An Oklahoma man is sponsoring 34 animal adoptions for his 34th birthday.
Alexis Peinado joined Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Friday for the event.
“I figured it'd be a good way to celebrate a little different than a traditional celebration,” Peinado said.
The Lawton man says he came up with the idea, and approached the shelter.
“It makes me happy just as much as it might make them happy, so it's still a gift to myself,” Peinado said.
For the city agency, this event is an unprecedented blessing.
“We've had other people sponsor adoptions before, just not to this extreme,” Lyne Huffman with Oklahoma City Animal Welfare said.
Giving 34 animals new homes allows for more dogs and cats to be rescued.
“The more that we can get out the more room we have to take the unwanted or abandoned ones in,” Huffman said.
For Peinado, who rescued his dog Hazel from the shelter, this is paying it forward.
“I got my dog here about nine years ago now, so it's kind of a passion of mine. I know how much joy she brings to my life. I just want to pass it on,” Peinado said.
Based on the crowd Friday, one man’s birthday is the start of a new life for many furry friends.
A new study finds polar bears in the wild have higher metabolic rates than previously thought, and as climate change alters their environment a growing number of bears are unable to catch enough prey to meet their energy needs. The study, published February 2 in Science, reveals the physiological mechanisms behind observed declines in polar bear populations, said first author Anthony Pagano, a Ph.D. candidate at UC Santa Cruz.
"We've been documenting declines in polar bear survival rates, body condition, and population numbers over the past decade," he said. "This study identifies the mechanisms that are driving those declines by looking at the actual energy needs of polar bears and how often they're able to catch seals."
Pagano, who is also a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), conducted the study as part of his Ph.D. thesis research at UC Santa Cruz, where he has been working with coauthors Terrie Williams and Daniel Costa, both professors of ecology and evolutionary biology.
The researchers monitored the behavior, hunting success, and metabolic rates of adult female polar bears without cubs as they hunted for prey on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea in the spring. High-tech collars on the bears recorded video, locations, and activity levels over a period of eight to 11 days, while metabolic tracers enabled the team to determine how much energy the bears expended.
The field metabolic rates they measured averaged more than 50 percent higher than previous studies had predicted. Five of the nine bears in the study lost body mass, meaning they weren't catching enough fat-rich marine mammal prey to meet their energy demands. "This was at the start of the period from April through July when polar bears catch most of their prey and put on most of the body fat they need to sustain them throughout the year," Pagano said.
Climate change is having dramatic effects on the Arctic sea ice, forcing polar bears to move greater distances and making it harder for them to catch prey. In the Beaufort Sea, sea ice starts to retreat away from the continental shelf in July, and most of the bears move north on the ice as it retreats. As the Arctic warms and more sea ice melts, the bears are having to move much greater distances than previously. This causes them to expend more energy during the summer, when they are fasting until the ice returns to the continental shelf in the fall.
In other areas, such as Hudson Bay, most bears move onto land when the sea ice retreats. There, Arctic warming means the sea ice is breaking up earlier in the summer and returning later in the fall, forcing bears to spend more time on land. "Either way, it's an issue of how much fat they can put on before the ice starts to break up, and then how much energy are they having to expend," Pagano said.
In the spring, polar bears are mostly preying on recently weaned ringed seals, which are more susceptible to being caught than adult seals. By the fall, the young seals are older and wiser, and polar bears are not able to catch as many. "It's thought that bears might catch a couple per month in the fall, compared to five to 10 per month in the spring and early summer," Pagano said. USGS researchers have been studying polar bears in the Beaufort Sea area since the 1980s. Their most recent population estimate indicates the polar bear population has declined by about 40 percent over the past decade.
Binghamton University Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Kirsten Prior, along with Todd Palmer from the University of Florida, studied the symbiotic interaction between the whistling thorn acacia tree (the dominant tree in the East African savanna) and the ants that inhabit them. The ants benefit from the tree by getting housing and sugar-rich nectar, and the tree benefits because the ants protect it from large herbivores such as elephants. Using observational studies and experiments, the researchers discovered that a third partner, scale insects, are the most important resource affecting ant colony size and activity, as well as their effective defense against predators. The honeydew produced by the insects is a consistent source of sugar for the ants, providing them with a source of nutrients during prolonged dry seasons when nectar from the tree is scarce.
