Thursday, August 28, 2008

Georgia Heartland Humane Society to be Showcased at Atlanta Home Show in October

AAG Note: Keep up the good work guys! What an awesome accomplishment for you. What a wonderful future you offer so many animals!

Special to the Fayette Front Page

Come by to see Jack and Jill and the other GHHS animals before you go to see the Ultimate Airdogs. Stop by the Stage, also near the GHHS booth, to see celebrity guests from HGTV. Visit the Living Green Tour where you can test environmentally friendly products and learn how to conserve energy, live healthier and save money.

After seeing an article on the Georgia Heartland Humane Society, Ashlei Whitfield, a marketing representative for Marketplace Events, suggested that GHHS be their sponsored charity at the upcoming Home Show, held on October 17-19 at the Georgia International Convention Center near Hartsfield Airport.

As their charity partner, GHHS volunteers will be selling tickets, provided by Marketplace Events, for the Gas for a Decade raffle. Net proceeds will be going to GHHS.

GHHS will also receive the proceeds from another fun event, a silent auction for birdhouses painted by famous Georgians and Atlantans.

In addition Marketplace Events has provided GHHS an exhibit booth, evaluated at $5000, to communicate our mission to the public. Our booth is in a prime location near the main stage and the Ultimate Air Dogs presentation. GHHS will be bringing some of their current foster animals, such as Jack and Jill, two kittens who have Manx syndrome, a disorder which causes incontinence. In spite of their diapers and onesies to hold the diapers on, Jack and Jill are otherwise normal kittens who love to play and cuddle.

The Ultimate Airdog competition will be near the GHHS booth. Ultimate Air Dogs is one of the premier dock jumping organizations in the country. The President, Milt Wilcox, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in the 1984 World Series, hosts professional events that draw in thousands of spectators, while maintain a family-friendly atmosphere. The public can register their dogs for the competition at The Home Show. For more information about Ultimate Air Dogs, go to http://www.ultimateairdogs.net/.

Come support Georgia Heartland Humane Society, an all volunteer, non-profit agency which rescues abandoned, abused and unwanted animals in Coweta and Fayette counties. (www.gaheartland.com) GHHS is looking for volunteers to help cover this 3 day event. If you are interested, please call Annette at 770 253-5083.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Birth Announcement of a Rare Aye-Aye at Duke

AAG Note: This little guy is so cute we couldn't resist adding him to our animal news-- even if he does live in North Carolina! The Duke article is a fascinating introduction to the world of lemurs. Enjoy.

Ardrey and Merlin, rare, nocturnal aye-ayes from Madagascar, are pleased to announce the birth of their second child, a male, early on July 23 at the Duke Lemur Center.

Ichabod weighed 116 grams at birth, and has greenish-yellow eyes, black and gray hair, and extraordinarily large ears.

Head primate technician Samantha Trull, who cares for the aye-ayes daily, said the newest addition is one of the most vocal aye-ayes she has ever heard.

He is the second captive-bred baby for the couple, and only the third aye-aye born to captive-bred parents. Aye-ayes (EYE-EYEs) are critically endangered in their native island of Madagascar. The animals are kept at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham for conservation and research.

Aye-ayes use their bat-like ears and finger tapping to detect grubs hidden beneath tree bark. They can use beaver-like teeth to gnaw into the wood to expose the grubs or fish them out with spidery fingers ending in hooked nails.

Today, aye-ayes are extremely rare even on Madagascar both because of deforestation and because local superstition holds that if an aye-aye points a finger at a person, that person is doomed. The gentle animals are sometimes killed on sight.

The Lemur Center brought aye-ayes into captivity more than two decades ago and was the site of the first captive aye-aye birth -- Blue Devil, born in 1993.

Before the birth of this latest male and his older sister, all aye-ayes at the center had been born of fathers socialized in the wild, where they apparently learned the art of mating.

Ichabod's father, Merlin, had to be coached patiently by Lemur Center assistant director Dean Gibson for more than two years before he got the hang of mating. Although captive born herself, Ardrey had learned her role by breeding with a wild male.

“Merlin was scared to death of her, didn’t know what to do,” Gibson said. Instead of sniffing and mating as he was supposed to, Merlin would sniff and run away, apparently unsure what to do next. Ardrey would take annoyed swipes at the reluctant suitor.

“It took two years of catching her in her breeding cycle, putting Merlin with her every day during her cycle, coaching him along and stopping her from being aggressive toward him,” Gibson recalled. “I’d stand there with a net and defend him, and when he was doing well, give him nuts."

“Also, I’d give her treats to calm her down so she’d sit there and eat, rather than attack him,” she said. Eventually, Gibson’s coaching was successful, and the animals bred. In 2006, a female named Angelique was the result.

The experience with the aye-ayes has taught the center’s primatologists an invaluable lesson -- that the complex creatures need socialization to mate, Gibson said.

According to center director Anne Yoder, the animals’ need for socialization is driving design of planned new housing at the center.

”We need to build facilities so that these animals can live in the social structure required for their natural reproductive behaviors to emerge and continue,” Yoder said. “Otherwise, we might find ourselves housing the last aye-aye, or the last examples of other endangered lemurs.”

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Georgia Aquarium Makes U.S. History with Display of Manta Ray

AAG Note: The Georgia Aquarium is among our favorite destinations in the Atlanta area. We have been there several times and still marvel at the beauty of the animals shown.

The manta ray is the largest of all rays, weighing up to 6,000 lbs and measuring up to 26 feet in width. It has a unique body shape, with an extremely broad head and an enormous, wide mouth flanked by two broad, flexible lobes. These fins are kept rolled and pointed forward, except when the manta is feeding. Its tail is whip-like, but short, and does not have a barb or spine. The manta ray is primarily a plankton feeder, but also consumes small and moderate-sized fishes. It is listed as "near threatened" on the IUCN Red List.


PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Aquarium announced today the addition of a manta ray to the 6.3 million gallon Ocean Voyager gallery, built by The Home Depot. The addition of the female manta ray, Nandi, makes Georgia Aquarium the only aquarium in the United States to ever house a manta ray and one of only four aquariums in the world to display this species. Nandi will join four whale sharks and thousands of other animals in the world's largest aquarium exhibit.

