Archive for ANIMALS


Posted in the WORLD'S MOST BIZARRE... with tags , , , , on December 20, 2008 by SHOWCASE OF THE BIZARRE

Mike, the Headless Chicken: Lived for 18 months with its head cut off

Mike the Headless Chicken (April 1945 – March 1947) was a Wyandotte rooster (cockerel) that lived for 18 months after its head had been cut off. Thought by many to be a hoax, the bird was taken by its owner to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to establish its authenticity.

On Monday September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent out to the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen failed to completely decapitate the five-and-a-half month old bird named Mike. The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact. Once his fame had been established, Mike began a career of touring sideshows in the company of such other creatures as a two-headed calf. He was also photographed for dozens of magazines and papers, featuring in Time and Life magazines. Olsen drew criticism from some for keeping the headless chicken alive. In March 1947, at a motel in Phoenix on a stopover while traveling back home from tour, Mike started choking in the middle of the night. As the Olsens had inadvertently left their feeding and cleaning syringes at the sideshow the day before, they were unable to save Mike.

Oscar, the cat: predicted the impending death of terminally ill patients

Oscar was adopted as a kitten from an animal shelter and grew up in the third-floor dementia unit at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The unit treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses, most of whom are in the end stage of their illnesses (where death is imminent) and are generally unaware of their surroundings.

After about six months, the staff noticed that Oscar, just like the doctors and nurses, would make his own rounds. Oscar would sniff and observe patients, then curl up to sleep with certain ones. What surprised the staff was that the patients with whom Oscar would sleep would generally die within two to four hours after Oscar’s arrival. One of the first cases involved a patient who had a blood clot in her leg that was ice cold at the time. Oscar wrapped his body around her leg and stayed until the woman died. In another instance, the doctor had made a determination of impending death based on the patient’s condition, while Oscar simply walked away, causing the doctor to believe that Oscar’s streak (12 at the time) had ended. However, it would be later discovered that the doctor’s prognosis was simply 10 hours too early – Oscar later visited the patient, who died two hours later.

Oscar’s accuracy (currently standing at more than 25 reported instances) led the staff to institute a new and unusual protocol – once he is discovered sleeping with a patient, staff will call family members to notify them of the patient’s (expected) impending death.

Most of the time the patient’s family has no issue with Oscar being present at the time of death; on those occasions when he is removed from the room at the family’s request, he is known to pace back and forth in front of the door and meow in protest. When present, Oscar will stay by the patient until he or she takes their last earthly breath – after which Oscar will sit up, look around, then depart the room so quietly that one barely notices.

Abilities aside, what makes his “last hour” companionship more puzzling is that Oscar is described by Dr. David Dosa as “not a cat that’s friendly to [living] people.” One example of this was described in his NEJM article. When an elderly woman with a walker passed him by during his rounds, Oscar “[let] out a gentle hiss, a rattlesnake-like warning that [said] ‘leave me alone.'”

Tillamook Cheddarm, the dog: world’s most successful animal painter

Tillamook Cheddar is a Jack Russell Terrier from Brooklyn, New York. Widely regarded as the world’s preeminent canine artist, she has already had seventeen solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Tillie is eight years old.

In July 2005 the artist gave birth to six healthy puppies. One of her sons, Doc Chinook Strongheart Cheddar, continues to live with her. Thus far, Doc has not followed his mother in her artistic forays. Her first official biography, Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist by F. Bowman Hastie III, is published by Sasquatch Books (2006).

The artist’s primary process is a dynamic color transfer technique. In preparation for each of Tillie’s works, her assistants assemble a touch-sensitive recording device by affixing pigment-coated vellum to a sheet of lithograph paper backed by mat board. The artist takes the prepared “canvas” in her mouth and brings it to her workspace. Working on the outside surface, she applies pressure with teeth and claws in a methodic ritual marked by dramatic shifts in tempo and intensity. The resultant sharp and sweeping intersecting lines complement the artist’s delicate paw prints and subtle tongue impressions, composing an expressionistic image that is revealed on the paper beneath when she is finished. She works with shocking intensity, sometimes to the point of destroying her creations.

