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)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cambodian cops ruffle feathers by eating 92 fighting cocks

Yahoo – AFP, December 28, 2017

Cambodian netizens cried foul over the court order to kill the seized cocks
(AFP Photo/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Cambodian police ruffled feathers on Thursday after they killed -- and ate -- 92 roosters that were seized earlier this month during a raid on an illegal cockfighting ring allegedly run by a relative of premier Hun Sen.

The birds were rounded up by police after they shuttered the two rural cockfighting dens on December 4 and arrested Hun Sen's nephew-in-law Thai Phany.

Thai Phany, a Cambodian-Australian citizen, was charged with running an illegal gambling operation -- a rare legal move against a member of Hun Sen's powerful family.

But while the raids were welcomed in a country teeming with official corruption, a court order to slaughter all 92 birds set off a flurry of criticism Thursday as netizens cried foul over the animals being given a harsher sentence than the people involved.

Scores of people were initially detained in the police raid, but most have since been released after receiving light suspended sentences, according to local media.

"Warrant to kill chickens! Where are the chicken owners, aren't they freed?" Hing Soksan wrote on Facebook, where photos of the slaughter have been circulating.

"The court's achievement by the end of 2017: death sentence for 92 fighting cocks," another Facebook user quipped about a justice system many decry as toothless against the graft underpinning Hun Sen's authoritarian regime.

Roeun Nara, Kandal province's deputy police chief, confirmed that the birds were killed on Wednesday following a warrant from the provincial court.

"We gave the chickens to our forces to eat," he told AFP, brushing off the online criticism.

The court document, seen by AFP on Thursday, said the slaughter was ordered "to prevent the offense from happening again and to speed up the investigation proceedings."


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Korea dog meat campaigners accused of barking up wrong tree

Yahoo – AFP, Jung Ha-Won, December 27, 2017

South Koreans are believed to consume about one million dogs a year as a
summertime delicacy (AFP Photo/JUNG Yeon-Je)

Namyangju (South Korea) (AFP) - Barking at their rescuers, labradors, beagles and mongrels desperately scrambled out of rusty cages in South Korea: saved from the dinner plate by a deal with dog-meat farmer Kim Young-Hwan.

In the face of falling demand, Kim agreed to close his establishment in exchange for compensation from US-based Humane Society International (HSI). The dogs are bound for a new life in adoptive homes in the West.

He is the 10th canine-meat farmer to accept such an offer in three years. The exact sums are confidential, but each deal requires hundreds of thousands of dollars once adoption costs are included.

"This business is doomed... I wanted to quit before it's too late," Kim said.

The 56-year-old had 170 dogs at his farm in Namyangju, north of Seoul.

"The price has plummeted in recent years," he told AFP. "I'm barely making ends meet these days. Plus I've been harassed by animal rights groups all the time. It's such a hassle."

The push by animal rights activists, including many overseas groups, to outlaw dog meat consumption in the South has sparked mixed reactions and accusations of Western hypocrisy.

Dogs are seen in cages at a dog farm during a rescue organised by the Humane
 Society International (HSI) in Namyangju on the outskirts of Seoul (AFP Photo/
JUNG Yeon-Je)

'Lambs or rabbits'

South Koreans are believed to consume about one million dogs a year as a summertime delicacy, with the greasy red meat -- which is invariably boiled for tenderness -- believed to increase energy.

The tradition has declined as the nation increasingly embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, with eating them now something of a taboo among young South Koreans.

Nevertheless, activists have stepped up campaigns to ban dog consumption, with online petitions urging boycotts of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics over the issue and protests in Seoul.

Such lobbying has provoked angry debates over what many describe as cultural double standards.

"I don't eat dogs, but I am disgusted by those who preach that only animals deemed cuddly enough or friendly enough by Westerners deserve to live," read one online comment.

One fifth of the South's 50 million people own pets, mostly dogs and cats, said another netizen, but for many of the rest, dogs were "no more special than lambs or rabbits".

The push by animal rights activists, including many overseas groups, to outlaw dog 
meat consumption in the South has sparked accusations of Western hypocrisy
(AFP Photo/JUNG Yeon-Je)

Similar debates have emerged in other Asian nations where dogs are eaten.

