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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Dog | Akita Inu

The Akita is a large and powerful dog breed with a noble and intimidating presence. He was originally used for guarding royalty and nobility in feudal Japan. The Akita also tracked and hunted wild boar, black bear, and sometimes deer. He is a fearless and loyal guardian of his family. The Akita does not back down from challenges and does not frighten easily. Yet he is also an affectionate, respectful, and amusing dog when properly trained and socialized.
There are two types of Akitas, the original Japanese Akita breed and now a separate designation for American standard Akitas. The weights and sizes are different and the American standard allows a black mask, whereas the original Japanese breed standard does not allow for a black mask. According to the FCI, in Japan and in many other countries around the world the American Akita is considered a separate breed from the Akita Inu (Japanese Akita). In the United States and Canada, both the American Akita and the Akita Inu are considered a single breed with differences in type rather than two separate breeds.

The Akita is docile, intelligent, courageous and fearless. Careful and very affectionate with its family. Sometimes spontaneous, it needs a firm, confident, consistent pack leader. Without it, the dog will be very willful and may become very aggressive to other dogs and animals. It needs firm training as a puppy. The objective in training this dog is to achieve a pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. That is the only way your relationship can be a success. If the dog is allowed to believe he is the leader over the humans he may become very food-possessive as he tells the humans to wait their turn. He eats first. Considered a first-class guard dog in Japan, Japanese mothers would often leave their children in the family Akita's care. They are extremely loyal and thrive on firm leadership from their handlers. They should definitely be supervised with other household pets and children. Although the breed may tolerate and be good with children from his own family, if you do not teach this dog he is below all humans in the pack order he may not accept other children and if teased, Akitas may bite. Children must be taught to display leadership qualities and at the same time respect the dog. With the right type of owner, the proper amount of daily mental and physical exercise and firm training, they can make a fine pet. Obedience training requires patience, as these dogs tend to get bored quickly. The Akita needs to be with its family. It vocalizes with many interesting sounds, but it is not an excessive barker.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Dogs and humans respond to emotionally competent stimuli by producing different facial actions

The commonality of facial expressions of emotion has been studied in different species since Darwin, with most of the research focusing on closely related primate species. However, it is unclear to what extent there exists common facial expression in species more phylogenetically distant, but sharing a need for common interspecific emotional understanding. Here we used the objective, anatomically-based tools, FACS and DogFACS (Facial Action Coding Systems), to quantify and compare human and domestic dog facial expressions in response to emotionally-competent stimuli associated with different categories of emotional arousal. We sought to answer two questions: Firstly, do dogs display specific discriminatory facial movements in response to different categories of emotional stimuli? Secondly, do dogs display similar facial movements to humans when reacting in emotionally comparable contexts? We found that dogs displayed distinctive facial actions depending on the category of stimuli. However, dogs produced different facial movements to humans in comparable states of emotional arousal. These results refute the commonality of emotional expression across mammals, since dogs do not display human-like facial expressions. Given the unique interspecific relationship between dogs and humans, two highly social but evolutionarily distant species sharing a common environment, these findings give new insight into the origin of emotion expression.

