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Thirteen years ago, a tiny tabby kitten arrived at Mid Hudson Animal Aid, a no-kill shelter in Beacon, New York. Shelter workers named the feral kitten Archie, and Archie grew up at the shelter, befriending the other cats, socializing litters of kittens and watching his feline friends leave again and again as they found their forever homes.
Archie was a staple at the rescue. It wasn’t until December, when the shelter shared a photo of him on its Instagram account, that volunteer Jennifer Blakeslee learned Archie had spent his life at the shelter.
“I had no idea,” she said. “See, he’s very feral. He does fine with other cats, but is terrified of people, which vastly reduces the likelihood of his getting adopted.”
Blakeslee had recently adopted one of Archie’s closest furry friends, a deaf, toothless, half-blind Siamese named Eddie, and Eddie’s departure had left Archie lonely and depressed. So Blakeslee, determined to find Archie a home of his own, helped Eddie write a letter to Santa. “I posted a photo of [Archie] and Eddie cuddling at the shelter to Instagram with a “Dear Santa” letter, and it went viral,” she said.
“Dear Santa, ” the letter reads. “I’d like you to meet Archie. He was my best friend when i was at the shelter that saved my life …He’s been at the shelter for THIRTEEN YEARS, ever since he was a kitten. That’s a human’s entire time in school, plus kindergarten. He’s very shy, but he’s also very sweet and gets along with other cats. And he really, really, really, really wants to find his forever home. And that’s what I want for Christmas, Santa.”
The photo of Archie and Eddie was shared hundreds of times on Instagram, and seen by people across the nation, including Chicago resident Jennifer Baird. “I understood that Archie socialized the majority of kitties at the shelter but was never chosen for a home. It broke my heart,” she said. “I saw that he was in New York and waited a day or so for someone to speak up as I live in Chicago.”
After a couple days of seeing people post again and again that they wished they could do something but couldn’t, Baird stepped in. “That’s when I responded to Jennifer and said I’ll take him. I’m in Chicago. I need help in getting him here to me.”
Baird has rescued numerous cats, often taking in abandoned ones she found on the street, and Archie was going to be her 14th rescue. The fact that he was feral didn’t faze her. “I have had feral cats and have a great understanding of their needs and embrace that,” she said.
It took several weeks for the shelter to coordinate travel, but soon a plan was in place. Archie would take a road trip to Chicago, as this would be better for the skittish senior cat. A couple of people volunteered to make the drive, and Archie passed his pre-transport vet check with no problem. The only hurdle left was the transport costs.
Blakeslee set up a YouCaring campaign with a goal of raising $750, and she shared it on Instagram with the hashtag #OperationBringArchieHome. “It got shared like mad, and we met our goal in less than an hour,” she said. “In fact, people kept donating, and as a result, we’ll be able to donate $250 to the shelter.”
With the money raised, Archie left New York on April 3 and slept for most of the two-day drive to his new forever home.
“During the weekend of the transport, I posted updates and photos throughout the day, and we had fans and followers all around the world rooting for this one little old tomcat,” Blakeslee said. “It was glorious.”
Archie has been home for a few days now, and Baird says he’s making good progress in adjusting to her and her other rescue cats. “I see that he wants to be friends with his new sisters and brother so badly, and I know this will happen over time. Everyone is getting adjusted, and right now we have time on our side,” she said.
Archie is no longer hiding very much, and he enjoys spending time in his new cat bed. He’s even come within a few inches of Baird while eating his treats.
“Archie is like my other feral,” she said. “They want their love and affection to come from their siblings — not humans. He has to develop trust, and I want him to know that this relationship is about his safety and creature comforts — not about me having an affectionate kitty.”
Baird says she’s still shocked by the outpouring of support she’s received on social media, but she’s grateful for all the kindness being sent her way. “My biggest thank you is to Jennifer. She stood up and told Archie’s story. She’s the hero. Without her, Archie’s life may as well have ended in the shelter where it began.”
