animals

Ambergris
User: aquagreenmarine.blogspot.com

Ambergris is an animal by-product that's been used for centuries in, as flavoring for food, and as an aphrodisiac. It's one of the world's most expensive substances.

Pretty glamorous, especially when you consider that ambergris is: whale poop.

Christopher Kemp is a molecular biologist at Michigan State University. He's written a book about ambergris called Floating Gold: A Natural (& Unnatural) History of Ambergris.

Kemp says ambergris is used in perfumes because of its musky scent that can hold together the other lighter tones. Besides, its fatty, cholesterol-rich texture can stabilize the fragrance and make it last longer on the wearer's skin. 

Detroit Zoo wants new kid mayor of Amphibiville

Sep 28, 2014
Detroit Zoo website

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) - The Detroit Zoo is seeking human candidates to become the next leader of its amphibian population.  The zoo in Royal Oak is looking for a 7- to 12-year-old Michigan resident to serve a two-year term as mayor of Amphibiville, its two-acre wetland village and home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center. Candidates must write an essay of 100 or fewer words on why they should be mayor and submit it to the zoo by Friday.

Hold your horses, because new episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol begin this Saturday on National Geographic Wild.
User: The Incredible Dr. Pol / facebook

One of TV's most endearing and unlikely reality show stars is Dr. Jan Pol.

He's a veterinarian with a country practice in mid-Michigan, near Mount Pleasant.

He is also the star of the National Geographic Wild series The Incredible Dr. Pol. The show begins its fifth season Saturday.

Pol is telling his story in a new autobiography Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet.

He says he learned the lesson to never turn your back on an Angus cow the hard way when he was growing up on a dairy farm in the Netherlands.

“You don’t turn your back. You cannot outrun the cow. You cannot outrun the horse. You cannot outrun almost every animal on the planet.”

Pol opened his veterinarian practice in 1981. In his more than three decades of practicing in Michigan, he has seen big changes in farming in the state.

“When we started here, there were two or three family farms every mile. Those have disappeared. Farms got bigger, but it doesn’t mean cows got better care,” says Pol.

* Listen to our conversation with Dr. Jan Pol above.

user: RTD Photography

The question of how many stray animals are in Detroit has been talked about ever since Bloomberg News put out this piece with the typical "Detroit is a hellhole" headline:

Abandoned Dogs Roam Detroit in Packs as Humans Dwindle

Chris Christoff reported that the city had "as many as 50,000 stray dogs."

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported that other groups said there's no question that the number has been "wildly inflated."

Tom McPhee of the World Animal Awareness Society estimated there were between 1,000 to 3,000 stray dogs in the city.

Now, yet another estimate has been published.

Wikipedia

It was 1883 when the Detroit Zoo first opened its doors at Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street, across from what would become Tiger Stadium.

By 1928, the zoo had moved its current home at 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue. It's the No. 1 paid tourist attraction in Michigan, drawing more than 1.1 million visitors every year.

The zoo's mission has evolved  since those early days, shifting from animal care to animal welfare. It's a leader in animal conservation and welfare.

Detroit Zoo Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Ron Kagan  gives us a closer look at the ways the zoo has become such a leader in protecting and preserving animal species.

Listen to the full interview above.

Wikimedia

Two bi-partisan bills that subject pet shop operators and breeders to rules against animal neglect and cruelty are on their way to the Michigan House.

Senate Bills 285 and 286 also toughen penalties for animal neglect or cruelty, depending on the offender's prior convictions and the number of animals involved.

user: eviltomthai / Flickr

When things get tough, Detroit City Councilman James Tate digs deeper.

He (at the suggestions of residents) might have a way to maintain Detroit's miles of vacant lots. 

At tomorrow's city council meeting, he'll talk about the possibility of allowing goats and sheep to graze on tall grasses. 

According to MLive, Tate is bringing in a grazing expert to speak at the meeting. 

"Urban cities are doing this all across the country and having absolutely no issues, whatsoever," Tate said. Allowing the animals into neighborhoods could require changes to the city's urban agriculture ordinance.

