The Science Unit of Lingnan University (LU) in Hong Kong has reported a novel form of reproductive behaviour observed in a native frog species, Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad (Leptobrachella laui). Unconventionally, the female frog positions herself on top of the male, which is a reverse of the more usual mating arrangement.
Field surveys were conducted between 2010 and 2017 in Hong Kong to observe interactions between male and female Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads. The research team carried either digital still cameras or video cameras to document reproductive behaviour during field surveys, as well as taking male and female Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads back to the laboratory to videotape them.
Prof Sung Yik-hei, Assistant Professor of the Science Unit, said that frogs and toads use external fertilisation, when the female releases her eggs outside her body, the male releases his sperm on the eggs at the same time. In all known forms of mating in frogs and toads, the male mounts the female or stations horizontally himself to align his reproductive organ with the female’s. However in Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad this does not happen. The male gives the female a piggyback ride to a hidden location where they complete reproduction. Prof Sung calls this “sex-reversed inguinal amplexus” and says “This behaviour has not been observed in other species of frogs and toads, but the frogs conceal themselves soon after pairing, so that it is hard to determine if this is simply a ride on the male’s back or how the eggs are fertilised. In fact, despite the endeavours of local herpetologists, Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad eggs have never been documented before.”
Prof Sung believes that Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads adopt an alternative reproductive behaviour because places to lay their eggs are rare. A male toad finds and guards an ideal egg-laying location such as a rock crevice and carries female there. This may confer reproductive efficiency as they can stay away from predatory risks and deposit eggs somewhere safe to develop, and bringing a mate to their territory increases their reproductive success. Besides Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads, other frog species also exhibit territory establishment and protection behaviours.
“The discovery of this new mating behaviour demonstrates the variety of natural wonders even in a small city like Hong Kong. Through keen observation and persistent hard work, we can begin to understand more about nature. This gives us the ability to conserve the amazing wildlife in Hong Kong,” said Prof Sung.
This interesting discovery has been published in the latest issue of the international academic journal Ecosphere.
Nearly 100 pet dogs and cats have been infected with COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of the cases occurred after close contact with an infected person.
The agency noted: “Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”
At the same time, CDC stated, “It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations.”
Infected pets might get sick or might not have symptoms. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most had mild illness and fully recovered.
During the pandemic, the CDC advises not letting pets interact with people outside the household. And if a person inside your household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
Other recommendations from the agency:
- Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam freely outside.
- Avoid public places where a large number of people gather.
- Do not put a mask on pets. Masks could harm your pet.
There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets, according to CDC.
The Chinese capital was choking on sand and dust on Monday, as the biggest sandstorm in nearly a decade swept over the city turning the skies an eerie shade of orange.
Many commuters continued to battle the elements, however, walking and biking through strong, sandy winds. Visibility was so bad in parts of the city that drivers had to turn on their headlights even in the middle of the day.
"In some places, there are strong sandstorms with visibility of less than 500 meters (1,640 feet)," said the China Meteorological Administration in a statement on Monday. "This is also the strongest dust and sand weather affecting China in almost 10 years."
Air quality in Beijing was already poor, owing to high levels of pollution. When the sandstorm hit, the city's air quality plummeted to dangerous levels, according to the World Air Quality Index.
The index measures the concentration of different pollutants in the air -- the most important being PM 2.5. This harmful microscopic particulate matter is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, and is considered particularly dangerous as it can lodge deep into the lungs and pass into other organs and the bloodstream.
Beijing measured a maximum of 655 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday. The World Health Organization considers anything above 25 to be unsafe.
The sandstorm originated in Mongolia, where six people have died, and 81 are missing, according to Chinese state-run outlet The Paper.
From Mongolia, the sandstorm gradually moved southward. Beijing saw concentrations of the larger PM 10 particles exceed 8,100 micrograms per cubic meter according to the city's environmental monitoring center, prompting the Central Meteorological Observatory to issue a yellow alert for sandstorms -- the second level in a four-tier color-coded weather warning system.