"As the Georgia Aquarium grows as a tourist destination, our opportunity to promote conservation and education grows," said Mike Leven, chief executive officer of the Georgia Aquarium. "The addition of Nandi, who inspired hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa, gives us the opportunity to elevate her as an ambassador for her species. Millions of people who may have never had the chance to see a manta ray will now have that chance at the Georgia Aquarium."

Nandi, who measures more than nine feet across and weighs approximately 456 lbs, flew 9,000 miles on a chartered 747-200 aircraft from Durban, South Africa through Cape Verde, Africa, to Atlanta. The manta ray was under the care and supervision of Georgia Aquarium and uShaka Marine World professional staff and maintained by a highly advanced marine life support system.

"The Georgia Aquarium's success in moving whale sharks across the world gave us confidence that this was the right thing to do," said Dr. Mark Penning, executive director of uShaka Marine World. "We see this as a perfect opportunity to create an international partnership and continue Nandi's incredible story, raising worldwide awareness about manta rays."

Nandi was rescued from shark nets off the coast of Durban, South Africa, in April 2007 and rehabilitated by uShaka Marine World, the largest marine park in Africa. She has lived in uShaka for the past year, educating and inspiring conservation in more than 500,000 people.

Manta rays are the largest rays in the sea, but Nandi was young when she was rescued, measuring just more than eight feet across and weighing around 245 lbs. She had since outgrown her 580,000 gallon exhibit. In order to raise worldwide awareness about manta rays, Georgia Aquarium and uShaka created an international partnership to bring Nandi from South Africa to Georgia Aquarium.

"No one has ever done this before," said Leven. "Flying the world's largest ray, a manta ray, from one side of the world to the other and housing it in a U.S. aquarium for the first time is incredible. Having the opportunity to work with this animal and grow our understanding of this strange yet gentle giant will be an opportunity of a lifetime."


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Find a Friend from Home

AAAG Staff Report: I recently started a journey to find a new friend for our home. From the comfort of my home, and with my trusty computer and a big cup of coffee, I spent hours searching the various humane societies for just the right guy.

How? It's so easy. Just go to Petfinder.com and let the search begin. After entering all of the information on the type of animal, age, gender, and general location, I was overwhelmed by how many pets I could see. Not only did I see pictures of the little tykes, I also was able to read some of their stories. What a great way to let your fingers pick out the candidates for our home!

I was lucky. One animal was located who was in the care of the Georgia Heartland Humane Society. I filled out the application and waited. Soon, the call came and a visit was scheduled. I was thrilled as I already have one pet which was rescued by this group.

Sadly, this pet just didn't click with the family. Or, should I say, we didn't click with him. I'm not worried about the little guy as there was already another family waiting to spend some time with him.

Back on the Petfinder site I went. In a matter of a few minutes, I found new pets to consider. Once again, I filled out the paperwork and was contacted a few days later with the news that I had been approved to adopt a pet.

This time, I drove over to the Henry County Humane Society where they had an abundance of dogs I could visit. After four hours of sitting with the different candidates, the family left with a new love. We actually could have left after only one hour as the little guy who came home with us had already packed his bag and had it waiting by the door. I guess he was thinking we were just a little slow. After all, why look any further? He was just perfect, and we finally agreed with him.

It was a great experience. No longer did I have to drive around in hopes of finding a new family member, or be disappointed when I didn't find any dogs. Using Petfinder greatly reduced the amount of time we had to spend searching for a new pet, and we didn't waste a tank of gas or more and lots of precious weekends searching.

I will leave you with an article written by Petfinder some time ago. They say it so much better than I can.

Petfinder.com Gives Shelter Pets New Byte

Over 250,000 homeless pets in approximately 11,000 animal placement organizations across the U.S. and Canada have their own homepages, thanks to one of the most unifying initiatives to ever hit animal welfare--Petfinder.com, the oldest and largest searchable directory of adoptable pets on the Web.

From the comfort of their own homes, pet seekers enter their search criteria, such as size, gender, breed and age, and get back a list of adoptable pets ranked in proximity to the searcher's Zip code. Updated continuously by the animal welfare volunteers and staff themselves, the Web site gives potential adopters a photograph, a description of the animal and contact information.

Shelters and rescue group members also have their own home pages on the site. Many of them attribute over 50% of their adoptions to Petfinder.com. Some have reported that their euthanasia rate dropped significantly within months of joining Petfinder.com. They also report that Petfinder.com adoptions are more successful, with fewer pets returned. This may be because the adopter's choice is more informed.

"Many people find visiting shelters traumatic, especially those who feel guilty when they can't take all the pets home," says Betsy Saul, who developed the site with her husband, Jared, in January 1996 as a New Year's Resolution to help homeless pets. "Petfinder.com allows you to focus your search from home, which makes finding your new best friend much easier." The site went national in August 1998. Petfinder.com, a labor of love for the Sauls, was the first searchable directory for homeless pets.

Thanks to its sponsors, Petfinder.com is free to use. Animal shelters and rescue groups can register to join Petfinder.com online and can start entering pets the same day. Purina signed on as the Web site's premier sponsor. Purina provides nutrition and pet care information for Petfinder.com's online libraries and assists in marketing efforts, helping to spread the word about the thousands of pets that need a new home.

Other exclusive sponsors are BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a manufacturer of home cleaning and floor care products, PETCO, a national pet supply retailer that sponsors in-store adoptions and provides coupon books for new adopters, The Animal Rescue Site, which contributes a percentage of sales of Petfinder merchandise to the Petfinder.com Foundation, and Merial, maker of the number one veterinary-recommended flea and tick preventative FRONTLINE®, and heartworm preventative HEARTGARD®.

Petfinder.com, whose founders are scientists by training, not business people, is among the busiest sites on the Internet. The Sauls attribute their site's success not only to hard work, but also to the press. "We never had to spend a dime on advertising," says Betsy Saul, who admits it was a good thing since, at the time they created the site, they didn't have any dimes to spare. "As soon as we launched and the press first got a glimpse of the site, we've been in a race to keep up with ourselves."

Petfinder.com was named one of the 300 best Web sites by Forbes magazine and one of the top 100 sites by Family PC magazine. It has repeatedly gotten top ratings from Internet tracking companies, including the most visited site among all U.S Web sites in the Hitwise Lifestyle - Pets and Animals category. The site has also been featured in most major magazines and newspapers, and their have been features on .The Today Show. and .The Ellen DeGeneres Show..

