Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oldest Male Bongo Antelope In North America Passes At Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Dennis Kelly announced earlier this week that Bingo, a male eastern bongo antelope, was euthanized on Sunday, May 24. At 17, Bingo was the oldest male bongo living in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institution. He was also the fourth oldest bongo in captivity worldwide. Zoo Atlanta’s Animal Management and Veterinary Team based the decision to euthanize Bingo after his health began to decline suddenly on Saturday. Born May 5, 1992 at Miami Metrozoo, Bingo had lived at Zoo Atlanta since 2002.

“We are saddened by the passing of Bingo, who was a special part of the Zoo Atlanta family and an important representative of this endangered species,” said Kelly. “The fact that he was one of the world’s oldest bongos is evidence of the superior care he received throughout his life.”

A necropsy was performed at the University of Georgia through Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with the Department of Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and results will be available in several weeks.

Eastern bongos are among the Zoo’s most endangered mammals, with fewer than 500 believed to remain in the wild. Zoo Atlanta participates in AZA’s Bongo Species Survival Plan, which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population within North American zoos and has reintroduced bongos to eastern Africa.

Zoo Atlanta’s female eastern bongo, Mzima, 19, is the oldest bongo living in an AZA institution and the second oldest of her species in captivity in the world.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Bird Songs Change With The Landscape

When the going gets rough, the tough apparently sing slower.

As vegetation reclaimed formerly cleared land in California, Oregon and Washington over the last 35 years, male white-crowned sparrows have lowered their pitch and slowed down their singing so that their love songs would carry better through heavier foliage.

"This is the first time that anyone has shown that bird songs can shift with rapid changes in habitat," says biologist Elizabeth Derryberry who made the finding as part of her dissertation research at Duke University.

She compared recordings of individual birds in 15 different areas with some nearly forgotten recordings made at the same spots in the 1970s by a California Academy of Sciences researcher, and found that the musical pitch and speed of the trill portion of the sparrows' short songs had dropped considerably. "I was really surprised to find that songs had changed in a similar way in so many different populations."

She then used archival aerial photography to see how the foliage had changed in a subset of those spots, and found that the one population whose song hadn't slowed down lived in an area where the foliage hadn't changed either.

The physics is clear, but the biology is a little less certain. A lower, slower song suffers less reverberation in denser foliage and will be heard more accurately. In turn, that means it is more likely to be copied by young males who are choosing which song they will learn. Over generations, that should cause the song to slow down and drop in pitch as the foliage changes.

In the short term however, Derryberry doesn't know whether the clearer song wins better territories or mates, although she does know that these changes in song do affect both male and female behavior.

The results add to a growing body of evidence that the acoustic and visual communications of animals change with their habitat. "Given how much the world's habitats are changing, this is sort of an unexpected but useful factor to monitor," Derryberry said. She's now testing the broader effects of ecology on song evolution in birds across areas of South America where habitat may be changing due to deforestation and global warming.

Derryberry, who earlier discovered that female white-crowned sparrows preferred the slower new songs to the chirpy old ones, is now a researcher at Louisiana State University. Her latest findings appear in the July edition of American Naturalist.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Study Shows Majority of Pet Cats Are Neutered

/PRNewswire/ -- A new study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association reports that the vast majority -- at least 80% -- of pet cats in U.S. households are neutered, with middle-to higher-income households reporting rates of over 90%.

The peer-reviewed study, based on data collected for the national nonprofit organization Alley Cat Allies by Harris Interactive, Alley Cat Allies by Harris Interactive and analyzed by Alley Cat Allies using a rigorous statistical approach, is the first nationally representative study to thoroughly examine household income as it relates to the neuter status of pet cats.

"This study indicates that spaying and neutering is an accepted, established practice among the large majority of Americans with pet cats," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. "This is a very positive finding. As a result, our nation's pet cats are living much healthier lives."

The study found that family income was the strongest predictor of whether house cats are neutered. In households earning $35,000 or more annually, 93% of cats were neutered, compared to 51% of cats in households earning less than $35,000. While both income groups reported a majority of their pet cats to be neutered, the disparity underscores a challenge long observed by Alley Cat Allies, said Robinson.

"Up until now, there has been a lot of speculation that income is a barrier for neuter in lower-income families, but now we have a scientific study establishing that this is the case nationally," Robinson said.

"It is also critical to point out that household cats represent only part of the total U.S. cat population," said Wendy Anderson, director of law and policy for Alley Cat Allies and a co-author of the study.

"Previous research has shown there may be just as many stray and feral cats in the U.S. as pet cats, and most of these cats are intact and breeding. We need to enact smart policies and programs that expand the availability of low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter services, not only to serve lower-income pet owners, but to provide services for feral cats as well," Anderson said.

The study ("Population Characteristics and Neuter Status of Cats Living in Households in the United States," J Am Vet Med Assoc 2009; 234:1023-1030) consisted of 1,205 respondents across the continental U.S., contacted by telephone and selected via random-digit dial methodology. Following completion of the data collection, respondents were weighted for region, age, gender, education, income, race and ethnicity to ensure a sample representative of the U.S. population.

Based on the nationally representative sample, the study concluded that there are approximately 82.4 million pet cats in the United States, living in a total of 36.8 million households. One third of these households reported adopting at least one of their cats as a stray.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Hungry Bear can Ruin a Camping Trip

Whether a summer camping trip or a stay at a cozy cabin in the woods, there’s always a possibility for a black bear sighting or encounter in North Georgia. With more than 75 established campgrounds and an estimated 1,200-1,500 black bears in North Georgia, campers should always be aware and prepared for a black bear encounter. The key to preventing an unfavorable experience is to properly store food and garbage.

