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What the fox! Driver finds wild animal trapped in his car

<p>A motorist has shared the startling moment a fox got trapped in the front grill of his car, after he accidentally hit the wild animal while travelling at 80km/h. </p> <p>While driving down a country road in South Australia on Saturday night, the man behind the wheel said he was shocked when he felt something slam into the car. </p> <p>When he later checked the vehicle, he was astonished to find the angry fox trying to break free from behind the front grill of the car. </p> <p>“Y’all thought you had a bad day,” he can be heard saying while filming the animal furiously biting the front grill in an attempt to escape.</p> <p>In a series of videos posted to TikTok, the man documented the fox's attempts at escape, before informing his followers that he had enlisted the help of a local vet to help free the animal. </p> <p>“Took him to the vet, they sedated him and we got him out safely, the poor guy,” he said, adding he was glad — and impressed — the fox was alive after such a high-speed impact.</p> <p>Throughout his videos, many took to the comments to offer their advice to free the fox, as one person suggested "popping the lid", with the driver explaining that he did but “couldn’t even see him through the bonnet”.</p> <p>The saga has been viewed more than 400,000 times in the past 24 hours, with numerous people saying they were stunned the fox wasn’t seriously injured. “How does this even happen?” one person wondered.</p> <p>“What in the fox is going on here!” another joked, while others pondered how the man would explain the incident to his insurance company.</p> <p>“Insurance would never believe you if you didn’t have that video,” someone else added.</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Why do we love to see unlikely animal friendships? A psychology expert explains

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shane-rogers-575838">Shane Rogers</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>The internet is awash with stories and videos of unlikely animal friendships, often with many millions of views. This content typically shows animals from different species showing affection to one another, signifying a bond or even a “friendship”.</p> <p>These relationships have been captured in people’s homes, such as with <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-10/meet-unlikely-friends-peggy-the-dog-and-molly-the-magpie/100447022">Molly the magpie and Peggy the dog</a>, in zoos, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-04/bear-lion-and-tiger-make-an-affectionate,-gentle-family/7222462">such as with</a> Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger, and even <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BvB0182xag&amp;t=2300s">in the wild</a>, such as one case of <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fox-cat-friendship_n_4268629">a fox and cat living together</a> in Turkey.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fdxU6CpvUgg?wmode=transparent&amp;start=19" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>A plethora of research on <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-66407-w.pdf">primates</a>, <a href="https://blog.mybirdbuddy.com/post/can-birds-form-friendships">birds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-social-lives-of-kangaroos-are-more-complex-than-we-thought-213770">kangaroos</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/male-dolphins-use-their-individual-names-to-build-a-complex-social-network-97780">dolphins</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/8/11/191">horses</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/1/126">cats</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-05669-y">dogs</a> has shown many non-human animals can develop deep social bonds with their own kind.</p> <p>And while inter-species bonding hasn’t been studied to the same extent, videos like those mentioned above show animals from different species displaying the same affection to each other as they would to their own, such as through cuddling, playing and grooming.</p> <p>Why do we, as people, find these stories so enjoyable? Answering this question requires us to consider some of the nicer aspects of our own nature.</p> <h2>When animals reflect us</h2> <p>Witnessing animals get along well together isn’t just cute, it can also make us feel like we have things in common with other species, and feel more connected with the other life on the planet. <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00976/full">Decades of research</a> reveals how feeling connected to nature fosters happiness in humans.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PrJi-P61aLY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=7" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>While the mechanisms behind inter-species bonding are not fully understood, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2022.994504/full">one 2022 research review</a> suggests the mechanisms that operate in other animals’ brains during social interactions with their own are similar to those that operate in human brains.</p> <p>The researchers suggest that, due to the evolution of common brain mechanisms, animals engaged in social interaction may experience similar emotions to humans who engage with their own friends or loved ones.</p> <p>So while it’s very hard to know what this subjective social experience is like for other animals – after all, they can’t report it on a questionnaire – there’s no reason to think it isn’t similar to our own.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZVMsdz7aZpk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=102" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Humans like co-operation and pleasant surprises</h2> <p>Humans have <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2022.0128">evolved to enjoy co-operation</a>, which might also help explain why we enjoy seeing co-operation between different animal species. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/lifematters/competition-versus-cooperation:-which-human-instinct-is-stronge/10291360">Some scholars</a> suggest the human instinct for co-operation is even stronger than our instinct for competition.</p> <p>Another reason we may be drawn to unlikely animal friendships is that they are, in fact, so unlikely. These interactions are surprising, and research shows humans <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/neuroscientists-learn-why/">enjoy being surprised</a>.</p> <p>Our brain has <a href="https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/239331/study-reveals-human-brains-have-evolved/">evolved to be incredibly efficient</a> at categorising, solving problems and learning. Part of the reason we’re so efficient is because we are motivated to seek new knowledge and question what we think we know. In other words, we’re motivated to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635443/">curious</a>.</p> <p>Inter-species friendships are indeed a very curious thing. They contradict the more common assumption and observation that different species stick with their own kind. We might think “cats eat birds, so they must not like each other”. So when we see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGsN7jzp5DE">a cat and a bird</a> getting along like old pals, this challenges our concept of how the natural world works.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bGsN7jzp5DE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Neuroscientists have documented that, when surprised, humans experience a release of brain chemicals responsible for making us <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/unexpected-brain-chemistry-is-behind-the-element-of-surprise/">more alert</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627320308539">sensitive to reward</a>. It is this neurochemical reaction that produces the “pleasantness” in the feeling of being pleasantly surprised.</p> <h2>A desire for peace and harmony</h2> <p>Perhaps another explanation for why humans are so intrigued by inter-species friendships is because they feed a human desire for peace and harmony.</p> <p>These connections may be symbolic of what many people yearn for: a world where differences can be put aside in favour of a peaceful co-existence. These friendships might even prompt us to imagine, consciously or subconsciously, a future in which we become more enlightened as a species.</p> <p>One could argue a key reason behind the success of the TV series <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANnFNfVuZeM">Star Trek</a> is its <a href="https://jacobin.com/2023/08/star-trek-solidarity-utopianism-technology-postcapitalism">optimistic take on the future of humanity</a>. Inter-species co-operation is a central theme of the show.</p> <p>Inter-species friendships may serve as a concrete example of breaking free of the “natural” way of being for a more peaceful way of being. And while it might only be a dream, it’s nice to watch cute animal videos that help us feel like this dream might be possible.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230548/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_BvB0182xag?wmode=transparent&amp;start=1880" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shane-rogers-575838">Shane Rogers</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-we-love-to-see-unlikely-animal-friendships-a-psychology-expert-explains-230548">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Family & Pets

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Elephant tourism often involves cruelty – here are steps toward more humane, animal-friendly excursions

