Pygmy Hippo Animal Profile

 

 

Common name: Pygmy Hippopotamus

Scientific name: Chosropsis liberiensis

Class: mammalia

Order: artiodactyla

Size and Weight: 75-100cm tall (to the shoulder), 150-175cm in length with a weight of 180-275kg.

Appearance: They resemble their relatives the common hippo. However their feet are less webbed and and their toes are more widely spread due to the fact that they spend more time on land. Despite being on land often, they are good swimmers and have valves that close off their ears and nostrils when they submerge themselves under water.

Conservation Status: endangered

Diet: herbivorous diet of leaves, roots, ferns and fruits near rivers and streams.

Habitat: West Africa, mainly in Liberia but also found in Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast in swamps amd forests.

Breeding: gestation period is 6-7 months and calves can be born in water or on land.

Threats: deforestation.

Predators: leopards, crocodiles, pythons.

Interesting facts:

  1. nocturnal
  2. semi-aquatic
  3. More rare than the hippo
  4. only discovered in 1840
  5. usually solitary but can be found in small groups
  6. males are called bulls and females are called cows
  7. individuals secrete white fluid into their skin which acts as a moisturiser and a sun screen.
  8. Have a 4 chamber stomach but with no caecum.

 

Sources:

  • Wikipedia
  • IUCN redlist
  • San Diego Zoo
  • animalcorner.co.uk
  • a-z-animals.com

CCTV in All English Slaughterhouses

 

Following a consultation in August, it has recently been announced that CCTV is to be made mandatory in all English slaughterhouses in the new year of 2018, with the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) official veterinarians having unrestricted, unfettled access. The Wesh government is currently considering making a similar legislation.

The consultation in August resulting in over 99% of the 4000 respondents supporting the idea. The environment secretary Michael Gove has stated that these statistics show “the strength of feeling among the public that all animals should be treated with the utmost respect”. He also says the UK has “some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world” and that “these strong measures also provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that as we leave the EU we continue to produce our food to the very highest standards.”

Gudrun Ravetz, the Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association says that CCTV is a “vital tool to ensure high standards of animal health, welfare and food safety.”

I am pleased that government has finally come to a decision on this topic; it is not a moment too soon. For many years people have been campaigning as secret footage of the cruelty inflicted on animals in abbatoirs was released. From 2011 to 2016 Animal Aid randomly selected 11 slaughterhouses and installed hidden cameras in all of them. In 10 out of the 11, clear evidence of law-breaking and cruelty was discovered. It is obvious that we need to be able to monitor and enforce this country’s animal welfare standards.

The RSPCA head of public affairs states that the “RSPCA looks forward to seeing the details of the proposal… where cameras are located, footage quality…”

France passed legislation in January this year making CCTV mandatory in all abbatoirs and India has similar laws that have been around since 2012!

What has surprised me about the introduction of this new law is the adjustment. Personally I believe that the adjustment period of up to six months is incredibly long just to install some cameras. One or two months perhaps but six seems excessive.

Why should we have madatory CCTV in abbatoirs? (in no particular order)

  1. Firearms are often stolen from slaughterhouses and are used to harm outside creatures, including humans.
  2. other countries has made it law, why haven’t we?
  3. slaughterhouse employees are not checked for previous criminal convictions before being hired.
  4. many are breaking the law and so should be punished accordingly.
  5. the animals inside the abbatoirs do not want to die. People who eat meat should know this.

Sources:

  • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cctv-to-be-introduced-in-all-slaughterhouses-in-england-in-2018
  • https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/cctv-to-be-introduced-in-all-slaughterhouses-in-2018/
  • http://www.slaughterhousecctv.org.uk
  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/11/all-slaughterhouses-in-england-to-have-compulsory-cctv
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40895049
  • https://www.animalaid.org.uk/the-issues/our-campaigns/slaughter/10-reasons-need-cctv-slaughterhouses/

5 Things to Know Before Work Experience in the Equine World

 

 

After just finishing my last equine work experience placement, I thought that I would share with you all five things that you should know before working around horses.