“Bears can become habituated to people when they are fed – whether intentional or not. When a bear knows it can get a ‘free meal,’ it will return again and again until eventually it loses its natural fear of humans. This is when the majority of human-bear conflicts occur and the bear is regarded a nuisance,” explains Adam Hammond, wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

Proper food storage while camping means that no food, drinks, coolers or garbage should be left out in the open and available to bears or other wildlife. Even non-food items with strong odors, such as toothpaste, deodorant and soap should be secured.

All food and scented items should be secured either inside a vehicle, or if backcountry camping, inside a knapsack and hoisted out of reach of bears and other wildlife.

Black bears commonly are found in three areas of the state - the north Georgia mountains, the Ocmulgee River drainage system in central Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeastern part of the state. However, black bears can and do range over larger areas; especially in early spring and late summer, when natural food sources are scarce. Young male bears are also known to disperse in an effort to establish their own territory.

In urban and suburban areas, garbage, birdseed, and pet food are the most common bear attractants. In addition to properly storing food and garbage, homeowners in known bear areas are advised to bring pet food indoors and to remove bird feeders during the spring and late summer.

“The best and most effective way to resolve human-bear conflicts is to remove the attractant,” says Hammond. “In most cases, that simply means making garbage, birdseed, pet food and other non-natural food items inaccessible.”

Though the American black bear (Ursus americanus) is now considered the most common bear in North America and the only native bear found in Georgia, at one point the species was nearly eradicated from the state due to poaching and habitat loss. Yet, because of sound wildlife management practices Georgia’s current black bear population is healthy and estimated between 2,300 and 2,500 bears statewide.

For more information regarding black bears, visit, contact a WRD Game Management office or call (770) 918-6416. The public also can visit their local library to check out a copy of an informational DVD entitled, “Where Bears Belong: Black Bears in Georgia.”

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Shamba the Gorilla Turns 50

Shamba, a female western lowland gorilla at Zoo Atlanta, turned 50 on Sunday, May 24. The Zoo’s eldest primate is the sixth oldest member of her species living in North America and one of the 10 oldest gorillas in the world.

Born in Africa in 1959, Shamba is one of only three surviving members of the original group of western lowland gorillas that moved to Zoo Atlanta in the 1980s (The others are female Choomba and male Ozzie, both 48.) The first residents of the Zoo’s Ford African Rain Forest, Shamba and her contemporaries, including the legendary late Willie B., were the founders of what is today the nation’s second-largest collection of western lowland gorillas.

Since 1989, 17 gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta. Among these are Shamba’s son Taz, 19, and his offspring Kali, Kazi and Macy Baby, all 3, and Gunther, 2. Shamba’s contributions to the zoological community far exceed her Zoo Atlanta progeny: she has four children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren living at other accredited institutions in North America.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Navy Grant to Fund Probe of Squid and Octopus Camouflage

Octopuses and squid are big brained species that use much of their mental powers to adjust their own appearances. This remarkable ability to camouflage on the fly has inspired the Office of Naval Research to award $7.5 million to Duke University and two collaborating institutions to learn more about how the animals do it.

Participating researchers plan to build an underwater version of the fictional "Star Trek" virtual reality "holodeck." They will also go out on expeditions both to collect animals for study and to document their surroundings in unprecedented detail. They will even take their investigations down to the molecular level where the skin can change its own optical properties.

"We need to know how the different animals we're going to look at actually see the world," said Sonke Johnsen, the Duke associate professor of biology who is principal investigator for this five-year Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) study. "What is the nature of their vision? How sharp is it, how quick does it respond to changes, and can they see colors?

"Especially at the surface, where waves are moving and water quality is changing and the sun's positions are shifting, we need to measure how light fields around them change. We also want to see how they behave and change in different environments. That's where the holodeck will come in."

The cubical holodeck will be built by engineer and research oceanographer Jules Jaffe, one of two participating researchers at the University of California at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The aquarium-like chamber will be big enough to enclose the largest animals studied. Its walls will enable Duke and Scripps researchers to duplicate the changeable hues, lighting and optical conditions of the open ocean.

Cephalopods, the hundreds of different species classified as either octopuses or squids, are known to self-adjust skin colors and patterns in their effort to remain unnoticeable to predators or prey. Some can respond to the kinds of polarizing effects that humans need special sunglasses to discern. Some bioluminescent species even emit their own light, which they use to eliminate shadows that would give away their silhouettes.

"We will be able to change the colors, resolution, speed and everything else so that we can step inside their visual world under laboratory conditions," Johnsen said. "We will be able to show them natural scenes, but then also scenes that have been altered in different ways. The holodeck will be like a virtual reality machine for the ocean. In the world of marine biology we know of no other like it."

The other collaborator at Scripps will be Dariusz Stramski, a professor of oceanography who is a world expert on measuring rapidly changing light fields.

At the University of California at Santa Barbara, post-doctoral fellow Alison Sweeney, a former graduate student of Johnsen, will work with Daniel Morse, a professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry, to study proteins that can alter the animals' coloration. These pigments "can self-assemble and disassemble, more or less under the control of their nervous systems," Johnsen said. "And then those control how the animals look."

Meanwhile, a separate MURI led by the University of Texas at Austin will work toward goals so similar that some participants will be going on each other's research trips. In the case of the Duke-led group, that involves expeditions to islands off California and work on the Pacific island of Palau. The Texas group will head to the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico. Collectively, the two efforts will receive about $15 million, Johnsen added.

So why is the military interested? "Obviously, you can think that camouflage is a good thing to have," Johnsen said. "You would like to be able to hide. But the work we do is at a basic, fundamental level. We won't do it with a particular application in mind. The military for ages has funded fairly basic research."

