Saturday, 12 March 2022 00:03

Talkin' Pets News Featured

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Talkin' Pets News March 12, 2022 Host - Jon Patch Co-Host - Marcus Porter - Tampa Veterinary Specialists, Tampa, Florida Producer - Matt Matera Network Producer - Ben Boquist Social Media - Bob Page Special Guest - Victoria Lily Shaffer, author of "Pup Culture" will join Jon & Talkin' Pets 3/12/22 at 5pm ET to discuss and give away her new book
A derelict Soviet weather station on Kolyuchin island in Russia’s Chukchi Sea has become a safe haven to a celebration of polar bears. Amateur marine and wildlife photographer Dmitry Kokh accidentally stumbled across the predators in September 2021 while on an expedition in the tundra. Kokh purposely travelled some 2,000 kilometres along Russia’s arctic coast to capture some footage of the bears who usually frequent the country’s northeastern borders in large numbers. The photographer, who meticulously planned his trip for two years before departing, was on his way to Wrangel Island, a UNESCO nature reserve, in a small yacht when bad weather struck, forcing Kokh and his team to take shelter on the abandoned island. Much to the delight of the crew, twenty bears, mostly male, were sighted moving in and around the derelict buildings while the females, protecting their cubs, kept closer to the beach. Equipped with a drone Kokh was able to capture once-in-a-lifetime photos of the animals hanging out near the weather station. "It was very dangerous to went [sic] in this island because there were around 30 polar bears [at] the moment. I decided to use a drone. A drone with low noise propellers and so I shouldn't disturb [the] animals" the photographer said. Scientists say climate change might have forced the marine mammals, who are listed as ‘threatened’ on the endangered species list, to make the dilapidated site, which seldom receives any human visitors, an unlikely new home. Sea ice, which these giant marine mammals depend on for hunting, could vanish from the Arctic by the end of the century. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Family Dollar (Chesapeake, VA) has temporarily closed 404 locations after 1000 dead rats were found in an Arkansas distribution center, USA Today reports. The impacted stores span six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The full list can be found at The rodent infestation is also tied to a recall that the discount retail chain announced on Feb. 18. In that announcement, Family Dollar said it’s initiating a voluntary retail-level product recall of certain FDA-regulated products that that were shipped to the 404 stores from the impacted distribution center in Arkansas. “We take situations like this very seriously and are committed to providing safe and quality products to our customers,” Family Dollar spokeswoman Kayleigh Campbell told USA Today. “We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue.” ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ If the Amazonian climate becomes drier and fires become more frequent, floodplain forests in the Amazon basin may change to new ecosystems, according to new research. Scientists studied 40 years of wildfire history in the seasonally flooded forests of the middle course of the Rio Negro, an area of about 4,100 square kilometers in the central Amazon. They concluded that when these forests are repeatedly disturbed by wildfires, the soil gradually loses both clay and nutrients and becomes increasingly sandy. Simultaneously, the paper notes, “native herbaceous cover expands, forest tree species disappear and white-sand savanna tree species become dominant.” The research was published in March in Ecosystems. Floodplain forests like those in the Rio Negro area are seasonally flooded ecosystems. The river mitigates damage from wildfires and contributes to the development of root mats—well-aerated plant roots and leaf litter that lie above the soil—which reduce water infiltration. As droughts become more frequent and severe, seasonal rains become less dependable, and root mats become a fire hazard. In fact, said Bruce Walker Nelson, a staff researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research, Brazil, the single biggest reason floodplain forests burn so easily is the fact that during dry periods, root mats become “a fine fuel that dries quickly and burns easily.” “Studies have suggested that these [regrown] forests hold 25% less carbon than primary forests which have never been affected by fires,” said Liana O. Anderson, a researcher at the National Centre for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters in Brazil not involved in the new study. This degraded capacity to store carbon persists for a long time. “Even after 30 years of fires, these forests don’t recover,” she added. The researchers analyzed Landsat satellite images of forested areas for wildfires between 1973 and 2014. Bernardo M. Flores, a researcher at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, and lead author of the new paper, explained that over those 40 years, around 100 square kilometers of the Rio Negro region burned at least once. Additionally, in 2015–2016, data reflected an anomaly: the strongest El Niño in 100 years. This weather phenomenon brought extreme droughts to the region and is associated with the burning of around 700 square kilometers. In addition to being a greater carbon sink than grasslands, forests also control soil erosion and maintain water quality. Analysis of the Landsat data revealed the growing presence of white-sand savannas, a naturally occurring grassland ecosystem in the region. White-sand savannas are like “islands surrounded by forest across the Amazon,” Flores said. He added that these ecosystems have expanded over forests in the past and the new study shows that “wildfires are a mechanism that can facilitate these expansions.” “Long-term, progressive conversion to nonforest has already occurred in the fertile floodplain of the more densely occupied parts of the Amazon main stem,” Nelson said. Now, he added, “Bernardo has shown that even the remote floodplains of nutrient-poor blackwater rivers, with very low population density, can go the same route.” By bringing warmer temperatures and more severe weather, climate emergency “is changing fire regimes across the world. Wildfires are becoming more severe. And in the tropics, forests are shrinking because of deforestation and wildfires,” Flores said. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes are set to be released in California and Florida in an effort to reduce the number of real, disease-carrying invasive mosquitoes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday approved use of the genetically engineered insects in pilot projects in specific districts across both states. The mosquitoes were made by UK-based biotechnology firm Oxitec, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in an effort to combat insect-borne diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus. According to Oxitec, its “sustainable and targeted biological pest control technology does not harm beneficial insects like bees and butterflies and is proven to control the disease-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has invaded communities in Florida, California, and other U.S. states.” Since it was first detected in California in 2013, the Aedes aegypti mosquito has spread rapidly to more than 20 counties throughout the state, increasing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases being transmitted to humans. Oxitec’s new technology consists of genetically-modified male mosquitoes, which do not bite, that will be released into the wild where they are expected to mate with females, which do bite. In mating with them, they will pass on a lethal gene that will effectively ensure their offspring die before reaching maturity. Environmental Protection officials approved two projects, one with the Delta Mosquito and Vector Control District (Delta MVCD) in California and one with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) in Florida. The Florida pilot project will be a continuation of Oxitec’s partnership with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District after its pilot project in the Keys in 2021. “Given the growing health threat this mosquito poses across the U.S., we’re working to make this technology available and accessible,” Grey Frandsen, CEO of Oxitec, said. “These pilot programs, wherein we can demonstrate the technology’s effectiveness in different climate settings, will play an important role in doing so. We look forward to getting to work this year.” The upcoming release of the modified insects will be the largest release in world history. However, critics, including scientists, public health experts, and environmental groups, are concerned about what impacts releasing the generically altered mosquitoes could have on public health as well as the environment. “This is a destructive move that is dangerous for public health,” Dana Perls, food and technology program manager with Friends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy organization, told USA Today. Perls said her biggest concern was the lack of widespread, peer-reviewed scientific data regarding the generically modified insects and the potential risk they could bring. “Once you release these mosquitoes into the environment, you cannot recall them,” she said. “This could, in fact, create problems that we don’t have already.” Jaydee Hanson, policy director with the Center for Food Safety said the “experiment is unnecessary and even dangerous” while pointing to the lack of prominent tropical diseases in California. “There are no locally acquired cases of dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya or Zika in California,” Hanson said. “Releasing billions of GE mosquitoes makes it likely that female GE mosquitoes will get out and create hybrid mosquitoes that are more virulent and aggressive.” According to Quartz, areas including Malaysia, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, and Panama have seen their mosquito populations drop by as much as 90 percent after similar experiments were conducted. +++++++++++ The AKC Museum of the Dog Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has hired Deborah Kasindorf as the Museum’s new Executive Director and CEO. In her new role, she will provide the leadership to accelerate progress and enable continued success of the Museum, including revenue generation, enhanced visitor experience and programming, education, sponsorship, marketing and ongoing enhancements to the Museum’s valuable art collection. Former Executive Director, Alan Fausel, will remain with the AKC Museum of the Dog as Adjunct Curator, focused exclusively on preserving, expanding, and improving the Museum’s one-of-a-kind collection, plus developing special exhibits to enhance education and visitor experience. “We are delighted to have Deborah Kasindorf join the AKC Museum of the Dog as Executive Director and CEO,” said Jeffrey Ansell, Chairman of the Board of the AKC Museum of the Dog. “Deborah’s career experiences in both arts and for-profit organizations, plus a life-long love of dogs, makes her uniquely qualified for this position. The Museum’s Board of Directors and other constituents look forward to Deborah’s impact in further accelerating the Museum’s success.” “In addition, on behalf of the Board of the AKC Museum of the Dog, I’d also like to thank Alan Fausel for tireless leadership as Executive Director since the Museum’s opening in 2019, and the two years of planning prior to that. We appreciate Alan’s commitment and look