The Petfinder.com Foundation was established in 2003 to assist animal welfare organizations in time of need. Under the auspices of the Foundation, the Petfinder.com staff worked 24/7 to create an online database of pets rescued during the devastating hurricanes of 2005. It was the largest collaborative effort in animal welfare history with many agencies cooperating. "The site is a virtual shelter," says Jared Saul. "It is being able to sit down with your family and visit hundreds of shelters, get to know the pets, and not have to drive all around to do it. When someone finally does go to meet a pet because of Petfinder.com, they are more likely to be well suited for each other. What better use of the Web?"

In 2006, Discovery Communications Inc. acquired Petfinder.com, and the site became part of the Animal Planet family.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Peachtree City Police Department is forming a K-9 unit!

The Peachtree City Police Department always aspires to provide the best service possible to its citizens through the use of progressive policing techniques and equipment. The addition of a K-9 program would be a welcome crime-fighting tool for the Department, as well as an asset to the community.

Ways a K-9 unit benefits the community:

Narcotics Detection
• Probable cause to search vehicles / major deterrent to bringing in drugs
• Sweeps of school lockers and parking lots / deterrent to drugs in our schools
• Residential searches for well-hidden drugs or paraphernalia
• Package searches / Peachtree City has a parcel distribution center and an airport

Tracking / Searches
• K-9s track fleeing suspects
• K-9s can help find lost or missing children
• K-9s work quickly and effectively in clearing large buildings

Officer Safety / Crime Deterrence
• A K-9 obeys commands to assist during physical confrontations
• A K-9’s presence often deters confrontations and fleeing suspects

Public Relations
• Public appearances and K-9 demonstrations at community events
• Guest “speakers” for DARE classes, Citizen’s Police Academy classes, and other
events as requested

The start-up cost for two K-9s, training, and equipment is $40,000. We greatly appreciate Panasonic’s donation of $13,000 to kick-off the fundraising effort. You can help provide this valuable resource to Peachtree City’s crime-fighting front line!

Contributions are tax deductible
Donations accepted at Peachtree City Police Department—Attn: K-9 Program
Make checks payable to City of Peachtree City

The Peachtree City Police Department and FACTOR (Fayette Alliance Coordinating Teamwork Outreach and Resources), the Fayette Family Connection Collaborative, have joined together to bring community awareness to this need and coordinate fundraising opportunities. Previously, they coordinated resources to form the Fayette Meth Task Force to educate the community about a frightening plague. Now we are eager to spread the word on this new program as well.

READ BELOW TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP!

Becky Smith
FACTOR Executive Director
bsmith719@bellsouth.net
Cell: 404-291-1602
PO Box 142518
Fayetteville, GA 30214

Sgt. Matt Myers
Peachtree City Police Department
mmyers@ptcgovernment.org
Work: 770-487-8866 ext. 1334
Cell: 678-858-9193
2011 N. Commerce Dr.
Peachtree City, GA 30269
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Panda- monium at Zoo Atlanta Sept 6th

Mei Lan, the adorable panda cub, is turning 2 and inviting you to her birthday party! Mark your calendars now and join Zoo Atlanta for a fun filled day of celebration on September 6th.

The celebration runs from 10 am to 2 pm.

Click here to watch for more details.


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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Microchips Help Cops Collar Dog Thieves

AAG Note: We've been victims of dog napping in the past. Just wish we'd had the opportunity to have our guy identified by others so he could have come home. Why didn't we microchip? It wasn't available. Now, we heartily encourage everyone to microchip your pet. It takes a few seconds and the chip is only about the size of a grain of rice.

Not only can your dog have a better shot of coming home, just remember the headlines in GA at the first of the year. When an abandoned dog was picked up and scanned for a microchip, the information led to the arrest of a man who had attacked and murdered a young GA hiker.

(NAPSI)-Sure, your dog might guard your house, but who’s guarding him?

With the recent explosion in dog thefts-hundreds in 2008, compared to just a handful reported for all of 2007-many pet owners have turned to microchips to permanently identify and protect their pets. The chips, which are usually implanted in the scruff of the neck, contain a unique ID code that can be activated when read by a scanner.

“A thief can remove a dog’s collar, but he can’t remove the chip- in fact, he won’t even know the dog has one,” says Lisa Peterson of the American Kennel Club (AKC). “Just recently, the technology led to the recovery of a New York dog that had been missing for five years before turning up in Georgia.”

The AKC offers microchipping events where pet owners can access the technology at little or no cost, and the group gives tips on ways to keep the chips up to date.

But remember: Microchips can only help you get your dog back once it’s already missing. Other safety measures suggested by the AKC include:

At Home

• Don’t let your dog off the leash or leave him unattended in your yard. Keeping him close reduces the likelihood he’ll wander off or become targeted by thieves.

• Breeders should beware of home visits by criminals posing as would-be “puppy buyers.” The scam artists return when no one’s home to snatch dogs.

On The Road

• Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it’s locked.

• Don’t tie your dog outside a store. Either patronize only dog-friendly retailers or else leave your pet at home.

• Be alert when frequenting places that cater to dogs, such as grooming salons, veterinarians, doggie day care or hotels. They could make for fertile stalking grounds for those with criminal intentions.

Recovery

• If you suspect your dog has been stolen, immediately call the police or animal control in the area your pet was last seen.

• Be prepared. Have flyers with a recent photo ready to go if your dog goes missing.

To learn more, enroll your pet in a 24-hour recovery service or to find a microchipping event near you, visit www.akccar.org or www.akc.org.

Microchip recovery services can help protect pets.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gators and Snakes, and Oh My!


It's been a few years since we had stopped to tour the Edisto Island Serpentarium on Edisto Island, South Carolina. So, on this trip, we came back for an encore visit. What a treat this place is. That is, if you are interested in learning about snakes and reptiles!

While I am not a personal fan of these slithery creatures or the prehistoric looking reptiles, I can appreciate their beauty and niche in the world.