A second MURI award announced May 8 also has a Duke scientist as its principal investigator. Electrical and computer engineering professor David R. Smith is leading a study on "transformation optical metamaterials" funded by the U.S, Army Research Office. Smith's group works on "metamaterials" that can bend light to make an object appear invisible.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nutro Products Announces Voluntary Recall of Limited Range of Dry Cat Food Products

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, Nutro Products announced a voluntary recall of select varieties of NUTRO(R) NATURAL CHOICE(R) COMPLETE CARE(R) Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Dry Foods with "Best If Used By Dates" between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. The cat food is being voluntarily recalled in the United States and ten additional countries. This recall is due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium in our finished product resulting from a production error by a US-based premix supplier.

Two mineral premixes were affected. One premix contained excessive levels of zinc and under-supplemented potassium. The second premix under-supplemented potassium. Both zinc and potassium are essential nutrients for cats and are added as nutritional supplements to NUTRO(R) dry cat food.

This issue was identified during an audit of our documentation from the supplier. An extensive review confirmed that only these two premixes were affected. This recall does not affect any NUTRO(R) dog food products, wet dog or cat food, or dog and cat treats.

Affected product was distributed to retail customers in all 50 states, as well as to customers in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Israel. We are working with all of our distributors and retail customers, in both the US and internationally, to ensure that the recalled products are not on store shelves. These products should not be sold or distributed further.

Consumers who have purchased affected product should immediately discontinue feeding the product to their cats, and switch to another product with a balanced nutritional profile. While we have received no consumer complaints related to this issue, cat owners should monitor their cat for symptoms, including a reduction in appetite or refusal of food, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea. If your cat is experiencing health issues or is pregnant, please contact your veterinarian.

Consumers who have purchased product affected by this voluntary recall should return it to their retailer for a full refund or exchange for another NUTRO(R) dry cat food product. Cat owners who have questions about the recall should call 1-800-833-5330 between the hours 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM CST, or visit

Recalled Pet Food

The varieties of NUTRO(R) NATURAL CHOICE(R) COMPLETE CARE(R) Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Dry Foods listed below with "Best If Used By Dates" between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010 are affected by this voluntary recall.

Nutro Products Recall List - Dry Cat Foods

U.S. Product Name Bag Size UPC

CARE(R) Kitten Food 4 lbs 0 79105 20607 5
CARE(R) Kitten Food 8 lbs 0 79105 20608 2
CARE(R) Kitten Food (Bonus Bag) 9.2 lbs 0 79105 20695 2
CARE(R) Kitten Food 20 lbs 0 79105 20609 9
CARE(R) Kitten Food (Sample Bag) 1.5 oz none
CARE(R) Adult 4 lbs 0 79105 20610 5
CARE(R) Adult 8 lbs 0 79105 20611 2
CARE(R) Adult (Bonus Bag) 9.2 lbs 0 79105 20694 5
CARE(R) Adult 20 lbs 0 79105 20612 9
CARE(R) Adult (Sample Bag) 1.5 oz none
CARE(R) Adult Oceanfish Flavor 4 lbs 0 79105 20622 8
CARE(R) Adult Oceanfish Flavor 8 lbs 0 79105 20623 5
CARE(R) Adult Oceanfish Flavor
(Bonus Bag) 9.2 lbs 0 79105 20698 3
CARE(R) Adult Oceanfish Flavor 20 lbs 0 79105 20624 2
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Adult Roasted
Chicken Flavor 3 lbs 0 79105 10228 5
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Adult Roasted
Chicken Flavor 6 lbs 0 79105 10229 2
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Adult Roasted
Chicken Flavor 16 lbs 0 79105 10230 8
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Adult Roasted
Chicken Flavor (Sample Bag) 1.5 oz none
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Roasted Chicken Flavor 3 lbs 0 79105 10243 8
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Roasted Chicken Flavor 6 lbs 0 79105 10244 5
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Roasted Chicken Flavor 16 lbs 0 79105 10245 2
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Roasted Chicken Flavor (Sample
Bag) 1.5 oz none
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Salmon Flavor 3 lbs 0 79105 10246 9
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Salmon Flavor 6 lbs 0 79105 10247 6
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Adult
Salmon Flavor 16 lbs 0 79105 10248 3
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Weight
Control 3 lbs 0 79105 10249 0
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Weight
Control 6 lbs 0 79105 10250 6
NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Indoor Weight
Control 16 lbs 0 79105 10251 3

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Zoo Atlanta's Naked Mole Rat Queen Gives Birth

Zoo Atlanta’s naked mole rat queen has given birth to her first litter of pups.
The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams discovered at least six
newborn members of the Zoo’s strangest animal society on May 19.

Hairless, sightless and roughly an inch long, the new arrivals are estimated
to weigh between 1 and 2 grams. The pups have already been observed
crawling over a tight formation of adult colony members, who remain huddled
in the nest for the infants’ warmth and protection.

The queen may nurse her offspring for up to 2 months, but the entire colony
is tasked with their care. Workers are also responsible for the transport of
the pups in the event that the queen selects a new nesting area. The pups’
eyes should open at 20 to 30 days, at which time the juveniles may also start
eating solid foods.

To avoid disrupting the colony, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams
will wait days before resuming any maintenance activities that could
disturb the queen or her pups. Fortunately, there’s no wait for curious guests!
Visitors can see the Zoo’s unusual underground family and their exciting additions
in their habitat daily.

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Majestic Eaglets

AAA Note: Perhaps the good citizens of Fayette County will have the honor of hosting these youngsters come winter. For several years, about a half dozen Bald Eagles have made Peachtree City their winter home.

