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Thursday, August 30, 2012

We can't BEAR to be apart: Couple play pool and have afternoon picnics with grizzly Billy... who even watches TV in their lounge

By Anthony Bond

For many young children, they struggle to travel anywhere unless accompanied by their favourite teddy bear.

And as these pictures show, this is still the case for Mark and Dawn Dumas - but with one notable exception.

Rather than being constantly side-by-side with a cute toy, they always have a real life teddy with them - in the form of 18-month-old grizzly bear Billy.

Companion: Mark and Dawn Dumas are constantly accompanied by 18-month-old grizzly bear Billy - even to the local pub

Mine's a pint: At 5ft on his hind legs, it's easy for Billy to get his paws up onto the bar

Splashing around: At home near Vancouver, Canada, Billy splashes in the pool with Mr Dumas, 61. He even plays with his toy inflatable ball

Incredibly, the enormous creature even follows Mr Dumas to the local pub.

At 5ft on his hind legs, it's easy for Billy to get his paws up onto the bar or the pool table while Mr Dumas and his 51-year-old wife play a game.

At home Billy splashes in the pool with Mr Dumas, 61, often playing with his toy inflatable ball.

After a swim, he joins the couple in their living room to watch TV or have a play-fight on the carpet.

Playful: After a swim, he joins the couple in their living room to watch TV or have a play-fight on the carpet

Heavy handed: Mr Dumas has his work cut out for him while wrestling with Billy - the cub weighs a whopping 250lbs (18st)

Grumpy: Clearly Billy wasn't happy with the choice of show on television when this picture was taken

Billy even plays with his own teddy bear.

But Mr Dumas, who lives with his wife near Vancouver, Canada, has his work cut out for him while wrestling with Billy for fun - because the cub weighs in at a whopping 250lbs (18st).

Fortunately he has the right skills. As an animal handler Mr Dumas trains critters of all shapes and sizes for work in movies and TV commercials.

He's been teaching Billy a variety of complex behaviours to perform on cue for the silver screen, like pretending to roar and rearing up on his hind legs.

Mr Dumas said: 'Billy is very intelligent and has a really good spirit. He is very good natured and he learns fast.

'His favourite food is jam and he loves tucking into a jar when Dawn and I have a picnic.'

Close: These two pictures show how Mr Dumas and Billy like to enjoy a good fight followed by moments of affection

Together: The couple even enjoy treating Bill to a nice picnic, however, his table manners could so with a bit of improvement

Star of the future: Billy appears to enjoy a sing with Mrs Dumas

Billy's outings alongside Mr Dumas began when Billy was just six-months-old and the pair went to the beach.

The grizzly bear now thinks Mr Dumas is his bear mum because they have been together for such a long time.

Mr Dumas said: 'He's been with us since he was a cub.

'I wanted to take him to the beach because bears have a natural affinity with water, and I knew he'd enjoy it.

'He loved splashing around in the waves, and now he loves our pool.'

Billy was one of three cubs born at a private zoo in Ontario, Canada. However, he now lives in a large enclosure at the couple's home complete with his own pool.

Grizzlies, also known as the silvertip bear or the North American brown bear, belong to the brown bear family and are found across Alaska, Canada and part of northwest USA.

They are thought to have descended from Asian brown bears who crossed into North America from eastern Russia 100,000 years ago.

When fully grown Billy could weigh more than three times his current weight - reaching 800lbs.


Exercise? Fat chance! Larger than life animals show human couch potatoes how lounging around is REALLY done

By Leon Watson

These animals look like they have let their diets slip a little bit too far as they lounge around.

Slumped in a variety of positions they could be the laziest animals of all time.

The hilarious collections of images of these larger than life animals were compiled by internet blog Buzzfeed.

Down boy: This larger than life dog has eaten too far much

Several cats are pictured sitting on their backsides looking they haven’t moved an inch for quite a long time.

But their domestic counterparts are no better as pet pooches lie on their sides appearing unable to get up.

It is not just the house pets who are guilty of piling on the pounds though.

A very rounded monkey sits stationary on the ground, while in the water a chubby seal is seen floating with its head just above the surface.

Similarly a beluga whale looks like it has been blown up like a balloon.

Fat cat: Kicking back on the sofa is just about all this overweight pussy can do given its size

Stout: Lounging around is all in a day's work for a cat (left) and a blubbery seal who spends his time bobbing around in a pool (right)

Rolls of flab: This beast has eaten too many nuts

Surely not! A bloated beluga whale has contented smile, maybe because it's eaten rather too much

Rounded: Just one of the many fat pets posed on Buzzfeed

This podgy tree-climber has squirreled away a lot of food - in his belly

A pet pooch lies on its side appearing unable to get up

Several cats are pictured sitting on their backsides looking they haven¿t moved an inch for quite a long time


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The pocket-sized puppy: Britain’s smallest dog Mini born weighing just 1.3oz and is so tiny she can sit on top of an iPhone

By Emma Clark

A little puppy born so small that her owner feared she wouldn’t survive is believed to be Britain’s smallest dog.

