Gestation crates have been widely condemned as one of the cruelest factory farming practices in the world. In fact, gestation crates are so inhumane they have been banned in nine U.S. states, as well as in the entire European Union. Recognizing their inherent cruelty, over 60 major food providers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Safeway, Kroger, Costco and Whole Foods, have all started demanding their suppliers do away with these cruel crates. Yet Walmart continues to support blatant animal abuse by buying pork from suppliers that condemn intelligent and social animals to a lifetime of misery and deprivation.
It is with a heavy heart that the City of Little Rock announces the passing away of Fern, the border collie who worked as a deterrent for geese at the Rebsamen Golf Course. She died over the weekend and was found by staff in her pen.
“Fern was a wonderful dog and one of the best City Employee’s we’ve ever had working here at Rebsamen Golf Course,” said Eric Bowden, Assistant Facility Supervisor at Rebsamen.
With the re-opening of the Golf Course in 1999 after a re-design, Rebsamen was having a big problem with Canadian Geese landing on the 300 acre property. They were destroying the turf on the greens which would cost thousands of dollars to repair each time they would land. So the City decided to purchase a Border Collie, a border collie named Fern.
She was a working dog. Fern was trained on command to crouch down, run around the ponds when geese would enter into the pond. She also was trained on command to stay directly across from Parks employees while herding the geese out of the pond. They would then give the final command and she would swim towards them which would force the geese to fly out. Fern never harmed the Geese. Border Collies put out a Fox like instinct to the geese which would scare them.
Fern spent her nights at Rebsamen in her own kennel in the maintenance shop. She would run the course almost every morning and would ride with City employees throughout the day in the golf cart.
“I started working at Rebsamen Golf Course on August 1, 2000 and have known Fern since the very first day I worked here,” said Bowden. “She has been a wonderful dog. In 2007 I entered her into a nationwide contest through Turf Net. The contest was for Superintendent’s Best Friend. Out of the 180 entry’s they received, it would narrow down to 13 dogs nationwide. Out of the 13 finalists, one would be chosen to be on the front cover of the calendar. They chose Fern! She was named Superintendent’s Best Friend for 2008 through Turf Net.”
With the passing of her on Sunday, October 13, 2013, she has been laid to rest at Rebsamen Golf Course at Memory Hill, which sits between 18 green and 17 tee, on the big hill overlooking the entire golf course.
The Little Rock Zoo is sad to report the death of Navasha, a 33-year-old black rhinoceros living at the Zoo since 2008.
Navasha died in her exhibit Sunday afternoon, according to Zoo staff. The animal had been showing signs of illness for several days including blood in her urine and diarrhea and had also been lethargic and rejecting food.
Zoo veterinarian staff had completed a standing sedation to treat the animal’s condition on Saturday and the rhino appeared to be in stable condition following the procedure. However, when Zoo staff arrived early Sunday morning Navasha’s condition had worsened and the animal later died in her exhibit.
A necropsy was immediately performed on the rhino. Initial results showed abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract. Full results of the necropsy will be available at a later date.
The median life expectancy for a black rhino living in a Zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is 17.8 years.
Navasha was transferred to the Little Rock Zoo from the Lincoln Park Zoo to be a companion for Johari, an 18-year-old black rhino living at the Zoo since 1995. Zoo staff report that Johari is doing well. The Zoo is also home to Sue, a 43-year-old white rhino.
The Little Rock Zoo is sad to report the death of Jewell, a 62-year-old elephant living at the Zoo since 2011. The Zoo will be closed today as staff remove the elephant from the exhibit. Large equipment is in use and most pedestrian paths are blocked inside the Zoo.
Zoo staff reported early this morning that Jewell was lying on her side on the ground and was struggling to get up. The elephant was unable to lift herself up on her own and Zoo staff worked quickly to lift Jewell to her feet using a large crane and harness.
After she was lifted to her feet the elephant could not stand on her own without assistance. Zoo veterinarian staff, in consultation with Zoo elephant staff, evaluated the elephant’s condition and made the decision to euthanize her. A necropsy will be performed on the elephant.
Median life expectancy for female Asian elephants living in AZA accredited zoos is 49.6.
Jewell was donated to the Little Rock Zoo in 2011 by the Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation where she had been living since her retirement from the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus.
The Zoo’s other elephant, Zina, was also donated to the Zoo by Ringling Brothers and is doing well, according to Zoo staff.
Update from David Koon, who was there for last night's meeting, on the jump...
Said the contest website about the winner, Walle:
This is a dog you have to see move in order to appreciate his ugly dog status. Walle hails from Chico and was a late entry in the contest, arriving minutes before the closing time. In a contest that has celebrated the Chinese Crested, Walle represented a departure from the usual. The breeds in this contest included pedigree and mutt mixes of Chihauhua, Chinese Crested, Boxer, Terrier, Pugs, Poodles, and Peruvian. Walle was acquired by his owner Tammie Barbee at three months old and won the crowd with his hind leg stance which demonstrated his girth and large head as he took a biscuit from his owner. She says, “People come up to me and say that dog is not right, but I love him.”
News this morning lifted my heart.
I've long admired the awesome ugliness of the naked mole rat, an East African animal that is part of the Little Rock Zoo collection.
Naked mole rats produce a unique compound that appears to block them from getting cancer.
Rochelle Buffenstein, who studies the biology of naked mole rats at the University of Texas Health Science Center, called the discovery by Dr. Gorbunova and Dr. Seluanov “intriguing and most unexpected.” She is hopeful that the naked mole rat’s secrets may inspire new treatments for cancer.
Dr. Gorbunova and Dr. Seluanov are hopeful as well; they’re now investigating whether the compound can protect mice from cancer. “We think this mechanism could be moved into humans,” Dr. Gorbunova said.
And speaking of lovable ugly animals:
Channel 4 reports here on a Ellie Mae, an eight-year-old Chinese crested hairless dog from Gurdon that is en route to California today to compete in the world's ugliest dog contest. The Arkansas dog is a top vote-getter in on-line voting.
Looks like we had no reason to hurry. Though Latham and her attorney were under the impression that a hearing in the case would happen on Wednesday, once they arrived in Environmental Court with supporters and camera crews from local TV stations in tow, they were told the appearance was just an opportunity for Latham to enter a plea. Latham pled not guilty. A trial date has been set for June 27. Latham will be allowed to keep Sooie in her home until the issue is decided.
Interest in the case has been popping like bacon grease since we reported on Sooie's fight with City Hall. The "Save Sooie" Facebook page now has over 1,400 followers. Latham has also started a fundraising effort to help defray ongoing legal costs in the case.
Mike Huckabee pays tribute to his faithful Lab, Jet, in a web post. The dog, a 1998 anniversary gift from his wife, Janet, died Tuesday at 14.
My staff used to joke that in another life they wanted to come back as Jet, meaning that my devotion and unconditional love for that dog was exceeded only by his even greater devotion to me and his unconditional love. He taught me patience because it never irritated him if I was late, or had “one more thing to do.” He taught me forgiveness for he never withheld his affections or love even when I broke a promise to throw things for him to retrieve or to reward him with a treat. He taught me to relax—so much so that in campaigns, the staff actually plotted for ways to keep him with me because his ability to lower my blood pressure and keep me tranquil was visible and palpable.
Penguin parents Skipper and Easy are taking good care of the chick, according to Zoo staff, who says both parents are helping to keep the chick warm and feed it regurgitated fish.
The chick will be off exhibit until it is weaned when it is around 70 days old or if the parents allow it to wander out of the nest box.
Zoo staff say the chick is growing fast and is of normal weight for its age. On the second day after the chick hatched it weighed in at only 54 grams. As of yesterday, only three weeks later, the chick now weighs 943 grams. The chick will continue to gain weight until it is full grown at around 3.4 kilograms.