China's most notorious dog meat festival in the southwestern town of Yulin has drawn crowds despite international outrage, with sellers saying the criticism has actually encouraged more people to eat canines.

Taiwan banned dog meat consumption in April to mixed reaction, with some deeming it unfair to single out certain species under what was mocked as the "cute animal protection law".

Polls show South Korean public opinion is divided.

According to a survey this year 70 percent of South Koreans do not eat dogs, but far fewer -- about 40 percent -- believe the practice should be banned.

It also found 65 percent support raising and slaughtering dogs in more humane conditions.

There is currently no law on how to treat or slaughter canines in the meat trade in South Korea. But while farmers have urged Seoul to include dogs under livestock welfare regulations, animal rights groups oppose doing so, seeking complete abolition instead.

Suffer and love

At Kim's rundown farm, dogs sat behind tarnished brown rusty bars, their bowls filled with soupy scraps.

Housed in pairs, they spent up to a year in cages about two square metres and reeking of excrement before being sent to slaughterhouses.

Kim had 170 dogs at his farm in Namyangju, north of Seoul (AFP Photo/JUNG Yeon-Je)

Senior HSI director Kelly O'Meara said no animals should endure such awful conditions, and dogs in particular had "a special place" for people as they are often pets.

"That has certainly been the case in the West, but in Asia we see more and more people having dogs as companion animals too," she told AFP.

Each such farm closure -- one of HSI's most expensive initiatives -- is broadcast live online.

But Ahn Yong-Geun, a food and nutrition professor at ChungCheong University in Cheongju, questioned whether such organisations would condemn larger-scale beef or pork industries -- which have lobbying power and broad public support -- "in the same angry, aggressive fashion".

"The activists won't get as much excitement from donors about a pig rescue project or a cow rescue project, although these animals have just as much capacity to suffer and love as dogs," said Ahn, a vocal critic of the push to ban dog meat.

Wendy Higgins, director of international media at HSI, said the group encouraged people to "reduce and replace meat in their diet" but admitted rescue campaigns for animals such as cattle or pigs were not common.

Even so campaigns against cruelty in dog farming could "make people widen their circle of compassion for other animals in animal agriculture too", she added.

For his part farmer Kim will not be raising any other animals for meat -- he is banned from doing so under the deal with HSI.

"The social atmosphere has changed," he said, adding: "Eating dog is seen as if it's a crime these days."

Related Article:


An animal rights collective, known as Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition,
together with world-renowned celebrities launched a global campaign to stop
the trade in dog meat on Thursday (02/11) at Hotel Gran Mahakam in South
Jakarta, in light of recent disturbing findings of animal cruelty in the Southeast
Asian country. (Photo courtesy of Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Brigitte Bardot, announcing book, slams Macron on animal rights

Yahoo – AFP, December 26, 2017

Brigitte Bardot, pictured in 1974, has long fought for animal rights and will release
a book next month (AFP Photo)

Paris (AFP) - French screen icon Brigitte Bardot will next month publish a book on her decades-long campaign for animal rights, she told AFP on Tuesday, taking a swipe at President Emmanuel Macron on the issue.

The 83-year-old star of "And God Created Woman" said the book, titled "Larmes de Combat" (Tears of Combat), will come out on January 25.

It will be "the record of my existence, of my fight on behalf of animals and the deep expression of my disgust".

"It will be the full record of my view of things, of society, of the way we are governed, of the way we treat animals in my country," said Bardot, known in France by her initials "BB".

She said she was "fed up" with what she called Macron's lack of support for animal rights.

"This government has got off to a very bad start," Bardot said. "Macron has no compassion for animals and nature."

Bardot slammed the 40-year-old president for holidaying with his family this month at Chambord, a hunting chateau in the Loire Valley.

"He congratulated hunters in front of their game while it was still warm," she said by telephone from Saint-Tropez. "It's scandalous and very inappropriate."

Bardot's publisher, Plon, described the upcoming book as "an original reflection, both calm and outraged at the same time, on her existence and the meaning of her fight."