Chicago recently used goats (some of whom are named Cream Puff, Orca, and Nugget) to clear invasive plants from a park. 

The grazing expert, according to MLive, was also involved in a similar livestock endeavor in Cleveland. The Cleveland project used sheep -- and one llama -- to maintain a vacant lot. The project received a $2,000 grant from Charter One's Growing Communities program. 

University of Michigan / Facebook

There were four baby peregrine falcons nesting on the roof of University Hospital at the end of April. The University Record reports this is the third year in a row that two falcons nested on the hospital roof.

A contest was held to name the babies. Today, the people running the University of Michigan's Facebook page announced the winning names:

  • Maize,
  • Blue,
  • Woodson,
  • and Howard.

The images of the cute falcon babies got us wondering, 'what can be cuter than these things?'

Flickr user "Steve and Sara"

Antifreeze often looks like a sports-drink or Kool-Aid and it can have a sweet smell that attracts animals and kids. A bill in the Michigan legislature would require that a bittering agent be added to antifreeze so humans and animals don’t want to drink it.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - People convicted of animal abuse would be required to register with local law enforcement and prohibited from adopting animals under legislation recently introduced in the Michigan House.

Republican Rep. Paul Muxlow of Brown City and Democratic Rep. Harvey Santana of Detroit introduced legislation last week that would require people convicted of animal abuse to submit their address, photograph and social security number to local law enforcement.

The Wonder Years

Apr 13, 2012
francistoms / flickr

April is prevention of cruelty to animals month. Michigan based writer, Wade Rouse shares a story about why it’s a month of note for him.

Over the last year,  Rouse has been sharing stories about his life, the holidays and other days of significance on the calendar.

You can find his stories in his book titled, It’s All Relative – Two families, three dogs, 34 holidays, and 50 boxes of wine…a memoir.

 

Flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

A newspaper reports a tiger cub exhibit has closed at a Grand Rapids mall after public complaints and a planned protest. The Grand Rapids Press reported Friday that mall officials canceled the touring display that allows shoppers to play with and be photographed with the cubs for a price.

Sarah Hale tells the newspaper she had planned a protest for Saturday against the exhibit but called it off.

The tragedy that unfolded for the exotic animals near Zanesville, Ohio on Tuesday night and Wednesday highlighted the lack of regulation in Ohio for a particular type of animal compound.

Terry Thompson kept bears, tigers, lions, monkeys, and other animals on his property.

He reportedly did not display them to the public for compensation, and was not required to carry a permit from the USDA. And an Ohio state law regulating exotic animals had expired.

user ak_rus / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Humane Society's board is bringing in an outside expert to evaluate how the organization decides which dogs go for adoption and which dogs are killed.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press report the board voted Monday. Kelley Bollen, director of behavior programs for the Maddie's Fund Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, will evaluate "canine evaluation protocols."

A broader examination could be considered later.

Four of 18 board members at the Michigan Humane Society have  resigned since June amid questions about the rate of euthanizing dogs and cats. The organization's overall euthanasia rate has been 70 percent for the past four years, including 17,000 in 2010.

The organization defends its practices, noting it takes in all types of animals, including abused ones.

Photo by Emily Fox

Local food is the hottest thing on menus this year. That’s according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association. Michigan State University researchers are trying to give consumers more information about locally grown food.

Some say local is the new green. Here's how two characters in the show Portandia portray the local food movement in America:

Waitress: “My name is Dana, I’ll be taking care of you today if you have any questions about the menu, please let me know.”

Woman: “I guess I do have a question about the chicken. If you could just tell us a little more about it.”

Waitress: “Uh, the chicken is a heritage breed, woodland raised chicken that’s been fed a diet of sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts. . .”

Man: “This is local?”

Waitress: “Yes. Absolutely.”

Man: “I’m going to ask you one more time. And it’s local?”

Waitress: “It is.”

Woman: “Is that USDA organic, Oregon organic or Portland organic?”

