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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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Common mistakes pet owners make

<p>While most pet owners have the best of intentions, sometimes not everyone is aware of the mistakes they are making or the things they could be doing better. Here’s a list of common mistakes pet owners make. How many are you guilty of?</p> <p><strong>Lack of exercise</strong><br />While each breed and species is different in reference to their specific exercise needs, one thing stays the same: every animal requires daily exercise. When working out what is the correct amount for your animal, you need to look at their age, species and breed.</p> <p>And before you go thinking of daily exercise at a chore, remember this: exercise should be fun! It can include play time, walks, jogs, runs, agility training and more. Always consult with your local vet if you want to know the specific exercise guidelines for your pet.</p> <p><strong>No behavioural training</strong><br />When bringing a new animal into your home and family, adequate training is so important. Does your animal know how to take commands? It’s important to be able to teach your pet things and that they respect you.</p> <p>Remember the saying: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, that’s right. Investing the time to go through behavioural training from the start will help save you time and frustration in the long run.</p> <p><strong>Your pet is bored often</strong><br />Just like humans, pets too get bored. Playing games with your furry friend – such as teaching them tricks or providing them with the toys and space to do interesting things – will do wonders in ensuring their mind is constantly developed.</p> <p>If your pet is stimulated, it should stop them from destroying the house, and your things, when you’re out.</p> <p><strong>Poorly looked after teeth</strong><br />A common mistake a lot of pet owners make, is not brushing often enough – or at all – their pet’s teeth. After all, dental hygiene is one of the most important health issues animals face. The good news is this is avoidable by regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and checking on their oral hygiene.</p> <p>Anything out of the ordinary may be an indication of infection, but when caught early, can be more easily treated. So ensure you book in regular visits at the vet to check your furry friend’s mouth too.</p> <p><strong>Not enough trips to the vet</strong><br />Just as it is important for humans to go to the dentist and doctor for check-ups and shots regularly, visiting the vet and keeping up with a vaccination schedule is equally as important.</p> <p>If not more so, as pets cannot tell you when something is wrong. Booking into to see the vet every so often will ensure your pet is healthy and blossoming for years to come. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Molly the magpie carers rescue another native bird

<p>Molly the Magpie's carers have rescued another native bird. </p> <p>Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen, who went viral for the interspecies friendship between their two staffies and a magpie named Molly, shared the update on Facebook. </p> <p>“Meet Charlie the vulnerable little kookaburra,” the family wrote on Tuesday.</p> <p>The Mortensen's explained that Charlie had been in their care since the new year period, after a neighbour discovered him unable to fly following wild weather. </p> <p>“He was found by neighbours huddling at the bottom of a tree, they watched for a day and he was all alone and too young to face the world with many dangers around including a stray cat ready for its next feed we were called over to check out the situation,” they wrote.</p> <p>“Reece was in training for his wildlife licence so with the direction and support of wildlife carers specialising in kookaburras we were able to bring this little kookaburra back to our place.”</p> <p>Unlike Molly who developed a special bond with the family's dogs, Charlie was rehabilitated outside, with his own kin watching over him. </p> <p>“We kept him outside as much as possible so the kookaburras knew exactly where he was and could come in and feed him which they did,” they explained.</p> <p>“At times we would count 14 kookaburras keeping an eye on this little one. He would try to fly and achieved short distances but needed practice with his landing.”</p> <p>The family shared the update after Charlie “found the confidence” to return to the wild.</p> <p>“It was such an exciting thing to witness and to be part of,” the family wrote.</p> <p>It has been a wild year for the Queensland family, after Molly was <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/outcry-after-authorities-seize-internet-famous-magpie-from-queensland-family" target="_blank" rel="noopener">voluntarily surrendered </a>to the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation in March, when authorities found the couple were not permitted to care for native wildlife.</p> <p>Over a month later, the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) announced that they would return Molly to the family with a few special conditions, including obtaining a license and meeting specific requirements to ensure her ongoing health and wellbeing.</p> <p>The reunion was definitely one to remember with followers and animal lovers across the country over-joyed at the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/first-pics-of-molly-the-magpie-reunion" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reunion</a>. </p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

Family & Pets

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5 tips to keep your dog happy when indoors

