Robert Quackenbush, a prolific children’s book author who conceived of the beloved character Henry the Duck, as well as detective animals such as Detective Mole and Miss Mallard, died May 17 at his home in the New York City borough of Manhattan. He was 91.
His wife, Margery Quackenbush, said the cause was leukemia.
Over 60 years Quackenbush created a distinct children’s literary universe. He worked on about 200 titles and wrote and illustrated bedtime staples such as “Henry’s Awful Mistake” and “Too Many Lollipops.” His stories about Miss Mallard, an inquisitive duck who solves crimes around the world in plots that resemble Agatha Christie capers, were adapted into an animated television series in 2000.
He also conceived of sleuthing critters such as Sheriff Sally Gopher and Sherlock Chick, who starts his investigations immediately after hatching from an egg (he emerges holding a magnifying glass) and discovering that his farm’s feed bin is missing its corn (a gang of crows stole it). For his work on Detective Mole, who wears a trenchcoat and houndstooth deerstalker hat, he received an Edgar Allan Poe Award for best juvenile mystery in 1982.
“Mysteries are so important for children because they want to know why they’re here and what’s going on between Mommy and Daddy,” Quackenbush said in a 2020 video interview. “They are the first detectives.”
Quackenbush’s colorful children’s stories often took inspiration from his own life as a parent and a New Yorker who lived on East 79th Street in Manhattan for more than 50 years.
A month ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, the city has another reason to celebrate - giant panda Shin Shin has given birth to twin cubs at Ueno Zoo, the first panda birth there in four years.
The Tokyo zoo's website listed the two newborn pandas as being born an hour and a half apart at 1:03 a.m. (1403 GMT) and 2:32 a.m. on Wednesday. Their gender has not been determined, and they have not yet been named.
"All the staff are working together to observe and protect the giant panda mother and children," the zoo said in a statement on its panda website.
One of the cubs weighs 124 g (4.37 ounces), according to the announcement. The other's weight is unknown. The cubs are roughly the length of an adult human hand, as seen in a picture on the zoo's website.
Shin Shin was born on July 3, 2005, at the Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China, and arrived at Ueno Zoo a decade ago, along with her male partner Ri Ri. The pair are also parents to a female panda named Xiang Xiang, born in June 2017.
It is not immediately known when the newborn cubs are expected to go on display at the zoo. Shin Shin had been removed from public view since the zoo reopened from its pandemic closure on June 4, when she was showing signs of possibly being pregnant.
Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, as the females go into heat only once a year and can be picky about partners.
"The pandas are now a family of five. This is such happy news," said Japan's chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato, offering his congratulations to the zookeepers on the birth.
"I believe everyone at the zoo is doing all they can day and night to keep the panda family healthy first, and I hope everyone will watch over them warmly and quietly."
Thursday, the USDA announced a proposed rule that would require disaster plans for animals at facilities regulated by the federal government—like puppy mills and roadside zoos.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States said:
“It’s simply common sense to protect animals, as well as people, during disaster events. Following Hurricane Katrina, federal funding for state and local response agencies became a requirement. However, this left the hundreds of thousands of animals held in commercial facilities including laboratories, roadside zoos and puppy mills unprotected. We now have a renewed opportunity to ensure that these animals have a chance at survival in a disaster. Like our pets, wild animals, breeding dogs, and laboratory animals in USDA regulated facilities deserve protection as we seek to strengthen our nation’s disaster and emergency response capacity. This rule imposes no costly burden on the regulated entities; rather, it enables them to meet and uphold a higher standard of animal welfare.”
Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund said:
“Requiring puppy mills, laboratories and roadside zoos to plan for disasters isn’t federal government interference—it’s compassionate foresight. The expanding threats posed by environmental events and human-created emergencies demand that entities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act take steps to safeguard animals in their care. With this proposal, USDA demonstrates that it too understands what animal advocates have long known, that animal-related disaster readiness is good for everyone—animals, society and the regulated enterprises. We commend Secretary Vilsack for moving forward on it, and are so grateful to legislators who have helped bring us to this point, especially Representatives Sanford Bishop, Dina Titus and Rodney Davis for championing this cause.”
Almost three-fourths of the western U.S. is gripped by drought so severe that it’s off the charts of anything recorded in the 20-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Mountains across the West have seen little precipitation, robbing reservoirs of dearly needed snowmelt and rain, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist and Drought Monitor author with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The parched conditions mean the wildfire threat is high and farmers are struggling to irrigate crops. Meanwhile, dropping water levels in Lake Oroville, one of California’s largest reservoirs, forced authorities to remove more than 100 houseboats, according to the Weather Channel.