  1. Clothing.  Clothing says a lot about a person and can affect first impressions of you. Do not show up in nice clothes or clothes that you can’t move in. It gives the impression that you won’t be working and getting truly stuck in. Invest in a good pair of jodhpurs (or just wear some old jeans) and some Wellington boots. The best thing for you to wear though is a smile!
  2. Strength. Strength is key. No, no matter where you are, I can guarantee that you won’t be petting the pretty horses all day. All the work is physically demanding, so you need to be in pretty good shape as those hay nets can get quite heavy (especially if they have been soaked in water)! Although I knew that it wouldn’t be easy work, I didn’t realise that days would consist of constant physical labour for two hours. No one tells you this, but horse poo is really heavy, so you’ll thank yourself for that weights session in the gym a few weeks before.
  3. Nastiness. You would think that everyone would bond over a shared love of horses and all things equine, but no this is hardly ever the case. In a lot of places I have been too, relationships between colleagues can become very tense and the air is often full of gossip. If you didn’t listen to your boss the first time, many can be reluctant to repeat instructions. Try to be attentive and eager (maybe even brush up on your horse terminology before the placement), this usually prevents problems. If things turn dark, do not be afraid to stand your ground.
  4. Dogs. Many riding schools and liveries have yard dogs who a both pets and guard dogs. Horses are very valuable animals and unfortunately many are stolen every year, hence why there are a lot of dogs in the equine world. If they don’t know you, they will be aggressive as they think that you are an intruder and possibly a burglar. Usually if you appear confident and ignore them, they leave you alone. After a while they will recognise your scent and either leave you alone or greet you in a friendly manner.
  5. Beware! Yes horses can, and they will, creep up on you! Just a few weeks ago, when I was removing horse poo from the field, I picked up the handles of my wheelbarrow and suddenly felt hot breath on my neck! I turned around and was face to face with a large black gelding who proceeded to sniff me, my fork and wheelbarrow. No doubt that something similar will happen to you too at some point. No need to worry, however, as horses are curious animals and aren’t usually agressive unless provoked.

 

 

Takahē Animal Profile

 

Image credit: Ian Armitage

 

Common name: South island takahē, notornis

Scientific name: Porphyrio hochstetteri

Class: aves

Order: gruiformes

Size and weight: on average, takahē are 63cm in length. The average weight for males is 2.7kg and 2.3kg for females.

Appearance: mainly purple-blue with a green back and inner wings and a red bill and frontal shield.

Conservation status: endangered

Diet: grasses, fern, rhizomes, snow tussocks

Habitat: alpine grasslands in New Zealand

Breeding: Takahē reach maturity at around two years of age. They breed between October and December and have 1-3 eggs per clutch.

Predators: introduced predators, for example cats, dogs and ferrets.

Threats: competition for food with introduced red deer, natural disasters for example avalanches and earthquakes. Main threat is predation.

Interesting facts: 

  1. population is about 347 individuals.
  2. They are a noisy species with a ‘clowp’ call.
  3. They are sedentary and flightless birds.
  4. They are monogamous.

 

Sources: 

  • iucn redlist
  • wikipedia
  • tiritirimatangi.org.nz
  • doc.govt.nznzbirdsonline.org.nz

Puppy Farming

 

Image credit: Puppy_Petition

A ‘puppy farm’ or ‘puppy mill’ is essentially a commercial dog breeding facility and is a serious animal welfare issue. The Australian RSPCA states that a puppy farm can be defined as “an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs”. The emphasis of a puppy farm is merely profit, where it clearly should be producing happy and healthy puppes and loving and caring for the breeding dogs throughout their lives, even after they finish breeding. The thirst for profit means that breeding bitches can be bred every time that they are on heat  with little to no recovery time in between litters. All the dogs in these facilities live in extremely cramped, smelly and unhygienic places. This results in rampant spread of disease and because veterinary care is expensive, few dogs receive the care that they need.

In my local newspaper there was a piece about Linton Pet Store, infamous for its controversial selling of puppies. Many people believe that the puppies sold there came from puppy farms. This has led to more than a year of protests and boycotts regarding the shop in Hare Hatch. This heavy protesting has finally culminated in the shop having its puppy selling license revoked by Wokingham Borough Council (WBC). As of the 4th of October 2017, Linton Pet Store can no longer sell puppies but can still operate as a pet shop.

I for one am overjoyed at this news, having been appalled at Linton Pet Store for selling these puppies and for how they ignored them once they were there. About five weeks ago I protested with the anti-Linton campaigners (who are all very kind, passionate people) and so I cannot express my happiness that all their hard work has gained such a fabulous outcome.

Sources:

  • kb.rspca.org.au
  • Maidenhead Advertiser
  • pets4homes.co.uk
  • Wikipedia
  • Cariad

Animal Profile: Sea Otter

 

Photo credit: Milo Burcham.