The chick is healthy and eating well according to Zoo staff who regularly monitor the chick and its parents.
The sex of the chick has yet to be determined and the chick has yet to be named.
The hatching of this chick was at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the African penguin to ensure the long-term survival of endangered and threatened animals.
This is the very last picture that I took with these two just a few weeks ago. Obie thought it would be a good idea to hop up in the chair & sit on me. Bebe thought it would have been funny to follow Obie in his footsteps & also crawl on top of me the same time as Obie did. Never in a million years would I have thought my house would get broken into & lit on fire. I also never thought that my two babies would have left this world that way. I can't even comprehend why anyone would want to hurt any type of animal. My heart is broken into several different pieces & it will never get patched up from this nightmare. Someone wake me up now...
No word yet on what may have been behind this crime. The Facebook page has an outpouring of sentiment from dog lovers the world over. It was an inexplicably cruel act for any living thing. But speaking as an owner of four English bulldogs and, currently, a Frenchified miniature version, it's heightened by the universally gentle nature of the breed.
Margie Foley reported on Facebook on the other dogs:
No this isn't about the sad state of Razorback football, but the sad state of attitudes toward treatment of animals.
TURKEYS: The following ad appeared in the Baxter Bulletin this week:
PETA OFFERING UP TO $5,000 REWARD
For info leading to arrest / conviction of Turkey Trot Festival "turkey drop" participants.
Yes, it's time again soon (Oct. 12-13) for the Yellville Turkey Trot, a festival at which an unsanctioned — wink, wink — tradition of long-standing had terrified turkeys dropped from small planes over the town, sometimes with splattering results. It's defended as very nearly the cornerstone of American life by its fans, who love to speak for the turkeys in saying it's no bother to them. PETA's reward fund and a years-belated FAA crackdown on safety rules put the kibosh on the turkey drop last year, much to the unhappiness of this misguided turkey dropper, who apparently thinks he's funny and is spoiling to terrify turkeys again. From his page:
A Long Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far Far Away, A Mysterious Figure Appeared. His Name: The Phantom Pilot. His Mission: To Hurl Turkeys From Aircraft. His Quarry: PETA. Current Score: Phantom 65 PETA 0.
HOGS: You've read before about the conditions in gestation crates, the tiny pens in which sows are kept in big hog operations. The word is getting out about the conditions, though farmers object. From the New York Times :
This year, however, Mr. Dittmer and fellow hog farmers are under increasing pressure from corporate pork buyers and animal rights groups to return to the old way of doing things: putting sows in group housing. In the last week of September alone, three companies — Dunkin’ Donuts, ConAgra Foods and Brinker International, which operates Chili’s — announced that over the next decade, they would no longer buy pork derived from pigs housed in gestation crates.
This week, the Bruegger’s bagel chain joined them. That brought the number of fast-food companies and food retailers that have made such commitments this year to 32 — a stunning victory for the Humane Society of the United States, which has worked for years to persuade pork producers to make the change. The National Pork Producers Council said it did not know how much pork these companies bought but estimated it might be about one-fifth of the pork produced.
Hog growers aren't happy about it and contend the crates are better for hogs than the alternative. The industry isn't rolling over easily. This is where Arkansas comes in.
Earlier efforts to convert the pork industry have had mixed success. Cargill, the nation’s third-largest pork processor, owns about one-quarter of the sows that produce pigs for the company and began putting them in larger group pens about a decade ago. Smithfield Foods recommitted to transitioning to pens last year, after first promising it would do so in 2007 and then changing its mind. Tyson Foods and JBS, the two other large processors, have refused to budge.
Kissing baby toes — what mother has not done that? Sekani, the new gorilla mother at the Little Rock Zoo, and her as-yet unnamed and unsexed infant, born Sunday, made their first public appearance today. The infant is nursing well, zoo spokesmen say. Sekani appears to be taking to motherhood, holding her baby with both big hands in the photograph below.
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