Footage of a giant squid

See the elusive creature on film this month!

I have always been fascinated by giant squids. I think it’s not just the fact that they are so elusive that we have rarely ever seen them at all—aside from when they wash up on shores dead—but also because they are truly the monsters of the deep.

They are creatures once thought to be myths and prove that sometimes we really just don’t know what’s out there. Something that huge that evades us for this long has to be admired! They give hope to the cryptozoologist in all of us, no matter how small, and make us wonder what else could exist that we had previously dismissed as legend.

The Discovery Channel has finally managed to capture actual footage of the giant squid for us to enjoy and they are going to air it Saturday, January 27, 2013 at 8 p.m. EST. Set up your DVRs because this is one documentary that you are not going to want to miss! I cannot wait to see this one.

My only hope is that we don’t venture further, trying to kill this animal for jumbo calamari or something as we humans tend to do. It’s been clever enough to avoid us for this long; let’s respect that and just enjoy seeing the “monster” on camera.

Forcing animals to smoke is pretty sicko stuff

So what does that make our USDA?

Did you know that in order for something to qualify as a “low risk” item, the USDA asks manufacturers to verify said risk by animal testing? Given the number of studies conducted on animals that have yielded false positives (or negatives) and even resulted in death, I think we can all conclude that something’s reaction to a mouse or rabbit just isn’t the same as it is to a human. Yet, we keep testing.

Here’s a pretty sick test that’s being used by some testers right now: Tobacco companies want to force mice and rats to inhale smoke while stuck in small tubes for hours at a time—or even for the duration of their lives. Given how most of us know that smoking’s not healthy, shouldn’t we recognize that forcing animals to smoke is pretty unhealthy of us, too?

Perhaps it reveals just what kind of sick weirdoes we are. After all, a kid blows up a frog and we worry that he’ll be a serial killer; a kid grows up to blow up animals in a lab and it’s considered the scientific way.

I really think we can do better than this, people. There are so many more reliable and accurate alternatives to animal testing that it just makes us look stupid today. To ask the FDA to prevent these sick experiments, please click here.

Real-life Bambi

Uncanny resemblance to Disney's classic movie

We all remember Walt Disney's 1942 classic Bambi, a story about a young deer prince, his forest friends and their adventures. This image depicts a real-life 'Bambi' meeting two baby skunks, just as it occurs in the movie. Aww moment!

Unique chicken language

Recognize different chicken sounds

Chickens are an animal many people know to produce eggs for them to eat or even provide them with meat to eat. What many people do not know is that chickens have a very distinctive and in depth language all their own. Normally people will never hear this language unless they are exposed to chickens, but even then it can be hard to hear the chickens sounds because you are new to them and they may not make a sound until they are used to you. 

The first sound most people are familiar with is the cock-a-doodle-do. This sound typically comes from the rooster and will often be an alert sound to announce his presence to people, to sound an alarm of some type or even to show off for the ladies. If you do have a rooster, then you also know they will crow when something new is going on around them, for example a neighbor stopping by or friend coming over. 

Another sound you can find within the chicken community is the normal clucking of the hens. This clucking is letting the other chickens in the flock know they have found some great food source or to let them know where they are located. Either way the hens will do this clucking and it can easily lead to entertainment when you sit outside with the chickens for a while and start to hear them clucking back and forth with each other. 
 
Chickens are known for providing eggs and meat to people. However, you may have never thought about the different language all chickens tend to have. Once you sit and listen to chickens talk back and forth for a while, you can be intrigued by how unique the chicken language really is. 

Be a voice for the animals

Take a stand for those who cannot speak.

Whether you’re an animal lover, an animal rights activist, or simply a person who doesn’t want to stand by while fellow sentient beings suffer, see if any of the following actions are important to you. If they are, won’t you take a moment to click and sign on to a campaign and help those who cannot speak for themselves?

Help protect Spanish Greyhounds

Dog lovers, you know how much it breaks your heart when you hear about a dog being abandoned by his or her owners for whatever reason. After a grueling career as a hunting dog, many Spanish greyhounds are abandoned like this, leaving this ancient, loving breed of canine companion to a life of desolation, abuse, or death. The dogs are often seen abandoned and starving, begging for scraps after their owners have used them until their old age. Please click here to ask Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to help protect these noble dogs and prevent them from such suffering.