The 1956 film "And God Created Woman", directed by Bardot's first husband Roger Vadim, propelled her to stardom but she retired less than two decades later, in 1973, when she was 39.

Bardot withdrew to a secluded home on the outskirts of Saint-Tropez on the Riviera.

Crusading against bullfights, hunting, and all forms of cruelty to animals, she is rarely seen in public except to press home her campaigns.

The former actress will publish an open letter in the Paris daily Le Parisien on Wednesday as her Brigitte Bardot Foundation launches its latest campaign against fur.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Nepal's last known two dancing bears rescued: officials

Yahoo – AFP, December 24, 2017

Two rescued bears are transported from a police station in Nepal's southern
Rautahat district to the Parsa Wildlife Reserve, as seen in a photo taken on
December 20, 2017 and released by World Animal Protection (AFP Photo/Handout)

Kathmandu (AFP) - Nepali authorities have rescued the country's last known "dancing bears", officials said Sunday, in a major step towards ending the medieval tradition of abuse of the beasts for entertainment.

The Himalayan nation banned the practice of performing bears back in 1973 but the tradition, an occupation for some street performer communities, lingered on in parts of its southern region.

Police and animal charities said they spent more than a year hunting the captors of the two sloth bears before they were traced to the Rautahat district near the border with India on Tuesday.

"We received information that they were in our area and managed to rescue the bears," district police chief Yagya Binod Pokharel told AFP.

Dancing bears are captured and bought as cubs and taught to dance on their hind legs. Their snouts are pierced with a heated rod so they can be controlled by the tug of a rope or chain.

Animal activists said the rescued bears -- 19-year-old male Rangila and Sridevi, a 17-year-old female -- showed signs of trauma such as cowering, pacing and paw-sucking.

"We are thrilled that the last two known Nepali dancing bears have been rescued from their lifetime of suffering... our hard effort and dedication has helped to bring an end to this illegal tradition in Nepal," said Manoj Gautam of the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, which worked with the police and World Animal Protection to rescue them.

The bears were located by tracking the owners' mobile phones.

The bears are being cared for by the Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Nepal's largest such reserve.

Dancing bears on the Indian subcontinent date back to the 13th century, when trainers belonging to the Muslim Qalandar tribe enjoyed royal patronage and performed before the rich and powerful.

In neighbouring India, the practice came to an end in 2012, decades after an official ban in 1972.

Sloth bears, a critically endangered species, are found in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. But shrinking habitats and rampant poaching have reduced their numbers, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The IUCN has put them on its red list of threatened species and their total estimated population is 20,000.

They can grow up to 1.8 metres (six feet) tall and weigh up to 140 kilograms (310 pounds).

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Oman opens sprawling oryx reserve to ecotourists

Yahoo – AFP, Khaled Orabi, December 23, 2017

The Arabian Oryx only clung to existence thanks to a programme to breed them
 in captivity and in the early 1980s a batch of 10 were released into Oman's
Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (AFP Photo/KARIM SAHIB)

Haima (Oman) (AFP) - The Gulf sultanate of Oman is looking to carve itself a new niche in ecotourism by opening up a sanctuary for one of the desert's most fabled creatures -- the Arabian oryx.

Once extinct in the wild, the rare member of the antelope family famed for its elegant horns has been dragged back from the precipice in a sprawling reserve fenced off for decades from the public.

That changed last month when authorities for the first time officially opened the sanctuary to visitors -- part of a broader bid by Oman to boost tourism as oil revenues decline.

On a recent outing, wildlife rangers in SUVs patrolled the sandy plains of the reserve in central Oman's Haima province, spotting groups of grazing oryx and other indigenous species.

For years, the main goal has been a basic one -- ensuring the oryx can survive by focusing on "helping the animals here reproduce and multiply", said sanctuary spokesman Hamed bin Mahmoud al-Harsousi.

But now, as numbers have ticked up from just 100 some two decades ago to almost 750 today, the authorities began eyeing another role for the reserve.

"There has been more interest in its tourism potential -- to take advantage of its uniqueness and rare animals," Harsousi told AFP.

