TIME animals

Watch a Pug’s Emotional Reunion With Her Owner

Pawsitively adorable

The police department for Essex County in England has released heartwarming video of a pug reuniting with its owner after it went missing and was believed to be stolen. Burglary investigations in the Harlow area resulted in three arrests, but a woman suspected of stealing the pug was released without charge because “there was insufficient evidence to proceed,” according to a statement by the Essex Police statement.

When a cop walked the pug named Lola on a leash toward her owner Kate Witham, the dog could not wait to jump up into her arms and lick her face — a happy ending to a stressful ordeal.

 

 

TIME animals

This Man’s Enthusiasm About Sea Lions Is Truly Infectious

"They're sleek ... like a torpedo through the water!"

If you’re feeling kinda meh about everything today, we highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch the BBC’s Steve Backshall as he encounters a group of sea lions in California’s Monterey Bay. Backshall is just so, so, so excited about the creatures he has encountered, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Pretty soon, you’ll be feeling totally invigorated and excited about life.

“This is a truly unbelievable spectacle,” Backshall shouts gleefully. “Surrounded by California sea lions!”

He then gets a little defensive—but still totally joyful—about how incredible sea lions are. “These creatures are completely transformed here in their underwater world. They can appear to be clumsy when they’re on land but here, they are agile, graceful and zip through the water using those extraordinary wing-like front flippers.”

Seriously, Backshall just can’t stop telling us how incredible sea lions are. “They’re sleek … like a torpedo through the water!”

The video is a preview of the next episode of PBS’ Big Blue Live, a program showcasing the marine life of Monterey Bay. We recommend watching the episode, which airs Sunday at 8pm EST, to see Backshall declare sea lions the “absolute masters of the big blue.”

(h/t Jezebel)

TIME animals

Grumpy Cat’s Getting a Wax Figure and Of Course She’s Mad About It

It will debut at Madame Tussauds San Francisco later this year

Poor Grumpy Cat had to tolerate all the measuring and fitting it takes to become a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. The museum just announced that the famous feline will be immortalized in wax at its San Francisco location, Business Wire reports.

In the clip below, you’ll see Grumpy Cat begrudgingly sit for the Madame Tussauds sculptors, who clearly want to make sure they get the wax figure just right.

Grumpy Cat’s figure will be “an animatronic with five different movements” and will be unveiled at the San Francisco museum later this year. After a short stay there, the figure will then tour the remaining five locations around the country. Until then, keep an eye on the Madame Tussauds Instagram for updates:

TIME animals

National Zoo’s Surviving Newborn Panda Is a Boy

Twin Giant Pandas Born At Smithsonian's National Zoo
Handout—Getty Images In this handout provided by the Smithsonian's National Zoo, one of two newborn Giant Pandas born August 22 is cared for by a member of the panda team at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute August 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The male cub is doing well and growing, zookeepers say

(WASHINGTON) — The National Zoo’s panda parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, have another son.

The zoo announced Friday morning that the surviving panda cub is male and the son of the zoo’s male panda Tian Tian.

Mei Xiang gave birth to twins Saturday, but the smaller cub died Wednesday. Officials say that smaller cub was also a male fathered by Tian Tian.

The cub’s cause of death hasn’t been determined. Keepers say the larger cub is doing well and growing.

Tian Tian is the father of Mei Xiang’s other cubs, daughter Bao Bao and son Tai Shan. During this year’s panda breeding, Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated with semen from Tian Tian and a panda in China that was deemed a good genetic match.

TIME animals

Neglected Horses Had 3-Foot-Long Hooves, Rescuers Say

Days End Farm Horse Rescue

The horses were found with 3-foot hooves

Rescuers discovered two emaciated horses in at least three feet of waste at a neglected farm in Maryland. The Humane Society of Washington County was alerted of the horses last Friday and rescuers took them to the Days End Farm Horse Rescue to recover, according to WUSA in Washington.

The animals reportedly had 3 foot hooves that had to be partially removed in order to transport them to the Farm. According to WUSA, the horses had likely not received medical care in 15 years.