The Edisto Island Serpentarium is a family owned operation and worth a stop. The owners truly care about the animals and teaching others about conservation in the ACE basin. If I remember correctly, their collection of alligators all have local roots. These guys are not afraid to go and catch them, or to teach others. Feeding time is interesting as the alligators see the owner with the bucket of treats and literally all line up for feeding. It's truly amazing to see how fast these guys can move when there is food involved. I do have to admit the close proximity of these guys to my family did make my tummy get a little queasy.

In addition to the alligators, there are plenty of snakes to view. Some are in some really big pits just kind of lying around. That is, I hope they are! It was surprising to realize that their snakes can also get dirty and have to have their open pits cleaned. One of the pits was closed on this particular visit until they could finish cleaning it out. No matter as there are plenty of others to see.

There is also the snake show which teaches the visitors about these creatures. Once again, I have to sit on the back row, but I always see it. As much as I am not a fan of the snakes, I do understand the need to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad boys.

The guys at the Serpentarium not only care for the animals, they also collect the venom so anti-venom can be made. Good job, mates!


There are also plenty of iguanas on display. These overgrown lizards don't hurt anyone (that I know of) and are rather prehistoric looking in their own right.

When you are in the area, take a break from the beach and spend a few hours at the Serpentarium. You'll come out knowing a little more about these animals. Perhaps, you'll even appreciate their watchful beady, oh I mean beautiful, eyes.

I'm proud to say that we came out with all of our fingers and toes intact!

Until next time,
Sandy Toes
While on Edisto

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tigers Bring Friendship to Iraq From America

Photo: Riley and Hope, the pair of tigers sent to the Baghdad Zoo from the Conservators' Center in North Carolina, relax in their new enclosure in Iraq on Aug. 8, 2008. Riley and Hope will entertain more than 10,000 visitors to the zoo every weekend and 2,000 to 3,000 on weekdays. Attendance is up by more than 300 percent from 2007, according to the zoo's director. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante, 13th Public Affairs Detachment

After traveling more than 7,000 miles, two Bengal tiger cubs have finally settled into their new home in Iraq. Amid much fanfare and excitement, Hope and Riley were introduced to the Baghdad Zoo on Aug. 8.

The tigers were a goodwill gesture from the North Carolina Conservators' Center, a breeding sanctuary for endangered species.

"We are building trust with America," said Dr. Adel Salman Mousa, the zoo's director. "We're building trust with a society that trusted us to care for these animals."

The cubs are just under 2 years old and weigh more than 150 pounds each. The Bengal tiger is an endangered species, with less than 3,000 worldwide.

"We hope to bring smiles back to the people and the children," Mousa said. "We want to put smiles back on their faces after years of misery. In addition to the enjoyment people will get from watching them, they will present opportunities for students and the public to learn about this and other endangered species."

"This is exemplary of how people in Iraq are taking the lead to improve the circumstances in Iraq," said Army Capt. Jason Felix, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), whose unit was in charge of tiger transport following their Aug. 4 arrival at Baghdad International Airport.

Transporting the tigers here from the states cost more than $66,000 and was paid for by the U.S. Embassy.

Concerns have arisen about the safety of the tigers in a combat zone. During the early days of the liberation of Iraq in 2003, the zoo lost many of its animals to injury or starvation, including its tiger, which was shot when it began attacking a U.S. soldier. It was also difficult to maintain the zoo for many years prior to 2003 because of lack of medicine, vaccinations and often food, Mousa said.

Since then, coalition forces and the Iraqi people have been working to bring the zoo up to international standards of health and safety, Mousa said. "We currently consider the zoo in very good shape," Mousa said. He also pointed out that the zoo sits in a very safe part of the city and has 24-hour security inside and outside its gates.

The Baghdad Zoo gets about 10,000 visitors every Friday and Saturday and 2,000 to 3,000 on weekdays, Mousa said. This is up 300 percent from 2006 and years prior when zoo visitation was about 150 people per day.

The zoo features 62 exhibits with 788 animals. There is also an amusement park and swimming pool nearby.

Author Army Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante is assigned to 13th Public Affairs Detachment.
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Five Tips for Keeping Pets Healthy and Vet Bills Down

(ARA) – When it comes to caring for our pets’ health, most of us don’t bat an eye when it comes to spending money on expensive prescriptions or procedures, even for common health problems like skin allergies, digestive upset and urinary tract infections.

But with the average household owning 1.7 dogs and 2.2 cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2007 survey, those visits can add up. Now more than ever, pet owners are seeking out ways to keep their vet bills down while maintaining the health and happiness of their pets.

“We’re all trying to trim daily expenditures to compensate for rising commodity costs, and unnecessary expenses are usually the first to go,” says Dr. Susan Lauten, pet expert and nutrition consultant. “While there may be health problems that require a vet’s treatment, many common pet ailments can be treated and prevented in more cost effective ways.”

Lauten offers five ways to help keep your pet healthy while reducing healthcare costs.

1. Good nutrition is the key to good health. Instead of skimping on your pet food budget, select high quality foods with high levels of meat proteins and whole grains. Healthy pets with strong immune systems, healthy coats and strong teeth are less susceptible to disease.

2. Feeding your pet a variety of foods can minimize the development of food allergies. By providing pets with different proteins and forms, like kibble, canned and raw frozen, the Rotation Diet from Nature’s Variety offers the full spectrum of nutrients cats and dogs need to avoid food-related health problems.

3. Keep your pet clean and parasite-free. Paying extra attention to grooming during the summer months can help avoid skin disease, parasite-related diseases from ticks and fleas, and hot spots.

4. Make sure your pet visits the veterinarian for regular checkups. It’s also important to talk to your veterinarian about the importance of proper nutrition and holistic healthcare options for your special pet.

5. If your pet shows signs of illness, be sure to visit your veterinarian right away. Early detection can reduce the overall cost of treatment.

Lauten stresses the fact that quality pet food should remain a financial priority. “Changing to a low quality food to save money can result in increased food requirements, poor immune health, decreased coat quality and poor skin health,” says Lauten. “In the end, it could result in more vet expenditures and more bills.”

Sage’s Story
Sage was dropped off at the Benicia Vallejo Humane Society in Vallejo, Calif., when she was just a puppy. The underweight Boxer was suffering from severe skin problems, was missing large patches of hair and was in generally poor health. The Director of Human Services, Peter Wilson, was deeply concerned for Sage’s well-being and considered a variety of options for treatment.

