Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)
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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Orlando: When words fail, dogs can ease the pain

Yahoo – AFP, Thomas Urbain, June 16, 2016

A group of young women pet a therapy dog near a memorial for the victims of the
Pulse Nightclub shooting, June 15, 2016 in Orlando, Florida (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

Orlando (AFP) - When mourners filed in to a prayer vigil in Orlando this week, they hit a friendly roadblock: a team of golden retrievers sent to help soothe a community in shock with their calm, reassuring presence.

As people knelt down to pet and nuzzle the gentle creatures, burying their hands in their soft yellow coat -- many breathed more easily, taking a moment to forget the horror gripping their city.

In the wake of the Pulse club massacre that left 49 dead and 53 injured, a pack of therapy dogs were flown from Illinois to the Florida city to offer comfort to traumatized victims and their families.

On Wednesday night the dozen golden retrievers were stationed outside Trinity Downtown church.

Shelby Gerber, a bubbly young girl who attended the vigil, lives right near the crime scene.

"My anxiety level is pretty high right now," she said. "Sometimes you are too overwhelmed to say anything."

"I didn't realize how much it really was nice to sit after service and just pet them for an endless amount of time. It just alleviates the pressure off your chest."

For nearly a decade -- ever since a February 2008 shooting stunned Northern Illinois University -- so-called "comfort dogs" have become a familiar sight in the aftermath of major tragedies throughout the United States.

The Illinois team have become famous on social media for the therapy they provide: Phoebe, for one, has her own Twitter account.

'Scared to leave house'

In Orlando the dogs, accompanied by 20 volunteer handlers, were visiting three hospitals treating patients wounded in the Pulse attack.

As well as visiting survivors the dogs have consoled emergency caregivers, paramedics and doctors, as well as many families of victims and Pulse staff members.

"People will talk to us and ask if we can visit a family," said Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, the group that sponsors the dogs' work.

Melissa Soto cuddles with a therapy dog near a memorial for the victims of the 
Pulse Nightclub shooting, at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, June 14, 
2016 in Orlando, Florida (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

"There's some individuals that lost somebody and they're just scared to go out of their house. So we're going to bring comfort dogs to them."

"Dogs show unconditional love," Hetzner said. "They don't take notes or keep track of wrongs."

The "comfort dogs" owned by the Lutheran Church are distinct from those managed by the Therapy Dogs International program, which brings together about 25,000 dogs volunteered by their owners to provide therapy without special training.

Hetzner's dogs belong to the parish and are subject to training with multiple handlers that sometimes lasts over a year.

He said the training includes teaching the golden retrievers -- a breed known as gentle and affectionate -- not to bite, lick or bark while providing therapy.

'Comfort rugs'

Jennifer Blackwood, who also came to the Orlando vigil, was comforted to see her three daughters fussing over the dogs outside.

"There's a lot that has happened over the last week," she said. I have three kids so that's been a lot of discussion. Hard growing up talks."

Hetzner explains the dogs are taught to lie down like "comfort rugs."

It may seem trivial, but for the traumatized, the simple gesture of petting them can have surprising benefits.

"People feel more relaxed when they have a comfortable dog they can pet," he said. "They calm down, their heart rate goes down, actually, and they're more willing to talk."

Hetzner originally conceived of the idea after a mission to New Orleans in the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As he worked on the search-and-rescue effort, he noticed the "tremendous bond" those his team rescued had with their pets.

"People would die rather than part with their pet."

The Lutheran church program funds itself with donations, and owns about 120 Golden Retrievers in 23 states.

Three dogs from the organization still reside at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 young children and six staff in December 2012.




Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Friday, June 3, 2016

US announces near-total ban on African elephant ivory trade

Yahoo – AFP, Jean-Louis Santini, June 2, 2016

The United States finalizes a near-total ban on the trade of African elephant
ivory (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Washington (AFP) - The US authorities announced a near-total ban on the trade of African elephant ivory on Thursday, finalizing a years-long push to protect the endangered animals.