Sandstorms used to be a regular occurrence in spring. In previous decades, each May saw at least two rounds of sandstorms, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. The frequency and severity of sandstorms was partly due to drought, growing population pressure and poor progress in revegetation, which caused rapid desertification of land in the north and northwest.
But sandstorms have since decreased dramatically; the annual number of sandstorm-impacted days in Beijing fell from a peak of 26 in the 1950s to just three days after 2010, Xinhua reported.
Since 2000, the Chinese government has invested billions of dollars toward sandstorm prevention. Authorities have launched various reforestation and ecological projects, and installed satellites to monitor sandstorms and alert weather agencies ahead of time.
When Elsa was found and moved to Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison last month, Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund issued this statement on their BLOG:
“We are happy that Elsa is now in such good hands and that we are able to give her a forever home. But it is also important that we work toward the day when no tigers are born to suffer in the pet trade and at the hands of irresponsible people who have no idea how to care for a wild animal. Each year, in the United States, countless tigers and other exotic animals are bred for the pet trade and are readily available to anyone who wants to buy one. There is no federal law or regulation determining who can possess big cats or other dangerous wild animals…. We are working to secure passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act in Congress, which would ban the possession of big cat species like tigers and lions by unqualified individuals and prohibit their exploitation by facilities that allow public contact with big cats. The bill passed the House in the last Congress with a wide majority of members voting for it, and it has been reintroduced in the House this Congress.”
In response to the news of the latest big cat “pet” news in Texas, Lauren Loney, Texas State Director for the Humane Society of the United States released this statement:
“Yet another tiger – as well as a bobcat - were seized from a home in San Antonio, where they were kept inside the homeowner’s garage not at all appropriate for a wild animal. This is the second tiger seized in the area in as many months and is part of a disturbing - but certainly not new – epidemic in Texas of people keeping tigers and other big cats as pets. When big cats are kept as pets, it is a threat to public health and safety and animal welfare. People have been injured and killed by tigers kept in captivity, and these animals frequently suffer from life confined to a cage, improper diets, lack of proper veterinary care and physical abuse. We must support legislation to end the dangerous and cruel private possession of big cats in Texas.”
Animal shelters and rescue groups across the U.S. are set to receive a boost, thanks to Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Foundation.
The organization, in partnership with retailer Tractor Supply Company, has awarded $5,000 donations to one shelter or foster-based rescue in each state as part of its Mutts Across America program.
“This was our first signature program and it’s our cornerstone,” Lambert says. “It lets us reward the hard-working rescues and celebrate shelter pets everywhere. It hits all the high notes.”
The initiative was conceived seven years ago by Bev Lambert, Miranda’s mother and the cofounder of MuttNation. Since its inception, Mutts Across America has supported more than 350 shelters with over $1.25 million in grants.
“There are so many fantastic organizations doing such great work that selecting the final shelters is always the hardest part,” Bev says.
Ensuring dogs lead the longest, happiest lives possible is the driving force behind a new osteoarthritis (OA) treatment being explored at the Colorado State University (CSU).
Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at CSU and the University of North Carolina are looking at gene therapy as a new method for treating dogs inflicted with the debilitating disease.
“We may not be able to cure arthritis or turn back time, but gene therapy holds real promise to give dogs with this disease much needed relief,” says the foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS. “If it we can provide long-term support to joints by slowing or even reversing progression of osteoarthritis with a simple injection, that would be fantastic.”
Gene therapy effectively reprograms cells already present in the body through the transfer of genes, Morris Animal Foundation says. For this project, researchers will begin by manipulating viruses, making it so they are still able to invade cells, but no longer cause disease. These viruses will then be used to transport a desired substance.
The biotechnology has been successful in the treatment of OA-inflicted horses, with scientists using a modified adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver a segment of DNA coded for the protein interleukin 10 (IL-10), a substance produced within bodies that has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Because the joints of horses and dogs are similar biologically, researchers believe the approach will also work for canine patients once the best viral vector is determined.
