Bat Week, a designation created to help raise awereness about how awesome bats are, how important they are to us, and to help people realize that most of what you THINK you know about them is wrong. Read on to have all of your bat myths dispelled!
Bats are not rodents. They're not even closely related to rodents. They belong to the mammal order Chiroptera (rodents belong to the order Rodentia), so calling them "flying rats" is flat-out wrong.
Bats eat more than mosquitoes. Some bats do eat mosquitoes, but that's not all they eat. Most species in North America feed primarily on insects and help control populations of beetles and moths that are agricultural pests. Other species feed on flower nectar and are important pollinators. Some eat fruit. There are other species that specialize in feeding on fish, frogs or small mammals. And of course, there are three species of vampire bat that feed on the blood of other animals.
Bats aren't blind. All bat species have eyes and none are blind. Many species do primarily rely on echolocation to find their prey.
Bats won't get tangled in your hair. Bats sometimes swoop close to people, likely in an effort to catch mosquitoes trying to bite us, and so it's possible that behavior inspired this myth.
Bats are not dangerous. While bats can carry rabies like most other mammals, your chances of being bitten by a rabid bat are exceedingly low. That chance goes down to zero if you never try to handle a bat. A bat can't bite you if it doesn't touch you, and the only way that will happen is if you try to touch it. Here's how to remove a bat (or bats) that get into your home.
Bats are in trouble. Over six million bats have died in North America in just the last few years. The deadly killer is a disease known as white-nose syndrome that mysteriously appeared in 2006 and proceeded to wipe out mass numbers of bats. Biologists are still trying to figure out what white-nose syndrom is and how to stop it.
Bat boxes do work. Many people try to help bats by putting out bat boxes, only to be disappointed when bats don't move in. Bats boxes do work, but you have to have the correct model and you have to mount it properly. Here's a good tutorial on building and mounting a bat box.
"Our St. Louis office got a call last week from a homeowner who had this pile of ringed salamanders trapped in an outside stairway. In autumn they travel by night to fishless woodland ponds where they may congregate by the hundreds for breeding. The salamanders were moved to a nearby fishless pond so they could continue.... If you see activity like this, let us know so we can help wildlife get back on the right road."
I'm most impressed with the homeowner, who did the right thing by contacting the Missouri Department of Conservation instead of a pest control company.
Amphibians like salamanders are on the decline globally. They are affected by habitat destruction, collection for the pet trade, climate change, pollution and disease. Their sensitive skin aborbs toxins from the air and water and as a result, amphibians are considered "canaries in the coal mine" because their presence is an indicator of the health of the greater environment. If you have them in your neighborhood, that's a great sign.
The centre's mission is to conserve rare, vulnerable or endangered animals. A big part of their work is captive breeding of endangered species. While they specialize in cheetahs, the Centre cares for many other species as well, including Gertjie the orphaned white rhinoceros.
Gertjie--nicknamed "Little G"--has a sad story that is all too common. He was found next to the body of his dead mother, who was killed and mutilated by poachers. They hacked off her horn for the lucrative traditional Chinese medicine black market.
Practiced throughout Asia, traditional Chinese medicaine holds that rhino horn is used to treat a variety illnesses--despite the fact that science has shown that it actually has no medicinal value and despite the fact that killing rhinos for their horns is illegal. Rhinos are rapidly declining and some species are close to extinction. Yet such is the power of tradition and faith.
Southern white rhinoceros calf.
Luckily for Little G, he was rescued and brought to the Centre. White rhinos are the most social of the five rhino species, and even after Little G recovered from the trauma of losing his mother, it was evident that he needed companionship. So the folks at the Centre introduced Little G to a pair of goats, and a fast friendship was born.
Here is Little G frolicking with Lammie the goat. The joy the two animals are experiencing in this video is evident and infectious. Whenever I get down about the horrible things people do to animals, videos like this one and the story of Little G's rescue help remind me that there are still good people and good things happening in the world.
Firefighters in Lacey, Washington, had the chance recently to be heroes in more ways than one when they rescued a family of hamsters from the home of their human family.
