Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Avoid 'lost' signs by tagging your cat

(ARA) - You've seen the posters decorating mailboxes, telephone poles and trees in your neighborhood. The picture of a cat - usually curled up in the sun or giving a curious look to the camera - with "LOST" in bold, capital letters and a contact number underneath. Sadly, less than 5 percent of lost cats make it home.

Many of these lost cats end up in animal shelters, some are adopted by new families and others unfortunately, aren't so lucky. An estimated 70 percent of all animals euthanized each year are cats who enter shelters without identification tags, according to the North Shore Animal League America (NSALA), the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Many shelters are full, and can only hold cats for a few days or less, giving grieving owners limited time to locate their lost pet.

Cat owner and author of "Oh My Dog," Beth Ostrosky Stern is passionate about saving the lives of animals and providing them to loving families. "Through my work with North Shore Animal League America, I have seen firsthand how many cats enter the shelters. I'm a firm supporter of cat tagging to help ensure a safe return home. I would be completely devastated if my cat, Apple, were lost. Having her wear an identification tag is a simple step, but gives me peace of mind that if she were to be lost she can be identified and returned home."

Whether your cat stays inside or roams the outdoors, tagging is the best way to keep him safe. Even indoor cats may sometimes slip through an open door or window for some fresh air so it's important to remember they need identification tags as well. Special cat collars are available also, so that your cat won't get caught on any objects when he's playing inside the home or exploring the great outdoors.

Many cat owners may not know how simple it is to get a tag for their cat. The maker of ARM & HAMMER Super Scoop and Multi-Cat litter products is even offering cat owners the opportunity to receive customized identification tags via mail with the purchase of two ARM & HAMMER cat litters. Visit www.pettagoffer.com for more information.

Tagging cats is just one safety tip. Other tips from NSALA to keep cats healthy, especially during the summer months include:

* Never leave a cat in a car - cats can quickly overheat and die from heatstroke.

* Keep cats inside during a thunderstorm - cats are easily frightened by loud noises and are more at risk of being struck by lightning.

* Check cats daily for fleas and ticks, and talk with a veterinarian about prevention products to keep cats safe.

* Change litter regularly to maintain a fresh and healthy litter box for cats.

* Watch for signs of heat stress, including glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, restlessness, lack of coordination, unconsciousness, deep red or purple tongue and vomiting.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Western lowland gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta

The great ape whose name has become synonymous with motherhood has a new outlet for her considerable parenting skills. Kuchi, a 25-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth to an infant overnight. The newborn is the third offspring for Kuchi and 20-year-old silverback Taz, who is also the father of fraternal twins Kali and Kazi, 4.

“Kuchi has demonstrated over the years that she is a truly remarkable mother,” says Dr. Dwight Lawson, Senior Vice President of Collections, Education and Conservation. “We’re excited about seeing her demonstrate those qualities with another new baby, and particularly about seeing Kali and Kazi interact with their new sibling.”

With the births of Kali and Kazi in 2005, Kuchi achieved national attention as the only known gorilla in captivity ever to rear twins independently – a distinction she still holds. She also has two adult offspring, Stadi, 19, and Lulu, 10.

Home to the nation’s largest collection of gorillas, Zoo Atlanta has an international reputation for social and behavioral research on the critically endangered species. Kuchi’s infant is the 18th western lowland gorilla born at the Zoo since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988.

Kuchi and her new infant are on exhibit now.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A wag is worth a thousand words

(ARA) - Ever get the feeling that your dog knows what you're thinking, without saying a word? Many canine parents report that they've had an entire conversation with their dogs despite the obvious language barrier. From "can I have a treat" to "let's go for a walk," dogs have a special way of sharing their feelings. According to a new survey, it's the wags, not words that tell the story when it comes to canine communication.

The survey, conducted by Kelton Research for Pup-Peroni dog snacks, revealed that most canine pet parents believe that they can communicate with their dogs even though they don't speak the same language - giving a new twist to the old adage, "silence is golden."

Pet owners feel confident that they know what's on their pups' minds, even without the benefit of words. Almost three in four (74 percent) respondents believe their dog's body language or facial expressions better indicate how their pet is truly feeling than barks or other sounds. They also estimate that they know what their dog is thinking nearly half (49 percent) of the time.

Seven in 10 (70 percent) respondents say there have been times when they shared a meaningful look with their canine companions.

"Dogs have an uncanny ability to pick up on even the subtlest cues from their owners, enabling them to 'read' humans like few other animals can," said body language expert Patti Wood. "Even something as minute as a glance from their owner has meaning for a dog."