Conservation groups welcomed the move, which aims to reduce the slaughter of more than 35,000 of Africa's 450,000 elephants estimated to be killed each year, mainly for ivory.

"Today's bold action underscores the United States' leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it's having on wild populations," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said.

US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, 
pictured on April 19, 2016, announced
 new rules to limit imports, exports and 
sales of African elephant ivory (AFP
Photo/Alex Wong)
But the move to restrict the African ivory market in the United States -- the world’s second-largest consumer of illegal ivory after China -- comes with notable exemptions, including for documented antiques.

The final rule, which takes effect July 6, "substantially limits" imports, exports and sales of such ivory across state lines, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said.

While prohibiting most commerce, it does make exceptions for some "pre-existing manufactured" items, including musical instruments, furniture and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory and meet other specific criteria, according to the FWS statement announcing the rule.

Antiques, as defined under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), are also exempt. "Antique" items are at least 100 years old and meet several additional requirements.

Under Thursday's final rule, the import of sport-hunted trophies is limited to two per year.

People will also be allowed to keep lawfully acquired ivory and are not banned from donating, giving away or receiving ivory as a gift "provided it was lawfully acquired and there is no exchange for other goods or services involved," the FWS said.

"Limited exceptions" to the ban on import and export of African elephant ivory will also apply to items that are part of a traveling exhibition or "are part of a household move or inheritance when specific criteria are met" as well as "ivory for law enforcement or genuine scientific purposes," the rule said.

'Blood ivory'

The new measures fulfill restrictions in an executive order on combating wildlife trafficking President Barack Obama issued in 2013, the FWS said.

Once illegal ivory enters the market, it becomes virtually impossible to tell apart from legal ivory, it said, adding that demand for elephant ivory, particularly in Asia, "is so great that it grossly outstrips the legal supply and creates a void in the marketplace that ivory traffickers are eager to fill."

Graphic showing the illegal trade in ivory in Africa (AFP Photo/Jean
Michel Cornu, Nicholas MC Anally)

The outlawed ivory trade is mostly fueled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhino horns are used in traditional medicine and for ornaments.

"We hope other nations will act quickly and decisively to stop the flow of blood ivory by implementing similar regulations, which are crucial to ensuring our grandchildren and their children know these iconic species," Jewell said.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) welcomed the final rule, calling it historic and groundbreaking.

"The USA is boldly saying to ivory poachers: You are officially out of business," WCS president and chief executive Cristian Samper -- a member of an Obama task force on wildlife trafficking -- said in a statement.

Patrick Bergin, chief executive of the US-based African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), also praised the move.

"Strong laws around wildlife crime and strong enforcement of those laws are absolutely critical in deterring traffickers and poachers," he told AFP.

"All countries -- and especially those that are source, transit or destination countries for illegal wildlife products -- have a role to play in tidying their own house."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dozens of dead cubs found at Thai tiger temple

Yahoo – AFP, Thanaporn Promyamyai, June 1, 2016

Thai wildlife officials use a tunnel of cages to capture a tiger at the Wat Pha
 Luang Ta Bua "tiger temple" in Kanchanaburi province, western Thailand, on
May 30, 2016 (AFP Photo/Christophe Archambault)

Bangkok (AFP) - Thai wildlife officials have discovered dozens of dead cubs inside a freezer at a controversial "tiger temple" that has been locked in a long-running dispute with authorities and animal rights groups, police said Wednesday.

Wildlife officials found the tiger cubs during a continuing operation to remove dozens of adult cats from the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple in the western province of Kanchanaburi.

"We found 40 tiger cubs today. They were aged about one or two days when they died but we don't quite know yet how long they have been dead," police colonel Bandith Meungsukhum, a local officer, told AFP.

A warden hugs a tiger at the "tiger
 temple" in Thailand's Kanchanaburi 
province on April 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Nicolas Asfouri)
Adisorn Noochdumrong, the deputy head of Thailand's parks department, said they would file charges against the temple for keeping the carcasses without permission.