Mini, a Yorkshire terrier Chihuahua-cross, weighed no more than an egg and just 1.3ounces at birth – overshadowed by her brothers and sisters who are at least three times her size.

Her owner, Emma Williams, was so worried the cute puppy wouldn’t live for more than a few days that she began a dedicated feeding regime in a desperate bid to raise her weight.

Mini was so small she could comfortably fit on a iPhone when she was born, weighing just 1.3 ounces

As well as Mini feeding from her mother, Emma gives her a milk formula every two hours through a tube to boost her chances of survival.

Now one week-old, the tiny dog has reached 1.9 ounces, allowing her to rejoin her siblings.

The average weight for a puppy of this type is 4.5 ounces and they can weigh up to 15 pounds when fully grown.

Emma, 29, a senior accounts manager from Sandbanks in Dorset, is planning to sell the litter of seven when she is satisfied that they are all healthy.

She said: ‘Mini was the second puppy to be born so at first I thought she was a normal size and the other was big and chunky.

‘But as the others came out it became apparent she was so dinky, I couldn’t believe it when I saw just how small she was, the others were at least three times her size.

‘It was a surprise because her parents Bella and Bodie aren’t small for their breed, but then it’s all new to me as I’ve not had a dog that has had puppies before.

The little puppy rest on one of her normal-sized siblings, who is around three times bigger than her

Owner Emma Williams believes little Mini, a Yorkshire terrier Chihuahua-cross, is the smallest dog in Britain

‘I took her to the vets and they hadn’t come across a puppy so small, and when I researched online I couldn’t find one either.

‘At first I wasn’t sure if she would make it because she is so small and she kept being pushed out of the way by the others, but she’s a strong little thing.

‘Mini is feeding from her mother but I also give her formula milk every two hours via a little tube, it’s like having a baby.

‘The others now weigh eight ounces and put on about an ounce a day, but Mini is putting on just 0.1 ounces.

‘I’ve got her up to 1.9 ounces now and she’s doing really well, but I would love to know if she is the smallest dog in Britain.

‘The vet thinks she will only be about 1.5 pounds when she is fully grown.’


Snapshots of an ever-changing world: The incredible moments in nature that will shock and delight

By Daily Mail Reporter

These incredible photographs show nature's beauty and brutality in equal measure.
Some will delight, others will shock, but all capture the stunning variety that exists in the animal kingdom and the interactions that go on there.

In one, an eagle lunges at a hungry fox, while another shows a terrified baboon struggling to free itself from its shackles among a group of children.

Get off my lunch: This eagle was eating a carcass in Bulgaria's Sinite Kamani National Park when the fox tried to snatch the meal. But the bird was having none of it

Distressing: A terrified yellow baboon tries to break free from its shackles as it is carried by a group of children in north-eastern Mozambique, Africa

Fly-by drinking: This picture of a bat swooping on the water's surface for some much-needed hydration was commended in the endangered species category of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition

Sad: A tiger and its two tiny cubs walk among the tourists at a Buddhist forest monastery and animal sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province in Thailand, now better known as Tiger Temple

Others provide a snapshot of intimate moments between two cheetahs surveying the savannah for lions and two flies appearing to kiss.

They are among more than 100 pictures commended in the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition which were shortlisted from more than 48,000 entries from 98 countries.

Jim Brandenburg, chairman of the judging panel, said: 'It amazes me to discover new and startling moments that have never been seen before.

'Secret moments in nature combined with a talented eye have given us rare photographs that we will truly be enjoyed forever and I am honoured to play a role in such an important competition.’

Moment of reflection: Two cheetahs form a symmetrical image while looking out for lions in the Gol Kopjes area of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The picture was shot in infra-red on a specially converted camera

In the heat of battle: Two neriid long-legged flies appear to kiss, but are in fact engaging in a combat dance before flying off to mate with nearby females

High-quality: The pictures are among more than 100 commended in the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition which were shortlisted from more than 48,000 entries from 98 countries

Duel: Around 30 of best images from the contest, co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide, will debut in the acclaimed London exhibition in October, before embarking on an international tour

Some also cast a light on our ever-changing relationship with the natural world.

One of those was taken by African photographer Jabruson who exposes the shocking cruelty that some wildlife face in our hands as a terrified baboon vies for freedom from a group of children.

Jabruson explains: 'This young animal was caught during a troop crop raiding on the highway in north-eastern Mozambique. I realised that if I could take an image I could help highlight the situation.'

