Thursday, October 31, 2013


Due to my being too jetlagged to form coherent sentences, in lieu of an actual post, I ask that you please accept this photo of the candy they sell at the goat cafe in Tokyo.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Temporary suspension of service

I am headed to Japan to investigate the rumor that people there have gone so mad for animals that there's a cafe in Tokyo where you can eat a meal with goats. In the meantime I recommend these essays elsewhere for your reading pleasure:

The Bunny Manifesto

Zombies vs Animals

Monday, October 21, 2013

Animals where they shouldn't be, automotive edition

From near Lake Tahoe comes this excellent headline:
Truckee Police See Rise in Bears Getting Stuck in Cars
In the last two weeks, police say three bears have become trapped in cars in Truckee.
What is excellent is the clear implication that bears get stuck in cars there regularly enough that you have to have three in quick succession for it to be remarkable. This of course should be no surprise to readers of this blog, who've seen this sort of thing before.  As the article warns, "Experts say bears know how to open unlocked car doors," but don't be impressed by how smart they are, because the also regularly manage to lock themselves in and can't figure out how to get out -  and they tend to react by trashing the vehicle in frustration.

Still, that is an easy problem to solve compared to the next one. All you have to do is lock your car door, and at least if a bear does get into your car, it will be obvious. Not like this:

Toyotas recalled for spider-related problem
Toyota is recalling 870,000 vehicles because a problem with an air conditioner part could cause airbags to deploy unnecessarily .

In some cases, the problem was caused by spiders.

Sometimes, their webs can create a blockage in a drainage tube coming from the air conditioning condenser. That can cause water to drip down onto an airbag control module, causing a short circuit. That, in turn, could cause the airbag warning light to light up on the dashboard and it could even cause the driver's side airbag to deploy, something that happens with explosive force.
 And before you comfort yourself with how rare this sort of problem must be, let me remind you that in 2011, Mazda recalled 65,000 cars because of spiders nesting in the fuel system.

You know what? Maybe you should just take the bus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Animals where they shouldn't be

-The end of the government shutdown is good news for the fight against bad animals, which have been running amuck in the most high-profile place possible. The White House garden is being devastated by squirrels feasting on the produce, and a fox has taken up living in the grounds.

The photo above is from a blog about the garden that first reported the situation. The story was picked up by international media, but because the employees that could evict the critters were furloughed, the world could do nothing but look on helplessly. We hope the relevant staff are on the case promptly this morning.

 -And on the other side of the world, this one calls for another photograph:
A kangaroo shut down part of Melbourne Airport on Wednesday when it hopped through a terminal and into a pharmacy, airport officials said.

Customers inside the drug store alerted Australian police, who were forced to lock down part of the Qantas terminal so wildlife workers could tranquilize the wayward kangaroo.
A quote from another article gave me pause:
Neil Mitchell said the kangaroo should get used to attention.
"That kangaroo will be world famous soon - the English, Chinese, they'll be fascinated!"
I have to wonder: does giving these animals publicity just encourage them - am I part of the problem?

Monday, October 14, 2013

A symbol of the nation

Columbus Day has become a national holiday of ambivalence: a celebration of the 'discovery' of our country, which is understandably a bit annoying to the people who were already here. So it's an appropriate day for a story that shows that our national animal symbol is not all it's cracked up to be either:
He's a symbol of everything our great country stands for. The majestic bald eagle. It doesn't get more patriotic than our nation's bird. Most people are glad to see a slice of Americana in their own backyard. But in Sebewaing...
"He's a nuisance bird," resident Tami Bieri said. Tami Bieri is fed up. Ever since the young animal made his presence known just off Beck Street. Bieri says the bird that her daughter named "Derrick" has been terrorizing her pets.
"I left my two dogs outside and my smaller dog was attacked by an eagle. And then as the eagle was taking off with the dog, my Jack Russell attacked the eagle and both dogs got away," Bieri said.
As usual, the authorities are no help:
Now Bieri wants something done to evict the newest feathered resident. But so far, she says she's not getting much help. "He's federally protected. I've called the DNR, the Sebewaing police, and they pretty much say there's nothing they can do because the eagle's not injured," Bieri said.
And here's an expert's suggestion for how to defend your poor innocent pets from a large bird of prey:
"Clap your hands and yell at the bird when you see the bird around, bang on a pot when you see the bird around, go out there with an umbrella, flap the umbrella opened and closed to try and spook the bird off just so it doesn't feel settled around people," bird expert Karen Cleveland said.
Good luck with that.... on yet another day where animals have the freedom to get away with whatever they want in this great country of ours.

Eagle by Flickr user Jason Mrachina. Majestic, sure, except maybe to the fish...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fair warning

In Sweden, a woman was sent to the hospital when a gorilla with very good aim threw a rock at her:
The woman, 38, was hit in the forehead by the stone, which was thrown by one of the five gorillas at the Kolmården National Park in central Sweden. The stone measured roughly five centimetres in diameter, said Marjorie Castro, head of the zoo.