“Sage’s skin condition was from a lack of care and possible allergies,” says Wilson. “Nature’s Variety donated product to help with Sage and encouraged us to feed her a Rotation Diet with different forms of kibble, canned and raw frozen food, and different proteins such as chicken and duck.”

The variety of foods in the Rotation Diet provided Sage with more balanced nutrition, which helped to stabilize her health and combat any possible allergies. In a few weeks, Sage’s skin had begun to heal. Sage is now happy, healthy, allergy-free and living with her new adoptive family.

“Sage’s story is a perfect example of the effect a quality diet can have on a pet’s overall health,” says Lauten. “All it took was the implementation of a broader and balanced variety of foods to provide her with the nutrients she needed to get better.”

More Quality Now, Fewer Problems Later
Strong health starts with proper nutrition. Feeding a high-quality Rotation Diet will help keep pets in top condition so they are more resistant to health problems. Adding in exercise and routine check-ups will also ensure your dog or cat maintains optimal wellness.

For more information on the health benefits of balanced, nutritionally complete diets, as well as a feeding guide for determining your pet’s specific needs, visit www.naturesvariety.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Yerkes Research Center Receives Continued Full Accreditation from AAALAC

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has received continued full accreditation from The Council on Accreditation of the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), the gold standard of laboratory animal care. This latest review begins the 23rd consecutive year of full accreditation for the center.

In the official notification letter to the Yerkes Research Center from Kathy E. Laber, DVM, president of the AAALAC Council of Accreditation, she commended the staff for "providing and maintaining a quality program of laboratory animal care and use." Also, Laber noted the "outstanding administrative commitment to the animal program" and the "knowledgeable and dedicated husbandry staff."

In sharing Laber's comments, Yerkes director Stuart Zola, PhD, expressed "AAALAC accreditation is paramount to maintaining the center's reputation for outstanding science and the highest quality animal care. We welcome the review process, which always helps us be even better than before."

The accreditation process includes an extensive internal review followed by a site visit from AAALAC evaluators. After an institution earns accreditation, it must be re-evaluated at least every three years as part of the process to maintain accredited status. "The Yerkes Research Center was first accredited in 1985, and this is our eighth straight subsequent site visit that has resulted in continued full accreditation," said Jim Else, DVM, associate director for veterinary resources.

AAALAC is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. More than 750 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions in 29 countries have earned AAALAC accreditation, demonstrating their commitment to responsible animal care and use. These institutions volunteer to participate in AAALAC's program, in addition to complying with the local, state and federal laws that regulate animal research.

For more than seven decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates. Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health--funded national primate research centers, provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries. Yerkes-based research is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate, quality animal care.

Within the fields of microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems, the center's research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases, such as AIDS and Alzheimer's disease; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.
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Telling A Pet’s “Tail”

(NAPSI)-It seems that owning a pet might keep your health from going to the dogs.

Pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners, and they have higher heart-attack survival rates, too, according to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

Add to that lower levels of depression, loneliness and emotional problems in pet owners than non-pet owners and you might soon see the true value of a four-footed friend.

It’s a fact not lost on Kimber, a graduate student who brings her dog Kujo to visit disabled adults and children.

“We don’t even make it to the building before they all run out very excited and say, ‘The dogs are here, the dogs are here!’” she says. “One boy, who is about 7, almost never speaks because of his autism. But when we’re there, he calls out ‘Dog, dog, dog!’ and claps his hands. It makes such a difference in him.”

Kimber shares her story on the PowerofPaws.com Web site. It’s part of a new national initiative created by Milk-Bone, Meow Mix, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Pup-Peroni and Snausages to educate consumers about the mutual benefits that both pets and “pet parents” enjoy. One goal is to make pets more accessible to those who need daily assistance or a loving friend. The site offers inspiring testimonials from pet parents, as well.

“Our goal is to help people get active, reduce stress and live healthier lives together with their pets,” explains Dr. Bonnie Bergin, who created the concept of the Service Dog in 1975 and is a partner in the Power of Paws program. “It’s as easy as taking your dog for a walk. You’ll walk farther with your pet than you would if you were walking alone.”

Additionally, site visitors can tell their own heartwarming pet “tail.” Each story triggers a $1 donation on the teller’s behalf to organizations across the country, such as Bergin University of Canine Studies and the Animal Medical Center, which help people in need experience the benefits of pet companionship.

So what are some additional reasons to love your pets?

Nutrition For The Soul

When you show pets affection in the form of gentle words, caressing hands and simply by acceptance of them, they respond in kind.

Healthy Relationships

Walking your dog can be a great way for you and your dog to get some exercise. The American Heart Association says just two brisk 15-minute walks with your dog each day satisfy the standard for aerobic exercise.

Self-Worth

Studies show that self-esteem is enhanced in children who own pets and that pets can help children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) learn to concentrate.

For more information, visit www.powerofpaws.com.

A new Web site lets people share their favorite pet stories.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Humane Society of the United States Applauds AAEP White Paper on Horse Soring

The Humane Society of the United States applauded recommendations set out in the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ newly released white paper, “Putting the Horse First: Veterinary Recommendations for Ending the Soring of Tennessee Walking Horses.”

The Association’s recommendations include: immediate implementation of a drug testing program at horse shows; the abolishment of the industry-run Designated Qualified Persons self-regulation program, turning inspection duties over to qualified veterinarians; 24-hour security personnel and inspectors in the stabling areas of show grounds where violations are known to occur; and the establishment of much more severe penalties for Horse Protection Act violations than in the past.

“The soring of Tennessee Walking Horses is one of the most egregious forms of equine abuse and it is time for it to be brought to an end”, said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The Humane Society of the United States. “Ending soring is a top priority of The HSUS and the AAEP paper echoes many of the same concerns we’ve raised and the changes we’ve been recommending. We are very pleased that AAEP has taken a stand for the welfare of the horse and believe its influence will be a valuable asset in the continued fight to end soring. We urge the Walking Horse industry to immediately end the cruel treatment of its horses.”