"A keeper said he was told to place the carcasses when they died in cold storage," he told AFP.

The temple has long proved a hit among mainly foreign visitors who flock there to be photographed -- for a fee -- next to the scores of exotic feline pets.

Wildlife officials say the whole complex is illegal and have battled the monks for years to try and close it down. The dispute has been complicated by the fact that secular Thai authorities are often reluctant to intervene in the affairs of the clergy.

This week officials were granted a court order to seize the cats and have so far removed around 45 adults.

Animals rights groups and conservationists have accused the temple of complicity in the hugely lucrative black-market wildlife trade, making tens of thousands of dollars by selling off older cats and animal parts for use in Chinese medicine.

Last year one of the temple vets turned whistleblower, handing authorities three microchips he said were inside a trio of tigers who had disappeared. It has never been fully established what happened to those tigers.

Dead tiger cubs are displayed by Thai officials after they were found during a 
raid on the controversial Tiger Temple, a popular tourist destination which has come
 under fire in recent years over the welfare of its big cats, in Kanchanaburi province,
west of Bangkok, Thailand June 1, 2016. Daily News/via Reuters

'Preserved and frozen'

Wildlife officials have also discovered during previous raids dozens of hornbills, jackals and Asian bears that were being kept at the sanctuary without permits.

The temple has always denied trafficking allegations.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the temple said it was common for cubs to be stillborn or die shortly after birth.

The temple said it used to cremate dead cubs but the policy was changed in 2010.

"Instead of cremation, the deceased cubs were preserved in jars or kept frozen," the statement added, without elaborating on why the policy was changed.

The temple also denied selling cubs, saying such rumours were from people who have "jumped to conclusions".

A Buddhist monk walks past a tiger before officials start moving them from 
Thailand's controversial Tiger Temple, a popular tourist destination which has come
 under fire in recent years over the welfare of its big cats in Kanchanaburi province, 
west of Bangkok, Thailand, May 30, 2016. Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

Photographs from the scene on Wednesday showed the cubs laid out on a blanket alongside the body of a bearcat, some deer horns and nearly two dozen containers.

Thai newspaper Khaosod, which had a reporter at the scene, said the containers had animal parts and intestines inside them.

Edwin Wiek, a Thailand-based conservationist who has campaigned for the temple's closure and whose veterinary staff have accompanied wildlife officials this week in the operation to remove the cats, said the cubs might have been kept to make religious charms.

"The key thing is these tigers are illegal under Thai law," he said.

Moves to confront the monks and confiscate the tigers have been staggered over recent months. There are now believed to be around 100 tigers remaining at the temple.

For years the government has been seemingly powerless to resolve the issue, partly for fear of being seen to confront the clergy and also because officials readily admit they have nowhere else to put such a large number of tigers.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Japan's oldest elephant dies, aged 69

Yahoo – AFP, Natsuko Fukue, May 27, 2016

Hanako, which means "Flower Child" in Japanese, became something of a
cause celebre last year following an international campaign to improve the ageing
pachyderm's cramped living conditions (AFP Photo)

Tokyo (AFP) - Japanese animal lovers were mourning the death of the country's oldest elephant, Hanako, on Friday, who passed away "quietly" aged 69 after triggering protests over her captivity.

Hanako, which means "Flower Child" in Japanese, became something of a cause celebre last year following an international campaign to improve the ageing pachyderm's cramped living conditions.

The cause of death was not immediately known, zookeepers told AFP, adding that an autopsy would be conducted later in the day and that the animal's body is to be donated to medical research.

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest known elephant was Lin Wang, an Asian elephant who lived until the grand old age of 86 and died in 2003 at Taipei Zoo. Captive elephants have a life expectancy of 40-plus years.

Hanako passed away on Thursday after 20 zoo staff members attempted to
 raise her to her feet by rope, a common technique used when elephants remain 
lying on the floor (AFP Photo)

Mourners flocked to Tokyo's Inokashira Park Zoo to pay their respects on Friday with more than 70 condolence cards left for Hanako by well-wishers.

