Saturday, June 29, 2013

Once in 26 years was enough by Ronnie James

Long-tailed weasel

Pop Goes the Weasel

At Point Cabrillo Light Station a few years ago, I, and a steady stream of tourists, watched one Long-tailed weasel consume an entire family of gophers. Gopher holes are connected underground and our lighthouse weasel spent over an hour--undisturbed by the audience--popping out of first one hole then another. I can also personally attest that nothing scares a weasel. I had one in my yard some years back, and watched him/her keep five cats at bay, circling, snapping, and charging them until they threw up their paws and withdrew.

As an aside, here on the Mendocino Coast gophers are the ban of every gardener, but we might well be speaking Russian if it weren't for them. They made farming so miserable for early Russian settlers that they gave up and left, but not before they wiped out the sea otters as far south as Big Sur. Sea otter recovery, from the small population discovered there a few decades ago, has been slow and to date only reaches as far north as the Farallons.
LTW in their northern range turn white
in the winter.

Weasel Rescue by Ronnie James

Someone found a small ball of fur curled into a tight ball sleeping on the sand in the middle of a vast beach south of Mendocino. It slept peacefully when they picked it up, so they took it to a State Park ranger who called us. This was Woodlands Wildlife's first long tailed weasel in 26 years, so I spoke with a friend at a large facility that was experienced with weasels. Interestingly I learned that most weasels that come into rehab are found this way--curled in a ball asleep in an exposed place. Some can be handled and don't wake up. If they do, they just look around and go back to sleep. However, within a few minutes, of being fed and watered, they turn into killing machines. In spite of their diminutive size they possess large strong jaws and rows of shark-like teeth which they use to bite and viciously attack anything in range.

I gave it some water and food, then watched in amazement as the docile creature lunged at and tried to attack anything near its cage--my hand and the forceps I use to push the food into it's cage, and it grabbed and tore apart the paper cup I tipped through the bars to pour water into its dish. It even spread the fairly heavy wire bars on it's cage, but fortunately not enough to get out. Then it chewed a clothespin to smithereens and went back to sleep.

I am finally understanding the story in my book about the woman who raised one as a pet and when it was a few months old, it was sleeping in her lap and suddenly leaped up and tore a big gash in her hand requiring a trip to the emergency room and stitches. It probably went through puberty while it was asleep on her lap and woke up a normal adult weasel. I was able to keep weasel in the cage for 2 days during which time this 8-inch-body-plus-5-inch-tail ate 4 adult mice (already purchased dead and frozen from a wildlife food provider) each day. He also used a litter pan (pie plate) and the room began to smell a lot like dead skunk. Weasels are members of the skunk family. I wasn't going to get into the cage to clean him, and he certainly had enough energy to be out killing his own food, so I released him near a meadow and stream with lots of mice and gophers to hunt. There's one animal I won't mind not seeing for another 26 years. --Ronnie James

Ronnie James
Woodlands Wildlife

To learn more about our local Long-tailed Weasel and for great pictures of them, follow this link.

Victory for Chimpanzees!

This week, the National Institutes of Health made their final determination regarding the future of using chimpanzees in research.  After going through the 13,000 individual comments that were submitted during the public comment period this spring, the NIH has decided to significantly reduce the number of chimpanzees in research.  A little over 300 NIH-owned chimpanzees will be released and up for retirement in the coming years.  The Center for Great Apes applauds this decision that is definitely a step in the right direction.  We look forward to continue to work with the sanctuary community to get ALL chimpanzees out of research.  
However, the NIH plans to keep 50 chimpanzees behind for future research needs.  They are not allowed to breed these individuals, and must meet the newly accepted recommendations set out by the Council of Councils Working Group such as space requirements, “ethologically appropriate” enclosures (i.e. those that would occur in natural surroundings), etc.  You can read more about the NIH’s decision here:
Pant hoots to the beginning of the end of chimpanzees in research!

Toddy with her Wubba toy
Address postal inquiries to:
Center for Great Apes
PO Box 488
Wauchula, FL 33873-0488
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sidewalk Gardens by Kate Erickson

This is my friend, Kate Erickson's blog, which is burst out laughing funny.

Here's another sent in by Elaine and Ed

Ferns in a Mud Flap

Friday, June 14, 2013

I'm going to be offline for a week, so I thought I'd leave you a few visuals to enjoy. Mike Petherick sent me pictures of "his babies." And then another friend sent me Patrick Notley's slide show. It's 4 1/2 minutes but so worth the time. Patrick is autistic.





Patrick Notley Photographs

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hopeful News, Bad News

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Tuesday to bring captive chimpanzees under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, a move that would create one more major barrier to conducting invasive medical research on the animals for human diseases.


If the proposal is enacted, permits will be required for any experiment that harms chimps, and both public and privately financed researchers will have to show that the experiment contributes to the survival of chimps that remain in the wild. The recommendation is now open to public comment for 60 days.

The demand for chimps in medical research has dwindled, and the National Institutes of Health is expected to respond to recommendations from its own committee to retire most of the about 450 chimps it owns or supports. The committee recommended keeping a colony of chimps for possible future research on human disease if needed, but that need is not one of the criteria that the Fish and Wildlife Service would consider.

Daniel M. Ashe, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the proposal would end the so-called split list, with wild chimps declared endangered since 1990 and captive chimps unprotected under the law.

The move was a long time in the works, a response to a petition filed in 2010 by the Humane Society of the United States, the Jane Goodall Institute and other groups with concerns about biomedical research on chimpanzees and the use of the animals in advertisements and entertainment.


The article goes on to say that if this passes, it might not protect chimps in the entertainment industry. We have to do that by withdrawing support for any film or commercial that uses a chimp or orangutan.