'Arabian unicorn'

The story of the Arabian oryx -- sometimes referred to as the Arabian "unicorn" due to its distinctive profile -- is one of miraculous survival.

Hunted prolifically, the last wild member of the species was killed in Oman by suspected poachers in 1972.

The Arabian Oryx only clung to existence thanks to a programme to breed them
 in captivity and in the early 1980s a batch of 10 were released into Oman's 
Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (AFP Photo/KARIM SAHIB)

The species only clung to existence thanks to a programme to breed them in captivity and in the early 1980s a batch of 10 were released into Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary.

Since then, regenerating the oryx has been an often precarious process.

The Omani sanctuary sprawls over 2,824 square kilometre (1,100 sq miles) of diverse terrain -- from flat plains to rocky slopes and sandy dunes.

Its own fate has been nearly as tortured as that of the oryx it houses.

In 2007, the sanctuary became the first place ever to be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage list as the government of Oman turned most of it over to oil drilling.

On guard against poachers

Now, as oil prices have plunged over the past few years, it is the wildlife once again that has become an increasing priority for the authorities.

Harsousi puts the current number of Arabian oryx in the sanctuary at 742 and says that other species are flourishing there too.

"In the past three years, we have been able to increase the number of the Arabian gazelle, known as sand gazelles, from 300 to about 850," he added.

In addition to the animals, there are 12 species of trees that provide a habitat for diverse birds.

Oman has been on a push to transform itself into a tourist draw -- pitching its beach resorts to luxury travellers and desert wilderness to the more adventurous.

Officials in the sultanate told AFP that a major tourism plan would be announced within a matter of weeks.

Those working at the oryx sanctuary hope that it can help play a lead role in luring visitors to the country.

But there are also fears that greater openness could see the return of an old foe -- hunters.

With that in mind security is being kept tight, said Abdullah Ghassab Obaid, a wildlife guard at the reserve.

"Thirty guards and a police patrol are working to provide security in the reserve to prevent any infiltration."


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Therapy dogs give struggling young readers in Lithuania the positive attention and confidence they need to become happy bookworms

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Rotterdam tightens rules on dangerous dog breeds

DutchNews, November 2, 2017


Rotterdam is stepping up measures to curb dangerous dogs in response to a series of biting incidents in the city. 

Dogs belonging to ‘high risk breeds’, such as pitbulls, will be forced to wear muzzles in public and banned from communal spaces such as shopping centres and playgrounds. A hotline where people can report dangerous dogs is also being set up. 

Animals that bite people will be put down by order of the council and the owner banned from owning dangerous breeds in future. 

The stricter rules have been proposed by alderman Joost Eerdmans, who is responsible for animal welfare. A team of six enforcement officials will check that owners are complying with the rules on muzzling and leashing. 

In August an eight-year-old girl was seriously injured when she was bitten by a pitbull owned by a man whose dogs had been involved in previous biting incidents.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lions, chimps, sharks get added protection under UN convention

Yahoo – AFP, October 28, 2017

Ponso, the only surviving chimpanzee of a colony of 20 apes, sits in a tree on
Chimpanzee Island in Ivory Coast, where the ape population has plummeted by
90 percent in just two decades (AFP Photo/ISSOUF SANOGO)

Lions, chimpanzees, giraffes, leopards and a wide variety of sharks received added protection at a UN wildlife conference in the Philippines, organisers said Saturday.

Some 34 endangered species were selected to receive heightened conservation efforts at the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) conference that just concluded in Manila.

Protecting migratory species poses particular difficulties since they cross borders, including possibly moving to countries with less stringent wildlife protection systems said Bradnee Chambers, CMS executive secretary.

"If the species is moving around all of these countries, everybody has to pitch in," he said at the end of the week-long conference.

Lions, leopards and chimpanzees were singled out as needing more conservation work. The chimpanzee in particular is at risk as their numbers have dropped in recent years due to habitat loss, the organisers said.

The giraffe, which is in decline throughout Africa with fewer than 90,000 animals left in the wild, was also listed.

All four of these African mammals were approved by a "wide majority" for additional protection measures, a CMS statement noted.