OA is a chronic, progressive joint condition, affecting approximately 14 million adult dogs in the U.S. alone. In addition to limiting mobility and negatively impacting quality of life, OA is among the leading causes of euthanasia in dogs, according to Morris Animal Foundation.
“We need a treatment that stops the progression of osteoarthritis; that decreases the long-term inflammation in the joints,” says Felix Duerr, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA, DECVS, DACVSMR, assistant professor of small animal orthopedics and sports medicine at CSU. “Current treatments to control the pain fall short and often have complications, so if we can develop a minimally invasive method to successfully just treat that pain, that will be a win.”
If successful with preliminary findings, the team will move on to a small safety study in dogs with osteoarthritis and then a larger clinical trial to test the efficacy, Morris Animal Foundation says.
Are you using your pasture to its full potential? Optimizing grazing areas enhances a horse’s quality of life and overall health, and helps save money on preserved forages.
In a survey of pasture management practices in Florida, the advantages of using pasture were as plentiful as the fields themselves. The 36-question survey collected demographic information (number of horses, primary breed, acreage), forage utilization (type of forage fed, origin of hay), and pasture management practices (type of management, including stocking rates, mowing, and overseeding).
As horse owners can attest, feeding horses can be expensive. One way to lower the cost of managing horses is through the thoughtful use of pasture. More specifically, keeping horses on pasture can cost considerably less than preserved forages, such as traditional hay, hay cubes, and hay pellets.
Pasture allows horses an environment that “promotes natural behavior, increased feeding motivation, and decreased incidence of aberrant behaviors,” according to the researchers. In addition, horses that are turned out on pasture have less exposure to dust from hay, which is especially important for those with compromised breathing.
Simply using available pasture, however, does not ensure that your horse will be healthier.
In the study, only 6% of respondents had their pasture forage analyzed for nutrient analysis. “Analysis of forages, be it for pasture or purchased hay, makes diet formulation more science than guesswork and will ensure each horse’s nutritional requirements are met,” Crandell relayed.
Further, pasture management practices such as rotating grazing areas, ensuring appropriate stocking rates, fertilizing, liming, and overseeding with more than one species of grass or legumes are not used to their fullest potential. Again, this means that even when horses are turned out they may not be consuming all required nutrients.
“Whenever possible, soils and forage should be analyzed. Horses can then be offered high-quality concentrates or targeted supplementation to fill any nutritional voids,” Crandell recommended.
Eliminating the administration of illicit, gene doping therapies in racehorses and other equine athletes is the driving force behind a new development out of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet). Researchers have created and validated a quantitative test to detect the presence of a potential gene-doping agent in the joint fluid and blood of a horse.
The research, which was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) and the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission (PHRA), offers a “significant breakthrough” in the fight to advance the welfare and integrity of sport, both for horses and humans, Penn Vet says.
“As breeders, protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our horses is a deeply profound and personal priority for our membership,” says PHBA’s executive secretary, Brian Sanfratello. “These scientific discoveries get us one step closer to our dream of someday keeping equine sport completely clean.”
Gene doping agents trigger cells to produce performance enhancing proteins, according to Penn Vet. These proteins are often elusive due to their similarity to those that naturally occur within the body, making it difficult to determine whether or not an animal or human has had gene therapy administered.
Penn Vet’s research team, led by Mary Robinson, PhD, VMD, DACVCP, director of the Equine Pharmacology Laboratory at the college’s New Bolton Center, has developed a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect whether a specific gene therapy agent has been injected into the joint of a horse.
Additionally, the test can perceive the agent in the animal’s blood up to 28 days after administration. This window, researchers say, could be useful before races, as well as out of competition testing.
“The ability to detect the presence of these gene doping agents in blood after local administration to joints just magnifies the implications of this game-changing development,” says Joanne Haughan, DVM, one of the study’s leads. “The science is closing in on those who seek to use these advancements for wrongful means; the more we learn with each study, the harder it will be for individuals who seek to cheat the system using gene doping strategies.”