Soring involves the use of caustic chemicals, chains and other irritants on the legs of Tennessee Walking Horses and other gaited breeds, causing severe pain and forcing an exaggerated, high stepping gait. Soring is considered so cruel that, in 1970, Congress passed the Horse Protection Act giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to inspect horses at shows and other venues for signs of soring. While the HPA was intended to eliminate soring, inadequate funding and spotty enforcement of the law has allowed widespread soring to continue.

Because USDA does not have the funding to attend every show, the agency created the Horse Industry Organization program of self-regulation, which allows trained civilians, known as Designated Qualified Persons, to conduct inspections at shows. Many of the DQPs are directly involved in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and The HSUS has long criticized the effectiveness of the HIO program, calling it a case of “the fox watching the henhouse.” The AAEP white paper cites similar concerns with the DQP program and calls for its abolishment.

In addition to the Horse Protection Act, there are several state laws that prohibit soring. Currently, The HSUS is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction under Tennessee's anti-soring statute. Earlier this year, The HSUS and other horse industry groups formed The Alliance to End Soring to work with the USDA, Congress and Tennessee Walking Horse industry stakeholders to advocate for increased enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and raise public awareness of the pervasive use of soring in the industry.

In 2006, the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., failed to name a World Grand Champion when most of the finalists were disqualified for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

DNR Encourages Anglers to Continue Fishing Oconee River

Fishing and swimming in the Oconee River are summertime staples in southeast Georgia, but recently many people in the area have been led to believe that the river is not safe for fish or people. In light of these concerns, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division along with the Environmental Protection Division and scientists from Auburn University have conducted research on fish and the quality of the river water – and to this point, there is no need for alarm.

“We want citizens to understand that we are aware of their concerns and that we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of the water and the health of the fish,” says John Biagi, Fisheries Chief for the Division. “Right now, we do not see a need to halt fishing or any other water activity on the river.”

Local concern with the health of the river and the fish were first brought to the attention of Division personnel in early June. Sportsmen indicated that they thought they were seeing a relatively high number of diseased (red sores or a white “cotton” appearance) fish, especially in the area of the Oconee River near Dublin.

Immediately following these raised concerns, Division personnel began “sampling” (electro-shocking the water and taking samples of various fish species) the Oconee River fish population in order to assess the occurrence of fish diseases. Fish were collected from Beaverdam Wildlife Management Area (about 9 miles north of Dublin) down river to Pete Davis Landing, near Mount Vernon. These fish samples were provided to Auburn University Fish Disease Laboratory for evaluation. Preliminary results indicate that the diseases seen on these fish are commonly present in fish populations throughout Georgia and the southeast.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Division (Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program) collected water and sediment samples from two locations along the Oconee River. According to their analysis, organic compounds and metal concentrations both were below minimum detection limits, further emphasizing the safety of the river.

So, what might be causing this large number of fish to appear unhealthy? Many things can cause such outbreaks. Environmental conditions such as water temperature and extreme drought concentrate fish in warmer, smaller bodies of water. Parasites and bacteria flourish in the spring and summer – often before fish immune systems are at their peak. Spawning (reproducing) activities, occurring in spring and summer, create additional stress and reduce natural immune responses.

“A combination of natural issues - drought, naturally occurring bacteria and fish stressed from spawning - could all lead to this somewhat unusual concentration of fish that appear unhealthy,” says Biagi. “And while these fish may look unpleasant, none of the pathogens we are finding pose a threat to public health.”

The Division, along with EPD and Auburn University intend to continue collecting and analyzing fish samples from the Oconee and surrounding rivers to continue to monitor the health of the fish.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Little Teeth Suggest Big Jump in Primate Timeline

AAAG Note: Pretty cool find. Thought you'd be interested in this story from Duke University.

Tiny fossilized teeth excavated from an Indian open-pit coal mine could be the oldest Asian remains ever found of anthropoids, the primate lineage of today's monkeys, apes and humans, say researchers from Duke University and the Indian Institute of Technology.

Just 9-thousandths of a square inch in size, the teeth are about 54.5 million years old and suggest these early primates were no larger than modern dwarf lemurs weighing about 2 to 3 ounces. Studies of the shape of the teeth suggest these small animals could live on a fruit and insect diet, according to the researchers.

"It's certainly the oldest anthropoid from Asia and India," said Richard Kay, a Duke professor of evolutionary anthropology who is corresponding author of a report to be published online during the week of Aug. 4-8 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Previous fossil evidence shows primates were living in North America, Europe and Asia at least 55 million years ago. But, until now, the fossil record of anthropoid primates has extended back only 45 million years.

"We're going back almost 10 million years before any previously described Asian anthropoid," said co-author Blythe Williams, a Duke visiting associate professor of evolutionary anthropology. "The new fossils from India are exciting because they show that the anthropoid lineage is much more ancient than we realized."

In addition to stretching the primate timeline, the specimens represent a new genus as well as a new species of anthropoid, which the researchers have named Anthrasimias gujaratensis by drawing from the Greek word for "coal," Latin for "monkey" and the Indian State of Gujarat where the teeth were found.

"Anthrasimias may be the oldest anthropoid in the world," the PNAS report said -- "may" reflecting the fact that some scientists think slightly older fossils found in a Moroccan limestone deposit also could have been anthropoid, Kay said.

The report's first author is Sunil Bajpai, an earth scientist at the Indian Institute of Technology who directed excavations at the Vastan lignite coal mine in western India that unearthed the fossils.

Bajpai's Indian team managed to find and remove the tiny Anthrasimias tooth specimens from a strata in the mine while "really gigantic trucks" scooped up coal above them, Kay said. The teeth were dated by identifying microscopic marine plankton fossils of known age in nearby rock layers, he added.

Bajpai's team was funded by India's Department of Science and Technology. Work by Williams and Kay, who are anthropoid experts, was funded the Duke Provost's Research Fund and the National Science Foundation.

Their PNAS report describes tooth structure differences that would separate Anthrasimias from two other ancient lines of primates whose remains have been found at the same level of the Vastan mine. Of the three lines, Williams and Kay believe only Anthrasimias's is part of the anthropoid lineage that evolved into modern monkeys, apes and humans.

"Most of the fossil record of ancient primates is made up of teeth, because teeth are easy to preserve and hard," Williams said. "Occasionally we get lucky enough to have a skull to work with, but in this case a few teeth is all we have." Their PNAS report described two upper molars and one lower molar.