From the opposite corner of the globe, a cheeky fox learns his lesson as an eagle attacks it for attempting to steal its prey, while Klaus Tamm's Sizing up appears to depict the intimate caress of two flies.

Caught in the act: This fox wasn't as cunning as he thought as he is pictured with the evidence of his misdeeds plain to see. This image was commended in the 10 years and under category

Top quality: The competition is open to photographers, both professional and amateurs alike, and is judged by a panel of industry-recognised professionals

In the spotlight: A lion poses up a tree in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, in one of the more artistic offerings in the shortlisted images for the competition

How cheeky is that! A bird tries to snatch a fish from the jaws of its dining rival in a snapshot that reveal just how competitive nature can be

The two male neriid long-legged flies were, in fact, engaged in a combat dance which finished with them stretching up to their full height, before flying away and mating with nearby females.

Tamm said: 'I was so impressed by the harmony in the combat dance that I ended up photographing them for several hours.'

The competition is open to photographers, both professional and amateurs alike, and is judged by a panel of industry-recognised professionals.

Around 30 of best images from the contest, co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide, will debut in the acclaimed London exhibition in October, before embarking on a UK and international tour.

Overall winners are expected to be named in October.


Stop giving me the runaround! Incredible pictures capture the moment a male hare gives chase to its chosen mate

By Anna Edwards

This female hare puts a whole new spin on the idea of playing hard to get.

The feisty animal delivers a knock-out blow to any males who come too close for her liking in this hare-raising mating ritual.

The term 'sucker punched with love' takes on a whole new meaning when you're a hare looking for a partner.

Come here, you! The male looks determined to catch the female as he pursues her through the fields of south-east England

Squaring up: The pair face each other as they spring up and down, ready to battle during the bizarre courtship ritual

Take that! The female hare also proves to be handy with her fist - using her front paws to 'box' any unfortunate male that comes too close

Battle for her heart: The hares leap at each other, using their paws to attack one another in a fight over who gets to make with the jill (female hare)

Any male hare (known as jacks) who wishes to mate must first endure several hours of tests by the jills (female hares).

These see the female lead her admirers on a merry chase as well as leaping athletically over them in order to put some room between herself and any amorous male.

During the mating process her would-be mates dash around her and square up to their rivals for her affection and 'box' with each other - and her.

But these photos show how the female hare proves to be handy with her fist - using her front paws to 'box' any unfortunate male that comes too close.

This scrapping is necessary as tries to defend herself by boxing with the male who can be quite aggressive.

Paws at dawn: With their eyes screwed shut, the hares jump around, ready to take aim at their rivals. The male hares will breed with several females

And the chase is on! The female lead her admirers on a merry dance as well as leaping athletically over them in order to put some room between herself and any amorous male

Feisty female: Using their claws and prepared to scratch and box, the mating ritual for the hare is not for the faint-hearted

The jacks do most of the boxing, either with each other in a struggle for social dominance, or with jills as a prelude to mating.

It is only the most determined males who last the course and ultimately win rights to mate with the female.

The males will mate with several females during the course of the mating season.

Spring is the main mating season and this is where the term 'mad March hares' originated, as many amorous hares can be seen leaping through the fields.

After a gestation period of 42 - 44 days, two or three leverets (young hares) are born in a grass-lined nest within a form.

Young rabbits are born blind, naked and helpless, but baby hares are born fully furred and with their eyes open.

After birth, the mother carefully places each leveret in its own form, usually in long grass, and visits them once a night to suckle them.

While she is away, the leverets avoid detection by predators, such as foxes and owls, by laying very still and staying quiet.

When their mother, who can produce between three and four litters a year, approaches she gives them a low call and they respond with answering calls to help her locate her babies.

The young are independent when about three weeks old but take eight months before they fully reach their adult weight.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Canoe give me a lift? Fearless koala paddles across a river and climbs aboard a passing boat

•The bears do not normally swim but it glided 20 yards across the water
•Climbed aboard a boat and sailed down river before going ashore

By Richard Shears

They are regarded as one of the laziest animals on earth, for koalas do little more than sleep away in the tree tops.

But the cuddly creature that canoeist Julie Elliott came face to face with as she paddled down a creek on Queensland’s Gold Coast was anything but a idle plaything.

As Miss Elliott and her friends travelled along the creek in a couple of canoes they spotted the koala on an embankment about 20 yards away.

They expected it to watch them for a while before heading back into the bushes – but not this fellow.

Scroll down for video

You can make it! The koala shows off its aquatic skills as he paddles like a dog through the river towards a dry land on a passing canoe

Hitching a ride: The cuddly bear clambers aboard the boat and quickly finds a seat from which it can relax and enjoy the river cruise

For it slid into the water and started swimming to Miss Elliott’s canoe.

