Africa’s Most Dangerous Animal Is Man’s Best Friend

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The hippo is regarded as he most dangerous animal in Africa, but that hasn’t stopped a South African animal lover from making friends with one.

40-year-old Marius Els breeds around 20 different animal species, on his wildlife ranch, near Petrus Steynlakes, South Africa, but he has a real soft spot for Humphrey, a 6-year-old hippo that’s like a son to him. While all of his friends are too scared to go near the animal, and his wife told him not to get too close, Marius climbs on Humhprey’s back  as he swims across a 200-meter-wide lake.

Marius has raised Humphrey since he was just five months old, and over the years, the two have developed a special relationship that people just don’t understand. Most of the world may look upon hippos with fear, but he considers Humphrey to be like a son, although the 1,200 ton creature could chew through him with ease. But, apart from occasionally throwing Marius off his back in the water, Humphrey acts very friendly around his owner, especially after Marius offers him a feats of his favorite treat, apples.

Despite the special friendship with Marius, Humphrey feels very lonely at this point in his life. He had another good friend, a goat, but she got eaten by a jackal, so now he’s all by himself. Marius says he’s been trying to get a tamed female companion for Humphrey, but there’s no such thing in Africa right now, and bringing in a wild one would be too dangerous. If the untamed female isn’t younger than he is, they would just kill each other. On the other hand, he can’t release Humphrey in the wild, because the other male hippos would almost definitely kill him in a fight. At least Humphrey will also have Marius to keep him company

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Python Wedding Held in Cambodian Village

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Over 1,000 people gathered in the Cambodian village of Sit Bow, to witness the wedding of two pythons, believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the settlement.

Early 2008, I wrote a post about a Cambodian boy who had an unusually friendly relationship with a full grown python. Villagers believed he was the son of a dragon, and had supernatural powers. Fast forward to present day, Chamerun, the boy’s female pet snake is getting married to male Krong Pich, and the whole village has gathered for the big ceremony.

While most Camodians are Buddhists, they also believe in animism – a belief that spirits inhabit the bodies of animals – so whenever a bizarre animal makes an appearance, there are always speculations about it being housing some important spirit. Fortunetellers told the two snake owner their reptiles were soul mates blessed by the gods, and that they needed to be married and live together, otherwise the village will be struck by bad luck.

The marriage ceremony lasted two hours and was attended by people from all around the village area. Two Buddhist monks  blessed the snake couple, while villagers showered them with flowers and sang traditional wedding music. It must have been pretty creepy, for the pythons, of course.

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El Chupacabra Found in Kentucky?

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It happened in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, where this strange looking creature appeared in Mark Cothren’s yard and got itself shot Now, all over the internet, people are wondering if this is just an animal suffering from a skin disease or the fabled chupacabra.

The legend of “el chupacabra” (Spanish word for “goat sucker”) began back in the 1990s, when when more and more stories told by people claiming they had seen this creature started circulating in Puerto Rico and rapidly spread throughout the Americas.

“I was like ‘every animal has hair, especially this time of year!’. What puzzled me is how something like that could survive through a winter with no hair. Everybody is getting very curious, you know. The phone is ringing off the hook. It’s kind of a mystery right now,” said Mark Cothren.

Opinions differ from one person to another, as some assume it is a cat, maybe a dog or a raccoon, but if it’s one thing they all agree on, it’s that it’s really strange looking. “It’s hard to tell what an animal is from just a photograph. This is an animal that’s native to our area, most likely that is suffering from some type of disease,” said Sam Clites from the Louisville Zoo.

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Meet the Real Life Tom and Jerry

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If you are a big fan of Tom and Jerry, like me, you will most certainly fall in love with this real life version of the famous duo.

It might look like it, but 51-year-old Carolyne Brading didn’t use a cat and mouse as decorations for the Christmas tree. Bumble, her 14-month-old cat, got tangled in the lights and tinsel of the Christmas tree, while chasing a mouse. And while the clever little mouse managed to get to the top, Bumble didn’t make it more than half way up.

The owners, Mrs. Brading and her husband Stan, are very proud to have had the chance to capture this unusual but hilarious moment on camera:

“When we walked into the room we found him perched in the branches about half way up, and the mouse was peering down on him. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We grabbed the camera straight away because it’s certainly not something we think we’ll witness again. Despite the awkward position, Bumble looked quite comfortable. We lifted him out and the mouse scurried away.

