A news site about animals

Asthmatic Otter Gets Inhaler

A good friend shared this with me today, and I was so touched by the article, I wanted to share it with all the otter fans. :-)

The Seattle Aquarium believes it has diagnosed the first case of sea otter asthma.

“Mishka” knows nothing about wildfires, but the 1-year-old did learn what it’s like to have trouble breathing when smoke got thick and hovered over Seattle skies.

“These lungs here, you can see, have more white in them. In a normal radiograph of a sea otter, you wouldn’t be able to see those things,” explained Dr. Lesanna Lahner.

Dr. Lahner diagnosed Mishka with asthma. Now, Mishka needs to learn how to use an inhaler — just like humans.

“We want to make this as fun as possible. Any kind of medical behavior you’re training, you want to make sure it’s nice and positive,” said Lahner.

Her trainer, Sara Perry, uses food to teach Mishka to push her nose on the inhaler and take a deep breath. Mishka’s medicine is exactly the same as what’s in a human inhaler.

But she may have something else in common with humans.

“More and more there starts to be this concept of what we’re calling “One Health,” which really is that there’s a connection between health of people and the health other species,” said Dr. Peter Rabinowitz. “Sometimes those species can tell us there is a problem in the environment that could be important for human health as well.”

Dr. Rabinowitz is a professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, as well as the Department of Global Health.

Human cases of asthma are up by about 25% over the last decade. Researchers believe air quality is at least partially to blame.

The health of sea otters dates back to their extinction in Washington. Forty years ago, Alaskan sea otters were brought south and reintroduced on the coast.

“Any time that happens and reduces the genetic diversity of a species that can affect their immune system, ability to fight off diseases or deal with environmental contaminants,” Lahner said.

It means animals like Mishka can have heightened sensitivities that alert us to environmental changes. Though only about a year old, she’ll likely need the inhaler for the rest of her life.


Happy Ottersday :#)

Baby Otter Rescued During Festival

At the Benderdinker Kayak/Canoe Paddle and Food Festival, in Augusta, Georgia, one patron found an injured baby river otter, and decided to do something about it. He notified Benderdinker founder, Kristina Williams, and her husband rescued the otter and began to rehab him, and contacted Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR suggested taking him to Highland Animal Hospital in Augusta, where he is now getting proper medical care. His injuries are believed to be caused by the talons of a local raptor.

Williams said she named the baby otter “Dinker” in honor of the festival.


Happy Ottersday :#)

No Need to Flee From the Manatee

Now, I don’t usually post videos of people in distress, but this girl really has little to worry about from swimming next to a tranquil manatee. Yes, they’re huge, but they’re sea cows, slowly meandering through watery homes, eating lettuce with their whiskered mouths. This is why I feel okay, laughing hysterically at this poor girl, who doesn’t realize how much in danger she isn’t in.

You go and you prosper, you awesome manatee.

A Tiger Named Alisha

An Amur Tiger cub at Germany’s Zoo Berlin made her media debut last week.  The cub was named Alisha, which is my name! This is first time I’ve ever heard of any zoo animal given my name, so it’s very exciting for me.

In December, the cub were born to female Aurora and her mate, Darius, the third litter for this pair.  Unfortunately, the keepers observed that the cub was in poor condition, so they decided to hand-raise her. Now, little Alisha is thriving under the keepers’ care.  She spends much of her time sleeping, but zoo officials expect Alisha to move onto exhibit within a few weeks.

Amur Tigers, also known as Siberian Tigers, are the largest of the six surviving Tiger subspecies.  Native to far eastern Russia, the population of Amur Tigers dropped to fewer than 50 cats in the 1940s.  Today, thanks to improved law enforcement against illegal hunting, there are now nearly 400 Amur Tigers in the wild.  While Amur Tigers are still listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, scientists are hopeful that the upward trend will continue for these magnificent cats.

Happy Caturday =^_^=

Valentines Day with Hamsters

Valentine’s Day is here, a day to celebrate love with flowers, kisses, and cute things. This year, the Interweb’s favorite tiny hamsters are back with a tiny Valentines Day date that is as squeetastic as it is comical, considering the very unceremonious manner in which hamsters eat.


First they take a tiny gondola ride around a tiny canal in a tiny town, then take their tiny seats at a tiny table where they are served tiny courses. There are flowers (of course, they eat them) and a pasta with red quinoa meatball entree that puts that “Lady and the Tramp” scene to shame. Enjoy!

Rare Fox Sighting in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is excited to report the first confirmed sighting in the park of a rare Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) in nearly 100 years. Park wildlife biologists had gone on a five-day backcountry trip to the far northern part of the park to check on previously deployed motion-sensitive cameras. They documented a sighting of the fox on two separate instances (December 13, 2014 and January 4, 2015) within the park boundary. The Sierra Nevada red fox of California is one of the rarest mammals in North America, likely consisting of fewer than 50 individuals.

“We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada,” stated Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. “National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.”

“Confirmation of the Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite National Park’s vast alpine wilderness provides an opportunity to join research partners in helping to protect this imperiled animal,” stated Sarah Stock, Wildlife Biologist in Yosemite National Park. “We’re excited to work across our boundary to join efforts with other researchers that will ultimately give these foxes the best chances for recovery.”

The nearest verified occurrences of Sierra Nevada red foxes have been in the Sonora Pass area, north of the park, where biologists from U.C. Davis (UCD), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have been monitoring a small Sierra Nevada red fox population, first documented by the USFS in 2010. Prior to 2010, the last verified sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in the region was two decades ago.

The Yosemite carnivore crew will continue to survey for Sierra Nevada red fox using remote cameras in hopes of detecting additional individuals. At each camera station, the crew also set up hair snare stations in the hopes of obtaining hair samples for genetic analysis. Through genetic analysis, the park can learn more about the diversity within the population and to confirm whether the fox(es) detected in Yosemite is genetically related to individuals from the Sonora Pass area.

These Sierra Nevada red fox detections are part of a larger study funded by the Yosemite Conservancy to determine occurrence and distribution of rare carnivores in Yosemite National Park. Thank you to all our colleagues who have been helping us with this project in many important ways (UCD, USFS, CDFW, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, Bureau of Land Management, and Yosemite backcountry rangers and volunteers).