There's a photo that went viral in 2019, of two mountain gorillas behind a park ranger as he snaps a selfie in Congo's Virunga National Park.
One gorilla seems to glance over at the human with all the merely mild interest of a New Yorker, waiting on a subway platform, her hands at her side, as if rammed into imaginary pockets. The second gorilla, just behind the ranger, seems to lean into the shot, as if to say, "Hello! Look who's here, too!"
That's Ndakasi, whose death at the age of 14 was reported this week, by Virunga National Park. Ndakasi had been in the park since she was 2. Rangers found her shortly after her mother and other members of their family had been slaughtered by armed militia. The baby gorilla came into the care of a ranger named Andre Bauma. They changed each other's lives.
"She was tiny, she only weighed a couple of kilos," he told a 2014 BBC program. "We shared the same bed, I played with her, I fed her."
Ndakasi grew up to be strong and healthy — she liked Pringles, the snack chip — but stayed playful.
"Whenever she sees me, she climbs on my back like she would with her mother," Bauma told the BBC. He became the head of the orphanage at the park and would spend three weeks there, then one week at home.
"My human family understand that my work with the gorillas is important," he said. "I have a share of love that I give to my gorilla family and a share of love that I give to my human family."
This week, another photo went around the world. Ndakasi, looking weary and nearing death, was curled up with her great head, her eyes soft, on Bauma's strong shoulder. They looked like two beings giving solace, company and comfort to each other at a time of need.
Bauma said in a statement from the orphanage at Virunga National Park that knowing Ndakasi has "helped me to understand the connection between humans and great apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them."
"I loved her like a child," he said. "Her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her."
A new list highlights the “Best Airlines for Traveling With Your Pet.”
NerdWallet examined the nine largest U.S. airlines based on 11 factors.
According to the article: “We combed through the fine print, fees and policies of all the major airlines to find which ones charge the lowest fees, are the most flexible in terms of what pets you can bring and how well they handle pet transport.”
No. 1 on the list was Alaska Airlines. Key features included relatively low fees and high flexibility in terms of which types of pets can be brought onboard.
Next on the list were American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
Frontier and Southwest are solid options for your pets, with more pet-friendly policies than Spirit, JetBlue and Delta. United is the least pet-friendly airline according to our analysis.
Wildfires have always been a normal part of life in the American West. During a typical year in the late 20th century, fires burned about 500,000 acres a year in California — an area equal to roughly half the size of Rhode Island.
Over the past decade or so, the number of fires has held fairly steady. But their intensity has changed. The ground is drier, because climate change has reduced the amount of snow that comes down from California’s mountains and because droughts are more common. “Everything is burning more intensely,” Robert Foxworthy, a former firefighter who is now a spokesman for the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the NY Times.
The situation is not so different from what climate change seems to have done to hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean: They are not necessarily more frequent, but they are more intense.
For California and the other parts of the West, wildfires have become ferociously destructive. The average number of acres burned in the state exceeded one million from 2015 to 2019, meaning that fires annually burned an area greater than the size of Rhode Island. Last year, more than four million acres (which is larger than Connecticut) burned in California, and this year the number is around 2.5 million so far.
Together, the past two years of California wildfires have burned an area larger than the total acreage of New Jersey or Vermont. “The fire situation in California is unrecognizably worse than it was a decade ago,” Michael Wara, a Stanford University scientist, has told The Times.
The effort has involved more than 6,500 people, using hundreds of aircraft, trucks and bulldozers. The command center alone, which took over a county fairgrounds, came to resemble a makeshift town.
Dixie is now largely under control. But many of the firefighters and other workers who defeated it feel like they are losing the larger war.
“Fifteen years ago, a 100,000-acre fire would be the largest fire of your career. Now, we have one-million-acre fires,” said Kristen Allison, who has been a firefighter for the past 25 years. “Meanwhile, there are five other 100,000-acre fires burning right now in Northern California.”
"Residents in multiple communities in central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire reported hearing a loud boom or felt shaking Sunday morning. A Hubbardston native who emailed WCVB said that she heard a very loud boom while horseback riding near Lake Dennison in Winchendon. She also said that she felt a shock wave pass by her in the air and that the horses reacted to the sound, but noted that she did not feel the ground move. People who live in Fitchburg, Ashburnham, Gardner and Winchendon reported hearing what sounded like a loud explosion. Others say they felt their house and windows shaking. Meanwhile, WCVB's sister station in Manchester, New Hampshire, WMUR, received similar reports from Granite Staters. One person in Fitzwilliam who emailed WMUR said they felt about 10 seconds of shaking around 11:30 am."
