A federal judge resentenced “Tiger King” Joe Exotic to 21 years in prison on Friday, reducing his punishment by just a year despite pleas from the former zookeeper for leniency as he begins treatment for cancer.
“Please don’t make me die in prison waiting for a chance to be free,” he told a federal judge who resentenced him on a murder-for-hire charge.
Joe Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — was convicted in a case involving animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. Both were featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”
Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Maldonado-Passage still had his trademark mullet hairstyle, but the bleach-blonde was fading to gray.
Baskin and her husband also attended the proceedings, and she said she was fearful that Maldonado-Passage could threaten her.
“He continues to harbor intense feelings of ill will toward me,” she said.
Friday’s court proceedings came about after a federal appeals court ruled last year that the prison term he’s serving on a murder-for-hire conviction should be shortened.
Supporters packed the courtroom, some wearing animal-print masks and shirts that read “Free Joe Exotic.” His attorneys said they would appeal both the resentencing and petition for a new trial.
The former zookeeper was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in prison after he was convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill Baskin. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the court should have treated them as one conviction at sentencing because they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida and had criticized Maldonado-Passage’s treatment of animals.
Prosecutors said Maldonado-Passage offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin during a recorded December 2017 meeting. In the recording, he told the agent, “Just like follow her into a mall parking lot and just cap her and drive off.” Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys have said their client — who once operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City — wasn’t being serious.
Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, also was convicted of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.
In 2019, Humane Society International rescued over 200 wild exotic animals from decrepit, barren and disturbing conditions at an unaccredited facility in Canada. In 2021, the former owner of the Saint-Édouard Zoo pleaded guilty to animal welfare violations relating to how and where the animals were kept, including inadequate and unsanitary facilities, and lack of veterinary care. They were ultimately able to go to Black Beauty and other accredited facilities.
Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for Humane Society International, was part of that three-month rescue operation and explained: “It was like most roadside zoos—to a visitor it may have seemed okay as most of the cruelty was hidden from paying customers. But we saw failing, dangerous fences and cages, chewed stalls holding malnourished and lonely animals, dead animals just below the soil, and animals who need to be in social groups anxious and alone. Down the dark corridor of a dilapidated, dank barn, through the pervasive spider webs and air thick with ammonia and dust, we found rows of stalls with isolated animals including a zebra, wildebeest, kangaroos, and so many others. A big cat ‘house’ was basically a shed over a filthy cement floor with enclosures fraught with unsafe and weakened spots from the cats’ chewing on them.”
Noelle Almrud, senior director of Black Beauty Ranch, said: “These animals will never be neglected or have to face darkness ever again. They are receiving all of the proper care they deserve, and now have the opportunity to relax in the sun or under a tree, graze in the tall grass, play, enjoy a proper diet and plenty of treats, and be the wild animals they are.”
The animals from the rescue who are now living at Black Beauty include:
- Kangaroo family Rachel, Ross, Joey, and Chandler,
- Tigers Serenity and Theodora,
- Douala the lioness,
- Once living in the dark trying to chew his way out of his tight enclosure, Zuko the zebra
- Wolfgang the wildebeest
- Norman the nilgai
- Nemu a very curious emu
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, said: “Roadside zoos put profit over public safety and the welfare of animals. No animal should be forced to languish in deplorable conditions. At Black Beauty Ranch, these animals are finally getting a chance to be themselves and express their natural behaviors. That nightmare is finally over for them.”
In March 2019, scientists studying whales near southwestern Australia stumbled on a supersize spectacle that few had seen before — a pod of orcas viciously attacking a blue whale.
Over a dozen orcas surrounded the mighty animal. They had already bitten off its dorsal fin, and the animal was unable to evade the fast and agile predators. The water ran red with the blood of the massive creature, and chunks of its flesh were floating all around. The scientists observed one orca force its way into the blue whale’s mouth and feast on its tongue. It took an hour for the orcas to kill the blue whale, and once they did, about 50 other orcas showed up to devour the carcass.
Orcas, also known as killer whales despite being members of the same family as dolphins, are apex predators known to feed on nearly every species of large whale. But they typically go after calves rather than adults. This was the first time orcas had been observed successfully killing and eating an adult blue whale. The attack was the first of three such events that were witnessed from 2019 through 2021. These events, described in a paper published last week in the journal Marine Mammal Science, have put to rest a long-standing debate among scientists about whether orcas could make a meal out of an adult blue whale.
A pod of orcas taking down a blue whale is “the biggest predation event on Earth, maybe the biggest one since dinosaurs were here,” said Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University and an author of the paper. Anecdotal evidence that orcas are capable of making a meal out of an adult blue whale has long existed, but it wasn’t until 2019 that scientists were able to confirm this through firsthand observation.
“Upon approach, we were astounded at what we were seeing,” said Rebecca Wellard, founder and lead researcher at Project ORCA, who was among the researchers who witnessed the 2019 attack. “When you come across a unique event like this, I think it takes a while to process just what you are seeing.”
