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Talkin' Pets News

August 31, 2019

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jillyn Sidlo - Celestrial Custom Dog Services

Producer - Daisey Charlotte

Network Producer - Andrew Moersche

Social Media - Bob Page

California is considering adding the nutria, a beagle-sized rodent native to South America, to its list of prohibited pets.

They look somewhat like beavers, but with orange front teeth, and can grow to 22 pounds. The Sacramento Bee reports that they have litters of up to 12 and are the targets of eradication efforts in parts of the state. If the population grows unchecked, it could reach 250,000 over the next five years.

The California Fish and Game Commission states that the semi-aquatic animals “affect the state’s wildlife by damaging wetland habitats, and put waterways, water supplies, water conveyance and flood protection infrastructure, and agriculture at risk from damage through their burrowing and herbivory of aquatic vegetation.”

The commission plans to hold a hearing in December on the possibility of banning nutria as pets, according to the Bee.

Nutria, also known as coypu, have established populations in several states, including not only California but also Oregon, Maryland and Louisiana.

It’s not clear from recent news coverage how many people are actually keeping nutria as pets. It’s clearly been done, though. There’s a YouTube channel for Maa the Nutria, who’s described as “one of the best and nicest exotic pets.”

A rhinoceros at a German safari park attacked a zookeeper's car, but the employee managed to escape without any serious injuries from the attack caught on camera.

The scary incident of rhino rage unfolded at Serengeti Park in the German state of Lower Saxony, as the apparently enraged animal used its horn and powerful body to flip the car — painted like a zebra — several times.

The footage was published by the YouTube channel Einstein Gamer and in the German daily Bild.

It's unclear what prompted Kusini to pounce on the car. He has been at the park for 18 months as part of a breeding program, though zookeepers said he has been struggling to adjust.

A Virginia man says he may file a lawsuit after he claims he found a dead rodent inside a jar of Jif peanut butter he was using to make sandwiches for himself and his 2-year-old daughter.

Jacob Fisher says he made dozens of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for himself and his daughter from a jar of Jif creamy peanut butter he bought in May. But in early August, he says he was spreading the peanut butter when he found a dead rodent.

“All I could see were little legs and paws and a torso is what made sense to me," he said.

Fisher had already given a sandwich to his 2-year-old, so after gagging at the alleged rodent, he ran to grab it from her. He says he is concerned about what he and his toddler may have ingested but has not yet seen a physician.

"We weren't dying like we can't move, but it was like we kept getting indigestion after we ate the sandwiches, like acid reflux where you just gotta sit down a few hours," Fisher said.

The father alleges he unsealed the jar before using it and claims the rodent must have made its way inside during the manufacturing process.

“Do every single test you possibly can, every single one. Put me on a polygraph, it don’t matter,” he said. “I 100 percent know for a fact that rat or that mouse has been in that thing since the day it was manufactured.”

J.M. Smucker Co., which manufactures Jif, said in a statement it finds Fisher’s claims to be impossible.

“In our manufacturing process, the jars are processed upside down, air is forcefully blown into them, then they are flipped right side up, immediately filled with peanut butter and sealed. We do this to essentially eliminate the chance a foreign object enters our products,” the company said.

Fisher says he’s been in contact with personal injury attorneys for advice on what to do and may file a lawsuit. He says he wants an apology from Jif and action taken.

"I'm scared to buy anything. It's like I double-think everything now, like, 'How can this get in my jar, and what is safe and what is not?'" he said.

Fisher has had the peanut butter jar and sandwich with the alleged rodent in the freezer for several weeks and plans to send them to J.M. Smucker, which requested the items for inspection.

A zoo worker in China has been accused of animal cruelty after allegedly beating a badger to death and dragging its body along the ground. The incident was witnessed by horrified visitors who filmed the worker's behaviour before uploading the clip onto social media.

Zoo management claimed the badger was 'ferocious' and not one of its captive animals. The member of staff has been penalised, according to a statement.

The worker is said to have beaten the animal to death and dragged its body on the ground  Badgers can be found around the world and are known for their ability to dig holes

The worker was caught attacking the animal in Dalian Forest Zoo on August 15. Footage shows one man, who was wearing a blue T-shirt, carrying what appears to be a dead badger out of the bush before throwing the animal onto the ground.

It appears that he was working with two colleagues, who were dressed in the same uniform. The worker then picked up the lifeless badger and dragged it along the ground. The three men are said to be gardeners who are employed by the zoo through an agency. The man was working with two colleagues at the time and the incident was filmed by visitors

Footage shows the worker throwing the lifeless animal onto the ground after beating it  The video sparked an outrage on Chinese social media and web users urged the zoo to investigate the matter. Dalian Forest Zoo described the badger as 'ferocious'.

It said the animal had appeared in the bush on a slope in the zoo a few days earlier and posed a serious threat to tourists.

In a statement posted on Tuesday on Twitter-like Weibo, the zoo said the workers had decided to catch the badger in order to prevent it from harming visitors.