"From the tooth size and structure we can say something about the animals' body weight and diet, because teeth have crests that are differentially developed depending on whether they ate primarily insects, leaves or fruit," he said. But without more body parts, Kay and Williams declined to deduce what the animals looked like.

Other authors of the PNAS report were Debasis Das of the Indian Institute of Technology, Vivesh Kapur of Chandigarh, India, and B.N. Tiwari of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in India.

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Georgia Aquarium Announces Third Annual Aqua Vino

Georgia Aquarium will host its third annual “Aqua Vino” wine event on Oct. 23, 2008 from 7-9:30 p.m. The VIP tasting begins at 6 p.m. This annual event welcomes guests to enjoy the entire Aquarium and the grand Oceans Ballroom while experiencing all that this event has to offer.

Throughout this exclusive night, guests are invited to sample from more than 200 exceptional wines from around the world and gourmet fare from some of Atlanta’s top restaurants. Guests can also enjoy outbidding their friends in the remarkable Silent and “Get Hooked” auctions.

Georgia Aquarium is a place full of extraordinary sites and marine discovery for millions of visitors each year. For veterinary students and faculty, Georgia Aquarium provides an exceptional opportunity for research and study. Proceeds from Aqua Vino support the Aquarium’s state-of-the-art Veterinary Services facility and the Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health.

Ticket prices for the event include $150 for grand tasting and $200 for VIP tasting. Sponsorship packages are also available with levels from $2,500 to $30,000 and Patron support at $ 1,000. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/visitUs/%20Aqua-Vino-2008.aspx.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center at the 2008 National Marine Educators Association Conference

AAAG Note: Since Dylan the Sea Turtle was released in June, we have been following the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Jekyll Island as they post information on Dylan and other sea turtles in need. This story is from their blog. We hope you enjoy it. Keep up the good work!

One World, One Water:
NMEA 2008 Conference

Beautiful Savannah, GA was the site for the 2008 National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) conference. NMEA is comprised of educators and researchers devoted to the study of marine and fresh water environments. Attendees gathered from all over the world to share recent research findings and innovative education ideas. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center had a strong presence at the conference as Alicia Marin and myself (Sarah Mathias) both were honored to be chosen to present and exhibit.

Visitors to our exhibit were often greeted by us as they browsed the table filled with info on school programs, adoption and membership options, walkway to wonder brick info, and much more. A laptop computer display allowed passersby to take a virtual tour of the Center, and thanks to the wonderful world wide web we could track our released patients online right at the table!

On the first day of the conference I presented "Swim into Learning with Sea Turtles." The audience was taken on a journey through the Georgia Sea Turtle Center learning how they can utilize our facility either through a virtual visit, our outreach programs, or even through our website! At the end of the program the room was instantly transformed into a treatment room filled with four sick and injured sea turtles, plush ones of course! The audience became sea turtle doctors as I presented "Sea Turtle Rescue 911," an innovative program designed for high school students.

Later in the week Alicia presented her master's thesis "Sun, Sand, and Sea Turtles: Conservation through Non-formal Education. Alicia wowed the crowd as she presented several craft, game, and program ideas that were used for a summer camp she created for children in the Caribbean. At the end of her slideshow she brought the fun of her camp and the GSTC to Savannah as she taught Amazing Adaptations. Amazing Adaptations is one of the GSTC's most popular programs in which one lucky person is turned into a sea turtle and is one of the many activities created for her thesis.

The last day of the conference offered participants the chance to explore Georgia's beautiful coast, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was proud to be chosen as a field trip option. Eighteen educators got the chance to take a journey through the Center as loggerhead sea turtles, visit with our patients, and go behind the scenes to view the food prep area, treatment room, surgical suite, and x-ray room.

One World, One Water was a great experience from which we gained new insight into marine science education and visited with colleagues from all over the world. We were proud to be a part of such an extraordinary gathering of exceptional people and hope to attend future conferences.

~Sarah Mathias, Educator

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Think Twice Before Taking Your Pooch to a Picnic

(ARA) - This scenario plays out everywhere. You’re about to head out to a picnic or other outdoor gathering and you know that dog of yours loves going to the park. It can be difficult to leave a beloved pet at home. However, before you melt and reach for the leash when the dog looks at you with pleading eyes, there are many things to consider.

“Taking your dog with you on a picnic can be a wonderful experience. It can also turn into a nightmare if you are not properly prepared,“ says Paula Lind (CVT, BS) chair of the veterinary technology program at Argosy University, Twin Cities. According to Lind, you should inquire ahead of time whether the picnic location allows pets. Many parks ban dogs altogether, and arriving with your pooch could prohibit you from attending the event.

To help ensure an enjoyable experience for all, Lind recommends that dog owners consider several basic issues before taking a pet to a picnic.

* Vaccinations. The New York Department of Health reports that raccoons present a growing risk for rabies, particularly across the eastern seaboard. Be sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date before exposure to wooded areas and other wild or domestic animals.

* Obedience Training. “A dog must be trained at home with no distractions,” says Lind. “Children running and throwing balls are big distractions that can put stress on a dog. It’s impossible to teach anything when a dog is stressed. If the ‘down’ and ‘stay’ commands are not heeded in the home, it’s not fair to expect that the dog will behave elsewhere. Another consideration is proper off-leash obedience. Do you have reliable recall? Can you get him back if he takes off? If not, it becomes a safety issue.”

* Socialization. “Many unfortunate situations can occur when a dog is not properly socialized. Consider how your dog reacts to children, strangers and other animals” says Lind. A dog that jumps up to say hello can frighten a child and become a nuisance to other guests. One that becomes aggressive toward other dogs should not attend a gathering where another animal could be present.

* Supplies. When a trusted dog with established training accompanies you to a picnic, it’s important to take supplies with you. Lind outlines these basic items: water supply and bowl, food, leash and/or chain, appropriate treats, a toy to keep your pet occupied, and “poop bags” for waste disposal. Lind recommends not allowing guests to feed your pet “people food,” which can cause an upset stomach on the ride home.

* Backup Plan. If your pet disrupts an event away from home, you will need to remove the dog to a safe place. What will you do? “Cars become dangerously hot in the summer months, even with the windows down. Unless you’re prepared to leave early and take your pet home, you will need to arrange for the dog’s safekeeping for the duration of your stay at the event,” states Lind.