<p>The cooler months are well and truly here and the dreary weather is enough to make anyone a little sad, including our furry friends. According to a study by veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, one in three dogs experience a downturn in mood during winter months. If the rain is preventing you getting out and about, here are five tips to keep your pooch happy and healthy when indoors.</p> <p><strong>1. Stair work/treadmill/indoor pool</strong></p> <p>Use what you have in your home. If you live in a multi-storey place, playing fetch up or down the stairs is a fun way for your pooch to get a workout. Alternatively, if you have a treadmill at home, use it to walk your dog on a rainy day. Swimming is also a great physical activity, particularly if dogs have joint problems.</p> <p><strong>2. Obedience training</strong></p> <p>Dust off the training books and work with your pooch to improve their obedience skills. It will keep your furry friend mentally active and dispel any boredom.</p> <p><strong>3. Hide and seek</strong></p> <p>Dogs need their senses stimulated – it’s why when they’re outside they will listen, sniff and dig out anything that’s out of the ordinary. Keep your furry friend entertained with a game of hide and seek. Place healthy treats around the house to get your pooch curious and exploring old surrounds.</p> <p><strong>4. Rotation diet</strong></p> <p>Rotating proteins (meats, fish, and poultry) and mixing in different forms of food (wet, dry and raw) will keep your dog interested in food and eating. Consult your vet about the type of diet your dog should be on for optimal health.</p> <p><strong>5. Play time</strong></p> <p>Interactive toys are a great way to pass time, stimulate and entertain your pooch inside. Puzzle toys, Kong balls with treats stuffed inside or just some one-on-one indoor play time will keep your four-legged friend happy.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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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"Who does that?!" Outrage over horrific kerbside pick-up

<p>Fury has erupted in Sydney's inner west after one callous resident left an unusual item in their pile of junk for council's kerbside pick-up. </p> <p>One a hot summer day, one local was walking past the pile of household items that held a giant "FREE" sign, inviting passersby to sift through the loot to take what they please. </p> <p>However, the concerned local was shocked to find a fish tank at the bottom of the stack, that still had pet fish living inside. </p> <p>The fish were swimming around in only a few inches of water in the tank, which had been left in the blazing sun. </p> <p>Taking to a local Facebook group, the woman posted a photo of the fish pleading for "anybody able to rescue them" from nearby, to which dozens of people responded offering their help.</p> <p>The post racked up an influx of comments from people condemning the original owner's actions, with one outraged neighbour saying, "Who does that!! They would boil in this heat."</p> <p>"Thanks for saving! What is wrong with people!!" replied another.</p> <p>By the end of the day, and after many offers from people willing to take in the two tiny pets, they found a new, loving home with an "experienced" fish owner.  </p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NSW Department of Primary Industries</a>, the welfare of all animals, including fish, is protected by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 and dumping an unwanted pet fish is illegal under Section 11 of the Act.</p> <p>"Most people accept that dumping a pet cat or dog into the wild is an act of animal cruelty, but did you know that fish are considered under the same animal welfare legislation in NSW?" they state on their website.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Christmas can be hazardous for pets – here’s what to look out for