Alex, the parrot: ould count to six, identify colors and even express frustration

Alex (1976 – September 6, 2007) was an African Grey Parrot and the subject of a thirty-year (1977-2007) experiment by animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg, initially at the University of Arizona and later at Harvard and Brandeis University. Pepperberg bought Alex in a regular pet shop when he was about one year old. The name Alex is actually an acronym for Avian Learning EXperiment.

Before Pepperberg’s work with Alex, it was widely believed in the scientific community that birds were not intelligent and could only use words by mimicking, but Alex’s accomplishments indicated that birds may be able to reason on a basic level and use words creatively. Pepperberg wrote that Alex’s intelligence was on a par with that of dolphins and great apes. She also reported that Alex had the intelligence of a five-year-old human and had not reached his full potential by the time he died. She said that the bird had the emotional level of a human two-year-old at the time of his death.

Alex’s death came as a complete surprise; the average life span for African grey parrots is fifty years. He had appeared healthy the day before, and was found dead in the morning. According to a press release issued by the Alex Foundation, “Alex was found to be in good health at his most recent annual physical about two weeks [before his death]. According to the vet who conducted the necropsy, there was no obvious cause of death.” According to Pepperberg, Alex’s loss will not halt the research but will be a large setback. The lab has two other birds, but their skills do not approach Alex’s.

On October 4, 2007 The Alex Foundation posted the Pathology results: “Alex died quickly. He had a sudden, unexpected catastrophic event associated with arterosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”). It was either a fatal arrhythmia, heart attack or stroke, which caused him to die suddenly with no suffering. There was no way to predict his demise. All of his tests, including his cholesterol level and asper levels, came back normal earlier that week. His death could not be connected to his current diet or his age; our veterinarian said that she has seen similar events in young (<10 year old) birds on healthy diets. Most likely, genetics or the same kind of low-level (impossible to detect in birds as yet) inflammatory disease that is related to heart disease in humans was responsible.”

Washoe, the chimpanzee: knew sign language

Washoe (around September of 1965 – October 30, 2007) was a chimpanzee who was the first non-human to learn American Sign Language. She also passed on her knowledge to three other chimpanzees, Loulis, Tatu and Dar. As part of a research experiment on animal language acquisition, Washoe developed a modest ability to communicate with humans using ASL. She was named for Washoe County, Nevada, where she was raised and taught to use ASL. Washoe had lived at Central Washington University since 1980; on October 31, 2007, officials from the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute on the CWU campus announced that she had died the previous day.

Oliver, the “Humanzee”: a human-chimp hybrid

Oliver was acquired as a young animal (around 2 years old) in the early 1970s by trainers Frank and Janet Berger. Supposedly, the chimpanzee had been caught in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire). Some physical and behavioral evidence led the Bergers to believe Oliver was a creature other than a chimpanzee, perhaps a human-chimp hybrid: Oliver possesses a flatter face than his fellow chimpanzees (as his front teeth were removed young, he did not develop an exaggerated prognathus jaw); Oliver was habitually bipedal (before being struck with arthritis), never walking on his knuckles like his chimpanzee peers; and Oliver may have preferred human females over chimpanzee females. During a recent Discovery Channel special, Janet Berger herself claimed that Oliver was becoming attracted to her when he reached the age of 16. He mounted her and tried to mate with her. After he tried it several times it became apparent that Oliver was a threat to Janet, and had to be sold. Still, Oliver was not the clownish performer his chimp peers were, and other chimps avoided him. Some people claim he did not possess a typical odor common to chimpanzees.

Cacareco, the Rhino: won Sao Paulo’s council elections with 100,000 votes

Cacareco, a rhinoceros at the São Paulo zoo, was a candidate for the 1958 city council elections with the intention of protesting against political corruption. Electoral officials, of course, did not accept Cacareco’s candidacy, but he eventually won 100,000 votes, more than any other party in that same election (which was also marked by rampant absenteeism).


