Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Give So They Stay Campaign Update From Zoo Atlanta

The rain has died down at Zoo Atlanta, but Pandamonium rages on. Despite torrential downpours preceding historic flooding in the metro Atlanta area, several hundred faithful giant panda fans bravely donned ponchos for the Zoo’s giant panda birthday celebration on Saturday, September 19. The weather had no dampening effect on guest excitement: a raffle for an exclusive behind-the-scenes raised more than $2,300 on the day of the event. The lucky grand prize winners were Andrea Rafferty of Roswell, Ga., and Robert Kesler of Douglasville, Ga.

Meanwhile, the Give So They Stay campaign continues to generate overwhelming momentum in the community. Partners at Esperanza recently donated their talent and creativity to seven new T-shirt designs created with the campaign in mind. Members of the public are invited to vote for their favorite designs on www.metromix.com. Voting will continue through September 29, 2009. All T-shirt sales from the winning designs will benefit the campaign.

There’s even more Pandamonium in store for the month of October. Beginning October 5, Zoo Atlanta will host an exclusive online auction to benefit Give So They Stay. The auction will feature an exciting collection of priceless giant panda memorabilia; unique collector’s items; once-in-a-lifetime opportunities; exotic getaways and more. The auction goes live on October 5 on www.biddingforgood.com. Bidding continues through October 31.

As of September 22, Zoo Atlanta had collected a total of $132,225 toward the campaign, which continues through December 31, 2009.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

From The White House To Your House: Put Your Puppy On A Path To True Wellness

NAPSI)-The Obamas, like many other new dog families, have learned that the first year with their new puppy, Portuguese Water Dog Bo, is both a rewarding and challenging time.

Celebrity pet expert Andrea Arden shares her advice for how any family can raise a healthy dog who fits well into the family if they establish a routine of providing superior nutrition and exercise, along with regular veterinary check-ups right from the start.

"The family's first year with a new pup is full of wonderful experiences," she says. "Pet parents can provide a strong foundation for lifetime wellness-even if they don't live in the White House."

Here are Andrea Arden's tips to help new dog owners do the best for their pets:

Eat Right

The most important thing pet parents can do for their new puppies is feed them a food that not just meets but exceeds basic nutritional needs. It's vital that puppies start their life on the right path by putting their best paw forward and eating superior, natural pet food. "I feed Wellness® Natural Pet Food to my own dogs," says Andrea, "because they carefully select pure, simple, authentic ingredients. Each ingredient has a purpose and I trust their foods to provide the foundation of my dog's well-being."

For instance, Wellness® Just for Puppy and Wellness Super5Mix® Large Breed Puppy Health foods and snacks contain the essential nutrients for puppy brain, vision and nervous system development: natural fish oils and fish meal, the leading sources of DHA, a natural Omega-3 fatty acid. With one of the highest levels of DHA available, they provide the nutritional profile that puppies require to thrive.

Regular Visits to the Vet

Because our dogs can't talk to us, it's important to pay attention to subtle changes in their behavior and/or physical appearance as these could be the first indicator of a developing health issue. It's essential to schedule newly adopted dogs for regular annual examinations by a trusted veterinarian. Vet visits are absolutely necessary to maintain the highest level of care for your new dog.

Get Lots of Exercise

Exercise is essential for a dog's happy and long life. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous in order to be beneficial to their well-being, but regular exercise is key. Set aside a brief period of time daily dedicated to physical activity for your dog. Doing this on a regular basis also gives your pup something to look forward to and strengthens their bond with you.

Establish a Bond

The bonding process between dog and owner is a critical one. Spend regular one-on-one time together where your new dog has your complete focus and attention. Daily training sessions, reinforcement of good behavior, even brushing your dog daily will build a routine, cementing a bond with your pup for years to come.

These tips will help you enjoy a great new puppy experience and will guarantee a lifetime of true wellness for your pet.