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p>Suju Kali is a 50-year-old elephant in Nepal who has been carrying tourists for over 30 years. Like many elephants I encounter through my <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2022.2028628">research</a>, Suju Kali exhibits anxiety and can be aggressive toward strangers. She suffers from emotional trauma as a result of prolonged, commercial human contact.</p> <p>Like Suju Kali, many animals are trapped within the tourism industry. Some venues have no oversight and little concern for animal or tourist safety. Between 120,000 and 340,000 animals are used globally in a variety of wildlife tourism attractions, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138939">endangered species</a> like elephants. Over a quarter of the world’s <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/7140/45818198">endangered elephants</a> reside in captivity with little oversight.</p> <p>Wildlife tourism – which involves viewing wildlife such as primates or birds in conservation areas, feeding or touching captive or “rehabilitated” wildlife in facilities, and bathing or riding animals like elephants – is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14724049.2022.2156523">tricky business</a>. I know this because I am <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=YbweA2MAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">a researcher studying human relationships with elephants</a> in both tourism and conservation settings within Southeast Asia.</p> <p>These types of experiences have long been an <a href="https://kathmandupost.com/money/2021/06/17/tourism-is-nepal-s-fourth-largest-industry-by-employment-study">extremely popular and profitable</a> part of the <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002074">tourism market</a>. But now, many travel-related organizations are urging people not to participate in, or <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2018/04/27/animal-welfare-travelers-how-enjoy-wildlife-without-harming/544938002/">calling for an outright ban on, interactive wildlife experiences</a>.</p> <p>Tourism vendors have started marketing more “ethical options” for consumers. Some are attempting to truly improve the health and welfare of wildlife, and some are transitioning captive wildlife into touch-free, non-riding or lower-stress environments. In other places, organizations are attempting to <a href="https://www.fao.org/documents/card/es/c/b2c5dad0-b9b9-5a3d-a720-20bf3b9f0dc2/">implement standards of care</a> or create manuals that outline good practices for animal husbandry.</p> <p>This marketing, academics argue, is often simply “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.11.007">greenwashing</a>,” <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2023.2280704">applying marketing labels to make consumers feel better</a> about their choices without making any real changes. Worse, research shows that some programs marketing themselves as ethical tourism may instead be widening economic gaps and harming both humans and other species that they are meant to protect.</p> <h2>No quick fix</h2> <p>For example, rather than tourist dollars trickling down to local struggling families as intended by local governments, many tourism venues are owned by nonresidents, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">meaning the profits do not stay in the area</a>. Likewise, only a small number of residents can afford to own tourism venues, and venues do not provide employment for locals from lower income groups.</p> <p>This economic gap is especially obvious in Nepalese elephant stables: Venue owners continue to make money off elephants, while elephant caregivers continue to work 17 hours a day for about US$21 a month; tourists are led to believe they are “<a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">promoting sustainability</a>.”</p> <p>Yet, there are no easy answers, especially for elephants working in tourism. Moving them to sanctuaries is difficult because with no governmental or global welfare oversight, elephants may end up in worse conditions.</p> <p>Many kindhearted souls who want to “help” elephants know little about their biology and mental health needs, or what it takes to keep them healthy. Also, feeding large animals like Suju Kali is pricey, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14010171">costing around $19,000 yearly</a>. So without profits from riding or other income, owners – or would-be rescuers – can’t maintain elephants. Releasing captive elephants to the jungle is not a choice – many have never learned to live in the wild, so they cannot survive on their own.</p> <h2>Hurting local people</h2> <p>Part of the problem lies with governments, as many have marketed tourism as a way to fund conservation projects. For example in Nepal, a percentage of ticket sales from elephant rides are given to community groups to use for forest preservation and support for local families.</p> <p>Increasing demand for <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Tourism-and-Animal-Ethics/Fennell/p/book/9781032431826">wildlife-based tourism</a> may increase traffic in the area and thus put pressure on local governments to further limit local people’s access to forest resources.</p> <p>This may also lead to <a href="https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/latest/news/un-world-tourism-organisation-urged-create-better-future-animals/">increased demands on local communities</a>, as was the case in Nepal. In the 1970s, the Nepalese government removed local people from their lands in what is now Chitwan National Park as part of increasing “conservation efforts” and changed the protected area’s boundaries. Indigenous “Tharu,” or people of the forest, were forced to abandon their villages and land. While some were offered access to “buffer zones” in the 1990s, many remain poor and landless today.</p> <p>In addition, more and more desirable land surrounding conservation areas in Nepal is being developed for tourist-based businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">pushing local poor people farther away</a> from central village areas and the associated tourism income.</p> <p>Some activists would like humans to simply release all wildlife back into the wild, but <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">there are multiple issues</a> with that. Elephant habitats throughout Southeast Asia have been transformed into croplands, cities or train tracks for human use. Other problems arise from the fact that tourism elephants have <a href="https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315457413">never learned</a> how to be elephants in their natural elements, as they were <a href="https://www.pugetsound.edu/sites/default/files/file/8342_Journal%20of%20Tourism%20%282009%29_0.pdf">separated from their herds</a> at an early age.</p> <p>So tourism may be vital to providing food, care and shelter to captive elephants for the rest of their lives and providing jobs for those who really need them. Because elephants can live beyond 60 years, this can be a large commitment.</p> <h2>How to be an ethical tourist</h2> <p>To protect elephants, tourists should check out reviews and photos from any venue they want to visit, and look for clues that animal welfare might be impacted, such as tourists allowed to feed, hold or ride captive wildlife animals. Look for healthy animals, which means doing research on what “healthy” animals of that species should look like.</p> <p>If a venue lists no-touch demonstrations – “unnatural” behaviors that don’t mimic what an elephant might do of their own accord, such as sitting on a ball or riding a bike, or other performances – remember that the behind-the-scenes training used to achieve these behaviors can be <a href="https://doi.org/10.21832/9781845415051-014">violent, traumatic or coercive</a>.</p> <p>Another way to help people and elephant is to to use small, local companies to book your adventures in your area of interest, rather than paying large, international tourism agencies. Look for locally owned hotels, and wait to book excursions until you arrive so you can use local service providers. Book homestay programs and attend cultural events led by community members; talk to tourists and locals you meet in the target town to get their opinions, and use local guides who provide wildlife viewing opportunities <a href="https://nepaldynamicecotours.com/">while maintaining distance from animals</a>.</p> <p>Or tourists can ask to visit <a href="https://www.americanhumane.org/press-release/global-humane-launches-humane-tourism-certification-program/">venues that are certified</a> by international humane animal organizations and that <a href="https://www.su4e.org/">do not allow contact</a> with wildlife. Or they can opt for guided hikes, canoe or kayak experiences, and other environmentally friendly options.</p> <p>While these suggestions will not guarantee that your excursion is animal-friendly, they will help decrease your impact on wildlife, support local families and encourage venues to stop using elephants as entertainment. Those are good first steps.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219792/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Project Dragonfly, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/elephant-tourism-often-involves-cruelty-here-are-steps-toward-more-humane-animal-friendly-excursions-219792">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Tips

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10 million animals die on our roads each year. Here’s what works (and what doesn’t) to cut the toll

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778">Graeme Coulson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>There’s almost no warning. A dark shape appears on the side of the road, then you feel a jolt as something goes under the car. Or worse, the shape rears up, hits the front of your vehicle, then slams into the windscreen. You have just experienced a wildlife-vehicle collision.</p> <p>This gruesome scene plays out <a href="https://www.bbcearth.com/news/australias-road-kill-map">every night across Australia</a>. When these collisions happen, many animals become instant roadkill. An <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/handle/2123/23121/Thesis%20updated%20for%20library%20submission.pdf?sequence=1">estimated 10 million</a> native mammals, reptiles, birds and other species are killed each year.</p> <p>Others are injured and die away from the road. Some survive with <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">terrible injuries and have to be euthanised</a>. The lucky ones might <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">be rescued</a> by groups such as <a href="https://wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue</a>, <a href="https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/">Wildlife Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.wires.org.au/">WIRES</a>.</p> <p>Wildlife-vehicle collisions also increase the risk to whole populations of some threatened species, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/WR17143">Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo</a> on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland.</p> <p>People are affected, too. Human <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/1742-6723.13361">deaths and injuries</a> from these collisions are rising, with motorcyclists at greatest risk. Vehicle repairs are <a href="https://www.mynrma.com.au/-/media/wildlife-road-safety-report--final.pdf">inconvenient and costly</a>. Added to this is the distress for people when dealing with a dead or dying animal on the roadside.</p> <p>How can we reduce the wildlife toll on our roads? Many measures have been tried and proven largely ineffective. However, other evidence-based approaches can help avoid collisions.</p> <h2>Evidence for what works is limited</h2> <p>Many communities are worried about the growing impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and are desperate for solutions. Recent reports from <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">Europe</a> and <a href="https://westerntransportationinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/4w7576_Huijser_etal_WVC_ConnectivityLiteratureReview_PooledFundStudyFinalReport_2021.pdf">North America</a> review the many methods to reduce such collisions.</p> <p>Do these findings apply to Australia’s unique fauna? Unfortunately, we don’t have a detailed analysis of options for our wildlife, but here’s what we know now.</p> <p>Well-designed fences keep wildlife off our highways but also fragment the landscape. Happily, animals will use crossing structures – overpasses and <a href="https://theconversation.com/good-news-highway-underpasses-for-wildlife-actually-work-187434">underpasses</a> – to get to food and mates on the other side of the road. Fences and crossings do work, but are regarded as too costly over Australia’s vast road network.</p> <p>As for standard wildlife warning signs, drivers <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494358/">ignore most of them</a> after a while, making them ineffective. Signs with graphic images and variable messages get <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani3041142">more attention</a>, but we need road trials to assess their effect on drivers and collision rates.</p> <h2>Whistling in the dark</h2> <p>Some drivers install cheap, wind-driven, high-pitched wildlife whistles on their vehicles. Tests in the United States 20 years ago found humans and deer <a href="https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1582071">could not hear any whistling sound</a> above the road noise of the test vehicle. Yet these devices are still sold in Australia as kangaroo deterrents.</p> <p>The Shu-Roo, an Australian invention, is an active wildlife whistle. It is fitted to the bumper bar, producing a high-pitched electronic sound, which is claimed to scare wildlife away from the road. Sadly, <a href="https://rest.neptune-prod.its.unimelb.edu.au/server/api/core/bitstreams/3c3154e0-2f48-5b73-a6cd-a7423c2a75ee/content">our tests</a> show the Shu-Roo signal can’t be heard above road noise 50 metres away and has no effect on captive kangaroo behaviour.</p> <p>We also recruited fleets of trucks, buses, vans, utes and cars to field test the Shu-Roo. Nearly 100 vehicles covered more than 4 million kilometres across Australia over 15,500 days. The drivers reported just over one wildlife-vehicle collision per 100,000km travelled, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2021.042">there was no difference in the rate</a> for vehicles fitted with a Shu-Roo versus those without one.</p> <p>The virtual fence is the latest attempt to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. It uses a line of posts spaced along the roadside, each with a unit producing loud sounds and flashing lights aimed away from the road. Vehicle headlights activate the units, which are claimed to alert animals and reduce the risk of collision.</p> <p>Early results from Tasmania were encouraging. A 50% drop in possum and wallaby deaths was reported, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/AM19009">this trial had many design flaws</a>. Recent trials in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/10/752">Tasmania</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/10/1323">New South Wales</a> and <a href="https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/downloads/download/292/virtual_fence_to_reduce_vehicle_collisions_with_wallabies_on_heinemann_rd_-_final_report_2020">Queensland</a> show no effect of virtual fencing on collisions with possums, wallabies or wombats.</p> <p>Our concern is that this system is being <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-02/wildlife-fence-trial-underway-in-queensland-and-phillip-island/12268110">rolled out</a> in <a href="https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/about-council/news-and-publications/media-releases/2023/june/councils-innovative-trial-helping-keep-local-wildlife-safe">many</a> <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-26/nsw-south-coast-council-first-virtual-fence-to-protect-wildlife/101571600">parts</a> of <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/the-stealth-tech-aiming-to-stop-roos-from-becoming-roadkill-20231222-p5etda.html">Australia</a>. It gives the impression of action to reduce collisions with wildlife, but without an evidence base, solid study design or adequate monitoring.</p> <h2>A very messy problem</h2> <p>The problem has many dimensions. We need to consider all of them to achieve safe travel for people and animals on our roads.</p> <p>At a landscape level, collision hotspots occur where wildlife frequently cross roads, which can help us predict the collision risk for species such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13465">koalas</a>. But the risk differs between species. For example, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01530">on Phillip Island</a> most wallaby collisions happen on rural roads, while most involving possums and birds are in urban streets.</p> <p>Traffic volume and speed are key factors for many species, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2306">kangaroos</a>.</p> <p>Driver training and experience are also important. In the Royal National Park in New South Wales, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/6/6/40">half the drivers surveyed</a> had struck animals, including wallabies and deer. Yet most still <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">weren’t keen</a> to slow down or avoid driving at dawn and dusk.</p> <p>Road design has a major influence on wildlife-vehicle collions too, but the planning process too often <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2022.959918">neglects wildlife studies</a>.</p> <p>Smarter cars are <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">being developed</a>. One day these will use AI to spot animal hazards, apply automatic emergency braking and alert other drivers of real-time risk.</p> <p>To explore potential technological solutions, Transport for NSW is running a <a href="https://www.eianz.org/events/event/symposium-using-technology-to-reduce-wildlife-vehicle-collisions">symposium</a> at the University of Technology Sydney on May 21. The symposium will cover wildlife ecology and the evidence base for options to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in Australia.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If you see an injured animal on the road, call <a href="https://www.wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue Australia</a> on 1300 596 457. for specific state and territory numbers, go to the <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">RSPCA injured wildlife site</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222367/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778"><em>Graeme Coulson</em></a><em>, Honorary Principal Fellow, School of BioSciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-die-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-what-works-and-what-doesnt-to-cut-the-toll-222367">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Is it okay to kiss your pet? The risk of animal-borne diseases is small, but real