"Neither Weston Observatory nor the U.S. Geological Survey have reported any earthquakes in Massachusetts or New Hampshire as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the USGS National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colorado, told WMUR he checked the seismographs for the New Hampshire area from Sunday morning and said he did not see anything that looked like an earthquake. Paul Raymond with the New Hampshire Department of Safety told WMUR that the FAA Regional Ops Center had no military plane activity over the state" WCVB reports. Yet some Meteorologists speculate it could have been a meter explosion that caused the boom.
The City of Lancaster is excited to announce that Bluehouse Greenhouse, Inc. (BHGH) is coming to the City to build a 62-acre greenhouse production facility that uses leading-edge technology to sustainably grow fruits and vegetables. "The BHGH facility will use an advanced closed loop sustainable ecosystem design to create the optimal environment for plant life, increasing quality, production, and consistency," Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said. Greenhouse agriculture is a commercial and sustainable method of farming that has taken years of science, data, and optimization to reach its current stage. The technology was started by the Dutch after World War II, perfected over time, and adapted around the world as a better way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. The enclosed glass and steel, climate-controlled greenhouses create the optimal growing climate for plants to thrive.
"Our greenhouses will combine traditional agriculture practices with advanced technologies to grow the best tasting, highest quality produce," said Ari Kashani, Founder of BHGH. "We are advancing agriculture to the new era; a more sustainable one. Our controlled greenhouses will produce 3,000% more yield per acre than a traditional farm, will use 90% less water, require 90% less human handling and will be free from any herbicides." As an example of the sustainability of greenhouse farming, a standard head of lettuce grown in the field consumes about 28 gallons of water from seed to harvest. In a greenhouse, the consumption drops to less than 2 gallons. The 62-acre BHGH Flagship facility will produce over 50 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables annually to be distributed to local and regional markets.
BHGH has worked closely with the City's Planning Division to ensure that Lancaster's standards for building efficient and sustainable structures were met. "The project will bring hundreds of new construction jobs to the City, as well as over 200 permanent skilled jobs," said Ari Kashani. "Innovation, technology, sustainability, and productivity drive the City's long-term success for supporting forward-thinking industries and has earned the city a third time win as Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation's 'Most Business-Friendly City.' With an abundant source of natural light, dry manageable climates, excellent transportation linkages, and a strong, supportive local community, Lancaster is the ideal location to ensure highly productive and profitable operations. Lancaster was also strategically chosen for its proximity to a dense hyper-local population with over 24 million residents in Southern California alone."
Today, over 60% of vine crops consumed in the United States are imported from other countries. "There's an increasing need to replace imports with domestically grown produce," said Kashani. California is one of the largest agricultural states in the country but increasingly faces climate and water challenges. "For agriculture to remain a dominant industry, farming practices must leverage today's technological advances. With the future of field farming becoming ever more uncertain, greenhouse agriculture is becoming more of a necessity," said Kashani. "This marks the beginning of an important movement that can become a model for the entire nation to build secure and self-sufficient controlled agricultural environments," Parris said. "It's a whole new, more efficient and sustainable way to cultivate, produce, and feed our country." Antelope Valley Engineering, a local design and engineering firm with deep roots in the Antelope Valley, is leading the master planning and engineering effort for this intricate agro-park development. The facility is slated to break ground in Winter 2021/2022 and plans to be in production with fruits and vegetables on the market in late Winter 2022. ++++++++++++++++
Bond Vet, a design-forward, tech-enabled brand of veterinary care clinics in New York, today announced a $170 million investment from Warburg Pincus, a leading global growth investor. The funding will be used to expand Bond Vet's footprint and invest in equipment, training, culture and technology to further improve the clinical experience for veterinarians, pets and pet parents alike.
Bond Vet offers a highly flexible, convenient experience for veterinary care, with clinics providing a wide range of appointment options including pre-scheduled appointments, walk-in visits, and telehealth. Its breadth of services spans from wellness checkups and traditional GP offerings to urgent care, such as wound treatment, GI issues and mass removals. Since its inception in June of 2019, Bond Vet has treated more than 40,000 pets in the New York City area.