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacqueline-boyd-178858">Jacqueline Boyd</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/nottingham-trent-university-1338">Nottingham Trent University</a></em></p> <p>Christmas is a wonderful time to relax with family and friends, both two and four legged. But it can be a scary and dangerous time for pets. Food, presents, decorations and even visitors to our homes can all become hazards. Vets typically report the festive season as being one of their <a href="https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1136/vr.j5760">busiest times of year</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.j5890">Knowing the dangers</a> is key. It is also important to let everyone in the house know what is safe and what is not for family pets. Prevention is always better than cure.</p> <p>Visitors can be advised on pet etiquette, too. Some pets can get distressed by changes to their routine and anxious in the presence of unfamiliar people. Unfortunately, this has been <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159121001829?via%3Dihub">exacerbated by the pandemic</a>. Be especially aware of leaving dogs unsupervised around <a href="https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/25/4/290">excited or unknown children</a> as bites are a real risk. Providing your pet with a safe, quiet space might be important to protect both your visitors and your pet.</p> <p>Festive foods are a particular problem. A tasty treat for us can be fatal for some pets, so beware of sharing your festive meals with your pets. Some animals will be sensitive even to slight dietary changes, perhaps showing signs of digestive upset and discomfort.</p> <p>Dogs tend to be less discriminating in their food choices than cats. This means that our dogs might be more likely to eat things they shouldn’t, but care should be taken with cats, too.</p> <p>Pancreatitis is a painful and distressing condition often seen in dogs who have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2808289/">consumed fatty foods</a>. Avoid giving leftovers to your pets to reduce this risk. Cooked bones can also cause significant injury, so make sure they can’t get into the bins to steal scraps.</p> <p>Mince pies, Christmas cake and puddings are full of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jvim.15884">raisins</a> – which are toxic to dogs. Grapes, currants and sultanas are also dangerous for dogs and are hidden in many festive recipes. And macadamia nuts are a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10670081/">health hazard</a>, causing a range of symptoms including weakness, vomiting, stiffness and depression. Other nuts and seeds can pose a choking risk.</p> <p>Alcohol needs to be strictly limited to human-only consumption. <a href="https://europepmc.org/article/med/11757994">Rotting apples</a> have even caused alcohol poisoning in dogs, so keep food waste and leftovers out of harm’s way, too. Access to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1435-6935.2003.00068.x">raw bread dough</a>, blue cheese and salt-dough ornaments should also be avoided as they contain compounds that can cause significant illness.</p> <p>Similarly, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2016.00026/full">onions, garlic and chives</a> contain chemicals that are toxic to cats and dogs – and cooking doesn’t make them safer. As little as a single spoonful of sage and onion stuffing can cause harm.</p> <p>Sweet treats are no safer. Chocolate is a significant concern, and holidays are associated with an increased risk of <a href="https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1136/vr.104762">chocolate toxicity</a>. Even artificial sweeteners, such as <a href="https://www.vetsmall.theclinics.com/article/S0195-5616(11)00219-1/fulltext">xylitol</a> – which is commonly used in chewing gum – should be avoided.</p> <h2>Not just food</h2> <p>Wrappers from sweets and chocolates can pose a risk if consumed. Indeed, digestive <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-5827.2009.00783.x">foreign bodies</a> are a common problem for dogs and cats, often requiring emergency surgery. If consumed, toys, gifts and decorations can cause intestinal blockage and damage.</p> <p>Be aware of plant hazards, too. Needles from Christmas trees can penetrate paws, causing pain and infection. Other festive plants such as poinsettia, mistletoe and holly berries are toxic if consumed. The leaves, petals and pollen of lilies are especially <a href="https://doi.org/10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.006">dangerous for cats</a>.</p> <p>Antifreeze is another <a href="https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1136/vr.h6831">hazard for cats</a> with the ingestion of small amounts potentially fatal. Colder temperatures mean antifreeze is commonly used on our vehicles and spillages can occur. Occasionally it is also found in some decorations, such as snow globes, so care should be taken to prevent inadvertent access by our pets.</p> <p>In any case, where you think your pet has eaten or otherwise been exposed to something potentially nasty, it is best to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. By taking a bit of care over the festive season, we can all make sure it is a safe and restful time for us, our pets and our pets’ vets.<!-- 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/173345/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/jacqueline-boyd-178858">Jacqueline Boyd</a>, Senior Lecturer in Animal Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/nottingham-trent-university-1338">Nottingham Trent 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/christmas-can-be-hazardous-for-pets-heres-what-to-look-out-for-173345">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"I've lost complete blood flow": Robert Irwin's near miss with python

<p>Young wildlife warrior Robert Irwin suffered a near miss during a rescue mission over the weekend, when he tried to relocate a carpet python off the road. </p> <p>The 19-year-old took to Instagram on Sunday to share a video of him almost getting bit by the wild snake. </p> <p>"Gee, that gets the heart rate up - he missed me by that much," he said when the snake struck at him. </p> <p>"He's grumpy... he's really keen on biting me... what a gorgeous snake, he's big, he's not venomous but... they're designed to constrict," he said as the python began wrapping its body around his arm to ''constrict" him. </p> <p>"He's got a good grip there, I've lost complete blood flow to my hand, it's completely blue.. and I have no feeling left in my hand," he added. </p> <p>He eventually managed to rescue the snake, and relocated it to a safe spot in the bush the day after. </p> <p>"Near miss! Definitely had a good laugh with this grumpy carpet python - but great to get him rescued off the road and relocated to a much safer spot!" he captioned the post. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C0Fc3k-hiy9/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C0Fc3k-hiy9/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Robert Irwin (@robertirwinphotography)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Fans shared their shock and couldn't help but comment on how much the young conservationist was like his late father, Steve Irwin. </p> <p>"Dude you are killing us with these like-father-like-son bits,"  one fan wrote. </p> <p>"Holy crap. I actually thought I was watching Steve for a second and it took me back a moment. He's very much still alive in his family. No doubt about that," another added. </p> <p>"This is precarious yet hiss-terical !😂 all at the same time. Thank you for helping snakey dude slither to safety! 👍🏼💕" added a fellow conservationist. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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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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How climate change will affect your pet – and how to help them cope

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/edward-narayan-414899">Edward Narayan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Earth has just experienced its <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/jul/27/scientists-july-world-hottest-month-record-climate-temperatures">hottest month</a> since records began and Australia is now gearing up for an El Niño-fuelled summer. Extreme heat isn’t just challenging for humans – it brings suffering to our beloved pets, too.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/10.1079/cabireviews.2023.0020">Research</a> I was involved in examined how climate change affects the welfare of animals, including pets. My colleagues and I used a concept for assessing animal welfare known as the “<a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-are-the-five-domains-and-how-do-they-differ-from-the-five-freedoms/">five-domains model</a>”. It’s a science-based structure for examining an animal’s:</p> <ul> <li>nutrition</li> <li>environment</li> <li>physical health</li> <li>behaviour</li> <li>mental state.</li> </ul> <p>The model evaluates the complete physiological and behavioural responses of animals to environmental stressors. While the effects of climate change on animals have been studied before, ours is the first study to apply the model to animal welfare specifically.</p> <p>We examined the academic literature and found climate change will harm animals across all five welfare domains. This applies to both wild and domesticated animals, including pets. So let’s take a look at how various types of pets will fare in a warming world – and how we can help them.</p> <h2>Fish</h2> <p>Fish are “ectotherms” – that is, they use external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. So pet fish are vulnerable to changes in the water temperature of your home aquarium, which may occur during a heatwave.</p> <p>Extreme water temperatures can cause physical harm to fish. For example, it can increase a fish’s metabolic rate – meaning it <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/feeling-the-heat-warming-oceans-drive-fish-into-cooler-waters">needs more oxygen</a> to breathe . It can also <a href="https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/ON/article/view/4331">cause changes</a> such as slowed growth and reduced feeding.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/other-pets/caring-for-your-pet-fish">official advice</a>, water in an indoor aquarium should generally be kept at between 20℃ and 25℃ (unless you are keeping tropical fish).</p> <p>Depending on your budget and aquarium size, you could opt to use a device to control the water temperature. Either way, it’s important to monitor the water temperature regularly.</p> <p>Also make sure the aquarium isn’t located near a window where it’s exposed to direct sunlight.</p> <p>Leaving your aquarium unattended for days or weeks in summer can be dangerous, due to the risk of heatwaves. If you’re going on a summer holiday, consider organising a <a href="https://www.thesprucepets.com/holiday-and-vacation-fish-care-and-feeding-1378525#:%7E:text=If%20you%20are%20going%20on,aquarium%20and%20can%20prove%20lethal">fish sitter</a> to check on the animal regularly.</p> <h2>Birds</h2> <p>Heat stress can change the <a href="https://www.vetexotic.theclinics.com/article/S1094-9194(16)00003-7/fulltext">physiology</a> of birds. For example, research into a wild population of small Australian robins showed during a heatwave, the birds <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jav.02355">lost body mass</a> and abandoned their nests, and some died.</p> <p>Heat stress can also cause <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327604jaws0101_5">abnormal behaviour in pet birds</a> such as <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1828051X.2016.1195711?src=recsys">feather picking</a>, when one bird repeatedly pecks at the feathers of another.</p> <p>In hot weather, regularly check your bird’s cage to make sure it’s clean and stocked with food and water. If the bird is in an outdoor cage or aviary, ensure it is shaded. And a shallow bird bath will help your feathered friend cool off.</p> <h2>Dogs</h2> <p>Dogs and cats can suffer on hot days. That’s especially true if they are:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.ejmanager.com/mnstemps/100/100-1626960667.pdf?t=1657722662">older or overweight</a></li> <li>have thick coats</li> <li>have short snouts/flat faces (which restricts air flow and makes it harder for them to cool down).</li> </ul> <p>Heat stress can cause <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2021.742926/full?&amp;utm_source=Email_to_ae_&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_content=T1_11.5e2_editor&amp;utm_campaign=Email_publication&amp;journalName=Frontiers_in_Veterinary_Science&amp;id=742926">canine hyperthermia</a>, which means the dog’s body temperature becomes dangerously hot.</p> <p>Watch for <a href="https://www.rvc.ac.uk/small-animal-vet/teaching-and-research/fact-files/heatstroke-in-dogs-and-cats#:%7E:text=Early%20signs%20of%20heatstroke%20in%20pet%20animals&amp;text=Panting%2C%20this%20can%20progress%20to,Red%20gums%20or%20tongue">early warning signs</a> of heat stress such as excessive panting and erratic movements. These symptoms can quickly escalate, leading to heat stroke and possible death.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34828033/">More than 80%</a> of dog owners report exercising their dogs less vigorously, or for shorter periods, during hot weather. That can help avoid heat-related illness. But don’t reduce your dog’s activity levels too much, as that may lead to other health problems. Just time the walks to avoid the heat of the day.</p> <p>Refrain from leaving dogs unattended in vehicles, because they can easily overheat. In fact, it’s better to leave your dog inside home on a hot day, as long as they have a cool place to rest and plenty of water – perhaps even with ice cubes in it. And dogs love to cool off in a kiddie pool or under a sprinkler.</p> <p>If you take your dog out on a hot day, <a href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/dogs/health/heat-and-pets#:%7E:text=Be%20aware%20of%20the%20signs,not%20icy%20water%20and%20fanned">carry</a> a container of fresh, cool water for them. And don’t forget to slip-slop-slap: apply a sparing amount of pet sunscreen to your dogs’ exposed pink skin such as ear tips and nose.</p> <h2>Cats</h2> <p>Like other animals, cats can overheat in hot weather. Symptoms include panting heavily, drooling and a rapid pulse. Like with other animals, if you suspect your cat is suffering from heatstroke, call a vet immediately.</p> <p>Climate change and associated heat and floods is likely to aid the spread of parasites and illness <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2022/12/31/guess-whos-loving-climate-change-mosquitos-and-the-pathogens-they-carry/?sh=50654683174a">including</a> tick-borne diseases, <a href="https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70213352">flea</a> infestations and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32145530/">heartworm</a>. This puts both cats and dogs at risk.</p> <p>In hot weather, the advice for cat owners is similar to that of dog owners: ensure your cat has plenty of shade and water, and put pet sunscreen on their ear tips and noses, especially if the cat is white.</p> <p>If possible, keep the cat inside during the hottest part of the day. Ensure at least one room is cool and ventilated. And in a heatwave, play with your cat either in the early morning or evening, when the temperature has cooled.</p> <h2>A helping human hand</h2> <p>While humans have the capacity to understand and prepare for climate change, pets will need our help to cope. This includes not just the pets listed above, but others too, including reptiles, guinea pigs and rabbits.</p> <p>As heatwaves and other extreme weather events become more common, the onus is on us to keep our pets safe.<!-- 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/210724/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/edward-narayan-414899">Edward Narayan</a>, Senior Lecturer in Animal Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>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/how-climate-change-will-affect-your-pet-and-how-to-help-them-cope-210724">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Paw-sitively hilarious finalists of the Comedy Pet Photography Awards 2023 revealed