Blue whales, the largest creatures that have ever lived, can grow up to 110 feet in length, but the animal being attacked was only 70 feet long, which raised questions about whether it was a younger blue whale. Based on its appearance, as well as the location and time of year it was photographed, they concluded that it was an adult pygmy blue whale, a subspecies that is genetically similar to the most massive of the blue whales, but with a smaller size and other distinguishing characteristics. Pygmy blue whales reach lengths of up to 79 feet, so this animal was most likely an adult.
Photographers aboard whale-watching boats in the region have documented two other orca attacks on blue whales since the attack observed in 2019. Over a dozen orcas coordinated to carry out both attacks on juvenile blue whales. While scientists had observed orcas with dead blue whale calves in the past, such attacks had not yet been documented from start to finish. Although the predation of blue whales by orcas is gruesome, scientists say it could be a positive sign for the health of whale species in the area. The whaling industry nearly drove blue whales into extinction, and the fact that enough of them now exist to be preyed on by orcas may hint at population growth. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A cold snap in Florida is different than in other places. People put on heavy coats when it's 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
No blizzard conditions in the Sunshine State, but they have other issues as well when the thermometer drops.
The low temperatures near freezing are quite rare in Florida, but at first glance the citrus, strawberry and tomato winter crops suffered no major damage. Farmers spray water onto the crops to help protect them from the cold.
As for iguanas, well, that's another matter. They are an invasive species, well accustomed to the trees of South Florida. When it gets cold, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit about 4 degrees Celsius), they go into a sort of suspended animation mode. And they fall to the ground.
But they usually wake up with the sun's warmth.
The enormous A-68a iceberg was slowly drifting through the Southern Ocean last year, travelling 4,000 km from its home in Antarctica, and at the time was the largest iceberg on the planet. Its demise came after gradually thawing in the tepid sea, a process that released a staggering 152 billion tons of freshwater, and alarmed scientists who predict there could be serious impacts on local ecosystems.
A study, published in Remote Sensing of Environment, says that this “megaberg“ broke off from the Larsen-C Ice Shelf in July 2017 and melted over a three-month period beginning in late 2020, only to vanish altogether in early 2021.
A-68a was initially 5,719 square kilometres and was the sixth-largest iceberg ever recorded by satellites. The amount of freshwater it released, equivalent to 61 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, eventually engulfed the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, which has a delicate ecosystem due to its remote location.
South Georgia is located in one of the world’s largest marine protected areas and is home to millions of king and gentoo penguins, which many scientists feared would be in the path of the megaberg. The flightless birds were spared, but the study says that many plant and animal species could suffer from the diluted ocean water and changing salinity levels.
Some impacts that melting icebergs have on their environments include introducing cold meltwater to comparatively high salinity regions, scraping the seafloor, and destabilizing the parent ice shelf when they break off. Icebergs also transport nutrients, such as iron, in the debris they carry, which can alter numerous oceanic properties and plankton populations.
“This is a huge amount of meltwater, and the next thing we want to learn is whether it had a positive or negative impact on the ecosystem around South Georgia,” said Anne Braakmann-Folgmann, lead author of the study and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, in a press release.
The closest recorded distance A-68a made to South Georgia was 62 km on December 15th, 2020 and the researchers say that although it did not become grounded on the seafloor, other icebergs may do so in the future. Icebergs that drag along the seafloor damage the fauna living there, which can have cascading impacts on animals up the food chain including birds, seals, and whales.
The study says that the path A-68a took is “a common iceberg trajectory” and that “more research should be conducted to study the impact of this alteration on the marine life around South Georgia.”
The voting public says it's time to strengthen food safety regulations to protect consumers, according to a Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP) poll.
This poll comes after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its intent to strengthen poultry Salmonella standards.
Salmonella is a top cause of foodborne illness in the United States. Chicken and turkey are major contributors to Salmonella illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CURRENT POULTRY SAFETY ISSUES, REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS
Current USDA rules have failed to reduce Salmonella illness rates from previous decades. Salmonella standards haven't been meaningfully updated for over 25 years, even though scientific knowledge to prevent Salmonella illnesses has advanced. Current regulations do not effectively target the riskiest Salmonella found in poultry, nor do they optimize proven tools to prevent and control the bacteria likeliest to make people sick.
STOP CEO Mitzi Baum says, "Current USDA standards are scientifically outdated and not enforceable. Poultry contaminated with Salmonella in violation of USDA's current 'performance standards' can still be sold with USDA's 'mark of inspection.'"
STOP POLL RESULTS
This national poll, sampling one thousand diverse registered voters, asked if the USDA should impose stricter regulations on poultry production to reduce Salmonella and other illnesses. Key findings include:
- High awareness of the problem – 87% of voters know about Salmonella poisoning and illnesses related to contaminated poultry.
- Very broad, bipartisan support for stricter standards – 86% of voters favor stricter standards – 89% of Democrats, 84% of Independents, and 84% of Republicans.
- Equally broad support for enforceable standards – 86% supporting prohibiting sale of products failing to meet safety standards – 88% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 86% of Republicans.