Three sibling bald eaglets recently hatched in a nest inside Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood. The eaglets and their non-releasable parents are cared for by the non-profit American Eagle Foundation. The birds will be released into the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains at thirteen weeks of age when they have grown to adult size.

Photo provided courtesy of American Eagle Foundation

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Legislation Reasserts U.S. Leadership for Whale Protection Worldwide

/PRNewswire / -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW; - together with Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS) and Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA) - is championing new legislation to mitigate threats to whales and their habitats worldwide. Additional original co-sponsors of the bill include Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and Congresswoman Mazie Kirono (D-HI).

The International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2009 calls for the U.S. to renew its whale conservation leadership worldwide. The legislation comprehensively addresses major threats to whales including commercial whaling, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, ocean noise, and climate change.

"We must do all we can to protect whales both in our waters and abroad," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Office Director. "As the critical June 2009 meeting of the International Whaling Commission rapidly approaches, it is crucial for our government to take the lead on opposing the resumption of commercial whaling, ending lethal scientific whaling, and supporting global whale conservation."

Elements of the legislation include:
-- Promoting international efforts to conserve and protect the world's
whales throughout their range.
-- Strengthening the whale conservation and protection efforts of
relevant international organizations including the United Nations
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals,
the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the
International Maritime Organization.
-- Ensuring that the IWC commercial whaling ban is neither lifted nor
weakened and that the related illegal and lethal scientific whaling is
-- Reducing and, where possible, eliminating sources of human caused
death, injury, harassment and disturbance of the world's whales.
-- Initiating and expanding research to improve our understanding of the
world's whales including health and reproduction, whale habitats and
the impacts of human activities and other threats to whales.

"The significance of this policy is that it is a comprehensive policy for whale conservation across the United States government. This policy will be represented, conveyed, and implemented in a consistent manner by all departments, agencies, and overseas missions of the United States government whose responsibilities include or touch upon matters relating to whaling or whale conservation," said Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega of American Samoa

Whale protection is vital to the species' recovery and sustainability. With a new Administration in place, now is the time for the U.S. to reestablish itself as a global leader in whale conservation. A new direction in policy is also supported by other animal welfare and wildlife conservation groups.

"The Bush administration brokered closed door deals that could reduce protections for whales and leave them vulnerable to commercial whaling," said Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst for NRDC's Marine Mammal Protection Project. "This bill reasserts U.S. leadership in whale conservation by ending whaling for commercial purposes, by creating a long overdue scientific program for whales, and by promoting international efforts to reduce ocean noise."

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Grant Park Beauty Loses her Home, Needs Help

This sweet girl's owner lost their home, and this baby is living tied to a porch; rain, sun night and day. Her owner is feeding her, but this is not a good situation for either one of them.

This is a low-maintenance girl who has shared a home and been a loyal inside pet for many years. Who can share their home with this needy girl who will shower you with kisses and love? I am certain the owner would also be forever grateful for the kindness of a family to care for her beloved pet.

Contact is Janet Hart at 404-520-1060 cell or

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking a Bite Out of Rabies: Merial Provides Rabies Awareness and Prevention Training to Noah's Wish Pet Disaster Relief Organization

/PRNewswire/ -- Continuing its commitment to the welfare of animals and raising public awareness about rabies, Merial Pet Vaccines has partnered with Noah's Wish, an international, nonprofit pet disaster relief organization, to provide rabies awareness and prevention training to its volunteers. As part of this effort, Merial technical service veterinarians are traveling to nine training sessions in the US and Canada to educate approximately 1,000 volunteers.

"Thanks to Merial's support, we are able to educate our volunteers about the signs and symptoms of rabies and the importance of rabies prevention when caring for animals affected by natural disasters," said JoEllen Cimmino, director of Animal Health Services and Education, Noah's Wish. "Our volunteers need to know this information, not only for the animals' sake, but also for their own health and safety. We're glad that Merial has joined our efforts in this program."

Noah's Wish volunteers are trained in an outdoor environment, set up to mimic the conditions they would experience during a natural disaster. Volunteers go through an intense, multiple in-field training program to prepare them for the physical and emotional challenges of doing disaster relief work.

"Merial is the leader in rabies prevention, providing injectable and oral vaccines for domestic animals and wildlife," said Vincent Krogmann, US marketing director, Pet Vaccines. "Sponsorship of Noah's Wish further strengthens our ongoing efforts in helping pets affected by natural disasters as it dovetails with our Paws to Save Pets(SM) program, which helps fund emergency relief for pet victims of disasters."

The mission of Noah's Wish is to save animals during disasters with its rescue and recovery services and to mitigate the impact of disasters on animals through its educational outreach programs. Noah's Wish was created in 2002 to expand upon the often fragmented efforts to help animals during disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The training runs through June.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Free New Guide for Birders

(NAPSI)-The International Crane Foundation, the only institution in the world to breed all 15 crane species, including the highly endangered whooping crane, is just one of the unique birding spots in the free guide "Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail-Southern Savanna Edition."

The fifth and final volume of the guide covers 71 points in the Southern Savanna region of Wisconsin. The guide provides site descriptions, contact information, species information, seasonality, directions and nearby food and lodging information.

Highlights of the region include the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States, which provides rest for roughly 200,000 migrating birds and endangered species.

In Baraboo, the Travel Green Wisconsin-certified Aldo Leopold Legacy Center provides a hands-on nature experience, and Cave of the Mounds near Blue Mounds features rock formations and rare bird species.

