Florida Gator Expert Opens Hug-an-Alligator Business

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Ever wished you could go up to an alligator and just give him a great big hug? Well, thanks to a nutty gator expert from Florida, now you can.

Gator Man Mike has recently moved from the Everglades to Naples, Florida and decided to give people from his new home the chance to really bond with alligators. The man is charging locals and tourists visiting Tin City $5 for the chance to share  a hug and get their picture taken with one of his pet alligators, and believe it or not business seems to be going ok. Although gators have a velcro nozzle on their snouts to make sure they don’t decide to take a bite out of paying customers, city officials did have some safety concerns and only allowed Mike to open his wacky business after he got a $1 million liability insurance.

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World’s Most Expensive Sheep Is Worth over $2 Million

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This whole economic boom is just making China weirder with each passing day. Just last week I read they inaugurated their first gold-dispensing machine and now the country’s big bosses are paying millions of dollars for sheep.

Dolan sheep, to be exact, a rare breed which according to breeders has very special features that make it the latest collector’s item for China’s rich businessmen. They have a distinctive curved nose, long floppy ears and twin tails, but the thing that really makes them special is there are just around 1,000 of them left in the world. Dolan were originally bred from sheep in Kashgar, north-west China, to grow more quickly and yield more meat, the priced breed has since become purely ornamental. It reaches maturity and weighs over 200 lbs at just six months, but no one is thinking about sacrificing them for meat anymore.

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World’s Only Dog Chapel Faces Shutdown Due to Unpaid Debts

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Created by artist Stephen Huneck as a place where people of all religions could celebrate the spiritual connection they have with their dogs, the famous Dog Chapel of Vermont is now in danger of being closed down due to unpaid property taxes.

Stephen Huneck loved dogs for as far as he could remember, but growing up in a family with seven children, he couldn’t afford to get one of his own. That all changed when he became an adult, and the special bond between him and his dogs was never stronger than when he came out of the hospital, following a two-month coma caused by a serious fall, 14 years ago. His four legged friends stood by his side as he learned to walk again. They would go into the forests to walk on trails and the dogs walked two feet in front of him and always looked after him and waited for him to catch up. The dog’s behaviour during this time really moved him and he felt like he was in the hands of God’s helpers…Stephen truly believed “dogs make us better people” and that “they can teach us more about love than most relationships we enter into”.

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World’s First 7-Star Pet Resort Opens in Dubai

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Urban Tails Dubai, the world’s first seven-star resort for pets, was inaugurated this summer and owners say it was such a big hit they’ve been full all season.

Just think of this place like an equivalent of Burj al Arab for cats and dogs. It was created by Irish ex-pat Aideen O’Mara who moved to the UAE in 2004, where she worked at an international school before opening her luxury pet resort. She speculated the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on Dubai’s public beaches or in parks and decided to create an environment where cats and dogs could “socialize in luxury surroundings”, while their European masters went home during the hottest time of the month. This way, the poor animals didn’t have to be confined inside for five months, due to unbearable heat. ”I have always had pets and I feel that animals are given a bit of a raw deal in the UAE in terms of pet services on offer and they do not have much freedom in comparison to dogs in Europe.” Aideen says.


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Pet Designer Makes the Most Adorable Animal Hats

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Like to torment your pet, do you? Than you’re going to get a kick out of Amelie Segarceanu’s extensive collection of cat and dog headgear.

Amelie, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a hat designer who apparently likes to play dress-up with animals. She creates funny headgear for cats and dogs and sells them to animal lovers on her Etsy shop, To Scarborough Fair, along with free tips on how to trick pets into wearing them. A relaxed mood and some tasty treats are always a good way to start dressing up your pet, and speaking in a warm, soothing voice doesn’t hurt either. Still, cats are known to be very sensitive and even though these silly hats are especially designed to make them more tolerable, some felines won’t be easily convinced. I’d say they don’t like being laughed at, but that’s just me.

Maybe Amelie should get together with Cat Prin, the famous cat tailor, and make some complete pet wardrobes.

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Self-Taught Artist Creates Incredibly Detailed Wildlife Scratchboard Art

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Self-educated artist Cristina Penescu creates wildlife-themed scratchboard artworks that look so real it’s hard to believe they’re not photographs.

