Court is stressful for everyone, but especially for young family members. Now the Courthouse Dogs Program provides comfort to children and families going through the court system.
In a followup to the recent report on escaped and released Himalayan rose-ringed parakeets in London, BBC News reports that a new study shows that the parakeets stake out backyard bird feeders and intimidate traditional native British songbirds away from them.
The wild parakeet population in Southern England is growing at an estimated 23% per year. This has led to new demands that the parakeets be culled as an invasive pest.
The Peregrine Falcon is known as the fastest bird on Earth when diving upon prey, but a new study shows that a small European shorebird, the Great Snipe, holds the record for the longest distance in the shortest time when migrating between northwestern Sweden and central Africa. [Wired.com]
During its annual migration, a single snipe may fly for 96 consecutive hours, covering more than 4,000 miles. That’s four days without stopping or sleeping, sometimes at average speeds of 50 miles per hour.
BBC News reports that two liger cubs, the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger, are being nursed by a dog at the Xixiakou Wildlife Zoo in China after the cubs' mother stopped feeding them. The ligers are very rare and are believed to only result from matings in captivity.
CNN reports that an all-white kiwi has hatched at New Zealand's national wildlife center. The news report says that it is not an albino.
The chick is believed to be the first white kiwi to be hatched in captivity.
Residents of the village of Hedge End, in southern England, called police after spotting a white tiger in a field near a local golf course. Armed officers and a police helicopter responded, along with staff from nearby Marwell Zoo.
As the police on the ground approached the tiger, they saw that it was not moving, and themal imaging equipment in the helicopter showed no body heat. At that point, the downdraft from the 'copter caused the tiger to roll over, and police realised they were stalking a life-size plush toy.
Police later commented, "It is being treated as lost property but we don't know how it came to be in the field and whether it may have been a hoax."
Any of those headlines would be equally accurate in this very odd story from Fort Smith in Canada's Northwest Territories. The small, otherwise-sleepy northern town just north of the Alberta-NWT border was the victim of a rampaging beaver that alarmed several residents and prompted a call from the territory's Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Wired reports that the red-crested tree rat, last seen in 1898, has reappeared in The El Dorado Nature Conservancy in Colombia. The Guinea pig-sized animal just walked up to startled environmentalists and let itself be photographed in closeups.
Park volunteer Lizzie Noble marveled at the rat's placid nature:
He just shuffled up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing.
The New York Times reports that the population of tropical rose-ringed parakeets in Britain, up from 1,500 ten years ago from escaped or deliberately released pets, has grown to an estimated 30,000 today, "turning a once-exotic bird into a notorious pest that awakens children, monopolizes garden bird feeders, and might even threaten British crops."
The problem is acute in the suburbs of London, with one retiree reporting consumption of the contents of an entire bird feeder in one day.
Flying first class may help you avoid luggage charges, but it doesn't mean you can pack endangered animals in there, as the BBC News reports.
A man flying from Bangkok to Dubai was arrested by undercover police after trying to check in suitcases containing rare juvenile animals: two leopards, two panthers, an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys, all sedated and packed in carefully-crafted containers.
Freeland Foundation director Steven Galster observed the arrest:
It was a very sophisticated smuggling operation. We've never seen one like this before. The guy had a virtual zoo in his suitcases.
Reports claimed her purring reached 73 dB (16 times louder than a normal cat). She was recorded by a music expert from Northampton College and the recording was witnessed by four individuals with various backgrounds.
On 5 May, Guinness announced that Smokey was the loudest domestic cat in the world, at 67.7 dB (LA peak).
In recent days, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) has erected a two-meter (six foot) tall fence, stretching 9 kilometers (about 5.5 miles) along the threatened eastern fox snake's habitat in the city of Windsor, Ontario's west end.
The special fabric fence – which extends below ground level – was erected because the snake can climb and slither beneath regular fences. The MTO was concerned that snakes might wander into the construction zone, where they would be at risk.
The fence was built with assistance from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to keep the construction project in compliance with the Endangered Species Act, as work begins on extending Highway 401 west towards the proposed bridge to Detroit.
Due to a lack of observations of interactions between the two fox species, biologists have been unsure whether the loss of arctic fox territory was due to direct competition, or if they were indirectly competing for the same food. Rodnikova et al have now reported observing a red fox intruding upon a arctic fox den in 2007.
As a baby squirrel hopped towards a policeman in the grounds of a school, he took out his pepper spray, apparently to defend himself against the potentially infected animal. As school children pleaded with the officer not to harm the creature, the squirrel advanced and the man reacted by spraying it. The squirrel became disorientated and started writhing on the ground.
A Mesquite Animal Control officer was called and cleaned the spray off the squirrel. After being given a satisfactory bill of health, it was released back into the wild.
A video recording of the pepper-spraying incident, made by students, generated outrage after it was posting on YouTube. Having received over 700,000 views in one week, comments on the video are split between those condemning the officer's actions as heavy-handed, and those sympathising with his need to maintain personal safety in the face of a possibly rabid animal.
For the past few weeks, deputies at the Oklahoma Sheriff's Office have found their vehicles being vandalised, with tampering to the electrical wiring.
Closer examination revealed the wiring had been chewed through, with the culprit leaving a mass of tiny footprints in the engine compartment. Deputies have since observed a squirrel dropping down from under one of the vehicles, which showed signs of recent squirrel habitation, and have called in animal control. So far, attempts to trap the vandal squirrel have failed.
In a sign of the times, the Scofflaw Squirrel now has a Twitter account.