Wednesday

Even though bushfires continue to ravage New South Wales and North-East Victoria, they are now at a much lesser capacity than they were a month ago.

Countless Australians have been giving their all in the last several months to put a stop to the raging fires, whether it was going to the firefront to push away the incoming flames, or joining in the humanitarian aid and relief efforts for both people and animals in need.

Recently, Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister, has called up 3,000 reserve soldiers to help with the firefighting and evacuation operations in Eastern Australia. Like many others, they have been working tirelessly for days and some even weeks.

However, despite receiving well-deserved rest time between shifts, many soldiers surprisingly chose to trade in their off-time to continue helping the country recover from the bushfires. The 16th Regiment Emergency Support Force has been recently going viral after a handful of photos of them cuddling and feeding koalas was posted on their unit’s Facebook page.

Bored Panda got in touch with Captain Garnett Hall, an Australian Army Vet who has been recently deployed in Kangaroo Island, where he and members of the 9th Brigade were tasked to assist the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park with the large number of injured wildlife at the park coming in.

Garnett Hall is the Director and Veterinarian at the West Coast Veterinary Hospital in Perth, Australia. He became a vet because he always enjoyed science and medicine. Having grown up with a lot of animals—dogs, cats, chickens, guinea pigs, turtles, turkeys, rats, and lizards—he knew he wanted to be either a vet or a human doctor.


In one of the viral pictures, a handful of soldiers is seen holding displaced koalas wrapped in blankets at the Cleland Wildlife Park, providing comfort to them during feeding time. Needless to say, it’s an adorable sight to see. The post read: “16 Regiment Emergency Support Force have been using their rest periods to lend a helping hand at the Cleland Wildlife Park, supporting our furry friends during feeding time and by building climbing mounts inside the park. A great morale boost for our hard-working team in the Adelaide Hills.”


“I think Australia’s native animals, such as koalas, have suffered the most from the bushfires,” explained Hall. “When threatened, their instincts are to climb trees. However, when faced with a fire, this response leads to tragedy. The koalas cannot outrun those flames and, as a result, most that were in the fire-affected areas have died. Some have survived, but they have horrible burns on their hands, feet, and faces.”

The troops of the 16th Regiment were also tasked with preparing new onsite grounds for the koalas to roam in. This included building special mounts for the koalas, facilitating their climb to the trees where they naturally hide from predators and cool off during hot days.

We asked Garnett Hall what is the most challenging part of taking care of rescued koalas. He had this to say: “The most challenging part is reducing stress and pain. Many of these koalas have extensive burns, which would be incredibly painful. On top of that, they are scared, their homes have been destroyed, their friends are likely all dead, and they’ve been taken to a strange place for treatment. We do our best to give them appropriate pain relief and sedation, but cleaning and dressing their burns is still a difficult thing.”


The 9th Brigade also sent their vets to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to help treat wounded wildlife. In a video posted on the Australian Army’s YouTube channel, Captain Garnett Hall explains that it is a very grim picture as numerous wildlife are affected by the fires, mostly koalas. They are being treated for burns on their paws and faces, many also have singed fur.

“It’s been really enjoyable to have private soldiers who were attached to the veteran team as drivers, but I actually have been using as veterinary assistants, and it’s been so helpful to have an extra set of hands to help hold animals and to let me treat their wounds. It’s been great and they’ve absolutely loved it,” explained Captain Garnett Hall in the video.


Since then, the Facebook post went viral, garnering over 24,000 reactions with 43,000 shares in just a couple of days.

We’ve asked Garnett Hall what is one thing he wishes people knew more about koalas, to which he answered: “Koalas are amazing and interesting animals. Like many other Australian mammals, they have pouches, in which they carry their babies until they are big enough to venture out on their own. I’d like to encourage everyone to visit Australia and see these wonderful animals themselves.”
Source

Monday

An endangered gray wolf known as OR-54 was found dead on Wednesday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced in a statement. She had traveled over 7,646 throughout California since she broke from her pack in 2018.

The female wolf was collared by biologists on October 2017 and was between 3 and 4 years old when she died, according to officials. She was found dead in Shasta County, Calif.

The CDFW is investigated the cause of her death. Gray wolves are covered under both the Federal Endangered Species Act as well as the California Endangered Species Act, and killing one is punishable for up to one in jail and a $100,000 fine. Another gray wolf, OR-59, was found reportedly shot to death in Northern California in 2018, and his death is still unsolved. Wolves are tagged and tracked to help scientists monitor the endangered species.