Other animals that were listed were three species of shark including the whale shark, the largest fish in the world. Host country the Philippines had lobbied for this creature, which has become a major tourist attraction.

More than 120 states are party to the CMS, but this does not include China and many other Asian countries.

"We're trying to work to bring China onboard as a member of the convention. We have been engaging them and they are actually doing quite a bit," Chambers told reporters.

"What it required is positive engagement with the country to see how to find solutions instead of just bashing the country and looking at the negative side."

Friday, October 20, 2017

Puppy eyes: The tail wagging the dog?

Yahoo – AFP, October 19, 2017

New research suggests dogs are masters of body language and use their facial
expressions to communicate and manipulate their owners

Your dog may be a master manipulator, deliberately making puppy eyes to pull at your heart strings, according to a study Thursday into a ploy many mutt owners have long suspected.

The research suggests that dogs may be in control of their facial expressions, using them to communicate, researchers reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Until now, it was assumed that dog expressions were involuntary.

The new study suggests, however, that man's best friend may be very well aware of the reaction a scowl or grin will elicit from its master.

"The findings appear to support evidence... that expressions are potentially active attempts to communicate," said study co-author Juliane Kaminski of the University of Portsmouth.

In a series of experiments with different types of pet dogs, the team discovered that the animals "move their faces" more when humans were paying attention to them.

Raising the brows, which makes the eyes appear bigger to produce heart-melting "puppy dog eyes", was the most commonly-used expression, the researchers found.

When humans had their backs turned, or were distracted, the dogs' faces were much less active -- regardless of whether the human was offering a food treat or not.

Previous research has shown that dogs are aware of how attentive humans are.

One study, for example, showed they stole food more often when a human had their back turned or eyes closed.

"We now know dogs make more facial expressions when the human is paying attention," said Kaminski.

It was too soon, however, to state categorically that dogs have a perception of what a human may be thinking or feeling -- a state of awareness considered a sign of high intelligence displayed by humans, the team added.

Research in non-human primates has suggested some of our far-flung cousins may also be aware that others can read their facial expressions -- which changed when they had an audience.

1,600 Dutch meat farmers qualify for ‘better life’ trade mark

DutchNews, October 19, 2017

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Some 1,600 Dutch farmers now rear chickens and pigs under the ‘Beter Leven’ trade-mark, which indicates better living conditions for the animals. 

The scheme was launched ten years ago when six poultry farmers gave their hens more room and a covered outdoor space to forage, so qualifying for the trade mark just launched by animal protection group Dierenbescherming. 

By 2012 the number of participating farms had reached 800 and now 31 million animals are being reared under ‘better life’ conditions, broadcaster NOS said on Thursday. The trade mark has a three-star system – the more stars the better the way the animals are reared. 

Despite the shift to more animal friendly farms, some 2,500 Dutch poultry, pig and other farmers still offer their animals no additional facilities, NOS said. Much of their meat is sent abroad to countries where animal welfare is not as high on the agenda. 

‘We are leading the way in the Netherlands, but we are not yet done,’ Niels Dorland of  Dierenbescherming told NOS. ‘We have to keep on going because 2,500 is still far too many.’ 

Supermarkets

Earlier this month, animal rights lobby group Wakker Dier said supermarkets are still not doing enough to encourage the sale of chicken with a quality label and some are selling more of the cheapest meat to produce. 

The organisation conducted a random test among 12 big supermarket chains and found that two thirds of chicken products did not have any form of quality label. ‘That means supermarkets are promoting the sale of chickens raised in the poorest circumstances,’ a Wakker Dier spokesperson said. 

Almost 30% of chicken products now have some form of quality label, up seven percentage points compared to last year. But given that last year’s increase was 25%, this year’s figures are not good news, the organisation said. 

Related Article:


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Two tigers rescued from Aleppo find new Dutch home

Yahoo – AFP, October 13, 2017

Four Paws: One of the tigers rescued from the destroyed Magic World
amusement park near Aleppo. (AFP Photo/Ahu Savan An)

The Hague (AFP) - Two tigers rescued from an abandoned zoo in the war-torn Syrian town of Aleppo are to be given a new home in a Dutch sanctuary, the animal refuge said Friday.