For more information, visit wellnesspetfood.com.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Become a Superhero: Celebrate Adopt-A-Dog Month(R) This October

/PRNewswire/ -- You can become a hero to a dog this October by observing and celebrating the American Humane Association's Adopt-A-Dog Month(R) event. Millions of dogs in shelters are facing an uncertain fate, and many more are joining them each day due to the effects of the recession on pet owners. But there are simple steps each of us can take to make a difference in these dogs' lives.

Save the day for a homeless dog -- and find a faithful companion who will be at your side for all of life's adventures -- by adopting a dog from a shelter or breed-rescue group during October. It's the perfect time to visit the shelter, meet potential sidekicks and discover how much fun and happiness a dog can add to your life.

Companionship, improved physical and emotional health, social interaction and devoted love are just a few of the super-size benefits of having a dog. Dogs also encourage people to exercise, enhance family and social relationships, promote laughter and act as a nonjudgmental audience and sounding board.

Bringing a dog into your home is a lifetime commitment (the dog's lifetime, that is) and can require immense lifestyle adjustments for everyone in the family. If you aren't ready to adopt, but still want to make a difference for homeless dogs, here are some other ways to celebrate Adopt-A-Dog Month:

Volunteer: Shelters and rescue groups are always looking for dependable people who can help in almost any way. Are you good at taking pictures or working on websites? Offer to take appealing photos of adoptable dogs and post them on the organization's website. Do you have a way with words? Volunteer your time to help edit the organization's newsletter or website. We all have something to offer; we just need to ask how we can help!

Support: While financial support is always welcome, your donation of blankets, toys, dog food and volunteer time are just a few of the things you can offer homeless dogs in your community. You can also make contributions to help fund grants that are available to community shelters and rescue groups through American Humane's Second Chance Fund and its Foreclosure Pets Grant. These grants help abused, neglected, abandoned or relinquished pets and are funded entirely by donations, so your support goes directly to help these animals get the care they need to survive.

"Right now there is a greater need than ever for people to go to a shelter and find their new best friend," said Marie Belew Wheatley, American Humane president and CEO. "The nation's economy is negatively impacting community shelters and rescue organizations, filling them to capacity many times over. This October, we hope people will renew their commitment to help these animals that are so in need of forever homes."

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Animal Shelter Dogs Putting Best Paws Forward During 'Adopt a Shelter Dog Month'

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Society promote October as "Adopt a Shelter Dog" month. Statistics state that 5-7 million pets wind up in 5000 shelters each year. Of those shelter pets, 3-4 million are euthanized. With the current economic downturn, more pets are in shelters because owners can no longer afford them.

In an effort to increase adoptions during "Adopt a Shelter Dog" month, Wag'n Tails is enlisting the support of their grooming van owners to groom as many shelter dogs as possible. They are providing free grooming services to animal shelters in October.

The goal is to give professional doggie "make-overs" by expert pet stylists at local shelters. "If we can increase the odds of a dog finding a loving home by giving it groom from a professional stylist then we are willing to do what we can," said Wag'n Tails President Dennis Gnetz.

"The statistics are just so appalling; we surveyed our van owners and most agreed that we should organize this effort. Our grooming van owners provide support like this already but they said we should try to maximize results," Gnetz added.

Wag'n Tails has added an incentive to the effort. The owner that grooms the most shelter pets in October will be awarded a 5 day vacation at a beautiful Caribbean destination resort courtesy of Wag'n Tails.

Wag'n Tails Founder Dina Perry will be grooming dogs in the Granger, Indiana area in October. "I have always supported shelters near my pet related businesses over the years and I'm excited to participate," Perry said.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top tips for a healthy, happy dog

(ARA) – No matter how many canine companions you have or what their ages are, every day is a new opportunity to make their lives happier and healthier. Keep a few simple tips in mind and you’re sure to get four paws up.

Food and water
It’s crucial to always keep a bowl of water available for your dog to make sure they stay properly hydrated, but not just any water will do. Fill your dog’s bowl with fresh water every single day and remember to clean the water bowl regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that could sicken your furry friend. For healthier, great-tasting water, use a pitcher filtration system.