For a free copy, call (800) 432-TRIP/8747 or visit

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

National Dog Bite Prevention Week - Prevention is the Best Cure for Dog Bites

/PRNewswire/ -- It's estimated that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Fortunately, most dog bites are preventable through appropriate pet selection, proper training, responsible approaches to animal control, and education of dog owners and potential victims.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has joined with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), and The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) to celebrate National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 17-23, 2009. Children are the most common victims of dog bites, followed by the elderly and USPS employees.

"Approximately half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. And when a dog bites a child, the victim's small size makes the bite more likely to result in a severe injury," says Dr. James O. Cook, AVMA president.

Most dog bite injuries in young children occur during everyday activities interacting with familiar dogs. With the safety of children in mind, this year the AVMA is introducing The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD, an educational tool aimed at teaching children, 3 to 6 years old, and their parents how to avoid dog bite injuries.

"Research and professional experience tell us these incidents are largely preventable," Dr. Cook says. "That's why National Dog Bite Prevention Week and programs like The Blue Dog are so important. Teaching people how to communicate with and properly behave around dogs is the best cure for dog bites."

"Pediatricians treat children with dog bites every day, and some are quite serious. These incidents can be dramatically reduced if children and parents know what to do," says AAP president David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP.

Dr. Cinnamon Dixon, a pediatrician specializing in pediatric emergency medicine, sees the life changing fear and trauma daily.

"There are over three times as many dog bites as traumatic brain injuries each year. Despite these statistics, a major deficiency in dog bite prevention education and research exists," Dr. Dixon says.

Someone who knows just how traumatic dog bites can be is 17-year-old Kelly Voigt. Kelly was severely injured 10 years ago when a neighbor's dog attacked her. She received more than 100 stitches in her face and throat and was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Unfortunately, Kelly's injuries are not unusual.

"Children are frequently bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection or scarring," said ASPS President John Canady, MD. "Plastic surgeons, who have the training to preserve and rearrange skin and tissue, performed more than 16,000 reconstructive surgeries after dog bites last year. Following these dog bite prevention tips and educating the public will help prevent attacks."

One year after her injuries Kelly began teaching other children how to stay safe around dogs. She developed programs for schools and founded the nonprofit organization, Prevent the Bite.

"Being attacked by a dog wasn't a fun experience, but it allowed me to discover a strong desire to help others," Kelly said. "It doesn't matter how old you are; if you care about others, you can change the world."

"Employee and customer safety are always our number-one concern," said Postal Service Vice President and Consumer Advocate Delores J. Killette. "National Dog Bite Prevention Week is one of our most important campaigns to help our employees and customers remain safe when they come in contact with man's best friend."

As part of its comprehensive approach, the AVMA has developed a brochure, "What you should know about dog bite prevention," which offers tips on how to avoid being bitten, as well as what to do if you are bitten by a dog or your dog bites someone. Also offered by the AVMA is "A community approach to dog bite prevention," a report intended to help state and local leaders develop effective dog bite prevention programs in their communities. For more information on National Dog Bite Prevention Week and to access the brochure and community guidelines online, visit

Important dog bite injury prevention tips include:
-- When selecting a pet, choose a dog that is a good match for your
family and lifestyle. Consult your veterinarian for assistance.
-- Socialize your pet. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of people
and other animals so it feels at ease in different situations;
continue this exposure as your dog gets older. Don't put your dog in a
situation where it feels threatened or teased.
-- Train your dog. Obedience training helps dogs understand what is
expected of them and builds a bond of trust between dogs and owner.
-- Avoid playing aggressive games with your dog.
-- Keep your dog healthy. Vaccinate your dog against rabies and other
preventable infectious diseases. Health care is important because how
your dog feels affects how it behaves.
-- Neuter your pet. Science suggests neutered dogs may be less likely to
-- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
-- Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any
-- Let a strange dog sniff you or your child before touching it, and pet
it gently, avoiding the face and tail.
-- Never bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
-- Do not run past a dog.
-- If a dog threatens you, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still or
back away slowly until the dog leaves. If you are knocked down, curl
into a ball and protect your face with your arms and fists.
-- If bitten, request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog's owner,
get the owner's name and contact information, and contact the dog's
veterinarian to check vaccination records. Then immediately consult
your doctor. Clean bite wound(s) with soap and water as soon as

For more information, visit the AVMA website at

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free Public Service Resources for National Bite Prevention Week

Bark Busters Offers Free Dog Safety Workshops, an Online Public Service Program for Children and Bite Prevention Tips to Promote Dog Safety

As part of its ongoing commitment to keep pets and people safe, Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company, will give free dog safety workshops for community-based organizations. Additionally, Bark Busters is offering the Bach & Buster Buddy Dog Safety Program™, a unique online public service program designed to help educate children about dog safety and bite prevention. These free community-based programs are part of a nationwide effort by the 250+ Bark Busters dog behavioral therapists across the country in for National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 18–24).

“Part of our mission at Bark Busters is to help keep people and their canine friends safe,” said Liam Crowe, CEO and master dog behavioral therapist, Bark Busters USA. “We understand that dog bites are a serious matter, and we believe that more public education, such as the free community workshops we offer, can help prevent the situations that lead to dog bites.”

Free Dog Safety Workshops

Each year on average, nearly five million Americans are bitten by dogs—and more than 40 percent of these are children bitten by their family dog. Of those injured, nearly 400,000 require treatment in a hospital resulting, on average, 12 deaths per year. To combat such startling statistics, Bark Busters is offering free dog safety workshops to community-based organizations. Hosted by Bark Busters’ dog behavioral therapists, these free community workshops will give participants dog-safety tips while helping them understand how to communicate more effectively with dogs by using voice control and body language. Community-based organizations interested in learning more about dog safety, the canine psyche or pack law are invited to contact their local Bark Busters trainer to schedule a free workshop anytime throughout the year.