Researchers hope to expand and refine their testing methodology to create screening tests that would successfully identify multiple gene doping agents for even longer periods of time, Penn Vet reports. “We still have a lot of work to do to better understand the nature of biomarkers and how to fully harness their capabilities, but the science for detecting gene doping is getting there and much more quickly than any of us could have anticipated when we started this research,” Dr. Robinson says.
A 75-year-old Florida man walking his daughter’s golden retriever near his condominium had his leisurely stroll with a good boy turned into a life and death fight when a gator popped out of a retention pond and locked its jaws on the dog, because that’s just life in Florida. Ancient blood-thirsty dinosaurs pop out of ponds and try to eat your best friends.
Buddy Ackerman wasn’t having any of that though. When the 8-foot gator leaped out of the pond and grabbed Osi, Ackerman’s daughter’s dog, Ackerman immediately went into fight mode. Osi was on a retractable leash as Ackerman walked him around 5:30 in the morning, so it was still dark outside. Ackerman suddenly heard Osi whimpering and saw the gator latched onto the dog. He pulled on the leash before finally running up and kicking the gator in the snout repeatedly until the reptile finally let go of Osi and slithered back into hell.
One farm in upstate New York also offers the udderly unusual wellness treatment and mental health benefits for people to de-stress. Mountain Horse Farm located in Naples, New York about five hours from Manhattan, is letting guests cuddle up to these larger mammals for $300 a pop. Yes, you read that right, people are spending $300 to spend an hour and a half cow cuddling in a field.
The bed and breakfast (which also features a spa) hosts couples retreats and relaxing weekends, but what makes this Finger Lakes farm so unique is the Horse & Cow Experience. Said to “bring relaxation, healing, awareness about your body language, comfort, Mindfulness, build assertiveness, help with overcoming fear, [and] build confidence,” the horse and cow experience is the perfect way to escape your hectic lifestyle and spend a few minutes hugging a 1,600-pound animal.
Cows and horses are naturally calm and with the help of an equine specialist and a licensed counselor, this unique opportunity speaks to people who love furry cuddle buddies and are craving a good cuddle. According to the Mountain Horse Farm website, cows make great cuddle partners due to their higher body temperature, slower heartbeat, lower heart rate, and natural emotional support.
Each cow cuddling session starts in the Gathering Tipi with breathing exercises and a “cup game”. Guests are ushered out to the petting zoo where its cow-cuddling time. The guests have the opportunity to pet, brush and hug the animals. After the session is over guests are ushed back to the Gathering Tipi to reflect.
As with any new trend (especially wellness trends), there are a few nay-sayers. Farm owners in Kansas have spoken up to share, “Their job is to make us money by producing beef and going to market so we can eat them eventually. That’s the Midwestern life of a cow.” Another farmer just uttered the word, “Insanity”.
I get it. I’m an animal lover all around. I yell, “Cows!” whenever I pass them on the road. I stop to pet random dogs and chase feral cats when I see them in parking lots. And yeah, maybe I don’t have a degree in Applied Animal Behaviour Science or anything, but I’ve always wanted to visit a cat cafe and do goat yoga or bunny yoga (heck, I’d settle for goldfish yoga if I had to). But would I spend that kind of money to snuggle with a cow? Well, I’d milk it for what it’s worth.
It’s great to hear stories of how people get into their careers, especially first responders. Many of them recall how an event or person saved their lives, inspiring them to pursue that respective careers. Well, if dogs could talk, I’m sure this adorable pit bull would say the same thing.
In March of 2016, Bill Lindler, a South Carolina firefighter with the Hanahan Fire Department, came home to find his neighbor’s garage on fire. Of course, he naturally immediately stepped into his firefighting role, doing what he can before the fire department came. But he found himself limited when he realized a pit bull puppy was still stuck.