Equally important is the dog food in the bowl next to the water dish. Eating poor-quality food on a daily basis can dramatically impact your dog’s health in the same way eating fried foods frequently can negatively affect your overall health. “Do your research and read labels before deciding on which food to feed your dog,” says nationally renowned veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker. “If some of the first ingredients listed are proteins, then you’ve found a quality recipe.”

Nutro Ultra food for dogs features the Ultrassential Superfood Blend. Superfoods are nutrient-dense whole foods containing high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Common superfoods that are beneficial for both humans and canines include tomatoes, spinach, blueberries, carrots and flaxseed. “Some of the benefits of feeding ‘superfoods’ to dogs can include: a healthy skin and coat which comes from essential fatty acids, lean muscle mass from high-quality proteins, strong teeth and bones from calcium and a strong immune system from antioxidant-rich foods,” says Becker.

When it’s time to treat your best buddy, make sure the treats are high-quality and made specifically for dogs. Remember that treats add calories to your dog’s diet so don’t give too many. Human food can be unhealthy for canines (even deadly, in the case of certain foods like chocolate, grapes and raisins), but if you can’t resist a “people” snack, try giving him a few fresh vegetables like a small carrot or green bean. “A good guideline is that treats should not make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet,” says Becker.

Playtime
The average dog needs about 20-30 minutes of daily exercise or vigorous activity. Just like humans, inactive dogs can suffer from weight gain, muscle loss and even depression and disease. Take your dog for at least one walk every day (it’s good for you too), run around the yard or at an off-leash dog park and have fun playing fetch or tug of war.

To help keep playtime fun, make sure your dog knows basic commands (sit, stay and drop it, for example) and be consistent in using them. Encourage good behavior with lots of positive attention and correct mistakes immediately by redirecting your dog to the correct behavior. Never physically punish your dog as it can lead to aggression and fear biting.

Health
Most cities require dogs to have their shots and be licensed. Make sure to bring your dog to the veterinarian annually (or as recommended) and keep him up to date on shots and medications. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly (at least once per week) to prevent gum disease, the buildup of plaque and costly canine dental procedures down the line.

For more information, visit UltraHolistic.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tobacco Is Toxic For Toto, Too

(NAPSI)-Anyone who is both a smoker and a pet owner can do one very important thing to protect the animal's life and his or her own: Quit smoking. A growing body of research--including the Surgeon General's report--shows there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, for humans or for animals.

Toxins in secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats, plus allergy and respiratory problems for other pets. Yet nearly 30 percent of pet owners live with at least one smoker.

That's why some groups are asking smokers with pets to "take it outside" or, even better, kick the habit altogether.

"While most Americans have been educated about the dangers of smoking to their own bodies and their children's, it is also important that pet owners take action to protect their beloved domestic animals from the dangers of secondhand smoke," said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, the national independent public health foundation dedicated to keeping young people from smoking and providing resources to smokers who want to quit.

"Nicotine from secondhand smoke can affect the nervous systems of cats and dogs," said Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, medical director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center. "Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans. Studies have shown increases in certain types of respiratory cancers in dogs that live in homes with smokers."

The groups hope pet owners who smoke will be motivated to quit once they learn about the dangers to their pets. The foundation provides resources and information to smokers who want to quit for good through a national campaign called EX--as in ex-smoker. It encourages smokers to approach quitting smoking as "re-learning life without cigarettes," which may include putting that cigarette out the next time they take the dog for a walk.

For more information, visit www.becomeanex.org. To join or view the community of smokers who are quitting for the sake of their pets, visit http://community.becomeanex.org/group/quittingforourpets or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.


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Friday, September 18, 2009

Groups Request Expansion of Critical Habitat for the Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

Earlier this week, conservation and animal welfare groups filed a formal request to expand protected habitat for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. The petition, filed with the National Marine Fisheries Service, demonstrates scientific support for expanding existing critical habitat in areas that are essential to feeding, mating, calving, nursing and migration for the fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining in existence.

NMFS has publicly stated that the death of a single right whale may contribute to the species' extinction. Researchers predict right whales are certain to go extinct if the current rate of mortality and serious injury continues. However, saving just two female right whales a year could put the species on a positive path for recovery.

"Every single right whale counts when it comes to ensuring this species' survival," said Sharon Young, marine issues field director for The Humane Society of the United States. "Protecting the right whale's vital feeding, nursery and migratory habitat is the most basic, common-sense step toward moving this species out of the emergency room and onto the path to recovery."

The groups charge that current critical habitat boundaries are inadequate to provide for the survival and recovery of one of the most endangered animals on the planet. Once an area is designated as critical habitat, federal agencies must ensure that their actions will not adversely modify or destroy such habitat.

"Saying you're protecting right whales without sufficiently protecting their habitat is akin to saying you are going to protect sunfish while you drain the pond," said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, senior biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. "Without protecting the places where right whales live, we cannot, in reality, save the species."

"Expanding critical habitat for right whales will ensure that we make intelligent, well-informed decisions about how we use and share our country's marine resources," said Sierra Weaver, attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. "This isn't about walling off the ocean, but rather about looking closely at the impacts of our actions on one of our most iconic wildlife species."

The groups request that three areas used by North Atlantic right whales for essential life functions be added as critical habitat. The petition seeks to expand critical habitat in the whales' only known calving grounds off the coast of northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and in the whales' feeding and nursery grounds throughout the Gulf of Maine. The petition also calls for adding the migration route between the calving and wintering grounds as critical habitat.

"The current critical habitat designated for right whales only protects bits and pieces of the most essential feeding and nursery habitat for the species, and doesn't protect migratory habitat at all," said Andrea Treece, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "If we're going to save the right whale, we have to provide a way for right whale mothers to safely shepherd their young between feeding and nursery grounds."

Despite being listed as endangered since the early 1970s, right whales continue to face serious threats throughout their range. Fishing gear entanglement and vessel strikes are the two most significant threats, killing or injuring at least 18 whales since 2004. Other threats include noise from vessel traffic, marine construction and sonar; offshore energy development; global warming; ocean acidification; and pollution.

"In an increasingly busy ocean, the survival and recovery of the North Atlantic right whale depends on the protection of its essential habitat areas," said Vicki Cornish, director of Marine Wildlife Policy with Ocean Conservancy. "Our demand for ocean resources is increasing, and we must consider the impact we have on the animals that call the ocean home. Protecting the most vital places for the survival of the North Atlantic right whale will help protect the species for generations to come."

The Endangered Species Act requires NMFS to respond to the groups' request within 90 days.

Facts:

The petition for expanded right whale critical habitat was filed on behalf of The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Ocean Conservancy and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
The North Atlantic right whale is a critically endangered marine animal once hunted to near extinction by whalers. The population has struggled to recover, and now fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales remain.
Adult female right whales reproduce slowly — they give birth to one calf every three to four years and do not reach reproductive maturity until age 8.
Maps of the proposed critical habitat areas are available from the media contacts.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zoo Atlanta Prepares For Pandamonium

A black-and-white blowout honoring four of Atlanta’s best-known celebrities will also be the final birthday bash on U.S. soil for one of the city’s most beloved superstars. On Saturday, September 19, 2009, Zoo Atlanta hosts Pandamonium, a family-sized extravaganza honoring the August and September birthdays of giant panda cub Xi Lan, 1; Mei Lan, 3; and Lun Lun and Yang Yang, both 12.

Friends around the world are invited to enjoy panda-centric activities, refreshments, crafts and special keeper talks while the guests of honor enjoy birthday surprises. Guests who arrive between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. can purchase $1 raffle tickets for a chance at one of the Zoo’s rarest and most coveted opportunities: an exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunity to meet one of the giant pandas. Raffle proceeds benefit the Give So They Stay campaign to keep giant pandas in Atlanta.

