English Company Creates World’s First TV Remote Control for Dogs

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Dog owners feeling guilty for leaving their pets alone at home for too long will son be able to take comfort in the fact that at least the animals won’t be bored. They’ll be too busy changing TV channels and enjoying their favorite shows thanks to the world’s first dog-friendly remote control.

UK-based pet food brand Wagg apparently surveyed a number of pet owners and found that 91% of respondents said their canine friends regularly watch TV with them. Inspired by this interesting finding, the company teamed up with Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, an expert in animal computer interaction design at the University of Central Lancashire, to create the world’s first remote control for dogs. They came up with a prototype for the ingenious device which is currently in a trial and analysis period.

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Chinese “Monkey Village” Becomes Living Hell for Locals

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A picturesque Chinese village where humans live alongside hundreds of macaques sounds like a great vacation destination, but for the local population it’s apparently a daily living hell.

A little over a decade ago, authorities in Xianfeng village, in southwestern Sichuan Province came up with an ingenious plan to boost tourism and turn their quaint settlement in one of China’s most popular destinations – attracting wild macaques from the surrounding mountains to their village. Locals spent 48 days drawing in 73 monkeys using food, and their plan worked like a charm. The animals started settling in, and as word about a real-life monkey village spread throughout the region, businessman interested in investing in the novel tourist attraction arrived in Xianfeng.

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Vineyard Keeps Vines Pest-Free with the Help of This Adorable 900-Duck Army

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Vergenoegd Wine Estate, a small vineyard in South Africa, keeps the use of chemicals to a minimum with the help of a 900-strong army of ducks that make sure all the vines are always free of pests and snails.

One of the last things you would expect to see on a vineyard is a large group of ducks running around, quacking and looking or things to feast on. And yet that’s the sight you’re very likely to behold at Vergenoegd Wine Estate, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. A feathery army of 900 Indian Runner Ducks is unleashed through the grape vines two times a day – once at 9.45am and again at 3.30pm – and allowed to feast on any pests and snails they can find. Over the years, the ducks have become a tourist attraction of sorts and even have their own daily parade where visitors can watch them run to work. As you can see in the video below, it’s a pretty impressive sight.

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Russian Couple Share Their Home with a Full-Grown Brown Bear

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Svetlana and Yuriy Panteleenko seem like a perfectly average family, but that’s until they introduce you to their 23-year-old adopted son, Stepan, a 300-lb brown bear. The unlikely family do almost everything together, right from playing in the backyard, to cuddling and watching TV on the sofa.

Stepan was just three months old when the Panteleenkos adopted him. He had been found by hunters after reportedly losing his mother and was in very bad shape. So they took him in and have been happily living together for the last 23 years. The couple say that because Stepan has been domesticated from a very young age, he has developed the gentlest temperament. He loves nothing more than hugging his parents every chance he gets and cuddling next to them on the sofa in the evening. “He absolutely loves people and is a really sociable bear – despite what people might think, he is not aggressive at all. We have never been bitten by Stepan,” Svetlana says.

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Catterbox – A Smart Collar That Translates Cat Meows into Human Speech

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Cat lovers of the world, rejoice! You finally have the chance to understand what your pet is saying thanks to a smart collar that can interpret feline meows and translate it into human speech. Aptly named ‘Catterbox’, the collar supposedly has a digital sensor that detects meows, and uses a special program to decipher the meaning behind them.

Developed by London ad agency adam&eveDDB, for Temptations cat treats, the invention comes preloaded with a dictionary of cat purrs, meows, and several other sounds to make the interpretation as accurate as possible. “We’re fascinated by cats, so we set out on a mission to get to know them better,” said Pete Simmons, global brand director of Temptations.

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Feline Hachiko Has Been Waiting for Its Owners in the Same Spot for Over a Year

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Cats are generally perceived as independent, but they’re also capable of displaying undying loyalty, a quality that is usually characteristic of dogs. Proving the point is this poor Russian cat that has been waiting for its owners for over a year at the exact spot where they abandoned him.

The cat was first photographed sitting on a manhole cover in Belgorod city, in the summer of 2015, by a man named Ostap Zadunayski. He then noticed the cat sitting at the same spot day after day, and curious to know more about this unusual behavior, he asked local residents for more information.

That’s when he discovered that the cat’s owners used to live nearby, but they sold their apartment last year and moved away, leaving the poor creature behind . Eyewitnesses told Ostap that they actually saw the cat run after the car as the owners drove away. Since then, it has been patiently waiting at the same spot for their return, living off the food offered to him by kind locals.

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Costa Rica’s “Land of the Mixed Breeds – A Natural Paradise for Dogs and Dog Lovers Alike

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‘Territorio de Zaguates’ (Land of the Mixed Breeds) is probably as close as it gets to a real-life doggy heaven. Located in a beautiful part of Costa Rica where the sun shines all year round and the average temperature is a pleasant 22 degrees C, this unique canine haven is home to 900-odd stray dogs with bizarre breed names like ‘Chubby-Tailed German Dobernauzer’ and ‘Fire-Tailed Border Cocker’.

