Photographer Isa Leshko has created a photography series titled “Elderly Animals,” illuminating animals that don’t often make it to the aww-inducing Buzzfeed lists. Yet Leshko’s project bears a heartbreaking message.
Leshko began photographing elderly animals after her own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The sudden proximity to illness inspired Leshko to confront her own mortality and shed light on other creatures entering the final stages of their lives in the process.
Leshko’s subjects range from horses to dogs to chickens to pigs, all captured in different states of delicate dignity. While some animals were raised on factory farms others spent their lives as beloved pets; the differences in upbringing are written on the subjects’ fur, bodies and faces.
Killer whales cruelly snared by hunters will be put on display at Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympics
Two killer whales cruelly snared by hunters are to be displayed at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The mammals , which can grow up to 22ft long and swim 100 miles a day, are set to be kept in a “small concrete tank” after a 4,614-mile flight from the far east of Russia.
Animal protection advisers said the move to exhibit the orcas – not really whales but members of the dolphin family – was cruel and a “callous attempt to cash in on the Olympics”.
Campaigners say the two killer whales, along with six others, are being held “in small pools” near Vladivostok.
A source told the Sunday People: “This is so wrong. The Sochi Dolphinarium is shamelessly trying to cash in on the Olympics by exploiting these creatures who should be roaming free in the wild.
“It goes against everything the Olympics should be about. It’s sickening.”
By Mark Carnall, on 10 January 2014
When the language of biology meets common parlance there’s often a lot of confusion. Biological nomenclature (often called the scientific name, we are Homo sapiens sapiens* for example) is by and large controlled using strict rules, format and notations but there aren’t quite so strict rules when it comes to the common names of animals or groups of animals. Some animals we refer to by their taxonomic name, for example; Tyrannosaurus rex, Hippopotamus, Octopus** and Bison. For other animals however, their common, useful to most people and widely understood names create all kinds of problems for the pedantic as I’ve written about before when is comes to sea stars vs starfish. My colleague Jack Ashby wrote about when it comes to seals and sea lions. Consider also that a musk ox is a goat-antelope, horseshoe crabs aren’t crabs at all and the Grant Museum favourite: flying lemurs aren’t and don’t.
The idea of ‘true’ and ‘false’ animals can also be misleading and a lot of pub discussions/arguments/bets come from animals which aren’t what they are often called or even named. How do some animals end up as the ‘true’ and ‘false’ versions of their group. Let’s have a look at some ‘true’ animals and see how the philosophical concepts of truth has ended up in our zoological lexicons.
In what will likely be considered one of the biggest (literally) zoological discoveries of the Twenty-First Century, scientists today announced they have discovered a new species of tapir in Brazil and Colombia. The new mammal, hidden from science but known to local indigenous tribes, is actually one of the biggest animals on the continent, although it’s still the smallest living tapir. Described in the Journal of Mammology, the scientists have named the new tapir Tapirus kabomani after the name for “tapir” in the local Paumari language: “Arabo kabomani.”
Tapirus kabomani, or the Kobomani tapir, is the fifth tapir found in the world and the first to be discovered since 1865. It is also the first mammal in the order Perissodactyla (which includes tapirs, rhinos, and horses) found in over a hundred years. Moreover, this is the largest land mammal to be uncovered in decades: in 1992 scientists discovered the saola in Vietnam and Cambodia, a rainforest bovine that is about the same size as the new tapir.
Found inhabiting open grasslands and forests in the southwest Amazon (the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Amazonas, as well as the Colombian department of Amazonas), the new species is regularly hunted by the Karitiana tribe who call it the “little black tapir.” The new species is most similar to the Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris), but sports darker hair and is significantly smaller: while a Brazilian tapir can weigh up to 320 kilograms (710 pounds), the Kabomani weighs-in around 110 kilograms (240 pounds). Given its relatively small size it likely won’t be long till conservationists christen it the pygmy or dwarf tapir. It also has shorter legs, a distinctly-shaped skull, and a less prominent crest.
"[Indigenous people] traditionally reported seeing what they called ‘a different kind of anta [tapir in Portuguese].’ However, the scientific community has never paid much attention to the fact, stating that it was always the same Tapirus terrestris,” explains lead author Mario Cozzuol, the paleontologist who first started investigating the new species ten years ago. “They did not give value to local knowledge and thought the locals were wrong. Knowledge of the local community needs to be taken into account and that’s what we did in our study, which culminated in the discovery of a new species to science.”
thenearsightedmicroraptor asked: Just saw the post about chipmunks, and while I see how it is, in most cases, a bad idea to feed wildlife, I am just curious: Do you also discourage feeding birds in the winter? Because I've always heard it was a good deed to do, but that could be wrong.
I am against feeding all wildlife, even cute, fluffy birds struggling through the winter. Feeding wildlife doesn’t help the wildlife in the long run; bird feeders aren’t a good deed—they’re for the human enjoyment of bird watching. It makes us feel good about having done something nice for the cute little things, but there are a couple of problems.
When any wildlife looks to humans for sustenance, they become less reliant on their natural sources of food. Do this for several generations, and then let’s say you move, or otherwise are no longer putting food out. You now have a bunch of birds that need to figure out really quickly where more natural sources of food are, or they’re going to starve.
Well, okay—they can just fly a little further to find food, right? However, by adding more food into the system, you’re artificially increasing the wildlife population’s ability to raise more young, which can create overpopulation. And it negates one of nature’s ways of keeping a population in check—the limited amount of food available. So the more people who are feeding the birds and other wildlife, the more they’re not letting nature’s processes happen on their own. This overpopulation also doesn’t weed out the less hardy individuals, which can contribute to a weaker population and bring about more diseases, including lethal ones.
And as a note regarding those squirrels and chipmunks and such—when you train wildlife to not be afraid of you, it very often goes badly for the wildlife. They can be less afraid of humans and get into our trash—or even our homes (squirrels in the attic!)—looking for food. On a larger scale, black bears in Yellowstone that have gotten too aggressive in trying to get handouts from tourists have had to be shot, simply because people decided they wants to feed the cute, oversized teddy bear instead of letting it be a *bear*. And a lot of the stuff we feed other animals isn’t so great for them. Bread and ducks is a great example—bread doesn’t have most of the nutrients ducks (which are omnivores, by the way) need to live. Plus bread is filling, and the duck may not get hungry enough to eat its natural foods. So you can literally starve a duck to death if you feed it enough bread over time. (And that’s not even getting into the problem of rotting bread and too much duck waste causing algae blooms in the pond, etc.)
If you really want to help wildlife, plant native species of plant and fungus that the wildlife uses as food, shelter, den lining, etc. If you don’t have a yard, see if there’s a local environmental group working to restore natural areas with native species. Or toss a few seed bombs with native seeds in an open lot, or see if you know someone who does have a yard who will let you convert part of it to natives.
Finally, if still decide you want to feed the cute little animals, I’m not going to scream about how horrible you are. Just realize that you may feel you’re helping them in the short term, but please do consider the long term consequences of what you’re doing to them.
Four of the 2013 National Wildlife Photo Contest Winners.
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