The horses are reportedly recovering slowly, but the neglect was so severe they have to be careful.

[WUSA]

Read next: This is What Killed Knut the Polar Bear

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This is What Killed Knut the Polar Bear

Vanity Fair Knut the Polar Bear on the cover of Vanity Fair

The four-year-old bear died in March 2011 after suffering an apparent seizure

(BERLIN) — The sudden death four years ago of Knut, the celebrity Berlin Zoo polar bear who ended up on the cover of Vanity Fair, shocked his fans around the world and posed a riddle for veterinarians anxious to keep other animals from suffering the same fate.

What killed Knut?

The answer turned out to be even more useful than scientists could have hoped for.

Researchers in Germany said Thursday they have found the cause of Knut’s untimely demise — and the discovery may help raise awareness of a condition that affects humans, possibly saving lives.

The four-year-old bear died in March 2011 after suffering an apparent seizure and collapsing into his enclosure’s pool in front of hundreds of visitors at the Berlin Zoo. His short life came as a surprise — polar bears can live for up to 20 years in the wild and sometimes longer in captivity.

A necropsy quickly established that Knut suffered from encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. Initially, scientists thought the inflammation had been caused by an infection, but that theory was later discounted.

“At the beginning of 2014, we had basically exhausted every option,” said Alex Greenwood of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, which led much of the initial research into Knut’s death. Greenwood said his team shelved their samples, figuring it might take decades to figure out why Knut died.

Then they got a call from Harald Pruess, a neurologist at Berlin’s Charite hospital and a researcher at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Pruess said he noticed that Knut’s case showed similarities to some of his human patients who suffered from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks its own brain cells, was only discovered in humans eight years ago and never previously found in animals.

“It was a bit of a long shot, but after six or eight weeks we saw that it really was that,” Greenwood told The Associated Press.

Had Knut’s keepers known what their star attraction was suffering from, he likely could have been treated, said Greenwood.

Humans with the condition are given cortisone, a drug that suppresses the immune system until the body can recover. In most cases they are able to return to a normal life, though some suffer from memory problems and have difficulty concentrating.

Pruess, the neurologist, said Knut’s case may help raise awareness of what is still a relatively unknown illness in humans. The disease, which affects at least one in 200,000 people each year and often involves sudden behavioral changes, can be detected with a simple procedure.

Greenwood said Knut’s misfortune — he might have survived if he hadn’t fallen into the water — was a stroke of luck for scientists.

“It’s just for us incredible that the most famous bear in the world dies and it turns out to be the first description of this disease,” said Greenwood. “The knowledge gained from his death should benefit both human medicine, because people will know the Knut disease and be more aware of it, and animal medicine.”

Their research was published Thursday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

TIME animals

9 Science-Backed Reasons to Own a Dog

Woman sitting with dog on jetty, rear view
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You're more social with a dog

Loyal, protective, and always happy to see you, the dog has been a human companion for more than 18,000 years, making it one of the first domesticated animals in history.

Don’t just take our word for it.

Scientists have proof that dogs make us laugh more than cats, keep us more active than the average human companion, and even reduce our chances of depression.

So, if you need a little more convincing, or you need to convince someone else in the household, here are the cold, hard facts for why you should own a dog.

1. Dogs Make Us Laugh

People who own dogs laugh more, according to a study published in the journal Society & Animals. Researchers asked people who owned dogs, cats, both, or neither to record how often they laughed over the course of a day. Those who owned just dogs and both dogs and cats recorded laughing more than the other two groups.

2. Dogs Are Loyal

The origin of today’s domesticated house dog reaches back to between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago, when they evolved from wolves. Wolves are known for living in packs and developing strong bonds between pack members. It’s this pack behavior that’s what makes today’s dogs so loyal.

Stephen Zawistowski, a science adviser at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, explains that dogs see their human owners as fellow members of their pack and, therefore, form the same close bond with their owners as they would with their canine brothers and sisters.