“Water supply is the big story for the West, and we are getting in trouble with all the interests that try to compete for a slice of that water,” Rippey said by telephone. “There is not a lot to go around this year.”
Unlike the eastern U.S., in the West most water comes in winter months in the form of rain that gushes into reservoirs or snow that piles up on mountainsides. Last year, drought cost the nation $4.5 billion, according to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information. This year, what little snow that fell soon melted away and seeped into dusty ground rather than rivers, streams and reservoirs.
“We have never seen a drought at the scale and the intensity that we see right now, and it is possible that this may be the baseline for the future,” Elizabeth Klein, senior counselor for the Department of Interior told a Congressional hearing last week. “California is currently experiencing its third-driest year on record; the second two driest years on record, and the driest year since 1977.”
Through the end of April, 1.7 million acre-feet of water melted off California’s mountains, down from the normal rate of 8 million, Rippey said. In the last two years, there has only been 4 million.
“This is, by far, the worst recharge year in modern history,” Rippey said.
In addition to the drought figures, officials are concerned about the Colorado River, which powers hydroelectric plants and provides drinking and irrigation water across much of the Southwest and parts of Mexico. So much water is taken out of the Colorado, in fact, that it rarely ever makes it to its historical delta in the Gulf of California.
Based on paleohydrology, scientists say the Colorado is experiencing one of its driest periods in 1,200 years, Klein said.
Determining early indicators of disease and helping dogs lead the longest, healthiest lives possible is the driving force behind Morris Animal Foundation’s latest partnership.
Cellular Longevity, Inc., (DBA Loyal, a biotech start-up company) is set to explore epigenetic changes in canine DNA using samples from the foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. The research, Morris says, aims to investigate how various biomarkers could indicate future health outcomes, including cancer.
“The dogs in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study offer us a unique opportunity to investigate how various biomarkers change throughout life and might be predictive or causal of their future lifespan and healthspan,” says Loyal’s founder and CEO, Celine Halioua.
Specifically, the study will attempt to discern differences in DNA between dogs that developed cancer in their lifetime and dogs that did not. Researchers will analyze DNA from blood samples, collected over nine sequential years from healthy golden retrievers and those that developed lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma.
The team will focus on patterns of DNA methylation in the samples, Morris reports. Previous studies have demonstrated certain methylation patterns correlate with age and can predict age-related diseases, such as cancer. It is hypothesized aging drugs may improve or prevent age-related methylation changes.
Researchers will statistically analyze and compare methylation patterns between both healthy dogs and those that developed cancer to identify specific patterns that could predict the onset of the disease and determine when these changes first arise.
“If we can discover the beginnings of a pattern, maybe there is a way to watch for certain changes in a dog’s DNA before cancer happens,” Halioua says. “What we find could provide clues to prevention and early diagnostics, as well as paths to novel drug development for aging and age-related cancers.”
“Loyal’s focus on better understanding the canine aging process and underlying biomarkers aligns with our efforts to give dogs longer, healthier lives,” adds Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS. “We are excited to work with them and look forward to sharing data from our Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, adding to the scientific findings of this impactful initiative.”
The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is among the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health studies in the U.S. While primarily intended to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs, extensive data collection is informing other areas of canine health as well.
A seven-year-old Labrador retriever named Leo is back to hiking trails and playing fetch five months after undergoing a total ankle replacement procedure at the University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Hospital.
Performed by Stanley Kim, BVSc, an associate professor of small animal surgery, the operation aimed to address Leo’s chronic lameness, which had developed due to severe ankle (or hock) arthritis, the university reports.
The issues started in Leo’s left ankle when he was about two years old, according to his owner, Maggie Smallwood, a third-year veterinary student at UF. The dog was “tentatively” diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a bone and cartilage condition that can lead to osteoarthritis (OA).
“We managed it conservatively, with anti-inflammatory medications as needed, but Leo is very active and, as he aged, the lameness was getting more frequent,” Smallwood says. “He was losing muscle mass in that limb because of it. Although Leo is a stoic dog, he would be sore after walks, hikes, and especially after playing fetch.”
When Smallwood learned UF Small Animal Hospital offered total ankle replacement, she approached Dr. Kim to see if it was an option for Leo. The dog was ultimately deemed a suitable candidate.