"At first everything seemed fine. She was bleeding a little from her forehead, but seemed to be in good health," Castro told the Aftonbladet paper. "But she was hit in the head and gorillas have enormous strength, so we called an ambulance. After a while, she felt weak and we had to lie her down."
The zoo made rather lame excuses for not forseeing the problem (my italics):
Castro added that the gorillas have never thrown things at visitors before, with the exception of lighter objects like grass.
 Right, so what were the odds these powerful and intelligent apes were going to eventually try something else? And in fact, other visitors said it had happened before:
However, following the news of the stone-throwing gorilla, other Swedes shared similar stories about their experiences with the Kolmården primates. The mother of a 7-year-old boy told Aftonbladet that Enzo the gorilla had thrown a stone at her son in July last year.

"I got so scared and was thinking 'Please, don't throw rocks," the boy told the paper. "They are scary."
Sensible child!

I mean seriously, look at the arm muscles on that gorilla from Wikipedia, what were they thinking?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rowdy Raccoon Roundup

From all across the continent, raccoons acting like hooligans:

-In the Bronx,  a pack of raccoons are terrorizing people at a train station, from jumping out of trees unexpectedly to ominously pacing the station platform, resulting in the most bemusing sentence of news reporting in today's batch of stories:
The mammal is very intelligent and will eat garbage.
Right, because that's an intelligent thing to do.

Elsewhere in the city a while ago, a woman was mugged by raccoons in Central Park :
Takara Larson, 26, of Bedford-Stuyvesant says she was scratched and bitten by a pair of raccoons that “appeared to be on drugs.”
“They were both on me. One was licking my leg and the other one sank his teeth in my other leg,” Larson told the Daily News Thursday. “It just seemed like they were hungry or deranged.”
 -In a Virginia suburb of Washington DC, raccoons are attacking people on their own property:
"Out of the corner of my eye I saw a raccoon. He walked up to me quickly and as I’m stepping away from it … he starts mauling my ankle.”
Alboum had been playing on her porch with her 4-year-old daughter at the time of the attack. After she was bitten she was taken to the hospital and received nine shots for rabies.
Another woman, who was pregnant, was also attacked in a separate incident. She was also treated for rabies.
And of course we've got our usual alleged animals experts who don't know whose side they are on:
However since the raccoons were not found and tested, animal control experts could not say if they had contracted rabies or another potentially dangerous disease.
“Innocent until proven guilty, we say,” Deputy Animal Control Officer Kimberly Corcoran told WJLA-TV of the possible rabid raccoons.
-Finally, in one neighborhood terrorized by raccoons in British Columbia, one man has been attacked four times, and now carries bear spray when he walks his dog. But again, a local government official shifts the blame:
"I understand people's concerns, but it's also a people-driven problem."
This official claims the problem should be blamed on people who are feeding them. But as far as this blog is concerned, this often-heard reasoning is faulty. If people are feeding you, animals, shouldn't that make you be nice to them?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Frankenstein's Bovine

In Korea, this is how a cow thanks the person who gave it life:
A cloned cow attacked its “creator” last week just ahead of the Chuseok holiday, inflicting injuries on the world-renowned embryologist, who will need eight weeks of medical treatment.

Prof. Park Se-pill at Jeju National University had five of his ribs broken and injured his spine in the Sept. 15 attack, the university on the scenic resort island said Sunday.

“Park was video-recording a black cow, which he cloned from species indigenous to Jeju four years ago, and all of a sudden, it charged and attacked him for 15 minutes,” a school official said.

“The 800-kilogram black cow is very strong because its cell donor was the best available. Park could not escape easily because he wore a special suit and long boots. He is now being treated at the university hospital.”
“We didn’t have the cow neutered because we have to check its virility. Hence, it often gets very restless,” Park said.

The 54-year-old said that the cow is now in a barn and no special measure will be taken despite the incident.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Belated bad animal headlines

My Internet was out for two days, and I couldn't even blame it on animals. Here's some of what they were trying to get away with while I was off the grid:

Wild Hogs Roam Streets, Scare People Near Atlanta
Some parents fear sending their children to a school bus stop in the Lithonia area, where up to four of the hogs are roaming the streets and eating trash in front yards.
“My children are petrified,” Taneisha Danner told WSB-TV.

Danner and her family just moved into their home from New Jersey.

“I have little ones that get on the bus at 6:40 in the morning,” she added. “So, I’m sorry. I’m not built to fight off wildlife.”
Crafty fox steals balls at Swiss golf club
“He comes every day, steals the balls and plays with them,” Murielle Guex, manager of the Moulins snack bar, located across from the course, told the 20 Minutes newspaper.

“He picks up the balls, then immediately runs away,” Guex said.

“He is fantastic and very couragous,” she said.

“He dares to come very close to people.”

The fox first appeared on September 6th and has since absconded with more than 100 balls, according to reports.
Check out video here.

And finally, just so you don't think this has stopped happening: Dog shoots man.

Unrelated but oddly appropriate photo by Flickr user Dan Perry