<p>The annual Comedy Pet Photography awards have announced their finalists for the competition, proving you can always rely on your furry friends to put a smile on your face.</p> <p>The 25 finalists have snapped their pets in their silliest moments, with the paw-sitively hilarious photos making instant classics. </p> <p>The finalists for the 2023 competition captured a photo-bombing dog, a lazy cat, unlikely friends, a sneak attack, a mishap at the beach and many other funny predicaments they found their furry friends in. </p> <p>The annual competition began several years ago, when professional photographers Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks, who already ran the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, wanted to branch out and bring awareness to the joy pets bring to people's lives. </p> <p>Their website shares that their mission is to "promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues and celebrate the incredible and hugely valuable contribution that pets can and do have on our lives."</p> <p>"Through the wonders of photography, we want to share the hilarious expressions, antics and naughty capers that your joyous pets get up to and share the love and laughter with the world!"</p> <p>Fans of the funny furry friends can <a href="https://www.comedypetphoto.com/peoples-choice-award/vote-peoples-choice-award.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">vote</a> on their favourite pic to determine the winner of the People's Choice Award for the 2023 competition. </p> <p><em>All image credits: Comedy Pet Photography Awards</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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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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Dog people vs cat people: what your pet preference says about you

<p>Ask anybody whether they’re a cat or a dog person, and chances are, they’ve got a quick answer. But does your pet preference actually say much about your true personality? Well, there’s an increasing body of research that suggests it might.</p> <p><strong>Dog people are more extraverted</strong></p> <p>A 2010 study confirms the pervading cultural belief that dog people are more outgoing and social. Psychologist Sam Gosling at the University of Texas at Austin conducted a study with 4,500 participants answering questions that measured their personality inclinations among the Big Five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. They also indicated whether they considered themselves a cat person, dog person, both or neither.</p> <p>Dog people scored higher on extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness whereas cat people were more neurotic and open, which in this context means creative, philosophical and open to non-traditional ways of thinking.</p> <p>“Once you know the findings, it kind of falls into place,” Gosling noted. “You think, of course, agreeableness and extraversion – dogs are companionable, they hang out, they like to be with you, they like your company, whereas cats like it for as long as they want it, and then they're off.”</p> <p><strong>Cat people scored higher in intelligence</strong></p> <p>In a 2014 study involving 600 college students led by Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Wisconsin, found dog owners were more lively, outgoing and rule-following, while cat owners are more introverted, sensitive, non-conformist and scored higher on intelligence tests.</p> <p>“It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog,” said Guastello. “Whereas, if you’re more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you’re more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk.”</p> <p>Interestingly, the study also found the different qualities the pet owners valued in their dogs or cats: 38 per cent of dog lovers reported companionship was the best quality of canines, while 45.6 per cent of cat lovers said affection was the top cat trait.</p> <p>However, ultimately these studies are of course, generalisations and the traits don’t apply to all dog owners or cat owners. And in the end, what does it matter – each pet owner loves animals and that in itself says a lot more about a person!</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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These senior dogs are paws-itively perfect

<p>US photographer Amanda Jones has built a remarkable career capturing the bond between people and their furry best friends, and now, she has taken things a step further with her Dog Years Project. </p> <p>The endeavour sees Jones photographing animals at different points in their lives, from puppyhood to their senior years, to illustrate the bond people share with their canine companions. </p> <p>“A dog’s love is timeless,” the official Dog Years Project’s website explains. “The bond we share with our canine companions deepens and matures in their journey from playful pups to wise old friends. </p> <p>“Dog Years Project is a beautiful collection of the lives of 50 dogs. In portraying each dog at both young and old ages, photographer Amanda Jones reveals the unique spark of personality that lasts a lifetime. </p> <p>“This powerful collection of photographs reminds us that life really is better with a dog by your side.”</p> <p>Jones’ first dog, a gorgeous long-haired Dachshund named Lily, served as the inspiration for the entire project. Lily was photographed from the first day she joined Jones’ family, and Jones’ next Dachshund, Benny, was the next to feature in the 10 year project.</p> <p>“It was the passing of this VERY special dachshund [Lily] at the age of 15 that inspired Amanda to look back at previous shoots and compare the young imagery with the older photographs,” a post to Jones’ Instagram explained. “Her young and old is a good one, don’t you think? Of course, we’ve got all the years in between as well. What a dog she was! We miss her around the studio each and every day.”</p> <p>And one commenter summed it up well when they admitted, “this really made me cry. I always loved older dogs even more than I love puppies. They all have strong personalities and look like those people with many stories to tell … To those of you who can enjoy your beloved ones pics in this project, be sure you’re blessed.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CbGx3wfOyF1/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CbGx3wfOyF1/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Amanda Jones (@amandajonesinc)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The collection of photos see two side-by-side images of the same dog, with some as young as six months old in the first shot, and some as old as 16 years in the second - at different points in their lives, highlighting the differences while revealing the unique personalities that last them a lifetime.</p> <p>As Jones has put it, she believes “people can relate to the visible ageing process that the images show. I think senior dogs in general stir up strong emotions in people.”</p> <p>Jones’ pictures have been compiled into a book titled <em>Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then &amp; Now</em>, with Jones noting that while working on the publication, she “rejoined dogs, couples, and families” she had met years prior. </p> <p>“Some dogs had been lost to illness and accidents,” she said. “Most are living amazingly long, happy lives in perfect surroundings.”</p> <p>And perhaps most importantly, as Jones herself explained, “one thing that remains constant is the love people and dogs have for each other.</p> <p>“That does not change, no matter how many dog years go by.”</p> <p><em>Images: @amandajonesinc / Instagram</em></p>

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