This Week in Great Animal Videos

Best Friends vid has dogs happy at Christmas with their families–and with human hands. Also Santa visits Wolf Park and a penguin escapes to whale-watching boat

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Bradt Australia Wildlife Doesn’t Send You on A Wild Platypus Chase

The latest Bradt guide, Australia Wildlife, shows why more Americans should consider this British publisher of eccentric and eco-friendly guides to big and obscure places around the planet

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Feed Zoo Animals? Yes, At This NJ Rescue Facility

Popcorn Park Zoo Black Bear Nose

Their lives are much better now than they once were. BooBoo, a black bear, was used to pay for a car in Iowa, sold to a dealer who wanted the bear to draw in customers. Tigers were about to be used in a canned hunt. The Coati Cocoa spent two years in a cage in a basement.

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Fabulous Possum Video: Ad Campaign or Satire?

Are these fabulous possum care instructional videos a viral ad scam? Or just a California wildlife rehabilitator with a sense of humor?

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Meet Ned, Baby Skunk

Ned guzzles

Ned–a female baby skunk–has a body like an over-inflated squirrel baby. She’s got a huge belly and feet that look like miniature grizzly bear paws.

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Birding Bob; Northern Saw-whet Owl Stops in Central Park; Woodcocks in the East Village

Dr. Robert “Birding Bob” DeCandido leads birding tours around New York City. Usually he takes people to see owls in Central Park, which he helped reintroduce. He lets us run his newsletter here. This week he saw a northern Saw-whet owl in Central Park and the carcass of a woodcock.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl, by Richard Leche

The carcasses are in bloom! Yellow and purple and some white – or so it was on Sunday when we were in for other surprises as well. On our walks, we were able to provide discussions of the age of migrating Saw-whet Owls (including photos by Debs), American Woodcocks and more in Central Park in the last several days – by our group. We think with birds…and to find them, we have to think like birds too.

Our historical notes include a NYC area summary of the spring season – 1920. Today, our observations show that many bird species are arriving earlier than in the past. Why? We will leave it to others to explain. In the meantime, we document the changes, and provide the historical record for comparison. We also provide the first records of breeding Tree Swallows in our area. Now they are common breeders at Jamaica Bay and elsewhere on Long Island – but not 90 years ago!

Not had enough of us yet? Beginning the first week of April, our Sunday and Tuesday walks will begin meeting at the Dock on Turtle Pond.=====================================Good! Here are the bird walks

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ESPN Nuttily Claims Obama May Ban Fishing

When my husband David sent me a story about the Obama administration’s secret plan to abolish fishing, I assumed it was from The Onion. But it’s ESPN who’s getting the word out that the president could single-handedly “prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation’s oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.” You really don’t have to know anything about this upcoming report to know that’s not going to happen.

ESPNOutdoors writer Robert Montgomery then basically turns over the ESPN platform to Phil Morlock, whom he describes as director of environmental affairs for Shimano, a Japanese maker of bikes and fishing equipment. Montgomery lets Morlock ululate uninterrupted for paragraph after paragraph, using preposterous phrases like “Big Green.” A more accurate description would have been that Morlock is a lobbyist for fishing and hunting groups. He’s on the board of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the group that lobbies for hunters and anglers. And he’s just started a similar group in Canada.

What works for the hunting industry is scaring hunters that Obama has a secret plan to take their guns away. Gun sales rose after Obama was elected. Morlock clearly wants to infect anglers with the same psychosis that makes hunters feel aggrieved and embattled.

Hunters have long tried to rope fishermen into their “sportsmen” mantle. Morlock and Montgomery whine that Obama isn’t considering the huge economic impact of fishing. (I guess they don’t have Google.) Hunters love to conflate stats on how many people fish and hunt

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Improbable Battles in the Animal Kingdom this Week

Some improbable animal battles this week.Praying Mantis v. HummingbirdThe hummingbirds in this video already hate the praying mantis. They bicker with him and kick him in the head. Their prejudice is well-founded: the mantis lunges at the bird. In slow mo, it seems like the bird gets off. But there is a long-running war and the mantis sometimes wins. The outcome is so improbable, there’s a discussion on Snopes debating whether it is possible.

[youtube=]Shark v. Ring

Veterinarian Chip Gardener grabbed a nurse shark ensnared by a frisbee ring and freed it. Gardener was diving near the wreck “The Princess Anne” off Palm Beach with his friend John Dickinson, who joked on CBS that his focus was just framing the shot.[youtube=]

Chicken v. FoxA young fox broke into a hen house in Basildon, Essex, UK, and was pecked to death by the rooster Dude and his hens Izzy, Pongo and Pecky, the Daily Mail reports. Even if he survived the bites, he would have died of embarrassment over the attack.

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Fish-Walking Ducks Imperilled By New Rules


Spillway,originally uploaded by Lottery Monkey.

The New York Times had an interesting story Monday about a endangered and strange animal tourist attraction in western Pennyslvania. The animals themselves aren’t endangered. They’re just carp and mallards. For 75 years the carp have been gathering in such thick numbers that mallard ducks walk on their backs to get bread thrown by tourists.

Linesville bills itself as “Where the Duck Walk on the Fish.” The problem is that someone in the Pymatuning State Park has decided that the duck droppings have reached unacceptable proportions. So they are demanding that everyone switch to pellets. That would rule out the ducks. And the many duck-themed businesses around town. Which has locals fighting back.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has looked into the environmental impact of the situation before. The spectacle is supposed to bring in $55 million to the area. One study by Clarion University biology professor Andrew Turner found that the bread increased phosphorous in the reservoir by 50%. Too much phosphorous could produce too much algae. But the paper says that a local fish hatchery and sewage plant probably produce more phosphorous.

Look, the attraction is by no means natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth sparing. People enjoy getting a close up look at the carp and ducks. Somehow it’s always the people who just want to see nature who end up on the short end of the stick in these economic equations. It’s ridiculous to say that we should get rid

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Big Foot Tours $499

Nobody was impressed with the evidence presented at the Bigfoot press conference last week. Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer say they have a bigfoot carcass in a freezer in northern Georgia somewhere. But that’s not all! They also have video of a few live big foot or sasquatch hanging around the area.

Whitton and Dyer have alternately been described as hunters, hikers and big foot hunters. I tracked down an older story from a big foot blogger, who linked to their expedition site, Back then Whitton was were referred to as a cop and Dyer a former corrections officer. Dyer says he’s a married dad and former Army ranger. Matt calls himself Gary and says he’s a great tracker who “has associates who train bloodhounds for tracking.”

Most of their current stuff is on the site of Tom Biscardi, who is a more experienced and perhaps more oily bigfoot hawker. The sites share not only a quest for Sasquatch, but also a fondness for blaring completely unrelated music. Biscardi’s site includes field reports from around the country–but none in Georgia.

Whitton and Dyer on bigfootblogger describe getting started on the big foot hunt when being awakened by one “on the side of a mountain north of Helen, Georgia.” They claim to have sold out a trip to the Blue Ridge-Smokies in June where “there have been actual big foot sightings this year” and plan a September trip to “an even more specific area” in September. They brag that

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