Pet rescue Fukushima! Animals saved from nuclear wasteland by volunteers who risked their own lives


Survivors: Volunteers have braved the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to rescue hundreds of pets abandoned after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year

For months they have been forced to wander a desolate landscape, lost, confused and alone. The thousands of dogs and cats abandoned in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis have endured dangerously high radiation levels, a severe lack of food and now the freezing winter weather.
But thanks to a group of selfless volunteers, who have braved the 20km exclusion zone around the stricken plant, many of the animals are finally being reunited with their grateful owners.

Purring: A cat relaxes in his cage in after being rescued from the town of Okuma set within the 20km exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Rescue mission: Volunteers were given special permission to enter the 20 mile exclusion zone late last year

While Japan focuses on containing the nuclear accident and protecting people from radiation, Yasunori Hoso, representative director of United Kennel Club Japan, has been trying to save as many dogs and cats from the no-go area as possible.

Handful: The rescuers have also helped abandoned farm animals like this terrified cow discovered wandering a highway near the town of Namie

'But when it comes to the dogs themselves, all of them, without exception, become really ecstatic when they get reunited with their owners'.
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11 triggered the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and forced residents around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to flee, with many of them having to leave behind their beloved pets.
More than 150,000 people from Fukushima prefecture still cannot return to their homes, with nearly half of them from the exclusion zone.

Japan's United Kennel Club Director Yasunori Hoso has led efforts to help the thousands of abandoned animals

Ordeal: Many of the animals, which were forced to survive on their own for over nine months, have since been returned to their grateful owners

Work to do: Mr Hoso, who runs a shelter for about 350 dogs and cats says there are many more animals which still need help

Volunteers hope to find new homes for hundreds of animals that can't be reunited with their owners

Mr Hoso said there are hundreds more animals in the area that still need help.
He added: 'If left alone, tens of them will die everyday. Unlike well-fed animals that can keep themselves warm with their own body fat, starving ones will just shrivel up and die.
'If we cannot go in to take them out, I hope the government will at least let us go there and leave food for them.'

Ghost town: More than 150,000 people from the area around Fukushima still cannot return to their homes

Desolate: An empty shopping street in the town of Namie inside the 20km exclusion zone

Deities: Dolls of the 'Seven Gods of Good Fortune' are seen inside a house damaged by the earthquake in March last year

Trashed: A home appliance retailer damaged by the earthquake

Toru Akama, an engineer working at the Fukushima nuclear plant, asked Mr Hoso to look after his 14 dogs when an entry ban was imposed on his town.
He said: 'I was really happy for my dogs. They are part of my family. There was no way I could abandon them.'
Mr Hoso said he plans to carry on until the last dog in his shelter is returned to its owner or finds a new home.
'That is what keeps me going, what makes me determined that I have to push ahead until the last one goes back to its owner."

source: dailymail

Holy mackerel! Lorry ploughs off road and overturns spilling 20 TONNES of fish across farmer's field


Fishy business: The lorry load of mackerel spilled across farmer Gordon Flinn's field

A farmer was understandably left fed up to the gills by the sight of fish after a staggering 20 tonnes of mackerel spilled onto his land from an overturned lorry.
It was travelling towards Ardglass in County Down, Northern Ireland, last week when it appeared to have caught a grass verge, ploughed through 30 yards of hedge and fallen into a field belonging to Gordon Flinn, 71.
A digger and a crane were called in as 12 men worked for seven hours straight in a ‘large scale’ clean-up operation following the accident.

Fin on the ground: The fish measured two-feet deep in places

Mr Flinn, a sheep and cattle farmer, said the fish were piled up to two feet deep in places. He said: ‘We had a call from the police about 3pm, saying there had been an accident down by my land and that there were fish everywhere.
‘The driver had hit a verge and the fish had come down on the hedge, destroying it and spilling them all into my field.

‘When I got down there I expected to see boxes of fish fingers or something - but there was a 20 tonne silver sea of fish. It was quite a sight.
‘There were thousands of the things all over my land. It was a bit of a shock to say the least. ‘It took them from about 7pm to 2am just to clear it all up. It was about ten metres in diameter - they were all over the place.