Posted in SHOWCASE OF THE MISC with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2008 by SHOWCASE OF THE BIZARRE



Posted in SHOWCASE OF THE MISC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2008 by SHOWCASE OF THE BIZARRE

While these darling Gremlin-like creatures — commonly known as lorises — may be the epitome of cuteness overload, they’re not necessarily the cuddly little critter they appear to be. Lorises are actually mildly poisonous animals capable of a toxic vampire-like bite that can deliver excruciating pain.

Slow Loris. Photo Copyright One Shot Rog

Slow Lorises have sebaceous tissue much like sweat pores on the inside of their elbows that secretes a toxin. When these cute little fur-balls feel threatened, they fold their arms above their heads to quickly take the toxin from their forearms into their mouth in preparation to bite.

They then deliver the poison with their powerful jaw muscles and disproportionately large, sharp, fang-like teeth. But it isn’t really the oversized canine-like teeth that deliver this toxin, rather, their harmlessly small teeth in the front lower jaw which slope forward that serve to conduct the saliva into the wound.

Slow Loris. Photo Copyright One Shot Rog

Slow Loris. Photo Copyright Bornean

Rescued Slow Loris before handling it to wildlife department officers on July 3 2007.
Photo Rescue Dog

Widely recognized by their huge eyes encircled by dark patches and their short index fingers, they are tailless or short-tailed primates with soft gray or brown fur, found in the South and Southeast Asian rainforest and central Africa.

Lorises are arboreal creatures that prefer the tops of the trees. They are nocturnal animals, curling up to sleep by day. Their enhanced night vision is enabled by a specialized layer (the tapetum) in the retina of the eye that reflects light. Their eyes are fixed and cannot move, so they must swivel their heads around much like an owl.

These animals have an enhanced perception of smell and accompanying this is the extensive use of scent marking through their specialized glands. They have very sensitive hearing and ears they can move independently to capture sounds even better.

Slow Loris. Photo Copyright Jeremy G

Photo Copyright Abdhakamabdah

Loris being prepared for use in traditional medicine. Photo Copyright Arddu

Unlike most primates, lorises don’t jump or leap through trees — they move with great deliberation through the trees and often hang by their feet, with their hands free to grasp food or branches. With their strong hands they clasp at the branches and cannot be removed without significant force. Specialized blood vessels allow them to grip onto things for hours.

Lorises are an endangered species, frequently poached from the wild as pets. They’re solitary creatures which make for a great challenge for care in captivity. Many are found in Asian markets with their canine teeth removed to reduce the effect of their bites, thus affecting their ability to feed for a proper diet. However, it’s not as much as the pet trade that threatens their survival as it is for their habitat destruction, and being killed for use in Asian medicines.

Rescued slow loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Rescued slow loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Rescued slow loris and son. Photo Rescue Dog

About Lorises
Lorises belong to the ancient primate suborder informally referred to as prosimians. Loris is the common name for the strepsirrhine primates of the subfamily Lorinae in the Lorisidae family. Loris is one genus in this subfamily and represents the slender lorises, while Nycticebus is the genus for the slow lorises.

The clade of Strepsirrhini is one of the two suborders of primates. One of their most distinguishing characteristics is their wet noses. Their moist nose is connected to the upper lip which is connected to the gum, limiting the facial expressions they can manage. Their snouts are generally elongated giving them a dog-like appearance. Strepsirrhines also have an unusual ability to enzymatically manufacture vitamin C.

Slow Loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Slow Loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Slow Loris. Photo Rescue Dog

They have a close, woolly fur which is usually grey or brown colored, darker on the top side. The eyes are large and face forward, and their ears are small and often partially hidden in the fur.

Strepsirrhines have a toothcomb — tightly clustered incisors and canine teeth — that’s used for grooming. The second toe of the hind legs has a fine claw used for grooming as well, while the big toe is widely separated from the others allowing a vise-like grip for locomotion. The thumbs are opposable and the index finger is short.