Fans who have followed the world-famous Mei Lan since her birth on September 6, 2006 are encouraged to attend, as the September 19 event will be her last American birthday party. The 3-year-old female has been recommended for an early 2010 departure for China, where she will be a new and important contributor to the global captive population of giant pandas. The Give So They Stay campaign, launched on June 17, seeks to ensure that her parents Lun Lun and Yang Yang, and, in turn, their species, continue to have a home in Atlanta.

Pandamonium is free for Zoo Atlanta Members and children under 3; free with general admission. Special activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit zooatlanta.org for event details. For news and updates on the Give So They Stay campaign, visit givesotheystay.org.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rabies Cases Among Cats on the Rise

/PRNewswire/ -- While reported cases of rabies in the United States dropped in 2008, veterinarians and public health officials warn that an increase in the number of reported cases in cats poses a health risk to both animals and people.

There were 6,841 reported cases of animal rabies in the United States and Puerto Rico in 2008, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Sept. 15, 2009, edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The number represents a 3.1 percent decrease from the 7,060 rabies cases in animals reported to the CDC in 2007. There were two cases of rabies in humans in 2008, up from one case reported in 2007.

According to the CDC report, rabies continues to affect wildlife much more than it does domestic animals. Wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes, accounted for 93 percent of all rabies cases reported in 2008, the report states.

More work needs to be done, however, when it comes to controlling rabies in pets, especially cats and dogs. Cats led the list of domestic animals with reported cases of rabies in 2008. According to the CDC report, there were 294 reported cases of rabies in cats last year, up about 12 percent from the 262 reported cases in 2007. Dog-related cases totaled 75 in 2008, down from 93 in 2007.

Jesse Blanton, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said cats have more interaction with wildlife, where they are prone to being bitten by a rabid animal, and they aren't getting the vaccinations they need.

"The CDC's general belief is that people are doing a good job vaccinating their dogs, but not their cats," Blanton said. "We have controlled canine rabies through the vaccination of domestic dogs, so we know that vaccinating works."

The belief that cats aren't getting their necessary shots is supported by data from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) report that indicates 36.3 percent of U.S. cat-owning households did not visit a veterinarian in 2006. In contrast, the report, "U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook," indicates that 17.3 percent of dog-owning households did not visit a veterinarian in 2006.

The simple act of vaccinating a pet, Blanton said, provides protection to the animal and the humans with whom it may come in contact. Veterinarians can vaccinate dogs and cats, and they will advise clients on the recommended or required frequency of vaccination needed.

Rabies remains a threat worldwide, killing more than 55,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization. The release of the CDC report comes at an opportune time for continued public education, as World Rabies Day is approaching on Sept. 28. World Rabies Day, now in its third year, aims to raise awareness about the public health impact of human and animal rabies. For more information on World Rabies Day, visit the AVMA's World Rabies Day Web page.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Blue Morpho Month at Callaway Gardens’ Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center

September is Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens’ Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. In addition to the more than 1,000 tropical butterflies flying freely throughout the conservatory, there will be hundreds of spectacular Blue Morpho butterflies.

The Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) is a spectacular iridescent blue butterfly native to the rainforests of South and Central America. The undersides of the wings are brown with eyespots with a contrasting vivid blue color on the outer side. This iridescent color actually results from microscopic scales on the backs of their wings reflecting light, giving the brilliant shimmering blue appearance. As a Blue Morpho flies, its contrasting wing colors of bright blue and dull brown fool the eye and make the morpho look as if it is appearing and disappearing. The word ‘morpho’ actually means change or modify. The flash of the bright blue side of their wings actually startles predators, giving the butterfly time to escape harm. This tropical butterfly is usually a forest dweller but will venture into sunny areas occasionally. It is one of the largest butterflies with a wingspan of 5-8 inches.

Since they feed on juices of rotting fruit, they are usually easy to find in the Day Butterfly Center at the fruit feeders. Blue Morphos often fly in long chains of five or more to make a spectacular sight. Be sure to visit the Day Butterfly Center this month to view these magnificent creatures.