The common origin of emotions has long been a subject of scientific interest with different emotional responses producing a diverse range of communicative elements, especially through the face. Facial expressions are also correlates of internal state in both humans and other animals and so may be used, in part, to infer emotion alongside other component processes, such as physiological activation and behavioural tendencies.
Many studies use an holistic approach (i.e. categorizing the whole face as angry, happy, etc.) to classify the target facial expressions, which reflects the way the human brain processes faces, but can be problematic when examining the underlying mechanism of emotion perception across species. For instance, there is a diverse range of smiling faces with different visual characteristics and different emotional meanings in humans. As a classic example, the Duchenne smile (felt, true enjoyment) differs by one muscle contraction from the non-Duchenne smile (unfelt, usually produced in formal greetings). Moreover, during laughter and depending on the context, a blend of both Duchenne and non-Duchenne smiles is often observed. Hence, simply classifying a facial expression as “happy” is too simplistic and less meaningful for cross-species comparison. Furthermore, the same ‘holistic’ facial morphological configuration could have different functional meanings (i.e. result in distinctly different behavioural consequences) depending on the species. For example, the Play Face (PF) and the Full Play Face (FPF) are variants of the same facial expression, where the former presents an open mouth with lower teeth exposed, and the latter incorporates visible upper teeth. Both the PF and the FPF represent different degrees of playful expression in great apes (humans included). Conversely, in crested macaques, mandrills and geladas, the FPF is not just a more intense version of the PF, but instead is derived from convergence between the PF and the silent-bared teeth display (SBT), a facial expression observed in affiliative settings such as grooming. Additionally, the SBT indicates submission and appeasement in Barbary macaques, signals affinity and benign intentions in humans, and, in chimpanzees, is present in a range of situations from response to aggression to affinity contexts.
As an alternative to an holistic descriptive approach, the decomposition and objective description of distinct anatomical regions of facial features, such as occurs with the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), has been the golden standard to study human facial expressions of emotion across individuals of different races and cultures for several decades. Each of the discrete facial movements identified (Action Units, AUs) is the result of an independent facial muscle contraction that can produce several changes in appearance to the face, which in turn are used to identify which AUs are activated. Thus, FACS codes facial movements from a purely anatomical basis, avoiding circular reasoning or a priori assumptions of emotion meaning. Recently, FACS has been adapted to several non-human species, such as chimpanzees and orangutans, following the original methodology and has proven to be a successful tool for objectively investigating and comparing facial expressions of closely related species. For example, chimpanzees and humans share an identical facial muscle plan (differing by only one muscle), but chimpanzees display both homologous (e.g. play face and human laugh) and species-specific expressions (e.g. pant-hoot).
While the human prototypical facial expressions of emotion are well established, little is known about the quantitative and empirical nature of the emotional facial displays of the domestic dog, an evolutionarily remote, but socially complex species which often shares the human social environment and frequently engages in interspecific communication with an emotional content . To date, functional facial expressions in dogs have been largely discussed holistically in relation to their approach-avoidance value, for example, the “threat gape” in fight-flight situations, and the PF or the Relaxed Open Mouth (ROM) as a social communicative signal for play solicitation and within play bouts. With the development of the FACS for the domestic dog, it becomes possible to apply a bottom-up technique to investigate the composition and meaning of dogs’ facial expressions and, more importantly, to establish possible analogies with humans, with whom they socially interact.
Dogs and humans, like other mammals, have a homologous facial anatomy plan even though they belong to phylogenetically distant groups. Additionally, both species share a common mammalian neuroanatomy for the basic emotions such as fear and happiness, typically live in a common social and physical environment, are very facially expressive , and respond to the same or similar conspecific and heterospecific social cues. Consequently, the facial cues and expression of emotion in home-dwelling pet dogs provide a unique comparative model for the study of phylogenetic inertia (i.e. absence of expected change and/or adaptation to an optimal state given specific selection pressures in the current environment) versus evolutionary divergence (i.e. a set of changes brought about by selection pressures from a common ancestor resulting in homologies) versus evolutionary convergence (i.e. a set of changes from selection pressures acting in independent lineages to create similarity in the resulting analogies).

Here, we investigated the mechanistic basis of facial expressions in humans and dogs, by objectively measuring their video recorded facial actions during immediate reactions to emotionally-competent stimuli. The FACS and the DogFACS were applied in a range of contexts associated with four categories of emotional responses: a) happiness, b) positive anticipation, c) fear, and d) frustration . Instead of selecting the basic emotions that are known to produce universal facial signals in humans, we focused on emotions that are defined by evolutionary and biologically consistent criteria: 

1) essential for solving adaptive problems in mammals (e.g. fear of a threat prompts flight increasing survival), 

2) arise from corresponding physiological markers and 

3) correlate with specific neuroanatomical regions . This approach reduces anthropomorphic and anthropocentric bias in the selection and comparison of emotions, i.e. instead of trying to identify stereotypically human emotions in dogs, we focused on examining shared underlying mammalian homologies. Furthermore, for each category of emotion (e.g. fear), we used a range of contexts to generate the emotional response (thunderstorms, specifically avoided objects, etc.). This increased the likelihood of identifying the general facial responses to the emotional category of stimulus (e.g. general facial actions of fear), instead of behavioural motivations (e.g. facial actions displayed for thunderstorms, but not in other fear contexts). We only analysed spontaneous emotional reactions because posed responses could differ from spontaneous ones in duration, intensity, symmetry and form.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Angora Rabbit

The Angora rabbit (Turkish: Ankara tavşanı) is a variety of domestic rabbit bred for its long, soft wool. The Angora is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit, originating in Ankara (historically known as Angora), present day Turkey, along with the Angora cat and Angora goat. The rabbits were popular pets with French royalty in the mid-18th century, and spread to other parts of Europe by the end of the century. They first appeared in the United States in the early 20th century. They are bred largely for their long Angora wool, which may be removed by shearing, combing, or plucking. There are many individual breeds of Angora rabbits, four of which are recognized by American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA); they are English, French, Giant, and Satin. Other breeds include German, Chinese, Swiss, Finnish, Korean, and St. Lucian.