Blakeslee hopes that Archie’s story will inspire other people to adopt shelter cats, especially those that are often overlooked. “The message here is that every cat deserves a chance — the senior cats and the special-needs cats,” she said. “The effort involved in caring for them becomes completely worth it when they start to trust you and start treating your home like it’s their home.”
As for Archie, he won’t need anyone to write a letter to Santa on his behalf this year. He’ll be spending the holidays at home with his family.
Happy Caturday =^_^=
A baby rhinoceros was born at the Toronto Zoo in February.
This video, however, was published only days ago, and shows the 11-year-old Indian rhinoceros, named Ashakiran, giving birth to her male calf. The miracle of life is a wonderful thing to behold. This particular birth is very important for the conservation of the species, which is currently listed as “vulnerable” with only about 2,000 left in the wild. May they remain happy and healthy, as they play their part in returning the white rhino population to its former glory.
DISCLAIMER: This video shows a rhinoceros giving birth and might be considered graphic.
Thank-you YouTube Channel Funny World for this behind-the-scenes video.
Happy Humpday (^_^)
On Saturday, March 5th, a a pregnant wild sea otter took shelter in the Great Tide Pool of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, in Monterey, California, and gave birth to her pup, while guests and staff watched the miracle of life in action. Their sea otter researchers have been observing wild otters for years but had never gotten to see a birth this close.
Two days ago, on March 8th, the wild sea otter mom and her pup headed out into Monterey Bay, to begin their lives together. May they remain happy and healthy, as they play their part in returning the sea otter population to its former glory.
Thank-you, Monterey Bay Aquarium, in your tireless efforts that have created a bastion for the California sea otter.
DISCLAIMER: This video shows a sea otter giving birth and might be considered graphic.
Thank-you, YouTube Channel Monterey Bay Aquarium for sharing this miracle with all of us.
Happy Ottersday :#)
Just over this past weekend, the Sea Shepherd crew rescued a humpback whale entangled in an illegal gillnet in the Gulf of California.
Sea Shepherd currently has two vessels in Mexico’s Gulf of California on Operation Milagro: their goal being to save the vaquita porpoises, the most endangered marine mammal. The vaquita are caught as a result of fishing, even though it’s an endangered species and protected by law.
Thank-you Sea Shepherd crew for putting your own lives at risk to save the sea mammals swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the beginning of the following video shows some of the naked truth of the illegal fishing industry. The humpback whale rescue begins at 0:42, and I promise, has a wonderfully heartwarming ending.
Happy Humpday (^_^)
Sea otter pup 719 was rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program, after she was separated from her mother during a terrible El Niño storm. After unsuccessfully trying to reunite he with her mother, they took her back to the Aquarium.
When 719 stranded, all of their available surrogates were already paired with other rescued pups, so their next option was to find a forever home for the pup. Luckily, friends and colleagues at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois had room available in their sea otter exhibit!
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at her journey from rescued pup to new member of the Shedd family. Thank-you YouTube Channel Monterey Bay Aquarium for this fantastic footage. I love the sounds of the waves at the beginning.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has the only program in the world that focuses on rescuing and caring for stranded southern sea otter pups. They raise pups for release back into the wild, and try to place non-releasable pups in long-term homes at accredited U.S. aquariums and zoos.
Prepping a pup for release to the wild is an intensive, long-term project. After initial guidance through early developmental stages from our Sea Otter Program staff, pups must complete a survival skills class with one of our five resident female sea otters during a months-long surrogacy. It’s a lot of work for everyone involved!
Thank-you Monterey Bay and Shedd Aquarium for doing your part to save the Sea Otter. <3
Happy Ottersday :#)
A landmark deal has been struck between Indigenous tribes, timber firms and environmental groups in Canada. They are officially in agreement to protect one of the world’s largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest: The Great Bear Rainforest, on the Pacific coast of British Columbia.
