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Penguins post their Christmas wishes to Santa

Penguins post their Christmas wishes to Santa

London Zoo posted some adorable footage of their penguins getting festive.

Penguins at ZSL London Zoo have been busy posting their Christmas wishes to Santa Claus, to launch the Zoo's festive activities and celebrations.

Adorable footage released by ZSL shows a zookeeper helping the penguins to post a letter through a 'North Pole' post office box.

The letter, addressed to Santa and signed 'love, the penguins', is passed back and forth through the post office slot by the curious penguins' beaks.

Jessica Jones, the zoo's penguin keeper, said: “We’re pretty sure Santa now knows to get something fishy for the penguins this year, but from this Saturday, we’re inviting visitors to become elves-in-training and help make sure Santa brings the perfect pressies for all the other animals."

Watch the penguins post their Christmas wishes here.

 

Images and footage (C) ZSL London Zoo

 

 

TV channel for dogs launched

TV channel for dogs launched

DOGTV hopes to alleviate separation anxiety stress.

A new television channel made especially for dogs has launched in the UK this month.

DOGTV, available via subscription, features shows designed specifically for dogs, tailored to dogs' vision and hearing, the colours have been made easier for dogs to see, and the camera angles align more to a dog's line of vision.

The channel features three different kinds of shows for dogs, stimulation, relaxation and exposure. Stimulation shows programmes with playful animated sequences, dogs, and other animals to prevent boredom, while relaxation features programmes with calming scenes and soothing noises. 

Exposure shows programmes which are edited with limited exposure to sounds that can cause some dogs anxiety – such as car noises and door bells. These programmes allow for safe exposure to these sounds, making them less frightening in real life. 

DOGTV's chief scientist, Professor Nicholas Dodman said of the channel: “DOGTV is an excellent resource for dog owners to help alleviate some of the behavioural problems that can arise when dogs are left alone. 

“With numbers of dog owners rising over the pandemic, and owners now returning to work, DOGTV helps canines to feel relaxed and comforted until their owners return home”. 

Programmes for dogs are not the only thing available on DOGTV, as the channel also features some television shows for dog owners to watch as well! This content includes shows such as 'Dogstar', which features dogs who watch DOGTV, 'The Dog Chef' – which demonstrates simple recipes owners can make for their dogs, and 'Dogs A-Z'. which features tips on understanding dogs. 

Stuck stallion gets rescued after gate mishap

Stuck stallion gets rescued after gate mishap

On a mission to visit his friends, the plucky horse encountered an unexpected obstacle.  

A horse got himself in a bit of a sticky situation last Tuesday (10 August) when he got stuck straddling a gate.

The stallion was attempting to visit his fellow-horse neighbours over the other side of the gate, but when he tried to clear the four foot high gate, he got stuck halfway over.

Walkers in Rochester, Kent, noticed the struggling stallion and called the RSPCA for assistance, where inspector Tina Nash attended the scene.

Tina commented: “The horse, a stallion, was trying to get to the mares on the other side of the gate and obviously thought he could clear the 4ft gate. But it seems this lovely lad isn’t the greatest showjumper and got himself stuck halfway!

“If he’d have spent a little more time looking and investigating, he’d have realised that he could have walked along the fenceline a little further, he could have just trotted around to see his lady friends!”

The poor embarrassed horse didn't have to wait too long for help though, as a crew from the Kent Fire and Rescue service joined the RSPCA at the scene, and used straps to gently lift the horse up and off the gate.

A spokesperson for the Kent Fire and Rescue Service commented: “Animal rescue emergencies are as important as any other for Kent Fire and Rescue Service. The Animal Rescue Unit is made up of specially trained firefighters, who have a passion for helping all creatures great and small.”

Rescue dogs create artwork for fundraiser

Rescue dogs create artwork for fundraiser

The animals at SARA have been painting with peanut butter.

Dogs at an animal rescue centre in Redcar have been busy making artwork to auction off for the charity.

Volunteers at Saving and Rehoming Animals, or SARA for short, in Redcar, North Yorkshire, were 'very impressed' with the paintings created by their residents, saying that they 'never expected' the paintings to look so impressive. 

Created using a canvas, non-toxic paint, plastic sheets, and doggy peanut butter, the art was created by the dogs licking the peanut butter off the sheet, and moving around the paint underneath. 

Centre manager Abigail Armstrong came up with the clever fundraising idea after watching a dog on Instagram painting with a similar technique. She said: "The pandemic has had a huge impact on our charity, we weren't able to re-home any animals at all during the first lockdown and we have lost more than a year's worth of events that we hold at the centre and in other venues and we haven't been able to do street collections.”

Not only did the dogs create some beautiful artwork, the volunteers at SARA also gave them artist names, including Shelly Botticelli, Oscar Van Gogh, Coco Matisse, and Ruby Kahlo! 

And it wasn't only the dogs at SARA who got artistic, the cats and rabbits in SARA's care also tried their hand at painting, with these also being auctioned on 14 August. 