Angora Basics
Angora is a luxury fiber with many special qualities. Lustrous, soft, and seven times warmer than sheep’s wool, these fibers have an inner structure of air an cell that give Angora yarn and garments a thermal quality. In addition, the fibers “bloom” or fluff up as garments are worn and cared for which increases their warmth and elegant appearance. An Angora Rabbit is a fiber producing animal. The wool is plucked, combed, or clipped and spun into a luxurious yam. This does not harm the rabbit; the wool is ready to shed and removing it will help keep the rabbit in good condition.

What type of housing do I need?

An all-wire cage is best for an Angora rabbit because this keeps him off the wet and soiled bedding. The sides of the cages should be made of2" x I" wire, and the floor should be made of 1/2" x 1 " wire. A 30"x30" cage is an ideal size. He also needs a cover to protect him from the rain, snow, and drafts, and to keep him shaded in the summer.

Does the rabbit get cold outside?

Angoras are very hardy and do well in cold weather. His coat needs to be kept well groomed and free of matts (tangled wool) because matted wool does not insulate him from the cold. A piece of plastic or plywood on three sides of his cage will protect him from wind and drafts in the winter. On the coldest nights, you can throw a blanket over the cage for added protection.

What about hot summer weather?

Rabbits do suffer from the heat. A well ventilated, shaded rabbitry will help. On those really unbearable days, place a plastic 2-liter soda bottle which has been filled with water and frozen in the rabbit's cage for him to lie against.

What does the rabbit eat? 

Angoras eat from 4-8 ounces of pellets daily, depending on their mature weight. A handful of hay is important for fiber production. About 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds is a good daily supplement and the seed's oil helps the rabbit's digestion. Rabbits must have fresh water at all times.

How much fiber will an Angora produce?

English & French Angoras yield 10-16 ounces of wool per year; however Giants & Germans produce up to 28 - 40 ounces per year. Since Angora is lighter and warmer than sheep's wool, this will go a long way.


Whether you choose to use the fiber your Angora produces or not, the rabbit's wool must be removed when it is shedding. This will help keep your rabbit healthy.

Do I need special tools?

Dog grooming equipment is commonly used to groom Angora rabbits. A steel toothed comb, a bulb-tipped brush, a slicker brush, and a pair of scissors are handy tools.

How often do I groom the rabbit? 

Grooming your animal once a week should keep him in good condition until he is ready to molt, but more frequent attention and handling will help you both become accustomed to one another.

How do I groom the rabbit? 

To maintain an Angora that is not molting, either put the rabbit on your lap or on a table. The purpose of this grooming session is to comb through the wool over the entire animal. Pay particular attention to areas that rub against one another such as the base of the tail or behind the ears. Be sure to brush his legs and belly.

How do I remove the matts? 

If the matt can be pulled apart with your fingers, the wool is "webbed" and may be gently combed out. If the matt seems like a solid mass of wool, then the kindest way to remove it is simply cut it off. Feel for the rabbit's skin first, and watch out for it's tail; it's longer than you may think.

How often does the rabbit shed? 

Generally, a rabbit will need to be plucked every two to three months.

How do I know when to pluck the rabbit? 

Your rabbit is ready to pluck when you see loose wool on the cage or trailing off his back.

How do I pluck the rabbit? 

Go over the rabbit with a comb or bulb-tipped brush. This helps loosen the wool. Gently pull out the loose wool, keeping your fingers toward the tip of the wool to catch only the longest coat. You may want to hold the skin with your other hand to reduce stress. If your rabbit seems stressed during or after plucking, next time try to give him a half of a baby aspirin 30 minutes before plucking.

How do I store the wool?

A plastic box, shoe box, or cookie tin will keep the fiber from getting tangled or packed down. Put a moth ball in the box to discourage insects.

What about the toenails?

Your rabbit's toenails should be clipped monthly. A pair of dog clippers may be used. Like a dog, the living part of the rabbit's nail extends into the nail, so be careful not to cut into this or your rabbit may bleed. You may wish to examine the rabbit's nail with a light behind it so you can see where the dark vein extends into the nail.

Woll Block

Wool block is a mass of wool caught in the rabbit's digestive system, similar to a fur ball in a cat. The rabbit ingests the wool when grooming himself. He cannot regurgitate the wool like a cat does, and the blockage gives the rabbit a full feeling, so he does not eat. Wool block can be fatal.

What are the symptoms of wool block?

Your rabbit may begin to excrete smaller or misshapen dropping and may not finish his food or water. Ha may pass no droppings at all.

How do I treat a case of wool block? 