The privately funded, volunteer-run organisation takes in strays from across the country, and and gives dog lovers a chance to spend time with them and hopefully give one of them a forever home. The dogs get to run around all day in a green, grassy, well-maintained outdoor space, but they also have access to a modern indoor facility with cozy bedding and designated feeding and bathing stations. To keep the dogs hydrated, troughs of fresh flowing water are installed at various points on the property.  

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This Tiny Frog Is the World’s Most Poisonous Animal

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The golden poison dart frog is a very deceptive creature – despite its tiny two-inch frame, it happens to be the most poisonous creature on Earth. A single amphibian packs enough venom in it to kill over 10 adult men in about 3 minutes. In fact, the species gets its name from the native Emberá hunters of Colombia, who once used the frogs to make lethal blowgun darts.

The bright yellow frogs can only be found in small rainforest on the Pacific coast of Colombia, and their coloring can sometimes vary between yellow, orange, or pale green. The glamour of their appearance is a deliberate ploy, a tactic called aposematic or ‘warning’ coloration, to ward off potential predators. As proven by a 2001 study by Kyle Summers of East Carolina University in Greenville, the brightest frogs are always the most toxic.

Simply coming in contact with a golden poison dart frog doesn’t necessarily put you in mortal dangers, as the amphibians only produce and excrete the potent toxin through their skin only when they feel threatened. But picking up one of these tiny creatures and holding it in your hand for more than a few seconds without gloves is suicide. The frog’s skin quickly becomes covered in alkaloid poison (batrachotoxin) that has the ability to ‘freeze’ nerves, stopping them from transmitting impulses. Within minutes, the victim experiences uncontrollable muscle contractions and eventually heart failure.

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Volkosob – The Wolf-Dog Hybrids Bred to Defend Russia’s Borders

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Protecting the borders of the largest country in the world is no easy task, but luckily Russian troops can rely on the help of Volkosobs – highly-trained wolf-dog hybrids created specifically for this purpose. Volkosobs inherit the size and strength of wolves, but retain an obedient and friendly attitude toward humans that they do not perceive as threats.

Getting the best of both species seems like a worthy pursuit, but getting the desired result took years of research and failed attempts. Over 200 wolf-hybrids bred at the University of Cologne, in Germany, were deemed failures as they all exhibited the typical wolf characteristics of extreme fearful-caution around humans. But scientists and animal experts at Russia’s Prem Institute of Internal Troops finally made a breakthrough in the year 2000. They key to their success was Naida, an usually sociable Caspian Sea Wolf who got along great with humans. Interestingly, during the breeding stage, Naida actually chose a dog as her mate, despite originally being presented with the option of a male wolf.

In 10 years, Naida birthed 40 ‘volkosobs’ (Russian for ‘wolf-dogs’) that shared both her wolf instincts and the father’s friendliness and obedience to humans and they have since then been used to propagate the species. A highly-trained volkosobs is valued $2,000 and $3,000, but in order to benefit from the use of these amazing creatures exclusively, the Russian Military does not sell wolf-dogs. Instead, it only leases them to domestic security organizations, under very strict conditions.

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At This Chinese Company Every Day Is ‘Bring Your Pet to Work Day’

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A company in China is helping its employees de-stress by allowing them to bring their pets to work every single day. The internet marketing company in Shanghai has been practicing ‘Bring Your Pet to Work Day’ for a while now, and the results have been very encouraging – the staff are considerably happier and even work better as a team.

The idea of a perpetual Bring Your Pet to Work day belongs to the head of the company himself.. Worried that the highly competitive and demanding workplace was affecting his staff, Zhao Congchong wanted to do something to help them stay relaxed at work. Upon studying their profiles, he realized that most of the employees were pet owners, so he announced that everyone was welcome to bring their pets to work on a pre-decided day.

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Animal Lover Offers $30,000 Reward for Information on His Six Missing Cats

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Steve Rosen, a cat lover from Davie, Florida, is prepared to do whatever it takes to recover his six missing pet cats. Seven of his feline have mysteriously disappeared in the last year and only one has returned to him so far. Despite hiring a private investigator and offering a hefty reward of $30,000, he has been unable to find out what happened to them.

Rosen, a retired dentist and skin care entrepreneur, claims that his cats first started disappearing in March 2015, one at a time. “They’re like my children,” he said, speaking to NBC 6. “Imagine one of your children disappears and then a month or two later, another one disappears. Granted, I know they’re not human beings, a lot of people can’t relate to it, but those of us in animal rescue would know what I mean.”