"Consumers want to trust that the food they eat is safe," adds Baum. "We applaud USDA Secretary Vilsack for initiating this reform process. Leadership now needs to be courageous, focusing on real action that significantly reduces Salmonella illnesses and deaths."
If you’ve ever thought about what happens to the water once an iceberg melts, the answer is nothing good.
This is the case for iceberg A68A, which broke off its shelf in Antarctica in 2017 and traveled as far as South Georgia by the end of 2021.
A new study published in Remote Sensing of Environment named ‘Observing the Disintegration of the A68A Iceberg from Space,’ is shedding light on the potential damaged caused by A68A’s melting.
At its largest, it was the biggest iceberg on Earth, about half the size of the state of Connecticut — but per the latest report, researchers are now saying the iceberg has shrunken in size to the equivalent of a little bit larger than the state of Rhode Island after losing an estimated 544 cubic kilometers in volume over a three and a half year period.
During the three month period that the iceberg breached South Georgia, it’s been estimated that a whopping 152 billion tons of fresh water were released into the ocean as a result of melting.
Researchers called the influx of water a “disturbance that could have a profound impact on the island’s marine habitat,” though the positive of the massive melting was that the iceberg was not able to damage the sea floor near South Georgia as it had melted too much, only hitting the sea floor briefly.
“This is a huge amount of melt water, and the next thing we want to learn is whether it had a positive or negative impact on the ecosystem around South Georgia“ said Anne Braakmann-Folgmann, researcher at CPOM and lead author of the study. “Because A68A took a common route across the Drake Passage, we hope to learn more about icebergs taking a similar trajectory, and how they influence the polar oceans”.
Researches explained that the ocean ecosystem (including wildlife) will “have certainly felt the impact of the colossal iceberg’s visit” as the cold water that melts off of drifting icebergs “influences the local ocean circulation and fosters biological production.”
It has not yet been determined what exactly these effects on the ecosystem will look like.
“A68 was an absolutely fascinating iceberg to track all the way from its creation to its end,” Laura Gerrish, GIS and mapping specialist at BAS and co-author of the study said. “Frequent measurements allowed us to follow every move and break-up of the berg as it moved slowly northwards through iceberg alley and into the Scotia Sea where it then gained speed and approached the island of South Georgia very closely.“
In case you did not know already. Six more weeks of winter is on the way. Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction around 7:25 a.m. ET Wednesday at Gobbler's Knob.
Phil's "inner circle" summoned him from his tree stump to learn if he saw his shadow. According to folklore, there will be six more weeks of winter if he sees his shadow. If he doesn't, spring comes early.
The event took place virtually last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, depriving the community, which is about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, of a boost from tourists.
It was streamed live and seen by more than 15,000 viewers worldwide at one point. About 150 cardboard cutouts of fans were there to "watch."
Thousands returned in person this year.
The annual event has its origin in a German legend about a furry rodent.
According to records dating back to 1887, Phil has predicted winter more than 100 times. Ten years were lost because no records were kept, organizers said.
There’s a pig problem in California, especially in the East Bay, but a proposed law is hoping to change things.
Senator Bill Dodd introduced the legislation, describing the growing number of wild pigs as a “scourge on California wildlands.”
Wild pigs have be found in 56 of California’s 58 counties, according to Sen. Dodd.
“They also present a major public health risk and have been linked to outbreaks of food-borne illness. My bill will increase opportunities to hunt them and do so more economically so that we may bring our pig population under control.” said Sen. Dodd.
If approved, Senate Bill 856 would ban anyone from releasing any hog, boar, pig, or swine to live in a wild or feral state upon public or private land.
This bill would replace a wild pig tag requirement with a wild pig validation that would allow people to get a $15 pig hunting license.
The bill would go into effect on July 1, 2023.
“Feral pigs are an invasive species and the cause of significant damage in our state to the environment, private property, agriculture and other wildlife,” said Eric Sklar, member of the California Fish and Game Commission.
“We need to do everything we can to stop them and I applaud Sen. Dodd’s effort to address this problem,” Sklar added.
Beeflow, the first company to apply scientific knowledge to pollination and bee behavior to improve crop yields and quality, today announced their plan to develop multi-species pollination programs for the agriculture industry, in partnership with Watts Solitary Bees, a leading solitary bee rearing company. The companies will introduce Blue Orchard Bees to pollinate almond orchards in California beginning this month. Multi-species pollination allows growers to overcome different pollination challenges, deliver higher crop yields and begin to undo the negative effects we have had on our environment by relying only on honeybees.
"Farmers have relied mainly on honeybees for pollination for many years, but with more than 20,000 bee species in the world there is opportunity to create a more sustainable and regenerative agriculture," said Matias Viel, Beeflow Founder & CEO. "The development of multi-species pollination programs for farmers is a small but important step toward our vision of bringing biodiversity back to agriculture and reversing the effect humans have caused to nature by relying solely on honeybees."