"The increase in pet ownership, accelerated by the rise of adoptions and need for care during the pandemic has demonstrated an enormous opportunity to improve veterinary services, especially in urgent and emergent cases for pets," said Mo Punjani, Co-Founder and CEO of Bond Vet. "Bond Vet meets the demand for a high-quality, convenient experience for pet care, supported by our best-in-class technology and standards for medical excellence. The new partnership with Warburg Pincus and the continuing support of our initial capital provider Talisman Capital, will help accelerate our growth and enable us to provide the best experience for our pets, pet parents and our veterinarians in New York and beyond."
"There is tremendous opportunity ahead, and we are well positioned to change the face of veterinary medicine as we know it. Our goal is to work hard to elevate the industry, and to create the most supportive work environment for our care providers, including our outstanding team of veterinarians, veterinary nurses, veterinary assistants and care coordinators," added Dr. Zay Satchu, Co-Founder and Chief Veterinary Officer of Bond Vet.
Warburg Pincus is a leading investor in healthcare and technology, investing over $12 billion and $24 billion into healthcare and technology companies, respectively. The firm is an experienced investor in urgent care platforms, including being a majority investor in Summit Health/CityMD. Other notable investments include Alignment Healthcare, Experity, Intelligent Medical Objects, Modernizing Medicine, PetPlan, Qualifacts, Quantum Health, and WebPT. Bond Vet's mission and differentiators fit well into the Warburg Pincus portfolio.
"Bond Vet offers a highly differentiated value proposition, focusing equally on the experience of the pet parent, the veterinary clinician, and pets through its convenient locations, smart design, and tech-enabled platform. We look forward to leveraging our experience in multi-site healthcare to expand Bond Vet's footprint and take advantage of the growing market and increased demand for veterinary services," said TJ Carella, Managing Director and Head of Healthcare, Warburg Pincus. "As one of the fastest growing platforms in veterinary services, we are excited to partner with Mo, Zay, Lukas and the Bond Vet and the Talisman teams to scale the company across New York and the country," added Pranav Verma, Vice President, Warburg Pincus.
Seven major offshore wind farms would be developed on the east and west coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico under a plan announced Wednesday by the Biden administration. The projects are part of Joe Biden’s plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.
Deb Haaland, the interior secretary, said her department hoped to hold lease sales by 2025 off the coasts of Maine, New York and the mid-Atlantic, as well as the Carolinas, California, Oregon and the Gulf of Mexico. The projects could avoid about 78m metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, while creating up to 77,000 jobs, officials said.
“The interior department is laying out an ambitious road map as we advance the administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” Haaland said.
In addition to offshore wind, the interior department is working with other federal agencies to increase renewable energy production on public lands, Haaland said, with a goal of at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy from wind and solar power by 2025. Haaland and Amanda Lefton, director of department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said officials hoped to reduce potential conflicts with fishing groups and other ocean users as much as possible. “This means we will engage early and often with all stakeholders prior to identifying any new wind energy areas,” Lefton said in a statement.
Biden has set a goal to deploy 30 gigawatts, or 30,000 megawatts, of offshore wind power in the United States by 2030. Meeting the target could mean jobs for more than 44,000 workers and for 33,000 others in related employment, the White House said.
The bureau completed its review of a construction and operations plan for the Vineyard Wind project 15 miles off the Massachusetts coast earlier this year. The agency is reviewing nine additional projects, including the South Fork wind farm near New York’s Long Island and the Ocean Wind project off New Jersey. Vineyard Wind is expected to produce about 800 megawatts of power and South Fork about 132 megawatts. Ocean Wind, the largest project, has a total capacity of 1,100 megawatts, enough energy to power 500,000 homes across New Jersey.
Heather Zichal, a former climate adviser to Barack Obama who now leads the American Clean Power Association, a renewable energy group, said Biden’s goal for offshore wind was “ambitious but achievable”. Wind power was an essential part of the goal to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, she said.
In a related announcement, the energy department said it was spending $11.5m to study risks that offshore wind development may pose to birds, bats and marine mammals, and survey changes in commercial fish and marine invertebrate populations at an offshore wind site on the east coast. “In order for Americans living in coastal areas to see the benefits of offshore wind, we must ensure that it’s done with care for the surrounding ecosystem by coexisting with fisheries and marine life – and that’s exactly what this investment will do,” energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a news release. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
When it comes to the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), animal health professionals seem to understand the crucial role they play.
