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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Couple who kept 56 malnourished and disease-ridden dogs in tiny back garden

By Richard Hartley-parkinson Some of the 56 dogs that James and Nicola Hood kept in their back garden in terrible conditions A couple admitted neglect yesterday for keeping 56 dogs in the back garden of their semi-detached home. Animal welfare officers found 69 animals - including 56 dogs, six birds, three cats and four chinchillas - at the family home of James Hood, 40, and wife Nicola, 31. The couple - who also have five children including a nine-month-old baby - admitted keeping the malnourished and disease-ridden pets in filthy conditions. The Hood couple appeared at Taunton Magistrates' Court yesterday where they admitted neglect They pleaded guilty to nine animal welfare charges yesterday after a court was told how they had turned their home into a makeshift 'animal sanctuary'. Neil Scott, prosecuting at Taunton Magistrates Court in Somerset, said RSPCA officers were greeted with a 'sea of dogs barking wildly' when they visited their home in Minehead in October last year. He said: 'On arrival the inspector was eventually let into the house and could smell the strong scent of ammonia. 'She asked to see the animals and was allowed to do so. She describes being met by a sea of dogs, barking wildly. 'Mr Hood struggled to control them. The officer withdrew and came back later with veterinary surgeons and police officers.' Officials conducted a full search of their four-bedroomed home and small grounds - discovering a total of 56 dogs crammed into their back garden. They counted 36 huskies, four collies, two German shepherds, two Labradors, one boxer dog, two Staffordshire bull terriers with two puppies, one springer spaniel, two Doberman, three rotweillers and one greyhound. With not much room in the garden, the dogs became disease ridden and some of them were malnourished As well as the 56 birds, the Hoods had six birds, three cats and four chinchillas A large proportion of the dogs were malnourished and underweight, while three had eye infections and 12 had ear infections. Officers also found three cats kept in an upstairs bathroom and four parakeets in the bedroom of the crying nine-month old baby. They later discovered faeces from the birds on the baby’s blanket. Mr Scott told the court that the pets could have a number of diseases which could be passed to humans. He said: 'The whole house smelt and there was furniture piled high in most of the rooms - which had their curtains drawn.' The pair were arrested and admitted nine charges, including three of causing unnecessary suffering and six of treatment contrary to the Animal Welfare Act. Ian Denly, defending the couple, insisted they were animal lovers who had taken in pets that were due to be pit down. He said: 'Ironically they are animal loving people who sought to look after animals from people who were destined to be euthanised. 'The majority of the animals they took in were from people who were unable to cope and used them as an animal sanctuary. 'They have effectively sought to look after these animals but were not able to do that by the sheer volume of animals they took in.' Pierce Brunt, chair of the bench at Taunton Magistrates Court, adjourned the sentencing of the couple until April 19 for psychiatric reports. The couple were released on bail and did not comment as they left court. source:dailymail

Meet the new Knut: Zoo crowds wowed by tragic polar bear’s sister who (whisper it) could be even cuter