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-mclean-1351935">Sarah McLean</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/enzo-palombo-249510">Enzo Palombo</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Our relationship with pets has changed drastically in recent decades. Pet ownership is at an all-time high, with <a href="https://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/media-release/more-than-two-thirds-of-australian-households-now-own-a-pet/">a recent survey</a> finding 69% of Australian households have at least one pet. We spend an estimated A$33 billion every year on caring for our fur babies.</p> <p>While owning a pet is linked to numerous <a href="https://www.onehealth.org/blog/10-mental-physical-health-benefits-of-having-pets">mental and physical health benefits</a>, our pets can also harbour infectious diseases that can sometimes be passed on to us. For most people, the risk is low.</p> <p>But some, such as pregnant people and those with weakened immune systems, are at <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/specific-groups/high-risk/index.html">greater risk</a> of getting sick from animals. So, it’s important to know the risks and take necessary precautions to prevent infections.</p> <h2>What diseases can pets carry?</h2> <p>Infectious diseases that move from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases or <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html">zoonoses</a>. More than <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3668296/#B18">70 pathogens</a> of companion animals are known to be transmissible to people.</p> <p>Sometimes, a pet that has a zoonotic pathogen may look sick. But often there may be no visible symptoms, making it easier for you to catch it, because you don’t suspect your pet of harbouring germs.</p> <p>Zoonoses can be transmitted directly from pets to humans, such as through contact with saliva, bodily fluids and faeces, or indirectly, such as through contact with contaminated bedding, soil, food or water.</p> <p>Studies suggest <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500695/">the prevalence of pet-associated zoonoses is low</a>. However, the true number of infections is likely <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/11/3789">underestimated</a> since many zoonoses are not “<a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/notification-of-illness-and-disease">notifiable</a>”, or may have multiple exposure pathways or generic symptoms.</p> <p>Dogs and cats are major reservoirs of zoonotic infections (meaning the pathogens naturally live in their population) caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. <a href="https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/topics/rabies">In endemic regions in Africa and Asia</a>, dogs are the main source of rabies which is transmitted through saliva.</p> <p>Dogs also commonly carry <em>Capnocytophaga</em> bacteria <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/capnocytophaga/index.html">in their mouths and saliva</a>, which can be transmitted to people through close contact or bites. The vast majority of people won’t get sick, but these bacteria can occasionally cause infections in people with weakened immune systems, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/capnocytophaga/signs-symptoms/index.html">resulting</a> in severe illness and sometimes death. Just last week, such a death <a href="https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/tracy-ridout-perth-mum-dies-11-days-after-rare-bacterial-infection-from-minor-dog-bite-c-11748887">was reported in Western Australia</a>.</p> <p>Cat-associated zoonoses include a number of illnesses spread by the faecal-oral route, such as giardiasis, campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis and toxoplasmosis. This means it’s especially important to wash your hands or use gloves whenever handling your cat’s litter tray.</p> <p>Cats can also sometimes transmit infections through bites and scratches, including the aptly named <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/cat-scratch.html#:%7E:text=Cat%20scratch%20disease%20(CSD)%20is,the%20surface%20of%20the%20skin.">cat scratch disease</a>, which is caused by the bacterium <em>Bartonella henselae</em>.</p> <p>Both dogs and cats are also reservoirs for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10122942/">methicillin-resistant bacterium <em>Staphylococcus aureus</em></a> (MRSA), with close contact with pets identified as an important risk factor for zoonotic transmission.</p> <h2>Birds, turtles and fish can also transmit disease</h2> <p>But it’s not just dogs and cats that can spread diseases to humans. Pet birds can occasionally transmit <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/atypical/psittacosis/">psittacosis</a>, a bacterial infection which causes pneumonia. Contact with <a href="https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/pet-turtles-source-germs">pet turtles</a> has been linked to <em>Salmonella</em> infections in humans, particularly in young children. Even pet fish have been linked to a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/fish.html">range of bacterial infections</a> in humans, including vibriosis, mycobacteriosis and salmonellosis.</p> <p>Close contact with animals – and some behaviours in particular – increase the risk of zoonotic transmission. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19398275/">A study from the Netherlands</a> found half of owners allowed pets to lick their faces, and 18% allowed dogs to share their bed. (Sharing a bed increases the duration of exposure to pathogens carried by pets.) The same study found 45% of cat owners allowed their cat to jump onto the kitchen sink.</p> <p>Kissing pets has also been linked to occasional zoonotic infections in pet owners. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298380/">In one case</a>, a woman in Japan developed meningitis due to <em>Pasteurella multicoda</em> infection, after regularly kissing her dog’s face. These bacteria are often found in the oral cavities of dogs and cats.</p> <p>Young children are also more likely to engage in behaviours which increase their risk of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/specific-groups/high-risk/children.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fhealthypets%2Fspecific-groups%2Fchildren.html">getting sick</a> from animal-borne diseases – such as putting their hands in their mouth after touching pets. Children are also less likely to wash their hands properly after handling pets.</p> <p>Although anybody who comes into contact with a zoonotic pathogen via their pet can become sick, certain people are more likely to suffer from serious illness. These people include the young, old, pregnant and immunosuppressed.</p> <p>For example, while most people infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite will experience only mild illness, it can be life-threatening or <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/what-are-the-risks-of-toxoplasmosis-during-pregnancy/">cause birth defects in foetuses</a>.</p> <h2>What should I do if I’m worried about catching a disease from my pet?</h2> <p>There are a number of good hygiene and pet husbandry practices that can reduce your risk of becoming sick. These include:</p> <ul> <li>washing your hands after playing with your pet and after handling their bedding, toys, or cleaning up faeces</li> <li>not allowing your pets to lick your face or open wounds</li> <li>supervising young children when they are playing with pets and when washing their hands after playing with pets</li> <li>wearing gloves when changing litter trays or cleaning aquariums</li> <li>wetting bird cage surfaces when cleaning to minimise aerosols</li> <li>keeping pets out of the kitchen (especially cats who can jump onto food preparation surfaces)</li> <li>keeping up to date with preventative veterinary care, including vaccinations and worm and tick treatments</li> <li>seeking veterinary care if you think your pet is unwell.</li> </ul> <p>It is especially important for those who are at a higher risk of illness to take precautions to reduce their exposure to zoonotic pathogens. And if you’re thinking about getting a pet, ask your vet which type of animal would best suit your personal circumstances.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/210898/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-mclean-1351935">Sarah McLean</a>, Lecturer in environmental health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/enzo-palombo-249510">Enzo Palombo</a>, Professor of Microbiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-it-okay-to-kiss-your-pet-the-risk-of-animal-borne-diseases-is-small-but-real-210898">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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An expert’s top 5 reasons why dogs can be considered exceptional animals