Brother and sister, Sultan and Sayeeda, will arrive Monday in The Netherlands after they were among 13 animals evacuated earlier this year from the "Magic World" zoo and amusement park in the ravaged Syrian city.

The Four Paws charity, which goes to the aid of animals in distress around the world, brought the tigers out of Syria and into Turkey at the end of July along with five lions, two bears, two hyenas and two dogs.

After a short stay in Turkey to be cared for and treated for neglect, the animals were taken to Jordan in mid-August. While most of the 13 beasts are staying there, Sultan and Sayeeda, who were badly emaciated and de-hydrated, are to be cared for at the Felida refuge in northern Nijeberkoop.

The felines, which will be housed in the sanctuary's quietest areas, will receive special medical treatment to help them get over the trauma of the war and develop a more natural behaviour.

They "were living in a war zone. They were thirsty and hungry. They could hear lots of noise from the bombings" and suffered a lot of stress as a result, said Simone Schuls, the director of the refuge.

"It's a great second chance for these animals," she said, adding the pair may eventually be rehoused elsewhere depending on their recovery.

In April in a tough mission in Iraq, Four Paws also rescued a lion and a bear, the last survivors of the ravaged zoo in Mosul.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

‘World first CO2 neutral eggs’ are laid in Limburg

DutchNews, October 10, 2017

Photo: Kipster.com

A chicken farm in Castenray, in the province of Limburg, claims to have produced the first CO2 neutral egg, public broadcaster NOS reports. 

Kipster, which advertises itself as ‘the world’s most animal and environmentally friendly chicken farm’, says the CO2 neutral egg is a ‘world first’.

‘Our chickens are white. They weigh less than brown chickens and eat less. So we save on raw materials. They eat what are called ‘residual flows’ such as left over bread and agricultural by-products. We don’t feed them corn, for instance,’ chicken farmer Ruud Zanders told NOS. 

The farm has also been fitted with 1,100 solar panels to boost sustainable energy usage. ‘We use 40% of the energy we generate and sell the rest. This makes our farm, and the eggs, CO2 neutral,’ NOS quotes Zanders as saying. 

The chickens’ living quarters, which were designed with the input of the animal protection organisation Dierenbescherming, consists of a glass covered inside garden with trees and tree trunks for the birds, and two outside spaces. ‘Retired’ chickens, the Kipster website writes, ‘are not dumped in Africa to disrupt the market there but are processed here into high-quality products’.

The eggs will cost 23 to 24 cents apiece compared to 16 to 17 cents for a conventional free-range egg. The entire stock for the next five years has been sold to supermarket Lidl, where they will go on sale later this month, NOS said.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Panda diplomacy: Two giant pandas from China land in Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, 28 September 2017

One of two giant pandas stays inside a cage as they arrive at the
Sukarno-Hatta airport in Indonesia

Two giant pandas from China arrived in Indonesia on Thursday in an act of "panda diplomacy" aimed at celebrating 60 years of bilateral ties.

Cai Tao and Hu Chun, both aged seven, arrived from Sichuan province and will be housed at a safari zoo in Bogor, a city near the capital Jakarta.

The pandas were lent by Beijing to mark the diplomatic anniversary despite recent tensions between the nations, with a number of clashes between Chinese and Indonesian vessels in the South China Sea.

The delivery is the first time Indonesia has been lent pandas, the country's forest and environment ministry said, making it the 16th country to be gifted with the animals by China.

A safari zoo will be their home for the next ten years once they clear an initial month-long quarantine.

"We hope we can breed them, that Hu Chun and Cai Tao will mate so they'll have offspring while they're here," said Yulius Suprihardo, a spokesman for Taman Safari Indonesia.

The zoo has built a 1,300 metres squared panda home for Cai Tao, who weighs 128kg (282 pounds), and Hu Chun, who weighs 113 kg (249 pounds).

Giant pandas are considered vulnerable and there are only about 1,800 in the wild, according to conservation organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

China's use of giant pandas -- a national icon -- as gifts has a long history and has been dubbed "panda diplomacy".