“I saw Mama dog and several puppies running out. I saw one puppy trying to make his way out, when a piece of the ceiling fell on top of him. He started yelping, but he wiggled himself free and backed into a corner and cowered down,” he said to the Dodo.
When the fire department arrived, Lindler went in the burning building to find little Jake, holding on to his last breath of life. Lindler explained, “I brought him outside, and he was pretty bad. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing. I did mouth-to-snout on him, until we could administer oxygen.”
Although little Jake survived, he needed to go to an emergency vet clinic. Lindler went to go check on the pitbull puppy, only to find that he was going to be claimed as “abandoned” since the puppy’s family did not come through to claim him.
Nevertheless, Lindler decided to adopt Jake as his own! He explained the the vet was thought it was appropriate that he should want Jake and to not worry about the medical bills cost. Over the next several weeks, Lindler helped Jake fully recover, despite Jake being burned over 70 percent of his body.
Soon enough, as Jake started to regain his health, Lindler brought him around the fire station. Everyone loved him so much that Jake was sworn in as an honorary member of the fire department as well as their official mascot, being the first dog to hold that title.
The poor puppy’s body still has scars from the fire, but it’s not stopping him from being an active part of the fire department. Wearing his scars like a badge, Jake tags along with his now fellow firefighter colleagues as they go to local schools to give fire prevention presentations. He even has a future with more responsibilities, as the Hanahan Fire Department planned to make him an arson detection dog, where he will learn to distinguish scents when a fire is happening.
Thank you for your service, Jake!
From the moment she was born, Skipper's life has been an uphill battle. The Australian shepherd-collie mix was born with six legs: a rare and life-threatening deformity. But despite possibly being the only dog born alive with this condition, Skipper the miracle puppy appears to be happy and healthy, Yahoo! reports.
Neel Veterinary Hospital in Oklahoma posted Skipper's story on February 21, 2021, four days after she was born. Vets suspect that she failed to fully separate from her litter mate in utero, leaving her with two pelvic regions, two lower urinary tracts, two reproductive systems, two tails, six legs, and a single head and chest cavity.
The doctors could find no record of another dog born alive with Skipper's mix of congenital defects. Her mother rejected the newborn, which means she has to be bottle-fed. Even though the odds were stacked against her from the start, Skipper has persevered. She's eating and going to the bathroom regularly, growing on schedule, and moving around on her own. Her organs are healthy and her legs move in response to stimuli, though she'll likely need help with mobility when she matures. Vets are still monitoring Skipper closely, but they're hopeful she will live longer than expected.
You can follow updates from owners on the puppy's progress through the Facebook page Skipper's Journey. Her caretakers are also accepting donations to fund her monthly X-rays and other medical procedures through GoFundMe.
It looks like this little rascal just wanted some good ol’ buttery rolls. A husky is being blamed for causing a house fire after turning on a microwave with food inside it. According to the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the fire began Monday afternoon at a home in Stanford-Le-Hope 25 miles east of London. The dog then inadvertently switched on the microwave which had a packet of bread rolls inside. The microwave was positioned off the floor on the kitchen counter.
The dog’s owner, who wasn’t home at the time of the incident, saw smoke coming from his kitchen through a camera feed on his phone. According to Geoff Wheal, watch manager at Corringham Fire Station, the strange incident could have been more serious. Wheal stated he and his colleagues arrived to find the kitchen full of smoke and was caught in time before it spread out. He also warned against storing any food in the microwave when the machine isn’t in use.
“When we arrived, the kitchen was filled with smoke. Firefighters ensured that the damage did not spread beyond the kitchen area — but it demonstrates that microwaves shouldn’t be used to store food when they aren’t in use. Our advice is to always keep your microwave clean and free of clutter or food and any packaging. Animals or children can turn them on more easily than you might think, so please don’t run the risk.”
Luckily, the man’s dog wasn’t hurt in the incident, but I bet he was so spooked when he saw the smoke going everywhere. My guess is that he knew those rolls were in there after sniffing around and just tried to open it as his human would. At least nothing serious happened, that’s what counts!
