You Animal


Life in This Zoo

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

- George Orwell

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought:
in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis.
The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased
exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.

- Isaac Bashevis Singer

Animals are such agreeable friends; they ask no questions, pass no criticisms.

- George Eliot

Rattlesnake! - If you have been bitten, get to a doctor as quickly and calmly as possible.  Do not, under any circumstances, drink alcohol.  (Also flying snakes and a tribute to Joe Slowinski)
Snakes in Art - Snakes inspire an atavistic hatred.  They are more loathed than bats, maggots or worms.  Snakes slither.  They are silent.  They come and go without warning.  They look slimy...
Art Nouveau Snakes - Children adore dinosaurs.  Turtles are pets.  Even alligators and crocodiles, which may be feared, are not loathed with the same intensity with which snakes are...  (This page contains a link to some disturbing boa photos.)
Any herpetologists reading this?  I recently received the following email: "I recently found a dead blacksnake (caught in some plastic netting).  The reason it had not been able to pass through was two symmetrical protuberances on its underside, near the vent.  They were about 1½" long and ¾" in diameter, ending in a purple, flower-like structure, something like a thistle blossom!  Any idea what these structures are?"  (There's a moral here)...
60-Acre Spider Web - "The top of every plant and fencepost was completely capped with this white sheet.  The whole field was undulating in a delicate way in the breeze."  If that sounds vaguely beautiful, there was a point when Wheeler said it was anything but.  "There were spiders crawling all over my trousers and jacket; they started to spin webs.  I thought about the poison represented by those millions of spiders and wondered if I was being really stupid standing there..."
Scorpions Major Cause of Death in Iran - After respiratory, infectious and digestive diseases, scorpions cause the most deaths in this humid, oil-rich province.  25,000 people are treated for stings in Khuzestan every year; 60 varieties of the deadly insect can be found.  (Yellowjackets, wasps and grasshoppers covered, too.)
This Mite Bee a Problem - Is the health of our bees deteriorating?  (Lots of stuff about bees)
Killing with Kindness - "The fish lay under the influence of the anæsthetic as if dead but for its slightly moving mouth.  It was returned to the pool afterward to recover.  The anæsthetic allows the salmon to be sedated before harvest so stress and exhaustion are minimised..."  (Fish, lobster, octopus, eel)
Where Do You Draw that Fateful, Fatal Line? - Baby rays are cute; octopi can learn tricks just by watching others; eels make faithful pets and can even get a job to help out with the bills.  Where does life stop being important?...
Frogs - Since the "Rosbifs" (as the French call the British) are having trouble with roast beef, it seems fair France is overrun by frogs: no ordinary frogs - a plague of giant Californian bullfrogs threatens the ecology of southwestern France...  (Frogs, toads and the dreaded cane toad!)
An Extra Special Toad - Some bird species have learned to eat cane toads without exposing themselves to the toxin - they kill the toad and turn it over onto its back, pull away the soft belly skin and partake of the internal organs, leaving the skin and the deadly paratoid glands behind...
Quack Squad - "I'll work for 400 bugs a day..."
The Corvids - Birds with brains (ravens, crows, jays, magpies)...
Parrots, pigeons, eagles: More clever birds...
Birds with Fewer Brains from this point on (ostrich, emu, cassowary on this page)
That Wasn't Chicken - Next time ask first  (and what to do about unwanted chicks - or unwanted feathers)
Something to Crow About - Spice of life: a dozen different chicken eggs can hatch wildly different birds.  Breeders appear to fast-forward evolution so that "survival of the fittest" is replaced with "survival of the prettiest" or even "...of the strangest..."  (Brahma and Bantam)
Beauty Parlour Chicks - Miss Millie, who has extravagant plumage on the lines of the Seasame Street character Big Bird, now thinks nothing of coming into the family home and playing with the dogs...  (Polish)
The Beak of Perfection - The Sebright is one of the true bantams.  That means there is no standard (large) version of the breed.  The breed, developed by Sir John Sebright early in the 1800s, has the distinction of being the only breed of chicken named for an individual...  (Phoenix, Sebright, Silky, Spanish, Sultan)
Disposable Lives - Loving our pets to pieces  (cells that are programmed to die at a certain time and cells that for some reason have never died)
Man's Best Friend Is a Thief - Dogs can tell when they're being watched...  (Unusual dogs, dogs as food, food for dogs, when they die)
Steps to Adoption - The Wellington SPCA's guidelines...  (pets mutts, misc.)