It is a home to thousands of species of trees and animals, like the bald eagle, the harbor seal, the wolf, and of course, the majestic spirit bear- a rare sub-species of the black bear with white fur. It is also home to 26 aboriginal groups, known as First Nations.
Logging will be banned across a huge area of the forest. Environmental campaigners say the deal is a model for resolving similar land-use disputes around the world. Thank-you YouTube Channel ProvinceofBC for the fantastic following footage. It really tug at my heartstrings!
A few days ago, Upworthy posted a video (via The Dodo), featuring animals being let out of cages for the first time. It’s- as they say- “heartmelting”. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/UpworthyVideo/videos/768458243258725/?fref=nf
I was most struck by the chimpanzees in the video, who were let outside after thirty years of confinement in a laboratory. At 0:38 into the video, the chimps see the sky for the first time and hug each other, and I totally did not start crying at this point, at all. I was truly moved by what I was seeing, so I decided to hunt down the original video of the chimpanzees, so I could see their whole story. Here it is, in it’s entirety.
“A few of these chimps were born in captivity but most were kidnapped from African jungles as babies and flown to Europe, where they were locked in metal laboratory cages to be used in a long series of experiments. Their ordeal finally ended when 38 chimps were released into a sanctuary in Austria called Gut Aiderbichl, allowing them to feel the nurturing contact of their fellow chimps after years of being separated by bars and bullet-proof glass. ” -From the Youtube Video Page (username: EVOLVE campaigns)
Happy Monk(Ape)day :_)
A rhesus macaque monkey is having her 15 minutes of fame, after adopting a puppy, and raising him on the busy streets of New Delhi, India. She treats him like her own child: taking him wherever she goes, feeding him, and even protecting him from stray dogs, attesting to the strong nature of a mother’s instincts. This pair is truly adorable together.
Thanks to CCTV News for their video, and ZeeNews for breaking the story to the world.
Happy Monkday :_)
Intelligent animals are known to show empathy for loved ones. Now, according to new research published in the journal Science, consoling behavior has been observed in a rodent as well: the prairie vole.
“Consolation behavior promotes stress reduction of one by another. We know that consolation occurs in humans and apes. Burkett et al. observed that within a pair of monogamous prairie voles, an unstressed partner increased its grooming of a stressed partner. Furthermore, the unstressed partner matched the stressed partner in its stress hormone response. Thus, consolation may be more common than assumed in animals, and prairie voles may prove a useful model for understanding the physical and neural mechanisms underlying consolation behavior.” -Science, Vol 351, Issue 6271, p. 375
Researchers say the findings, published Thursday, could help scientists better understand human disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, in which a person’s ability to sense the emotions of others is disrupted.
The secret to empathetic behavior is in the hormone oxytocin, which promotes maternal bonding and feelings of love. Scientists at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, in Atlanta, Gergia, created an experiment in which they isolated prairie voles from others they knew. These rodents were an ideal candidate for the experiment, as they mate in long-term monogamous pairs and raise their offspring together.
Then they gave one prairie voles a series of mild shocks before returning it to its loved one. Once reunited, the unaffected rodents swiftly began to lick and groom the fur of the animals that were in distress after the shocks.
They “licked the stressed voles sooner and for longer duration, compared to a control scenario where individuals were separated but neither was exposed to a stressor,” said a statement from Emory University.
Consoling behavior was also not seen in prairie voles that were unfamiliar with each other before being separated.
Knowing that the receptor for oxytocin is associated with empathy, researchers decided to block this neurotransmitter in the brains of some of the animals. They found that blocking oxytocin caused the animals to stop consoling each other.
“Many complex human traits have their roots in fundamental brain processes that are shared among many other species,” said co-author Larry Young, director of the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University.
Young said his research points to a potential role for oxytocin in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, though more work is needed.
“We now have the opportunity to explore in detail the neural mechanisms underlying empathetic responses in a laboratory rodent with clear implications for humans.”
May this research someday help the countless people afflicted by human disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, and may their ability to sense the emotions of others be no longer disrupted.
Happy Bunday (|^_^|)