3. We’re More Social With a Dog

In the U.K., a team of scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol found that UK residents with dogs were more likely to encounter other dogs and dog owners than people who did not own a dog. This makes sense, since dog owners are more likely to head out of the house on walks and run into other dog owners on their own strolls.

Moreover, the average American is more likely to own a dog than the other common house pet, the cat. That’s more people to converse with about annoying dog hair.

4. Dogs Keep Us Healthy

Dogs might even protect us from poor health. Children born into households with a dog have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies, the reason being dust.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year showed that when exposed to dust from households where dogs were permitted inside and outside, mice developed an altered community of microbes in their gut that protect against allergens. It was reported that these microbes could be what’s protecting young children from developing allergens in households with dogs.

5. We’re More Active With Dogs

Obesity is a major concern today, so it’s important to get regular exercise. Researchers at Michigan State University reported in 2011 that 60% of dog owners who took their pets for regular walks met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise.

Moreover, elderly people who walk their dogs actually have a more regular exercise routine and are more physically fit than the elderly who walk with other people, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services in 2010.

6. Dogs Save Lives

Dogs are not a cat’s best friend, but earlier this year one lucky cat in Florida was saved by a blood transfusion from, you guessed it, a dog. Some dogs have a universal blood-donor type, just like some humans, and when no cat blood was around for Buttercup, the veterinarian used what was on hand, which reportedly saved the cat’s life.

Dogs can also help humans by acting as an early warning system for patients who suffer from seizures. Trained dogs can sense the onset of a seizure up to 15 minutes before it occurs and will bark when this happens, which then warns the patient to sit so to prevent injury from falling down, for example. How dogs know when a seizure is coming is still unknown.

7. Dogs Give Us a Sense of Purpose

Dogs are great companions for anyone, but especially for the elderly. In a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, elderly who owned a dog reported feeling more satisfied with their social, physical, and emotional state than those without a dog.

8. Dogs Give Us Confidence

In another study, participants obtained a dog and were assessed after 10 months with their new canine companion. In general, the participants reported a higher sense of self-esteem, improved exercise habits, and less fear of crime.

9. Dogs Genuinely Make Us Happy

Just the simple act of making eye contact with your furry friend can release the feel-good chemical called oxytocin. In a study that measured oxytocin levels from two groups of dog owners, the group that was instructed not to look directly at their dog had lower oxytocin levels than the other group that made regular eye contact.

Another study found that dog owners who relied on their dogs for social fulfillment reported that “they were less depressed, less lonely, had higher self-esteem, were happier, and tended to experience less perceived stress.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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What Happened to the Wild Camels of the American West

camel
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Initially seen as the Army's answer to how to settle the frontier, the camels eventually became a literal beast of burden

In the 1880s, a wild menace haunted the Arizona territory. It was known as the Red Ghost, and its legend grew as it roamed the high country. It trampled a woman to death in 1883. It was rumored to stand 30 feet tall. A cowboy once tried to rope the Ghost, but it turned and charged his mount, nearly killing them both. One man chased it, then claimed it disappeared right before his eyes. Another swore it devoured a grizzly bear.

“The eyewitnesses said it was a devilish looking creature strapped on the back of some strange-looking beast,” Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian, tells me.

Months after the first attacks, a group of miners spotted the Ghost along the Verde River. As Trimble explained in Arizoniana, his book about folk tales of the Old West, they took aim at the creature. When it fled their gunfire, something shook loose and landed on the ground. The miners approached the spot where it fell. They saw a human skull lying in the dirt, bits of skin and hair still stuck to bone.

Several years later, a rancher near Eagle Creek spotted a feral, red-haired camel grazing in his tomato patch. The man grabbed his rifle, then shot and killed the animal. The Ghost’s reign of terror was over.

News spread back to the East Coast, where the New York Sun published a colorful report about the Red Ghost’s demise: “When the rancher went out to examine the dead beast, he found strips of rawhide wound and twisted all over his back, his shoulders, and even under his tail.” Something, or someone, was once lashed onto the camel.