Immediately pluck or shear the rabbit. Withdraw your rabbit's pellets and feed only rolled oats or hay. Pellets only add to the blockage at this point. Always provide water. You may administer anyone of the following: 5 papaya enzyme pills (the enzyme in the pill breaks down the wool and helps the wool pass through the digestive tract).These pills are found in the vitamin section of the pharmacy or a health food store. You can also administer a tablespoon of fur ball remedy (such as Femalt), or a fresh pineapple (pineapples also contain the necessary enzyme). If the blockage is large, you may have to continue treatment over several days. After the rabbit passes the blockage, resume his pelleted food slowly.

How can I prevent wool block?

Keeping you rabbit in good condition with no loose, over ripe wool will help him ingest as little wool as possible when he is grooming himself. Many Angora rabbit owners give papaya/pineapple enzyme to their rabbits once a week. Other preventatives include a weekly dose of Femalt. You may also want to treat your rabbit to fresh pineapple. 

Breeds of Angora Rabbits

There are four recognized breeds of Angora rabbits: English, French, Satin & Giant plus the more recently imported German Angora. The breeder from whom you purchased your rabbit should provide you with information about the Angora you own.

Helpfull Hints

-To remove wool build up on your rabbit's cage, use a propane torch. Be sure to remove your rabbit first and keep water handy. You can also use a long-handled bathroom brush to scrub the wool off the wire.

-Calcium present in the urine may build up on the wire where your rabbit urinate. A vinegar solution and a wire brush help dissolve and remove this buildup.

-If your rabbit develops static while being groomed, rub your hands or your rabbit with a fabric softener sheet.

-Your rabbit needs to gnaw to prevent his teeth from growing too long. You can give him a block of hard wood to chew (not plywood which contains formaldehyde).

-Be consistent with your rabbit; he'll know what to expect.

-Don't allow young children to play with your rabbit without supervision.

-Use your rabbit's dropping in your garden; your tomatoes will thank you.

Monday, August 13, 2018

How to Wash a Cat

Pre-Bath Advice

The key to successful cat-bathing is preparation. You must make certain you have all necessary items at your fingertips.

THIS IS A TWO PERSON JOB. You will need to keep at least one hand on your cat AT ALL TIMES, so it will be difficult to complete the process without a helper.

Ideally, this process should be done in a double sink, or a single sink that has a spray attachment. If you do not have either a double sink or a single sink with a spray attachment, then consider using two large Tupperware containers, each one being about the size of your sink.

Line the floor around you with old towels; this will be a messy process and you don’t want to make things more difficult by slipping on a wet floor.

If your cat has claws, it is recommended that you wear long sleeves. Also, if your cat is prone to biting, consider wearing a pair of sturdy gloves.

It is NOT recommended that you wash your cat in the tub. Generally, cats are afraid of water and to them, the tub looks like an ocean of certain death.

Washing the Cat

What You Will Need:

Lots of old towels
Double sink or single sink with spray attachment
Plug for the sink
Rubber mat for the sink
Two cups
Soft washcloth
Cat shampoo
Cotton balls
1 or more dirty cats
Bandages and antiseptic (for you, afterwards)

Washing that Kitty:

Prepare your work area; arrange towels on the floor and place all your gear within easy arms reach.

Place the rubber mat in the sink and fill with about three inches of body-temperature water (just enough to come up to your cat’s belly. DO NOT overfill! Cats are very sensitive to water temperature, so it is important that you check the temperature, using the same method you would for a baby bottle: pour a bit on the underside of your wrist—it should feel neither hot nor cold.

Put some shampoo in one of the cups and fill with the water from the sink (this will prevent the cat from being shocked by a sudden dose of cold shampoo).

If you are using a double sink, fill the other side with body-temperature water, relatively the same temperature as the first side.

Pick up your cat, stroking him and talking to him soothingly so that he doesn’t become too suspicious over what is about to happen.

Making sure you have a firm hold on your cat (this may require gripping the scruff of his neck) lower him gently but quickly into the side of the sink with the 3-inches of water.

In all likelihood, YOUR CAT WILL IMMEDIATELY TRY TO GET OUT. All kidding aside, if he has claws, this can be a very dangerous situation. A panicked cat can do some serious damage. Keep a firm hold on your cat at all times. This is why it is important for another person to assist you.

If your cat is not too stressed, place a small cotton ball in each ear. Cats can get ear infections if their ears get wet. If you are unable to get the cotton balls in, or if your cat repeatedly shakes them out, make sure you’re extra careful not to get the ears wet.

With the empty cup, gently pour the sink water onto your cat.

Pour the diluted shampoo solution on him and massage into his fur. NEVER put shampoo by the face, eyes or ears.

Wet the washcloth in the clean sink water and gently run it over his snout and face. Again, do not use shampoo on your cat’s face.