It’s not often I get to cover the works of fellow Romanians, but I guess that’s what makes it so special. Cristina Penescu was born in 1988, in Bucharest, but her family relocated to California when she was only a year old. Her love for art and nature began during her early childhood and stuck with her through her youth, but it was only in August 2009, at the age of 20 that she started focusing on promoting her wildlife artworks and making a name for herself in the art community.

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Artist Writes Detailed Portraits of Dogs

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Florida-based artist Stephen Kline has created a new artistic technique that allows him to draw detailed portraits of dogs, using only text. For example he can draw the portrait of a poodle just by writing the word ‘poodle’ a few hundred times. You’d think writing the same  word so many times would eventually get boring even for the most patient artist, but Stephen has so far created hundreds of these brilliant litographs of every dog breed you can think of.

Stephen Kline introduced his Lines of Language technique in 1999, and since then he’s gained thousands of art-collecting fans from 20 different countries and every state in the US. His litographs have so far generated tens of thousands of dollars for dog rescue centers around the world.

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Snapperfest – Yet Another Another Animal Cruelty Fest

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Snapperfest is an obscure Indiana festival where participants have to yank a snapping turtle’s head out of its shell until they can wrap their hands around its neck.

It has been taking place in Ohio County, Indiana, for over a decade, despite PETA’s numerous attempts to shut it down, and sadly, it was organized this year as well, on August 20th. As always a big crowd gathered at Campshore Campgrounds to see the “brave” competitors tormenting a bunch of frightened snapping turtles. Now that right there sounds like a great way to spend your weekend.

Every Snapperfest contestant has to run up to a tank full of snapping turtles, grab one by its tail, slam it onto a piece of tarp and yank its head out of the shell. Apparently, each participant has his own techniques to get the wild-caught turtles to reveal their heads, but most popular are the repeated slamming against the ground, and pounding on the shell. While the crowd cheers them on, they grab the snapper turtle’s head and yank it out enough to wrap their hands around its neck. The one who manages to yank the turtle’s head fastest, wins.

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The Subway-Riding Dogs of Moscow

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Everyone knows dogs are some of the most intelligent animals on Earth, but the stray canines in Moscow have really impressed scientists with their metro-riding routines. Every day, the dogs living on the outskirts of Russia’s capital jump on the tube all the way to the city center, the best place to scavenge for foods.

During the soviet era, dogs weren’t allowed into subway stations, and since restaurants and fast-food stands were scarce all around Moscow, they had no reason to venture into the city. Most canines preferred to live in the industrial areas, where they searched for food in garbage dumps, or lived on whatever workers threw away. But after the fall of the USSR, the situation changed drastically: their homes on the outskirts of Moscow were taken over by commercial centers and apartment complexes, while restaurants and fast-food carts popped-up downtown. A while ago, I wrote about Cacao, the bus-riding dog of Milan. I thought he was unique, but it appears Moscow strays mastered public transportation years ago.

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Meet Beau, the Canine Calculator

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Beau the Labrador knows all the usual tricks like “sit”, “roll over”, but he prefers something a little more challenging like subtracting, dividing, multiplying. Yup, you guessed it, this pooch is a canine mathematician.

The 12-year-old black Labrador retriever is probably smarter than a lot of people when it comes to math, considering he can multiply, subtract and even bark the square root of some numbers. Vince Devlin, of the Missoulian, visited Beau at his summer retreat on Lake Flathead, Montana. He lives with his owner, Melissa Canady, in Augusta, Georgia, but during the hot summer months he spends his time with Melissa’s parents, Dave and Patti Madsen. Dave is actually the one who taught him everything he knows about math, after the man noticed he was brighter than the average puppy.

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Dyed Chicks – Because Normal Chicks Just Aren’t Cute Enough Anymore

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Popular in many countries around the world, including the US, dyed chickens are often viewed as victims of animal cruelty people usually get rid of as soon as they’re not “awfully cute” anymore.

I don’t know what’s happening with the world, but it seems that things that were cute by default a few years ago, just aren’t cute enough today. People are dying their puppies to look like wild animals, fish have to be either tattooed or locked in tiny keychains, and chicks apparently have to be brightly colored to sell. Dyed chicks are sold by street vendors in countries like China, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Yemen and even the US, where they attract the attention of passers by with their unnatural colors. But what most people don’t know is these “cute” baby birds aren’t dyed after hatching, they are injected with the dye as embryos, inside the egg.