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103">Melissa Starling</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Dogs are important to a lot of humans, but what makes them so?</p> <p>Apart from being warm, soft and capable of inspiring our unconditional love, there are a number of unique characteristics that set dogs apart from other animals.</p> <p>As a dog researcher, animal behaviour consultant and canophile (which means I <em>love</em> dogs), let me share five traits that I think make dogs so special.</p> <h2>Dogs are hypersocial</h2> <p>We all know those golden retriever-type dogs that appear absurdly delighted to meet any new social being. It’s hard not to be taken in by their infectious friendliness. These furry, hypersocial creatures have some key genetic differences even to other domestic dogs.</p> <p>Most fascinatingly, these genetic differences are in the area of the genome <a href="https://www.insidescience.org/news/rare-human-syndrome-may-explain-why-dogs-are-so-friendly">associated</a> with hypersociability in people with a genetic condition called Williams-Beuren syndrome. Although people with this syndrome experience negative health effects, they also tend to be very open, engaging and sociable.</p> <p>Not all dogs fall into this hypersocial category – but even those that don’t are unusually accepting of unfamiliar people and dogs.</p> <p>Unlike other social wild canids such as wolves, domestic dogs can quite happily live in harmony with different species, as well as individuals of their own species that aren’t from their family. This is what makes it so easy to slot dogs into our lives.</p> <h2>Dogs are wired to understand us</h2> <p>Humans have selectively bred dogs for many generations. And in many cases, we’ve bred them to take direction to help us in a wide variety of jobs – including being companions to us. This has led to domestic dogs being born with an interest in humans.</p> <p>From an early age, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982221006023">puppies are attracted</a> to human faces. While dogs are as co-operative as wolves, they tend to be submissive towards humans and follow our directions – whereas wolves are bolder and more likely to lead when <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1709027114">co-operating with humans</a>.</p> <p>Dogs also learn to follow our gaze, and show a left-gaze bias when looking at human faces. This means they spend more time looking at the left side of our faces (which would be the right side from our perspective). This bias emerges in several species when they are processing emotional information, which shows that dogs are <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0152393">reading our faces</a> to figure out how we’re feeling.</p> <p>For a while it was also thought dogs were particularly attentive to human gestures such as pointing – but recent research suggests many domestic species and some wild animal species can also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7555673/">follow pointing</a>.</p> <h2>Dogs come in countless shapes and sizes</h2> <p>No other species comes in such a huge variety of shapes and sizes as domestic dogs. Not even cats or horses display the same diversity.</p> <p>The largest dogs may be close to 25 times the size of the smallest! Beyond that, we have dogs with drop ears and prick ears and everything in between, tails and no tails, or bob tails, short legs and long legs, long noses and short noses – and a huge variety of coat colours, lengths and textures.</p> <p>For dogs, this huge variation might mean they have more to learn than other animals when it comes to understanding their own kind. For example, owners of herding breed dogs may find their dog a bit confused, or even defensive, when meeting a very different short-faced breed such as a bulldog.</p> <p>For us, it means we should appreciate how the size and shape of dogs can influence <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149403">their behaviour</a> and experiences. For instance, dogs with longer noses have sharper vision, while dogs with a lighter build tend to be more energetic and fearful.</p> <h2>Dogs form deep emotional bonds</h2> <p>Domestic dogs have been shown to form attachment bonds with human caregivers that are very similar to those formed between <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0065296">children and parents</a>.</p> <p>This may partly explain why they can read our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10426098/">emotional signals</a>, why they become distressed (and try to help us) when <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0231742">we are distressed</a>, and why MRI studies show dogs are happy when they smell <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635714000473">their owners</a>.</p> <p>It may also be why they panic when separated from us. Dogs’ attachment to humans goes beyond being hypersocial. To them, we are a lot more than the food we provide and the balls we throw. We are an attachment figure akin to a parent.</p> <h2>Dogs can help us be our best selves</h2> <p>Most dog owners would agree their dog brings out the best in them. They can confide in their dog and love them unconditionally – sometimes more easily than they can another human.</p> <p>Dogs are playing important roles in animal-assisted therapy, where their nonjudgmental presence can be a calming influence and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40489-019-00188-5">facilitate social interactions</a>. They can even help children <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10643-022-01392-5">learn to read</a> and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/10/21/5171">alleviate anxiety</a>.</p> <p>Although assisting humans with their emotional problems can be a difficult task for such an emotionally sensitive species, research suggests the right dogs can rise to the task if their workload is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787818302193">managed carefully</a>.</p> <p>Horses are also used in animal-assisted therapy, as are some smaller furry animals. However, dogs are more portable and can remain at ease in stimulating environments such as courtrooms, schools and airports. They are uniquely placed to accompany us wherever we go.</p> <h2>Paws for thought</h2> <p>We might like to think dogs are special for some of the traits we value in humans, such as intelligence, selflessness or a loving nature. But really dogs are exceptional for simply being dogs.</p> <p>They are social acrobats that can find social harmony wherever they go. They have rich emotional lives in which they co-exist with different species and can even forge bonds <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89dCR3VinMM&amp;ab_channel=WCCO-CBSMinnesota">outside of their own species</a>.</p> <p>They are also generally tolerant of our primate ways – and good at receiving our love. And for me that’s enough.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211832/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103">Melissa Starling</a>, Postdoctoral Researcher in Veterinary Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-experts-top-5-reasons-why-dogs-can-be-considered-exceptional-animals-211832">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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10 reasons humans kill animals – and why we can’t avoid it

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/benjamin-allen-100036">Benjamin Allen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069"><em>University of Southern Queensland</em></a></em></p> <p>As long as humans have existed, they’ve killed animals. But the necessity of some types of animal killing are now questioned by many. So can humans ever stop killing animals entirely? And if not, what’s the best way forward?</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723039062">New research</a> I led investigates these questions. My colleagues and I identified the ten main reasons why humans kill animals. We found the need for some types of animal killing is questionable, but several forms are inescapable – a necessary part of humanity’s involvement in a single, functioning, finite global food web.</p> <p>But the debate doesn’t end there. Even if humans must kill animals in some cases, they can modify their behaviours to improve the welfare of animals while they are alive, and to reduce an animal’s suffering when it is killed.</p> <p>Doing so may improve the lives of animals to a greater extent than efforts to eliminate human killing entirely.</p> <h2>Why humans kill animals</h2> <p>Critics of animal-killing come from a variety of perspectives. Some oppose it on <a href="http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0048-9697(23)03906-2/rf0005">moral grounds</a>. Others claim animals should have <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.13494">rights equal</a> to humans, and say animal killing is a criminal act. Many people view any animal killing as <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.13126">cruel</a>, regardless of whether the animal suffers.</p> <p>But as valid and important as these views might be, they largely fail to address <em>why</em> humans kill animals – and why in many cases, it can’t be avoided. Our research sought to shed light on this.</p> <p>We focus our discussion on vertebrate animals which are almost universally recognised as “sentient” (or able to perceive and feel things). We identified ten main reasons humans kill animals:</p> <p><strong>1. Wild harvest or food acquisition:</strong> such as killing wild animals for meat</p> <p><strong>2. Human health and safety:</strong> such as reactively killing an animal when it attacks you</p> <p><strong>3. Agriculture and aquaculture:</strong> such as killing that occurs in the global meat industries, or killing required to produce crops</p> <p><strong>4. Urbanisation and industrialisation:</strong> such as clearing bushland to build homes</p> <p><strong>5. Wildlife control:</strong> such as programs that eradicate introduced animals to stop them killing native ones</p> <p><strong>6. Threatened species conservation:</strong> such as unintentionally killing animals when relocating them</p> <p><strong>7. Recreation, sport or entertainment:</strong> such as trophy hunting or bull fighting, and animal killing required to feed domestic pets</p> <p><strong>8. Mercy or compassion:</strong> such as euthanasing an animal hit by a car</p> <p><strong>9. Cultural and religious practice:</strong> such as animal sacrifice during the Islamic celebration of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/01/sydney-muslims-take-eid-al-adha-livestock-sacrifice-into-their-own-hands">Eid al-Adha</a>, or those associated with the <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/1594756">Yoruba</a> religion of West Africa</p> <p><strong>10. Research, education and testing:</strong> such as the laboratory use of rodents or primates.</p> <h2>Understanding human killing behaviour</h2> <p>So how best should we understand the above types of animal killing? Our research considers them in ecological terms – as behaviours consistent with our predatory and competitive roles in the global food web. Such behaviours are intended to improve human prospects for acquiring food or to protect and enhance life. These are innate life objectives for any sentient animal.</p> <p>Maintenance of all life on Earth requires obtaining, using, disposing of and recycling chemical elements. Ecosystems can be thought of as a “battleground” for these elements.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/peter-singers-fresh-take-on-animal-liberation-a-book-that-changed-the-world-but-not-enough-205830">Some people argue</a> that directly killing animals is unacceptable, or that adopting certain lifestyles or diets, such as veganism, can eliminate or greatly reduce animal killing. But in our view, achieving a no-killing lifestyle is a physical and ecological impossibility.</p> <p>For instance, most plant foods come from crops grown on land where animals have been <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/5/1225">killed or displaced</a>. And while an animal-free diet for humans might temporarily reduce the number of animals killed, this won’t last forever. As human populations continue to grow, more land will eventually be needed to meet their food requirements. At that point, humans will have to directly or indirectly kill animals again or risk dying themselves.</p> <p>Humans also need space to live, which <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723039062?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=7e2e8f44ae1aaae3#bbb1045">results in</a> animal killing when habitat is razed.</p> <p>Of course, in rare cases an individual human may live without killing animals directly. Perhaps they live in a cave in the forest, and get sustenance from wild berries and mushrooms. But that human still lives inside the food web, and is competing against other animals for finite resources. In these cases, other animals may suffer and die because the human’s use of berries and caves leaves less food and space for them.</p> <p>Even if that human could do no harm at all to any animal, it’s still impossible for societies at large to live in this way.</p> <p>Some forms of animal killing are certainly not essential for human existence. Good examples are recreational hunting, euthanasia or keeping pets (which requires killing animals to feed them). And we certainly do not condone direct human participation in all forms of animal killing.</p> <p>It’s also important to note that in many cases, current levels of animal killing are <a href="https://www.opsociety.org/stop-unsustainable-fishing/">unsustainable</a>. Human populations have increased to the point where animals must be killed on enormous scales to feed, house and protect ourselves. If this continues, animal <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723039062?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=7e2e8f44ae1aaae3#bbb0905">populations</a> will <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723039062?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=7e2e8f44ae1aaae3#bbb0910">crash</a> – and with them, human populations.</p> <p>Nevertheless, we maintain that the overall necessity of animal killing is an unavoidable reality for humanity as a whole. A variety of direct and indirect forms of animal killing will undoubtedly remain an ongoing human endeavour.</p> <h2>Taking responsibility</h2> <p>So what are the implications of all this? We hope our research leads to a constructive dialogue, which starts with accepting that human existence on Earth is dependent on animal killing. It should then focus on the nuances of animal welfare and sustainability.</p> <p>Humans are the only known animals with an ethical or moral conscience. That means we have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723039062?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=7e2e8f44ae1aaae3#bbb0650">a responsibility</a> to assume a stewardship role over all other animals, to resolve negative interactions between them as best as possible, and to ensure good welfare for as many animals as we can.</p> <p>Directing our attention in this way is likely to improve the lives of animals to a greater extent than trying to prevent humans from killing animals altogether – efforts my colleagues and I believe will ultimately be in vain.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/209218/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/benjamin-allen-100036"><em>Benjamin Allen</em></a><em>, Wildlife ecologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-reasons-humans-kill-animals-and-why-we-cant-avoid-it-209218">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Disturbing footage of dingo attacks revealed