By Allan Hall Cute as a button: Polar bear cub Anori explores her open-air enclosure at Wuppertal Zoo in Germany The half-sister of late celebrity polar bear Knut made her debut in Germany this week - and she may have even more star quality than him. Anori has the same father but a different mother to the troubled Knut who collapsed and died from a brain tumour aged just four a year ago. Unlike Knut, she was not abandoned at birth by her mother but appeared in public with her at Wuppertal Zoo. SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO Little adventurer: Anori is dwarfed by a log as she struggles to clamber over it Anori was born on January 4 to Knut's dad Lars and his new mate Vilma. She ventured forth to the adoration of the camera clicking crowds on Thursday. She frolicked, she tumbled, she made spectators gasp with delight and zoo director Ulrich Schürer said; 'It all went really well.' But he aims to protect Anori from the kind of frenzy that consumed Knut and turned him into a publicity addict who was only happy when he was performing. According to zoo officials, Anori opened her eyes one month after the birth, and took her first steps after two months. Playtime: Anori frolics with her mother. The little bear was born January 4 and left the birth cave for the first time today Relentless energy: Vilma looks like she's having difficulty keeping up with her lively young cub Eskimo kiss! Anori gives Vilma a peck on the snout Where you going? Vilma casts a protective eye over her daughter as the little one uses her mother's body as an infant assault course Sleepy time: Anori cuddles up to Vilma - who looks as exhausted as any new mum On Thursday she could already be seen clambering carefully over small logs, of course always under the watchful eyes of her mother. Anori was one of two cubs born in the litter, but the second one died a week later. But while the crowds enjoyed the bear's confident show, Mr Schürer warned that the threats to the species must not be forgotten. Sniffing her way: Little Anori inspects a rock Peek-a-boo! Little Anori plays on a log as her mother looks on Learning about the world: Anori reaches out and touches a tree branch. Right, she sits beneath her mother's powerful frame Rest in peace: Anoria's late half-brother Knut, pictured left as a cub in 2007 and, right, aged three in 2010. Rejected by his mother at birth, Knut was raised by a handler at Berlin Zoo, Germany, and thanks to his super-cute looks became a worldwide sensation. He sadly passed away from a brain tumour last year, aged just four 'I hope that the people who will see it, will also remember that polar bears are an endangered species,' he said. 'If global warming continues, then there soon won't be any more polar bears because their livelihood will be destroyed.' Anori won't be markted like Knut - he brought in six million pounds for Berlin Zoo - and her exposure to the public will be limited during her formative months. source:dailymail

Friday, March 30, 2012

Not just incredibly cute: Rarer than the white rhino or giant panda, meet the litters of British Otterhounds, which could have saved the breed

By Rachel Rickard Straus Britain’s rarest breed of dog - which is more endangered than the giant panda and the white rhino - could have been saved after 19 puppies were born this month. Just 20 British Otterhounds were born in the UK during the whole of last year so the arrival of the pups - born into two litters to owner Maria Lerego in Ledbury, Herefordshire, - has provided a vital lifeline to the dying breed. There are less than 1,000 Otterhounds left in the world and about 300 of those are in Britain. Boost: Nineteen Otterhound puppies were born this month in the UK The numbers are far less than the 2,000 or so giant pandas left in the world and the 17,000 white rhinos. Otterhounds date back to the 12th century when they were bred to hunt otters which were then seen as a pest. But their numbers rapidly decreased when otter hunting was banned in 1978. Experts fear the hounds could be extinct within ten years but Miss Lerego, a former Crufts best of breed champion, is fighting back with her one-man breeding programme. Puppy love: The birth of these puppies and their siblings is a cause for celebration as they could greatly increase the likelihood of the survival of their whole species The 48-year-old has bred about 200 puppies in 25 litters over the last 25 years. But she has just experienced her most prolific year yet after bitches Calista and Symphony gave birth to the huge litters within several days of each other. Miss Lerego, from Ledbury, Herefordshire, said: ‘Only 20 were bred in the UK last year and 15 were born in a working pack so they wouldn’t have been available to the general public to buy. Puppy dog eyes: Miss Lerego is monitoring the puppies 24-hours a day as they are so small they could easily be squashed by their 80-pound mother ‘The other five were bred by me and sadly we lost two of them so only three were available as pets. ‘I tried to breed last year and I was really beginning to tear my hair out that I wasn’t going to get them mating. ‘But, then two of my bitches did and fell pregnant about Christmas time. Quite a handful: Miss Larego with a full size Otterhound, one of just 300 left in Britain ‘The first litter that arrived was Calistas and she gave birth to nine. Symphony gave birth a few days later to 11 but sadly one died. ‘I am over the moon. We now have as many as we did in the whole of the last year for the country.’ Miss Lerego is watching the puppies around the clock because they are so young their mother can easily roll over and squash them. They only weigh a pound at the moment, while their mother weighs 80. Bundle of joy: Otterhound puppies snooze together just days after they are born in Hertfordshire She believes Britain needs to keep its own native breeds going and is pleased she has received a lot of interest from people wanting to buy a puppy. The dogs sell for around £800, she says. ‘The breed is still very much at risk if the numbers keep declining as they are at the moment but it is a much happier situation than five years ago,’ she said. ‘There are so few Otterhounds because they had never been available to the general public, so the public didn’t know they existed. Hounds of love: Five dozy-looking puppies pose together. They will be taken to their new homes when they are around nine weeks old ‘They make excellent pets, they are a very sociable breed and they are intelligent. ‘They are very easy going characters and quite laid back. If you gave them the choice of a hunt or an afternoon on the sofa, they would pick the sofa.’ Otter hunting began in the Middle Ages because there were so many of the small mammals that they were considered a pest. However in time hunting them because something of a sport. By 1977 hunting the marine creatures was banned after otter numbers declined, mainly due to pollution and loss of habitat. Excellent companion: Otterhounds are a social and intelligent breed and quite laid back. However they are not the easiest dogs to train Miss Lerego said: ‘After that some of the dogs went into Mink hound packs and some went into homes. But their numbers soon went downhill.’ Otterhounds are renowned for their excellent hunting skills and strong work ethic. Although they are the largest scent hound they are not a danger to other animals; in the past they would wait for terrier dogs to kill the quarry. Shhhh!: Although the breed is known for its hard work ethic, Otterhounds prefer an afternoon on the sofa than hunting, according to Miss Lerego Paul Keevil, of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breeds committee, said people had been put off from owning them because of their sheer size. ‘They are not for novice dog owners because they are not the easiest dogs to train,’ he said. ‘They were bred to be independent and are used to working on their own initiative. ‘You can’t really take them off the lead in a park because if they catch the scent of a rabbit or a cat they are off and they are very difficult to call back, you have to go after them.’ source:dailymail

