Hurst: Good morning Carol! Are you excited for Super Bowl Sunday?
Carol: The Super Bowl isn’t really my thing, I’m more of a Puppy Bowl kind of person. And speaking of the Puppy Bowl, I just read that this year they will be showing “The Dog Bowl”. This will feature older dogs to showcase their many positive qualities and why you should think about adopting a senior dog.
Hurst: This is great! The puppy bowl is adorable, but animal shelters are overflowing with older and senior dogs that are in need of homes. Adopting an older dog has plenty benefits and it is great to see that people are recognizing them. Older dogs have already gone through their hyper puppy phase, most are house trained, and they just have so much love to give.
Carol: It is especially cool that the dogs in the Dog Bowl are all adoptable. Another Super Bowl-animal combo story involves all of the predictions that animals are doing this year. Lots of animals are weighing in to get a say in who they think will be the winner. Bubbles the elephant, Fernando the sloth, Lele the panda, and Fiona the hippo went with the Eagles, while Nicholas the dolphin and April the giraffe favored the Patriots. There was also a real eagle involved, named Ahren, but I think you can guess who he picked.
Hurst: Wow, I knew animals were smart but I didn’t know they followed human sports.
Carol: Before we leave this topic, this seems like the perfect opportunity play off of a Stephen Colbert joke about the Super Bowl being a trademarked phrase. To get around potential litigation from the NFL, he uses the code term “Superb Owl” in his commentaries of the “big game.”
Hurst: Ok, so you are going to drop some owl knowledge on us then?
Carol: You bet. For starters, not all owls are nocturnal. The great gray owl, northern hawk owl, and northern pygmy owl are diurnal, which means they hunt during the day, presumably because that’s a good time to catch their prey. Also, the northern pygmy owl, who remember is active during the day, has black-colored feathers on the back of its head in the exact spot where eyes would be.
Hurst: So they have eyes in the back of their head….
Carol: Haha, well, yes, fake eyes anyway. Their real eyes are bright yellow but the fake ones are meant to prevent predators from sneaking up on them. Another fun fact is that owl feathers aren’t waterproof so they don’t hunt much in the rain but some species can swim for short distances which is easier than trying to fly with wet feathers, such as when they dive into a body of water for something to eat. Also, owls are pretty sustainably-minded because they “recycle” old nests left by other birds, and in the American West, the burrowing owl will even use old badger or prairie dog holes.
Hurst: Well, owl be!
Carol: Ugh. Well, moving on, I’m sure you saw the story about the emotional support peacock?
Hurst: How could I not? It was well-circulated on social media. United Airlines denied passage to a customer and her peacock because the peacock did not meet the airline’s size and weight requirements for emotional support animals. So, basically, taking a peacock with you on a plane won’t fly.
Carol: Will you please quit with the terrible puns. I think you have gotten worse since we started Creature Feature. By the way, happy 14th anniversary edition. I had to look it up to see how one celebrates a 14th anniversary, and ironically, it is celebrated with “ivory or elephant.” How terrible is that…
Hurst: Getting back to the peacock issue, United has since updated their emotional support animal policy, as Delta did, to note that customers must provide confirmation that the animal is trained, has been vaccinated, and won’t “pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft or cause a significant disruption in service.” I think that last part means that the animal won’t poop on the plane.
Carol: Well, it’s a good idea for people with animals to check with any airline a couple weeks prior to flying in case they need to provide documentation from their veterinarian, or some other authority.
Hurst: On to a more political story, the Trump Administration has announced that they plan to open U.S. federal waters for offshore drilling activities. This could have huge effects on the coastal and marine ecosystems around all of North America.
Carol: I think we all remember how the BP oil spill affected the Gulf of Mexico and opening up these waters to drilling puts our coasts in danger. Not only would a spill be an environmental disaster, but it would take away income for those that rely on the ocean for work.Thankfully there are quite a few organizations and politicians opposing this legislation, including North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper
Hurst: Good to hear our state is doing their part to protect these ecosystems! So, I’m not sure what to think of this next story, because it’s kind of a double whammy for me. It’s about how men and anxious people are more prone to be bitten by dogs.
Carol: Yeah, I saw that piece. In a survey of 700 people, almost 25% had been bitten by a dog at some point in their life. Those who were more likely to be bitten were men, owners of dogs, and people who did not identify themselves as being ‘calm.’ One of the authors of the study noted that “Most dog bites aren’t going to put you in hospital … but I don’t think that means that we shouldn’t try and prevent them” which evidently was the purpose of the study – to identify any predictors of bites.
Hurst: I guess it is not a hard transition from dogs to coyotes. Our next two stories are about this dog and wolf relative.
Carol: The first story is from a staff member of the Urban Coyote Initiative who reports on a newspaper delivery man’s kindness to a coyote.
Hurst: Well, that’s a first. People aren’t typically kind to coyotes.
Carol: I know and it’s a shame. They are really interesting creatures despite being known as “tricksters” as the word coyote means. So this delivery person in San Francisco started getting calls from his customers complaining that they did not receive their newspaper. When the man investigated further, he discovered that a coyote was taking the papers to play with up in the hills. The man videotaped the coyote throwing the papers around with its mouth and playing with the flying pages. So, every morning, he now tosses a paper up to an area where the coyote lives.
Hurst: That’s a super cute image. Speaking of coyotes, I read this really interesting piece about how we view coyotes and specifically how coyote populations are being handled in Georgia.
Carol: Hah, it’s cool that you brought up that story because the head of Atlanta Coyote Project is my brother-in-law, the most awesome biology prof Chris Mowry!
Hurst: Well then I’m sure you’ve heard all about it! I found this text particularly interesting because I was taught to fear coyotes growing up, as it seems many people are, but they are not the vicious creatures that they are often made out to be.
Carol: Exactly! They get a bad rep, however coyotes are so scared of humans that they may become nocturnal simply to avoid being out and about at the same time as humans. Despite this, the Department of Natural Resources in Georgia has created a program that rewards citizens if they bring in five “kills” a month.
Hurst: It was interesting that biologists said that this program is actually counterproductive. By eliminating coyotes in an area, there is more food for those that remain, which can increase litter size. In addition, coyotes also provide humans with services like getting rid of roadkill and eliminating disease-carrying rodents.
Carol: Surveys done by the Atlanta Coyote Project show that the public does fear coyotes, but they are also very curious about them. Hopefully in the future neighbors will simply observe the coyote families in their backyards instead of killing them. There is plenty of information available with a simple search on to how to co-exist with these super cool canids.
Hurst: This is such an interesting subject, good to see people like Dr. Mowry are working on this issue.
Carol: Well, I think it may be time to say goodbye for this week.
Hurst: Wait, I have one more story about goodbyes! Researchers have recently found that Orca whales are capable of mimicking human words like “goodbye”. They are capable of this because vocalizations play a vital role in Orca communications. They even have unique dialects from population to population. By mimicking human words, they may be attempting to strengthen bonds with humans.
Carol: That is fascinating! But I really need to say goodbye now, I heard they put Planet Earth 2 on Netflix and you know I love a good animal documentary. And I need to get to work on my new business that will launching soon. The name of the business is Fanimal and it is a member site for people who love animals and want to make the world a better place for them. If you want to learn more about it before the launch, you can go to https://fanimal.online/ for more info and some Fanimal freebies.
Hurst: Ok, that sounds cool! I will check it out and will see you next week!
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