Blue Orchard Bees are a wild species native to North America and are considered superior pollinators of tree fruits, partially due to their shape. They are solitary bees, meaning they do not live in colonies like honeybees, and as such, readily nest in artificial nesting materials such as paper straws, cardboard tubes or wood blocks, which makes them great candidates for propagation. As their name implies, they love orchards – almond, apple, stone fruit and pear – and are a complement to the pollination of honeybees. In fact, researchers on the Integrated Crop Pollination Project found that using managed Blue Orchard Bees and honeybees together in almond orchards improves pollination and increases nut set.
"Blue Orchard Bees are some of the smartest insects in the world and we have been studying their behavior with scientists for more than 20 years," said Jim Watts, CEO, Watts Solitary Bees. "We are excited to partner with Beeflow to scale Blue Orchard Bees adoption in agriculture and we believe that Beeflow's science-based approach to crop pollination is the answer to increased sustainability and crop yields."
With bees responsible for pollinating more than 70 percent of food crops around the world, caring for bees and their wellbeing is an important part of the global food chain. Beeflow has developed a portfolio of proprietary technologies, which includes an exclusive, plant-based bee diet supplement that enhances the immune system of bees, making them healthier and able to fly at lower temperatures, and "training" for bees to condition them to pollinate target crops and making them less distracted by other flowers. These technologies, coupled with the company's expertise in crop pollination and chemical ecology, have shown increases in crop yields of between 20 and 90 percent, depending on the specific crop.
SDR Ventures is pleased to announce that Acuity Ag Solutions ("Acuity" or "the Company"), a subsidiary company of Maschhoff Family Foods ("The Maschhoffs" or "MFF") has been acquired by Fast Genetics a subsidiary of STgenetics ("STgen"). SDR served as the exclusive sell-side advisor to Acuity and The Maschhoffs throughout the transaction process.
Carlyle, Illinois-based Acuity is a rapidly growing swine genetics business founded by The Maschhoffs - the largest family-owned pork production business in North America. The Maschhoffs formed Acuity in the mid-2000s to select a pig that was more fit for their commercial production system. The success of their selection program led to the launch of Acuity Ag Solutions. The Maschhoffs are the largest family-owned pork producer in the U.S. and were ranked number 6 in the USA and number 18 globally on the National Hog Farmer's, 2020 Global Mega producer list.
The roots of Maschhoffs Family Foods date back to 1851 in Carlyle, Illinois. Maschhoffs Family Foods has preserved its family culture throughout its history. Throughout the past decade, MFF has brought the company to its current size of more than 180,000 sows, with a 7-state footprint. Today, the business finds itself in a unique position. It is one of the largest family-owned hog production networks in North America. And, yet, the family values remain embedded in the culture.
Acuity will now join Fast Genetics with the goal of becoming the most technologically advanced swine breeding stock company in the world. Current, as well as new customers, can look forward to a wider variety of breeding stock, faster genetic improvement from new breeding programs, and even better customer service from a larger team to support their needs. Acuity will continue to provide genetics for The Maschhoffs' system, focused on producing a full value pig. They are credited for developing a novel genetic selection program capable of using a Commercial Test Herd to establish a proven crossbred EBV program. Fast Genetics and Acuity share the same belief and passion for delivering the most value to customers through a "commodity plus strategy".
Fast Genetics was purchased by ST Genetics in 2015 from HyLife, a Canadian-based pork producer, processor, and important customer. Fast Genetics will continue to lead the industry in providing producers with the most stable supply of high health, balanced and efficient animals. Fast Genetics is also piloting the use of sex sorted sperm and advanced DNA testing which will benefit The Maschhoffs and other Acuity customers. Fast Genetics and Acuity have complementary infrastructure, personnel, and genetic lines which will accelerate proprietary technology improvements and drive results to producers.
"Collaboratively, we are looking forward to a bright future in maximizing the value they can deliver to producers around the world. Our new partnership will give producers a wider variety of products to access and will increase our nucleus herd size for more rapid genetic improvement. With the best genetics and technologies, we are well-positioned to grow our global distribution together," added Juan F Moreno, CEO of STgen.
Researchers have published a three-part, 150-page review of how wildlife could be suffering from the non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) produced by wireless infrastructure, raising questions about the environmental safety of wireless technology as 5G begins to blanket the United States.
“We’ve known for a while now, through a number of scientific studies, that cellular radiation is harmful to wildlife as well as people,” said epidemiologist Devra Davis.
Davis is founder of Environmental Health Trust, an organization that has drawn attention to the possible risks of 5G, wi-fi, and similar infrastructure for human health as well as wildlife.
Environmental Health Trust did not produce the new review, which included researchers from the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University. A spokesperson for the organization told The Epoch Times via email that it drew attention to it in a recent filing with the FCC.
“We have more than enough research to trigger new regulatory action to protect wildlife. The FCC should have done a full review of the environmental impact of 5G network deployment before streamlining hundreds of thousands of 5G cell towers across the nation,” said the spokesperson.
State law enforcement and Google have been sparring over whether users were aware that they needed to disable both settings to keep Google from tracking their movements.
The tech company had sought an early summary judgment to get the case thrown out, arguing that its behavior did not violate Arizona consumer fraud laws. Google claimed that the allegations were “based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions.”