If you are using the double sink, using cupfuls of clean water, rinse the shampoo thoroughly from your cat, draining the water if it becomes too deep. If you are using a spray attachment, check the water temperature, and make sure the pressure is not too great. Place the nozzle close to your cat’s fur so he doesn’t get the “spray” sensation. It is very important that you rinse ALL the shampoo from your cat—their skin can be very sensitive and shampoo residue will make them susceptible to skin infections and irritations.

Once your cat has been completely rinsed, lift him out of the sink using a soft towel. Try to keep him wrapped in the towel, blotting excess water (DO NOT RUB with the towel as this can be very irritating to an already edgy cat). Repeat several times with dry towels.

Once you have blotted away the excess water, keep your kitty in a quiet, warm, draft-free place until he is completely dry and relaxed once more.

If you’ve gotten any scratches in the process, clean them thoroughly with soap and water, treat them with antiseptic and bandage them. Check any scratches or bites frequently for signs of infection.

Jannet Osborn

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hundreds of baby birds killed by volleyball players on barrier island

Beachgoers playing volleyball on a small island at the mouth of Mobile Bay perpetrated a horrific crime in recent weeks, likely killing hundreds of tiny least terns.

The volleyballers even stacked dozens of eggs stolen from nests in a pile to bake in the sun. 

Birmingham Audubon, which discovered the tragedy, hopes to use it as a teaching moment and further the group's effort to help Alabama's coastal birds rebound from the BP oil spill.
Least terns are the smallest of the terns, weighing 1.4 ounces as adults. They are about half the size of a cardinal, with snowy white feathers and a rakish black cap atop their heads. Their nesting style - laying eggs in shallow depressions on bare sand beaches - leaves them vulnerable to all manner of threats, from storm driven waves washing their nests away to predation by larger birds, or other animals, such as foxes.
Part of their evolutionary strategy to survive those threats is to nest in dense colonies of dozens or even hundreds of pairs of birds. The nests are close together, usually a foot or two apart. The speckled eggs laid in them are about the size of a grape.

That nesting behavior appears to have set the stage for the massacre, which was discovered by Andrew Haffenden, with Birmingham Audubon's Coastal Bird Survey. Haffenden, who was a wildlife researcher in his native Australia, was conducting a bird survey on a spit of land that juts off the south side of Dauphin Island.
Ironically, that spit of land was once Pelican Island, one of the best nesting sites in the northern Gulf for least terns and other beach nesters. But that was before the entire island migrated north and connected to Dauphin Island about 12 years ago. When the two islands merged into one, the birds quit using it for nesting because they were suddenly vulnerable to predators, such as foxes and feral cats that live in the forests of the larger island, and they were constantly interrupted by people walking along the beach.

During his survey of what used to be Pelican Island, Haffenden noticed several tents set up on a small island known as Sand Island about a mile offshore.

"I'd seen swirls of birds out there from the end of Pelican, and then on Fourth of July weekend, I counted 17 boats out there on that island, so I was pretty disturbed. I had been wanting to get out there, and looking through my scope, I could see the volleyball net and the tents. When we got out there in a boat, we discovered a colony of least terns and black skimmers that were nesting," Haffenden said. "Then we found the piles of eggs. The people had collected all the egg from the nests to clear out an area to play volleyball. The people had actually made a little dome of sand and placed the eggs around it to decorate it."

For beach nesting birds, especially in Alabama, the parents sit on their eggs not to keep them warm, but rather to keep them cool. Mobile Bay shares the same latitude as Cairo and the Sahara Desert, meaning the sun is brutal. Both chicks and unhatched eggs will perish in minutes left unprotected from the sun.

"The thing about the eggs, people think, 'oh, they're eggs,' but they are also almost fully formed chicks inside. They can walk almost as soon as they hatch," Haffenden said. "In that pile of eggs, there were a number that were about to hatch. In fact, if you look at the pictures of the pile you can see an egg that showed pipping (cracks where a chick is pecking its way out of the shell). What the people did was take those eggs away from the protection of the parents from the sun. So we had dozens of functional chicks die by being baked. It's pretty nasty."

"But it's not just the eggs in the pile; the amount of disturbance to the colony while playing volleyball, standing or sitting and watching the players would have at least a couple of hundreds females off the nest, which certainly caused the death of their hatchlings, and about to hatch and developing eggs," Haffenden said. "There were 17 boats on that tiny island."

Katie Barnes is the chief biologist for Birmigham Audubon's Coastal Program, which is funded through a grant tied to the BP oil spill. She is a lifelong bird lover. She wears a necklace that features dozens of birds in flight, and lives with the parrot she begged her parents for when she was a kid. (Parrots can live to be more than 100 years old, so she may have an avian roommate for a long time to come.)