All the cats were microchipped and had radio collars, so Rosen tried looking for them himself. When that didn’t work, he hired a private investigator and also set up a $10,000 camera system to catch the thief. Those options didn’t generate any leads either, so out of sheer desperation, he decided to announce a reward to anyone who could bring his cats back or supply information to their whereabouts. At first he offered a $20,000 prize, but later increased the amount to $30,000. “I’m relying on greed,” he said.  

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The Cat Boat – Amsterdam’s Floating Sanctuary for Cats

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The Cat Boat is one of Amsterdam’s most peculiar attractions. It’s essentially a sanctuary for cats, but what makes it special is that the rescued cats all live aboard a quaint little houseboat that bobs along the Herengracht canal. Although it wasn’t intended to be a tourist attraction, Cat Boat regularly receives about 4,500 visitors a year, most of whom are tourists missing their own cats while on vacation!

The origins of the Cat Boat can be traced back to 1966, when a kind woman named Henriette van Weelde took pity on a stray feline and her kittens and allowed them into her own home. Henriette soon became well known in the neighborhood for her kindness; people would regularly drop off rescued cats at her doorstep and she wouldn’t hesitate to take them all in.

This went on for about two years, after which Henriette simply didn’t have enough room to house more cats. So she came up with a solution – she put them all on an unused houseboat on the nearby Herengracht canal. The feline sanctuary was something of a ‘pirate’ ship for about two decades, operating without the knowledge of the authorities. But in 1987, it finally got a permit and was officially christened ‘de Poezenboot’ (the Cat Boat).

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Swedish Scientists Want to Find Out if Cats Meow with an Accent Based on Where They Live

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A cat with an accent sounds like a character in a whimsical children’s tale, but Swedish scientists are trying to figure out if domestic cats actually do have differing ‘dialects’ based on their geographical location. They also want to understand if the owner’s voice might have a role to play in the way cats’ meow. If they’re successful, the team of scientists from Lund University hope to put together a ‘dictionary’ of cat sounds.

“It seems that cats can consciously vary their intonation or melody constantly, perhaps to convey a certain message, perhaps to alter or increase the urgency of a message, or emotions,” said Susanne Schötz, a reader in phonetics and head of the project. “We want to find out to what extent domestic cats are influenced by the language and dialect that humans use to speak to them, because it seems that cats use slightly different dialects in the sounds they produce.”

The project, titled ‘Meowsic’ (short for ‘Melody in Human-Cat Communication’), will be carried out over the next five years. Schötz explained that she and her team will use phonetic analysis to compare cat sounds from two parts of Sweden – Stockholm and Lund – with differing human dialects, and figure out if the cats from these regions also have different dialects. They will focus on intonation, voice, and speaking style in the human speech that is addressed to cats, and also cat sounds that are addressed to humans.

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Dog Owner Dyes Dogs to Look Like Pandas, Sparks Controversy

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A dog owner from Singapore has stirred up controversy by dyeing her three pure-bred Chow Chows to resemble pandas. The white fur dogs now have dyed black patches around their eyes, on their ears, and all over their bodies, making them look more like mini pandas than canines.

and her dogs began to gain popularity after many Singaporean residents spotted them around town and posted photographs of them online. About a month ago Jiang decided to make the most of the publicity and started a service called Panda Chow Chows that allows people to rent out her dogs for photo shoots. A Facebook post made by her husband reads: “Meet the cutest and most adorable dogs in Singapore. The Panda Chow Chows! Toudou (Potato), Yumi (Sweetcorn) and DouDou (Bean). Very proud of my wife Meng Jiang launching her new venture.”

The couple revealed that they brought the three dogs with them from London, when they moved to Singapore in October last year. They started by dyeing only one of the dogs, Yumi, because they thought the puppies were looking more and more like pandas as they grew older. “Yumi loved it and TouDou and DouDou were really jealous of her, so we tried it with them and they all had a new level of energy after it was done,” Jiang told Channel News Asia.

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World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup – How to Turn Slaughtering Thousands of Snakes into a Yearly Festival

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For the past 59 years, the residents of Sweetwater, Texas, have been coming together during the second weekend of March to celebrate the ‘World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup’, a four-day event that features the beheading and skinning of thousands of rattlesnakes in front of a live audience.

Annual rattlesnake roundups are common in several areas of the rural Midwest and Southern United States, but the event at Sweetwater is considered by far the largest of them all. Launched in 1958 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), it used to be the most effective way to control the region’s heavy snake population responsible for the death of cattle and humans alike.

And while the festival’s original premise might not be relevant anymore, the event still manages to draw up to 30,000 visitors each year, including out-of-state snake hunting teams and tourists from other countries. Just last year , a whopping 3,780 pounds – that’s tens of thousands – of rattlesnake were netted and thrown live into a pit, from where they were taken out and killed, one at a time.

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