It also said that the workers had decided to hit the badger after being assaulted and injured by the mammal.

The incident took place in Dalian Forest Zoo, which is famous for giant panda Fei Yun.  The zoo admitted that the workers had not dealt with the incident properly. 'We feel heart-broken and ashamed of it,' the statement said. The men have been educated by the zoo and punished by their agency, the zoo added.

Identified by white-and-black stripes on their faces as well as their grey fur, badgers can be found around the world and are known for their ability to dig holes into the ground. They are nocturnal animals and mainly feed on worms and insects. Badgers are not listed as a protected wild animal species in China.

A Colorado couple is lucky to be alive after facing off with a bear that wandered into their home in search of food. Jon Johnson and his wife, George Fields, found the mother bear and her two cubs inside their kitchen eating some bread that was left on the counter.

Johnson says the bear started charging toward him and he was forced to fight back.

"She and I were sparring if you will," he told KMGH-TV. "She started getting aggressive, and that's when she took a swipe at my nose. At that point, I smacked her right in her nose."

The bear managed to slash him across the face and chest with its claws, leaving him with deep lacerations across his body. While Johnson was engaged in a "boxing match" with the bear, his wife grabbed a metal baseball bat and started hitting the wild animal.

"I felt like I had like a lightning bolt in my body that was driving that [baseball] bat. I was so scared," Fields said. "My adrenaline was, I mean, I can still hear it."

It took the couple about two minutes to finally chase the bear and her cubs from their home. At one point, the bear crashed into the wall, leaving a large crack in the shape of its head.

Despite going toe-to-toe with a bear, Johnson was not seriously injured. He did not require hospitalization and was treated at the scene by paramedics for various cuts across his face and chest. His wife was unharmed during the harrowing encounter.

Wildlife officials tracked the bear and found it about 900 yards from their home. The bear was euthanized, which is the standard policy when a bear attacks a human. They are searching for its cubs so they can take them to a shelter.

Southeastern Colorado will soon be experiencing the pitter-patter of little feet — tens of thousands of them — as thousands of male tarantulas begin their annual migration to the prairies to find a mate.

Beginning in late August, Oklahoma brown tarantulas (Aphonopelma hentzi, also known as Texas brown tarantulas) will begin their trek through the La Junta, Colorado, area, a journey to undisturbed grasslands that typically lasts through early October, according to a report by The Gazette, a newspaper that serves Colorado Springs.

Female tarantulas hunker down in their prairie burrows for most of their lives, but the males walk for up to 1 mile (2 kilometers) to find a mate, according to CNN. However, this epic migration will look more like a steady trickle of spiders than a dense carpet of hairy brown bodies, as the tarantulas aren't social and usually travel alone, Mario Padilla, head entomologist at the Butterfly Pavilion, a nonprofit invertebrate zoo in Westminster, Colorado, told CNN.

Oklahoma brown tarantulas are fuzzy, brownish spiders; females' bodies measure 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) long and weigh about 0.7 ounces (20 grams), while males are somewhat smaller, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). 

The spiders produce venom to subdue their prey, though the toxins are not harmful to people. However, tarantulas' sharp fangs can pierce human skin, and bites can lead to bacterial infection. Tarantulas also defend themselves by brushing off stinging hairs on their abdomen, which can irritate a person’s skin, eyes and respiratory tract, FWS says.

Males typically embark on a female-finding trek when they reach sexual maturity at around 10 years old, CNN reported. And the spiders' first migration is also their last; while males may remain active through the fall, nearly all of them will be dead by November, according to a fact sheet posted on Colorado State University's Western Colorado Entomology (WCI) website. 

The spiders are most active at dusk in the hour before sunset, and tarantula enthusiasts hoping for a glimpse of the leggy travelers will find plenty of amorous arachnids on Highway 109 on the Comanche National Grassland, according to a recommendation by a La Junta tourism site.

New research from the Faculty of Natural Sciences has provided further support to previous work that has shown beavers have an important impact on the variety of plant and animal life.

The latest study, led by Dr Alan Law and Professor Nigel Willby, found that the number of species only found in beaver-built ponds was 50 percent higher than other wetlands in the same region.

Dr Law, Lecturer in Biological and Environmental Sciences, said: "Beavers make ponds that, at first glance, are not much different from any other pond. However, we found that the biodiversity -- predominantly water plants and beetles -- in beaver ponds was greater than and surprisingly different from that found in other wetlands in the same region.

"Our results also emphasise the importance of natural disturbance by big herbivores -- in this case, tree felling, grazing and digging of canals by beavers -- in creating habitat for species which otherwise tend to be lost.

"Reintroducing beavers where they were once native should benefit wider biodiversity and should be seen as an important and bold step towards solving the freshwater biodiversity crisis."