Save Beluga Whales from death

Have you ever seen a beluga whale? When I was 18, I had the opportunity to do so, and it was one of the most breathtaking, amazing moments of my entire life. I still get goose bumps right now, just thinking about that magnificent, enormous creature right in front of me. The Apache Alaska Corporation, however, is about to use airguns to explore the region where the very last belugas of the Alaska Cook inlet live for oil and gas. These airguns will kill, if not injure to the point of deafness and other impairment, the belugas. Please click here to learn more and to ask the Obama administration to step in and stop the airgun operation.

Ban lead bullets

When bullets containing lead are used in hunting, they result in contamination of the rest of wildlife, giving plants and animals deadly lead poisoning. Click here to learn more and to stop the use of lead bullets in hunting.

Submit your comments about Keystone XL

The potential environmental and wildlife destruction from opening up the Keystone XL pipeline project is devastating. Before President Obama allows this pipeline to run from Nebraska all the way up to Canada, the State Department is investigating its impact—which gives us time to speak up and out against the project, which would be harmful for both humans and animals. Please click here to submit your comments and ask that this simply not be allowed to happen.

Stop killing sea lions

As sea lions threaten fisherman’s catch, they are murdered at an alarming rate; please click here to ask that a humane way to deal with this clash be implemented and that the sea lions be protected.

The Pet Shop Wars

Our fun chronicles between PetCo and PetSmart

Have you ever gone to PetSmart, and then to PetCo, just to see what kinds of varying prices, information and general practices the two keep? It sounds like something really nerdy people do. Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s just something broke people like me do for fun in town and our kids want to see some animals!

If you do decide to waste a perfectly good afternoon doing just this, you are in for a treat. Did you know that PetCo and PetSmart employees openly bash one another? I am totally serious. Tell a PetSmart employee that PetCo tested your water and found it “too stressed” for fish and they’ll flip out on you. “What does that even mean?” a cute guy told us, happy to sell us fish to put in our “stressed” water. They did not die, by the way.

“What the heck?” asked the less cuter but more talkative PetCo dude when we told him PetSmart didn’t know how to answer our questions about fire-belly toads. “That’s ridiculous! They are the easiest pets to have. All you need is A, B, C, X, Y, and Z…” He yapped about how PetSmart’s keeping them in tanks half-full with water instead of little fake ponds was stupid and harder to clean, then he proceeded to show us a wide variety of products, as he is wont to do; the PetSmart people usually don’t suggestive sell nearly as much to us.

We didn’t buy anything from either one—though I can tell you that with or without a savings card, PetSmart is cheaper—but we definitely left more confused than we were when we arrived. At least at Petco, we could find the pet care sheets; we couldn’t locate them at PetSmart. Then again, at PetCo, there were dead floating fish, while PetSmart’s tanks were all pretty clean and void of posthumous creatures.

Who to trust? Who to believe? I couldn’t really tell you. I know PETA has had campaigns against PetCo for a while, so maybe they’re the bad guys. Ours is typically pretty clean and safe-looking, and they definitely won’t sell just anybody fish, though. That’s good, right? And the last time we went to PetSmart, the girl seemed like she couldn’t care less about our questions.

In the meantime, I think we might just fill this new tank we got for free from a relative with pet rocks…

Hysterical woman in the woods?

Obviously, it's just an owl...

When it comes to creepy sounds, I think I am a bit of an expert—not because I can identify any animal sound I hear, but because I hear scary noises all. Of. The. Time. Whether it’s unidentified voices, shrieking, furniture moving, scuffling in the attic (or basement), or something deep in the woods longing to crunch my bones, I’ve heard it. I can’t guarantee if any of these sounds are real or if they were heard during my frequent bouts of sleeplessness, but I do hear them.

So a few weeks ago when I heard the strange woman shrieking in the woods over and over again—a few nights in a row, I might add—I just chalked it up to either A. my tired and overactive mind again or B. one of the many creepy things that linger around in the world, like zombies and banshees and so forth. But when my husband, home from work that night and up with me, commented that he’d heard something weird in the woods, my eyes went wide. It was something real!I made him venture out to see who/what it was, naturally.

It turns out that we had an owl nesting in the back, and the shrieking was her way of keeping whatever was bothering her nest away. We could see her hopping around the tree on the ground, circling the tree her nest was in and screaming. Since it was on the ground, I wondered if it was a snake after her eggs that she was scaring off—though it really could have been just about anything. We did have a snake take out a nest in one of our bird houses once (up a tree as well), so it was definitely possible.