"Fans are visiting the park to place flowers in front of Hanako's enclosure," said Hiroshi Mashima, in charge of information and education at the zoo.

Hanako passed away on Thursday after 20 zoo staff members attempted to raise her to her feet by rope, a common technique used when elephants remain lying on the floor, according to Mashima.

Elephants die if they lie on their side for a prolonged period of time as it can crush their internal organs, Mashima added.

"She passed away quietly and calmly," Kiyoshi Nagai, head of the zoo, was quoted as saying by Japan's Kyodo news agency.

"It's truly a pity. She was the most beloved elephant in Japan."

In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, a zoo attendant feeds Hanako the elephant at 
Inokashira Park Zoo on the outskirts of Tokyo. The elderly elephant that set off a
 petition drive to move her out of her concrete pen in a small zoo in Japan died 
Thursday, May 26 at age 69. Hanako, or "flower child," was a gift from the Thai
 government in 1949 and lived in Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo since she was 2.
 She was Japan's oldest elephant and had a long life for captive Asian elephants.
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

Hanako, who lived longer than the average 55-60-year life span of wild elephants, became a media star last year after a heart-wrenching blog post by a Canadian animal rights activist led to an online petition.

"I was shocked and dismayed to see the conditions of her confinement first-hand," wrote Ulara Nakagawa.

"Totally alone in a small, barren, cement enclosure, with absolutely no comfort or stimulation provided, she just stood there almost lifeless, like a figurine."

The post, along with a photo of a sad-looking Hanako, went viral as more than 400,000 people signed the "Help Hanako" petition.

Hanako was brought to Japan in 1949 when she was two years old as a gift from the Thai government and her story was turned into children's books and a television drama.

Hanako also had a dark past, stomping on a drunk man who sneaked into her enclosure at night in 1956 and a zookeeper some years later, forcing zookeepers to keep her chained up for around six months.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Baby bison put down after tourists put it in their car

Yahoo – AFP, May 16, 2016

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived
continuously since prehistoric times (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

Los Angeles (AFP) - A bison put in a car by tourists because it looked like it was cold had to be put down, officials at Yellowstone National Park said on Monday.

The tourists loaded the animal into their trunk last week and drove it to a ranger station after taking a photograph that prompted a backlash on social media.

The newborn had to be euthanized because its mother had rejected it as a result of "interference by people," officials said.

"In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed," the park said in a statement on its website.

"The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway."

Animals, they’re not just like us. A father and son arrived at  Lamar Buffalo Ranch
 in Wyoming on Monday, with a bison calf in the back of their SUV. They believed
 that the bison was cold and in danger, so they decided to kidnap the animal and
bring it to a park ranger.

The park berated visitors for taking selfies and recording video near the bison, flouting regulations demanding people stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away.

"In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm's length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area," it said of the park's famous geyser. "Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances."

Five visitors were seriously injured last year after approaching bison too closely, the park said.

In the latest incident, a father and son transported the bison calf in their Toyota Sequoia to a ranger station in the park's northeast corner, a witness told the online East Idaho News.

"They were demanding to speak with a ranger. They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying," said Karen Richardson, one of several parents chaperoning a group of fifth-graders on a field trip.

A grizzly bear and her two cubs approach the carcass of a bison in Yellowstone
 National Park in Wyoming, United States, July 6, 2015. Reuters/Jim Urquhart/File Photo

The website quoted another parent who told the tourists to remove the bison from their car, warning they could be in trouble.

"They didn't care," he said. "They sincerely thought they were doing a service and helping that calf by trying to save it from the cold."

Critics shared the picture of the calf in the car on Twitter, scolding the "dumbass," "stupid" and "idiotic" tourists.

