If you aren’t aware, last week in a bi-partisan effort, both political parties with our courageous leader, came together for the sake of slaughtering horses once again in the US. In 2006, Congress effectively shut down all horse slaughtering plants in the US by preventing funds allocated for the inspections of the meat. Without a USDA inspection, the meat could not be sold for human consumption. Thus, the slaughter industry in the US was snuffed out.
On November 18th, Congress re-approved these USDA funds in a budget meeting. The horse slaughter business could be up and running in a matter of weeks again. Obama signed off on the bill, despite the campaign promise he made in 2008 to permanently ban it, and 70% of American’s disapproving of the practice.
There are many sides to the argument, but here’s my three point case as to why it should not be tolerated in the States:
1) Horses are not considered livestock, and should not be treated as such. The USDA does not classify them as livestock, according to the Live Stock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999. Horses are performance and sport animals, they are companions and pets, therapy animals, and even police officers.
2) There is no way to humanely slaughter horses in a systematic, factory-like way. Horses are skiddish, head-shy animals with a strong flight response when stressed. Unlike cows, horses are extraordinarily flexible and panic very easily, making an accurate shot with a captive bolt gun in the right place 100% of the time nearly impossible. As we have seen in Canada and Mexico, horses are often strung up and skinned while still alive.
3) Lastly, horses in the US are not raised for meat. They are used often for riding, driving and racing, which often lends these animals to be administered steroids, wormers and a drug called Phenylbutazone commonly referred to as “bute”, which are banned for use in food animals. These horses going to slaughter have no historical record of the drugs administered in their past lives, making the meat sold for human consumption much more dangerous than the standard feed-lot raised cow.
Shame on Congress, shame on Obama and shame on all the animal rights and horse organizations out there supporting this measure, which now ensures our tax dollars are funding this travesty.
This is what we have to look forward to in the US.
Well now that Turkey day is over, here’s a little something to get you all thinking about Christmas! Happy Black Sheep Friday.
You might be surprised to know that primates aren’t the only animals who use tools. Sea otters use rocks break abalone shells; elephants use branches to scratch and swat away flies; and even dolphins have been observed using conch shells to trap small prey fish. Most impressively though, are some of that ways that many species of birds have been able to manipulate tools. One bird in particular that impresses me is the crow, both in the wild and in captivity have proven to be much more intelligent that anyone ever thought.
In this first video, you can see how Japanese crows have used their intelligence and human ingenuity to their advantage to adapt.
This next video shows how New Caledonian crows have been able to create new tools out of existing ones and manipulate them as an extension of their body to achieve a goal, like reaching food.
Next time you see a crow digging through your garbage bag, maybe you’ll have a little more respect for these guys.
Every year we find somewhere in the corners of the earth creatures that have never been discovered. So here are my most recent favorites.
1) Darwin’s Bark Spider – Madagascar 2009
This badass spider produces the largest and longest-spanning orb web known to science, that also happens to be 10 times stronger than Kevlar. How did we not know this thing existed until last year? Apparently they also self castrate. Weird.
2) Monitor Lizard – Philippines 2010
This giant fruit eating lizard was also recently discovered. Pretty amazing considering this guy is taller than Michael Jordan, at 6’6″ (but pretty pathetic weighing in at only 22lbs). This massive lizard probably went unnoticed because they spend most of their time in trees.
3) Walter’s duiker – West Africa 2010
Sadly this little guy was first discovered on the bush-meat market. While other duikers have been extensively studied in their natural habitat, it’s sad to believe this little guy slipped right under scientists’ noses only to be found through exploitation!
4) Pancake Batfish – Gulf of Mexico 2010
This weirdo was found right before the lovely BP oil spill of 2010, and is believed to only exist right in the area of the spill, which leads many to wonder if if is even around anymore. This fish is flat, has bulging eyes and awkwardly gets around by hopping on his fins.
5) 12 Night Frogs – India 2011
Apparently scientists in India never really have looked all that closely at frogs until very recently when they discovered 12 new species of night frogs, ranging from the meowing night frog that sounds like a cat, the jog night frog, and the Wayanad night frog, which is the size of a baseball.
6) Tiny Pit Viper – China 20
Believed to be one of the tiniest pit vipers to date, this little guy was found in Maolan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou, China. Their maximum length is about 2.6 feet.
7) Tube Nosed Fruit Bat – Paupa New Guinea 2010
AKA the Yoda Bat for obvious reasons, was one of almost 200 new critters found on an expedition in 2009. This guy apparently had already been discovered prior to the expedition, but no one bothered to record him until now.
8 ) Sneezing Snub Nosed Monkey – Paupa New Guinea 2010
Of all the newly discovered animals the last few years, this poor sucker has got to be the weirdest. First of all, his nose is so “snubbed” he virtually has none – which is what makes him sneeze every time it rains. Unfortunately the only scientific evidence of this critter is seen in the image to the right – which was killed by poachers and shortly thereafter eaten. The other strange thing about this guy is he bears a striking resemblance to Michael Jackson, the later years.