The three-hour procedure involved replacing the damaged surfaces of Leo’s joint with a prosthetic implant designed to replicate these surfaces and eliminate the pain associated with end-stage OA of the joint.
“The implant replicates the natural articular surfaces of a dog’s ankle and utilizes the latest in biomedical manufacturing and material technologies,” says Betsy Sives, marketing manager for BioMedtrix, the developer of the proprietary TATE Ankle.
The procedure required milling out the joint with a special drill tool and directly inserting the implants together, Kim says. The implants are cementless, with a porous coating that encourages the natural bone to grow onto it.
The surgery went well, though it was about three months before Leo was cleared to work toward his preoperative lifestyle. “There were some life adjustments made to accommodate his restrictions, including his confinement pen, and keep him entertained while on cage rest, but we both looked forward to his range of motion exercises and sniff breaks outside on the leash,” Smallwood says. “His recovery was super smooth and each recheck gave us great news on his recovery.”
Now five months post-op, Leo and his owner recently returned from a trip to North Carolina where they hiked together for the first time since his surgery. “He was like a new man,” Smallwood says. “We are looking forward to getting back on the trails full force.”
Due to a heightened risk of rabies, canine imports from 113 countries have been temporarily halted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The suspension, which comes into effect July 14, applies to all dogs, including puppies, emotional support dogs, and canines that traveled out of the U.S. and are returning from high-risk countries, Reuters reports. It also includes dogs arriving from other nations if they have been in a high-risk country within six months. Countries deemed “high risk” include Russia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Ecuador, Cuba, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Nigeria, CDC reports.
On “an extremely limited basis,” CDC has the authority to issue advance written approval to import a dog from a high-risk country. To do so, individuals must obtain written approval from CDC at least 30 business days (six weeks) in advance.
The countries currently under the suspension are:
- Algeria, Angola
- Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi
- Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti
- Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia
- Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau
- Lesotho, Liberia, Libya
- Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique
- Namibia, Niger, Nigeria
- Republic of the Congo, Rwanda
- Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan
- Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Togo, Tunisia
- Western Sahara
- Zambia, Zimbabwe
Americas and Caribbean
- Belize, Bolivia, Brazil
- Colombia, Cuba
- Dominican Republic
- Ecuador, El Salvador
- Guatemala, Guyana
- Haiti, Honduras
Asia and the Middle East, Eastern Europe
- Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan
- Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei
- Cambodia, China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan)
- India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq
- Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan
- Laos, Lebanon
- Malaysia, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma)
- Nepal, North Korea
- Pakistan, Philippines
- Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria
- Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Turkey, Turkmenistan
- Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
In the face of a life-threatening bout of laminitis, horses require aggressive pain management. In addition to traditional pharmaceuticals, cryotherapy can help relieve pain, but only if specific temperatures are reached.
Unlike humans, horses can tolerate prolonged cooling of their lower limbs. How cold their limbs and feet must be to benefit from the pain relief afforded by cooling was recently explored.* In the study, healthy horses without laminitis had one forelimb submerged in a cool bath up to the accessory carpal bone. The temperature of the water bath was slowly lowered from 34° C to 1° C (93° F to 33° F). At specific time points of the study, skin temperatures were recorded as were reactions to a stimulus in the middle of the cannon bone, lengthwise.
Each horse’s response to a stimulus was determined using a device that pressed a small, blunt 1-mm pin onto the horse’s skin with increasing force until a reaction was observed. Reactions included lifting the foot, muscle-flexing on the tested limb, or shifting of the body weight away from the stimulus.
“The study revealed that horses were significantly less reactive to a stimulus once the skin temperature dropped below 7° C (44° F). In order to achieve a skin temperature of 7° C, however, the temperature of the water bath needed to be 2° C (34° F),” explained Peter Huntington, B.V.Sc., M.A.C.V.Sc., director of nutrition at Kentucky Equine Research.
Cryotherapy may therefore prove a valuable and much-needed adjunctive pain-relieving modality for laminitic horses.
“Many pharmaceutical drugs are currently used to manage horses with laminitis, but not all of those medications provide adequate pain relief in all patients. Further, some medications have important side effects that should be considered on an individual basis,” Huntington said.
An array of nutritional, physical, and endocrine factors can trigger inflammation and pain in the sensitive laminae, and that pain must be addressed swiftly for a positive outcome.
“Owners can help protect the hoof health of susceptible horses by limiting exposure to inciting factors such unrestricted access to lush pastures or overfeeding of grain beyond recommended meal size. While no one can absolutely prevent laminitis in any horse, as there are too many factors at play, working with a knowledgeable nutritionist is one way to stack the odds against laminitis becoming a reality,” advised Huntington.