Common name: sea otter, loutre de mer, nutria del kamtchatka, nutria marina.

Class: mammalia.

Order: carnivora.

Size: 14-45kg. Males are 1.2-1.5m in length and females are 1.0-1.4m in length.

Appearance: light beige to dark brown/black fur.

Conservation status: endangered.

Diet: marine invertebrates, slow-moving fish.

Habitat: northern and eastern coasts of the North Pacific Ocean usually within one kilometer of the shore.

Lifespan: male otters live for 10-15 years and female otters live for 15-20 years.

Breeding: can breed all year round. Gestation period is 4-12 months because the species is capable of delayed implantation. It is possible to get twin pups but usually breeding results in just one otter pup.

Predators: sea lions, bald eagles, orcas. Bears and coyotes also pose a threat to young sea otters on land.

Threats: pollution from oil spills, habitat destruction, lack of food, disease, shark attacks, conflict with humans.

Interesting facts:

  1. They have the densest fur of all the animals in the animal kingdom.
  2. Heaviest members of the weasel family.
  3. Eat approx. 25% of their body weight every day.
  4. They often use tools in order to eat their food. For example, they may use a rock to crack open crustaceans.

Sources: 

  • http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/7750/0
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_otter
  • http://www.defenders.org/sea-otter/basic-facts
  • https://seaotters.com/threats-issues/

Jews Urged to Become Vegan

 

Recently, seventy five, multidenominational rabbis signed a document urging their fellow jews to become vegan;

“we, the undersigned rabbis, encourgae our fellow jews to transition toward animal-free, plant-based diets. This approach to sustenance is an expression of our shared jewish values of compassion for animals, protection of the environment, and concern for our physical and spiritual well-being.”

They say that a central principle of judaism is not causing pain to any other living creature and claim that therefore jews should not consume animal products. One rabbi said that when we consume animals “we are ingesting pain, suffering and hurt” and asked “how can I be at peace with myself?”.

Despite these rabbis representing different nationalities as well as different nominations, they all agree that it is G-d’s preference that we do not eat animals. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived a vegan lifestyle. The torah (the books of moses – genesis, exodus, leviticus, numbers, deuteronomy) forbids causing any animal suffering and suggests that the consumption of meat is a concession to human desire. Phrases such as “shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk” have been interpreted by the Jewish community as meaning eating milk and meat separately, however these rabbis believe that it suggests that the milk is supposed to be consumed by the animal’s young, not humans and that animal’s also have feelings like humans.

I personally find it interesting that veganism and religion have come together in this way. Obviously not the whole world is jewish but this urge still may influence people to lead a kinder lifestyle. Extracts from Genesis can be extended to Christianity and regardless of the religion itself, all religious texts state “thou shall not kill”.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the decision of these rabbis, it is hard not to respect their decision to ask people to change in a very meat-driven society.

 

Sources:

https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/rabbis-call-on-jews-to-adopt-a-vegan-diet-1.445042

https://www.timesofisrael.com/african-american-lesbian-vegan-rabbinical-student-hopes-to-redefine-judaism/

http://www.mercyforanimals.org/rabbis-worldwide-sign-declaration-urging

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/rabbis-urge-jews-vegan-global-campaign

jvs.org.uk

Animal Profile: Striped Dolphin

 

Photo credit: otlibrary.com

 

Scientific name: Stenella coeruleoalba

Class: mammalia

Order: cetartiodactyla

Conservation Status: least concern (LC)

Lifespan: 55-60 years

Appearance: have a curved dorsal fin in the centre of their dorsal area. The dorsal redion is a blue or blue-grey colour and their ventral region is lighter, being a light grey to white colour. They have a dark, striped pattern on their body with stripes extending from the eyes to the flippers and from the eyes to the anus,

Habitat: tropical and warm/temperate waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, including the adjacent seas, for example the mediterranean.

Diet: the diet of the striped dolphin depends on the region it lives in. However, it typically feeds off of bony fish, cephalopods and crustaceans.

Mass: male – 160kg. Female – 150kg.

Length: male – 2.6m. Female – 2.4m.

Breeding: depending on where they reside, striped dolphins reach maturity at different ages. Females generally reach maturity at 5 years but they can be up to 13 years old before maturing. Males reach maturity between 7 and 15 years old. The gestation period is 12-13 months.