"I can think of a handful of times where we have saved small animals (rodents, birds and even a few fish) from house fires," Battilion Chief Tim Hulse told Animal Planet. "The most common animal rescue is family dogs and cats. Obviously, our first priority is to locate and rescue any humans in the structure. Once we have confirmed that the house is clear and that the situation is under control, checking for family pets is often one of our next tasks."
The firefighters found the family in the living room and after removing them from the structure, they gave them oxygen via breathing tubes, which were tiny enough to act like teeny oxygen masks for the hamsters. Sadly, one baby hamster was lost, but two adults and two other babies were saved - which is pretty amazing considering what they went through.
Here at Animal Planet, we love great causes that help animal organizations financially and also help raise awareness about their cause.
The Michelson Found Animals Saving Pets Challenge launched Sept. 29 and has already done big things in a short amount of time. The challenge, which is meant to help organizations that specialize in reducing euthanasia in shelters - whether it's through TNR, SNR, spay neuter, shelter and rescue and so on - is giving organizations a platform to raise money to help their cause. The best part? The organization that raises the most money will also receive a $50,000 donation. The second will get $20,000, the third $10,000. Each week, organizations will also have a chance to win up to $20,000 in prizes.
And while this is a challenge with a competition element, whatever each organization raises between now and Oct. 30, they'll get to keep. And so far a little over $135,000 has been raised. We'd say that's pretty awesome.
If you want to learn more about the challenge and also support a cause of your choice, head the the challenge page. We also encourage you to learn more about Found Animals, an independently funded non-profit that seeks to to reduce the number of animals euthanized in shelters each year.
Since Villalobos Rescue Center arrived in New Orleans, Tia and her team have become familiar with the homeless community, who turn to the rescue for their dogs needs.
One homeless man named Rick relied on the VRC’s generosity before. One day, his pit bull, Karma, fell into a local river, and Rick jumped in after her. Karma came out unscathed, Rick ended up with a bad staph infection that forced him into a hospital for treatment, according to VRC. That forced Rick to do the unthinkable and leave Karma with Tia at VRC.
Tia didn’t get Rick’s last name or the name of the hospital he’d be staying at. Who knows if Rick would ever return? Regardless, Tia made Karma feel at home, as did the VRC supporters that sent in plenty of pink collars and other goodies for the pit bull.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Rick returned to VRC about two weeks later. Needless to say, Karma couldn't look any happier. Have some tissues handy and take a look at the pictures on the VRC Facebook page.
UPDATE: Things are looking up for Rick and Karma! VRC announced that Rick is working for the rescue and has found temporary housing! To learn more and help the two, visit the VRC Facebook for more information.
More amazing rescues await when Pit Bulls and Parolees returns for its sixth season Saturday at 10/9c! Believe us, you’ll want to have some tissues handy for the season premiere!
In a somewhat alarming sight, nearly 35,000 walruses have gathered onto Alaskan shores - the result of increasing global warming, according to The Washington Post.
In previous years, walruses would typically navigate north as the sea ice melted and then head south again when it returned. The sea ice serves as a refuge for the walrus, who need considerable rest time between diving deep to the sea floor for food. However, in 2007, the sea ice did not form - which lead to the walruses having to take refuge on Alaskan shores.
Credit: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/NMML
Although it is a sight to behold - walrus are quite comical looking with their wrinkles and large tusks - it is actually fairly dangerous for the animals. Close quarters means disease spreads quickly, food runs out, animals such as brown and polar bears are nearby, and a slight disturbance can lead to a stampede.
As Margaret Williams, managing director for the World Wildlife Fund's Arctic program, told the Guardian, "It becomes like a giant pig pile. You have all these animals that are normally distributed on a flat surface. When they lose their sea ice habitat and come ashore in places that are accessible – like flat, sandy beaches – they gather in large numbers. … When they are disturbed it can cause stampedes in large numbers."
So what can be done to help these animals? According to the Post, "Short of immediately reversing global warming, scientists in the Arctic can only do damage control." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed adding the Pacific walrus to the endangered species list and the Federal Aviation Administration has asked that flights not fly through the area as walrus are skittish and the disturbance could cause a stampede.