Due to the large size of the Blue Morphos, they make beautiful subjects as they float through the air for photos or video. The best time to photograph butterflies at the Day Butterfly Center is on sunny days before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m. is on sunny days as they are most active between these hours.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shelter Dog in May – Part of Art Exhibit in October

Last May the Rosser family lost their beloved family dog. Rosebud had been a part of the family for more than twelve years. The family missed having a dog around. “I can’t be without a dog for very long,” said Donna Rosser. Two weeks without a dog was enough. She began looking at petfinder.com to find a new member of the family. Rosser concentrated on shelter dogs only; knowing that their time was very limited. She wanted to save one from the fate of being put down.

Donna spotted “Ianna” online. She was at the Henry County Shelter and had been there for almost a month. The online information was brief – it stated she was a puppy and needed TLC. After calling the shelter to see if the dog was still available, Donna and her husband made the drive to Henry County to see her in person and ultimately bring her home. On the way home they chose a new name, Sadie.

Sadie was very thin – skin and bones and in need of a bath. She was also full of ticks. The next day Sadie was seen by a vet and her journey to becoming healthy had begun. The vet estimated her age at 6 to 9 months. A month later found Sadie to be at her normal weight, spayed, tickless, and beginning to show a healthy coat. She gets daily walks, sleeps wherever she wishes, and has become a member of the family. The Rosser family picked September 21 as Sadie’s birthday.

“When I look at her, I am saddened to think about her as a stray and spending those weeks in the shelter,” said Donna. Her favorite treats are dried sweet potato wrapped with duck.

Donna is owner of The Barefoot Photographer®. She teaches workshops and founded a local photography group in 2006. Donna also enters local photography exhibits. In August, Donna entered four photos in the Arts Clayton juried photography competition. Three of her photos made it into the show. One of those three photos is a portrait of Sadie sleeping on the featherbed.

Donna hopes that the story of finding such a gem at the shelter and having people see the photo will help encourage those looking for a new dog, or other pet, to seek out their local shelter first. If you would like to see any pet available at shelters or through rescue groups in your area, petfinder.com is an excellent way to find out what is out there.

Donna Rosser’s photos are part of many personal and commercial collections. Donna has been featured in newspapers and magazines; and her photos have been used on Atlanta news shows. In 2009, she turned to directing Nature, Undisturbed; a juried photography exhibit benefiting the Southern Conservation Land Trust. Her work can be seen at her website http://www.thebarefootphotographer.com/. She also writes a popular blog about her photography and her dog.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ever Wonder if Your Brain is Bigger Than a Sea Turtle Brain?

Join Sandy Toes in the 4th article about her fantastic journey with the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital.

This video shows a cutie pie Kemp's ridley who was rescued on Hilton Head Island. Young Hilton was caught by a fisherman and had to undergo surgery at the Sea Turtle Hospital in Charleston. One look and you, too, will be in love with this active guy.

Do you know how big a sea turtle's brain is? Learn about it on the video. What can we say? These animals are just phenoms of the sea!









Staff Report

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Presents: Eight Million Gallons of Photo Possibilities! Photography Class

Thursday. September 17th (6:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.) and Sunday, September 20th (7:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.)

Class Instructor Bard Wrisley

Join us for an exceptional visual experience of seeing the underwater world through the lens of your camera!

This photography workshop will begin with a short evening seminar on the basics of shooting in this special environment – lighting, exposure, white balance and creative composition for the most dynamic images.

We then meet back for a full morning of shooting at the Aquarium with hands-on instruction from a professional photographer followed by a critique of your best shots!

This fun workshop includes a catered lunch.

Please bring your camera! A digital SLR is by far your best bet in this challenging environment. But if not, you should have a higher end compact camera that has manual focus, to be able to get the great results you want. Also, be sure to bring along plenty of digital memory and fresh batteries. This workshop is geared toward photographers at any level with any camera that has manual focus capabilities.