The legend of the Red Ghost is rich with embellishments, the macabre flourishes and imaginative twists needed for any great campfire story. Look closer, though, past the legend — past the skull and the rawhide and the “eyewitness” accounts — and you’ll discover a bizarre chapter of American frontier history. In the late 19th century, wild camels really did roam the West. How they got there, and where they came from, is a story nearly as strange as fiction.

In 1855, under the direction of then-Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Congress appropriated $30,000 for “the purchase and importation of camels and dromedaries to be employed for military purposes.” Davis believed that camels were key to the country’s expansion westward; a transcontinental railroad was still decades away from being built, and he thought the animals could be well suited to haul supplies between remote military outposts. By 1857, after a pair of successful trips to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the U.S. Army had purchased and imported 75 camels. Within a decade, though, each and every one would be sold at auction.

The camels were stationed in Camp Verde, in central Texas, where the Army used them as beasts of burden on short supply trips to San Antonio. In June 1857, under orders from Washington, the herd was split: more than two dozen were sent on an expedition to California, led by Edward Fitzgerald Beale. Five months later, Beale’s party arrived at Fort Tejon, an Army outpost a few miles north of Los Angeles. A California Historical Society Quarterly paper, written by A.A. Gray in 1930, noted the significance of that journey: “[Beale] had driven his camels more than 1,200 miles, in the heat of the summer, through a barren country where feed and water were scarce, and over high mountains where roads had to be made in the most dangerous places…He had accomplished what most of his closest associates said could not be done.”

Back east, the Army put the remaining herd to work at Camp Verde and at several outposts in the Texas region. Small pack trains were deployed to El Paso and Fort Bowie, according to a 1929 account by W.S. Lewis. In 1860, two expeditions were dispatched to search for undiscovered routes along the Mexican border. By that time, though, Congress had also ignored three proposals to buy additional camels; the political cost seemed to be too high. “The mule lobby did not want to see the importation of more camels, for obvious reasons,” Trimble says. “They lobbied hard, in Washington, against the camel experiment.”

If the mule lobby didn’t kill off the experiment, the Civil War did. At the dawn of the war, after Texas seceded from the Union, Confederate forces seized Camp Verde and its camels. “They were turned loose to graze and some wandered away,” Popular Science reported in 1909. “Three of them were caught in Arkansas by Union forces, and in 1863 they were sold in Iowa at auction. Others found their way into Mexico. A few were used by the Confederate Post Office Department.” One camel was reportedly pushed off a cliff by Confederate soldiers. Another, nicknamed Old Douglas, became the property of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry, was reportedly shot and killed during the siege of Vicksburg, then buried nearby.

By late 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, the camel experiment was essentially finished. The California camels, moved from Fort Tejon to Los Angeles, had foundered without work for more than a year. In September, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered the animals be put up for auction. An entrepreneur of the frontier named Samuel McLaughlin bought the entire herd in February 1864, then shipped several camels out to Nevada to haul salt and mining supplies in Virginia City. (McLaughlin raised money for the trip by organizing a camel race in Sacramento. A crowd of 1,000 people reportedly turned up to watch the spectacle.) According to Gray’s account, the animals that remained in California were sold to zoos, circuses, and even back to Beale himself: “For years one might have seen Beale working camels about his ranch and making pleasure trips with them, accompanied by his family.”

The Texas herd was auctioned off shortly thereafter, in 1866, to a lawyer named Ethel Coopwood. For three years, Coopwood used the camels to ship supplies between Laredo, Texas, and Mexico City — and that’s when the trail starts to go cold.

Coopwood and McLaughlin sold off their herds in small bunches: to traveling zoos, to frontier businessmen, and on and on. I spoke with Doug Baum, a former zookeeper and owner of Texas Camel Corps, to learn where they went from there. As it turns out, the answers aren’t so clear. When the Army brought its camels to Texas, private businesses imported hundreds more through Mobile, Galveston, and San Francisco, anticipating a robust market out West.

“Those commercially imported camels start to mix with the formerly Army camels in the 1870s,” says Baum. The mixed herds made it increasingly difficult to track the offspring of the Army camels. “Unfortunately, it’s really murky where they end up and what their ultimate dispositions were, because of those nebulous traveling menageries and circuses,” he says.

That’s not to say the fate of every Army camel was unknown. We know what happened to at least one: a white-haired camel named Said. He was Beale’s prized riding camel during the expedition west, and at Fort Tejon, he was killed by a younger, larger camel in his herd. A soldier, who also served as a veterinarian, arranged to ship Said’s body across the country to Washington, where it could be preserved by the Smithsonian Institution. The bones of that camel are still in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History.

And as for the rest? Many were put to use in Nevada mining towns, the unluckiest were sold to butchers and meat markets, and some were driven to Arizona to aid with the construction of a transcontinental railroad. When that railroad opened, though, it quickly sunk any remaining prospects for camel-based freight in the southwest. Owners who didn’t sell their herds to travelling entertainers or zoos reportedly turned them loose on the desert — which, finally, brings the story back to the Red Ghost.

Feral camels did survive in the desert, although there almost certainly weren’t enough living in the wild to support a thriving population. Sightings, while uncommon, were reported throughout the region up until the early 20th century. “It was rare, but because it was rare, it was notable,” Baum says. “It would make the news.” A young Douglas MacArthur, living in New Mexico in 1885, heard about a wild camel wandering near Fort Selden. A pair of camels were spotted south of the border in 1887. Baum estimates there were “six to ten” actual sightings in the postbellum period, up to 1890 or so. The legend of the Red Ghost — a crazed, wild monster roaming the Arizona desert — fit snugly within the shadow of the camel experiment.

“Do I think it happened? Yes,” Baum says. “And it very likely could’ve been one of the Army camels since it was an Arabian camel.” In other words, the fundamental details behind the legend might contain some truth. A wild camel, possibly an Army camel that escaped from Camp Verde, was spotted in Arizona during the mid-1880s. A rancher did kill that camel after spying it in his garden. And when that rancher examined the animal’s body, he found deep scars dug across its back and body.

Fact or fiction, the story of the Red Ghost still leads back to the inevitable, the unanswerable: Could a person really have been lashed onto a wild camel? Who was he? And if he did exist, why did he suffer such a cruel fate? Says Trimble, “There’s just all kinds of possibilities.”

This article originally appeared on Smithsonianmag.com

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TIME animals

Watch a Baby Orangutan Named Khaleesi Stand Up For the First Time

Before her loyal human subjects

This spring, the El Paso Zoo’s O.G. orangutans Ibu and Butch welcomed a new baby, which they named after their favorite Game Of Thrones character, Khaleesi, played by tangentially related mammal Emilia Clarke.

This week marked Khaleesi’s public debut, meaning after she spent a few months “bonding with Ibu behind the scenes,” she was finally ready to eat, sleep and chew pieces of the ground in front of her loyal human subjects. On Tuesday, Khaleesi deigned to perform yet another impressive action before her prostrating crowd of admirers: Stand up.

For her next trick, Khaleesi will take back what was stolen from her and destroy those who wronged her. Keep up with her developmental progress and Dothraki lessons at Ibusmommyblog.com.

TIME animals

One of the Newborn Baby Pandas at the National Zoo Has Died

One cub is still alive

The smaller panda of the twins born to giant panda Mei Xiang at Washington DC’s National Zoo has died, the zoo said on Wednesday.

Mei Xiang was paying more attention to the larger of the panda cubs, and ignoring the smaller one, the zoo said on Tuesday. Zookeepers were struggling to get her to nurse the smaller cub.

The twins were born on Aug 22. On the day of the birth, zoo spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson said keepers were “thrilled, absolutely thrilled.”

According to the zoo, giant pandas have twins 50% of the time, and this is only the third time a giant panda is given birth to twins in the U.S. Only two giant pandas have successfully raised twins in the past, and it required a lot of human help, the zoo said.

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