Sea of mackerel: It took seven hours to clean the fish up

‘The one really bizarre thing was though, is that there wasn’t a smell of fish. I think there was more than enough to feed the 5,000. We could have fed the 5,000 five thousand times over.
‘I didn’t take some for dinner - I don’t think I could look another fish in the eyes for a long time.’

source: dailymail

How HUGE pythons are wiping out Florida mammal populations


A new report shows that the proliferation of pythons coincides with a decrease of mammals in the Florida Everglades. In this 2009 photo researchers hold a 15-foot, 162-pound Burmese python captured in the park just after it ate a 6-foot alligator

A burgeoning population of huge pythons — many of them pets that were turned loose by their owners when they got too big — appears to be wiping out large numbers of raccoons, opossums, bobcats and other mammals in the Everglades, a study says.
The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that sightings of medium-size mammals are down dramatically — as much as 99 percent, in some cases — in areas where pythons and other large, non-native constrictor snakes are known to be lurking.
Scientists fear the pythons could disrupt the food chain and upset the Everglades' environmental balance in ways difficult to predict.

At least 1,825 Burmese pythons have been caught in and around Everglades National Park since 2000. Many used to be pets and were freed by their owners when they got too big. Here is one with its nest captured in 2009

'The effects of declining mammal populations on the overall Everglades ecosystem, which extends well beyond the national park boundaries, are likely profound,' said John Willson, a research scientist at Virginia Tech University and co-author of the study.
Tens of thousands of Burmese pythons, which are native to Southeast Asia, are believed to be living in the Everglades, where they thrive in the warm, humid climate.
While many were apparently released by their owners, others may have escaped from pet shops during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and have been reproducing ever since.

The National Academy of Science report released on Monday shows a sharp decrease in mammal sightings. This photo earlier this month shows Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar, center, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fl, left, looking at a 13-foot python from the park

The report says the effect on the overall ecosystem is hard to predict. Declines among bobcats and foxes, which eat rabbits, could be linked to pythons' feasting on rabbits. On the flip side, declines among raccoons, which eat eggs, may help some turtles, crocodiles and birds.
Scientists point with concern to what happened in Guam, where the invasive brown tree snake has killed off birds, bats and lizards that pollinated trees and flowers and dispersed seeds. That has led to declines in native trees, fish-eating birds and certain plants.

In 2010, Florida banned private ownership of Burmese pythons. Earlier this month, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a federal ban on the import of Burmese pythons and three other snakes.
Salazar said Monday that the study shows why such restrictions were needed.
'This study paints a stark picture of the real damage that Burmese pythons are causing to native wildlife and the Florida economy,' he said.

source: dailymail

We're not kidding - this goat can surf! Pet rides the waves in a surfing safari


Surfin' safari: Goatee surfs the waves in Pismo Beach, California in her distinctive yellow life jacket

When it comes to surfing - this goat is no kid.
Goatee loves the water so much she has been riding the waves like a pro at Pismo Beach in California. The four-legged water baby is often seen balancing on a surfboard as she catches the waves to glide effortlessly on to the beach - much to the delight of sunbathers.
With safety a number one priority she always dons a fetching yellow life-jacket.
Owner Dayna McGregor, who took Goatee surfing to celebrate his birthday recently, said: 'She did pretty well, she got up on a couple of waves. I say got up - we put her on a couple of waves.

Wipeout! A soggy Goatee hits the surf and runs to the beach after riding a wave

'She was pretty successful.'
Mr McGregor helped Goatee on to the board and beamed with pride as she rode the surf to the shore using her four legs to balance.
The soggy beach bum didn't look at all phased by the wet and wild experience - even sharing a hug with Mr McGregor at the end of the afternoon.
Mr McGregor bought Goatee to eat weeds in his garden but soon became fond of her and kept her as a pet. The pair now share a special bond. And, after realising her watery talents Goatee, now two, has become an internet sensation.

Good vibrations: Dana McGregor holds on to Goatee as the pair perform a dual balancing act on the surf board

As well as surfing, she accompanies Mr McGregor almost everywhere - to the shops, in a trailer attached to the back of his bike, shopping and even nights out.
But he said fame hasn't gone to her head.
He said: 'You know it hasn't gotten to her head yet. She doesn't even know it and that's probably a good thing.'

Love to surf: Surfer Dana McGregor poses on a surf board with his pet surfing goat Goatee

source: dailymail

Curiosity did not kill the cat but it did cause a four-hour flight delay: Plane grounded after Ripple the cat gets into cockpit


Dash: Ripples the cat caused mayhem on an Air Canada flight when she escaped from her carrier and into the cockpit of the plane

They say curiosity killed the cat.
Fortunately for this naughty feline - who seemed desperate to check out first class - he managed to escape with his life, but caused a four-hour flight delay for dozens of passengers. Ripples the tabby cat escaped from his carrier while on an Air Canada flight from Halifax to Toronto as some passengers were still boarding.

