Inside This Issue:

  • Avian Influenza: Not Just for Birds Anymore
  • Smuggled Bengal Tiger Cub Now at Sanctuary
  • Like Fine Wine? For Many Animals, Sperm Quality Does Not Diminish with Age
  • Farmer Takes Calf for an Exciting, Life-Saving Spin!

Avian Influenza: Not Just for Birds Anymore

It is inevitable that avian influenza reaches birds like penguins. Some marine mammals are at risk now, too.

A Washington Post article describes how avian influenza has devastated domesticated and wild bird populations, spread to certain mammals, and most recently, killed 17,000 elephant seal pups in Argentina. It provocatively asks: with the terrible virus jumping to more and more mammals, could humans be next?

It’s tempting to start a story like this off with a tagline like “Just when you thought the Avian flu couldn’t become any more alarming,” but really, it’s something that’s been simmering in the worry centers of our brains for years, and for numerous reasons. Fortunately, while the threat of the human population succumbing to a bird flu epidemic is click-worthy, the odds of this scenario occurring in the immediate future are incredibly low. More worrisome are the effects of this virus on wild and domestic animal populations; more pressing are efforts to limit and prevent the virus’ spread, and conservation efforts to help affected animals and regions. This is, indeed, a devastating virus, and one we’re going to be hearing and learning a lot more about over the coming decades.

An unprecedented flu strain is attacking hundreds of animal species. Humans could be next.

★     Weathering the Storm of High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza in Waterbirds
★     Spotlight on economic and public health impacts of bird flu


Smuggled Bengal Tiger Cub Now at Sanctuary

Tiger Cub

A string of trafficked exotic animals in New Mexico, including an alligator and two tiger cubs, led to the arrest and indictment of an Albuquerque man. Not only was he dealing and selling animals, he was also found to be a part of a 15 person drug ring selling drugs in New Mexico. WhatsApp and Facebook were used to arrange meeting places and prices with customers and dealers. Aside from breaking federal law as a drug dealer, he also violated the Lacey Act. One tiger cub, Duke, was found in a dog crate while police were responding to another call. That cub was taken in by ABQ BioPark and now resides at a big cat sanctuary in Colorado. 

The involvement of criminal organizations in both drug trafficking and the illegal trade of exotic animals is a serious and multifaceted issue that affects animals and people on both sides of the border. For years the cartel has dealt drugs - that is well known. But the breeding and sale of exotic animals has been a kind of side gig that isn’t talked about as much. Not only are rare animals a sign of power and wealth, traffickers make good money selling live animals and animal parts around the world. These criminal activities can have severe consequences for public safety, ecosystems, and the well-being of animals. It is unknown how many animals are trafficked globally since it is all done on the black market. It goes without saying that animal welfare is not a major concern. Federal officials have discovered that cartel drug running and exotic animal trafficking are inextricably linked and they use one sting operation to bring down the other. Remember that addressing these issues requires collaboration between various agencies, both within countries and internationally.

Tiger cub smuggled to US offered for sale on Facebook, feds say. Now he’s at sanctuary

★     Mexico seizes 10 tigers, 5 lions in cartel-dominated area
★     Inside the world of the ultra-wealthy Mexicans who own exotic animals



Like Fine Wine? For Many Animals, Sperm Quality Does Not Diminish with Age


In some rather unexpected findings, researchers have discovered that for many animals, sperm quality does not, in fact, diminish with age. And not only that – in a few cases, sperm quality actually improves! If you feel skeptical reading this information, it is understandable. It is well known that sperm quality declines in human males with age. Dog breeders and ranchers will be happy to tell you all about fertility issues with older male dogs and bulls, too. So doesn’t it make sense that, say, male birds – many of which live for decades – would experience a similar decline?

Well, apparently not! Admittedly, these findings come with numerous caveats and limitations. But they also provide more than just fodder for small talk at your next theriogenology party. Our skepticism illuminates how deeply our perceptions and expectations of other animals are shaped by our knowledge of ourselves and the animals with which we spend most of our time. This unfamiliarity is probably valuable to remember next time we assume the mental state of a strange animal or ascribe human motives to its behavior. That raccoon isn’t “washing” germs off its food, that fawn isn’t sad and lonely because mom has “abandoned” it (mom is probably a lot nearer than you think), and, of course, that doddering, 9-week-old great-great-great grandfather is probably more fertile than a fruit fly half his age.

Surprise discovery: For most animals, sperm quality does not reduce with age

★     Meta-analysis shows no consistent evidence for senescence in ejaculate traits across animals
★     Leave the Fawn Alone; It’s Likely Not Abandoned



 Farmer Takes Calf for an Exciting, Life-Saving Spin! 

Spinning ain't easy: even newborn calves can weigh quite a lot!

The sights, sounds, and smells of a farm can make for a somewhat alien experience for anyone who lives in an urban locale. This is also the case with some of the tricks of the trade employed by farmers. Case in point: a recent viral video from Australia where a farmer, after pulling a seemingly lifeless calf out of the water, spins it around a bunch of times – an act that eventually leads to the calf breathing its first air and regaining consciousness.

But while this might seem bizarre to many of the video’s viewers, the technique, referred to as a "whizzy" by the farmer, is just one of those old tricks of the trade we mentioned above. And it has a very practical purpose: to clear out the calf’s airways. With difficult and/or unusual births like this, farmers require knowhow and physical strength, and a willingness to get their hands dirty to save the life of an unbreathing calf. Luckily for the calf in this video – now healthy and aptly named “Lucky Ducky” – the farmer clearly demonstrated all the necessary traits. Luckily for the rest of the world, we are all now a little more connected and have more insight into "life on the farm."

Astonishing moment stockman saves the life of a dying calf by using an 'old farmer's trick'

★     (VIDEO – warning: graphic and intense) Farmer saves bloated cow by puncturing it and deflating it like a balloon
★     City-dwellers should put more trust in farmers — we just want to feed people




Also in the News...

★     Why Elizabeth Patrick is proud to be a farmer (Agriculture Success Stories; From a Hobby to a Life's Work)
★     Could Transplanted Corals Save Caribbean Reefs? (Wildlife Conservation & Habitat Restoration; Creativity & Logistics)

★     Abandoned animals put Saginaw Co. shelter over capacity (Shelter & Rescue; Pets Left Out in the Freezing Cold)
★     Police discover deplorable conditions, 77 animals; Penn Township officials condemn home (Animal – and Child – Rescue; Neglect, Endangerment, and Cruelty)
★     Which animals will be the first to live on the moon and Mars? (Space Colonization; Insects, Crustaceans, and Fish; What About Frogs?; Mars Needs Ribbits)
★     Elusive ‘alligator’-like creature found in treetops of Mexico. It’s a new species (Literal Discover Animals; Herpetological Home Runs)
★     10 Funniest Far Side Comics With Talking Animals (Goofy, Anthropomorphic Lists; Just for Fun)

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