<p dir="ltr">Disturbing footage of dingo attacks have been released by rangers following multiple attacks in a popular camping spot that occurred just weeks apart.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tourists have been warned to be wary of the wild animals after shocking footage emerged of a tourist being nipped while sunbathing.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video comes just weeks before a 10-year-old boy was attacked and dragged underwater by a dingo at K’gari Island – formerly known as Fraser Island – on June 16.</p> <p dir="ltr">The boy sustained puncture wounds to his shoulder and bruises to his collarbone because of the accident, which happened in front of a popular camping spot on the island.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The boy’s 12-year-old-sister who was nearby reacted quickly and ran to assist him,” Assistant principal ranger Danielle Mansfield said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The family treated the boy for puncture wounds to his shoulder and arms and scratches and bruises on his collarbone and arm.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mansfield also said that rangers were closely monitoring the dingo responsible for the attack, which had blood splatters across its face and paws following the attack, although there are currently no plans to euthanise it.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two months ago, a similar attack occurred where a primary school-aged girl was<a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/child-hospitalised-from-dingo-attack" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> hospitalised following a dingo attack</a> while swimming. The girl suffered bites to her head and fingers after the dingo attempted to drag her underwater.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rangers have also released dashcam footage of another dingo chasing a young boy and an adult male, in an area close to where the 10-year-old boy was attacked, just two weeks before the unfortunate incident.</p> <p dir="ltr">The dingo was euthanised for “poor behaviour”.</p> <p dir="ltr">This comes a few weeks after another dingo was euthanised following a string of attacks, including a sunbathing tourist, a seven-year-old boy and a 42-year-old woman.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dingoes are native to K’gari Island, but a few of them fail to show any wariness towards people, and are increasingly brazen as a result of people deliberately or unintentionally feeding them, rangers said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have increased patrols in the region to monitor the wongari’s (dingo’s) behaviour and pass on dingo-safe messaging to campers and visitors,” Mansfield said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“These animals are capable of inflicting serious harm, and they have bitten children and adults, and some are quite brazen and are not fleeing when yelled at or when someone brandishes a stick.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“People think it won’t happen to them, but it can happen to anyone and that’s why rangers are providing dingo-safe information to as many people as possible,” she added.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We don’t want any incidents on K’gari, and people must understand that dingoes are wild animals and should never be fed or interacted with.”</p> <p><em>Images: Queensland Department of Environment and Science / News.com.au</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Are the Oscars going to take animated films more seriously?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-boucaut-1215760">Robert Boucaut</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p>“Animation is cinema. Animation is not a genre. And, animation is ready to be taken to the next step – we are all ready for it, please help us, keep animation in the conversation.”</p> <p>This was Guillermo del Toro’s testament accepting the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2023 for <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1488589/">Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio</a>, released by Netflix. As one of the most acclaimed modern auteurs – and one who has <a href="https://www.avclub.com/guillermo-del-toro-is-going-all-in-on-animation-1850539253">announced his intention to stick with animation</a> as his preferred medium – his acceptance speech reads like a plea directly to the academy.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/shW9i6k8cB0?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Animated films at the Oscars</h2> <p>The Oscars have had a storied history of engaging with animated cinema. Since 2002, they have awarded a Best Animated Feature award, first won by Shrek. This was a time of technological innovations for 3D animation (think Toy Story or A Bug’s Life), and of standout A-list voice performances (Robin Williams in Aladdin, or Shrek’s star-studded cast).</p> <p>By including animated films as a standalone category, the Oscars ended up segregating them: animation was treated as its own thing. Beauty and the Beast broke ground as the first-ever animated nominee for the Best Picture Oscar in 1992, but only two films have achieved such a feat since.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iurbZwxKFUE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010) were Best Picture Oscar nominees (and Best Animated Feature winners) of their respective years. However, such recognition only came after the academy expanded its Best Picture category from five nominees to up to 10. This was a concerted effort to include more popular films in the Oscars due to waning audience interest, after Best Picture snubs of The Dark Knight and WALL-E.</p> <p>If animated films have had difficulty breaking into the Oscars’ vision of a Best Picture, then voice talent has been outright bypassed for consideration in acting categories. Since Shrek, stars have increasingly taken on voice work for animated projects in ways that elevates them from a side-hustle to key parts of their CVs.</p> <p>For instance, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L1iX5JiuwI">Chris Pratt</a> and <a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/anya-taylor-joy-princess-peach-super-mario-premiere">Anya Taylor-Joy</a>’s promotional duties for The Super Mario Bros. Movie represent significant time and stardom investments for the sake of animated intellectual property.</p> <p>Yet without the physical body to observe, the Oscars have ignored voice work in animated films. The most meaningful push to have a voice performance nominated was for Scarlett Johansson’s in Her where she played a computer operating system. Johansson’s performance was nuanced, played with chemistry against her co-stars, and, ironically, Her was not an animated film.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dJTU48_yghs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Are things changing?</h2> <p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/winning-everything-everywhere-all-at-once-5-experts-on-the-big-moments-at-the-oscars-2023-201661">Oscars this year</a> shifted their brand of “prestige” to value the “cinematic experience” (and box office money) in the age of streaming.</p> <p>The sweep of Everything Everywhere All at Once and Best Picture nominations for Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water in 2023 signal the academy conspicuously praising populist fare for bringing audiences into the physical cinema. This then hopefully attracts <a href="https://variety.com/2023/tv/news/2023-oscar-ratings-academy-awards-audience-1235550070/">more audience eyeballs to an Oscars telecast</a> where they are likely to have actually seen some of the nominees.</p> <p>Popular film’s infiltration of the Oscars even seeped into the acting categories. Everything Everywhere All At Once’s indie cred made nominations (and three eventual wins) for its stars logical and welcome, but even Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Angela Bassett scored a Best Supporting Actress nomination, the first acting recognition for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its online fandom was instrumental here, having opined the academy’s biases against their beloved franchise.</p> <p>Now, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has arrived ahead of the 2024 Oscars race. The animated film boasts a star-studded cast, including past Oscar nominees and winners like Daniel Kaluuya and Hailee Steinfeld in key supporting roles. Shameik Moore’s lead vocal performance as Miles Morales is also exceptional. Still figuring out what it means to balance being Spider-Man with a complicated home and social life, he sounds remarkably recognisable as a modern teenager.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cqGjhVJWtEg?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Credit for this extends to a snappy script and intricate editing that bounces through its complex multiverse setting and superhero super-stakes to focus on moving character development. Thematically, it reflects on the artistic value of the superhero genre, unpacking the Spider-Man lore across its many iterations. And, of course, the visual artistry on display is mind-blowing, truly pushing cinematic excess in ways that only animation (currently) can.</p> <p>Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the kind of popular cinema that the academy is currently primed to take more seriously. It’s on track to become one of the year’s box office successes, serves a dedicated fandom, showcases a stacked cast and dynamically plays with genre and narrative conventions.</p> <p>As part two of a trilogy, it is unlikely to take out the Best Picture race altogether (Beyond the Spider-Verse, coming in 2024, is the more likely candidate if it sticks the landing). But it is still well-positioned to break through the confines of the Best Animated Feature category.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207716/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-boucaut-1215760">Robert Boucaut</a>, PhD Candidate &amp; Tutor, Media Department, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-the-oscars-going-to-take-animated-films-more-seriously-207716">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Sony Pictures Animation</em></p>

Movies

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Flight attendant’s animated safety demonstration goes viral

<p dir="ltr">Sitting through the safety demonstration on an aeroplane can be tedious, but it is essential and necessary for every flight, so one flight attendant has gone the extra mile to make sure people are paying attention.</p> <p dir="ltr">On board a JetBlue flight from Newark to Tampa in the US, the flight attendant was captured performing his theatrical “mime routine” which attracted millions of views worldwide. </p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@coaaf/video/7234948734910483755" target="_blank" rel="noopener">video</a> uploaded to TikTok, which raked in more than 2 million views, showed the flight attendant theatrically gesturing along to the safety demonstration. </p> <p dir="ltr">Users took note of his micro-expressions as he showed passengers how to blow into the whistle before he dramatically “whipped” out of view as he mimed where the emergency exits on the plane were.</p> <p dir="ltr">The person who uploaded the video to TikTok, Joey MacNeer, called for viewers to "Fly Jet Blue [and] also give this guy a raise.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Commenters agreed with MacNeer’s message.</p> <p dir="ltr">"How did people not laugh? I'd be hollering," one wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Bro thinks he's in a play [on] Broadway," another said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some pointed out the routine would save them in an emergency.</p> <p dir="ltr">"That's the only way I'd be able to pay attention and remember the instructions," one said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I actually understand what the pilot was saying with this guy," added another.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, some had the opposite reaction.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I'm drowning [because] I will not remember that," teased one user about the distracting but good “routine".</p> <p dir="ltr">"I definitely didn't even listen to the instructions lol, I'm distracted by his behaviour," said another.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If this don't work out he'd have a great gig as a mime," one commented.</p> <p dir="ltr">The flight attendant Peter Echevarria spotted the TikTok of himself and commented, "It was a pleasure working your [flight] today... hope to see you again on my next flight!”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

International Travel

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Most amazing animal experiences to have when travelling

<p>These are some unbelievable opportunities around the world to get up close (really close) to your favourite wild animals.</p> <p><strong>Monkey business / Viewing</strong></p> <p>The orangutan is Asia’s only great ape and Borneo is one of only two places in the world that they are found. Decades of deforestation have left the Bornean orangutan seriously endangered. At the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre 60 to 80 of the great apes live on a 43 square kilometre reserve while 25 orphaned babies are rehabilitated in the nursery. Though they look perfect for cuddling, guests can’t get too close – but you can visit during the two feeding times each day and walk among the boardwalks through the forest while the orangutans swoop from the trees to eat the fruit and sugar cane left on feeding platforms around 20 metres away from you</p> <p><strong>Baby elephant walk / Hands on</strong></p> <p>The Asian elephant is an endangered species and Thailand is home to more Asian elephants than anywhere in the world. For a hands-on experience with these gentle giants, Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai allows you to participate in their day to day caring. There are six residents elephants that are “adopted” by guests for the day and you are trained to approach the elephant, know its temperament, feed and check its health, bathe and brush it in the river, learn how to ride on its neck and communicate through spoken commands.</p> <p><strong>King of the jungle / Interaction</strong></p> <p>You’re generally not encouraged to get up close to really dangerous animals, but at Lion Encounter in Zambia you can walk alongside some of the eight resident lion cubs – with no fence in between. The cubs range from three to 18 months old and will happily walk through the bush with you, pounce and play with each other and, if you’re lucky, even nuzzle in for a pat. Walks are escorted by guides, scouts and lion handlers so you are never in danger. The program is part of a larger breeding program and once lions graduate from this stage they will be removed from human interaction, integrated with a pack and eventually released into the wild.</p> <p><strong>A whale of a time / Interaction</strong></p> <p>The might be called dwarf minke whales but at eight metres long and weighing several tonnes, they are still pretty substantial. Dwarf minkes pass through the Great Barrier Reef each winter and this is the only place in the world that you can snorkel and dive with them. The whales are very inquisitive and an experience will generally involve interacting with two to three whales for around 90 minutes. Very little is known about these huge mammals so guests are often asked to participate in ongoing research programs and record their observations or submit photos to the minke whale database.</p> <p><strong>One for the bucket list / Viewing</strong></p> <p>With around half of Canada’s grizzly population, British Columbia is the best place to see the bears in the wild. A number of lodges have been established inside the Great Bear Rainforest where guests can participate in guided viewing sessions from boats, getting up very close to the action. Bears can be seen fishing for salmon in rivers, feeding on berries or succulents, and (very rarely) napping in the sun. Tours run from May to October, but visit from August onwards for the best chance to see cubs. At around $1,000 per person per night these tours aren’t cheap, but they are certainly unforgettable.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../travel/travel-club/2015/02/unusual-places-you-can-stay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">5 of the most unusual places your spend the night</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../travel/travel-club/2015/01/classic-rail-journeys-around-the-world/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">All aboard! Classic rail journeys around the world</a></strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="../travel/travel-club/2014/11/worlds-beautiful-landscapes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">6 of the world’s most beautiful (and surreal) landscapes</a></strong></em></span></p>