Cost is $169 for Aquarium members and $195 for non-members. The price includes lunch, admission to the Aquarium and a class photo. Session is limited to 20 participants.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Newborn Great Ape Expected At Zoo Atlanta

Come spring, North America’s foremost collection of orangutans may be hearing the cries of a brand-new redhead. Miri, a 17-year-old Bornean orangutan at Zoo Atlanta, is believed to be expecting her second infant. While conclusive tests have not yet been conducted, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams suspect that Miri is pregnant based on visible swelling of her external reproductive areas. Orangutan gestation is 235 to 270 days, suggesting a March or April delivery.

Miri and her mate, 16-year-old Sulango, have one offspring, Satu. Five-year-old Satu was the first Bornean orangutan born at Zoo Atlanta and remains with his mother. The mother/infant bond is particularly strong in orangutans, which are second only to humans in duration of dependent childhood.

Zoo Atlanta houses the nation’s largest zoological collection of orangutans, with 10 individuals living in separate family groups. Lori Perkins, Director of Animal Programs, serves as chair of the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) and recently hosted a national consortium of animal care and veterinary experts at the annual Orangutan SSP Husbandry Workshop held at Zoo Atlanta.

Native to the island of Borneo in Indonesia, Bornean orangutans are endangered due to habitat loss, over-harvesting of timber and human encroachment. Bornean orangutans are more numerous than their critically endangered Sumatran counterparts, also represented at Zoo Atlanta, but experts predict that both could be extinct in 10 years without targeted conservation efforts.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Second New Manta Ray

Guests invited to name the second manta ray ever displayed in a U.S. aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium announced today the addition of a second manta ray into The Home Depot’s Ocean Voyager gallery, the largest aquarium exhibit in the world with 6.3 million gallons. The addition of the female manta ray makes the Georgia Aquarium the only aquarium in the United States to ever house two manta rays, and one of only four aquariums in the world to display this species. The new manta ray will join the Aquarium’s original manta, Nandi, four whale sharks and thousands of other species of sharks, rays and fish in the exhibit.

The newest female manta, who measures more than 8 feet across and weighs approximately 425 pounds, was collected off of the coast of Florida. The manta ray is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats to manta rays include over fishing while producing few young over a lifetime.

“The Georgia Aquarium is thrilled to grow our manta ray collection with the addition of this second beautiful animal,” said President and COO Anthony Godfrey. “By housing manta rays at the Aquarium, we are able to educate the millions of guests that enter our doors each year about importance of conserving this beautiful creature.”

For the first time in the Aquarium’s history, one lucky person will have the unique opportunity to name a Georgia Aquarium animal. From Sept. 3-Oct. 2, 2009, guests can enter up to five names for the new manta at www.georgiaaquarium.org. One winner will receive an invitation for two to the Planet Shark Opening VIP Party, Planet Shark tickets, four Annual Passes and the opportunity to swim with sharks in the Aquarium's Journey with Gentle Giants program. No purchase necessary.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sandy Toes Takes a Closer Look at Sea Turtles at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital

Our intrepid "Sandy Toes" reporter recently visited the South Carolina Aquarium. In this video Kelly Thorvalson, Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager, gives a bit of background on the Sea Turtle Hospital and we get a sneak peek at Pirate and other rescued sea turtles.

What can we say? We just love these awesome creatures!






This is the third in a series of articles and videos captured by Sandy Toes as she explored the world of sea turtles this summer. Stay tuned for more to come!

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Trout Need Trees Too!

Cold, clean water, adequate cover, plentiful food, and trees; these are just some of the requirements for good trout habitat. While many people probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the living requirements for the brook trout, fortunately for the ‘brookie,’ as the fish is affectionately known amongst anglers, there are some people that do. They not only care about the fish’s habitat needs, but they are willing to spend time doing something about it.

On August 1st, 27 volunteers spent the better part of their Saturday building structures in Stover Creek, a cold-water trout stream in Fannin County, to provide for the habitat needs of the brook trout. “This completes a two year brook trout enhancement project on Stover Creek that included the strengthening of a natural barrier and the installation of 45 habitat improvement structures,” said Jim Wentworth, U.S. Forest Service Biologist for the Blue Ridge Ranger District out of Blairsville.