Horses sometimes refuse to drink following competition. One study shows that decreased water intake may result from decreased feed consumption.* Horses primarily drink water after eating. This behavior appears to be prompted by the large volumes of water that move into the large colon after a meal, drawing it out of circulation. As a result, horses feel dehydrated, essentially spiking thirst and driving them to drink.
“Owners withhold feed from their horses for a variety of reasons: before transport, prior to competition, or even by feeding ‘meals’ twice a day rather than allowing horses more continual access to feed,” advised Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a Kentucky Equine Research nutrition advisor. Feeding patterns and behaviors could therefore have a profound effect on a horse’s water intake and overall hydration status, performance, and health.
To better understand patterns of voluntary water intake, the amount of water consumed by eight fed and fasted horses was measured for four days. When fed, horses were offered high-grain diets consisting of 4.5 lb (2 kg) grain and 18 lb (8 kg) Bermudagrass hay per day divided into two meals. All horses had access to 40 liters of fresh water throughout the study period. Various physical and laboratory data were collected and analyzed during the study.
Key findings included:
- Feed deprivation did not cause any changes in vital signs or physical examination findings;
- Horses remained alert and responsive to their environments. They did not have any behavior changes, such as eating bedding or splashing in the water;
- Assessment of mucous membranes revealed no indication of dehydration;
- Horses lost 7.2% of their body weight during the four-day study period;
- Voluntary water intake was significantly lower when feed was deprived;
- The decrease in water intake began within 12 hours of withholding feed;
- Fecal and urine output appeared to decline based on direct observation;
- Sodium was significantly reduced during the feed deprivation; and
- Although still within normal limits, blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels were significantly higher in feed-deprived horses, consistent with mild dehydration.
“Feed deprivation resulted in an immediate and consistent reduction in voluntary water consumption. Horses appeared to only become mildly dehydrated, likely because horses can draw water from their large colon to preserve water balance for a short period of time,” explained Whitehouse.
In sum, these results confirm that even short-term withdrawal of feed results in a substantial decrease in voluntary water consumption. Therefore, feed interruptions for horses being transported for competition, for example, can potentially negatively affect performance due to inadequate hydration levels. “Horses with decreased feed consumption, either due to reduced appetite or management strategies, may be at risk for chronic mild or low-grade dehydration. This may be particularly salient for horses actively involved in competition. An electrolyte supplement offered with water in conjunction with a small meal may help tempt voluntary water intake,” advised Whitehouse.
The U.S. intelligence community, in conjunction with the Pentagon, is due in the coming days to submit a report to Congress on the subject of UFO sightings. The Pentagon in recent years has released or confirmed the authenticity of video from naval aviators showing enigmatic aircraft exhibiting speed and maneuverability exceeding known aviation technologies.
In the lead-up to its forthcoming report, Defense Department officials have made clear they take the issue seriously while sidestepping questions about any potential extraterrestrial origins. The report marks a turning point for the U.S. military after decades of deflecting, debunking and discrediting observations of unidentified flying objects and "flying saucers."
The experience of retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Alex Dietrich is a case in point. The fighter pilot was among several aviators from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz involved in a 2004 encounter off California's coast with unknown aircraft described as resembling large "Tic Tac" breath mints. Dietrich recalled in an interview with Reuters this week that the oblong object lacked "any visible flight control surfaces or means of propulsion."
She said she hopes her ability to go public will help ease the stigma others once faced under similar circumstances, encouraging them to "speak up, even if they don't know what they saw." The New York Times, citing senior administration officials briefed on a classified report, said officials found that the vast majority of more than 120 UAP incidents over the past two decades - many observed by personnel aboard U.S. Navy aircraft and warships - did not originate from any American military or other advanced government technology.
The term "unidentified flying objects," or UFOs, long associated with the notion of alien spacecraft, has been replaced in official government parlance by "UAP." In addition to the UAP 2004 incident, others from 2014 and 2015 occurring off the U.S. East Coast have been confirmed by the Navy, with the objects deemed "unidentified." The report, to be issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will include the work of a U.S. Navy-led task force established by the Pentagon in August 2020 to examine UAP incidents.
Public fascination with UFOs generally dates to 1947, when the pilot of a small airplane reported seeing nine "saucer-like" objects flying at supersonic speed near Mount Rainier in Washington state. His account gave rise to a newspaper headline about "flying saucers" and preceded a wave of similar U.S. sightings in subsequent months.