Learn more about the arctic and what the WWF is doing to help here.
Get ready for a new season of Pit Bulls & Parolees, this Saturday at 10 p.m. e/p! Tia Torres and the Villalobos team return for Season 6 with all-new heartbreaking, daring rescues, along with some sweet, happy endings for a few of these wonderful dogs.
Saturday night's season premiere kicks off by catching up with one of our favorite pups, Cheech. He finally gets his chance at finding his forever home — but, when he meets his potential new family and doggy siblings, the encounter takes a sudden, unfortunate turn!
Will he finally get his chance?! Watch a sneek peek video of the meeting and tune in Saturday to see what happens:
And, remember to tune into the Aftershow, following the 10PM e/p premiere! That's right - at 11PM e/p, Tia will be answering your questions via Social Media in a special hour hosted by Animal Planet's Executive Producer, Lisa Lucas. Follow her on Twitter here >>
AND, use the hashtag #ShowUsYourPits to submit photos of your special pit bull by Facebook, Twitter or Instagram during the hour and YOUR handsome pup may make it on air! Read more about it here >>
Tune In Saturday at 10PM e/p for the Season 6 premiere of Pit Bulls & Parolees! And, stay tuned for the Aftershow at 11PM e/p.
Opossums are one of the most common mammals in our cities and towns. The are really cool and interesting animals, but most people find them gross and scary-looking. I'm here to throw a little love to these misunderstood creatures with my top ten reasons to love opossums.
10. Opossums are North America's Only Marsupial. Opossums are not rats or even closely related to rodents. They are marsupials. Most marsupial species live in Australia and like kangaroos or koalas, opossums have a very short pregnancy--just 12 days--and give birth to their young even before eyes or hind limbs have fully formed. With only front legs, the tiny babies must crawl into their mother's pouch, where they'll attach to a nipple and nurse while they continue developing.
9. Baby Opossums are Fluffy and Cute. When born, baby opossums are hairless and only the size of a bumble bee. But by the time they're ready to leave mom's pouch after about 11 weeks, baby opossums have turned into adorable little balls of flull.
8. Baby Opossums Ride on Mom's Back. Baby opossums get around by riding on their mothers' backs. Few things are cuter than seeing a dozen or so babies just hanging out on mom's back.
Mother opossum and young. Photo by Monica R. via Flickr Creative Commons.
7. They Break Records. Opossums have 50 teeth in their mouths, more than any other mammal.
6. Like Humans, They are Extremely Adaptable. Unlike more finicky species, opossums don't require special foods or places to live. They'll pretty much eat anything from fruit to mice to insects (and yes, sometimes our trash). They're just as happy to sleep in a tree cavity as they are in an abandoned car. They might not be the most elegant of animals, but you've got to respect an animal that can live anywhere and thrive.
5. They Eat Garden Pests. Opossums are great to have around the garden. They love eating slugs and other garden pests and can help keep populations of these critters down so your garden plants thrive.
4. They Utilize Trickery to Survive. Opossums really do play dead when they can't escape from a threat. They flop over, roll their eyes in the back of their head, stick their tongue out, and release a foul-smelling fluid from their anal glands. This behavior disarms the prey-drive of many predators that are triggered to attack prey that runs or fights back, and it can save an opossum's life. Check out this young 'one "playing 'possum."
3. They Are Immune to Rabies. Unlike most other mammmals, opossums don't contract or spread rabies. Their body temperature is slightly lower than that of other mammals, and the virus can't take hold.
2. Opossums Eat Venomous Snakes. Snakes don't stand a chance if there are opossums around. Opossums eat snakes, including venomous ones. In fact, they are generally immune to the effects of snake venom.
1. Opossums Destroy Ticks. Opossums are masters at destroying ticks. This is because they are very fastidious animals, constantly grooming themselves and removing (and eating) parasites like ticks. One opossum can take out around 5,000 ticks each year. That alone makes them worth having around!
Even though they are extremely adaptable and a successful species, they sometimes get themselves into trouble and need a helping hand. Here's a video of one young opossum in need of rescue.
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