"While this ant-plant mutualistic interaction has been well-studied, our research showed that this keystone interaction is even more intricate than previously thought," said Prior. "We learned that the mutualism involves a third player: a species of scale insect that feeds on the tree sap and produces an excrement called honeydew, on which the ants also feed, and makes the ants a stronger mutualist."
Mutualism provides vital interactions between organisms in shaping the ecosystems, said Prior. "The acacia tree provides both food and housing for ants, whereas the ants deter large herbivores, primarily elephants, by delivering painful bites. This mutualism is a keystone interaction, since removing the ants that ward off elephants from the tree causes a shift in the ecosystem. Removing the scale insects also has a negative impact, as the tree is unable to produce as much food that the ants need."
Prior plans to continue her research further into how complex interactions between symbiotic species shape ecosystems and how global change can also have a significant impact on altering these important interactions.
A new study shows that bird lovers who allow their pet cats out of the house are judged to be less concerned about the environment by other members of the birder community on social media, even if the property owner is otherwise employing all of the same sustainable practices as those keeping cats indoors.
"We thought this was a very interesting opportunity to study group norm violations," said Hwanseok Song, a fifth-year doctoral student in communication at Cornell University and the paper's lead author. "What happens within this community when they see one of their members violate an important group norm? Do people notice cues that a member within their community is letting their cat outdoors? Do these people who notice those cues actually use that information to make judgments on that group-norm violator?"
To explore these questions, Song and his collaborators used Habitat Network (originally named yardmap.org), a socially networked mapping application that allows users to create and share virtual maps of their properties that highlight their sustainability efforts, essentially a show-and-tell for good conservation practices. The researchers created two identical profiles of a pro-environmental property with a small lawn, low chemical usage and solar panels. The only difference between the profiles: One version had an icon and an image indicating an indoor pet cat and the other an outdoor pet cat. Outdoor cats are a divisive issue for many nature lovers because of the threat they pose to wildlife, particularly birds.
Habitat Network users were asked to rate each property owner's level of sustainability. The researchers found that participants who didn't own cats negatively judged property owners with an outdoor cat and even considered them significantly less likely to engage in a variety of pro-environmental behaviors, even though the maps made it clear these property owners had invested in solar power and used few chemicals on their lawns.
"Everything else in this map is pretty much signaling that this is a person already quite committed to sustainability causes. It usually takes a strong environmental commitment to install a solar panel. These findings say a lot about how we make judgments of others who are either violating, or complying with, these sometimes-parochial norms," said Song.
"This study is a reminder of how easy it can be to jump to conclusions about other people's behaviors on the basis of very little information," added Poppy McLeod, professor of communication, who co-authored the paper.
The study's findings have strong implications for online citizen-science projects that unite the sustainability community. While these projects can foster a sense of group solidarity and shared goals, unspoken biases and misperceptions could weaken progress in these projects.
New research that analyzed more than 270 million years of data on animals shows that mammals and birds -- both warm-blooded animals -- may have a better chance of evolving and adapting to the Earth's rapidly changing climate than their cold-blooded peers, reptiles and amphibians.
"We see that mammals and birds are better able to stretch out and extend their habitats, meaning they adapt and shift much easier," said Jonathan Rolland, a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the biodiversity research centre at UBC and lead author of the study. "This could have a deep impact on extinction rates and what our world looks like in the future."
By combining data from the current distribution of animals, fossil records and phylogenetic information for 11,465 species, the researchers were able to reconstruct where animals have lived over the past 270 million years and what temperatures they needed to survive in these regions.
The planet's climate has changed significantly throughout history and the researchers found that these changes have shaped where animals live. For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live. As the planet cooled, birds and mammals were able to adapt to the colder temperatures so they were able to move into habitats in more northern and southern regions.
"It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats," said Rolland. "It's possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change."
Rolland explained that animals that can regulate their body temperatures, known as endotherms, might be better able to survive in these places because they can keep their embryos warm, take care of their offspring and they can migrate or hibernate.
"These strategies help them adapt to cold weather but we rarely see them in the ectotherms or cold-blooded animals," he said.
Rolland and colleagues argue that studying the past evolution and adaptations of species might provide important clues to understand how current, rapid changes in temperature impact biodiversity on the planet.