It had argued that its company disclosures about privacy settings had been clarified since the case was brought forward nearly two years ago, but the plea was denied and the tech giant will have to face trial, according Judge Thomason. “We won a major victory against Google,” said AG Brnovich on Twitter.
“We appreciate the judge’s ruling, allowing our lawsuit against Google to move forward to trial. For too long the company has used deceptive practices to obtain users’ location data to help fund its lucrative advertising business.”
Arizona can now proceed with claims that Google may have engaged in alleged deceptive practices toward its phone customers and app users.
However, the judge rejected a third accusation that Google deceived users by keeping location data to help sell ads. The Federal Court in Australia last April ruled in favor of the prosecution’s case that Google had similarly misled consumers, for which the penalties are yet to be determined.
The stronger the bond between a human and a pet, the more likely it is the animal will receive regular veterinary care.
This is according to a recent survey of 16,000 dog and cat owners and 1,200 veterinarians, commissioned jointly by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Zoetis.
The study, which included participants from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and China, demonstrated a clear global phenomenon of the strengthened bond between humans and pets, with a whopping 95 percent of respondents stating they consider their pet to be a part of the family.
Additionally, 87 percent reported experiencing mental and/or physical health benefits attributed to the human-animal bond, including reduced loneliness and decreased stress.
This reinforced bond has a direct impact on annual veterinary visits, HABRI reports, resulting in improved client compliance and a greater commitment to preventive care.
“The strength of the human-animal bond in pet owners strongly correlated with higher rates of veterinary treatment for both preventive care and specific conditions,” says the group’s president, Steve Feldman. “This is the strongest evidence to date showing the impact of the bond for veterinary medicine.”
Among the key findings from veterinarians surveyed are:
- 81 percent are aware of the scientific evidence showing mutual health benefits from the human-animal bond;
- 71 percent believe discussing the human-animal bond is valuable; and
- 43 percent talk to their clients about the science behind the human-animal bond.
Additionally, findings from surveyed pet owners include:
- 92 percent would never be convinced to give up their pet;
- 86 percent would pay whatever it takes if their pet needed extensive veterinary care; and
- 76 percent would make major life changes for their pet if necessary.
“The pandemic has elevated the role of the human-animal bond in people’s lives, and our data shows this is being felt on a global scale, with incredible consequences that can benefit human and pet health worldwide,” says Mike McFarland, DVM, DABVP, global chief medical officer of Zoetis and chair of HABRI’s board of trustees. “The direct correlation between the strength of the human-animal bond and better veterinary care means veterinarians, by communicating and championing the human-animal bond, are critical to the effort and to improving health for both people and companion animals.”
Cats afflicted with osteoarthritis (OA) pain can soon benefit from a novel treatment.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zoetis’ Solensia (frunevetmab), a once-monthly injectable monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment for pain associated with feline OA.
The treatment, which is for veterinary use only, targets nerve growth factor (NGF), a key driver in OA pain, which helps improve the mobility, comfort, and overall well-being of feline patients.
“Feline OA pain is typically undertreated because of a lack of effective solutions that are safe to use long-term, along with how difficult it can be for cat owners to administer oral medicines,” says Zoetis’s chief medical officer, Mike McFarland, DVM. “The approval of Solensia is a significant step forward in the control of feline OA pain.”
Signs of osteoarthritis-related pain are present in nearly 40 percent of cats, Zoetis reports. Without treatment, OA pain can worsen over time and significantly impact a cat’s long-term health and well-being.
In a three-month study, the newly approved treatment was found to noticeably reduce OA pain
after a single injection, with 77 percent of cat owners reporting improvement in their pet’s signs of pain.
“While feline osteoarthritis isn’t curable, the pain from osteoarthritis can be effectively managed,” says Margaret E. Gruen, DVM, MVPH, PhD, DACVB, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at North Carolina State University. “Pain is the primary experience of osteoarthritis, and when left untreated, it becomes its own disease state, in part due to the action of NGF, which makes anti-NGF therapy such a game-changing advancement in the management of OA pain. For cat owners, knowing your cat’s OA pain is well controlled with an easily administered monthly treatment can be a tremendous relief.”
Solensia is expected to be available to veterinarians in the second half of 2022.
Morris Animal Foundation has selected 5 new studies to receive funding this year focused on equine colic—a significant and potentially life-threatening disease.
“Colic consistently ranks among the top health concerns of horse owners and veterinarians,” said Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS, Chief Scientific Officer of Morris Animal Foundation, in an organizational release.
“We decided to focus on this topic in this year’s equine call for proposals to advance our understanding of intestinal disease associated with colic and ultimately assist in improving outcomes for horses around the world,” she added.
According to the release, about 4 to 10% of horses will suffer from colic at least once in their lifetimes and this number may even be higher. Even though most can be treated successfully on the farm, about 10% need a referral for advanced care such as surgery.
Based on scientific excellence and impact, the Foundation’s Large Animal Scientific Advisory Board assessed each submitted grant application and chose the studies with the most potential to save lives, maintain health, and accelerate care for horses with colic.