Owner: Debbie Harris said she thinks security did not close the latch on the carrier correctly and that's how the cat escaped

Flight 603 was scheduled to depart at 5.30am but passengers had to get off the flight after the cat ran into first class and into the cockpit before squeezing himself inside some panels at their feet.
It was when the ten-year-old cat was going through security and was put back in its carrier that the oversight is said to have been made.

Delay: The Air Canada flight was due to leave Halifax bound for Toronto at 5.30am but did not end up leaving until 10am

Ripples' owner, Debbie Harris, failed to realize that one of the latches on the carrier was not properly done until it was too late.
When it first escaped into first class, several passengers tried in vain to catch him before the cat ran into the cockpit and under the pilot's feet into the tiny compartment.
Passengers had to leave the plane while maintenance workers came on scene to remove panels, and dissemble part of the cockpit before the cat was retrieved, unharmed.

Caged: Air Canada permits small animals to be taken as hand luggage on all flights but they must be housed in a carrier

Halifax Stanfield International Airport spokesman Peter Spurway said: '(The crew) checked all the wiring where the cat had been to make sure there was no damage and connected properly. 'They then put the panels back on, put the passengers back on the plane, and then they left at about 10am.'
Speaking to CBC News, passenger Kyle Warkentin said: 'It's hilarious, really. It's so random.' He said the cabin crew told them they were looking for an escaped cat and apologized to passengers.
Mr Warkentin said: 'Then the engine turned off and the whole power on the plane turned off, and they said they were doing this to calm the cat.'
Air Canada permits small animals to be taken as hand luggage on all flights expect for those bound for Hawaii.
They must be housed in a carrier, which must fit under the passenger's seat.

source: dailymail

It's a bug's life: Artist creates human sculpture from 20,000 handmade ladybirds


The Lady Bug Sculpture: Hungarian artist Fulop Gabor used 20,000 hand-painted ladybirds to create this model of the female form

From a distance it looks like a simple red sculpture of the female form.
But artist Gabor Fulop hasn't used marble or paper-marche to create this piece of artwork called 'The Lady Bug' - and has in fact made up his model using 20,000 tiny ladybirds. Using artificial resin, the Bulgarian sculptor handmade the minuscule beetles, before painting them individually.

He then applied the Ladybirds - 20,000 in total - to a model of the female form.
He said: 'The work Ladybug resembles a goddess of nature, a fusion of both human and animal organisms, that is both a unique being and a mass of creatures that took a human form. 'My art works through a particular re-interpretation of the traditional techniques of sculpture. 'The focus of my interest is on living organisms, their relationship with each other and their environment.

Creepy crawlies: The sculpture gives the illusion of ladybirds crawling all over a body

'The human body is a recurring theme in my works. Eastern philosophy and pantheism give the basis of my approach.
'Surface, as the border where the inner and the outer meets, plays an important role in my sculptures: it separates and connects at the same time.
'I hope people find it interesting.'

Ladybird's-eye view: The Lady Bug is a standing yellow and red figure and is covered in a swarm of the tiny insects - which you can only see and fully realize in up-close shots

source: dailymail

Why your dog really DOES love you (and it's not just because of all the treats you give it!)


Special bond: Humans feel love for their pets and one another, but do dogs have the same feelings?

Some years ago I wrote an article for this newspaper about my feelings on having to put down my golden retriever, Macy.
Your response was overwhelming, with many letters and emails expressing gratitude that an old vet like me, and a man at that, had talked openly about the personal pain I felt when my pet’s life ended.
One of those who had clearly read my musings was my client Michael, the owner of Molly, a collie-cross who suffered irreversible kidney failure last autumn.

A dog's life: Amanda Craig (pictured with her children Leonora and William) spoke about how a dog changes family life

‘You know how I feel, Bruce,’ he said when I arrived at the family home to give Molly a lethal injection. His wife Tricia stayed in the next room and Michael stayed with me — the opposite of what usually happens when I end an animal’s life. In my experience, men find it more unbearable to see their pets die.
As Michael bent over his old girl and I injected the overdose of barbiturate, his tears dropped like tiny pearls on her still face and he said something which got me thinking. ‘You know Bruce, she loved us as much as we loved her.’