That same year, U.S. military officials said wreckage recovered near Roswell, New Mexico, represented remnants of a crashed weather balloon, though theories of a downed alien spacecraft and recovered bodies of extraterrestrial beings have lingered in UFO lore.
Reacting to such incidents during the height of the Cold War, a CIA advisory panel concluded that UFO sightings posed a potential threat to national security. So began the government's history of official skepticism toward such reports, according to Christopher Mellon, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for intelligence who has urged greater official transparency on the subject. While publicly dismissive of UFOs, the Air Force investigated and cataloged more than 12,000 sightings under its Project Blue Book program, categorizing 701 cases as "unidentified" before the project ended in 1969.
Many waterbird species which travel across hemispheres are affected by a wide range of environmental and anthropogenic factors. A first-of-its-kind study along the China coast, jointly conducted by the Science Unit of Lingnan University in Hong Kong (LU) and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS), quantified the 20-year wintering population trends of 42 waterbirds species in the Deep Bay area to evaluate the impacts of different threats along the East Asian-Australasian flyway (EAAF), providing important baseline information and recommendations on conservation.
HKBWS has been conducting waterbird surveys in the Deep Bay area since the early 1980s, which, since 1998, have developed into a monthly monitoring programme through the support of the Hong Kong Government, that is now the longest systematic survey along the China coast.
Taking the dataset collected from 1998 to 2017, the Lingnan University and HKBWS research team identified species traits correlating with population trends to shed light on the threats they experience in their breeding and migratory grounds. Of the 42 wintering waterbird species analysed, there has been a significant increase in the population of nine species over this 20-year period, including black-faced spoonbill, black-winged stilt, Chinese pond heron, common greenshank, Eurasian curlew, great knot, little grebe, Pacific golden plover and pied avocet. Of these, the black-faced spoonbill is the only species with sufficient data elsewhere supporting a regional population increase due to international conservation efforts for almost three decades. However, it is still classified as “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
Twelve out of 42 species, including the black-headed gull, common moorhen, common sandpiper, common shelduck, Dalmatian pelican, Eurasian coot, Eurasian teal, Eurasian wigeon, green sandpiper, grey heron, lesser black-backed gull and northern pintail, display apparent declines in population, and the Eurasian coot, northern pintail and Dalmatian pelican are judged to be declining in a regional assessment, suggesting that they have dwindling populations along the EAAF and need immediate conservation attention.
The research team noted that population trends of wintering waterbirds are associated with breeding grounds and stopover sites. Species breeding in Southern Siberia have decreased more than those breeding in East Asia. And species that rely on the Yellow Sea have declined more than others, given that the tremendous ecological value of the tidal flats in the Yellow Sea area has declined by over 50 per cent in the last 50 years, mainly due to coastal reclamation. The research team also found that larger species, such as Dalmatian Pelican and ducks, decreased more than small species over this 20-year period, and this may be due to hunting.
Officials with the Cocoa Police Department said they are heartbroken to announce the passing of their newest patrol dog, K-9 Zena.
K-9 Zena was discovered dead early Wednesday afternoon in the back of her patrol vehicle, police said.
Her handler found her when he went to check on her during a training class at the Criminal Justice Academy in Melbourne.
An active investigation is underway to determine the cause of death and to see if department policies and procedures were followed.
K-9 Zena was donated to the city last August. She was a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois who was trained and newly certified in April for patrol work, police said.
Officials said a criminal investigation is underway because they said Zena died as a result of unexplained circumstances.
Investigators studied the Cocoa Police Department car on Thursday. They took pictures; they looked inside and out. Those investigators work for the Melbourne Police Department, which impounded the Cocoa car late Wednesday after Zena, the young female police dog, was found dead in the back of the car.
A call went out to 911: "Can you be en route to India-1, 3865 North Wickham, Eastern Florida State parking lot?"
The Cocoa car had been parked at the Eastern Florida State College Law Enforcement Academy in Melbourne.
The car was apparently there for some hours; the officer came to check on the dog at 1:30 p.m., during the heat of the day.
Whether it was heat that killed the dog is under investigation.
A police spokeswoman says the car is a fully equipped canine vehicle with all the appropriate safety features, such as ventilation and alarm systems. Whether those safety systems were working is under investigation.
The city takes great pride in its canines; a TV program named one Cocoa dog the top police dog in the U.S. last year.
Zena’s handler has been placed on paid leave. Members of the department are described as heartbroken over the dog’s death.