The following equine colic studies are funded for 2022:
- Studying Intestinal Inflammation: Two separate research teams will use variations of an approach to examine the interaction between inflammation and gut motility, to help develop methods of preventing ileus (reduced gut motility) following colic surgery. The findings could significantly assist recovery and reduce hospitalization times.
- Understanding Risk Factors for Colic Secondary to Transportation: Researchers will search for colic risk factors related to transportation to create improved management suggestions for horses requiring transport.
- Helping Underserved Communities Recognize Early Signs of Colic: Researchers will produce an educational program for horse owners in underserved Colombian communities to enhance early recognition of colic, a primary aspect of successful treatment.
- New Prognostic Test for Postoperative Complications: Researchers will find biomarkers to detect horses at higher risk for postoperative surgical complications as an initiative to a new prognostic test.
For years, thrush was thought to be a fungal disease, but we now know that the thrush we find in horses’ hooves is bacterial. In fact, we know that it’s an anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that is most suited for living in an environment without oxygen), Fusobacterium necrophorum, which is present in animal feces and most soil samples. When it sets up residence in the horse’s hoof, F. necrophorum generally localizes near the frog and is usually most prevalent in the collateral sulci (the grooves adjacent to and in the middle of the triangle-shaped frog) and/or in the central sulcus (the cleft between the heels). Because it’s anaerobic, it thrives in a moist, dark, poorly oxygenated environment. Once the bacteria are established, you can recognize their presence from many clinical signs typically associated with thrush infections:
- Repulsive odor;
- Watery or oily discharge (often black in color);
- Tenderness in the frog region;
- Fissures or deep pockets extending to the heel bulbs; and
- Loss of frog shape and integrity.
Standard texts on equine health will tell you that horses develop thrush because they’re being kept in a sub-standard environment, and there’s no doubt that poor conditions, especially wet conditions, will promote the problem. But most farriers will agree that it’s a more complicated issue that simply can’t be explained away by pointing at dirty stalls and mud puddles. They’ll say they’ve seen horses with thrush in pristine barns. Likewise, they’ll say they’ve seen other horses with no thrush despite their living fetlock-deep in manure and mud. Thrush management involves performing regular maintenance to maintain the hoof capsule in a balanced, supportive manner, and allowing the horse sufficient exercise.
One of the most important factors in avoiding and/or eliminating thrush is exercise. Even horses living in manure and mud might be working hard all day, getting a lot of activity and moving in a natural manner that promotes good vascularity (level of blood supply) in the foot, which is key to keeping the hoof healthy. The horses standing in those pristine stalls are simply standing, so they are not promoting the same kind of vascularity to generate a healthy foot. Likewise, the horse that is receiving regular maintenance from a farrier will maintain a more balanced and supportive hoof. And that balance lends itself to even loading, compression, and concussion, all of which promotes good vascularity and overall health. Thrush treatment will vary according to the severity of the condition. Should the thrush be advanced to the point that the horse is lame, blood is present, and/or puss or proud flesh is present, a veterinarian should be contacted to debride the infected area and administer appropriate medications and possibly a tetanus vaccine or booster.
Less advanced cases (i.e., ones that are not invasive of sensitive tissue), should be debrided and treated aggressively with commercially available products or with a medication obtained from a veterinarian. While home remedies and recipes abound, many are simply inappropriate. For instance, some texts advocate the use of bleach on thrush. The authors of these treatises would likely never pour bleach on an open wound of the hip, yet they willingly recommend that you soak an open hoof wound and its exposed sensitive tissue in bleach. A good thrush prevention plan includes trimming or shoeing horses properly, exercising animals regularly, and keeping a good horse maintenance plan that includes regular hoof care and a clean living environment.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Depending on the season, Mother Nature often makes horsekeeping a joyless pursuit. Think about it: snow and ice in winter, rain and mud in spring and, perhaps most frustrating of all, flies in the spring, summer, and fall. (And maybe in the winter, depending on location!) Among the throng of flying pests, stable flies rank high as nuisances to horses. As blood feeders, stable flies land on their targets and feed for only a few minutes before they take flight in search of a resting place to digest their meal. Most horses tolerate stable flies reasonably well, but some find them especially annoying, leading horses to stomp aggressively, walk fencelines, or even gallop off to scatter a swarm and evade painful bites. Depending on the population of stable flies and the degree of stress they cause, soundness issues, allergic reactions, and weight loss can occur.
Reducing the population of stable flies often depends on a multipronged approach: thoughtful manure management, including thorough stall cleaning; screening of barn openings; careful positioning of high-powered fans to create a downward and outward airflow; insecticides; and fly traps and sticky paper.* The use of sticky paper and adhesive traps is nothing new in the fight against stable flies. Infusing those same lures with specially formulated attractants called semiochemicals, however, reveals an innovative approach. Semiochemicals, or signal chemicals, are organic compounds used by insects to convey specific messages that change behavior; pheromones are well-known semiochemicals. Researchers stationed at the Agroecosystem Management Research Unit, a Nebraska facility maintained by the Agricultural Research Service-United States Department of Agriculture, recently tested the effectiveness of adhesive traps impregnated with a proprietary blend of semiochemicals. While this research was carried out on a cattle feedlot, horse owners may soon benefit from the work.** The attractant-imbued adhesive traps performed well in the trial, decreasing the fly population and reducing biting-fly avoidance behavior in cattle. From a practical perspective, the new traps are less expensive and more user-friendly than traditional traps that use attractants.