Officials said they believe OR-54 was born in Oregon in 2016, but broke from her pack on Jan. 23, 2018. The CDFW said in a February 2018 statement that “[h]er departure from the pack’s territory suggests that she may now be dispersing, or exploring new ground in search of a mate or another pack.”

Since then, she spent most of her time in Northeastern California, traveling over 7,646 miles, per authorities. According to a report, she covered 1,013 miles between October and December of 2019, average 13 miles per day. Her collar reportedly appeared to stop working in December.

“Her travels represent the southernmost known wolf locations in the state since wolves returned to California in 2011,” the CDFW said in a statement on Thursday.


According to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), fewer than a dozen confirmed gray wolves now live in California. Wolves were repeatedly killed in the state throughout 20th century in an attempt to defend livestock. When a gray wolf named OR-7 entered California from Oregon in 2011, he was the first confirmed wild wolf in the state in nearly 90 years. According to the CBD, OR-54 was believed to be one of OR-7’s children.


“This is a tragic development for the early stages of wolf recovery in California,” said Amaroq Weiss, a West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “Like her dad, the famous wolf OR-7 who came to California years ago, OR-54 was a beacon of hope who showed that wolves can return and flourish here. Her death is devastating, no matter the cause.”
Source



Saturday

As we hit our mid-winter stride, our next full moon will be the Snow Moon and it will be officially full about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. This is the first of three supermoons to grace the skies in 2020 - moons that appear just a little larger than a regular full moon.

Having a full moon that peaks early Sunday means we will get a whole weekend of full-moon skywatching, explained Gordon Johnston in a recent NASA solar system blog.

“The Moon will appear full for about three days centered around this time, from Friday evening to Monday morning, making this a full Moon weekend.”

Other names for the February full moon include the Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, the Chinese Lantern Festival Moon and the Full Moon of Tu B’Shevat.

The Farmer’s Almanac began publishing Native American names for the full moons in the 1930s, Johnson said.

" ... According to this almanac, the tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this the Snow Moon or the Storm Moon because of the heavy snows that fall in this season. The last time I checked, NOAA long-term monthly averages for the Washington, D.C. area showed January and February nearly tied as the snowiest months of the year. Bad weather and heavy snowstorms made hunting difficult, so this Moon was also called the Hunger Moon. Across North America, there are many different tribes with different languages and different names for the full Moons throughout the year."


This weekend’s Snow Moon will also be the year’s first in a trio of supermoons.

Todd Slisher, executive director of Longway Planetarium, says most supermoons are only around 5 percent larger in appearance than a regular full moon.

This image above, from NASA, shows the difference in size between a full moon and a supermoon.

Other supermoons will rise on March 9 and April 7. Slisher said April’s will be the “most super” of the supermoons. April’s full moon will be the closest to Earth of the three supermoons in 2020.

Other things will also be visible in the sky this weekend, according to NASA.


“On the evening of the full Moon on Feb. 9, as evening twilight ends, the brightest of the planets, Venus, will appear in the west-southwest at about 27 degrees above the horizon. Other names for Venus when it is in the evening sky are the Evening Star and Hesperus. The planet Mercury will appear to the lower left of Venus at about 6 degrees above the horizon. The bright star Capella will appear high to the northeast at about 72 degrees above the horizon, while Aldebaran and the other bright stars from the local arm of our home galaxy, including the constellation Orion, will appear spread out towards the southeast. The bright star Regulus will appear near the full Moon.”

February Moon names from different cultures Ice (Celtic). Old Moon (Cree). Gray Moon (Pima). Wind Moon (Creek). Winter Moon (Taos). Nuts Moon (Natchez). Avunnivik Moon (Inuit). Geese Moon (Omaha). Bony Moon (Cherokee). Purification Moon (Hopi). Little bud Moon (Kiowa). Snow Moon (Neo-Pagan). Lateness Moon (Mohawk). Shoulder Moon (Wishram). Rabbit Moon (Potawatomi). Sucker Moon (Anishnaabe). Long Dry Moon (Assiniboine). Little Famine Moon (Choctaw). Storm Moon (Medieval English). Sparkling Frost Moon (Arapaho). Running Fish Moon (Winnebago). Coyote Frighten Moon (San Juan). Spruce Tips Moon (Passamaquoddy). Raccoon Moon, Trees Pop Moon (Sioux). Hunger Moon : Dark, Storm Moon : Full (Janic). Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Trappers Moon (Algonquin).

Other moon names : Wolf Moon, Wild Moon, Quickening Moon, Solmonath Moon, Chaste Moon, Horning Moon, Red Moon, Big Winter Moon, Cleansing Moon.