‘The tree was a mess. The angel that had previously been on top of the tree was on the floor and there were baubles everywhere. It took me an hour to put everything back together again. Everybody who sees the pictures thinks it’s hysterical – just like a scene out of Tom and Jerry,” said Mrs Brading.

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Japanese Researchers Create Tweeting Mouse

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In a genetically engineered experiment, Japanese scientists at the University of Osaka have created a mouse that tweets like a bird. After crossbreeding genetically altered mice for some time, to see what would happen, they apparently got their first interesting result, by mistake. Researcher Arikuni Uchimura said they were expecting physical mutations, but definitely not a tweeting mouse.

The “mistake” happened at the University of Osaka called “Evolved Mouse Project”, where scientists have the sole purpose of breeding mice ‘pron to miscopying DNA and thus to mutation”, without knowing for sure what will the end results may be.

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Dog Gives Birth to Seventeen Puppies

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A dog in Germany gained it’s celebrity after giving birth to 17 puppies. Both the owners and the vet were thrilled and amazed by this “numerous” surprise, especially since all the puppies were born naturally, without a cesarean being necessary, and although the birth took almost 26 hours, all puppies have survived and are in good health.

Ramona Wegemann, Etana’s owner is very proud of her dog, a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback, but non the less exhausted after having to cope with feeding and taking care of all the 17 puppies for the first 4 weeks, as their mother wouldn’t have been able to deal with all of them.

This was Etana’s second pregnancy, but the first time she gave birth to 8 puppies, a number very common for her breed, so nobody really saw this coming. As this has turned into a full time job, both Ramona and her husband have had to dedicate most of their time, and space, to these little ones. Their living room was turned upside down as it is now occupied by a giant box housing the puppies. It’s really a full time job,

Etana has given birth to 9 male and 8 female puppies, and as you can imagine, their owners are having a difficult time telling them apart: the male puppies are called Baakir, Banjoku, Belay, Bruk, Bundu, Bayo, Bukekayo, Biton and Bulus and the female ones are Bahati, Binta, Bahya, Bashima, Batouuli, Binki, Bora, Bisa. These are all African names, because the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an African breed, but…do all African names start with a “B” or is this a real weird coincidence?

The 17 puppies were born on September 26, and since then four of them have been sold, two more are already paid for, and Ramona hopes she will be able to find good homes for all of them. But she says they are only considering families with children, not breeders.

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Dog Cinema Lets You Take Your Pooch to the Movies

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Vienna’s Admiral Cinema has opened its doors to man’s best friend, through a once-a-month “Doggy Day Promotion” that lets dog owners take their pets with them, to the movies.

In order to lure people away from the Lugner City Kino multiplex that opened nearby, the 90-year-old Admiral Cinema decided to become more appealing to dog owners, by allowing them to bring their pets inside the cinema. That may seem a little extreme, but it might just pay off, considering many dog lovers don’t go anywhere without their pampered pooches.

Once a month, dogs get free admission inside the cinema, as well as soft seat blankets, fresh water and tasty treats, including popcorn and mince pies. As far as the actual movie presentation is concerned, the only real difference from a normal movie is that the volume is turned down a bit, as not to hurt animals’ ears. While all the dogs seem interested in the movie, it just takes one of them to bark and they all join in. That’s when the real show starts.

24-Year-Old Blackie Is Britain’s Oldest Cat

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The leading candidate for Britain’s oldest cat, Blackie is a cat who will turn 24 in January of next year, the equivalent of 118 in human years.

Quentin Shaw, 49, is the proud owner of Blackie and he’s had her since forever. He got her and her brother 24 years ago, and named them Tan and Blackie from the spots they each had on their heads – one was brown, the other one black . Unfortunately Tan died at the age of five, after being hit by a car.

Food and care were not the only ingredients that lead to Blackie’s longevity, but also the love of her owners., who believe love and care is definitely one of the main factors that help pets live a long life. Even though she’s no longer able to see in the dark, hunt mice and she hasn’t got stability in her paws, as she keeps falling over when brushed, Blackie  hasn’t given up on life. She’s been in and out of the vet clinic a few times, but she’s a real fighter, and always managed to get back to full health.

Blackie is now living with her owner, Mr. Shaw, and his family, fiancee Kim Lanham and children Scarlet and Tom, in Thurnby, Leicestershire. “I think that with animals, when they’re loved, they live longer. She’s part of the family. She’s got a lot of attitude still but she’s amazing with the kids and good natured (…)every time we go to the vet she bounces back. She’s certainly a fighter.” said Miss Lanham.