“Most horse owners understand the importance of fly control. A summertime drive through the countryside, especially in my area, reveals horses outfitted in fly masks, fly boots, and even throat-to-tail fly sheets with UV protection,” said Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutritionist at Kentucky Equine Research. “Diehard traditionalists may snicker at this protective wear, but many horses are far more comfortable with it than without it. If it keeps horses from running from flies, and potentially losing weight, then I am all for its use.” When stable flies are especially numerous, horses may repair to run-in sheds or other shady areas and in the process forego grazing. This can be problematic if horses are stalled for a portion of the day and fed little when confined, according to Whitehouse. “Observe horses to determine when they like to graze based on weather and insect activity, and then choose a turnout time compatible with that. During fly season, owners often choose nighttime turnout.” “As a nutritionist, I am sometimes asked about feed-through insecticides. The active ingredients in these supplements—larvicides—are passed out with the manure, making the manure toxic to developing fly larvae,” explained Whitehouse. “Research and anecdotal evidence suggests these products are effective but with a couple of caveats: every horse on the property must be administered the product and stable flies will still lay eggs in wet areas inside and outside of the barn. Barn hygiene remains a critical factor in fly control.” While wet muck, including spilled grain and discarded hay, inside the barn can be the ideal environment for larval development, do not disregard outside areas. Manure piles are obviously problematic, but one more obscure source of trouble might be the wasted hay around round bales or round-bale feeders that accumulates and mixes with manure. +++++++
Veterinarians frequently trace subfertility in mares to endometritis, an inflammation of the uterine lining often caused by infection. Conventional antibiotic therapy aimed at persistent post-breeding and chronic endometritis often fails. Response to traditional therapies can be further blunted by increased incidence of antimicrobial resistance. In a recent study, Brazilian researchers tested three essential oils to determine their effectiveness against common microorganisms that trigger endometritis.* Researchers identified 36 mares with endometritis as evidenced by clinical signs such as intrauterine fluid accumulation, abbreviated estrous cycle, and cloudy uterine lavages. Intrauterine swabs were taken from these mares, and pathogenic microorganisms isolated in a laboratory. Specific pathogens selected for this study included Streptococcus equi zooepidemicus, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Candida albicans. Researchers chose three common essential oils to test—basil, rosemary, and lemongrass—and performed serial studies with increasing concentrations of each, noting antimicrobial activity.
The researchers found that lemongrass had the highest inhibition percentage (74%) followed by basil (67%) and rosemary (59%). Inhibition percentage is the rate of measured normal activity minus inhibited activity, divided by the rate of normal activity. A higher percentage indicates greater antimicrobial activity. The essential oils were effective against all pathogens except P. aeruginosa. “According to the data of the present study, the essential oils of basil, rosemary, and lemongrass have presented in vitro antimicrobial activity, in different levels, against microorganisms causing endometritis in mares,” the researchers concluded. Scientists know well the pressing need to look for alternatives to tried-and-true medicines for endometritis and other common infections. “Essential oils, with their well-known antimicrobial properties, are poised to be possible solutions to the ever-increasing problem of drug resistance among pathogens,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist at Kentucky Equine Research. “The research reported here was performed in the laboratory, so the next steps involve looking closely at the compounds in the oils and their mechanisms of action, and eventually testing the efficacy of these essential oils in mares with endometritis,” she said. Additional research will, among other goals, determine the effect of essential oils when used in combination with other antimicrobial compounds. As researchers pinpoint novel and efficient alternatives to traditional antimicrobial therapies, ensuring reproductive health through optimal year-round nutrition and appropriate supplementation is one way to stay on top of broodmare well-being. “While no dietary change can prevent endometritis, a robust immune system bolstered by sound nutrition and targeted supplementation will help keep reproductive tissues healthy and capable of nurturing an embryo,” Crandell opined. “For mares, I often recommend a marine-derived source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as EO-3.” Benefits of marine-derived omega-3s in mares have been observed. In one study, for example, researchers recruited light-horse mares that were fed a diet supplemented with marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids starting 60-days before breeding.** Researchers found that omega-3 supplementation resulted in better “endometrial scores,” which are indicators of uterine health, compared with unsupplemented mares, and the expression of certain genes important in the development of the embryo in pregnant mares was significantly different between supplemented and unsupplemented mares.
The findings suggested that the marine-derived omega-3 supplement used in the study fed near conception “may alter the post-ovulatory uterine environment and early embryonic development in the horse,” according to researchers.
beagle puppies get cocaine
The National Institutes of Health spent $2.3 million on research in which beagle puppies were injected with cocaine, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group that aims to stop taxpayer funding of some animal experiments, released an NIH report on two experiments it funded in which 6-month-old beagles were injected with cocaine to research the effect of a potential treatment for cocaine addiction
They were strapped into a drug-injecting jacket that would dose the cocaine into the puppies, along with an "experimental compound" to see how the two drugs would interact. Researchers also surgically implanted monitoring devices into the dogs to measure their responses. Following the experiment, they were either euthanized or "recycled" for more experiments, according to the 94-page report.