"Immediately, we informed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, because these are federally protected migratory birds. And we told the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which added the area to their patrol route," Barnes said. "The day after Andrew saw the net, we got out there and set up our symbolic fencing. (Symbolic fencing consists of a rope strung between posts, designed to discourage people rather than physically block them.) We got it all fenced off, posted with signs educating the public about the birds, and respecting the birds, and now they have a safe area to nest."
Audubon conducted a thorough survey of the tiny island, which features an elevation of about two feet above sea level. There were 520 active least tern nests and 13 black skimmer nests.

"What we've heard from the state is that may be the largest least tern colony on record for the state of Alabama," Barnes said. "Even with all the eggs that were lost, this site has still been a huge success for the birds. Ever since we put the fencing up, everyone has been very respectful. We have not seen a human footprint in the area. Boaters have not pulled up to that area. They are seeing the signage."
Sadly, high winds the third week of July appear to have taken a toll on the birds nesting on the island. It was clear from studying the wrack line of debris on the island that much of nesting area had been underwater for some period of time.
"A lot of nests were lost to overwash, but the last time we were out there after the storm, we had 65 fledgings. We've just added another 15 today," Barnes said. "It is a sand spit. There will be those natural occurences that kill birds. And there will be predation from laughing gulls and things like that. But, all in all, it was a success because these birds were able to raise their offspring. And we still have black skimmers actively nesting too."

Speaking of black skimmers, a word must be said about their outstanding parenting.

Black skimmers are big birds, as large as the biggest seagulls you see on the Gulf Coast. They have tremendous beaks, with underslung jaws that give them a sort of thuggish appearance. But as parents, they are quite attentive. I watched a pair of skimmers take turns sheltering their young chick from the sun. One skimmer would squat over the sand, breast down on the ground, and then use its legs to scoop out a depression. Once the scooping stopped, the tiny check would dash into the depression and nestle between the parent's legs. The parent would then settle down on top of its baby. After a few minutes, the baby would pop out and run over to the other parent, who would repeat the process.

Scenes like that make the devotion often shown by hardcore birders a little easier to understand. They are endlessly fascinating creatures. Both birds, and the birders.

Birmingham Audubon is looking for volunteers who'd like to help with their beach monitoring.

"They don't have to know a million birds or anything. If they can recognize a few key species, that's what we are looking for. We want people who can help survey, and people willing to man a table next to a nesting area," Barnes said. "Part of what we do is educate people. We want them to know the birds are out there, and what they are doing. That's how you make people care about the birds and do their best to help them along."

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Critically Endangered Black Rhino Gives Birth To Calf At Chester Zoo

Malindi the rare black rhino delivered a healthy baby rhino after a 15-month long pregnancy. There are only about 650 black rhinos left in the wild as their numbers have been decimated by poachers who are after their horn.

The birth was unusual because rhinos usually give birth in the night, however, on this occasion Malindi gave visitors to the animal park a front row seat to one of the rarest occurrences in nature.

The male rhino calf was delivered in about half an hour. Both mum and calf are fit and healthy.
Within about 15 minutes after being born the wee rhino was up and walking around the enclosure and feeding on milk from his 12-year-old mother. Tim Rowlands, who is Chester Zoo's curator of mammals, said: "Visitors to the zoo were treated to something incredibly special when Eastern black rhino, Malindi, went in to labour in front of them. "With just 650 Eastern black rhino left in the wild, seeing the birth of a new calf and it's very first steps is a very rare and special event indeed.

"The new born was delivered onto soft wood mulch and within next to no time it was up on its feet and running around - it couldn't have gone any smoother.

"Although it's still very early days, the little one is showing great signs by feeding regularly and mum and calf appear to have bonded very quickly.

"We just hope this new calf helps us to raise some much needed attention to this truly magnificent species, and inspires urgent action to protect their future on this planet. We cannot and must not allow this subspecies to become extinct - a fate which has, tragically, already become of some of its cousin." It is feared that only 650 wild black rhinos are out there now, which is a result of poaching for their much coveted horn. Rhino horns change hands for more money than drugs or gold because of their value to the Asian medicine market. There is absolutely no evidence that rhino horn has any positive health benefits, so it's just a senseless waste of life.

The zoo's Collections Director, Mike Jordan, said: "This new arrival is a real boost to a critically endangered species. It increases the number of Eastern black rhino at Chester to 11 and is another vitally important success story in a Europe-wide breeding programme for these highly threatened animals.

"A thriving, healthy population of this high profile species in good zoos is vitally important to the future of this species and a key component of our mission to prevent their extinction. "

Malindi has previously given birth to one other calf, back in 2013. The zoo has now seen the birth of 11 black rhino calves in 20 years.