Travel Tips

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Man fined over $5000 for senseless cruelty against his own dog

<p>An Australian dog owner has been issued fines totalling more than $5000 after leaving his canine companion trapped inside of his car in Perth’s scorching summer temperatures. </p> <p>While it’s unknown exactly how long Tipsy the fox-terrier cross spent within the vehicle until help arrived, bodycam footage has revealed the exact moment she was freed from the 29 degree prison.</p> <p>RSPCA WA were made aware of Tipsy’s dire situation at around 10 in the morning, and an inspector found her in the vehicle shortly after, noting that the dog had no access to water. </p> <p>According to an update on the organisation's official site and social media, the inspector reported witnessing Tipsy “panting excessively, becoming restless, and showing other signs of stress”.</p> <p>It wasn’t long before she chose to seize Tipsy, suspecting offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2002. From there, Tipsy was taken to an emergency vet, and it was confirmed that the dog was suffering from dehydration while displaying signs of heat stress. </p> <p>Footage was uploaded of Tipsy gulping down water for close to 30 seconds, with one of her supervisors even asking “is it okay for her just to keep drinking like that?” </p> <p>Luckily, after an overnight stay for monitoring and some IV therapy to combat her dehydration, Tipsy made a full recovery under the care of RSPCA WA. </p> <p>According to Inspector Manager Kylie Green, “the maximum temperature on the day we seized Tipsy reached over 33C.</p> <p>“In those conditions, a dog can die in just six minutes. I’m so grateful we were alerted to Tipsy in time.</p> <p>“Last summer [in 2021], RSPCA WA received over 200 calls about dogs in hot cars.</p> <p>“It’s heart-wrenching that–despite repeated warnings–people continue to put their pets at risk.</p> <p>“If you love your dog, leave them at home with plenty of shade and water. It's better to leave them at home for a short time, than to risk losing them forever.”</p> <p>For his senseless act, Tipsy’s owner was sentenced, and the court decreed that Tipsy had been confined “in a manner likely to cause harm and was not provided with sufficient water.”</p> <p>The 32-year-old was found guilty in Perth Magistrates Court, and was fined $3000. However, there was more to come, with the man also receiving a ban from having contact with pets for two years, as well as an additional fee of $2246.16 to cover court and care costs. </p> <p><em>Images: RSPCA WA</em></p>

Legal

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How to decode your pet's behaviour

<p>Ever wondered if your pet is trying to tell you something? We took a closer look at the meaning of pet behaviour - you might be surprised at what we found.</p> <p>Unless your pet is Ed the horse or Lassie the dog, you've probably found yourself in a situation where you have no clue what they are trying to tell you with a particular behaviour. The way your pet pants, rolls over and runs may all have something to do with a message they're trying to send you. Whether you're wanting to become a dog whisperer or are simply interested in what certain actions your cat does mean, take a look at what these behaviours may indicate:</p> <p><strong>Chewing Furniture<br /></strong>This could be because of discomfort in their gums as their adult teeth are settling into the jawbone. Other possibilities include, attention seeking; distress at being left alone; or an unbalanced diet. It’s also quite common for chewing to indicate that your pet is bored and needs more activity in their life. Make sure you’re taking your furry friend for plenty of walks and that, where you can, you give them space to roam free outdoors.</p> <p><strong>Peeing<br /></strong>As I am sure you know, pets urinate to mark their territory, but there are also times where they can pee as a negative response to the presence of someone they don't like. Just be mindful of people that come in contact with your animal and do everything you can to ensure everyone is comfortable. If you know someone is coming over to your place that your pet doesn’t like, perhaps it is a good idea to put them outside with some food and toys.</p> <p><strong>Licking<br /></strong>Animals don’t have the use of verbal communication so there way of communicating is through actions. Licking is their way of either showing affection, or it can also sometimes be a request for food.</p> <p><strong>Smiling<br /></strong>At one point or another many pet owners have claimed to have witnessed their little friend smiling back at them. And so it turns out, they’re right. When an animal is content their muscles relax and this is most commonly observed in the face. Instead of your pet clenching its teeth together, it will relax its mouth and might even let it hang open. The eyes will appear soft and the ears straight.</p> <p><strong>Growling/hissing or making an angry sound<br /></strong>Like humans when animals make an angry sound or face, they are trying to tell you they’re uncomfortable. This could be that they are scared, trying so show dominance, want to be left alone or feel in danger. If they are showing their teeth or claws, they are presenting their weapons and sending a clear message to back off – and you should do just that. Give your pet some space. Do this slowly though. Keep your arms folded, don’t make eye contact and keep calm. Don’t walk away straight away. Wait until the situation has settled or your pet walks away first.</p> <p><strong>Standing tall<br /></strong>An animal who wants to tell the world they are in charge is going to stand tall and try to make themself as big as possible. Cats might prance around and a dog might also raise its tail over its body like a flag to make certain no one fails to see it.</p> <p><strong>Lying low<br /></strong>It makes sense that if an animal wanting to be noticed it stands tall, and that one who goes low is trying to fly under the radar. A scared or shy animal will lower its body and drop its tail. Furthermore, if it is scared to the point of feeling anxious, it may even roll onto its back. Essentially they’re saying “I’m just a little animal, don’t hurt me.”</p> <p><strong>Tail wagging<br /></strong>If you think that a quick wagging, swaying or moving tail means you have a happy pet on your hands, well, you’re not alone. But more often than not it actually translates to an animal telling you to back off. The higher the tail, the more dominance your pet is trying to display. The faster the tail is moving, the more excited your fury friend is. However, if the tail is moving in a flicking like manner, this could possibly be a sign of aggression. On the other side of it, if your pet’s tail is low and moving slowly it could be a sign they’re feeling insecure or distressed. This is when you should stop what you’re doing and spend some time with your little friend.</p> <p><strong>Staring at you<br /></strong>Big puppy dog eyes or doe cats eyes gazing at you is likely to have you gushing and thinking, “Oh, how adorable” and then you’ll probably give them a treat. As cute as they might be, they might not be looking at you lovingly and rather letting you know that they are the boss.  So you might want to think twice before rewarding them with a treat for “being the boss” – as you that would prove them right. On the other hand, pets will also stare at you when they want to know what’s happening – for instance where you’re going; where you might throw a ball or whether you’re going to offer them some of that food you’re cooking.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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A horse died on the set of The Rings of Power: more needs to be done to ensure the welfare of horses used in entertainment