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

The park is home to 4,900 of the animals, which it says injure more people than any of its other animals.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Two escaped tigers returned to Dutch refuge: police

Yahoo – AFP, May 14, 2016

Vets equipped with tranquiliser guns and a police helicopter combed the area
 around the village of Oldeberkoop in the northern Netherlands where the animal
shelter is located (AFP Photo/Karen Bleier)

The Hague (AFP) - Two Bengal tigers that escaped Saturday from a big cat shelter in the Netherlands have been recaptured after about four hours on the loose, Dutch authorities said.

The two tigers named Radja and Delhi were found roaming the wooded area near the refuge from which they escaped by crawling under a fence, ANP news agency reported, citing local police.

A police officer stands guard in 
Nijeberkoop, northern Netherlands on
May 14, 2016 during a search to find
two tigers that escaped from a big cat
shelter (AFP Photo/Jacob Van Essen)
Veterinarians equipped with tranquiliser guns and police helicopters had launched an urgent search around the northern village of Oldeberkoop for the felines.

After several attempts to capture them, the animals were anaesthetised and confirmed to be "in a very deep sleep," Jan Graafstra, a police officer involved in the operation, wrote on Twitter.

Several men then carried the two big cats, each weighing around 150 kilos (330 pounds), back to their cages in the refuge in big cloth sacks with carrying handles, Dutch public television NOS reported.

"There was never any danger for local residents," who had been warned about the escaped tigers, local mayor Harry Oosterman told ANP.

The Felida big cat rescue centre takes in animals in need of protection from possible abuse or neglect as those of advanced years.

Radja and Delhi originally came from a private German zoo, whose cash-strapped owner could no longer afford to feed them.

The goal is to eventually transfer them to a sanctuary in South Africa.

The lions, with names such as Zeus and Shakira, were freed after the use of
wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru in 2011 and Colombia in 2013
(AFP Photo/Cris Bouroncle)

Related Article:


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Dog Owners Mirror Their Pet's Heart Rate, Helping To Reduce Stress




For years we’ve heard about the health benefits of dog ownership: reduced heart rate, stronger immunity and higher self-esteem.

But new research suggests not only does our heart rate become lower when in the company of our furry friend -- but so too does the dog’s -- to the point where both heart rhythms mirror one another.

The experiment, sponsored by Pedigree, saw three Australian dog owners separated, and then reunited with their pet to see what kind of effect they had on each other’s heart rate.

“There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away,” Mia Cobb, canine scientist and demonstration co-conductor told The Huffington Post Australia.

While a lowered heart rate for the owner was expected, Cobb said the results were surprising and show the way in which both the owner and dog experience reduced levels of stress when in contact with each other.

“This project is a really good illustration of what most owners experience every night when they come home from work and are reunited with their companion,” Cobb said.

Watch the Australian-first #HeartsAligned demonstration (BYO tissues).

But this response isn’t only limited to dogs.

“We could certainly see the same effect with a cat, lizard or bird. It comes back to the kind of personal connection we have with our animals,” Cobb said.

And as far as other people’s pets go, Cobb said we’d likely experience the same response though it is more pronounced when the animal is known to you.

“This kind of effect of experiencing a lowered heart rate makes a significant difference to our overall wellbeing. If we can decrease our heart rate by hanging out with our animals, that’s something that can really benefit the community,” Cobb said.

The #HeartsAligned campaign aims to celebrate the positive bond Australians have with their animals.

Related Articles:

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Circus elephants' retirement home promises pampered life

Yahoo – AFP, Kerry Sheridan, May 2, 2016

An elderly elephant named Mysore gets a pedicure at the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum and Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Florida on March 8,
2016 (AFP Photo/Kerry Sheridan)

Polk City (United States) (AFP) - When Mysore performed in the Ringling Brothers' traveling circus, she waltzed, she hooked her trunk onto another elephant's tail, and she stood on her hind legs in a line for a trick known as the long mount.

Now at the age of about 70 -- and one of the oldest Asian elephants in the world -- Mysore is retired at the circus's refuge in central Florida, where she gets weekly pedicures, daily baths, naps on a giant dirt pile, eats ground-up hay and more than six loaves of wheat bread a day.