Abigail commented on the auction: “The Animal Artists Auction will be going on alongside our Craft Fayre; there will be table top sales, a cafe serving food and refreshments and a BBQ.

“It's a dog friendly event so that people can bring their pooches with them. Myself and the other staff members will be hosting the auction so that's exciting. Hopefully we will see people who have adopted from us too, that's always a highlight. We are a relatively small charity and hope it'll bring in some much needed funds and be a great day for everyone.”

The auction is taking place on 14 August at 12pm, and bids can be made online. More information can be found on SARA's facebook page

 

Image (C) SARA

Statue unveiled of 'the world's therapy dog'

Statue unveiled of 'the world's therapy dog'

Max the spaniel provided hope to people around the globe during lockdown. 

Max the English springer spaniel, named 'Miracle Dog' by his family and supporters, had a statue of himself unveiled in his hometown on Friday, 2 July.

The bronze statue in Max's likeness has been erected in Hope Park, Keswick, in Cumbria, and has been set on a bench, so that fans of the famous dog can cuddle up to him. 

Max shot to fame online because of his owner – Kerry Irving – who posted regular updates of the pup on social media. Photos and videos of Max made him a household name in the local area, but Max became even more special to his fans as the pandemic hit.

Throughout lockdown, Max's owner did daily live broadcasts of him, resulting in Max being dubbed the world's 'virtual therapy dog', and dedicated fans tuned in all the way from Australia to America. 

The daily Facebook Live videos of max became an important source of joy for hundreds of thousands of people during lockdown, and Max's antics are credited with helping people through isolation, grief, and anxiety. Max was presented with the PDSA Order of Merit (known also as the animals OBE) in February 2021 for his excellent contribution to society.

Local sculptor Kirsty Armstrong made the permanent tribute to the famous pooch, and Max's owner Kerry said of the sculpture: “Hope Park is the perfect location as Max has brought hope to so many people. It’s incredible that our little boy, proudly wearing his PDSA Order of Merit, will now be sat there and remembered for generations to come.”

Paid for by a crowdfunding campaign, the statue is a testament to how beloved Max is, with the campaign raising £26,000 in a single day! The campaign even raised enough for Kerry to donate additional funds to the PDSA charity. Kerry added: “Everyone has been so incredibly supportive, I can’t begin to express my thanks to all those who donated their hard-earned money, the Town Council and Hope Park Trust for arranging this wonderful location, our local sculptor Kirsty, and Honister Slate Mine, who helped us pick the perfect slate for the bench. 

“And the fact we were able to donate additional proceeds to PDSA too is wonderful, as it’s a charity that is very close to my heart. I’m humbled by it all, and hope that Max’s statue will bring great comfort to all those who visit.”

Max can be followed at the Facebook page 'Max out in the Lake District' and more about his PDSA Order of Merit can be found here

Goldfish rescued from 7ft deep well

Goldfish rescued from 7ft deep well

The RSPCA came to the rescue of the lonely fish.

RSPCA Cymru received quite a shock recently when it was called to rescue a goldfish who was stuck 7ft down a well in Newport, Wales.

The goldfish was lucky to have even been noticed, because the property he was found at had been vacant, and was being sold at auction. He may not have been noticed at all, had a member of the public not thought to lift the well cover and take a look inside! 

When the member of the public lifted the well cover, they found the goldfish inside, 7ft down and completely alone. They contacted the RSPCA for help, and Inspector Claire Davey attended the scene to rescue him. 

Claire said: “We were given permission by the landowner and the estate agents to collect the fish but we have no idea how this little fella got there. It’s a complete mystery!

“The well was 7ft deep and it was quite difficult to catch the little fish and bring him to safety due to the depth and poor visibility but finally I managed to reach him with my reach and rescue pole - after about 30 minutes!
“Who knows what could have happened to this fish if he had not been spotted. It is unlikely that the fish would have survived for long there. I scooped him out and took him to the safety of a tank where he will be looked after until we can find him a lovely new home.”

The RSPCA have offered some tips on caring for goldfish, including:

  • make sure you know what space, depth and surface area of water is needed for the number and size of your fish
  • find out about what food your fish will eat, and how often and how much they will need it
  • get to know your goldfish to help spot signs of something being wrong, and if in doubt, ask your vet.

It is unclear how the goldfish came to be down the well, but he is now being cared for properly until he finds a new forever home. 

For more information on the RSCPA, or to support their mission, visit their website at rspca.org.uk/getinvolved

Cats Protection rescues a cat and her kittens found nesting in a tree

Cats Protection rescues a cat and her kittens found nesting in a tree

Feline family were being watched over by a friendly tom cat.

Cats Protection volunteers received quite a surprise recently when they found a nursing cat and its kittens nesting high up in a tree at the back of an industrial estate.

The team was investigating reports of a welfare issue with a colony of cats on an industrial site in Amersham when a local resident approached them to let them know that she had been feeding a cat from the colony who had very recently given birth and thought it was in need of help.