Hands off my banana! Grumpy gorilla mum finds favourite fruit too irresistible to share with baby son

He may be one of Ireland's most famous residents, and he might be about to celebrate his first birthday - but that doesn't mean Kituba the baby gorilla always gets his way. As these pictures from Dublin Zoo show, the infant was left frustrated after he tried to grab a banana from his mother Lena - who made sure she got to enjoy the snack herself. The stern mother was obviously in no mood for any monkey business and even struck a threatening pose for the cameras after devouring the treat. Out of reach: Kituba tries to get his hands on the banana, but mum Lena shows him who's boss The pair are residents of Dublin Zoo's Gorilla Rainforest, a £2.5million development consisting of 12,000 square meters of undulating forest that is the perfect habitat for the zoo's breeding troop of western lowland gorillas. Tomorrow the zoo will kick off a weekend of celebrations to mark Kituba's first birthday, when the rainforest will be transformed into a funfair filled with family activities. Kituba was born on March 30 last year weighing just 1.81kg. Keepers were initially unable to tell whether he was male or female because Lena was so protective of the infant. The birth was heralded as 'a great success for the European breeding programme for these critically endangered primates'. Mother knows best: Gorillas are known to be protective of their young - and clearly Lena is no exception Birthday boy is taken for a ride: Kituba gets a lift from his mother source:dailymail

I've got four legs... and an udder two! Lilli the six-limbed cow defies the odds to join her pals on Alpine pastures