A study conducted by the University of Guelph (U of G) in collaboration with VCA Animal Hospitals reveals veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada are prescribing shorter courses of antibiotics for dogs with urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The findings, says lead author, Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, an infectious disease specialist and professor in U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) department of pathobiology, are an encouraging step toward the global “One Health” effort to reduce the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials.
“Improving antimicrobial stewardship requires a clear understanding of when and how antimicrobials are used in pets,” Dr. Weese explains. “This analysis can inform an evidence-based approach to stewardship and the development of antibiotics-prescribing guidelines to further support veterinarians as we look to advance veterinary care in practice.”
UTIs affect one out of every seven dogs at some point in their lifetime and frequently lead to antimicrobial prescriptions, U of G reports. Using data collected from 2016 to 2018, researchers investigated more than 7,800 prescriptions written for three types of UTI in dogs: bladder infection, recurrent bladder infection, and kidney infection.
On average, 55 percent of dogs were treated with a recommended first-line drug, representing an increase to 59 percent in 2018 from 52 percent in 2016.
Additionally, study period saw the average treatment course length for UTIs drop from 14 days to 10 days, U of G reports. Shorter courses offer several benefits, including reduced risk of side effects, lower treatment costs, and increased client compliance.
“Veterinary services play an essential role in managing animal health risks,” says the study’s co-author, Phil Bergman, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM, director of clinical studies with VCA. “Understanding how antibiotics are used in veterinary practice enables us to set and update benchmarks, identify areas for improvement, and develop sustainable interventions to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance on animals, humans, and the planet. This analysis is a crucial first step.”
The findings have been published in Journal of Small Animal Practice.
Cats afflicted with a deadly type of cancer may soon have renewed hope, thanks to a promising new treatment.
Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands are using nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy to tackle oral squamous cell carcinoma in feline patients. The method utilizes light, along with a tumor-cell targeted, light-sensitive chemical to precisely trigger cancer cell death, the foundation reports.
“There is a great need for treatments of this specific type of cancer,” says Utrecht University associate professor, Sabrina Santos Oliveira, PhD. “Nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy could provide a new opportunity for treating cats.”
Oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral cancer in cats, accounting for roughly eight to 10 percent of all cancers diagnosed, Morris Animal Foundation says. The tumors make eating and drinking difficult and are painful.
The cancer spreads locally and imbeds deeply into the oral tissue, making complete surgical removal rare. Once diagnosed, the average survival time for feline patients is three months.
“I cannot stress enough the need for new treatments for this terrible cancer,” says Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS. “If effective, nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy could help thousands of cats affected by oral squamous cell carcinoma each year.”
While conventional photodynamic therapy uses light and a light-sensitive chemical to treat cancer, nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy uses tumor-cell targeted antibody fragments coupled to the chemical, offering a more precise treatment, Morris Animal Foundation reports.
Dr. Santos Oliveira plans to move the treatment to clinical cases in the next few months. She anticipates the study will take two years to complete.
As fall is (reluctantly) upon us, some intend to soon have their horses’ shoes pulled. This is not uncommon in the winter, especially where I practice in the Northeast. While the owner’s wallet and the horse can see immediate benefits, it’s important to consider a few factors before making the transition. I sat down with Alicia Harlov, a full-time hoof care provider in Northeastern Massachusetts and the creator of the Humble Hoof Podcast, to pick her brain on this topic.
Winter’s slower pace and accompanying snow (which can stick to horseshoes and form slippery ice balls) can be a great time to transition your horse to barefoot. “Pulling shoes over the winter is also a great way to get ahead of nagging pathologies (diseases or conditions) that we often chase throughout the rest of the year,” said Harlov. “It can allow for observing wear patterns, changes in growth and movement, and making trim adjustments if needed.”
Shoes are necessary for many horses, both athletes and backyard friends alike. “One benefit some find with shoes is their ability to provide stability to the foot, but with that stability often comes a compromise of natural hoof function,” said Harlov. “Allowing the feet time to rest out of shoes can result in benefits to the caudal hoof, relaxing contracted heels, growing healthier frogs, and strengthening the structures in the back half of the foot especially.”
So what’s the best way to approach the transition to barefoot? Harlov recommends pulling hind shoes first. This gives the horse the opportunity to adjust to changes in stance and locomotion or any unintended, fleeting discomfort. “Pulling all four shoes at once, for some horses, can make them feel as though they have no comfortable foot to stand on as they adjust,” she said.