Waitress: “It’s just all across the board. Organic.”

FOX: Okay, so not every restaurant is like the one featured in this sitcom. But researchers at Michigan State University say people do want more information about their food. They're starting a pilot program to do just that with local beef.

Photo courtesy of isleroyalewolf.org

The wolves of Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior could be in trouble.

For 53 years, researchers from Michigan Tech have been studying the island’s wolf and moose populations.

This year... they found there are fewer wolves – just 16. And only a couple of females that can still have babies. Rolf Peterson has been studying the wolves for more than four decades.

He says it's not clear why some of the wolves are dying.

"In late 2009, six of the ten females we had in the population died. That was just an unusual, presumably a fluke. Only one of the females was radio collared and she died in a very unusual way, she died giving birth."

He says the outlook for the existence of wolves on Isle Royale is uncertain.

"It could be just a little hurdle they have to jump through. It also could mean the beginning of the end if those one or two females should die without giving birth to a female. And if neither of the two pups we thought we saw this year are female, then that's it. The population would go extinct because there are no females."

At this point, he doesn't think people should intervene. But he says there could come a point where the National Park Service might introduce new female wolves from the mainland. Peterson says the males on the island would readily accept new females if the existing females die.

The wolves keep the island's moose in check. The research team has found that the moose population is currently around 500 animals. If the wolves go extinct, Peterson says the moose would be in trouble too.

"They'd increase to the point where they'd starve to death catastrophically."

Peterson has spent most of every year for four decades living among the wolves and moose on the island with his wife Candy.  But he says there's still plenty to be discovered.

"Almost everything that happens there surprises me. We're almost unable to predict the short term future. I guess the resiliency of wolves in general does usually surprise me. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they pulled out of this one. But exactly how they're going to do it is what's fascinating."

You can learn more about the research team and the wildlife here.

Photo courtesy of Dan Cojanu

For this week’s edition of our series “What’s Working,” Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley welcomes Dan Cojanu. He’s the Vice President and Program Director of the Canine Advocacy Program (CAP), based in Oakland County. Through the use of a Chocolate Labrador named Amos, the CAP provides support to child victims of abuse and neglect when they are required to testify or be present in court.

Cojanu begins by explaining how he began organizing the CAP. As he was preparing to retire from his job as the Supervisor for Victim’s Services in Oakland County in 2008, Cojanu decided that he wasn’t done with victim advocacy. Not only did he want to continue work with victims of crime, Cojanu says he also had a desire to work with dogs.

“I did a little research, and I wound up out in Seattle at the Courthouse Dogs Program. And once I was able to observe what these dogs bring to the court setting, to forensic interviews, I just got so excited that I had to bring this back to Michigan.”

When a child has to go before a court as a victim, Cojanu says the experience can be overwhelmingly stressful for his or her emotions.

“These children, when they come to court, the anxiety level, I don’t think it can be measured. They’re going to have to be in front of a bunch of adults who they don’t know, all strangers, and tell the most intimate details of a sexual assault or neglect or abuse or whatever. And it’s so frightening to these kids.”

When a trained service dog like Amos is introduced to the situation, though, Cojanu says the effects are phenomenal.

“You bring a dog into the picture and they have a whole new focus. They have a big cuddly Lab that they can do tricks with, take for walks. A lot of the kids will draw pictures of Amos, and it just brings that anxiety level so far down, that by the time they’re ready to go to court, they’re at least a little better prepared, certainly more relaxed. And it’s just phenomenal. And when they’re done, you know, Amos is there for a big hug.”

Occasionally, Amos has been allowed to sit beside children as they testify on the witness stand. That makes Amos the first dog ever permitted to sit beside someone as they testified in a Michigan courtroom.

Wild boar
Photo by Richard Bartz / Creative Commons

Peter Payette from Interlochen Public Radio filed a report on wild pigs with the Environment Report this week.

Pigs and boars can escape from farms and game ranches and cause problems in an ecosystem. The problem is especially bad in southern states.

Check out this video about the problem in Texas: