let's talk farm animals

Animals in the news: 2011 top ten

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

New Years always brings with it retrospect’s of the past year and predictions for the year ahead. As a result we get “top ten” lists, “most” lists, trends lists and all types of year in reviews.  So in the spirit of year-end lists, here is my top ten “quirky” animal news items for 2011.


Inmate sues over nasty cow attack

On Feb. 7, Leslie Roland Johnson -an inmate working at an Alberta prison farm - launched a $500,000 lawsuit against the Attorney-General of Canada alleging he was badly injured by an “aggressive and dangerous” cow. In a statement of claim filed in Edmonton’s Court of Queen’s Bench, Johnson says he was incarcerated in Bowden Institution at the time of the alleged 2009 incident and doing labour on the prison’s annexed farm.  Johnson alleges he was performing his farm duties when the cow “aggressed” him, causing him to fall heavily and suffer serious injuries, including a broken shoulder bone.  The convict claims prison officials knew the cow in question was “aggressive and dangerous,” but says they breached their duties by failing to cull the animal from the herd or to take measures to protect him from the animal.


‘Yvonne’ the world’s most famous cow

In May, ‘Yvonne’ a Bavarian cow charged through a pasture fence, to the nearby forest.  Her “escape” attracted the attention of the entire German media, and by July CBC News was providing regular updates on sightings and the failed attempts to recapture the elusive cow.  For some media, she became a symbol of freedom for farm animals, for others she became a symbol of human incompetence. Finally in late August Yvonne was finally spotted by a farmer in a meadow near Stefanskirchen; his find won him a €10,000 ($14,500) reward provided by the tabloid Bild. A double dose of tranquilizer administered by a sharp shooter finally ended the cow pursuit.


Toronto Zoo splits up ‘gay’ African Penguins

Buddy and Pedro created headlines around the world when they made their affection towards each other public at Toronto Zoo. The apparently gay African Penguins were separated and paired with females for breeding. The decision caused debate amongst zoologists and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media. While the zoo is home to 12 penguins, six male and six female, the boys in the spotlight chose to bond with each other. “They do courtship and mating behaviours that females and males would do, and they pair off together every night,” explained one zoo keeper to the Toronto Star. Homosexuality has been documented in more than 450 species of vertebrates, according to LiveScience. While it seems sad to split up such a pairing, African Penguins are an endangered species. As such, Buddy and Pedro are said to be an important part of the survival plan for the species. Follow-up news reports said the two will be re-united following the breeding season and that the two had bonded but not in any sexual way.


Pig walks on two legs

A pig has learned to walk on two legs. Thankfully, it’s not as eerily similar to events in George Orwell’s Animal Farm as it first seems. The pig was born without hind legs in July this year. It overcame such a debilitating disability due to the tender care of its owner, Ge Xinping, and can now walk with only its forelegs. It has become a local celebrity in Shishan Village, in Anhui Province of China, where locals have called it “Pig Adamancy” or “Mr Adamancy”.


Drunk moose found stuck in tree

A seemingly intoxicated moose was discovered entangled in an apple tree by a stunned Swede. Per Johansson says he heard a roar from his vacationing neighbour’s garden in southwestern Sweden and went to have a look. There, he found a female moose kicking about in the tree. The animal was likely drunk from eating fermented apples. With the help of police and rescue services, the 45-year-old Johansson later managed to set the moose free in part by sawing off tree branches. Other neighbors in the Goteborg suburb Saro had seen the animal sneaking around the area for days. Johansson said the moose appeared to be sick, drunk or “half-stupid”.


Alberta man victim of cat attack

On March 4, a city man was found not guilty of killing his family’s cat with a chef’s knife after claiming he acted in “self defence” when Lucky viciously attacked him. Anthony Wayne Lechuk, 37, had been charged with killing an animal without lawful excuse for the 2010 incident. Provincial court Judge John Henderson accepted Lechuk had knifed the one-year-old Siamese cat after it attacked him for some reason, but said he had a reasonable doubt as to whether Lechuk did not have a lawful excuse. Henderson noted Lechuk was the sole witness to the cat killing and, while he found Lechuk’s testimony “somewhat evasive” and his description of the attack “unusual,” he said the cat’s injuries matched his evidence. Henderson did find there was “substance” to the Crown’s argument that Lechuk used excessive force instead of leaving the room, but said it is not up to a court to decide “how a person should react when attacked by a cat.”

Lechuk testified “my cat attacked me” and said he grabbed a weapon for “self-defence” and protection. “I was just trying to defend myself,” said the father of two, telling court the cat had “clamped on” his arm with its claws and “mauled my arm, my neck and my leg.”  Lechuk testified he tried to give Lucky a treat when the howling cat declined his offer to let it go outside, and said Lucky “swatted” at him while he was down on his knees. He told court he jumped back and pushed the cat away and said Lucky then came forward, clamped onto his arm and scratched him 20 to 30 times. When he couldn’t get the cat off of him, Lechuk said he reached for what he thought was the handle of either a spatula or a frying pan on the counter and came away with the chef’s knife, described as being 30 to 45 cm long. “I thought he was really going to hurt me,” he said, telling court he hit the cat approximately three times.


Reptile jailbreak: The Egyptian Cobra that fled the Bronx Zoo

A 24-in. (61 cm) Egyptian cobra went on the loose at the Bronx Zoo in March, scaring the bejesus out of everyone nearby. A frantic, days-long search thankfully resulted in finding the snake simply residing in a dark corner of the reptile house, just 200 ft. (61 m) from her cage. Nevertheless, the missing-snake story became an online sensation. One clever chap set up a Twitter account —that spat out zingers with unbridled relish (“Does anyone know if the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle sells organic mice?”) and gained more than 200,000 followers.


For mourners of Knut, a stuffed bear just won’t do

A polar bear died and the zoo’s director decided to stuff its body and put it on display in a museum. And that would be that, except this polar bear was on the cover of Vanity Fair (beside Leonardo DiCaprio), has a fan club in Japan and followers in Fiji, and was the most famous four-legged resident of Berlin and the most renowned polar bear in the world. We’re talking Knut, the Berlin Zoo’s hand-raised polar bear. His fame stemmed from Knut’s mother, who rejected him at birth, leading him to be reared by zookeeper Thomas Dorflein (Knut was the first polar bear to be born and raised at the Berlin Zoo in 33 years). The apotheosis of his fame was perhaps when he shared a Vanity Fair cover with Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007, featuring a photo of Knut taken by Annie Leibovitz. In March, Knut collapsed into a pool of water in his enclosure, while hundreds of visitors watched in horror. Pathology experts said Knut’s cause of death was drowning, following an apparent seizure due to his suffering from encephalitis, a swelling of the brain most likely triggered by an infection. “We all held him so dearly. He was the star of the Berlin zoos,” Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said.

“When someone dies in your family I think you don’t want him stuffed in a museum,” said Jochen Kolbe, 31, who lead a protest movement to block the planned taxidermy. “Knut is not only a polar bear for people, he is a friend, a family member.” Born at the Berlin Zoo in December 2006, the cuddly cub Knut, dubbed Cute Knut, quickly became the most famous polar bear in the world. And when he died tragically this year at the age of 4, his passing made headlines around the world. “The problem is after the death of Knut there was all the overwhelming feelings,” said the director, Mr. Blaszkiewitz. “While that’s O.K. for humans, in my opinion it’s not O.K. for animals.” Mr. Blaszkiewitz said he just wants the fuss to end, and it will, because the corpse has already been sent out, its skin removed and the procedure well under way. “This is just a polar bear, a special polar bear, but a polar bear all the same,” he said.


Smoking orangutan forced to quit

A captive orangutan often spotted smoking cigarettes given to her by zoo visitors was forced to kick the habit. Government authorities seized the adult ape named Shirley from a state-run zoo in Malaysia’s southern Johor state and sent her to a Malaysian wildlife centre on Borneo island within weeks. Melaka Zoo Director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said Shirley was not being provided with any more cigarettes because “smoking is not normal behaviour for orangutans”.”I would say she is not addicted … but she might have formed a habit after mimicking human beings who were smoking around her,” Ahmad told The Associated Press.  Shirley seemed to suffer severe mood swings, sometimes looking drowsy and on other occasions appearing “very agitated” without a cigarette. It is not clear when Shirley started smoking.


Married to a Dolphin

Dolphins are beautiful and smart creatures, but marrying one is completely outrageous. Sharon Tendler is the first person who married a dolphin. This British citizen married Cindy, a dolphin she met 15 years ago. At least it would have made more sense if the dolphin’s name was Kevin or something. They got married in Southern Israeli port of Eilat.

Until the Next Blog


Posted by FFC on December 28th, 2011 :: Filed under Media,Uncategorized
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