The Trump administration announced its plans to open nearly all U.S. federal waters to offshore drilling activities. In a new draft five-year program (2019-2024) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Department of the Interior (DOI) outlined its plans to expand future oil and gas leasing to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This is the largest number of potential offshore lease sales ever proposed.
In response to the newly proposed plan, Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins released the following statement: “This plan opens the floodgates to dirty and dangerous offshore drilling, threatening coastal economies that rely on clean and healthy oceans.
This radical offshore drilling free-for-all is a clear example of politics over people, ignoring widespread local and state opposition. Consider the West Coast, where all three governors are adamantly opposed to expanded offshore drilling. Or the Atlantic, where over 140 East Coast municipalities have publicly opposed offshore drilling activities. Along Florida’s Gulf Coast, there is a moratorium on offshore drilling until June 30, 2022, and the Department of Defense (DOD) has made it clear they need uninhibited access to the area for training, free from oil and gas activities.
Past attempts to drill in the remote and unforgiving Arctic waters resulted in the abandoned drill rig Kulluk grounded near Kodiak Island while the crew were hoisted to safety. There is still extreme weather, no way to clean up an oil spill in sea ice, and very limited infrastructure to deal with any kind of emergency.
Giving the oil industry unfettered access to our nation’s oceans is a recipe for disaster. From ocean views scattered with drilling platforms, to the industrialization of our coastal communities, to the unacceptable risk of more BP Deepwater Horizon-like disasters – expanding offshore drilling to new areas threatens thriving coastal economies and already thriving industries like tourism, recreation and fishing that rely on healthy oceans. According to the National Ocean Economics Program’s 2016 report, in U.S. coastal states, 2.2 million American jobs and $108.37 billion in GDP depend on healthy ocean ecosystems.
It’s time for Washington to listen to the communities that have the most to lose and nothing to gain from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. The draft plan is the result of President Trump’s April 28 executive order on offshore energy, which directed DOI to encourage offshore drilling. The public has 60-days to comment on the draft proposed program, which is the first of two opportunities for public comment on the plan.
In a letter issued Monday to United States House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) urged the Majority Leader to advance animal welfare legislation in the House.
“With the 115th Congress now in its second session and the government now fully funded and operating, we hope that Leader McCarthy will make animal welfare legislation a priority,” stated Cathy Liss, AWI president. “Each of these bills, which provide a practical and humane solution to pressing animal welfare concerns, have well over 100 co-sponsors and broad bipartisan support. We urge the majority leader to bring these bills forward for a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives.”
Pending legislation highlighted in AWI’s letter include:
- Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (HR 909): The PAWS Act would make greater resources available to enable domestic violence victims with companion animals to escape their abusers. Currently, the bill has 246 cosponsors—over half of the entire U.S. House of Representatives.
- Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (HR 1456): The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act would make it illegal to buy or sell shark fins. Approximately 73 million sharks die each year as a result of inhumane shark finning, in which the fins are removed while the shark is still conscious and the mutilated body is tossed back into the ocean to die. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has already passed its version of the bill; it is up to the House to act to end this cruelty. Currently, the bill has 233 cosponsors, more than half of the House.
- Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act (HR 1494): The PACT Act would prohibit the heinous acts of cruelty typically found in “crush videos,” in which animals are intentionally tortured, mutilated, and killed to satisfy sadistic fetishes. Currently, the law covers only the creation and distribution of the videos, not the underlying abuse. The Senate has already unanimously passed its bill; the House should do the same. Currently, the bill has 273 co-sponsors, over 60% of the members of the House.
- Humane Cosmetics Act (HR 2790): The Humane Cosmetics Act would phase out inhumane and outdated animal-based testing for cosmetic products in the United States in favor of more accurate cutting-edge technologies. The legislation would eventually prohibit the sale in the U.S. of cosmetics tested on animals in other countries, ensuring that only safe and humane products enter the American market. Currently, the bill has 169 co-sponsors, more than one-third of the House.
AWI has a strong legacy of working with members of Congress from both parties to pass important animal welfare legislation. Since it was founded in 1951, AWI has helped enact the Humane Slaughter Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Tired of winter? Sir Walter Wally has some good news for you.