"The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential adverse cardiovascular effects that may result when [redacted] (test article) and cocaine (interaction article) are administered together to male Beagle dogs," the document reads.
One of the experiments ran from September 2020 to September 2021 and another from March 2020 to March 2021. They were conducted by NIH contractor SRI International, and the findings are due in May.
"Taxpayers should not be forced to foot the multi-million-dollar bill for wasteful and cruel 'Coke Hound' experiments in which beagle puppies are injected with cocaine just to fulfill burdensome and outdated FDA red tape," the WCWP said,
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the NIH, told the Washington Examiner that the purpose of the experiments was to research possible medical solutions to cocaine addiction and that the NIH is "committed to ensuring the welfare of animals used in research and, where possible, reducing their use."
"Through this particular NIDA contract, researchers performed toxicology studies in a preclinical model to test the safety of a novel drug for the treatment of cocaine use disorder before moving it into a human study," the NIDA said. "This is done for the sole purpose of ensuring that a new medication will be safe in people who are seeking treatment for cocaine use disorder, and who may resume cocaine use while in treatment."
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases came under fire in October when lawmakers criticized what they decried as cruel and unnecessary experiments on beagle puppies in which their vocal cords were severed to prevent them from barking or crying while injected with parasites.
A tribute to a Golden Girl will soon grace an orange truck clearing snow and ice from Minnesota highways.
"Betty Whiteout" is the runaway winner in this winter's Minnesota Department of Transportation Name-A-Snowplow contest.
The name honoring Hollywood icon Betty White, who died Dec. 31 at age 99, received 40,024 online votes in the results announced Thursday.
Coming in second with 21,372 votes was "Ctrl Salt Delete," followed by "The Big Leplowski" (17,478), "Plowasaurus Rex" (13,209) and "Scoop Dogg" (13,144).
"Blizzard of Oz" (12,742), "No More Mr. Ice Guy" (11,198) and "Edward Blizzardhands" (10,664) rounded out the top eight.
Later this month, those winning names will go on MnDOT plows serving each of the agency's eight districts around the state.
The "Betty Whiteout" name will go on a MnDOT plow serving District 8, covering parts of southwest and central Minnesota.
Alas, it won't be plowing highways in the Twin Cities — home to White's fictional character Sue Ann Nivens from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Or the roads near St. Olaf College or Otter Tail County's St. Olaf Township, which shared a name with the oft-mentioned hometown of White's "The Golden Girls" character Rose Nylund.
The destinations for the other winning names are:
- “Ctrl Salt Delete” – District 7 (southwest and south-central Minnesota)
- “The Big Leplowski” – District 4 (west-central Minnesota)
- “Plowasaurus Rex” – Metro District (Twin Cities)
- “Scoop Dogg” – District 3 (central Minnesota)
- “Blizzard of Oz” – District 2 (northwest Minnesota)
- “No More Mr. Ice Guy” – District 1 (northeast Minnesota)
- “Edward Blizzardhands” – District 6 (southeast Minnesota)
The eight winners are from a field of 50 finalists that went up for an online vote last month. Nearly 60,000 people cast votes, choosing up to eight names per ballot.
The 50 finalists were selected from more than 22,000 ideas submitted by the public in December.
It's the second winter MnDOT has held its Name-a-Snowplow contest.
Mysterious disappearances of livestock around a South Florida lake may finally come to an end, after a Mississippi man says he killed what amounts to a modern day monster. Professional hunting guide Doug Borries reports he shot a 13-foot, 4-inch alligator in the lake and it weighed 905 pounds, according to a Jan. 20 Facebook post. The alligator was killed in the fall “on private property” — with the owner’s permission — near the city of Okeechobee in Okeechobee County, he told McClatchy News.
“I had no idea the magnitude of how big his body was until we pulled him completely out of the lake,” said Borries, who lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. “It had been suspected of eating some of the local livestock around the lake and was considered a threat.”
A nurse at Lee Memorial Hospital who treated the Florida man who stuck his arm into a tiger enclosure at Naples Zoo, smelled alcohol on him when he was treated for a gruesome arm injury.
According to documents, 26-year-old River Rosenquist refused to speak to deputies following the attack that nearly caused his arm to be amputated.
Rosenquist was part of the crew of cleaners contracted to clean the administrative areas of the zoo.
Documents say Rosenquist was outside the scope of his duties and that he was not authorized to breach the posted structural safety barrier that held Eko the tiger.
Eko was ultimately killed after being shot by a Collier County deputy in order to rescue Rosenquist.
It’s unclear if doctors were ultimately able to save his arm, but Rosenquist told an investigator that a “surgeon gave him hopes of keeping his hand.”
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the case. No word if Rosenquist will face charges.