Threats:

  • hunting for meat and as bait for shrimp traps
  • capture in pelagic drift nets
  • contamination of habitat

Other interesting facts:

  • A gregarious soecies, living in both small pods and pods with over 1000 individuals, the average pod size being between 32 and 50 dolphins.
  • mainly pelagic
  • not often seen close to shore
  • they have a 3-4 year gap between calves
  • only have one calf per pregnancy
  • at birth, the calf is 90-100cm in length
  • calf is nursed for 12-13 months.

 

Sources:

  1. uk.whales.org
  2. Wikipedia
  3. iucnredlist.org
  4. dolphins-world.com
  5. otlibrary.com

Equine Sarcoids

 

 

Photo credit: petmd.com

What? Equine sarcoids are skin tumours (usually benign) found on all equid species (horses, donkeys, mules, zebras and exotic asses). Although sarcoids are a type of skin cancer they are believed to not metastasise. They are usually identified by a vet by appearance, however the only definite way to tell is to do a biopsy. However biopsies are not usually taken as they tend to anger the sarcoid and can trigger it to grow at a faster rate, worsening it. Generally sarcoids are non-life threatening but they can be locally invasive and rarely regress.

Cause: Although no one is certain as to what causes equine sarcoids, it is widely believed that infection with Bovine Papilloma Virus (BPV) is responsible. BPV originated in cattle however it is unlikely that cattle play a large role anymore. Most horses will become infected with the virus however not all infections result in tumours. The appearance of tumours depend on the animal’s own immune system with between 2-8% of horses worldwide having the tumours. A widely accepted theory of transmittance is flies and it is believed that scar sites are more susceptible to the tumours.

Appearance: There are believed to be six different types of sarcoid; occult, verrucose, nodular, fibroplastic, malevolant and mixed. Sarcoids can be found on the back, tail, neck, around the eyes, on the face, eyelids, back and front legs and belly.

Occult sarcoids are flat and hairless with dry, crusty and dark patches. They are found on the inside of upper limbs, neck and eyes.

Verrucose sarcoids take on a wart-like appearance and can be ulcerated.

Nodular sarcoids are firm and nodular skin lumps. Many are covered by normal skin.

Fibroplastic sarcoids ulcerated, weeping, raised, sore skin lesions which may develop a ‘neck’ or stalk and become cauliflower-like. They are found in any area of the body.

Malevolant sarcoids are rare, invasive sarcoids, found as several nodules. They may invade deeper tissues beneath the skin.

Mixed sarcoids are combinations of different types of sarcoid.

Treatment: 

  • Cryosurgery: liquid nitrogen burns off the sarcoid. It works best on flat sarcoids.
  • Banding with rubber rings: this works best if the sarcoid has a neck/stalk.
  • Topical medication: the three types of topical medicines are ‘Aldara’ ‘XXterra’ and ‘Zorac’. ‘Aldara’ works as an immune response provider, XXterra contains an extract of Sanguinara canadensis and ‘Zorac’ is a retinoid that is also used for the treatment of psoriasis in people.
  • Chemotherapy drugs: these can be administered as a cream or an injection.
  • Surgical excision. This is often not advised as it can be difficult to remove all of the sarcoid and if part of it is not removed, it often becomes irritated and grows back worse than before.
  • BCG vaccine: this is used against TB in humans. In equid species it can trigger their immune system to reject the sarcoid.

For tumours in the peri-orbital area, a new treatment is being used; high dose rate brachytherapy (HDRB). This does not have any significant acute adverse effects and results in a quicker recovery as the procedure is only a few minutes long. Additionally, as the horses are not radioactive, they do not need to be isolated.

 

Sources: 

  • vettimes
  • horsevet.co.uk
  • petmd.com
  • equinesarcoid.co.uk
  • ed.ac.uk/files/fileManager/sarcoids.pdf
  • horseandhound.co.uk

How to Change the World

 

Imagine a land where no one inflicted harm on others, where we were healthy and nothing suffered for the benefit of others. Now realise that this is not an imaginary utopia. This lifestyle is completely possible in our society and in my opinion is not a lot to ask for; a basic right.

Every day thousands upon thousands of murders take place and we are indoctrinated into believing that it is a nescessary act. We have the power to change this by changing the most basic thing in our lives: our diet. Veganism is the answer.

Now it is highly doubtful that the public encourages animal cruelty. In fact, in the UK, out of the top thousand charities, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is in 12th position for amount of money donated! Considering this it is unbelieveable that we still consume animal products. The only rational explanation of this consumption is a lack of knowledge and a disconnection from animals.