Raleigh's resident groundhog popped out of his home early this morning to check the weather, only to find he couldn't see his shadow, his handlers said Friday at the city's annual Groundhog Day festivities. Wally's view signals an early end to winter and the coming of spring.
Wally's prediction runs counter to his cousin Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, whose handlers said he saw his shadow this morning, meaning there would be six more weeks of winter.
Sir Walter Wally has been prognosticating on the future of winter for over 20 years as part of an event sponsored by the NC Museum of Natural Sciences that is attended by a host of dignitaries, typically including the mayor of Raleigh. According to the museum, Wally has proven by to be more accurate at predicting the weather than Punxsutawney Phil.
The museum said since Wally began predicting, he has been correct 58 percent of the time while Phil has been right 37 percent.
United Airlines announced an update to its policy for emotional support animals after an emotional support peacock was denied entry to one of its flights at Newark Liberty International Airport last week.
The airline said it’s making the change after seeing a 75 percent increase in customers bringing emotional support animals onboard planes. Along with the surge in such animals came “a significant increase in onboard incidents involving these animals,” United said.
“The Department of Transportation rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended to, prompting us to change our approach in order to ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers,” United said Thursday in a statement announcing the change.
The policy change affects emotional support animals; the airline said the policy remains the same for service animals.
Under the previous policy, passengers flying with emotional support animals had to give 48-hour notice to United’s accessibility desk and provide a letter from a mental health professional.
Under the new guidelines, those passengers still have to give 48-hour notice and provide an "enhanced" letter from a mental health professional. In addition, they have to prove the animal has been trained to behave properly in public and acknowledge responsibility for the animal’s behavior. They also have to provide a health and vaccination form signed by the animal’s veterinarian. The vet must affirm that the animal poses no direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft, and that it won’t cause a significant disruption in service.
United said the new policy goes into effect on March 1 and that customers who have approved documentation on file may use it for their next trip. Any new reservations would be subject to the updated policy, according to the airline.
The change comes less than a week after a woman reportedly bought a second ticket for her emotional support peacock and tried to bring it on a flight at Newark Airport. United Airlines refused to let the bird board the plane, according to Live and Let’s Fly. The peacock is named Dexter and reportedly has its own Instagram account, according to the Washington Post. The topic of emotional support animals on flights has come to the forefront in recent weeks.
Delta Airlines issued new regulations on emotional support and service animals on Jan. 19 requiring passengers who want to fly with animals must provide proof of their pet's training and vaccinations 48 hours before they board. Like United, Delta will also require passengers who bring support animals to provide a document signed by a veterinarian or licensed mental health professional verifying that their animal can behave. The new regulations will also take effect March 1.
A woman was horrified to and find a python had silently snatched her dog from her bed as she slept before it crushed and swallowed the pet whole in front of her.
Nelia Scheepers woke up to see 10-year-old Goofy ‘squeaking’ in agony while being suffocated by the 10ft snake.
It had coiled itself around the dog’s body in her remote farmhouse, 300 miles north of Johannesburg, South Africa.
She managed to escape with her other dogs – but it was all too late for Goofy.
‘Goofy had very good hearing and would normally be the first to start barking at the sound of any trouble,’ she said.
‘She was sleeping on my bed and didn’t make a sound, so I think the snake must have moved so quietly through the house and then taken Goofy as she slept.
‘It was just so distressing to watch that snake coiling round and round, the poor dog was absolutely terrified and I could do nothing for her. It was terrible.’
Mrs Scheepers, 60, later looked into the room to see the python had ‘unlocked its jaws and was swallowing Goofy whole’.
The outline of Goofy’s shape could still be clearly seen when snake catcher Frikkie Venter arrived at the home a number of hours later.
He said that it was extremely unusual for snakes to go into houses and get so close to humans, so it must have been very hungry.
It is also currently summer in South Africa, with the high temperatures making it harder for snakes to find prey.
‘That snake won’t have to eat for another three weeks now,’ he said.
The grandmother said she had spotted the massive African rock python a few hours before her dog was taken but she had shut all her doors and windows, apart from a small window in her sitting room.
The African rock python is the continent’s largest snake. It is nonvenomous and kills its prey by constriction, tightening its coils every time its victim breathes.