Still, the Essex County Fire & Rescue Services used the…let’s call it bizarre incident to serve as a reminder to homeowners about safety hazards while using kitchen appliances in their home. Also, maybe don’t leave anything flammable in a microwave if you don’t plan on eating it?
American Humane has proudly elected renowned philanthropist Jean Shafiroff to their board. She is already an ambassador for American Humane and is the national spokesperson for the organization’s “Feed the Hungry” Covid-19 program, an initiative designed to provide food for 1,000,000 shelter animals.
Jean Shafiroff is a philanthropist, humanitarian, TV host, writer, and the author of the book "Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give". Jean is often referred to as "the first lady of philanthropy" by the press because of her generosity and extensive work as a volunteer fundraiser and leader in the philanthropic world. She serves on the boards of many charitable organizations and each year chairs upwards of eight different charity galas. Among the many causes she champions are those involved in women’s rights, rights of the underserved, health care, and animal welfare.
In addition to American Humane, Jean serves on the boards of Southampton Hospital Association, NYC Mission Society, French Heritage Society, Couture Council of the Museum at FIT, Global Strays, and Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Honorary Board. A Catholic, she served on the board of the Jewish Board for 28 years and now is one of their honorary trustees.
Jean is the ambassador of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation and a key donor and volunteer fundraiser for their work. She is a New York Women's Foundation Board Alumna who remains very active with the Foundation and with women's issues in general.
For her philanthropy Jean has been honored many times by groups including the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, New York City Mission Society, Southampton Animal Shelter, Surgeons of Hope, Al Sharpton's National Action Network, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, Pet Philanthropy Circle, Animal Zone International, Youth Counselling League, the NYC International Film Festival Foundation, the Jewish Board, and the Hadassah. In December 2020 Dan's Paper named her Philanthropist of the Year at their Long Island Power Women's Award Ceremony.
Jean is the producer and host of the television show "Successful Philanthropy" which airs six times weekly through LTV studios in East Hampton, NY, as well as in New York City on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN): Spectrum Channel 34 and 1995, Verizon/FiOS Channel 33, and RCN Channel 82. The show will open in additional markets in 2021. On her TV program Jean interviews an eclectic mix of leaders in the world of philanthropy as well as actors, artists, business and civic leaders, and even a U.S. presidential candidate.
Despite their cute-but-tiny legs, French bulldogs are climbing to the top of America’s favorite breeds. On Tuesday, the American Kennel Club (AKC) announced that French bulldogs are continuing to "skyrocket in popularity" among U.S. pet owners, confirming that the dog is now recognized as the second-most popular purebred in America, just behind the Labrador retriever.
The French bulldog was also recognized as the favorite purebred for pet owners in Los Angeles for the third year running.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
"This breed's playful, alert and smart temperament make it a popular choice for both current and potential dog owners," said Gina DiNardo, the executive secretary of the American Kennel Club (AKC). DiNardo also added that the Frenchie’s popularity shows "no signs of slowing down." In becoming America’s second-favorite purebred dog, French bulldogs have officially knocked the German shepherd — which held the penultimate spot since 2009 — to third place. The golden retriever and the bulldog rounded out the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
The Labrador retriever, meanwhile, is celebrating its 30th straight year at the top of the list. "America’s love for Labs is undeniable," DiNardo said. "They’re such versatile, family-friendly dogs that it’s no wonder they’ve been so popular for 30 years." The Labrador retriever is celebrating its 30th straight year at the top of the AKC's list of most popular purebred dogs.
Another notable surprise from this year’s rankings include the Dachshund returning to the top 10 for the first time in seven years, effectively bumping the Pembroke Welsh Corgi down to 13th. The kennel club announced its rankings at a virtual press conference at the AKC Museum of the Dog in NYC. The AKC, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1884, maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world. +++++++++++++++++++++++