Stover Creek is a typical cold water stream winding for 1.5 miles through the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County. Volunteers from Trout Unlimited worked with U.S. Forest Service and Georgia Wildlife Resources Division personnel to install wedge dams, cover logs, stream constrictors and channel deflectors within Stover Creek. “Each of these structures has a purpose,” said Wentworth, “Some are designed to provide cover for the trout to hide from predators and some are designed to create pools and faster flowing water to improve feeding and reproduction.”

Brook trout have declined across their range throughout the eastern United States for a number of reasons including poor land use practices, degraded habitat, and the introduction of non-native brown and rainbow trout which can often out-compete native brook trout. In Georgia almost all of the cold water trout streams are located on the Chattahoochee National Forest. In recent years the U.S. Forest Service in cooperation with the Georgia DNR and Trout Unlimited has worked to restore brook trout habitat on a number of these streams.

The Stover Creek project was a cooperative effort involving biologists from the state, the U.S. Forest Service and volunteers from several local chapters of Trout Unlimited. The project was funded by a Gold Rush and Oconee River Chapters of TU Embrace-a Stream grant and a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture grant. Over the last two summers, Trout Unlimited volunteers provided over 700 hours of donated labor to the project. “Thanks to volunteers who are willing to give up their weekends to do hard physical labor in a cold, wet stream, we hope to improve the brook trout’s chances and increase the population in this stretch of Stover Creek,” Wentworth said.

Another aspect of providing for healthy habitat for the brook trout is to ensure proper management of the surrounding forest. Maintaining healthy stream-side forests prevents sediment and pollutants from entering the stream and also provides adequate shade to maintain cold water temperatures that brook trout require.

For additional information on trout populations in north Georgia, please visit the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest website at www.fs.fed.us/conf.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yellowstone Park Foundation Launches Campaign to Protect Bears and Save Lives

/PRNewswire/ -- A fed bear is a dead bear. Most people who live in bear country have heard this clever saying. Some -- like Kerry Gunther, a bear management biologist for Yellowstone National Park -- know first-hand that this warning is all too true.

"Bears that obtain human food eventually become more aggressive toward humans, and may need to be removed from the population," explained Gunther. "Almost every year for the past few years, it has been necessary for a bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to be euthanized for this reason. It's the toughest part of this job."

Wildlife managers know that access to human food is the greatest risk faced by wild bears. Fortunately, there is a solution. The use of large, bear-proof storage containers, or "bear boxes," is a proven method of preventing bears from becoming conditioned to human food.

The problem is that less than 25 percent of campsites in Yellowstone's roadside campgrounds -- the most likely place for a bear to seek and obtain food -- currently have bear boxes.

To address this problem, the Yellowstone Park Foundation -- the official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park -- is offering the public a unique opportunity to Sponsor a Bear Box. For each $1,000 in contributions raised by the Foundation, Yellowstone will purchase and install a bear box in a Park campground.

Yellowstone Park Foundation President Paul Zambernardi says that the goal is to purchase 50 bear boxes to place in top-priority campgrounds. "So far this summer, we've received enough contributions for the Park to install the first ten boxes, but many more are needed to have a significant impact," said Zambernardi.

The first group of sponsored bear boxes was installed last week at Bridge Bay Campground, within prime grizzly habitat along the shore of Yellowstone Lake. The campground's volunteer hosts Diane Browne and Andy Anderson understand the critical need for bear boxes, so much so that they sponsored a box themselves.

"As part of our hosting duties, we need to survey the campground several times each day to make sure that no unsecured food is around to tempt bears and other wildlife," said Diane. "These boxes will make it easier for campers to comply with food storage regulations, keeping them safer as well as the bears."

While donations of any amount are encouraged, groups or individuals who fully sponsor a box will be recognized with a small plaque that is permanently affixed to the box. Learn more at www.ypf.org/bearbox

The nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation has been the official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park since 1996. It funds projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance Yellowstone. Learn more at www.ypf.org.

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