Beavers are one of the only animals that can profoundly engineer the environment that they live in -- using sticks to build dams across small rivers, behind which ponds form. Beavers do this to raise water levels to avoid predators, such as wolves and bears: however, numerous other plants and animals also benefit from their work.

The research team surveyed water plants and beetles in 20 wetlands in a small area of southern Sweden -- 10 created by beavers and 10 that were not -- to understand whether beavers might provide a solution to the current biodiversity crisis by creating novel habitats.

Professor Willby added: "The loss of large mammals from modern landscapes is a global conservation concern. These animals are important in their own right, but our research emphasises the added biodiversity benefits that go with them.

"We are best reminded of this effect when large herbivores, such as beavers, are reintroduced to places where they have been lost."

This research follows the team's 2018 study that found that 33 percent more plant species and 26 percent more beetles were living in wetlands created by beavers, compared to those that were not. Another previous study, from 2017, showed that -- over a period of 12 years -- local plant richness in a Tayside wetland rose by 46 percent following the introduction of beavers. They created 195 metres of dams, 500 metres of canals and a hectare of ponds.

The study, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, marks the first time a genetic link has been clearly established between the Toxoplasma strains in felid hosts and parasites causing fatal disease in marine wildlife. The study builds on years of work by a consortium of researchers led by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The scientists were called upon in the late 1990s to help decipher the mystery when Toxoplasma caused deaths in sea otters along the California coast. "This is decades in the making," said corresponding author Karen Shapiro, an associate professor with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and its One Health Institute. "We now have a significant link between specific types of the parasite and the outcome for fatal toxoplasmosis in sea otters. We are actually able to link deaths in sea otters with wild and feral cats on land."

Wild and domestic cats are the only known hosts of Toxoplasma, in which the parasite forms egglike stages, called oocysts, in their feces. Shapiro led the initial effort to show how oocysts accumulate in kelp forests and are taken up by snails, which are eaten by sea otters. For this study, the authors characterized Toxoplasma strains for more than 100 stranded southern sea otters examined by the CDFW between 1998 and 2015. CDFW Veterinary Pathologist Melissa Miller assessed the otters for Toxoplasma as a primary or contributing cause of death. The scientists compared pathology data with the parasite strains found in sea otters and nearby wild and domestic cats to identify connections between the disease-causing pathogen and its hosts.

The study's results highlight how infectious agents like Toxoplasma can spread from cat feces on land to the sea, leading to detrimental impacts on marine wildlife. Southern sea otters are among the most intensely studied marine mammals in California because they are a threatened species and an iconic animal for the state. They live within just a few hundred meters of the coastline, allowing for close observation that enables a wealth of scientific data. Previous research showed that up to 70 percent of stranded southern sea otters were infected with Toxoplasma, yet the infection becomes fatal for only a fraction of them. Decades of detailed investigations by CDFW and UC Davis have confirmed that infection by land-based protozoan parasites such as Toxoplasma and the related parasite Sarcocystis neurona are common causes of illness and death for southern sea otters.

Shapiro notes that Toxoplasma can also affect other wildlife species, but there is more robust data for the otters. "Toxoplasma is one heavily studied pathogen that we care about, but there are many other viruses and bacteria that are on land and being flushed to the ocean that we probably aren't aware of yet," Shapiro said. People can help reduce the spread of Toxoplasma by keeping their cats inside and disposing of cat feces in a bag in the trash, not outdoors or in the toilet because wastewater treatment is not effective in killing oocysts. Outdoor cats that feed on wild rodents and birds are likely to become infected with Toxoplasma because the parasite is commonly present in the tissues of these prey animals. Oocysts shed in cat feces on land get washed into waterways with rainfall, and prior research identified freshwater outflow as a key source of Toxoplasma exposure for southern sea otters. Wetlands, forests and grasslands naturally serve to shield watersheds and oceans from pollutants, including oocysts. Preserving and restoring wetlands and natural areas, managing stormwater runoff, and replacing pavement with permeable surfaces can reduce contamination and minimize pathogens entering the water.


Host Laurence Fishburne will be opening an upcoming episode covering the topic of Alternative Energy Sources this year on "Behind the Scenes". Mr. Fishburne's voice and performance skills have established him as a premier actor in his generation. His gravitas help translate this entertaining segment and to give credence to the important issues covered in the series.

Alternative energy sources are not addressed as an edge of society topic anymore. More businesses, corporations, even countries are researching and implementing alternative energy sources to improve the planet, reduce their carbon footprint, and ideally power their goals more cost-effectively than they can by non-renewable resources. Alternative energy sources are not the alternative choice anymore and more people are making great efforts to make things like solar and wind energy available to the masses in an easy to consume and understand form. The segment will feature industry leaders in the energy sector and highlight some of the technologies in energy that are helping transform future possibilities.

"Behind the Scenes" With Laurence Fishburne is a great way for consumers to keep up on the latest growth and changes in the world. Viewers can tune in to learn more about the future for alternative energy sources and what that may mean for consumers locally, as well as other topics important to society today.

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