Indonesia maintains it has no maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea, unlike other Asian nations, and does not contest ownership of reefs or islets there.

But Beijing's expansive claims in the sea overlap Indonesia's exclusive economic zone -- waters where a state has the right to exploit resources -- around the remote Natuna Islands.

The skirmishes have prompted Indonesia to bolster defences there.

In July, Indonesia changed the name South China Sea to North Natuna Sea to show its sovereignty in the waters, prompting criticism from Beijing.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Frida, the four-legged heroine of Mexico's quake rescues

Yahoo – AFP, Yemeli ORTEGA, September 23, 2017

Frida, a rescue dog belonging to the Mexican Navy, with her handler Israel Arauz
 Salinas, takes a break while participating in the effort to look for people trapped at
the Rebsamen school in Mexico City, on September 22, 2017 (AFP Photo/
OMAR TORRES)

Mexico City (AFP) - With protective goggles fitted under her furry ears and boots on all four paws, Frida wags her tail as she scales the mountains of rubble left by this week's devastating earthquake in Mexico.

The golden labrador is using her sense of smell to try to detect any survivors left in the wreckage of buildings brought down on Tuesday by the 7.1-magnitude earthquake.

The courageous canine has become iconic in Mexico, a four-legged symbol of the solidarity behind the rescue operations whose fame has been spread on television and social media.

One man in Mexico's northeast has even had her image tattooed on his arm. And a t-shirt maker is selling a line with her face above the slogan "We can be heroes."

The dog is part of the Canine Unit of Mexico's Navy, which has been active at the sites of 39 buildings brought down in the quake.

Frida was notably deployed at a collapsed school in the capital's south where 19 children and six adults died. Officials say there is still the possibility that an adult is trapped alive in the debris.

"Frida is a specialist in detecting people alive under rubble," her handler, Petty Officer Israel Arauz told AFP.

In her career, which included being sent to Ecuador for a major earthquake last year, she has saved 12 lives, he said.

When she turns up, many Marines drop their stern military demeanor to rush to pet her and have a photo taken alongside her.

"She brings joy, tenderness and hope. Civilians salute her and applaud her in the street," said one soldier as he rubbed her belly.

The dog's personality is "very gentle, but also very strong temperamentally," Arauz said, adding that she would likely be retired next year when she turns eight.

"For me, it's an honor to handle her on these missions," he said.

Frida, a rescue dog belonging to the Mexican Navy, with her handler Israel Arauz 
Salinas, takes a break while participating in the effort to look for people trapped at
the Rebsamen school in Mexico City, on September 22, 2017 (AFP Photo/OMAR TORRES)

Dogs lost and found

The spontaneous display of solidarity in Mexico against natural disasters has been a source of surprise and inspiration internationally.

Media around the world covering this week's quake have highlighted the generosity of Mexicans who have donated food, medicine and basic supplies, as well as the volunteers who have leaped forward to help professional emergency crews to remove rubble.

That same rush to help can be seen with dog-owners.

"We have come to support the UNAM brigade to detect people and rescue them," said Jean Louis Zuniga, an amateur dog trainer who turned up at a collapsed building with several of his charges, including a labrador, a border collie, a boxer and a pitbull.

But dogs weren't only part of the rescue teams -- they were also among the quake's victims. Several died, others became trapped in the rubble after losing their owners or becoming injured.

Many have been rescued, with some being hauled out of windows on ropes.

There are also free veterinarian clinics dotted around the city to look after injured animals, and centers dispensing dog food and medicine.

"I'm so desperate, I am looking for my Candy," said Cecilia Vega, a university student ceaselessly going to each center, with a photograph in hand of her chihuahua missing since the earthquake.

Like Candy, many dogs have been found without owners. Images of them have started to circulate on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, on forums created especially.

"She's called Precious and she got lost during the earthquake. She has problems breathing and is skittish," read one posting on the Twitter feed of @MascotasSismo (translated as QuakePets), under the image of a white dog with the tongue hanging out.

"Back with his owners!" read another, showing Brook, a grey pitbull.