Free Online Dog Safety Program for Children

Developed specifically for school-age children, the Bach & Buster Buddy Dog Safety Program provides fun, interactive dog safety activities online. Bark Busters wants to educate children and adults on how to stop dog bites before they happen by making the right decisions around familiar and unfamiliar dogs. Through the Bach & Buster Buddy Dog Safety Program, kids can learn what to do and what not to do around dogs in order to prevent dog bites across the nation. To participate in the Bach & Buster Buddy Dog Safety Program visit:

Bark Busters offers the following tips for preventing dog bites and dog-related injuries:

How to Stay Safe When a Dog Approaches
Don’t turn and run—dogs naturally love to chase and catch things.
Stand still, with your hands at your sides. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you are not a threat.
Don’t put your hand out—just allow the dog to approach you to sniff you.
Don't scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly.
Face the dog at all times, but don’t stare. Avoid eye contact.
Back away slowly, watching the dog from the corner of your eye, until the dog is out of sight.

Safety Tips for Parents
Never leave a young child or baby alone with any dog.
Never allow your young child to discipline a dog.
Never allow your child to feed or walk a dog unsupervised.
Never allow your child to pull on a dog’s collar, ears or tail.
Never allow your child to play aggressive games (like wrestling) with any dog.
Never allow your child to pet a dog that is in someone else’s car or truck.

Bark Busters dog behavioral therapists are renowned authorities in the area of correcting dog behavior. The Australian training system can successfully train any dog, any age—including puppies. The company’s natural training techniques leverage the same communications methods—body language and voice control—that dogs follow as part of their instinctual pack mentality.

For more extensive information on bite prevention—including specific safety tips for parents and children—visit To request a Bark Busters trainer to speak to your community-based organization, call 877.500.BARK or visit
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New Public Service Video Warns Against Illegal Feeding of Dolphins

An animated dolphin is the new face for a campaign to end the illegal feeding of wild dolphins. The video public service announcement, produced by a coalition of government agencies and private organizations, highlights the dangers of animals becoming hooked on human handouts.

The health and welfare of wild dolphins is severely compromised when humans feed them, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In some cases, people are buying previously frozen bait from bait stores along the coast. This bait is not intended for dolphins and can lead to diseases ranging from mild periodontal to possibly deadly gastrointestinal, or GI, tract infections.

Those who feed dolphins are also taking chances. According to NOAA’s Web site, cases of wild dolphins biting humans have been documented.

Clay George, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said dolphins have been seen approaching boats to beg for food off Tybee Island. “This lack of fear indicates an emerging trend – that they are being fed with some frequency,” George said.

In areas including the Gulf of Mexico, human-fed dolphins have caused problems for commercial fishermen when, after following the boats, the dolphins try to attack the fishermen’s catch.

Feeding wild dolphins is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Penalties can include fines up to $20,000 and one year in jail.

Feeding any wild animal can cause it to become dependent on human food, changing natural behaviors and possibly leading to starvation if the animal becomes unable to feed and hunt successfully. The Georgia DNR encourages people to consider the consequences before feeding any animal, be it a dolphin, manatee, raccoon or other wildlife.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Leatherback Nest on Sea Island is First of Sea Turtle Nesting Season

A rare and endangered leatherback sea turtle crawled ashore at Sea Island last week, signaling the start of nesting season for several federally protected species of turtles.

Jon Kent and Rob Hanft, members of the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative, found the state’s first sea turtle nest on Monday, May 4, during early morning patrols. Caretta Research Project volunteers discovered the first loggerhead nest on Wassaw Island the following Saturday night, May 9. Loggerheads are considered Georgia’s primary nesting sea turtle.

The finds mark the start of what biologists hope is a strong nesting season.

“Based on trends we have seen in recent years, we expect above-average nest totals in 2009,” said Mark Dodd, a senior Wildlife Resources Division biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “Though the numbers are difficult to project, we expect between 1,200 and 1,400 nests in Georgia this year.”

After a record high of 1,649 nests in 2008 – despite heavy storms and a busy hurricane season – members of the cooperative are anxious to start tallying up nest totals again.

Last year also marked the 20th anniversary of the cooperative, a milestone for sea turtle conservation. Coordinated by the Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section, this group of volunteers, researchers and biologists from various agencies monitors turtle nesting activities on Georgia beaches.

Loggerhead nesting numbers vary widely from year to year. The 2007 total of 689 nests, down from 1,400 in 2006, was considered a below-average year. 2006 marked the third-highest number since the DNR established comprehensive surveys in 1989, with 1,419 nests found in 1999 and 1,504 nests in 2003. Georgia has averaged about 1,045 nests a year since 1989.

Adult female loggerheads come ashore to dig nests and lay eggs from May through September. The vulnerable hatchlings scramble to the sea approximately 60 days later, swimming for the open ocean, where fewer predators lurk.

Loggerheads do not nest every year, generally returning to lay eggs – about 120 per nest – every second or third year.

The loggerhead (Caretta caretta) is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), which is more rare in Georgia, is federally listed as endangered.

Adult loggerheads can grow to more than 300 pounds. In 1994, the Georgia Loggerhead Recovery and Habitat Protection Plan was adopted to standardize nest management procedures for the state. The long-term recovery goal for the species is an average of 2,800 loggerhead nests a year over 50 years.

Threats to the survival of loggerheads include commercial fisheries, development of barrier islands, and nest depredation by coyotes, raccoons and feral hogs. The Nongame Conservation Section and conservation groups have worked to address the fishery threat by enforcing regulations requiring shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices, which allow larger animals such as turtles to escape when caught in trawls.