forward to his ongoing contributions as he moves into his new role as Adjunct Curator,” continued Ansell. Ms. Kasindorf comes to the Museum after many years of experience in for-profit and non-profit companies, including strategic planning, fundraising, communications, marketing, trustee engagement and resource management. Most recently with The Newark Museum of Art where she served as the Vice President and Deputy Director of External Affairs. She also has worked as Director of External Affairs at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, held various roles at Starbucks Coffee Company and obtained business development experience at several blue-chip advertising agencies. “The AKC Museum of the Dog is truly a unique and engaging museum. With its location, the support of the American Kennel Club and the premier collection of fine art expressing the special bond between humans and dogs, this is certainly a rare opportunity,” said Kasindorf. “I would like to thank the Board of Directors of the AKC Museum of the Dog for entrusting me with this wonderful gem of a museum. I am looking forward to reintroducing it and delighting local visitors and tourists from across the country and beyond.” Kasindorf is also a member of the American Alliance of Museums as well as an executive sponsor for The Newark Museum of Art’s Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in American History from Mills College. She will be based in New York, NY. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ A 57-year-old Maryland man who had received a genetically modified pig heart in a first-of-its-kind transplant surgery has died, the University of Maryland Medical Center said Wednesday. David Bennett died on Tuesday after his condition began to deteriorate several days ago, the medical center said. He was given palliative care and was able to communicate with his family during his final hours, according to the news release. "We are devastated by the loss of Mr. Bennett. He proved to be a brave and noble patient who fought all the way to the end. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family," Dr. Bartley P. Griffith, the surgeon who transplanted the pig heart at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said in a statement. "Mr. Bennett became known by millions of people around the world for his courage and steadfast will to live." Bennett had terminal heart disease, and had received a transplant on January 7. Bennett was deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant or an artificial heart pump after reviews of his medical records, and the pig heart was the only available option, the medical center said at the time. Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Virginia, had provided the heart. Three genes that are responsible for rejection of pig organs by human immune systems were removed from the donor pig, and one gene was taken out to prevent excessive pig heart tissue growth. Six human genes responsible for immune acceptance were inserted. The medical center said the transplanted heart performed well for several weeks without any sign of rejection. Bennett "was able to spend time with his family and participate in physical therapy to help regain strength. He watched the Super Bowl with his physical therapist and spoke often about wanting to get home to his dog Lucky," the university news release said. Before the transplant, Bennett had said he knew it was "a shot in the dark." "It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," Bennett had said, according to a previous news release from the medical center. The United States has a shortage of organs for transplants. More than 106,000 people are currently on the national transplant list, and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ, according to Pig heart valves have been transplanted into humans for many years. In October, surgeons successfully tested the transplant of a genetically modified pig kidney into a woman in New York who was brain-dead. More than 40,000 transplants -- a record -- were performed in 2021, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The Joro spider, which hails from Asia and was first spotted in Georgia about 10 years ago, is expected to make its way up the East Coast this spring, according to scientists at the University of Georgia. The spiders have spread across the southeastern part of the country, thanks to parachute-like silks and their habit for attaching themselves to cars. “They can survive the cold better,” University of Georgia research scientist Andrew Davis told TODAY in an interview that aired Thursday. “They have a higher metabolism, they have a higher heart rate. So, we put all that together, and we figured that this species will probably be able to exist outside of the southeastern U.S.” The Joro spider is quite large, growing up to 3 inches from end to end, which is roughly the size of someone’s palm. That, combined with the creature’s bright yellow, blue and red colors and fearsome looking webs, may scare people, but experts say these arachnids are not here to hurt us. “It turns out that this species is actually really, really timid, more timid than most of our native spider species,” Davis said. “And so even if a person were to walk into one of their webs, the spider is probably just going to run away.” The Joro spider joins a list of insects that have recently made their presence known in the U.S. Last year, cicadas covered the country and murder hornets were abuzz in 2020. Experts say the Joro spider does not pose much of a threat to humans. Their fangs are too short to break skin. So, how did the Joro wind up in the United States in the first place? “A global economy is translating into a global biota,” entomologist Michael Raupp told TODAY. “So a ship’s leave foreign ports, they bring containers to this country and those containers may have objects inside that are housing or providing refuge for invasive species. So that means we’re going to have a steady stream of new species winding up on our shore.” While the Joro spiders may make the hairs on your neck stand up, fret not. They’re not much of a threat to bite and, even if they do, their fangs are so short they won’t break the skin. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Wyland Foundation unveiled Baby Stella, a Wyland designed silhouette of a Gray Whale on a wooden relief statue, at the Festival of Whales at Dana Wharf. The wooden relief statue on display at Dana Wharf is one of 40 artworks that will be place around Southern California waterways that lead to the ocean. It's part of a Streams of Hope™ action campaign to educate the public about our role in maintaining streams and to reduce pollution and debris along the coast for generations to come. National Geographic's Pristine Seas unit reports that "strategically protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 would result in more biodiversity, a boost in seafood production, and a reduction in carbon emissions." The eight-foot-long whales, affectionately known as “Stella,” are being painted by artists across Orange County to remind people about the impacts of land-based pollution on marine ecosystems. The brainchild of OC’s non-profit Wyland Foundation, the campaign is in partnership with the Orange County Conservation Corp, Municipal Water District of Orange County, and the County of Orange, with additional support from the Toro Company, USA Surfing and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The campaign will culminate on Earth Day with a series of waterway and coastal cleanups hosted by Wyland Foundation. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ In the last two weeks, 40-year-old Girikumar Patil has settled into a new routine in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. Every morning at 8AM, when the curfew is lifted in his small town of Severodonetsk, he treks to neighbouring towns to buy five kilos of meat. When he gets back, he settles down in his bunker with his two “kids” Yasha and Sabrina until the next morning, when he makes yet another trip to buy five kilos of meat. As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, Patil’s own town has now been completely deserted. He’s the only one left behind. In Donbas, which borders Russia, Russian soldiers were stationed even before the invasion, and Ukrainian forces have been clashing here with Russia-backed separatists since 2014, claiming over 14,000 lives. But after the invasion, Patil’s neighbours packed up and left. Yasha is a 20-month-old mix of a male amur leopard and a female black jaguar, and Sabrina is a six-month-old black panther. Their trio has been braving the crisis all by themselves. “The situation is very dangerous. We’re surrounded by Russians, and the security is getting worse. But I will be with them until my last breath,” he said. Patil is originally from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and came to Ukraine 15 years ago to get his medical degree. With over 1.45 million people having fled the country of 44 million people since the invasion started on Feb. 24, Patil is among the few choosing to stay back in Ukraine. As a foreign national, Patil is not required to stay on in the country and join the Ukrainian Ground Forces like local men. Hundreds of South Asians and other foreigners have fled the country in the last two weeks. Amid the exodus, many people in Ukraine have been taking extraordinary measures to rescue pets and animals. Many refused to leave until their pets could come with them, too. Even before the crisis, Patil has been documenting his life on his four YouTube channels, one of which has over 16 million views. Through these, he gives daily updates on his suddenly solitary life with his big cats. Ukrainian law allows keeping wild animals as pets as long as owners secure a government permit. On his meat run on Monday, Patil said he was stopped by some soldiers. “They put guns to my chest and asked me to verify my identity. I was lucky to have come back home,” he said. “I’m not sure who they were, but most probably they were Russians.” Patil has loved animals since childhood, and he used to own many dogs and cats. “In Andhra Pradesh [India], near my home, there’s a forest. As a kid, I would go there in search of big cats,” he said. “Once, someone told me that there’s a leopard or a tiger in a cave, and I went there looking for them. That’s how much I loved them.” For now, Patil lives in his two-storey six-room house that has an enclosure of around 200 square metres. Yasha and Sabrina have one room each. When the curfew is lifted during the day, the three take a walk in the enclosure, while at other times, they visit a nearby forest where the animals run around and play. “I can’t live without them, and they can’t live without me,” he said So far, Patil says nobody has asked him to leave. Over the weekend, he made appeals to the Indian government through various Indian news outlets to evacuate him – but only if he can bring the two animals with him. Indian law prohibits private ownership of big cats without a certificate of ownership, which have only been granted to zoos. He couldn’t leave the two in the forest either because he fears “hunters or poachers will hunt them down in a matter of hours.” The closest zoo from him right now is hundreds of miles away, so bringing Yasha and Sabrina there is out of the question, he added. “If the Indian government puts them in a zoo park, what’s the point of me going?” he said. “It’s impossible for me to be anywhere but here, and without them, I don’t want to be anywhere else.” +++++++++++++++++++++++++
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