By Jill Reilly Fighting fit: Lilli, has defied the odds by thriving despite a vet's prediction at birth that she wouldn't survive Being born with two extra legs may not the best start in life for a cow, but Lilii, the six-legged calf, refuses to be cowed into hiding away because of her disability. The plucky seven-week-old has defied the odds by thriving despite a vet's prediction at birth that it wouldn't survive. She has now gone on to become a minor celebrity after Swiss media splashed with images of the calf frolicking across a sunny field. Lucky: Farmer Andreas Knutti said he couldn't bring himself to euthanize the animal because she was 'so full of life' Farmer Andreas Knutti from Weissenburg, which 19 miles (30 kilometres) south of the capital Bern, says he couldn't bring himself to euthanize the animal because she was 'so full of life.' He told Swiss daily Blick Thursday that a curve in her spine means Lilli may never become a normal milk cow. But Knutti says if the calf stays healthy she'll still be allowed to join the others when they head for their Alpine pastures this summer. Connection: Farmer Andreas Knutti, and his daughter Semira, have taken a shine to the six-limbed animal and he says if the calf stays healthy she'll still be allowed to join the others when they head for their Alpine pastures this summer Future: The farmer said that a curve in her spine means Lilli may never become a normal milk cow Mutations are not as rare as thought and a three-legged cat and two-headed lamb were born in Georgia earlier this year. In January, a piebald lamb, which has four legs at the front and two hind legs, was born in Velistsikhe, Georgia. Unlike Lilli, it appears to have at least partial control of every limb on its body. According to vet Auto Zardiashvili, the mutation may be due to issues at conception. 'Most probably there were twins, but then the embryos were united, and we've got a strange lamb,' Mr Zardiashvili said. In 2006, a lamb with six legs, four at the front and two at the back, was born on a farm in Belgium. And in August 2010, a two-legged lamb was born in China. The lamb was to be killed but it is reported that when the farmer saw the lamb's determination to live, she dropped the idea and kept him as a pet. Survival: It seems Lilli's zest for life saved her from certain death - in August 2010, a two-legged lamb was born in China. The lamb was to be killed but it is reported that when the farmer saw the lamb's determination to live, she kept him as a pet source:dailymail

Welcome, home soldier! Chuck the boxer dog goes crazy when he sees his master return after eight months away at war… AGAIN

By Hannah Rand Chuck the boxer is fast becoming an internet star after the second video of him ecstatically greeting his soldier owner becomes a YouTube hit. With nearly 1,600,000 views since it was posted on March 22, the big brown and white hound seems to sum up how we'd all like to receive a loved one. The video begins with the loveable pup in the trunk of a SUV. Scroll down to watch the videos Doggone devoted: Lovable Chuck waits to see his master, Nick, after a long, eight month absence The vehicle's license plate begins with BB, indicating that the location is near Böblingen - a German town near the European headquarters for the Marine Corps. With the words, 'Daddy's home!', from the returning soldier's wife, Katie, Chuck suddenly realises what's happening and with lightning speed jumps out the trunk and runs over to his master, Nick. After that we get an eye-misting 59 seconds of the dog's uninhibited joy at seeing his pack leader home again after a military deployment. 'It's been a long eight months,' says Katie. At one point the boxer lives up to his name and gets so excited he knocks off Nick's sunglasses. Jump for joy: Chuck leaps out of the car trunk and makes a dash towards the sound of the soldier's voice Happy hound: Chuck bounds into the arms of his master, licking and barking, unable to contain his joy Pooch smooch: The soldier's wife, Katie, exclaims 'He's getting a longer welcome than I did!' Nick has to constantly fix his cap too, least it is lost amidst the canine excitement. Jealous of the attention the dog is getting, the soldier's wife jokingly exclaims, 'He's getting a longer welcome than I did.' But who could blame Nick for spending some quality time playing when his devoted dog is just so happy to see him? And this is not the first time Chuck has become a viral video hit. Boxer by nature: At one point the dog gets so worked up he knocks off the soldier's sunglasses Hat's off: And the soldier has to constantly readjust his cap too, least he loses it in the excitement Last year, he became famous for Nick's first welcome home in February 2011. In that YouTube video, we see a younger, slimmer Chuck skidding all over a wooden floor and greeting his master at the couple's home. And just when you thought that your heart's strings couldn't be stretched any further, there's a video of the adorable pooch playing with the couple's daughter, Sydney, in January 2011, when the little girl was just five months old. Watch Chuck greet his master for the second time: source:dailymail

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Home sweet home! Building work starts on a new jungle house in Borneo for rescued orangutan Mely and her pals