Every minute of every hour of every day thousands of animals are slaughtered for the pleasure of humans. Slaughter typically commences by a form of stunning to make the animal unconcious (which in a lot of cases is inaffective). The most common methods of stunning are an electric bolt to the head, an electric current and gas chambers. The animal then has his or her throat slit and is left to bleed out. It is highly unlikely that any person would be eager to kill another living creature and many cannot stomach footage of slaughter houses. Despite this, the majority of the population still consume meat and whilst some are aware of the horrible conditions of abbatoirs and others are not, they are all very much disconnected from how their food is processed and where it comes from.

So what is wrong with being vegetarian? Why is veganism the answer? It has gradually become more accepted in society to be vegetarian but to be vegan is often viewed as hippy, extreme and quite frankly, ridiculous. It is understandable that if one has been raised eating meat veganism can seem daunting and extreme. This may be because veganism is not a diet. It is a lifestyle. In the words of PETA, vegans believe that “Animals are not ours to eat, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any way”. Contrary to popular opinion, the dairy and egg industries do abuse and cause unnescessary harm and suffering to the animals involved.

On many dairy farms, cows are artificially inseminated to make them pregnant. Immediately after giving birth, the calves are removed from their mothers, never to see them again. Male calves are sold to become veal and female calves are enslaved and raised to suffer the same fate as their mothers. The natural lifespan of a cow is around twenty years but in the dairy industry they are slaughtered at just a quarter of that. When it is determined that a cow is not producing enough milk to make keeping her alive financially profitable, she is sent to the slaughter house to meet her premature death.

In the egg industry, male chicks are destroyed as they are deemed useless. A very common method of killing male chicks is to crush them in a machine that resembles a kitchen appliance; the blender. Essentially these babies are blended alive, their corpses used for cheap meat. A single chicken will lay over three hundred eggs when naturally they lay just seventeen. Clearly, this wreaks havoc on their bodies and they are more prone to disease. To combat disease, as in all other animal industries, these poor creatures are force fed antibiotics, regardless of whether or not they are ill in a process called mass medication. In the United States, 80% of all antibiotics are given to livestock. This unnecessary use of antibiotics contributes greatly to antimicrobial resistance. Research has also suggested that antimicrobial resistance can be passed onto humans through the consumption of meat that came from an animal that was administered antibiotics, clearly affecting our health.

This brings me onto another point; human health. Consumption of meat and animal products is the world’s leading cause of heart disease. A lot of research has shown that a vegan diet not only prevents heart disease but can also reverse it! Many doctors actually reccommend a plant-based diet. Balanced vegan diets contain no cholesterol, which is why they act in this way. It has also been shown that animal products are a major cause of cancer and that eggs inhibit iron absorption, leading to anaemia. Contrary to popular opinion, a balanced vegan diet will NOT weaken you. A terrible diet of any kind definitely will. Many healthy and strong atheletes are vegans. For example, the boxer David Haye or Scott Durek, the ultramarathon runner.

Furthermore, veganism is not only good for us but good for the planet. Animal agriculture uses a third of freshwater and is responsible for up to 51% of greenhouse emissions. 9% of all carbon dioxide emissions, 40% of all methane emissions and 65% of all nitrogen dioxide emissions are the results of animal agriculture and yes these emissions greatly affect the rate of global warming. Species extinction and habitat destruction are just a few of the package results from the intense farming of these creature.

As veganism is a lifestyle, not just a diet, many vegans also buy animal cruelty free products, including toiletries, clothes and hair products, by enxtension boycotting products that test on animals. Superdurg’s own brand products are all labelled as ‘cruelty free’.

Even if this hasn’t completely convinced you to become vegan, I hope that it has inspired you to ask questions. Question everything, even the things that you take for granted; with knowledge comes power.

The purpose of me discussing these issues is education. If you are aware of the cruelty and the methods that are involved in making your burgers then you can make a conscious decision to change your behaviour. Education is the most powerful weapon and if you have the knowledge to make informed choices then you have the power to change the world.

The quote I will leave you with is one from Tolstoy:

“As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields.”

Sources:

  • vegansociety.com
  • peta.org
  • Nick Dare, SoTrueQ, The Vegan Activist, Vegan Speak, Joey Carbstrong and Bonny Rebecca YouTube channels.
  • The Guardian