Ordinance requires pet owners to provide pets with shade at all times

According to a summary of the meeting agenda, ACS and Pelaez are asking that all pet owners ensure their pets have access to shade, "whether natural or artificial at all times, and allow ACS to issue civil and/or criminal citations to those found in violation."

"During the months of June through September, San Antonio can reach temperatures well above 90 degrees Farenheit," the agenda states. "Access to shade (in addition to shelter) helps with a dog's ability to regulate their body temperature during extreme heat. Dogs are vulnerable to injuries and illnesses related to hot weather including heat stroke, sunburn, and foot pad burns."

Currently, the standard of care outlined in the city code requires that pet owners provide their pets with access to shade only when the pet is being tethered.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Horses | Friesian Horse by Ashley Rand

The Friesian breed is most often recognised by its black coat colour, however, colour alone is not the only distinguishing characteristic; Friesians are occasionally chestnut as some bloodlines do carry the "red" ('e") gene. In the 1930s, chestnuts and bays were seen.Friesians rarely have white markings of any kind; most registries allow only a small star on the forehead for purebred registration. To be accepted as breeding stock by the FPS studbook (Friesch Paarden Stamboek), a stallion must pass a rigorous approval process.
The Friesian stands on average about 15.3 hands (63 inches, 160 cm), although it may vary from 14.2 to 17 hands (58 to 68 inches, 147 to 173 cm) at the withers, and mares or geldings must be at least 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) to qualify for a "star-designation" pedigree. Horses are judged at an inspection, or keuring, by Dutch judges, who decide whether the horse is worthy of star designation. The breed has powerful overall conformation and good bone structure, with what is sometimes called a "Baroque" body type. Friesians have long, arched necks and well-chiseled, short-eared, "Spanish-type" heads. They have powerful, sloping shoulders, compact, muscular bodies with strong, sloping hindquarters and low-set tails. Their limbs are comparatively short and strong. A Friesian horse also has a long, thick mane and tail, often wavy, and "feather"—long, silky hair on the lower legs—deliberately left untrimmed. The breed is known for a brisk, high-stepping trot. The Friesian is considered willing, active, and energetic, but also gentle and docile. A Friesian tends to have great presence and to carry itself with elegance.Today, there are two distinct conformation types—the "baroque" type, which has the more robust build of the classical Friesian, and the modern, "sport horse" type, which is finer-boned. Both types are common, though the modern type is currently more popular in the show ring than is the baroque Friesian. However, conformation type is considered less important than correct movement.

The chestnut colour is generally not accepted for registration for stallions, though it is sometimes allowed for mares and geldings. A chestnut-coloured Friesian that competes is penalised. However, discoloration from old injuries or a black coat with fading from the sun is not penalised.The chestnut allele, a recessive genetic trait in the Freisian, does exist; in the 1990s, two mares gave birth to chestnut foals.The Friesch Paarden Stamboek began to attempt breeding out the chestnut colour in 1990, and today stallions with genetic testing indicating the presence of the chestnut or "red" gene, even if heterozygous and masked by black colour, are not allowed registration with the FPS.
The American Friesian Association, which is not affiliated to the KFPS, allows horses with white markings and/or chestnut colour to be registered if purebred parentage can be proven.In 2014 there were eight stallion lines known to still carry the chestnut gene.

There are four genetic disorders acknowledged by the industry that may affect horses of Friesian breeding: dwarfism, hydrocephalus, a tendency for aortic rupture, and megaesophagus. There are genetic tests for the first two conditions. The Friesian is also among several breeds that may develop equine polysaccharide storage myopathy. Approximately 0.25% of Friesians are affected by dwarfism, which results in horses with a normal-sized head, a broader chest than normal, an abnormally long back and very short limbs. It is a recessive condition. Additionally, the breed has a higher-than-usual rate of digestive system disorders, and a greater tendency to have insect bite hypersensitivity. Like some other draught breeds, they are prone to a skin condition called verrucous pastern dermatopathy and may be generally prone to having a compromised immune system. Friesian mares have a very high 54% rate of retained placenta after foaling. Some normal-sized Friesians also have a propensity toward tendon and ligament laxity which may or may not be associated with dwarfism. The relatively small gene pool and inbreeding are thought to be factors behind most of these disorders.
As far back in history as the 4th century there are mentions of Friesian troops which rode their own horses. One of the most well-known sources of this was by an English writer named Anthony Dent who wrote about the Friesian mounted troops in Carlisle. Dent, amongst others, wrote that the Friesian horse was the ancestor of both the British Shire, and the Fell pony. However, this is just speculation. It wasn't until the 11th century, that there were illustrations, of what appeared to be, Friesans. Many of the illustrations found depict knights riding horses which resembled the breed, with one of the most famous examples being William the Conqueror.
These ancestors of the modern Friesians were used in medieval times to carry knights to battle. In the 12th and 13th centuries, some eastern horses of crusaders were mated with Friesian stock. During the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Netherlands were briefly linked with Spain, there was less demand for heavy war horses, as battle arms changed and became lighter. Andalusian horses were crossbred with Friesians, producing a lighter horse more suitable (in terms of less food intake and waste output) for work as urban carriage horses.