Getting over her initial astonishment, she grabbed her mobile phone and started filming the koala as it dog-paddled across the creek, straight to her canoe.

Reaching the craft, it lifted its paws and tried to clamber aboard, but the effort proved too much until Miss Elliott’s companion grabbed it and hauled it into the canoe.

The koala would normally be found whiling away the hours slouching on a tree top but here it decides on a new adventure and dip its claws into the water

Splash: The normally-lazy bears plunges into the cool waters and goes for a swim

With his tiny eyes and nose poking through the water and leg paddling like mad below the surface, the koala heads towards the passing canoe

There's a large amount of water still surrounding the creature, and it's still touch and go as to whether its legs will carry him far enough across the river to safety

The canoeist received a few scratches but didn’t notice the pain as, like Miss Elliott, he watched in astonishment as the koala clambered onto a seat and made himself at home.

‘Of course we couldn’t sail away down the creek with him because we’d be taking him out of its environment,’ Miss Elliott said today before flying off for a canoeing holiday in Canada.

‘So after a short time during which we just sat and stared at our unexpected crew member we paddled back to the embankment and lifted him back onto solid ground.

‘I’ve been paddling along that particular creek for the best part of 10 years and never seen anything like a swimming koala before.

He's made it! The bear climbs aboard the two-man boat and takes its place in the centre. Canoeist Julie Elliott let the animal enjoy the ride for a short while before dropping it off on the shore

Koala's very rarely swim, and often drown after falling into pools. This little fellow seems at home gliding through the water

Land ahoy: Like a salty-sea dog, the koala looks out over the rails after briefly commandeering the vessel

'The little fellow was taking a big risk swimming to our canoe because if we’d sailed on, or had been too worried about hauling him on board with those long claws of his, he might not have made it back to the bank.

‘But it turned out well for him and for all of us in the canoes – he really made our day.’

Wildlife experts say that while it is known that koalas can swim, it is not a regular occurrence. When their thick coats become waterlogged swimming because a difficult task for them, say the experts.

Koalas have been found dead in home swimming pools in parts of Queensland after they have fallen in while looking for water to drink. If there are no steps, they have no chance of getting out.


The marmots and me: The Schoolboy, 8, who has struck up a remarkable friendship with a colony of alpine animals

By Rachel Mcdermott

They are notoriously shy around humans, beating their tails and chattering their teeth to try to warn us off before emitting loud whistles to tell other members of their colony to flee.

But when these alpine marmots see Matteo Walch, they scuttle to his side and show him nothing but affection.

The eight-year-old built up a remarkable relationship with the creatures since first being taken to see them by his nature-loving family four years ago.

Special bond: Matteo Walch has struck up an unlikely friendship with a group of marmots in the Austrian Alps

The family return to visit the colony in Groslocker in the Austrian Alps for two weeks every year.

Matteo’s father Michaela, said: 'Their friendship has lasted for more than four years now.

'He loves those animals and they are not at all afraid of Matteo because he has a feeling towards them and they understand that.

‘We go there every year now for two weeks - it’s amazing to watch the connection between a boy and his animal friends.’

Marmots stand at around 18cm tall and reach up to 50cm in length.

Bizarrely, the animals are heavier in the autumn, when they can weigh up to 8kg, in comparison to 3kg in the spring months.

Furry friends; The schoolboy from Innsbruck first met the clan of marmots four years ago on a family holiday and has returned every year since

Unlikely pair: The normally shy marmots show Matteo nothing but affection when he visits them at Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria

Michaela, a schoolteacher from Innsbruck, Austria, has uniquely captured the unique bond between Matteo and his marmot friends throughout the past four years.

He said: 'I could spend hours watching animals - it gives me a connection with nature and its life forms.

'It’s great that I have been able to document the marmot’s natural behaviour around Matteo without making them afraid of me and my equipment.

'I wanted to capture the animals exactly the way I see them - the way they behave among each other, in harmony with their surroundings.'

A member of the clan: The marmots gather around Matteo when he arrives and lets him feed them and play with them despite normally running away from humans

Matteo and his family spend two weeks every year in the Alps visiting his marmot friends

Nose to nose: A marmot greets eight-year-old Matteo on the slopes of the Austrian Alps

It is clear from the pictures that Matteo and the marmots are totally comfortable in each other’s company.

Michaela, 46, said: 'The picture of a curious animal approaching me is a thousand times more beautiful than the picture of any animal looking at me in fear before it takes flight.

'This is how I try to picture the proudest, more beautiful and also the funniest moments, giving others the opportunity to enjoy the miraculous world of animals.’

Jealous: One marmot is so keen to get his attention that it has climbed up into Matteo's lap for a cuddle


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