Their tails are short or are missing completely. They grow to a length of 7 to 16 inches (17 to 40 centimeters) and a weight of between 10 ounces to 4.5 pounds (0.3 and 2 kilos), depending on the species.

Rescued Slow Loris before handling it to wildlife department officers on July 3 2007.
Photo Rescue Dog

Slow Loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Some have slow deliberate movements, while others can move with some speed across branches. It was previously thought that all lorises moved slowly, but investigations using red light proved this to be wrong. Nonetheless, even the faster species freeze or move slowly if they hear or see a potential predator. This habit of remaining motionless while in danger is successful only because of the leafy environment of their jungle home, which helps to conceal their true position.

Most lorises are solitary creatures or live in small family groups.

Their main diet consists mostly of insects, but they also eat bird eggs and small vertebrates as well as fruits and sap.

Slow Loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Slow Loris. Photo Rescue Dog

Instead of an individual cycle, strepsirrhines have a breeding season, with a gestation period of 4 to 6 months, birthing up to 2 young. The babies often clasp themselves to their mother’s belly or wait in nests while the mother goes to search for food. After 3 to 9 months — depending upon the species — they’re weaned and are fully mature within 10 to 18 months. Life expectancy of lorises can be to up to 20 years in the wild.

Slender Loris
Slender lorises (Loris tardigradus) are 2 species of loris native to India and the rainforests of Sri Lanka, which include:

The Gray Slender Loris, which is about 8 to10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) long and has long, slender limbs, small hands, a rounded head, and a pointed muzzle. They feed mostly on insects (predominantly ants) and are solitary. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and are threatened by habitat loss.

Gray Slender Loris. Photo Sandilya Theuerkauf, Wynaad

The Red Slender Loris favors lowland rainforests tropical rainforests and inter-monsoon forests of the south western wet-zone of Sri Lanka. Masmullah Proposed Forest Reserve harbors one of few remaining Red Slender Loris populations, and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. They are #22 of the 100 EDGE animal species worldwide considered the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered.

Red Slender Loris, in the Grzimekhaus in Frankfurt Zoo. Image taken in infrared-mode.
Photo Joachim S Mueller

Red Slender Loris. Photo Joachim S Mueller

Red Slender Loris. Photo Mprabaharan

This small, slender primate is distinguished with large forward facing eyes used for precise depth perception, long slender limbs, a well developed index finger, the absence of a tail, and large prominent ears, which are thin, rounded and hairless at the edges.

The soft dense fur is reddish-brown on the back and the underside is whitish-grey with a sprinkling of silver hair, and a dark face mask with central pale stripe, much like the slow loris. Their average body length is 7 to 10 inches (17 to 26 centimeters), with an average weight of a mere 3 to13 ounces (85 to 350 grams). They have a 4-way grip on each foot — the big toe opposes the other 4 toes for a pincer-like grip on branches and food.

The Red Slender Loris differs from the Gray Slender Loris in its frequent use of rapid arboreal locomotion. It forms small social groups, containing adults of both sexes and young animals. This species is among the most social of the nocturnal primates. During daylight hours the animals sleep in groups in branch tangles, or curled up on a branch with their heads between their legs. They make nests out of leaves or find hollows of trees or a similar secure place to live in.

The groups also undertake mutual grooming and play at wrestling. The adults typically hunt separately during the night. They’re mostly insectivorous but also eat bird eggs, berries, leaves, buds and occasionally invertebrates as well as geckos and lizards. To maximize protein and nutrient intake they consume every part of their prey — the scales, bones, and all.

Slender Loris. Photo Copyright Doudouce

Baby slender loris. Photo Essexjan

Females are dominant, reaching their sexual maturity at 10 months. They’re receptive to the males twice a year, mating while hanging upside down from branches. Those in captivity will not breed if no suitable branch is available. The gestation period is 166 to169 days after which the female will birth 1 to 2 young which feed from her for 6 to 7 months. The lifespan of this species is believed to be around 15 to18 years in the wild.