While the argument for medical research has been that there is a compelling human need, he said there was no such argument for using young chimps in television advertisements, for example, which he described as “entirely frivolous.”

But under the Endangered Species Act, only uses that are considered harmful or harassing require permits. And use in entertainment has not traditionally been considered to be in the same class as taking blood or other invasive procedures.

In separate interviews, Mr. Pacelle and Dr. Goodall said chimps who are trained for entertainment are taken away from their social group when they are young, which is very harmful to them. And, Mr. Pacelle said, once the animals reach the age of about 7, they become too strong or unruly, and the owners “typically dump them into the animal welfare movement for us to care for for the next 50 years,” at a cost of about $1 million over the lifetime of each animal kept in a sanctuary.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What should be, could be.

Last summer I wrote about the cats our local humane society  released into the woods surrounding their facility. Supposedly, they have changed their policy. Mike and Mary Beth Arago sent this story to me--a fine example of what can be done with the right mindset. 




Don't miss the music video at the end of this series of pictures.

Lanai’s 'kitty Shangri-La' delights visitors

Updated 4:11 pm, Thursday, January 31, 2013
Never underestimate the power of a cute furry face — or several hundred of them.
That's one reason to explain the Lāna‘i Animal Rescue Center's status as the No. 1 attraction on the former Pineapple Island, per Tripadvisor.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that only 11 attractions are listed, but those who've been lucky enough to enter the "kitty Shangri-la," as one Tripadvisor reviewer calls it, are also struck by the creativity, commitment and compassion of the largely volunteer staff.

With just deer netting, a few discarded pallets and corrugated sheeting, co-founder Kathy Carroll and crew created an open-air sanctuary on 3.5 acres of land donated by then-owner David Murdock (now Larry Ellison) in fall 2009. Dozens of feral and abandoned cats — the largest number of homeless animals on the island — had already found a comfy, no-kill shelter there when I visited a month after it opened.

Returning last week, I found some 370 felines — a number of whom have been "adopted in place" — now make their home there, with plenty of places to lounge, socialize, play or hide, including an attractive bunkhouse with ladder, loft, benches and Adirondack chairs. "An Alabama woman came out after it had been a little rainy and told me, 'Ah'm gonna have mah architect build you a cathouse,' " Carroll said, with a delighted laugh.

The landscaping of a few trees and scrubby brush in red dirt now looks lush and lightly manicured. "We want it to look like a garden," explained Carroll, who has a part-time staff of three to help with animal care and shelter maintenance (and no, it does not smell like cats — fresh breezes help, too.) Since the center opened, a veterinarian who comes twice a week has spayed or neutered about 1,200 cats, Carroll said. The island's animal control officer also now brings them cats, instead of trapping and killing them to reduce the population.

Rescue dogs, such as the 90-pound black lab and a Jack Russell terrier currently with LARC, are placed in foster homes. In the coming months, the center will host its first dog obedience classes for island residents and an "animal camp" for children, who particularly enjoy visiting the site.

Local elementary school students recently recorded a music video at the shelter, "A Kitty Community," to help raise awareness, while the weekly Sunday "pet 'n' purr" open house which attracts five to 25 people weekly. "Kids can come down and play with the cats, who love it," Carroll said. "We just tell the children, 'Use inside voices and no pulling tails!'"

The two Four Seasons resorts on the island also encourage visitors to volunteer at the center, which coordinates group efforts as well as simple tasks for individuals. While some guests decided to leave with a new feline companion, others "virtually adopt" by donating a minimum of $20 a month toward the animal's care and feeding.

Pointing to a black and white cat, Carroll said, "Cupid came here two years ago, shot with an arrow. Now she's my inspiration. Some folks from Vancouver adopted her in place, and when they went back to get married, they made her the 'mews' of their wedding shower. In lieu of gifts, they asked everyone to make a donation in Cupid's name."

The wedding shower raised $1,500 for the center, which has now set up a fund for animals requiring urgent care called the Cupid Fund. Fund-raising T-shirts with designs by Mike Carroll, Kathy's husband and the island's premier landscape artist, and other gift items benefiting the center can be found at the Mike Carroll Gallery in Lāna‘i City.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

For crying out loud, Lighten up
I'll try.
So what do you know about Aye Ayes?

Years ago, actually decades ago, my ornithology professor (and dear, dear friend), Dr. Oscar "Bud" Owre, recommended a book by Gerald Durrell. As I recall the title was My Family and Other Animals, but since I read everything he wrote, I'm not sure it was the first.

Durrell started one of the first captive breeding programs for endangered animals nearly a half century before the rest of the world caught on to the idea--or even the need. His sanctuary is on the Isle of Jersey. His books were about capturing the animals he was trying to save from extinction. The animals are anthropomorphized in his books, but he had a Dave Barry kind of eye for the details of their behavior, and his own. I've never laughed so hard in my life. One of his book, The Aye Aye and I, was about capturing the endangered Aye Aye.

I also loved A Zoo in my Luggage and Two in the Bush, if you can still find them. Since I was still flying for Pan Am back then, I bought many of his books in England and New Zealand--ones I couldn't find here.

I get lots of wonderful emails from kids who've read my books. We usually write back and forth for a few weeks, then they get bored and move on. However, a few keep in touch, and Jessica is one of them. We've been writing for a number of years now. Jessica maintains a blog about books she's read, where she writes truly insightful comments on books. I think this one is the link to Steve Job's bio.
and another for everything else

You can imagine how proud of her I am already, and then I find out she's been chosen to be included in NPR's Radio Diaries, which are personal stories written by kids.
Jessica's is the second one from the top. Click on the picture of HOPE. It's entitled Firsts and Fives.