Organizations and agencies that team with the Nongame Conservation Section for the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative include the Caretta Research Project, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Lodge at Little St. Simons Island, Little Cumberland Island Homeowners Association, Sea Island Co., St. Catherines Island Foundation, St. Simons Island Sea Turtle Project, Tybee Island Marine Science Center, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Savannah Coastal Refuges.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Target Carp in Northeast Georgia

Fishing for carp may not be an angler’s first choice, but according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, targeting carp can make for a fun-filled, action-packed day on the water. Get started with know-how, including recommended hot spots, equipment and techniques.

“Northeast Georgia has some great places to pursue carp,” says Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Biologist Nick Jamison. “Carp fishing requires little preparation and only basic equipment, making it perfect for children and beginner anglers.”

Lake Lanier supports an abundant population of carp averaging three pounds, with some reaching 20 pounds. Major carp fishing holes include, Flat Creek, Wahoo Creek and upstream from Clarks Bridge to the head of the lake on the Chattahoochee arm.

A large carp population also exists on Lake Nottely located near Blairsville. Carp on Nottely average two pounds, with some reaching 15 pounds. Anglers should target Ivy Log Creek, Young Cane Creek and Kiutuestia Creek.

Located on the North Carolina border, Lake Chatuge also supports a rich carp population, with an average catch weighing two pounds and the occasional 15-pound catch. Major fishing holes are Bell Creek, Long Bullet Creek and upstream from the Hwy. 76 bridge to the head of the lake on the Hiawassee River arm.

Lake Jackson in central Georgia currently holds the state record catch of 35 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in 1972.

The Wildlife Resources Division recommends medium to heavy spinning tackle spooled with 10-15 pound test line. The best baits are worms, doughballs (moistened bread), corn and prepared carp baits that anglers can purchase at local bait and tackle shops. Place the bait on a medium size hook (size 6-8) and fish on the bottom of recommended lakes.

During late spring and early summer, carp are concentrated in water less than 10 feet deep in search of spawning sites. The best fishing spots are in the backs of coves around natural cover (downed trees and brush).

For more information on carp fishing in Georgia, visit .

Take Me Fishing! ™ A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So take your family fishing and you will always have something in common.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wildfire Evacuation Preparedness Tips for Pets

Note: While our area is usually not prone to wildfire evacuations, these tips are great to remember as we head into hurricane season. Take home message is be prepared to care for your loved ones during any disaster situation.

/PRNewswire/ -- Preparing your family to evacuate during a natural disaster takes some initial planning. In conjunction with California's Wildfire Awareness Week, PurinaCare(R) Pet Health Insurance ( would like to offer some tips to help prepare your family pets during this stressful time.

Having a Pet Evacuation Kit ready to go will aide you in making quick decisions during an evacuation threat. Below is a suggested checklist of emergency items for your pet:

-- At least one week's supply of food in a water-tight container
-- Containers of potable water
-- Leash for dogs
-- Harness and leash for cats
-- Appropriate size pet carrier for both dogs and cats
-- Make sure vaccinations are up to date (rabies, kennel cough, etc.)
-- Copies of vaccination certificates (this will be required by shelters)
-- Any medications (including heartworm prevention)

-- Litter box and litter for cats

It is also a good idea to identify a few evacuation sites and research potential pet accommodations in the area before a fire forces your decision. Make initial calls now to check on the boarding policies of the local kennels or animal shelters and ensure you add any of their requirements to your Pet Evacuation Kit. If your evacuation plan includes a stay at a hotel or motel, determine its pet polices ahead of time.

Information provided by:

William H. Craig, DVM, chief medical and underwriting director of PurinaCare(R) Pet Health Insurance. Dr. Craig brings 30 years in private veterinary practice and contributions to veterinary medicine to PurinaCare(R).

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Zoo Atlanta Officials Announce Possible Pregnanacy of Naked Mole Rat Queen

Zoo Atlanta’s strangest animal society may be expecting their first litter. Zoo Atlanta’s Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are reasonably certain that the naked mole rat queen is pregnant based on several changes as bizarre as the species itself.

The pregnancy also confirms that the dominant female has officially been crowned the monarch of her underground kingdom. Rival naked mole rat females fight for supremacy, and the dominant female is recognized as queen by the rest of the colony. Over a period of months, her vertebrae become elongated, resulting in a gradual expansion of her skeletal structure until she is physically larger and longer than any other member of the colony.

Naked mole rat gestation is 72 days, but Zoo Atlanta officials aren’t certain as to when the new queen will deliver. The litter size is 5 to 15 pups, although naked mole rat queens have been
known to birth as many as 27 pups at a time.

Native to subterranean tunnels beneath the grasslands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, naked mole rats and a related species, the Damaraland mole rat, are the world’s only known eusocial mammals. Naked mole rat colonies are hierarchically arranged in the service of a queen, similarly to bees, ants and termites. Only the queen breeds, typically with one to three select
males; other colony members serve as soldiers or workers.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Georgia Has First Sea Turtle Nest of the Season

AAA Note: The official start of the sea turtle nesting season is barely a week old. The first nest was just spotted on Sea Island. Hopes are high for another record season.

First turtle nest of season recorded
Mary Landers

Georgia's sea turtle nesting season began Monday with the discovery of the first nest of the year on Sea Island.

The nest was that of a leatherback turtle, which is larger than the more common loggerhead sea turtle.....

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Prepare Your Pet for a First Veterinary Visit

/PRNewswire/ -- Casey was having a good time - after what seemed like just another car ride, she was taken for a walk on a leash, and then the beagle was brought inside a veterinary hospital. She'd visited here before, just for fun and to meet the staff, and she remembered that she could count on a few treats.