"Boy, she loves the bread," says Janice Aria, the director of animal stewardship at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, where Mysore arrived in 2006.

This week, the remaining 11 elephants that traveled in the Ringling Brothers circus will join Mysore and 27 other pachyderms in retirement, ending a 145-year tradition of elephants performing in the circus.

"It is sad. You feel it is the end of an era," says long-time trainer Trudy Williams.

The circus has faced torrents of criticism from animal rights groups, including widely circulated videos from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that show a male handler hitting elephants with a pointed-stick, known as an ankus, before a performance.

Ringling Brothers was also embroiled in a 14-year lawsuit in which animal rights groups alleged the circus was mistreating its herd.

The case was eventually thrown out after a lead witness was found to have been paid for his testimony by animal rights groups.

By 2014, the plaintiffs, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, had been ordered to pay the circus $25 million to reimburse its legal fees.

A pair of female elephants stand together on March 8, 2016 in their enclosure at
 the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Florida, where
circus elephants retire (AFP Photo/Kerry Sheridan)

'Outlawed' tool

What finally ended the shows for traveling elephants were the actions of a handful of local municipalities in California, Massachusetts and Virginia that banned circus trainers from using the ankus, a stick about two feet long (0.6 meters) with metal hooks on the end.

Handlers employed by Ringling Brothers maintain that the tool is not used to harm to elephants -- which typically weigh 8,000 pounds (3,600 kilograms) -- but merely to signal them and give them tactile directions.

"You just don't stand around one of these animals without one of these tools," says Aria.

The logistics of being able to perform with elephants in some cities but not others became too much, Aria says, and the circus announced it would end elephant participation in its shows in 2016, two years earlier than planned.

Retirement life

The Ringling Brothers herd is the largest in the western hemisphere for Asian elephants, listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which says 40,000-50,000 exist in the world in highly fragmented populations.

The Polk City conservation facility rests on 200 acres (80 hectares) of land in central Florida where orange groves are a common crop.

It opened in 1995 as a place to keep the herd, to breed and raise young ones -- 26 babies were born here -- and to shelter those who simply "never took a shine to circus life," says Aria.

Female elephants are usually paired up and kept in fields that are fenced in with thin electrical wire.

A train car that used to transport elephants from city to city for the circus is parked
 March 8, 2016 at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City,
Florida (AFP Photo/Kerry Sheridan)

Because of her age, Mysore stays in her own pen.

The males, which like to fight and spar with others, are kept alone behind sturdier bars. Their sperm is collected for breeding purposes, and sometimes a female is put into their enclosure for breeding, or they are sent out to other facilities to mate.

Here, the elephants are fed 2.5 tons of hay daily, and up to 800 pounds of fruit, veggies and greens. They are led into a barn in the afternoon, and chained for the night.

Aria says the elephants are so used to these tethers that they won't relax or eat without them.

But the facility has its critics, and many in the community of people who deal with elephants -- from zoos to sanctuaries to researchers of elephants in the wild -- are divided about what it means to treat elephants well.

"Their environment needs to stimulate them. That particular piece of property is not an environment that would stimulate an elephant," says Carol Buckley, who was part of a team that inspected the Polk City facility several years ago for the lawsuit.

"It is like a stockyard. It is flat, square, boring," says Buckley, who advocates for female-only elephant sanctuaries in which the animals are not dominated by humans and contact with people is kept to a minimum.

But Ringling Brothers trainer Erik Montgomery says people need to know how to live with elephants.

"The truth of the matter is elephants -– especially Asian elephants -- are not going to be around in the future without people's help, without being in responsible, man-managed facilities," he says.

"As long as we can enrich their lives and have a relationship with them -- and enrich our own lives in the process -- I think that is the way to go."

Mysore -- who was born in India and named after a city there before being shipped to the United States in 1947 -- is a prime example of an elephant living a long and healthy life in the care of humans, Montgomery says.

"Without that human intervention, she wouldn't be here today," he adds.