-Mely was snatched from her mother 16 years ago and shackled in chains until her rescue in 2009 -Now the home that will be Mely's until the day she dies is taking shape and will be ready for her to move into later this year By Allan Hall This is the house that compassion is building - a sanctuary for an Mely, the orangutan, who has endured year of abuse until her rescue in 2009. After her plight was made public, thousands of pounds were donated by Mail readers to help the stricken animal. One animal lover even donated a massive £500,000 gift which ensured that Mely will never again know want, fear or suffering. The anonymous donor sent the money to British wildlife charity International Animal Rescue earlier this year after we highlighted her plight in the jungles of far off Borneo. Now the rythmm of the jungle rocks to a new beat - digging, hammering, sawing and planing as the wooden home that will protect her and her pals is finished. Mely was snatched from her mother 16 years ago, shackled in chains, tethered on to a tiny verandah as a pet. She had endured seeing her mother shot and her carcass left to rot by a fisherman who wanted to keep her as a trophy pet. Traumatised and alone, the special bonding that creatures like her need was denied her. Instead she was an outcast, fed on raw noodles and chilli powder which left her undernourished and unhealthy. In the wild a diet rich in fruit and fibres would have grown limbs that would have propelled her Tarzan-like through the canopy of rainforest trees that form her natural habitat. As it was her arms and legs could barely support her when IAR officials were greenlighted by the Indonesian government to rescue her in 2009. New pad: This is the house that the compassion is building - a sanctuary for Mely, an orangutan rescued by the generosity of Daily Mail readers who now will live in comfort with her pals Safety: Eventually Mely, who was snatched from her mother 16 days ago and kept as a pet, will be able to spend her days playing in safety in her new home Mail readers responded magnificently to her plight, sending in donations of more than £8,000 in increasingly hard times as the economic downturn bit hard in all households. The money was used on transport - boat, plane and lorry - to get Mely from her captivity to her new home. Help finally came for Mely on Friday 22 October 2010 when the IAR rescue team swung into action. Armed with the official licence to confiscate her and accompanied by members of the local police department who are required to be in attendance whenever a captive orangutan is seized, she was free at last. Resting: Mely sleeps soundly in her hammock at the Internatinonal Animal Rescue centre in Ketapang Borneo. When she was rescued Mely was lightly sedated so that the cruel padlock and chain from her neck could be removed New beginnings: Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset advised on the construction work for the 60 acre enclosure that will house Mely and some of her new found friends at Ketapang Caring: 'Mely had never seen another orangutan since she lost her mother, so it took some time and patience to get her through this stage of her rehabilitation,' said the IAR Karmele Llano Sanchez, Veterinary Director of IAR in Indonesia, said: 'Having waited months for the go ahead to rescue her we received the call telling us that it was all systems go. There was very little time to plan or prepare. We knew Mely's owner had been trying to sell her and we were terrified of arriving to find that she had vanished – along with the chance to save her. Thankfully she was still there and her owner handed her over without argument. 'When the rescue team arrived it was clear that Mely was bewildered and frightened by all the upheaval. No one could find the key to unlock the heavy padlock around her neck and so she was led into the transport crate still wearing the chain. It was eventually removed hours later at IAR's rescue centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.' You look like me: Mely (right) meets Nicky another orphaned orangutan - it was is the first time Mely has met another orangutan since her mother shot dead 15 years ago Mely was taken first by boat down the Sambas river – a distance of only a few short miles. Then she travelled by road for a further four hours to Pontianak where, after her documentation had been thoroughly checked and approved by aiport officials, she was flown by plane to Ketapang. A final short truck-ride brought her to IAR's rescue and rehabilitation centre where the rest of the team was waiting to greet her and settle her in to her quarantine quarters. On arrival at the centre, Mely was lightly sedated so that the cruel padlock and chain from her neck could be removed and a swift medical examination was carried out without upsetting her. In due course blood tests and X-rays established that she was not suffering any serious ailments or diseases. 'Mely had never seen another orangutan since she lost her mother, so it took some time and patience to get her through this stage of her rehabilitation,' said the IAR. Another £100,000 is still needed to complete the jungle home for Mely and her pals - IAR hopes that donations will spike when news of her progress spreads. She has been undergoing months of intensive feeding up on mangoes, figs, lychees and eggs followed. As she recuperated she made friends with a fellow orangutan called Nicky, also rescued after a lifetime as a pet. IAR officials could barely hold back their tears when they saw the duo embrace for the first time, happy enough in the company of humans - the source of all their miseries - to display natural behaviour for the first time in their tragic lives. Happy: For Mely, the nightmare is over - soon she will be romping on rope bridges, relaxing on tree-top high platforms and snoozing in hammocks in a safety zone where no-one can ever abuse her again Now the home that will be Mely's until the day she dies is taking shape and - extra funds permitting - will be ready for her to move into later this year or early next. Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset advised on the construction work for the 60 acre enclosure that will house Mely and some of her new found friends at Ketapang. In 1900, there were more than 315,000 orangutans in the wild, but today there are fewer than 50,000. Chained up: Mely was fed on raw noodles and chilli powder which left her undernourished and unhealthy - her arms and legs could barely support her when International Animal Rescue officials rescued her in 2009 Desperate: Her rescuer said 'No one could find the key to unlock the heavy padlock around her neck and so she was led into the transport crate still wearing the chain. It was eventually removed hours later.' Their numbers have plummeted because their rainforest home is being destroyed so trees can be planted as part of the lucrative palm oil industry. But for Mely, at least, the nightmare is over. Soon she will be romping on rope bridges, relaxing on tree-top high platforms and snoozing in hammocks in a safety zone where no-one can ever abuse her again. A spokeswoman for IAR said; 'What a wonderful gesture for a Daily Mail reader to make. Mely clearly touched the hearts of all. Much more work does need to be done to help these beautiful creatures, but for Mely the future is looking bright indeed.' source:dailymail