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Zoo Owner to Spend Five Weeks Caged with Lions

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Alexander Pylyshenko, 40, owner of his own private zoo, in the Ukrainian city of Vasylivka, will be spending 35 days caged with two lions, in a stunt he hopes will raise awareness to the poor treatment of lions held in captivity.

The brave zoo owner says he will live like a lion from the moment he enters the cage. That means he will sleep on hay on the floor and eat from the meat that will be given to the lions through the cage bars. As for personal hygiene, Pylyshenko has built a toilet and shower inside the enclosure, but he’ll have to restrain from using shampoo, shower gel or deodorant, as big cats hate sharp odours. While lioness Katya and her mate Samson seem to get along just fine with their caretaker, things might not be as peaceful when they share a living space 24/7, especially since the female is expected to give birth during the five week period, and lionesses are known to be quite over-protective of their cubs.

But Alexander Pylyshenko, who has studied lions his entire life, is confident he will survive this dangerous test, and draw attention to the problems of big cats in captivity. He also plans to paint portraits of the lions while living with them, and sell them to raise money for charity. His 35-day experience living with two lions will be recorded via four webcams, which will broadcast it on the Internet, here.

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California Cat Lady Adopts over 700 Feral and Abandoned Cats

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Lynea Lattanzio wanted a cat when she was little, but her mother didn’t approve. Now she runs California’s “Cat House on the Kings” shelter and takes care of almost 800 cats.

Lynea’s inspiring story began in 1981, when, after going through a difficult divorce, she decided to move to a quiet place on the river. She bought a 6-acre patch of land and settled in by 1983. Soon after she started asking herself: “What was I thinking, single woman with no children living in a big house on 6 acres?”, but little did she know her decision would change her life forever. Nine years later, Lynea’s father asked for her help to replace his 2 Manx cats who had died of old age. On a quest to fulfill her father’s wishes, Lynea stopped by a local animal shelter and walked out the door with a box of 15 abandoned kittens (none of which were Manx). By the end of that year she had rescued and placed 96 abandoned cats, and had found her calling.

In 1993, Lynea Lattanzio came out of retirement to become a surgical veterinary techinician, an experience that both expanded her medical knowledge and help pay the veterinary expenses of her increasing cat family that now numbered 150 members. She also had to sell her diamond wedding ring and her 1973 Mercedes 450 SL – her pride and joy. In 1997, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved a zoning variance on Lynea’s property, which put her Cat House on the KIngs into the spotlight and brought in financial support and volunteers. In 2002, she expanded her cat shelter and added long-term boarding facilities and an area for FIV positive cats.

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Dog Yoga Helps Pooches Find Their Inner Peace

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Sniffing backsides, taking naps and feasting on daily treats can apparently be pretty stressful for dogs, so in order to relax they have to take dog yoga classes, or doga.

Invented by American Suzi Teitleman, who noticed her spaniel enjoyed taking part in her daily exercise routine, doga has become very popular in Asia, where owners take their pets to specialized classes like that led by renowned yoga instructor Suzette Ackerman, in Hong Kong. It’s believed dog yoga helps strengthen the bond between canine and owner, and also does wonders for their circulation, digestion and joints.

Doga sessions include all kinds of poses, stretches, massages and even meditation that help both owners and pets get into tip-top shape. I’m sure it’s a pleasurable experience for yoga practicing humans, but I’m pretty sure the dogs would much rather prefer a visit to one of those luxury dog hotels, or better yet some Phydough ice-cream.

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Jeweler Immortalizes Pet Snouts and Paws into Fashion Accessories

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Jewel artist Jackie Kaufman has sniffed out a way to help pet owners keep they’re beloved companions close even after they’ve left this world. She creates beautiful sterling silver jewelry based on molds of animal snouts and paws.

Jackie creates all kinds of beautiful accessories, all of which you can see at her Etsy shop, but she’s best known for her unique series of animal mold pieces. She got the idea after she was approached by a client who owned a terminally ill dog, and has been creating them ever since. First, Jackie sends her clients special molds with which they can take highly detailed impressions of their animal’s noses and paws, and when she receives them she hand-casts them in sterling silver rings, pendants, bracelets and other accessories. The pet’s name or a special message can also be engraved on the back.

Owning such unusual jewelry is definitely a sign of love for your pet, but how does one get a dog or cat to wear a mold on its nose, even for a short while? My dog barely lets me touch his nose, let alone grab it and cover it with something. And how does the animal breathe when his nose is covered?

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