Blackie’s story has even caught the interest of Daniel Fileds of The Guinness Book Of Records, as there is no current record holder of the title for Britain’s Oldest Cat. Hestia, who died in September at the age of 21 years and 11 months, was the last oldest living cat.

Blakie’s age certainly is impressive, considering the average life expectancy for cats is 16 years.

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Pet Buffalo Likes To Ride in a Car and Drink Beer at the Pub

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No, you’re not imagining things, that’s a real buffalo riding around in a convertible. That’s Bailey, the pet buffalo, and guess what, he’s going to the local pub.

The image of a 1,600-pound buffalo ridding in convertible is not something you see everyday, but it has become  quite common for the people of Spruce Grove, Alberta. This time, it was all caught on tape by a British camera crew from England’s Oxford Scientific Films, a team partially responsible for producing Animal Planet’s Fatal Attraction, a series of documentaries that deals with the close relationship that can come between man and an exotic animal or a big, dangerous one. For that particular reason the film crew followed Jim and Linda Sautner and their two-year-old buffalo “pet”, Bailey,  for almost a week in order to capture the one-of-a-kind relationship between the three.

It has become kind of a habit for Linda, Jim and Bailey to drive around town in their custom modified convertible around town and often stop at the local pub for a pint of ale. And it’s not only beer that Bailey likes, as he has also tried dancing a couple of times, but it seems his hoofs and the slippery dance floor weren’t very compatible.

Matthew Wortman, director/producer of the documentary, said “It’s pretty amazing to see such a wild animal in this sort of an unusual setting, really. Bailey is a little frisky at times, but it’s amazing how tame he is.”

This is not the first time the Sautners and Bailey have caught the attention of the media, as they also appeared on CNN, in a short the piece that made the Scientific Films crew fly all the way to Spruce Grove to find out more about the trio.

Bailey Jr. is the family’s second reared buffalo. There was Bailey Sr. before him  (no relation between the two), but he died when he was just eight years old, due to an accident on the farm. Not long after Bailey Jr. came into their lives, when he was just a calf, a special connection between Jim and the baby buffalo  was formed, as Linda confesses:

“They are best of buddies and Jim’s quite the buffalo whisperer. He really works well with animals and seems to have a special affinity for buffalo – he reads them very carefully and understands them very well. He is very consistent in his training and he doesn’t let them get away with anything, but he also is never harsh. He never strikes them.”

Animal Planet is planning to air the documentary in the spring. Scroll all the way to the bottom for an incredible video of Bailey and his animal-loving owner.

 

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Only in Africa – Elephants Calmly Walk through Hotel Lobby

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What would your reaction be if were to check into this hotel in Zambia and encountered this enormous and possibly dangerous African elephant in the lobby?

This is what happens when people get in the way between an elephant and his favorite snack and the owners of the luxurious Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia found this out on the hard way, when a family group of elephants simply walked through the hotel’s lobby to get to their mango tree.

Although they are wild animals, they seem to have gotten used to having people around them and have grown a special relation with everybody at the hotel.Interestingly enough, elephants get very close to the hotels staff but guests are advised not to get to close.

Building the hotel in their path was unintended, but the owner recognizes he had no idea that the elephants would return. This has been going on for several years and the group of elephants comes back every year around the month of November, eating their favorite fruits about four times a day.

The director of the Bushcamp Company, which that runs the Mfuwe Lodge, Andy Hogg, explains: “There are ten in that herd and it is only that herd that comes through. It is a strange thing. The matriarchal in the herd is Wonky Tusk, and she brings the nine others through and they come and go as they please.”

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The Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani Yaen-koen Park

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Even though the name of this park might not sound very familiar you’ve probably heard about the Snow Monkeys of Japan.

The Jigokudani Yaen-koen (Hell Valley Wild Monkey Park) is located in the Nagano mountains and since it was opened, in 1964, this park has been the attraction of tourists from all over the world, eager to see the famous snow monkeys.

The Japanese Macaques (Macaca Fuscata) are monkeys native to northern Japan and very much used to being around people. Even so, the park’s officials recommend that you shouldn’t try  touching them or even looking directly into their eyes, as this is considered, in the monkey society, a sign of enmity.

They are the most north-living species of primate, able to survive temperatures of below -15 °C. Their bodies are covered in a brown-gray coat of fur and they have red skin on their face, hands and bottom. Although they sometimes spend their time in the mountains, they just love bathing and swimming in the hot springs. In the park you can sometimes find about 200 monkeys enjoying the hot water of Japanese onsen in the spring and especially during Japan’s extremely cold winters.

