Tag Archives: animals

The Swiss are mean to hippos

Pax Arcana

Zoo officials in Switzerland say they have no room for a second male hippo, so they are seeking a new home for Farasi, a 200+ pound calf born last November. If they cannot find a suitable home, Farasi will sent to an animal sanctuary in Africa for permanent care.

Just kidding, they’re going to kill him and feed him to the lions.

American zoos believe in birth control or sexual abstinence for their animal populations. But Europe’s 4,000 zoos take a more continental approach to reproductive rights: Animals should be free to do what comes naturally. The result is a surplus of offspring. And if zookeepers can’t find a home for the babies, zoos typically kill them. Some carcasses are used for research. Meatier cuts — and Farasi surely qualifies — are thrown to the lions.


This is especially awkward for the Swiss, since they voted Farasi the “Swiss of the Year” in 2008. Second place went to Roger Federer. And no, I am not making that up for comedic effect. They really, really like animals in Switzerland:

Animals have a special place in Swiss hearts. Last September, Switzerland passed an animal bill of rights that says that pet guinea pigs, for instance, should be kept in pairs to avoid loneliness. Swiss have to mercifully knock out their goldfish before flushing them down the toilet.

A large Swiss circus offered to take Farasi on the road, but zoo officials say that would not be a suitable home for a hippo, which should live in a social pod. I’m sure Farasi would agree that anything — even being torn limb from limb by hungry tigers — is better than wearing a red feather boa and fez and marching in a circle while a bunch of spastic Albanian contortionists roll around on the floor next to you. On second thought that sounds pretty cool.

Swiss Zoo Has One Too Many Hippos, So Little Farasi May Have to Go [WSJ]



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This is the greatest dog in the world

Pax Arcana

stumpAfter scouring the globe and scrutinizing each and every single dog in existence, the world’s foremost authorities have agreed that the greatest dog in the world is Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee.

(The Sussex spaniel narrowly edged out my Somerville beagle, Gloucester Mountbatten Hip-Hop Zombiekillerzz, for the title.)

The winner’s nickname is Stump, and his victory is something of a comeback story:

Stump won the sporting group at Westminster in 2004, but in early 2005 fell seriously ill with an undetermined sickness, said Scott Sommer, Stump’s handler and an owner along with Cecilia Ruggles and Beth Dowd.

Stump eventually returned to health, and by last year he was looking quite good. Still, Sommer said he was not sure until last Wednesday that he would definitely show Stump at Westminster.

“I wanted to take him here and hope he showed good,” Sommer said after winning the group. “That was my goal.”

At 10, Stump is the oldest dog to win at Westminster. Personally, I can’t wait for Disney to buy the rights to Stump’s story and make movie about his life. I would love to see Dennis Quaid try to act in a dog costume.

10-Year-Old Spaniel Completes Comeback [NYT]

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Your animal paintings are all wrong

Pax Arcana

dogPablo Picasso once said that art is the lie that tells the truth. He also said French chicks will screw anyone with a paint brush and a fancy grammaphone, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that artists sometimes get things wrong. And not on purpose, like the surrealists or whatever, but just because they don’t know which leg goes where when painting a dog or horse walking. Luckily we have some squirrely academic types to point this out for us:

After analyzing more than 300 depictions of walking animals in museums, veterinary books and toy models, the researchers report that in almost half of them the leg positions are wrong. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

The researchers studied only depictions where it could be determined unambiguously that the animal was walking, and not trotting or otherwise running, as in those gaits the leg movements may differ. (In walking, two or more legs are touching the ground at all times while in galloping, for example, there are moments when all the legs are lifted.)

The researchers found, for example, that a skeleton of a dog at a Finnish museum depicts the right hindleg in a rearward position while the right foreleg is lifted and moving forward. In a proper depiction the hindleg would be forward too, having moved before the foreleg.

It’s a good thing they didn’t interview any dogs for this story, since I happen to know that many of them are proud of their idiosyncratic walking styles. My Beagle — Hallgeir the King Slayer — busts into a sideways creep when approaching a female of the species. I call it his “pimp walk.”

In Lots of Animal Art, Wrong Foot Is Forward [NYT]


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