Shod or not, the trim is the foundation for the horse’s soundness. During the transition it’s best to do a minimal trim. “When you’re already removing a huge part of their protection (shoes), removing any more off their foot can cause soreness and setbacks,” Harlov explained. “As you notice the growth, wear patterns, and movement change over the following cycles, the trim can be adjusted to the horse’s individual balance and needs, but rarely do I trim sole on a barefoot performance horse (or retired horse, for that matter).”
Foot pathologies play a role in every aspect of podiatry, not just barefoot. “Every horse responds to the transition to barefoot differently, and many can surprise us with how well—or how poorly—they handle it at first,” says Harlov. Many of the problems she finds “to be a symptom of underlying metabolic issues or diet sensitivities and mineral imbalance. Any of these can make a barefoot transition difficult and cause soreness, so I seek to be proactive about them before the shoes come off.” A well-balanced and complete diet, as well as any necessary metabolic testing and treatment, can resolve many pesky foot complications.
Barefoot is not for every horse, whether the owner wants to accept it or not. After pulling shoes for the winter, if your horse develops sudden lameness, increased digital pulse, or reluctancy to move, talk to your farrier. He or she can assess your horse’s podiatry needs and help you decide what your horse might need to function. Many horses go barefoot, whether year-round or just seasonally, and do so wonderfully. If you have any concerns or questions, contact your regular hoof care provider to make a proper plan for your horse. “Some horses need an adjustment in their workload at first as their feet strengthen, while others can immediately go back to their previous workload seemingly unaffected,” says Harlov. ++++++++++++++++
Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG Entertainment) and the Westminster Kennel Club have announced that tickets for the 146th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show presented by Purina Pro Plan® at Madison Square Garden are on sale now at msg.com/dogshow. The event will return to The World’s Most Famous Arena on Tuesday, January 25, and Wednesday, January 26, 2022.
The Westminster Kennel Club, established in 1877, is America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of dogs. Its mission, which enhances the lives of all dogs, celebrates the companionship of dogs, promotes responsible dog ownership and breed preservation. The Club hosts the iconic, all-breed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., and since 1948, the longest nationally televised live dog show. Its annual “Best in Show” winner is affectionately known as “America’s Dog.”
Tickets start at $40 and are available online at msg.com/dogshow. Select seating also available at westminsterkennelclub.org. Service charges apply to internet orders. Tickets will be available in person beginning tomorrow at the Ticketmaster Box Offices at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre. For group sales, please call 212-465-6080. Accessible and companion seats are available via the Disabled Services Department at 888-609-7599.
In order to attend the event, all guests age 12 and older will be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (meaning the day of the event is at least 14 days after their final vaccine dose). On the day of the event, guests can provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination through a physical copy, a photo on their smartphone, or a mobile app, along with an appropriate ID matching the name on the documentation. Children under 12 can attend with a vaccinated adult, but children ages 2 to 11 will need to wear a mask while inside the venue, except while actively eating or drinking. Please note that government mandates, venue protocols and event requirements are subject to change, so be sure to continue to check the event page on msg.com for the latest information.
For more information on #WestminsterWeekend visit: westminsterkennelclub.org.
A massive alligator gar has been caught in Kansas for the first time in state history — and puzzled biologists are probing how it got there in the first place, wildlife officials said.
The 4.5-foot, 39.5-pound gar — often referred to as a “living fossil fish” because its lineage dates back nearly 100 million years — was pulled from the Neosho River last month by angler Danny Lee “Butch” Smith, Kansas Wildlife and Parks officials revealed this week.
Alligator gar are usually only found in parts of southwestern Ohio and southeastern Missouri and Illinois.
Biologists are investigating how the predatory fish ended up in Kansas.
The most likely scenario is that the alligator gar was released from an aquarium into the river after it became too large.
“It’s not unlikely that this fish was once somebody’s pet or purchased from a pet store, and simply released into the river once it became too large,” said Doug Nygren, KDWP Fisheries Division director.
Officials said it’s unlikely the gar made its own way into the river because of the distance to the nearest population, but they aren’t ruling anything out just yet.
They plan to study the gar’s fins to work out if it had been tagged and came from another state’s population. “Because most populations of this species can be distinguished from one another with a sample of the fish’s fins, another option we’re considering is genetic identification,” said KDWP assistant director of fisheries research Jeff Koch.
“This will tell us if the fish came from an existing population in another state.”