What was bothering it, we never saw—but she must have kept the bullies at bay with her screaming, since we haven’t heard it in a while. That, or whatever was stalking her ate her eggs, which would be a shame, since owls are nice to have around. They’re just about as helpful as bats, keeping pests away, eating bugs and mice, and generally being pretty while doing so. They’re almost like flying, outdoor cats. Sort of.

What’s the weirdest animal sound you’ve ever heard in your presences? Did you freak out like I did—or were you able to identify it and go to sleep?

Pet food found to be contaminated again

This time with salmonella and so far only in dog food

Why is it so hard to make pet food? Isn’t it just a matter of using quality ingredients and following safety guidelines? If pet food manufacturing companies are unable to promise that our pets will survive their food then maybe we need to think outside of the box.

I lost a cat to the Melamine contamination that had caused a sizable FDA recall and led to deaths of countless pets across the nation. Following the death of my cat, Ziek, I had been given a cat and later when I was actually ready, I chose a new pet. Needless to say I now have two cats. It probably took me about a year to feel confident in feeding them. Recently, one of my cats started sniffing his wet food and just walking away. This of course raised red flags inside of me.

After coming across reports about the Salmonella dog food contamination I have been sent back to my earlier days of having a lack of confidence in pet food manufacturers. As a result, I have returned to making my own cat food. I thought I would share with any concerned pet owners where I go for my recipes.

Lisa Pierson has set up an entire instructional manual that discusses specific needs of cats, handling procedures and countless recipes. You can visit her website to learn all the basics of making cat food. I don’t have a dog, however after exploring a few options I have found that the Dogtime website is the most detailed and explanatory. 

 

New gecko discovery in Papua New Guinea

Think bumblebee

 

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love new animal discoveries and this little reptile is definitely worth more than just a little mention. He has been named Nactus kunan, which just happens to be the Nali translation to bumblebee. The remarkable colors along the back of this new lizard make black and yellow stripes, similar to the standard bumblebee.

The Nactus kunan is in gecko family, specifically the slender toed geckos. What makes the slender toed geckos different? The slender toed gecko doesn’t have the same toes as the geckos that are commonly found around the neighborhood and at times in the house. The most distinguishing point is that the slender toed geckos lack padded feet and therefore are unable to climb whereas the gecko that you have seen or at least are aware of is able to climb trees and even slick walls.

The Nactus kunan lives on the forest floor and blends in well enough to have remained undiscovered up until now. Its actual discovery was a surprise to many scientists across the globe. The Nactus kunan is still being documented and it’ll take some time to completely determine and understand this new gecko.

This new discovery of the Nactus kunan is proof that our world really is bigger than we could’ve ever imagined and that it still holds secrets that we have yet to unravel. We often forget that there is more than what we know or think we know. This little five-inch Nactus kunan has proven that there is a lot more waiting to be discovered.

 

Animals Inside Out Exhibit is certain to be a huge hit

From the makers of Body Worlds comes another body exploration exhibit

 

The Body Worlds exhibitions have brought in one crowd after another for many years seeking knowledge and visual stimulation. They arrive with curiosity and interest to view the human body in its most naked form. The question is will the new Animal Inside Out exhibit bring the same curiosity with the same numbers?

I can see a large percentage of people wanting to view the inner workings of common animals. I do however wonder if that type of exhibit would interest people who see all animals as being beneath them. It’ll be interesting to see what level of curiosity the Animals Inside Out Exhibit ignites. I will say that you can count me in; I will be there as soon as it makes it over toward my little part of the world.

I kind of doubt it will ever be here in my town, most likely I’ll need to drive down to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul). Certainly not a problem since it’s barely over two hours and there are so many places I’d absolutely love to be able to go to again. The dining alone would make the trip worth it so the added benefit of being able to spend some time at the Animals Inside Out Exhibit definitely makes it worth the trip.

The only downfall with the Animals Inside Out Exhibit that I can really see is that it’s slightly limited. That isn’t to say it’s not a large exhibit. There are plenty of animals that have been included from livestock to gorillas and even fish. With the large pool of animals available though, I can’t help but to wish that there were a few more.

 

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