Dalmatian Kittens - I spotted something funny on the way to work this morning.  And more odd - bestiality? (at least of a sort... and a dog that walks on its front paws
Mixed-Up - Lurchers (part greyhound), a beautiful poem by Kipling, what's really in dog food...
It's a Dog's Life - American owners of Border collies unsuccessfully fought to keep their working dogs off the list of recognised breeds for fear that they would be transformed into furry, useless creatures...  (the problems with purebreds; does an animal's appearance predict its personality and - stray article - are elephants tortured to perform?)
Lðsung (Solution) - Why has he taken on this job?  For the sake of the dogs?  But the dogs are dead; and what do dogs know of honour and dishonour anyway?  For himself then.  For his idea of the world, a world in which men do not use shovels to beat corpses into a more convenient shape for processing...  (also animal cruelty)
Bon Appetit! - Every year 12 million pets are euthanised in America.  Unwanted.  Excess animals.  As long as these animals are killed anyway, why not use their meat to feed people?  It would give a whole new meaning to the words Chow Time, Doggie Dinner, and hot dog...  (also SARS and civet cats; whale meat)
Rogue Cat - He didn't know she was planning to leave.  It broke his heart...  (funny cat photos, cats and their odd relationships with other animals, teaching one to use a toilet)
Cool Cats - Some are more out of the ordinary than others...
Mother Love - Can help you most if you behave like a rat.  (rat, mouse and guinea pig)
Holy Cow - Manna from heaven?  (falling cows, cows that can read signs, moody cows, problems with milk, what's in a hamburger, goats)
Every sheep has a distinct character.  For each fearful and stupid animal, there is a curious and affectionate one.  Every flock has its leaders: while the rest panic at the appearance of humans and dogs, the leaders work out what you want them to do, and, if it seems safe, they do it.  (sheep, kangaroo, deer)
Horsing Around - Horses usually live to be 25 - 30 years old, donkeys average 30 - 40, miniature donkeys average 25 years, and mules can live into their 40's...  (horse that rides in a car, fertile mule, zonkey, the latest in horseshoes) 
Biological Exuberance: Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name - Homosexuality in animals...  (gay animals and a strange bat)
Fair Game - "Most of all, I'm hunting a wild and dangerous pig because I love bacon for breakfast and pork chops for tea.  But if I can't bring myself to do it, I have sworn to become a vegetarian..."  (also an article on animal thinking)
Bloody Hard Work - The fact that he kills things for a living doesn't worry him at all - it is not something he even stops to think about.  "I've got three kids, two of them at high school.  You can't look at things like that - you've just got to get on with the job..."  (also some great photos of cows in an attempt to make everyone involved feel guilty)
I can Bearly Stand - Fishing is so tiring!  (polar bear, brown bear, lesser panda)
"Honey, Come Look!  This Is One Hell of a Whale..." - Personally, I suspect the men aboard the sub were more excited than the bears...
Musteloidea: Raccoons, Weasels, Skunks, Lesser Pandas - their reputations precede them...
Possum Pancake - This wasn't covered in the employee instruction manual?  (possum, squirrel, badger, roadkill)
Blow Me Away - "Pop!  Put that thing down before you break something!"  (animals with pets, Cheetah at 72- the oldest chimp in the world - and saving animal dna for the future)
Waiting for our turn
Sea Lion Savvy - Sea lions learned to match symbols through trial and error, with fish as a reward.  Once they grasped relationships between pairs, they were given new choices.  They previously learned castle picture goes with golf club and golf club goes with pizza.  Could they logically connect pizza with castle?  For Rio, the answer was a convincing yes - immediately and correctly, every time...
Whales - bowhead whales being hunted by indigenous communities in the Arctic may be the oldest mammals on earth, with some more than 200 years old.
Wellington Harbour Wildlife - a small sampling
Are Animals Conscious? - One of the reasons it is unclear whether or not animals may properly be said to be conscious is that the term has no universal definition as applied to humans.  Is consciousness equivalent to awareness?  To attention?  Cognition?  Perception?  Memory?  Imagination?  All of these?  Much more?
Animal Rage - As animal attacks on humans reach frightening levels, scientists are beginning to understand exactly what the beasts are thinking - and it's not good...

For pages on other topics including drugs, education, environment, flying, humour, immigration, investment in forestry, men, money, prisons, relationships, science, terrorism, Wellington, working and much more, please see the Topics Table of Contents.

The next section is Animation.  If you don't have a fast connection and lots of plugins, you may wish to skip to the subsequent section, The Art of Playing Cards.  Or not.

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