<p>The recent <a href="https://variety.com/2023/tv/news/rings-of-power-horse-death-lord-of-the-rings-peta-1235564884/">death of a horse</a> on the set of Amazon’s <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7631058/">The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power</a> is the latest incident raising questions about how humans use horses for entertainment and sport.</p> <p>While a statement from producers said the horses’s cardiac arrest occurred before the day’s filming began, animal rights activists PETA used the death to call on all screen producers to replace on-set horses with CGI and mechanical rig alternatives.</p> <p>The incident feeds into growing public concern about horse welfare on film and TV sets, at the track and in equestrian sports.</p> <p>But improving horse welfare is about more than just reputation repair – too often it’s about survival for horses and humans.</p> <h2>Horse welfare in film and TV</h2> <p>The riding of a horse over a cliff to its death for the movie Jesse James (1939) led to the establishment of <a href="https://humanehollywood.org/about-us/">American Humane</a>, which now oversees around 100,000 animals on more than 1,000 productions each year.</p> <p>While things have improved since the early days of film and television, deaths and mistreatment of horses still occur.</p> <p>In 1987, on the set of <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/118307194">The Man From Snowy River II</a>, a seriously injured horse was killed using the blunt end of an axe.</p> <p>More recently, the high-profile series <a href="https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/the-real-story-behind-hbos-cancellation-of-luck">Luck</a>, starring Dustin Hoffman, was cancelled following the deaths of three horses.</p> <h2>The good and bad of unprecedented global exposure</h2> <p>In 2021, the Tokyo Olympics beamed to a global audience the excessive <a href="https://7news.com.au/sport/olympics/peta-calls-for-abusive-equestrian-events-to-be-axed-from-olympics-c-3703388">whipping and punching</a> of modern pentathlon horse Saint Boy and show jumper Kilkenny’s <a href="https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/kilkenny-suffers-nosebleed-during-olympic-individual-final">spectacular nosebleed</a> during the controversial show jumping program.</p> <p>While the bleed must have been obvious, officials did not intervene to stop the ride.</p> <p>Confronting images, and the perceived failure of organisers to protect the horses involved, brought into clear and global focus the indisputable welfare issues faced by horses competing at the elite level.</p> <p>The global outcry led to <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-9892093/Name-price-Kaley-Cuoco-offers-buy-horse-cruelly-punched-Olympics.html">actress Kaley Cuoco offering to buy Saint Boy</a> and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/nov/02/modern-pentathlon-votes-to-ditch-horse-riding-after-tokyo-olympic-turmoil">withdrawal of the equestrian phase from modern pentathlon</a>.</p> <h2>Risk to humans and horses</h2> <p>Horse welfare does not just impact animals.</p> <p>Since the 1840s, 873 jockeys are known to have <a href="https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/articles/2062/facts-and-figures-jockey-fatalities-australia/">died in race falls</a> in Australia.</p> <p>Internationally, the sport of eventing (where competitors complete three phases: dressage, show jumping and cross-country) reported 38 rider and 65 horse fatalities during or after competition between 2007-15.</p> <p>Riding horses is considered one of the most <a href="https://beva.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/evj.13934">dangerous of all sporting pursuits</a>, and the deaths of riders and jockeys, usually from falls, are common.</p> <p>Public concern about risk to horses and humans through horse racing and equestrian sports, as well as screen production, also <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/15/1987">threaten these industries’ social licence</a>.</p> <h2>Better horse welfare is related to better rider safety</h2> <p>Our research offers hope for the horse industry and for those passionate about riding horses.</p> <p>Last year, we <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159121003269">published a paper</a> demonstrating the link between horse welfare and rider safety. We asked riders how they cared for their horses and how their horses behaved when ridden – for example, we wanted to know how often horses were bucking or rearing.</p> <p>From this information, we calculated a relative welfare score for each horse. We also asked riders about their accidents and injuries.</p> <p>After analysing the data from over 400 riders, we found the higher the horse welfare score, the fewer accidents and injuries a rider reported.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08927936.2023.2176589">subsequent study</a>, we found horses with better welfare scores are more enjoyable to ride, most likely because they perform better and riders feel more in control, creating a win-win for horses and riders.</p> <h2>Good horse welfare means more than good health</h2> <p>Often good welfare is thought of in terms of an animal being healthy.</p> <p>While this is part of good welfare, good health alone is not enough – especially for a horse competing at the elite level or taking part in a film.</p> <p>Horses are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159117300710?casa_token=5E77h_TYKGEAAAAA:EUBGz7BTnACvpvB_3iYM-urXpBxJbS95G0-05yMRJEbMTg_SEeb_VnSoVgn35su8_aNOZEpSqctL">neophobes</a> – this means they find new things frightening – so most horses are likely to find a movie set or travelling to a new location stressful. The most up-to-date <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/10/10/1870/htm">understanding of welfare</a> tells us that stress and poor mental health means poor animal welfare.</p> <p>When a horse is stressed or in pain they <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159117300692">behave in a very predictable way</a> – they run away, panic, kick out or buck and rear.</p> <p>Yet, anecdotally and in the media, people seeing a horse behaving in this way often claim the horse is crazy, unpredictable or just plain mean.</p> <p>More likely, an “unpredictable” horse is suffering from poor welfare.</p> <p>As part of our research program, we have developed a <a href="https://hub.rspca.org.au/attachments/88">new framework</a> to help horse owners identify aspects of their care and training that diminish horse welfare.</p> <p>This information can be used to make modifications to improve horse welfare, and, importantly, can be applied to horses in any equine sector, including racing, sport and film and television.</p> <h2>Investing in the future of horses in entertainment and sport</h2> <p>Although a veterinarian assessed the recent horse death on the set of The Rings of Power as “unlikely to be associated with the horse’s participation in the film”, more can be done to protect horses and the industry.</p> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/7/1986">no specific standard exists for the use of animals</a> in filmed media, and each state and territory has differing risk management guidelines.</p> <p>An opportunity now exists for the industry to set a new standard for horse care and training.</p> <p>An easily executable first step for the industry could be to insist a scientifically trained and credentialed equine behaviour expert be involved in the recruitment and supervision of horse actors and their trainers at all stages of production.</p> <p>This would ensure horse actors are appropriately trained to be on set and that horses are trained using the most up-to-date ethical methods.</p> <p>Horse behaviour experts could also help in scene design to minimise horses’ exposure to stressful situations and identify tasks that are incompatible with good horse welfare.</p> <p>If these suggestions were to be adopted, the film and television industry would be setting the benchmark for horse welfare – and pressure other horse industries to follow suit.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-horse-died-on-the-set-of-the-rings-of-power-more-needs-to-be-done-to-ensure-the-welfare-of-horses-used-in-entertainment-202939" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: The Rings of Power / Amazon</em></p>

TV

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Breeder faces the consequences for “squalid” puppy farm

<p>A 60-year-old man from Western Australia has been dealt over $100,000 in penalties, an animal cruelty charge, and a 40 year animal ownership ban in the wake of RSPCA inspectors seizing 39 dogs from him. </p> <p>The horrific conditions in which the dogs were living were brought to their attention after a customer came by to purchase a dog from the man’s Bridgetown property in January 2022. He was asking for $5000 a puppy, despite the filth the dogs were being forced to live in - reportedly facing everything from infection to drinking from sewage pipes. </p> <p>In a post to RSPCA WA’s Facebook account, it was revealed that the man “has been given what amounts to a lifetime ban from breeding animals after RSPCA inspectors seized 39 labradoodles from his Bridgetown home in January.</p> <p>“The offender was banned from owning any animal for 40 years, with one notable exception; the Magistrate ruled he could have up to three sterilised dogs.</p> <p>The offender, who pleaded guilty to 28 charges of animal cruelty, has also been fined $112,000, $64,000 of which was suspended for two years.” </p> <p>It went on to outline the conditions the inspector had encountered, and that - importantly - the “The dogs continue to recover in the care of RSPCA WA.”</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRSPCAWA%2Fposts%2Fpfbid02kdjk1JMbPpBanhpEFJGKd2wB9sCzuhHi4EivkDEckADnUFNgJb24Wmdgt8MuLDaRl&amp;show_text=true&amp;width=500" width="500" height="708" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Kylie Green, Inspector Manager for RSPCA WA, explained that the dogs were examined by a veterinarian after they were removed from the property, and discovered that they were suffering from a whole host of conditions - with everything from ear infections to matted fur, dental disease, and conjunctivitis. </p> <p>“A lot of the dogs and puppies were also suffering from significant psychological harm, as determined by a veterinary behaviourist,” she added. </p> <p>“Some of them just stood in their kennels for weeks after they first came here, staring at the wall and refusing to interact.</p> <p>“It’s a credit to our expert staff and network of dedicated foster carers that they’ve come as far as they have, but this is what people need to stop and consider when they are looking to buy a ‘cute’ puppy.”</p> <p>Kyle went on to stress the importance of evaluating the conditions any puppy is being raised in before buying, whether “you buy from an unregistered breeder, if you buy off the internet or social media”. As without “clean, safe conditions” and a “happy and healthy” mother, “there’s a chance you are supporting this kind of cruelty.” </p> <p><em>Images: RSPCA WA / Facebook</em></p>

Family & Pets

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RSPCA issues warning after record spike in animal cruelty cases

<p dir="ltr"><strong>WARNING: </strong>DISTRESSING CONTENT</p> <p dir="ltr">The RSPCA has revealed a new contributing factor to the rise in domestic animal abuse.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The information we get from our inspectors is that the cost of living is really hurting people at the moment and hurting people's ability to be able to care for their animals."</p> <p dir="ltr">"Whether that’s being able to buy them food, taking them to the vet, grooming," Chief Inspector Michael Stagg at RSPCA Victoria told <em>Yahoo News</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Victoria, the number of animals being seized or surrendered has unfortunately doubled from 1,035 in 2017-2018, to 2,172 in 2021-2022. The second quarter of 2022-2023 also saw the highest number of rescues for any quarter at 695.</p> <p dir="ltr">46 per cent of the cases in 2021-2022 were due to neglect, which is more common in summer.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Coming out of summer, some of the most common things that we would see would be animals not having adequate water or adequate shelter," said Stagg.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The number of reports we see is always higher in the summer months than in the winter because it gets hot and sometimes owners don’t realise that animals need more water and shelter during those hotter months."</p> <p dir="ltr">To those considering adopting a pet, the Chief Inspector recommends a visit to an RSPCA shelter.</p> <p dir="ltr">"To actually have an animal that has suffered from trauma and neglect and be able to give that animal a happy forever home is a great thing,” he said.</p> <p><em>Images: RSPCA</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Name a cockroach after your ex and feed it to an animal this Valentine's Day

<p>The San Antonio Zoo is making a unique offer for scorned lovers this Valentine's Day.</p> <p>For just $14 (AUD), the Texas zoo will name a cockroach after your ex and feed it to an animal, in a brutal display of hilarious pettiness to show someone how you really feel. </p> <p>The annual Cry Me a Cockroach fundraiser will "support the zoo's vision of securing a future for wildlife in Texas and around the world" the San Antonio Zoo says on its <a href="https://sazoo.org/cry-me-a-cockroach/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>.</p> <p>For those not into bugs, you can choose a vegetable for $7, or a rodent for $35 to be fed to a hungry zoo resident.</p> <p>All donors will receive a digital Valentine's Day Card showing their support for the zoo.</p> <p>They can also opt to send their ex-partner a digital Valentine's Day Card informing them that a cockroach, rodent, or veggie was named after them and fed to an animal.</p> <p>For those who really want to make a statement, you can pay for a $200 upgrade which includes a personalised video message to the recipient showing their cockroach, rodent or vegetable being devoured by an animal.</p> <p>The annual event continues to be a hit, with Cyle Perez, the zoo's director of public relations, telling CNN last year that they received more than 8,000 donations from all 50 states and over 30 different countries.</p> <p>"Right now, we are on track to break last year's record, with 'Zach,' 'Ray' and 'Adam' being the most submitted ex-names so far," Perez said.</p> <p>To participate, you'll need to <a href="https://sazoo.org/cry-me-a-cockroach/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">submit your ex's name online</a> before Valentine's Day.</p> <p><em>Image credits: San Antonio Zoo</em></p>

Relationships

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New perspectives on navigating grief for owners of companion animals