Will that be a jumbo latte, miss? Moment 'Baby' the elephant went on the rampage outside Costa coffee in Cork

By Chris Parsons On the loose: Baby the Asian elephant wanders near to parked cars in Blackpool, County Cork as her handlers struggle to restrain her A 2.5-tonne circus elephant caused havoc after escaping her handlers are going on the run through a busy shopping centre car park. Shoppers in Blackpool, County Cork, Ireland, were stunned to see Asian elephant Baby charging through the town's retail park after apparently fleeing from her circus home just yards away. The 40-year-old elephant somehow wandered free from the circus in Blackpool to a busy retail park filled with cars and shoppers on Tuesday afternoon. Stop that elephant: Baby wanders through the Blackpool Retail Park after apparently fleeing from her circus handers during a promotional tour Courtney Circus had been parading its animals as part of a promotional stunt when Baby apparently decided to take her own route through the small Irish town. She was spotted being restrained outside a Costa Coffee by two concerned handlers, worried whether the freed elephant would trample any nearby cars. Instead the huge animal galloped through the car park and charged past a barrier into the town centre as her handlers struggled to keep her still. Coffee shop manager Egle Vilumaite said she had been alerted to the elephant by a customer. She said: 'One customer just said, 'Look there is an elephant running', and I was like 'Yeah OK', because the day before they were actually walking the elephants around for publicity. On the charge: Baby continues her impromptu tour through Blackpool by galloping past a barrier towards the town centre Bid for freedom: Baby's handlers insisted no-one was ever in danger during the incident, despite the 2.5-tonne elephant apparently wandering around of her own accord 'But yesterday elephant actually escaped and he was running around on his own and then you could see the guys from the circus, probably they look after her, and the elephant wasn't happy. 'I'd say she was scared as well because it was around 4 o'clock so there was a lot of cars, a lot of people around and everyone literally stood there. 'It was quick, maybe everything took 3-5 minutes but it was really intense,' she said. Officials said nobody was hurt and Baby the elephant is now back at the circus preparing for her next performance. Baby's handlers claimed she ran away from the circus because she did not want to take a shower, but insisted no-one was in danger during the incident. source:dailymail

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