A dog's life: Amanda Craig (pictured with her children Leonora and William) spoke about how a dog changes family life

Scientists find this idea hard to handle. They say only animals with ‘higher emotions’ — humans — are capable of love.
But Michael’s words came back to me this week when I read newspaper reports claiming the dog has been man’s best friend for far longer than anyone imagined. They described how archaeologists digging in Siberia and Belgium found two canine skulls dating back 33,000 years.
Unlike their wolf ancestors, who had long narrow jaws and large teeth, perfectly suited for grabbing their prey and tearing its meat off the bone, these creatures had far more blunted features with smaller teeth.

Love for the Queen: Elizabeth is pictured walking her corgis

This indicated they were domesticated long before the archaeologists’ previous estimate of 15,000 years ago. The researchers suggest that, apart from using these early dogs as an emergency food source or to follow animal scent trails, our ancestors also valued them as companions — just as we do today.
And I believe the bond between our two species has been so enduring because dogs are as capable of loving us as we are of loving them.

Emotions: Perhaps dogs can grow to love their owners just as much as their owners love them?

I decided to include a section called ‘In Memory Of’ where clients can leave pictures of dogs that loved their humans as much as they were loved by us.
Molly was the first of what I know will be many more.
Visit for the pets’ memorial page and Bruce’s story about Macy.

source: dailymail

New species of 'Pac-Man frog' discovered in South American jungle (along with 45 other creatures never seen before)


Leaping into the record books: The 'Pac Man frog' was discovered by scientists deep in the jungle of Suriname in South America

A new species of frog has been discovered by scientists hidden deep inside the South American jungle. Scientists also unearthed another 45 species during a three-year project where they were helped by tribes who live in villages along the Kutari and Sipaliwini Rivers in Suriname. The creature has been named the 'Pac-Man Frog' after the video game character as it has a mouth as wide as its body and can swallow whole its prey of fish, other frogs and even mice.

Standing out from the crowd: Dozens of species of insects were discovered including this fierce Great Horned beetle

Dozens of insects were also discovered including a vivid blue beetle the size of a snooker ball. A new kind of katydid, nicknamed the 'Crayola Katydid', was also thought to have been found during the trip.
Another potentially new species of frog was spotted and nicknamed the 'cowboy' thanks to the white fringes down its legs and a spur-like mass on each heel.

Cutie: The 'Cowboy' frog was nicknamed because of the white fringing down its legs and a spur-like shape on each heel

An 'armoured' catfish, covered in spines was caught - a natural deterrent for giant piranhas which also swim the inhospitable waters. Eight other new species of freshwater fish were found during the expedition which ended in 2010.
The discoveries were made by Conservation International, a non-profit team of scientists who were helped in their journey into one of the world's densest jungles by local guides. In total, they documented almost 1,300 species along the Kutari and Sipaliwini Rivers.

Winged beauty: A new species of katydid, nicknamed the 'Crayola Katydid' was also thought to have been discovered by scientists on a trip to southwest Suriname

Trond Larsen, director of the program, said: 'As a scientist, it is thrilling to study these remote forests where countless new discoveries await, especially since we believe that protecting these landscapes while they remain pristine provides perhaps the greatest opportunity for maintaining globally important biodiversity and the ecosystems people depend upon for generations to come.'
Suriname has a population of half a million people with most living in the capital Paramaribo or along the Atlantic Coast. It the smallest independent country in South America. A similar trip to the country by researchers in 2007 unearthed 24 new species.

Swamp thing: A new species of damselfly which breeds in forest swamps was found by scientists as they trekked through Suriname

Spiky: The 'armored catfish' is thought to have developed the barbs to prevent it being eaten by piranhas

source: dailymail

Forgotten victims of the recession: Can you offer an abandoned puppy a home?

Fresh start: Staffordshire bull terrier crossbreed Ashley has been taken in by the rescue centre

Dumped on roadsides or abandoned in cardboard boxes, these puppies have one thing in common – they are looking for new homes.
Staff at one rescue centre have taken in a record 16 puppies in only five days as Christmas presents lose their novelty and breeders struggle to sell their litters.
The arrivals include Sam, a 12-week-old springer spaniel who is being nursed back to health after being found suffering from the painful skin condition mange, and Sky, a ten-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier who came in with a broken leg and had been kept in a cupboard all of her life.

Recession: These seven Staffordshire Bull Terriers are among a growing number of animals to be looked after at the rescue as owners struggle to afford the cost during tough economic times

Nicky Owen from North Clwyd Animal Rescue, near Holywell, north Wales, said many of the pets had been bred for sale over Christmas but were abandoned after nobody bought them.
She added: ‘Getting 16 puppies in five days is a record for our centre after Christmas. People have been breeding pups and just not being able to sell them.