The sight of monkeys in hot water with snow falling on their heads is particularly beautiful.

The Jigokudani park is located in the center of Japan, on the valley of the Yokoyu River, in a harsh environment where snow is present for about four months, reason enough to be named Hell Valley, although the monkeys seem to love this place.


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“Fat Flap” Invented for British Overweight Cats

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Looks like humans aren’t the only ones with overweight problems.

Currently, there are 8 million pet cats in Britain, and one out of four is overweight. A recent research reveals that in ten years time 50% of Britain’s cats will have this problem, and won’t fit through a standard cat flap.

The results of this research lead to the conclusion that a modified cat flap will become somewhat of a necessity. Not only is this “Fat Flap” twice as wide as the standard one, but it also comes with a conveyor belt which will transport the cat to the door, in case it’s too tired to climb up those last few steps. And as if this wasn’t enough, the ingenious device will keep burglars and other unwelcome guests away, as it only opens when activated by a paw-recognition system.

As amazing as the Fat Flap sounds, specialists advise ” that pet owners take all the necessary steps to keep their pets fit and healthy.”

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Researchers in Panda Costumes Trick Four-Month-Old Cub

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Researchers at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province, China came up with a gumptious way to help a four month panda cub re-adapt  to wildlife.

For the success of the reintroduction the baby panda isn’t supposed to come in contact with humans so the researchers had to dress-up as giant pandas in order to do their job, because although the cub is being supervised with hidden cameras, some of the procedures, such as weighing or measuring his body temperature,  involve handling.

Although they aren’t very convincing to us it seems that this cute baby panda has accepted his new “family” and is making great progress.

Australian Man Marries His Dog

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Joseph Guiso has surprised his family and friends when he decided to tie the knot with his best friend, a 5-year-old labrador retriever.

The young Australian, from Toowoomba, describes himself as a “religious guy” and says he could no longer stand to live with his four-legged mate outside of wedlock. The couple decided to go through with the wedding while they were walking by one of the city parks. Joe saw another couple getting married and told his lab Honey “that could be us”. Since she didn’t say anything, her owner took it as a “yes” so he made arrangements to have their own wedding right there in Laurel Bank Park.

Thirty of the couple’s 30 friends were present at the emotional event, and of them even played the role of priest. After reading his touching vow (“You’re my best friend and you make every part of my day better”), Joseph Guiso sealed the deal with a kiss right on Honey’s wet snout. Now that’s puppy love for ya!

Guiso also assured onlookers that “it’s not sexual. It’s just pure love.”

After a German dude married his pet cat, a few months ago, something like this was to be expected.

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Chinese Woman Adopts 1,500 Stray Dogs and 200 Cats

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Ha Wenjin, a dog lover from China, has given up her job, sold her house, car and jewelry to take care of over 1,500 dogs and 200 cats.

The middle-aged woman says she started out with just a few dogs that she could tend to in her spare time, but as their number kept growing, she had to give up her career and spend her entire day caring to the dogs’ needs. Before she knew it, she practically had her personal animal shelter, complete with 10 workers who look after the dogs, and 2 more who take care of the cats.

LIFE Magazine first reported on Ha Wenjin‘s amazing animal shelter, in 2006, and the resourceful woman managed to keep the facility outside Nanjing running until now. She had a number of volunteers coming in at least once a week to check on the dogs, and people donated most of the food. But now, the 1,500 dogs and 200 cats have to move to a new home, as Chinese government officials reclaimed the land the shelter is built on, and threaten to close the place down.

Ha Wenjin had to act fast, and find a cheap but large enough space, where her beloved pets could relocate to. She managed to find it in Houyu village, far away enough from human settlements, because she admits 1,500 dogs are not quiet. Now all she has to do is find enough volunteers to help her move the dogs with the help of four buses, and clean the vehicles afterwards. Ha Wenjin definitely has her work cut out for her, but she has no intention of giving up in her fight to save as many stray dogs and cats as she can.

Back in 2006, LIFE Magazine reported it cost around $37,500 a year to take care of the dogs, but now, with more than double the number of animals, you can imagine how tough it is for Ha Wenjin to keep her animal center open, especially with no help from local authorities. Luckily, most of the food comes from donations, but there are many other things that cost a lot of money.

Just to be clear, the animals are not as crowded as the photos show. It’s only like this at feeding time.

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