Happy Friday everyone! I hope you enjoy the ridiculousness of this video as much as I did.
Coming from the horse world, I’ve seen a lot of wacky things we human do to animals. It got me thinking about some of the commonly accepted practices in the animal world, why we do them, and if some of them really should be tolerated at all. Let me preface this post by saying I am not an animal rights activist. I do believe, however, that we who choose to share our lives with animals have an obligation to respect those that rely on us for their care.
I love horses. It baffles my mind to this day that these magnificent creatures put up with all the crap we do to them; from riding, to driving carriages, to jumping obstacles and even gymnastics or shooting guns off their backs. I whole heatedly believe that some horses genuinely love their “jobs” and so long as an animal is willing and able to perform any of these feats, all the power to the trainers.
The horse show world on the other hand, has some pretty messed up practices. Just like “Toddlers in Tieras,” some owners or trainers will do anything to get that perfect look. Take for instance the Arabian and Saddlebred horse world, where people literally put hot-stinging ginger up the horses butt so the horse will raise his tail higher than he naturally already does.
Unlike in the Quarter Horse world, where people want the opposite, a flat low hanging tail which is sometimes achieved by “nerving” or “tail blocking.” This is done by literally cutting the nerves the top of the tail so it falls flat, but it also prevents horses from being able to use their tails to swish away biting flies.
It seems like most of the stuff done in the horse world that is demented revolves around competing or showing. What I don’t get is the common practices that we do to every-day pet dogs. Ear cropping and tail docking are really something I never truly comprehended. I understand tail docking in some preventative measures, for hunting dogs, etc. However, as a family pet I never got it. Someone please enlighten me.
Declawing pet house cats so they won’t rip your furniture apart always has been weird to me. A lot of people don’t realize that decawing a cat actually entails amputating part of each of little Fluffy’s toes, including the claws. I have two cats, I have been clipping their toe nails with a $4 set of nail clippers for the last 9 years and have never had one piece of furniture ruined due to scratching. They even have these plastic and rubber claw covers on the market now, if you’re so inclined to have a fashionable kitty while you’re at it.
What other weird practices are out there in the animal-keeping world have you always questioned?
This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the largest cat in the world, a male liger named Hercules. He was awesome, and GIANT! This bad boy was nearly 1,000lbs of pure tabby. If you didn’t know, a liger is not some mythical creature from Napoleon Dynomite. A liger is the hybrid result of a male lion and female tiger breeding.
A Tigon is a smaller cat, that is the result of a male tiger and a female lion breeding. There are only a dozen or so of these amazing tiger/lion hybrids in existence. This particular guy is from The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
So all this Liger talk got me to thinking about other animal hybrids, and where one would be able to see such creatures. So here are my top 5 animal hybrids:
The most commonly known hybrid, the result of a male donkey and female horse. Unlike the liger, almost all male and female donkeys are infertile. These guys come in great variations from size and color, to the sound they make.
Not surprisingly, many have ventured to cross man’s best friend with his wild ancestor resulting in an “exotic” hybrid. Most commonly bred with huskies and shepherds for a desirable result. Their behavior is unpredictable, but there are as many as 300,000 in the US.
3) Zorse / Zonkey
My favorite of the hybrids is the Zebroid a cross between a zebra and any other equine: horse, pony, donkey, etc. These hybrids are cool because they typically share more characteristics of their non-zebra parent, but almost always have a striped pattern.
The wolphin is a hybrid between a bottle nose dolphin and a false killer whale. These hybrids characteristics are split pretty evenly between both parents, including size, color and shape. You can see a wolphin in captivity at Sea Life Park in Hawaii, USA.
5) Grolar Bear
This is the cross between a polar bear and a grizley bear. You may have heard of these guys when a story broke in 2006 when a hunter mistekenly hunted one of these bad boys down in the wild. In 2010 another hunter discovered the first ever second-generation hybrid in the wild. There have been successful breedings in captivity as well.
How many times have you seen a puppy nipping and biting, jumping on furniture and crapping everywhere? How many times have you heard, “Oh he’s just a puppy…” And how often does that puppy turn in to a 60lb lab and still have the same characteristics 2 years later?
It’s like those parents who have 4 year old kid who slaps and bites and throws temper tantrums over not getting Fruity Pebbles in the supermarket…and they think it’s cute.
It’s not cute, it’s annoying. Just like your puppy is annoying when he is destroying my brand new shoes. Or when he’s shoving his nose in my crotch as soon as I walk in the door. Or when he’s slobbering all over my knee when I’m trying to enjoy your dinner party.
It’s never too early to start training your puppy. Just like raising children, whatever behavior is allowed from an early age, is a learned behavior your puppy will think is acceptable in to adulthood. It’s easier to teach your puppy from an early age what is acceptable behavior, and to nip bad behavior in the bud before it’s too late!