“It’s all about training, socialization, and common sense,” says Lind. A dog that is well behaved at home, and proven to be a “good canine citizen” in public, can be a welcome addition at a picnic or outdoor gathering. “As a general rule, if the dog can’t walk on a leash properly around the neighborhood, please don’t take him,” Lind says.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Risks To Wild Bird Populations Mitigated By Artificial Nest Boxes

24-7 - North American bird populations continue to decline at a steady rate due to human activities such as habitat loss, pesticide use, outdoor cats, window strikes, and power lines. A new Alberta company believes it's possible to mitigate some of those effects by providing artificial homes for wild birds. The biologist-run internet company named Northern Bird Houses goes two steps further than your typical department store 'pet aisle' by providing education alongside the sale of species-accurate bird houses.

"Birds around the world are in serious trouble due to human alteration of natural areas and massive consumption of resources," says award-winning biologist, Dianne Wittner. "Most of us could turn our own yards into bird-friendly habitat with a few simple steps."

Wittner says one of those steps is the addition of nest boxes and platforms. Tree clearing has led to a shortage of appropriate locations for cavity-nesting species such as bluebirds, swallows, wrens, chickadees, owls, woodpeckers, and even ducks. However, Wittner stresses the importance of not putting up "just any old box", but erecting nest boxes that possess the correct features, thereby increasing the likelihood of survival for offspring. "So many of the bird houses sold in large retail stores or pet stores will end up in early mortalities for its occupants," Wittner says. "For example, I was asked to help a youth group that had spent days painting and hanging dozens of bird boxes only to discover the box designs were absolutely useless. They had to start all over again. If we really want to take positive action for birds, we should sell products that save lives and enhance conservation."

The development of Northern Bird Houses, a dot-com enterprise, was a result of Wittner's frustration with the lack of good information for consumers. "It's not like selling a set of curtains that turns out to be mismatched or the wrong size. If you sell a nest box that is not properly designed, lives are lost. We simply can't afford to lose any more birds unnecessarily."

In the U.S. and Canada, statistics indicate bird mortalities due to human factors to be in the tens of millions every year. Creating environmentally friendly yards that provide shelter and food is a growing trend but it's not enough.

Erecting bird houses is not a new concept; the come-back of bluebirds in the last fifty to seventy years has been largely aided by artificial nest boxes made by people. However, an internet outlet that sells properly designed houses, provides free and accurate information for their use, provides loads of professional reference material, and donates a percentage of proceeds to conservation organizations, is both innovative and responsible. Operators of the site hope to raise awareness and encourage action all over North America while raising money at the same time.

Bird watching is this continent's second most popular leisure activity and still on the rise. This new website, www.NorthernBirdHouses.com, allows bird lovers to browse products in total confidence, knowing each one is tested and proven safe. Many visitors to the site are simply looking for information or photographs that can be used in school projects, reports, or for personal use. There is so much free stuff shoppers don't even need to take their wallets out to come away with something new. Furthermore, visitors can ask for material not found on the site, such as pictures to help identify species and additional references.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Disney’s Animal Programs Leads International Effort to Help Africa Manage Growing Elephant Populations

BUSINESS WIRE --Disneys Animal Programs is leading an international coalition of veterinarians, conservation groups, zoos, universities and private industry to conduct a series of procedures to effectively sterilize male elephants and help reduce the elephant birth rates in areas of South Africa. The team expects to perform laparoscopic vasectomies on eight bull elephants at the Pongola Game Reserve in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.

Elephant overpopulation in wildlife parks and reserves in southern Africa is a growing problem that can have devastating effects on the natural habitat as well as other animal species that live there. Wildlife officials in several countries are considering culling many elephants in order to control the population growth.

Elephant population management is one of the most critical conservation issues facing many areas of Africa said Dr. Mark Stetter, Director of Veterinary Services at Disneys Animal Programs and principal investigator. Through our recent successes, elephant vasectomies have been an effective tool at several wildlife reserves to reduce the need for culling, and help support the ecosystem. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) we are committed to pioneering creative solutions to problems facing all wildlife by using the technology and tools available to address conservation and wildlife issues.

In July 2004, this team of experts performed the first ever sterilization of free-ranging female elephants. In 2005, the group began its work with bull elephants and started developing laparoscopic vasectomy techniques for sterilizing males in the wild. The team returned to South Africa in 2006 and 2007 and effectively sterilized bull elephants at the Welgevonden Wildlife Reserve and the Songimvelo Wildlife Reserve.

Elephants are unique among most mammals since their testes are internal and require abdominal surgery to perform a vasectomy, making the traditional procedure nearly impossible to do in the wild. This innovative new procedure involves state-of-the-art medical equipment specifically developed for this project and scaled from human to elephant proportions. The elephant laparoscopic equipment was built by the Karl Storz Company at their headquarters in Germany. Laparoscopic surgery allows the surgeon to view the internal organs on a monitor and use long thin instruments to perform the surgery. With this type of minimally invasive surgery, the risk of infection is decreased, the procedure time is significantly reduced and there is less post-operative discomfort.

Wildlife scientists and rangers will use telemetry tracking collars placed on the elephants during the procedure, to closely monitor the animals and ensure there are no post-operative complications. All bull elephants that have had this procedure in 2006 and 2007, have fully recovered and shown no side effects from the procedure. A vasectomy effectively sterilizes the bull elephants while maintaining normal hormone levels and normal elephant social behaviors.

Disneys Animal Programs commitment to the animal population is truly admirable, said Jeff Hunt, President of Covidiens Patient Care and Safety Products global business unit. Minimally invasive surgery has been implemented for years in people and more recently available for pets - and now even wildlife. We are proud to participate with this coalitions innovative approach to solving a complex conservation issue.

This is an international collaborative project that brings together conservation groups, universities and private industry including Disney's Animal Programs, Colorado State University/College of Veterinary Medicine, the Zoological Society of San Diego, Covidien, the Karl Storz Company, Catchco Africa - Wildlife Specialists, the Veterinary College of South Africa at Onderstepoort and the Pongola Game Reserve to address this complex problem. The long-term goal is to have in country trained specialists and elephant laparoscopic equipment to be able to provide this service to wildlife parks throughout Southern Africa.