Thursday, June 19, 2008

(BTW, I'm getting a little fed up with Revver videos taking 24 hours to process only to get an error. I can't use Livevideo because the ads have too many people in their underpants and I can't use CNN because they are autoplay and often don't process completely and I can't use because they are wmv files and I will not use You Tube, even if they were iTunes compatible. I am posting the Catster file today but I can't do auto podcasting from there. If there are any other suggestions for iTunes-compatible instant podcasts, please let me know. On with the show!)

Hi guys, it's Loki! And this is Critter News for June 19, 2008.

Later in this broadcast, Researchers are still baffled by the disappearance of US honeybees, Beauty gets a new beak, and All About Eyes on True or Tail, but first:

Tails of Rescue:

Residents of Battle Creek, Michigan were surprised to see what they thought was a young leopard wandering through their neighborhood on Tuesday. Animal Control trapped the animal, which turned out to be an injured and malnourished 5 year old African wildcat called a Serval. A Serval of this age should weigh about 30-45 pounds but only weighed 15. Experts report he is likely an escaped or abandoned pet as he was neutered and had been declawed.

While the owner has not stepped forward, Servals are crossed with Bengal cats to create the popular hybrid, the Savannah, a good-natured cat with a pack animal mentality that takes to the leash well and even enjoys swimming. Because Michigan state law does not regulate exotic animals there are several catteries in the state specializing in Savannahs, Servals and Bengals. I personally hope the owners will be able to provide authorities with some clues as to who may be missing their pet Serval.

If no owner is found Mr. Serval will receive care and a new home at an animal sanctuary.

Little Critters:

A USDA report states that although some causes have been ruled out, there are still no conclusive leads as to the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

CCD is the generic name given to the mysterious illness that causes the sudden deaths of all mature honeybees in a colony. Immature bees are not affected. Although honeybee health has been on the decline for about a quarter of a century it has been only recently that complete collapse of a colony has been commonplace. Theories have included increased pesticide use, increased packing and trucking of colonies to agricultural sites during pollination time, the Israeli acute paralysis virus and Varroa mites. As no single cause has been identified, researchers are now looking at fatal combinations.

Honeybees have succumbed to colony collapses in the past but there is no historical data to support or refute the possibility CCD is a cyclical ailment. Honeybees are directly responsible for 15 billion dollars worth of berries, nuts, fruits and vegetables annually.

World Watch:

Although Bald Eagles are no longer on the Endangered Species list, Jane Fink Cantwell of Birds of Prey Northwest is going to great extremes to save Beauty, an eagle found starving in a garbage dump after a poacher shot off her top beak 3 years ago. Beauty cannot preen her feathers and has to be hand-fed to survive.

Nate Calvin, a mechanical engineer, was moved by a lecture about Beauty and offered to create a prosthetic beak for her. Beauty was fitted with a computer-designed prototype last month, slipped onto pins glued to her remaining beak. Although the final beak will not be strong enough to allow Beauty to return to the wild the prototype has already allowed her to grip her food more easily and drink on her own.

The Beauty and the Beak project accepts donations via Paypal. Visit the websites for details.


And now it's time for True or Tail, All About Eyes: Each of the following statements is both true and false. Which fact is true and which is the tail?

1. Honeybees can see in the infra red and ultra violet spectrums.

Honeybees can see in Ultra violet, but not Infra red. Bees can't see red at all and will not pollinate red flowers.

2. Pet food manufacturers put color in cat food to make it more palatable to humans because cats are colorblind.

True, color is added to cat food to fool humans, but not because cats are colorblind. Cats can see color, we just don't care. We'll eat anything that smells good!

3. An eagle's eyes contain about 5 times as many cones in the fovea that make eagles better at detecting small movements than humans.

True, then false. Although eagles have more rods and cones overall, it is the rods that are responsible for motion detection.