Wood also points out that our modern dogs' ability to communicate with us seems to be a product of millennia of interaction. "Research shows that, over time, there has been a deliberate selection of dogs with the ability to pick up on cues from humans," she said. "It shows just how important nonverbal communication between dogs and people has always been."

For many pet parents, the special bond they share with their pooch is one of the most important relationships in their lives. Without ever having to say a word, their pups are there for them through the good times and the bad, acting as confidants, therapists and most importantly, their best friends. Maybe it's because of that unspoken connection between canines and humans that people feel their dogs are just as good a source of comfort and companionship as their human friends - or maybe even more so. With a smile and a wag, dogs just know - how many people can say that about their best friend or significant other?

Courtesy of ARAcontent


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Warthog Piglets Debut at Zoo Atlanta

The warthog piglets born to Shirley on April 7, 2010, have made their official debut. The precocious new arrivals were recently reunited with their father, Vern, and are sure to delight Members and guests as they explore the Georgia Power sponsored warthog exhibit Kalahari Connections with their parents.


Warthog piglets are typically weaned by the time they are 6 months old, although older siblings may reside with their mother until her next litter is born. While wild warthog fathers tend to have little or no association with their young, Vern has proven himself a protective and interested parent.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

USAID Works With Private Sector To Encourage Sea Turtle Conservation Efforts

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a diverse group of private sector representatives in San Salvador today, encouraging them to join the sea turtle conservation effort. Sea turtles, which are an endangered species, nest along the Salvadoran coastline.

U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Robert Blau and representatives from USAID participated in a breakfast with business leaders and members of environmental conservation groups, along with two special guests: Biologist Wallace J. Nichols and Oceanographer and Environmental Economist Fabien Cousteau (grandson of Jacques Cousteau, the celebrated French sailor and researcher).

"The U.S. Government is pleased to support the efforts to protect and restore these important natural and economic resources," Blau said. "With the financial support of USAID, studies have been carried out which reveal that this country is the most important country in all of Latin America for the survival of the Hawksbill turtle."

The goal is to establish public-private partnerships to finance both the management of marine resources and the conservation of the turtle species, by raising $1.2 million over the next five years. These funds will aid in the collection, incubation, and release of at least 80 percent of the sea turtle eggs laid on the beaches in El Salvador.

Even just two years ago, human beings had consumed more than 95 percent of the turtle eggs in El Salvador. In February 2009, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources established a complete and permanent ban on the sale and consumption of sea turtles and sea turtle products. As a result, diverse sectors of society are working together more effectively to increase the number of hatcheries in the country. These USAID-supported actions have resulted in the incubation of more than one million turtle eggs. Nevertheless, the challenges continue. Experts estimate that the species remains on the brink of extinction.

Within the sea turtle conservation component of the USAID Improved Management and Conservation of Critical Watersheds Project, USAID has supported the setup and operation of more than 30 hatcheries on beaches which are crucial for sea turtle reproduction. The program's achievements include: the protection of over 120 kilometers of coastline, the release of 900,000 newborn turtles, the development of ecotourism, and the awarding of a $400,000 direct economic incentive to tortugueros (poachers) who now work as beach keepers and are paid for egg collection and beach protection services. Additionally, the project has contributed to diminishing the demand for turtle eggs though a mass media campaign and has promoted a national strategy for the conservation of El Salvador's sea turtles.

It is because of these efforts that Fabien Cousteau is visiting the country. He forms part of the third generation of explorers in his family. Cousteau has proposed innovative solutions to achieve a balance between regional environmental problems and market realities. Together with his father, Jean-Michel Cousteau, he works to explore the oceans and raise awareness about the need to conserve the planet. Cousteau has also launched the Nature Entertainment program to share conservation efforts via the media. This year, he will support sea turtle conservation, motivating various countries to participate in order to release one billion baby turtles into the ocean. El Salvador will be the starting point of this effort, beginning with the inauguration of the hatchery season that is planned for May 7 at San Diego Beach, La Libertad.

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Online again: Atlanta's nesting peregrine falcons!

Atlanta’s highest-flying falcons are parents again, and the world is watching. A Web camera at www.georgiawildlife.com provides frequent updates on the two adult peregrine falcons and their nest outside the 51st-floor offices of the McKenna, Long & Aldridge law firm in downtown Atlanta.

The inside look at these protected raptors is unique, said Jim Ozier, a Nongame Conservation Section program manager with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. “The public wouldn’t have any other opportunity to view a (peregrine) nest in Atlanta, and in prime time,” he said.

Peregrines typically mate for life. The pair nesting on the high-rise balcony has two young this year. The eggs hatched in mid-April. The nestlings will leave the nest at about 5 weeks old.

