Woman Jailed for Feeding Deer

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The "Deer Lady", as she has come to be known, was imprisoned for eight days for breaking a California law which prohibits the feeding of wildlife. Thana Minion is believed to be the only person ever jailed in the state for the crime, which is a misdemeanor.
She previously served a 45 day sentence in 2000 for violation of the same law.

So long, Pioneer 10.

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After 31 years and billions of miles, the first manmade object to leave the solar system has finally fallen silent. Pioneer 10's signal has degraded below the level of detection, and no more attempts will be made to contact it.

Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972 on a 21-month mission, becoming the first spacecraft to fly through the asteroid belt, the first to take close-up images of Jupiter, and the first to use the gravity of a planet to change its course. Pioneer 10 also carries a gold plaque depicting the location of earth as well as drawings of a male and a female human. Pioneer 10 is currently headed towards the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus, although it will pass within three light years of the red dwarf Ross 248 in 300,000 years.

In the era of NASA's "better, faster, cheaper, more" missions (and disappointments), Pioneer 10 certainly lived up to its budget and its mission... And then some. Wind to your sails, Pioneer.

Robo-Bambi Helping Capture Off-Season Hunters

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Florida is using a robotic deer to capture off-season hunters. According to this article the hunters can tell the difference, but attack it anyway. One guy even shot at it several times and missed.

Do you speak Elephant?

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National Geographic has an interesting article on one woman's decades-long research into understanding the infrasonic language of elephants.

I wonder how long it will be before we have an "Elephant-Human" dictionary? Or maybe a phrasebook would be better for the tourist crowd...

The Art of Emotion and Robotics

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Artist David Hanson has created a robotic talking head which mimics human emotional response. Named "K-Bot", the head has 24 facial "muscles", making it the most expressive of its kind to date.

An earlier article, here, has photos as well.

And now, a talking Zebra.

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Summit and Alcon Entertainment have teamed with Warner Bros. to solidify the release of a film next year entitled Racing Stripes, which will feature a CGI/animatronic talking zebra.

"The screenplay... tells the story of a zebra abandoned on a farm in Kentucky and follows his adventures to fullfill his ambition of becoming a champion racehorse."

Skunks still spray in good health in Florida

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When Florida's Fish and Wildlife in West Palm hadn't recieved more than one skunk nuisance call in 8 years, they were worried. Sure, it was good that skunks weren't getting into garbage cans or nesting under people's porches, but skunks are an important part of Florida's ecology, eating rodents and insects, and themselves being eaten by such creatures as owls. But skunks are alive and well all over Florida, though they grow less common the farther south you go. A general call out on the F&W website recieved 1,820 replies of skunk sightings and sniffings. A survey of 1000 biologists, animal control people and wildlife rehabbers didn't reveal such overwhelmingly positive results, but still, skunks don't seem done for yet. Todd Axten, one of the nuisance animal control people asked, was worried when he heard skunks might be endangered in Florida. A former pet skunk owner, he has a 'soft spot' for skunks. "They have that ferret face. They're a big fluff ball."

First ever "Cat Pride March" held in Rome

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Wearing whiskers and holding cats, thousands of cat lovers marched in Rome on Saturday to raise awareness for the plight of the city's strays, and to ask the government for funds to help protect them.

Heroic Cockatoo convicts owner's murderer

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Though Bird, a umbrella cockatoo, was himself killed after attacking the men murdering his owner Kevin Butler, in his brave attempt was the evidence needed to send the man who killed them both to jail. The DNA evidence on the claws and beak just was part of the case brought against Daniel Torres and another man facing trial, which included evidence on blood stained knives, but the prosucutor felt it really spoke to the jury. After all, the parrot was killed protecting his master. And who did he bite? Why, David Torres.

"Impossible Creatures" on your PC

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A long time in coming, the computer strategy game Impossible Creatures offers the chance to combine over fifty animal species to create combat-ready hybrids.

According to a Reuters news release: "Impossible Creatures" makes it easy to combine a coyote with a skunk to create a coyunk, or a lobster and a hippopotamus to get the lobstopotamus."

Official game site here

Strange Horizons

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Strange Horizons is an internet Semi Prozine that amongst other high quality short stories and articles regularly publishes articles and stories with an Animal or Anthropomorphic bent. Some of the recent gems are Jack's House, and Why The Elders Bare Their Throats. Strange Horizons provides a regularly updated site for free, while also paying its contributors at professional rates. The running costs are paid by donations from readers, so if you can, please donate.

How Squirrels took over the World

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Are you (or is someone you love) a squirrel? Then you might want to read this article. It shows how squirrels started out 36 million years ago in Western North America and spread outwards fairly quickly.

It's an interesting article, showing how archaeology, geology and genetics can cooperate in giving us a better understanding of the current animal world.

Copyrighting your Muck Characters?

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Often I see on people's websites, and on popular art galleries pictures of their or others muck or role-play characters. And in most instances they are followed by descriptions similar to 'FluffyWuffieBunniekins Copyright Me, Art Copyright Some Guy I Met Online!!!'. Well, sometimes with real names. But do most people understand what copyright means? Lets answer a few common questions...

Dog fight Nike ad upsets dog owners, law alike

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It's so quick, you might blink and miss it. As part of a plethora of 'fight' images for a new commercial for Nike, called "The Battle", mixes up the imagry of youth aggression, sports players, and two fighting dogs.
The Rottie snaps, the pitbull lunges, jaws gape and snap, and it's over. But that's too much, says a variety of groups ranging from dog groups, rottie and pit bull breed rescues to dogfight investigators. "What they're showing is classic street fighting."noted an investigator, agast."...We were going for an edgier, racier ad." says a Nike spokeswomen, but dog groups say that sort of image makes the wrong people want to own 'mean' breeds, and makes the right sort of owner afraid of them. "With this three-second clip, they just told millions of people it's OK to fight dogs, and . . . wear our Nikes while you do it."
Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states.

Furry novel news

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"Firewing", by Kenneth Oppel, the third novel in "The Silverwing Saga" which was published in Canada in April 2002, was published in February in the U.S.: Simon & Schuster, $16.95. "Silverwing" is also due to become a TV cartoon series, animated by Bardel Entertainment in Vancouver, on Canada's Teletoon channel in September.

"Cat Seeing Double: A Joe Grey Mystery", by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, the latest (eighth) in the series about talking cat detectives, was published in January: HarperCollins, $24.95.

"Rancher Ferrets on the Range", by Richard Bach, the fourth of his "The Ferret Chronicles" set in a world of anthropomorphic ferrets, was published in February: Scribner, $15.00. Vol. 5, "Teacher Ferrets in the Classroom", is scheduled for September publication.

"Between Darkness and Light", by Lisanne Norman, the latest installment of her "Sholan Alliance" novel, was published in January: DAW Books, $6.99.

"Snowball's Chance", by John Reed, a "revisionist" version of "Animal Farm" that has the George Orwell estate threatening legal action, was published in November 2002: Roof Books, $19.95.

From the Yerf Archive