TIME curiosities

Something Wild: At Home With Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith and a 400-Pound Lion

Photos of Tippi Hedren, her teenage daughter, Melanie Griffith, and Neil, a 400-pound mature lion who had the run of their California home.

Tippi Hedren, perhaps most famous for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, is an actress of formidable gifts. Hitch himself said, when directing her in that classic film, that Hedren had “a faster tempo, city glibness, more humor [than another frequent Hitchcock heroine, Grace Kelly]. She displayed jaunty assuredness . . . and she memorized and read lines extraordinarily well.”

Now 84, Hedren remains active in showbiz—for example, appearing in Cougartown (as herself) as recently as 2013.

But her role as an animal-rights activist and conservationist might well be Hedren’s most lasting legacy. For decades, her Roar Foundation and the animal sanctuary, Shambala Preserve, in California have advocated for big (and not so big) cats—from lions and leopards to bobcats and servals—and she’s been honored with a host of humanitarian and conservation awards through the decades.

In 1971, LIFE photographer Michael Rougier spent time with Hedren; her teenage daughter, Melanie Griffith (from Hedren’s first marriage, to Peter Griffith), her then-husband, the agent and movie producer, Noel Marshall; and others at their home in California. Also in attendance: Neil, a 400-pound mature lion, who occasionally slept in the same bed as Griffith and, as these pictures attest, had the run of the house, from the kitchen to the living room to the swimming pool.

Hedren has since acknowledged that it was “stupid beyond belief” to put her family at risk by allowing an animal with “no conscience or remorse genes” to roam free. On that, at least, we can all agree—even if these pictures make Neil look like the world’s biggest pussycat.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME animals

‘Animals Make a Hospital Happy': Classic Photos of Critters Helping Kids

Photos from 1956 illustrate the powerful, positive effect that being around animals can have on sick children.

Almost 60 years ago, in November 1956, LIFE magazine published an article with the deceptively lighthearted title, “Animals Make a Hospital Happy.” Noting that children, especially, are acutely aware of “how depressing it is to be in a hospital . . . the University of Michigan’s hospital at Ann Arbor runs a perpetual animal show which is enjoyed by the 3,000 children who pass annually thought its wards.”

Today, of course, animal-assisted therapy is common in hospitals, nursing homes, rehab clinics and other places where the pain and solitude that so often come with illness—and the stress associated with recovering from injuries or sickness—can be almost paralyzing. Whether or not spending time with animals can actually help spark long-lasting improvements in mental health is an open, and controversial, question. But anecdotal evidence suggests that patients offered the opportunity to play with and otherwise interact with animals appear to be more optimistic about their prospects for recovery, while certain animals (especially social animals, like dogs) can often help decrease the sense of isolation and loneliness that so often plagues those stuck in hospitals for long periods of time.

As the LIFE article put it, “for hurrying a child out of the sickbed, the Ann Arbor hospital has found that nothing can match a youngster’s natural fascination with animals.”

Here, in fond tribute to the critters among us, LIFE.com shares photos from that long-ago article, as well as many more that never ran in LIFE.

[Read Jeff Kluger’s TIME cover article on “the Animal Mind”]

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME animals

Stop What You’re Doing And Watch This Live Rescue Mission of a Baby Bear

This is a developing story

You need to stop what you’re doing and watch this live-streaming video of a small baby bear who escaped from a dumpster in Pasadena, Calif. and is now being pursued—along with its mother—by animal rescue officers, and a helicopter news crew:

You’re welcome.

TIME animals

Meet the Lumbering, Quarter-Ton, Extinct Kangaroo

Don't call me Joey: Not a kangaroo—but not not one either.
Nobu Tamura—Wikimedia Commons Don't call me Joey: Not a kangaroo—but not not one either.

Sometimes the most fascinating animals are the ones that are no longer with us. The oddly named sthenurine is no exception.

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, kangaroos gotta hop—unless you’re talking about the eight-foot-tall, quarter-ton, kangaroos known as sthenurines (and no, that is not a typo). These distant cousins of modern red and gray kangaroos went extinct about 30,000 years ago, and their fossils weren’t discovered until the 1800s. When the species at last came to light, it was not easy to take seriously, resembling nothing so much as cartoon versions of its modern cousins. “They were short faced,” says Brown University biologist Christine Janis, “not long-faced like modern kangaroos, and the smallest of them were as big as the largest modern kangaroos. It wasn’t clear,” she adds, “how they could hop at that size.”

And according to a new paper Janis just published in the journal PLoS ONE, they probably couldn’t. Instead, she and two co-authors conclude after several years of investigation involving more than 140 skeletons from kangaroos and related species such as wallabees, the sthenurines walked upright on two legs.

The evidence comes from virtually everywhere across the creatures’ anatomy. Their teeth, the scientists observe, look more suited to browsing on trees and bushes than nibbling on grass as modern ‘roos do. That implies the ability to stand upright on two legs to reach the branches.

“They also had flared hipbones,” says Janis, with ample room for large gluteal muscles that would have permitted them to put weight on one leg at a time, something today’s kangaroos never do. Modern kangaroos amble around on all fours—or fives, if you count the tail, which they use for balance—when they’re browsing. When they want to go fast, they hop.

That’s possible only because they have flexible backs and stiff, substantial tails, which sthenurines lacked. The sthenurine hands, moreover, were unsuitable for bearing their weight. “They would have had trouble walking on all fours,” says Janis. The animals’ very bulk would have put terrible strains on their tendons if they even tried to hop.

“Some have argued that the sthenurines might have had thicker tendons to compensate,” Janis says, “but that would have made the tendons less elastic. It just seems biomechanically unlikely.” Any arguments about tendons and other soft tissues are somewhat speculative in ancient specimens, of course. “Imagine that we only knew elephants as fossils,” says Janis. “How would we know for sure they had trunks?”

The other evidence all points in one direction, however. As Janis straightforwardly puts, “just about everything we looked at made us go, ‘oh, that fits in.'” In the often elegant study of anatomy, the answer that fits is usually the answer that’s right.

TIME animals

Watch a Squirrel Rudely Wake Up a Sleeping Panda

Your cute panda fix for the day

We all know squirrels can be a nuisance. They terrorize college campuses and attack people taking selfies — although, you could certainly argue some excessive selfie-takers are asking for it.

Now their new target is pandas. The Toronto Zoo has uploaded a video showing the moment a squirrel jumped on top of the panda, Er Shun, while she was napping.

“She wasn’t that startled, as it didn’t take long for her to go back to sleep,” the zoo wrote in a description of the video on YouTube.

MORE: College Students Go Nuts over Squirrels

MORE: Richard Nixon Asked a Reporter to Watch Panda Sex

MORE: The World’s Best Job Is Hiring: Panda Nanny

 

TIME animals

This Video of a Shark Feeding Frenzy Is Basically a Real-Life Sharknado

Lunch hour

A video going viral claims to show “hundreds” of sharks in a feeding frenzy off the coast of North Carolina.

Brian Recker, a pastor at One Harbor Church in Beaufort, says he was out fishing with a group from the church when he witnessed the sharks going after a “school of bluefish” around noon on Oct. 8, at Cape Lookout National Seashore off the state’s Crystal Coast, according to the video’s description on YouTube. Recker calls the video, shot by fellow pastor Donnie Griggs, a real-life “Sharknado” in a Facebook post for the video, which boasts nearly 1 million views so far.

WATCH: Great White Shark Attacks Another Great White Shark

WATCH: Capturing a Great White Shark with a GoPro

Read next: 11 Halloween Costumes for People Who Spend Too Much Time on the Internet

TIME viral

Watch a Bulldog Puppy Try to Howl in an Adorable Video

Puppy love.

In Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” the poet wrote about letting loose with a “barbaric yawp.” This little bulldog puppy is doing its best to live up to Whitman’s edict and sound its own barbaric yawp from the rooftops. But there’s one little problem— it doesn’t quite know how to do it. (Maybe it should take a page from the Dead Poets Society playbook?)

Drop everything you are doing, and watch this little bundle of joy try its best to master that whole howling thing now. Once this adorably wrinkly ball figures out how to let loose, it will undoubtedly be sounding it yawp from the rooftops and driving the neighbors batty. For now, though, the clip is 100% adorable.

 

 

TIME Research

Those Pesky House Flies May Actually Improve Our Health

House Fly
Getty Images

According to new research in 'Genome Biology'

The house fly is a rarely celebrated insect, but new research published Tuesday finally provides the pest with some positive recognition.

The house fly (Musca domestica) has a genome that could actually give scientists insight into pathogen immunity, helping humans live healthier lives, researchers write in the journal Genome Biology. And it’s all because of their, well, gross-factor. Since the house fly lives on animal and human waste, according to Science Daily, “[t]hey are an important species for scientific study because of their roles as waste decomposers and as carriers of over 100 human diseases, including typhoid, tuberculosis and worms.”

Their immunity system genes can be studied to help humans be healthier in toxic and disease causing environments, the researchers add, and detoxification genes could help scientists find better ways to manage toxic environments.

TIME health

Why Euthanizing Ebola Animals Is a Dangerous Road to Go Down

Spanish Nurse Tests Positive For Ebola
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez—Getty Images Candles and a message reading 'Excalibur. You are free now. Rest in peace' lay on the ground in memory of dog named 'Excalibur' outside the apartment building, the private residence for Spanish nurse Teresa Romero who has tested positive for the Ebola virus on October 9, 2014 in Alcorcon, near Madrid, Spain.

Lori Gruen is a professor and chair of Philosophy at Wesleyan University.

If authorities can kill your family members because it's expedient, then we're heading down a path more frightening than the virus itself

Last week public health officials in Spain euthanized a dog named Excalibur. The same day that the first person diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola died in a Dallas hospital, a seemingly healthy dog that lived in Madrid with a nurse exposed to the virus, was killed.

What? A dog? Do dogs even get Ebola?

There is certainly reason for fear. My friends in the medical community report waking up with nightmares. And there is growing reproach about failures to act quickly enough. We in wealthy countries did not help, either financially or diplomatically, to ensure that public health infrastructures were in place in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 4,000 people have already died from the Ebola virus. Perhaps the lack of attention is because the outbreak has been most threatening to black bodies. But when the threat becomes real for white people in the U.S. and Europe, our attention and energy are mobilized.

The CDC is now changing screening protocols at airports and in hospital emergency rooms. That will help.

But why kill Excalibur? Teresa Romero Ramos, the Spanish nurse, contracted the virus after treating infected patients from Sierra Leone. She then went home and spent time with her husband and dog. Later, she was admitted to the hospital and tested positive for Ebola. Her husband, Javier Limon Romero, and several health workers have been placed under quarantine. Meanwhile, despite a petition signed by 400,000 people and protests from animal rights groups to spare their dog, Excalibur was euthanized.

Neither Javier nor Excalibur showed signs of being infected. And it isn’t clear that dogs can get or spread Ebola. There has been only one study done, and that was inconclusive. Dr. David Moore, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told TIME, “there is absolutely no evidence to support a role for dogs in transmission” of the Ebola virus.

But surely caution is warranted.

The right thing to do would have been to isolate Excalibur and observe him, as was done to others who had been in contact with Teresa. But Spanish authorities weren’t thinking of Excalibur’s life as valuable or of how devastating his death would be to his family. They were thinking about what was expedient.

Many consider dogs, like most animals, disposable. Animal lives are thought to be worth less than those of humans. Rather than spend money or energy isolating a dog, it was easier, Spanish authorities decided, to kill him. And given how long it took the hospital to admit Teresa, it was unlikely they were simply acting with the utmost caution when it came to Excalibur. In the U.S., more than one million dogs are euthanized each year dogs that are inconvenient or unwanted are routinely disposed of.

The routine killing of animals diminishes not only their lives, but the toll that choosing euthanasia takes on people who live with and love animals. Ending the life of one’s animal companion because he is suffering is one of the most difficult decisions we as animal caretakers are asked to make. In addition to mourning the loss of a loved one, the decision often has painful reverberations: Was it the right time? Did I wait too long?

Taking someone’s life because it is expedient, because it is convenient, or because they are not the sorts of bodies that matter ultimately can serve to devalue all of our lives and relationships.

That Teresa and Javier’s relationship with Excalibur was not valued by public health authorities, and that their plea to save his life was not heeded, should be a cautionary tale. If authorities can come and kill your family members because it is expedient, then we may be heading down a path that is more frightening than the virus itself.

Fortunately, some authorities are choosing a more cautious route. In Texas, another nurse has just been infected. The people sent to decontaminate her home found her dog there. But rather than more killing, authorities have opted for compassion. This dog will be monitored.

It’s likely that the virus will cause much more damage before it’s contained. Rather than being driven by fear, I hope, collectively, we can refuse expedience and seek compassionate solutions across differences of race, geography and species.

Lori Gruen is a professor and chair of Philosophy at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Ethics and Animals and is currently teaching her course “Humans-Animals-Nature.”

Read next: Can Dogs (And Other Animals) Get Ebola?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME animals

Newly Discovered Snail Species Named in Honor of Marriage Equality

The Aegista diversifamilia has both male and female sex organs

A newly discovered species of snail has been named in honor of marriage equality.

The snail, Aegista diversifamilia, which has both male and female sex organs, “represents the diversity of sex orientation in the animal kingdom,” the BBC reports. The snail is common in eastern Taiwan, where same-sex marriage is illegal, according to research published in the journal ZooKeys.

“When we were preparing the manuscript, it was a period when Taiwan and many other countries and states were struggling for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights,” said Dr. Yen-Chang Lee, the first person to suggest the snail might be its own species and not another, similar species of snail previously mistaken for it.”We decided that maybe this is a good occasion to name the snail to remember the struggle for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights.”

Lee, from Taipei’s Academia Sinica, first noticed that snails of the Aegista subchinensis species were very different in the eastern part of the country in 2003 before taking part in a detailed study of the “new” snail with researchers from National Taiwan Normal University.

[BBC]

 

 

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