<p>The loss of a pet can be difficult, but the latest research suggests we can do better to help owners navigate their way through the grief process.</p> <p>For many, the pandemic resulted in more time spent in the company of pets while working from home and because of restrictions designed to limit the movement of people. In many cases, pets became key to maintaining a sense of normality, routine and motivation, not to mention <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/nature/dogs-sense-of-smell-detect-human-stress/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">providing company</a> during times of social and physical isolation.</p> <p>Strangely, though, as the research highlights, society has a bias towards supporting certain circumstances of grieving over others.</p> <p>According to the authors of the review, published in <em>Human</em>–<em>Animal Interactions</em>, some types of trauma such as the loss of a pet, <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/can-we-blame-the-famous-for-their-suicides/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">death by suicide</a>, a lost pregnancy or miscarriage and death from AIDS, can be stigmatic for the bereaved. These types of loss tend to be underacknowledged by others or given less attention or empathy.</p> <p>“When relationships are not valued by society, individuals are more likely to experience disenfranchised grief after a loss that cannot be resolved and may become complicated grief,” said Colleen Rolland, President and pet loss grief specialist for <a href="https://www.aplb.org/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement</a> (APLB).</p> <p>This stigma can interrupt the natural process of grieving, meaning that pet owners often ‘go it alone’, without social support when dealing with the loss of their companion animal.</p> <p>“The present review builds on research in the field of pet loss and human bereavement and factors in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human-animal attachment,” says Dr Michelle Crossley, an Assistant Professor at Rhode Island College in the US.</p> <p>“A goal of the present review is to provide counsellors with perspectives to consider in their practice when working with clients who have attachments to their companion animals. It also aims to acknowledge the therapeutic benefits of working through the grief process to resolution as a way to continue the bond with a deceased pet.”</p> <p>The review presents practical ways in which counsellors can help people grieving the loss of a pet through in-person and online approaches, such as group sessions and web-based chatrooms – “counselling interventions and coping strategies already being used in the therapeutic space,” notes Crossley.</p> <p>Practical activities such as providing safe spaces and materials to paint, draw or write about their anxieties and fears about loss are effective tools for helping children and adults navigate the grief process.</p> <p><em><a href="https://petsandpeople.com.au/about/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Pets and People</a>,</em> an online initiative founded by Dr Michael O’Donoghue and Penny Carroll, seeks to provide pet owners with resources and information across a whole host of issues associated with pet loss, including those discussing social stigmas. It also provides links to counsellors with experience in pet loss and lists Australian and New Zealand numbers for the Pet Loss Support Line which connects callers with counsellors.</p> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></p> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=226139&amp;title=New+perspectives+on+navigating+grief+for+owners+of+companion+animals" width="1" height="1" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></p> <p><!-- End of tracking content syndication --></p> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/australia/new-perspective-navigating-grief-pets/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">This article</a> was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Clare Kenyon. Clare Kenyon is a science journalist for Cosmos. </em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

Family & Pets

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Calls to protect rights of tenants with animals

<p dir="ltr">Amid the current cost-of-living crisis and housing crisis, renters across Australia and New Zealand are finding it harder to secure homes to rent - but it’s even harder for renters with pets.</p> <p dir="ltr">In parts of Australia, landlords are legally protected if they refuse applications from tenants with companion animals, while New Zealand rentals can still refuse to have pets as well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Zoei Sutton, an academic at Flinders University in South Australia, conducted a study involving in-depth interviews with tenants and stakeholders, including landlords, and found that many were struggling to obtain a rental when they had pets.</p> <p dir="ltr">“My study shows Australian landlords and property managers are particularly reluctant to house cats, as they’re seen as leaving allergy hazards or the need for deep cleaning of carpets. Owners of bigger dogs and certain breeds can also have a harder time finding housing,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And while we’re starting to see legislative shifts in Victoria and NSW, legislation to protect pet owners has been defeated in South Australia.”</p> <p dir="ltr">During the interviews, Dr Sutton also uncovered several strategies renters could use to improve their chances of success, including preparing pet ‘resumes’ for agents and landlords.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Both tenants and stakeholders agreed that there needs to be an understanding that rental houses are homes. This means working with both landlords and tenants to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of what fair ‘wear and tear’ is,” she added.</p> <p dir="ltr">While interviewing tenants, landlords, real estate agents, and emergency housing organisations in SA, she heard multiple stories of renters experiencing a “constant source of worry” while renting.</p> <p dir="ltr">“One tenant reported finding just ten potential properties listed as pet friendly while another family found only two within their price range. Some tenants are being asked to pay higher rent to secure a house,” Dr Sutton said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Multiple participants reported that there was a bidding war for houses with some tenants offering 3 or 6 months rent in advance, just to secure a house.</p> <p dir="ltr">“One family had fallen through the damaged floor of their house multiple times but were reluctant to report the landlord’s failure to maintain the home because this might result in a bad reference when they next had to move.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s a constant source of worry, knowing that your lease might not be renewed or your house might be sold and you’ll have to try to find something again.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, New Zealand journalist Charlotte Muru-Lanning <a href="https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/28-09-2022/the-absence-of-rights-for-renters-with-pets-is-just-cruel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported</a> in September that 14 percent of rentals available across the country were listed as “pets OK”, despite nearly half of New Zealand households.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We need more protections for tenants so they can report unfair housing conditions without jeopardising future housing,” Sutton said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Animals need to be able to use the home too, and there are small things you can do to minimise any potential damage.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Property managers have a key role in educating landlords and tenants to ensure everyone is happy and has reasonable expectations.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-26abe9d3-7fff-6077-f200-1a66945644f3"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Real Estate

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15 facts (and pictures!) that prove penguins are the world’s most adorable animals

<p>Every day is a good day to appreciate these tuxedo-wearing birds.</p> <p><strong>Nearly all penguins live in the southern hemisphere</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/01-can-penguins-Shutterstuck-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Contrary to media representations of the North Pole, no penguins live up there. The 17 penguin species (some scientists say there are 20) are spread out between Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa. The only exception is the Galapagos penguins, who live close to the equator on the Galapagos Islands and occasionally venture into northern hemisphere waters.</p> <p><strong>Penguins have been around for a long time</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/02-emperor-penguins-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>An amateur fossil hunter discovered the bone of an extinct penguin ancestor, and scientists say it’s 61 million years old. That means it probably outlived the dinosaurs that went extinct 65.5 million years ago. Fossils also suggest that this prehistoric bird could fly and could grow up to 150 centimetres tall.</p> <p><strong>They eat a lot</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/03-penguin-eating-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Penguins are carnivores, and their diets consist of fish, krill, crabs, squid, and other sea creatures. According to Smithsonian Magazine, they can eat over one kilogram of food every day during summer months, but eat only a third of that during the winter.</p> <p><strong>They sneeze</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/04-sneeze-penguin-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Their sneezes serve an important purpose, though. Because they eat so much seafood, penguins also consume a lot of saltwater. To get rid of all that salt, their supraorbital glands above their eyes filter it out of the bloodstream, and then, the penguins excrete it through their bills or their sneezes.</p> <p><strong>The littlest penguin may be the cutest</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/05-little-penguin-wildlife-park-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Little blue penguins (also called fairy penguins) really are little. They only grow to be 33-38 centimetres tall, and adults only weigh one kilogram.</p> <p><strong>Emperor penguins are the largest species</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/06-emperor-penguins-sliding-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>They’re around 120 centimetres feet tall and can weigh up to 40 kilograms.</p> <p><strong>Penguins are expert swimmers</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/07-swimming-penguin-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>No, these adorable birds can’t fly. Instead, they use their wings to fly through the water (so to speak) at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour.</p> <p><strong>They can’t help but waddle</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/08-gentoo-penguin-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Penguins’ bodies are shaped to easily glide through water, with a long body and short legs. So when they walk, the result is a clumsy-looking waddle. Penguins also get around on land by hopping and tobogganing, where they glide on their bellies and use their feet and wings to gain speed.</p> <p><strong>They spend most of their time in the water</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/09-gentoo-penguins-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>According to Ocean Conservancy, penguins spend about 75 per cent of their lives in water. They go on land to mate, lay eggs, and raise their babies.</p> <p><strong>Speaking of penguin babies…</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/10-emperor-penguin-chicks-Shuttersetock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>They’re called chicks or nestlings. They form little groups called crèches to look out for predators and keep each other warm while their parents look for food.</p> <p><strong>Penguins are romantic</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/11-shutterstock_516711187-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Some penguin species mate for life, like the macaroni penguin. These guys and gals show their affection by performing an ‘ecstatic display,’ in which they swing their heads back and forth and cackle loudly.</p> <p><strong>Birds of a feather mate together</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/12-king-penguins-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>Most penguin species breed in large groups called colonies (only two species don’t) for protection. Those groups can range from a couple hundred to hundreds of thousands of penguins!</p> <p><strong>Daddy penguins keep their eggs warm</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/13-dad-penguins-incubate-eggs-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>At least, male emperor penguins do, but not by sitting on them. These dads balance the eggs on their feet and cover them with feathered skin called a brood pouch. They stay like this for two months – without food and with no protection from the Antarctica weather – until the mums come back with food for the young ones. Talk about parents of the year!</p> <p><strong>Their feathers keep them camouflaged</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/14-king-penguins-1-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></strong></p> <p>When penguins swim, their black backs keep them invisible from predators up above, and their white bellies blend into the bright sunlight coming through the waves. We bet your tuxedo can’t do that.</p> <p><strong>Feathers also keep them warm</strong></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/11/15-imperial-penguins-colony-Shutterstock-770.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="454" /></p> <p>Penguins don’t have blubber like other sea animals, but their many feathers serve the same purpose. (In particular, emperor penguins have 100 feathers per six square centimetres). The feathers trap a layer of warm air next to their skin, and their surface feathers get colder than the surrounding air to keep their bodies warm.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-d01c285d-7fff-1863-8624-cd52bd052f15">Written by Claire Nowak. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/animal-kingdom/15-facts-and-pictures-that-prove-penguins-are-the-worlds-most-adorable-animals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock</em></p>

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