Recovering well: Sam, a 12-week-old springer spaniel, had mange

‘I think it has something to do with the recession. People think they can sell puppies for £500 each, but they don’t realise that they will only get that sort of money for pure breeds.
‘We’ve had all sorts of weird crosses brought in, probably due to the success of dogs like the labradoodle, but they simply haven’t been attractive to buyers.

Dumped: Shih tzu crosses Jim and Jane with pups Jade, Jess and Jack

It’s really sad, but the puppies are adorable. They are really cheeky, playful little things, so I’m hopeful we should be able to find good homes for them.’
Two adult shih tzu crossbreeds and their three scruffy puppies melted the hearts of staff at the centre after they were found dumped in a cardboard box close to a main road two weeks ago. The parents have been named Jane and Jim, and their four-week-old puppies have been called Jade, Jess and Jack.
To adopt a puppy from the centre, call 01745 560546.

source: dailymail

Ozzy, the collie who never wobbles! The MoS tracks down the four-legged superstar whose astonishing balancing tricks took YouTube by storm


Nick Johnson and his dog Ossy have taken the internet by storm

It's the latest video to become a YouTube sensation. Showing a truly astonishing sense of balance, a dog perches on a thin metal chain before standing up on his hind legs. While other dogs are more content to chase cats or gnaw old bones, this canine is capable of incredible acrobatic feats.
Filmed by an amazed passer-by on his mobile phone, the footage was then uploaded to YouTube where it attracted more than 80,000 hits in just one day.

It has proved so popular since being posted two weeks ago that it was highlighted by ITV chat show host Jonathan Ross last weekend. Ross told viewers that the sight of the balancing dog would help banish their winter blues.
Until now the identity of the dog and his owner have remained a mystery – but The Mail on Sunday has tracked them down. They are carpenter Nick Johnson, 50, from Norwich, and Ozzy, his three-year-old chocolate border collie-kelpie cross.
Nick devotes up to five hours a day to training his pet, who was born on a farm in Anglesey, North Wales.
Ozzy is now recognised wherever he goes, and his repertoire of tricks includes balancing on Nick’s shoulders as he rides a bike, fetching his owner’s mobile phone, and ‘surfing’ on a street sign.


Ozzy has plenty of energy so every day Nick takes him on a long walk around their home city, Norwich. It was during one of these walks that Nick decided to see if his dog could balance on a street sign.
Of his training style, Nick says: ‘Old-style dog-trainers say you should never look at the dog, but if a dog is looking at you he is giving you his full attention.
‘I bring him into my eyes and that helps him balance. I use a lot of sign language with him. I use my eyebrows to encourage him, but the most powerful command is me wagging my little finger.
‘That means “Come on” when he is right on the edge of what he can do.’


When some dogs hear the postman arrive, they bark loudly and hurtle towards the front door. But Ozzy is too well trained for that. And when a newspaper is popped through the letterbox each morning, he retrieves it up from the mat and brings it back to Nick – in one piece.


After Ozzy had managed his street sign trick, Nick got him to balance on a metal chain attached to two posts. Nick looks into his eyes and uses hand gestures, which has led some people to suggest that he is capable of mind-control methods – and to jokingly liken him to Jedi Master
Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. ‘Once Ozzy is focused on me he is locked in. It’s funny that I have been compared to a Jedi. That would explain the strange looks I get,’ he says.


Always eager to please, Ozzy fetches and carries too. When Nick’s phone rings, Ozzy picks it up with his teeth and returns it to his grateful owner. ‘Ozzy understands what I say,’ says Nick.
‘If I tell him to get my white trainers, he gets them. I can also tell him to get my other trainers – he understands the difference. People say dogs cannot understand language but there’s a dog in America that can understand 3,000 words.’


As a puppy, Ozzy demonstrated a talent for jumping high to catch balls and Frisbees. Now he combines that athleticism with his extraordinary balancing skills to leap up on to awkward spaces, such as this window ledge. Incredibly, Ozzy performs all his tricks without inducements.
Nick does not reward him with treats or punish him for failure. Ozzy has so much energy he can concentrate for long periods. Nick says: ‘It is never a question of him lacking energy, but it is important to keep up his morale.’


Simon Cowell has already said he is desperate to find an entertaining dog act when his show Britain’s Got Talent returns to our screens later this year – well look no further. When Nick decides to ride his bike into town, Ozzy is happy to tag along – just not on his lead. Instead, as Nick sits in the saddle, Ozzy hops up on to his owner’s shoulders and hitches a lift.

source: dailymail