This slender loris is an endangered species. Habitat destruction is a major threat, but they’re also widely trapped and killed for use in supposed remedies for eye diseases and for use as laboratory animals. Other threats include electrocution on live wires, road accidents, and the pet trade.

Slow Loris
Slow lorises are 3 species of loris, classified as the genus Nycticebus. These slow moving strepsirrhine primates range from Borneo and the southern Philippines in Southeast Asia, through Bangladesh, Vietnam, Southern China (Yunnan area) and Thailand.

Baby slow loris. Photo Essexjan

Baby loris. Photo Essexjan

Adult slow lorises vary in size from 8 to 15 inches (21 to 38 centimeters), weighing up to 4.5 pounds (2 kilos) — much of it located in their bottom! — and generally more strongly built than the slender loris. The short, thick fur can have a variety of color, mostly grey-reddish often with whitish undertones, and the tail is a mere stump. They have well developed thumbs which they use to grasp and hold fast to branches, and a very flexible back. The eyes are large and point forward and the ears are small and nearly hidden in the fur.

They make slow, deliberate movements and have a powerful grasp that makes them very difficult to remove from branches. They live as solitaries or in small family groups, and mark their territory with urine.

Slow loris. Photo Essexjan

Slow Loris. Photo Wistine

Slow lorises can produce a toxin created by glands on the insides of their elbows which they mix with their saliva and use as protection against enemies by licking or sucking it into their mouths and delivering it when they bite. Mothers will lick this toxin onto their offspring before leaving them to search for food. The toxin is not known to be fatal to humans, but causes a painful swelling.

They are happenstance carnivores, typically eating insects, bird eggs and small vertebrates. With their slow quiet movements, they creep to their prey in order to catch it with a lightning-quick snatch. They also eat fruits, but rarely.

After about a 190-day gestation, the female births one (or rarely two) young. The newborn clasps itself to the belly of the mother or the father. When it’s older it will be “parked” on a branch while its parent searches for food, and weaned after approximately 9 months. The life expectancy of the slow loris is up to 14 years.

The Sunda Loris (Nycticebus coucang) is a slow loris with large eyes that point forward, and ears that are small and nearly hidden in the fur. Its tail is a mere stump, but it has well developed thumbs. They are a nocturnal and arboreal animal, sleeping their days curled up in a tree top and prowling the night devouring small animals and fruit.

Sunda slow loris. Photo Wally G

Sunda slow loris. Photo Wally G

The Pygmy Slow Loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) is a rare species of loris found in the tropical dry forests of Vietnam, Laos, China, and parts of Cambodia. About 72,000 of the creatures live in the wild, and approximately 200 are in captivity.

Pygmy lorises. Photo Essexjan

Pygmy loris. Photo Essexjan

Baby pygmy slow loris. Photo Essexjan

This primate is a nocturnal animal and will eat fruit, insects, small mammals, slugs and snails. It can catch prey by licking the toxin that’s released from the inside of its elbows and delivering it via its teeth.

They are arboreal, crawling on branches, unnoticed as they quietly move through the thick leaves of the subtropics, and live together in small groups.

Adults can grow to around 7 to 8.5 inches (18 to 21 centimeters) long, weigh about 1 pound (450 grams), and have virtually no tail.

This species mates once every 12 to 18 months and will have 1 to 2 offspring after an average gestation period of 190 days. For the first few days, the young loris clings to belly of its mother. After 9 months the baby will be weaned and at that point the females will be sexually mature while males reach maturity between 17 to 20 months.

The pygmy slow loris was nearly wiped out during extensive burning, clearing and defoliating of forests in Vietnam during the Vietnam war.

Traditional Japanese medicine has many uses for the Bengal Slow Loris, and it has been traded close to extinction. Countries such as Britain have now enacted bans on the trade of slow lorises or products derived from them.

Slender loris. Photo Joachim S Mueller

Slender loris. Photo Joachim S Mueller

Slender loris. Photo Joachim S Mueller

Slender loris. Photo Joachim S Mueller

Slender loris. Photo Joachim S Mueller

Source: Wikipedia