According to the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), there are many steps owners can take to make a first veterinary visit a positive experience. Since your pet will be in for regular wellness exams with your veterinarian, it's important to make those visits pleasant.

Start by regularly handling pets when they are young − including looking into their ears, rubbing their toes and brushing their hair and teeth. Making these activities habitual helps animals become comfortable with ear and teeth exams and other routine procedures such as nail clippings.

Before you take your pet to a first veterinary visit, get him or her used to traveling in a car. Cats should be in carriers and dogs on leashes when arriving at the veterinarian's office. Kittens can get accustomed to a cat carrier by introducing that at home with a comfy towel or blanket, along with toys. Dogs should become used to being on a leash before that first veterinary visit.

"Animals will pick up on the owner's emotions," noted William Grant, II, DVM, president of the CVMA. "If the owner is relaxed and prepared for the visit, the pet will often follow suit."

The CVMA suggests writing down questions and bringing them to the veterinarian.

Questions you would like answered could include:
-- Should my pet have a special diet?
-- When should she be vaccinated?
-- Is any special care needed for this breed or type of animal?

"Providing your veterinarian with complete information is very important and can make a difference in both diagnosis and treatment," added Grant. "Also, don't be afraid to ask questions to get the information you need to care for your pet."

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Birders clubs -- beyond the binoculars

(ARA) - Bird watching is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the country. It's easy, inexpensive and relaxing. Best of all, wild birds are beautiful and fascinating to watch. They're also wonderful to listen to, and with more than 800 species in North America alone, there is something for everyone.

Bird watching (or birding, for short) has been popular for hundreds of years, sparking the curiosity of everyone from scientists to conservationists to bird enthusiasts. No matter what their motivation, a birder is simply someone who enjoys watching wild birds. Whether you watch them while hiking in the woods or sitting in your backyard, practically anyone can consider themselves a birder -- and more people do every day. In fact, birding clubs are set up all around the world. From historic clubs like the National Audubon Society to up-and-coming ones like the Wild Delight Birders Club, thousands of bird lovers continually come together to celebrate their outdoor pets.

The National Audubon Society is considered by many as the nation's premier birders club. Established in 1905, this organization is made up of more than 500 local chapters. Today, the National Audubon Society engages millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

The Wild Delight Birders Club is a great example of another national birders club, one that emphasizes fun and aims to make bird watching and bird feeding as enjoyable as possible. This club allows members to enter photo contests, learn about wild birds through interesting videos and articles and provides an avenue for birders to share information through an easy-to-use online message board.

Throughout the U.S. the number of birders -- and clubs -- continues to grow every year. For birders, there are many things a club enables you to do -- access valuable resources, stay updated on trends, develop birding skills, be a part of conservation movements and have fun. However, one of the biggest benefits of joining a birders club is networking. Birding is an excellent way to meet people who share a common interest and, in many cases, develop lasting friendships.

However, unlike clubs established solely for entertainment, birders clubs are unique because of the scientific data they often provide. Ornithology (the scientific study of wild birds) is a science with a relatively short history, and many of the observations made and shared in birders clubs are very helpful to the research conducted by scientists. Everyone from amateurs to professionals has the ability to contribute their knowledge.

Take, for instance, Project Feederwatch, an annual, winter-long study of birds operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. This study asks “feeder watchers” throughout North America to count and report the birds they see at feeders in their backyards. This data is then used by scientists to help track broad-scale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Anyone can participate in Project Feederwatch by visiting

Another example is Project Wildbird, a scientific study on wild bird feeding. By utilizing participation from birding organizations all over the country, data is being compiled and studied on the feeds and feeders preferred by wild birds in different eco-regions throughout the different seasons. It is known today as one of the most comprehensive studies on bird feeding.

Fortunately, most birders are eager to share their knowledge, providing a vast resource of birding information -- not only to scientists, but also to beginning birders looking to get their feet wet. Furthermore, in today's modern world, organizations like the Wild Delight Birders Club have message boards where information can be shared instantly. There's no doubt that belonging to a birders club can be a great way to enhance your birding knowledge and participation in birding activities.

No matter what type of birder you are, joining a club is a great way to share your interests, learn more about wild birds and have some fun. By doing some quick searching, you'll find that, whether you're a beginner or a serious birder, there's a club for everyone.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Please research all information and any organization prior to donating or contacting. The Georgia Front Page and the Fayette Front Page share information as provided from a variety of sources. We do not necessarily support, endorse or research the legitimacy of the various organization's information prior to including. We can not be held responsible for the reliability of the information or outcomes if you choose to donate or follow up with the organization (s).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Two for Noah's Ark in Locust Grove

We first visited Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center in Locust Grove last summer. Our original mission was to see Evidence, the injured zebra which had been found on I-75 in Georgia. What we saw was a tremendous love for animals in need.

Evidence has now been at Noah's Ark for just over a year. By all accounts, he's doing wonderfully and really appreciates the shade and his best friend, Grace, a miniature horse.

Two events are in the works over the next couple of days in at Noah's Ark. First, Ann McLaughlin is expected to complete her 300 mile mission for the center. McLaughlin has spent the last 11 days walking from Mooresville to Locust Grove in an effort to try to raise awareness and donations to help the animals.

The other main event will take place on Saturday, May 2, as the new tortoise habitat is unveiled.

The recent downturn in the economy has taken its toll on donations. Noah's Ark has over 1000 mouths to feed on any given day, and is supported solely on donations.

Noah's Ark is open Tuesday thru Saturday, Noon to 3 pm, weather permitting.

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