Historian Ann Hyland wrote of the Friesian breed:The Emperor Charles (reigned 1516 -56) continued Spanish expansion into the Netherlands, which had its Frisian warhorse, noted by Vegetius and used on the continent and in Britain in Roman times. Like the Andalusian, the Frisian bred true to type. Even with infusions of Spanish blood during the sixteenth century, it retained its indigenous characteristics, taking the best from both breeds. The Frisian is mentioned in 16th and 17th century works as a courageous horse eminently suitable for war, lacking the volatility of some breeds or the phlegm of very heavy ones. Generally black, the Frisian was around 15hh with strong, cobby conformation, but with a deal more elegance and quality. The noted gait was a smooth trot coming from powerful quarters. Nowadays, though breed definition is retained, the size has markedly increased, as has that of most breeds due to improved rearing and dietary methods.

The breed was especially popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were in demand not only as harness horses and for agricultural work, but also for the trotting races so popular then. The Friesian may have been used as foundation stock for such breeds as the Dole Gudbrandsdal, the Norfolk Trotter (ancestor of the Hackney), and the Morgan. In the 1800s, the Friesian was bred to be lighter and faster for trotting, but this led to what some owners and breeders regarded as inferior stock, so a movement to return to pureblood stock took place at the end of the 19th century.

Ashley Rand (Friesian Breeder) for Animalix9 Blog

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Do You Understand your Dog ?

Having a loyal pup in the household certainly ensures an incredible amount of love from dog to owner, in a true “man’s best friend” fashion. Understanding your dog is fairly easy and it’s not hard to understand your pup wants to give you some delightful bits of love with kisses, but dogs can often behave in a more subtle manner as well.
Unfortunately, not all of us are as good as talking to pets as Dr. Doolittle, but here are 12 different signs your dog makes and what your pup is actually trying to say to you. Of course, this one is a true classic. The puppy-dog eyes are often imitated by younger children whenever they really want something, but dogs use it to show love and enforce a greater trust between the both of you.

Following You Around

Granted, a dog that follows every step you take isn’t always ideal, but you can’t deny that it’s absolutely adorable. According to vets, this type of followers behavior is simply because it is a dog’s instinct to always do things with your family. How cute!

Giving You Little Gifts

Does your pup give you little gifts once a while when you’re not playing fetch? It turns out that dogs simply want to share their joy with someone else, and there’s no better person to share it with than you!

Cuddling After Dinner

It’s not always a great idea to interrupt your pup while they’re eating a meal because they’re often keen on their food, but cuddling with you after their bellies are filled shows that dogs feel truly comfortable around you.

Licking Your Body or Face

Some people love it, some people find it rather gross, but all dogs like giving people a couple of licks once a while. Giving licks is actually submissive behavior and helps dogs ease their stress, and it’s also a sign of love, of course.

Going Wild Whenever You Return Home

Just like in the movies, the second a dog hears you coming back home chaos is ensured – and they’re just overly happy to see you! Their enthusiastic response is simply their way of saying “I missed you”.

Knowing When Something Is Wrong

Dogs don’t need to be able to actually talk with their owners to sense that something is wrong or if you’re feeling sad. They can read your body language really well, and also use their senses to detect if something is wrong. They’ll also be more than willing to solace you.

Crawling In Your Bed

Getting up in the morning can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but perhaps your loyal pup joins you once in a while in your bed. They don’t just sit there because your bed is probably more comfortable, but it’s also how they keep you close when you’re not home and away for work, for example.

Raising A Single Paw

Raising one of two paws usually means that your dog is in the mood for some playtime or perhaps even hungry. Sometimes, they’ll do this when they spot something interesting in their environment.

Leaning Against You

If a dog is actively leaning against you, it means he or she is looking for a bit of extra love and hugs from the owner. Dogs sure love to have a bit of attention directed towards them!

Trying To Get Your Opinion

If you ever had the feeling that your dog was looking for your approval for something, it’s because pups really appreciate and value your opinion. A little love and affection go a long way!

Squinting And Blinking Eyes

When a dog is seemingly playing a lot with his eyes, attention is the thing he or she is looking for the most. They’re ready to play and have a little bit of quality time with you.