Jeff Haidet, chairman of the law firm, said the hatching of the falcons is “a sure sign of spring.” “I have a bird's-eye view of the nest from our offices, and am always fascinated to watch the progression of the babies from birth to flight,” Haidet said.

Peregrines were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species because of a successful population recovery effort, but Georgia still lists the birds as rare. Historically, the only known nest in the state was at Cloudland Canyon in the early 1940s. Peregrines were apparently absent for several years during and after the DDT era. Now, there are two known peregrine pairs nesting in Georgia, both in Atlanta. One of the adults at the second nest fledged from the nest on the law firm balcony, said Ozier, who bands the nestlings.

Peregrines are possibly the fastest animal in the world. Their dives, used to catch birds in flight, have been clocked at more than 200 mph.

The public has watched falcons nest at McKenna, Long & Aldridge for six years, thanks to the law firm and a grant from The Garden Club of Georgia. One of the first birds nesting there was released in Atlanta by the state, in partnership with Georgia Power Co. and Zoo Atlanta.

The new falcons will face an urban environment plump with pigeons and other winged prey but also packed with hazards such as traffic and windows. Two of the three peregrines hatched in 2008 were later treated for injuries. One of last year’s peregrines died from injuries, Ozier said.

To see this year’s nest, go to www.georgiawildlife.com and click “Conservation," then “Species of Concern” and the peregrine falcon Web cam link under the “Bird Conservation” label. (Or, go directly to the site at www.georgiawildlife.com/node/615.) The view shows the planter where the birds nest. Images are updated every 30 seconds. Frequently hit your computer’s refresh, or reload page, button.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Co-existing With Coyotes

The distinctive call of the coyote or “song dog” echoes across our state, from the more welcoming rural areas of wooded forests and open fields, to the less inviting backyards of metro Atlanta neighborhoods. Rapid human population growth across the state coupled with the coyote’s unique ability to adapt and thrive, contributes to today’s increased observation of coyotes in urban settings.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages residents to educate themselves and take the proper precautions essential to co-existing with coyotes.

“Historically, coyotes were most commonly found on the Great Plains of North America. However, their range has expanded greatly. They are one of the most adaptable species on the planet. In fact, coyotes have adapted quite well to living in suburbs and cities like Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta,” says John W. Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division assistant chief of Game Management. “Preventive actions are the best solutions for residents to reduce the potential for human-coyote conflicts,” explains Bowers.

Though the coyote’s principal diet typically consists of small rodents and fruit, they are characterized as opportunistic and will prey on small, domestic animals if given the opportunity. Because of this, small house pets (such as cats), young or small livestock and poultry are vulnerable and susceptible prey. The Division advises landowners and homeowners to heed the following precautions to ensure the safety of their animals:

- Take pets indoors during the night, as this is the coyote’s primary hunting time. (In addition to coyotes, small pets may fall prey to free-roaming dogs and great horned owls.)
- If the pet must be kept outside, install fencing and motion-activated flood lights to discourage predators.
- Small livestock or poultry should be kept in an enclosed or sheltered area. Coyotes rarely bother larger livestock although they are often blamed for such nuisance instances. (It should be noted that free-roaming dogs, rather than coyotes, are notorious for harassing, injuring or killing livestock.)

The Division encourages residents to also heed the additional following tips in an effort to minimize coyote habituation to humans and ensure public health and safety:

- NEVER, under any circumstances, feed a coyote.
- Keep items, such as grills, pet food or bird feeders off-limits. Clean and store grills when not in use, keep pet food indoors or feed pets indoors and refill bird feeders infrequently and in small amounts.
- Make trash cans inaccessible. Keep lids securely fastened or store trash cans in a secured location until trash pick-up.

Additional solutions for managing coyotes and the problems they may cause include trapping and/or hunting. Coyotes are not native to Georgia and may be hunted/trapped year-round. The Division does NOT provide trapping services, but maintains a list of licensed trappers permitted to provide this service across the state. To access this listing, visit www.georgiawildlife.com (Select “Permits and Other Services” and then select “Nuisance Wildlife Trapper List”).

“The Division receives numerous calls each year. Most callers report the sighting of a coyote or request coyote relocation,” says Bowers. “Relocation is not a solution. Relocating coyotes only moves the problem into someone else's backyard. It also may result in a slower death from the stress of being released into unfamiliar territory. Trapping and killing habituated or problem coyotes is the only reasonable way to keep them out of backyards.”

While coyotes closely resemble a small dog in appearance, the distinctive characteristics that set the species apart are upright, pointed ears, a pointed snout, low forehead, a mottled color fur pattern ranging from black to reddish-blonde and a bushy tail that is generally carried straight out below the level of the back.

For more information regarding coyotes, visit www.georgiawildlife.com , contact a Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office or call (770) 918-6416.

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