February's full moon is also known as the "Full Hunger Moon" because food was scarce and hunting was difficult for ancient tribes during this month.






VIDEO

Tuesday

Following are statistics from the USDA Market News Livestock Export Summary of horses shipped specifically designated for slaughter from the southern borders of the United States to Mexico in 2019.

In 2019 (through December 28), 53,947 slaughter horses were shipped from the United States to Mexico for slaughter. In 2018, 70,708 horses were shipped from the United States to Mexico for slaughter.

In 2017, 66,657 horses were shipped from the United States to Mexico for slaughter. Reports of horses shipped from the United States to Canada for slaughter were not available.

Is horsemeat safe for human consumption?

No. U.S. horsemeat is dangerous to humans because of the unregulated administration of numerous toxic substances to horses before slaughter.

In the U.S., horses are raised and treated as companion animals, not as food-producing animals. Unlike animals raised for food, the vast majority of horses sent to slaughter will have ingested, or been treated or injected with, multiple chemical substances that are known to be dangerous to humans, untested on humans or specifically prohibited for use in animals raised for human consumption.


Horses are gathered from random sources at various stages in their life, and there is no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption. Due to concerns about the health threats of drug-laced horsemeat, the European Union (EU), a primary importer of North American horsemeat, suspended horsemeat imports from Mexico—where 87 percent of horses slaughtered for export to the EU are of U.S. origin.

EU authorities made the decision after a series of scathing audits that exposed a plethora of problems, including the lack of traceability of American horses and horrific suffering on U.S. soil and in Mexico.

Are there any other options for horses at risk of going to slaughter?

Yes. There are several ways to reduce the number of homeless or at-risk horses.

We can curb overbreeding, educate owners about other rehoming options and expand adoption work. Over 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter each year, and the vast majority would be rehomed; not every horse going to slaughter needs to go to rescue. The USDA documented that 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and are able to live out a productive life. These horses would be sold, donated or otherwise rehomed; however, kill buyers outbid legitimate horse owners and rescues at auctions, robbing horses of ever having a second chance at life.

The idea of slaughtering companion animals is unacceptable to the American people and will never be embraced. A 2012 national poll found that 80 percent of Americans support banning horse slaughter for human consumption. There are countries that consume dogs, cats and other pets as food, but we do not allow our dogs and cats to be exported for food purposes, even though there is a well-documented overpopulation issue to contend with for those animals.
Source

Living in a wooded area, you get a better chances for some encounters with wild animals, but it’s still hard to spot some shy creatures like foxes for example. Some photos of adorable baby foxes went viral on social media after being shared on internet.

At first there was only a cub who decided to pay his granny a visit on a spring morning, but then when the little baby fox noticed he’s actually welcomed the next day he came with his brother and since then they kept coming to their favorite playground. The mother Fox was watching over them from the bushes.

These playful and inquisitive creatures are just achingly cute, as you can see in these photos shared by Reddit user Vechrotex. The cubs, curious and seemingly on a mission to explore, wandered onto Vechrotex’s grandmother’s porch and peered inside the window. “Do you have anything tasty for me maybe?”

Mama fox keeps an eye on things while her cubs are exploring, Grandma’s porch is clearly an interesting place for the family. “The mom comes by a lot more than the babies,” Vechrotex explains. “She is always close when her babies are on the porch.”

“Here in Illinois we get red foxes in forested areas, we see them a lot and it’s not that big of a deal,” Vechrotex told Bored Panda. “One day my grandma saw a baby red fox and took a picture of it. She shared the picture with me and I thought it was just so cute, I decided to post it. I’m glad I was able to make so many people happy!”

Grandma now gets to enjoy watching the family visiting regularly, as the cubs frolic and put on a show, chasing each other around the porch. Kind of makes you want to move to a little house in the forest, doesn’t it?


Newborn fox cubs are blind, deaf, dark-grey in color and weigh only about 120g, but after 14 days, their eyes open. Their pupils are a striking shade of blue, and their first coat gives them a soft, fuzzy appearance. They have small, floppy ears and by now they weigh about 350g.

After four weeks, the cub’s pupils change color and are now greyish. White fur appears around the mouth and patches of red on the face and while the coat is still fuzzy, their ears are now erect. Now it’s hard to tell them apart from their parents, as they have grown up so quickly!


From late September they have grown a full winter coat and the family group breaks up. The cubs will set off to hunt, find a place to spend the winter and eventually their own mates, so the process can repeat itself again!
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