“We spent a week searching gardens, leafletting a huge area and asking residents to keep an eye out for where mum had hidden the kittens,” said welfare team member Ruth Goller. “We even set camera traps, but to no avail.

“Then one morning the mum showed up with a male who seemed bonded with her. I watched her eat and it was obvious that she recently had kittens and was still feeding, but we had no idea where she had stowed them.”

After following the cats to the back of the site, Ms Goller spotted the mother and three kittens high up in a tree in an old bird's nest.

Setting up humane containment traps, the team eventually managed to secure the mother and then carefully move the kittens from the tree into a carrier. After being checked over, the mother and kittens were transferred to Cats Protection fosterer Sue Buck.

Ms Goller also confirmed that the tom was in need of veterinary attention and brought him in as well. The Cats Protection veterinary team found he had an abscess on his foot and kept him in for a few days.

The abscess has healed well and, after being neutered, the male – now named Willet – has been reunited with the mother Oriole and her kittens Bran, Jay and Lori.

Images (c) Cats Protection.

Larry the Downing Street cat celebrates ten years at Number 10

Larry the Downing Street cat celebrates ten years at Number 10

Beloved Battersea rescue cat has fans across the globe.

Monday 15 February marks ten years since 10 Downing Street's resident cat Larry took on the role as 'chief mouser to the cabinet office'.

The fourteen-year-old tabby was brought into a Battersea rescue centre in 2011, before moving to Downing Street the next month. He has since been a trusted companion to three Prime Ministers and has gained a huge following on social media.

“It seems like only yesterday that Larry came to our cattery as a stray in need of a home,” said Battersea’s head of catteries and feline welfare, Lindsey Quinlan. “I don’t think anyone back then could have imagined just how incredible his life would turn out to be.”

She continued: “Throughout his time at Number 10, Larry has proven himself to not only be a brilliant ambassador for Battersea, but also demonstrated to millions of people around the world how incredible rescue cats are.”

Larry has been the subject of numerous viral photos and videos over the years. When Barack Obama visited Downing Street, he quickly bonded with Larry and photos of the then President of the United States spending time with the cat were shared worldwide.

In 2018, the scene of a Number 10 guard letting Larry into the building after he was caught in a downpour quickly went viral after it was captured in the background of several live news reports.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “A much beloved member of the Number 10 team, Larry plays a vital role as chief mouser and in delighting staff and the public alike with his playful antics.

“We’re proud to support Battersea and other animal welfare organisations in their mission to ensure our furry friends have a loving and safe home.”

Images (c) Press Association and Justin Ng.

Orphaned otter cubs found wandering streets of Inverkeithing

Orphaned otter cubs found wandering streets of Inverkeithing

Scottish SPCA cares for cubs at National Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Two otter cubs are currently being cared for by the Scottish SPCA after they were found wandering the streets by members of the public on Saturday 6 February.

The cubs – one male and one female – are around three to four months old. The Scottish SPCA suspects that their mother was involved in a road traffic accident or some other disturbance and didn't make it back to the cubs.

They were spotted wandering down the road in Inverkeithing on Saturday night. The female cub was followed to a nearby field by members of the public, who then contacted the rescue charity.

Centre manager Steven Gray said: “The pair wouldn’t have survived on their own as they rely on mum so we are thankful the members of the public contacted us.

“The female has been named Inver and the male has been called Forth.

“They will stay with us until they are around 12 to 14-months-old, just like with mum in the wild. We will teach them how to feed and take care of themselves and will release them when they are ready.”

The charity reminded members of the public not to approach an otter if they spot them as the animal may feel threatened and use its strong bite to defend itself.

Instead anyone who finds an otter that they suspect needs help should monitor it from a safe distance and then contact the Scottish SPCA's animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

Image (c) Scottish SPCA.

Iguana escapes fire by jumping on fireman's helmet

Iguana escapes fire by jumping on fireman's helmet

Pet was carried to safety by startled crew member

Firefighters from the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service made a surprise rescue while extinguishing a house fire in Corby, as an iguana leaped on to a team member's helmet to escape the blaze.

The team responded to a call about a fire caused by a faulty reptile heating mat at 11pm on Wednesday 6 January.

As they tackled the flames, the owner's pet iguana jumped to safety on to one of the firemen's helmets.

Speaking to the BBC, a spokeswoman for the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fireman... didn’t realise the iguana had climbed on top of him at first as he initially thought it was a colleague touching his helmet.”

The animal was unhurt and was carried safely out of the house, although there was some damage to the home, there were no other injuries.

In a tweet about the unique incident, the Service wrote: “One of [the] occupants couldn't wait to be rescued and jumped to safety to hitch a ride out!!”

The public responded to the tweet, praising the brave work of the firefighters and wishing the best for the brave reptile and it's owners.

Image (c) Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Mars Comedy Pet Photographer of the year revealed

Mars Comedy Pet Photographer of the year revealed

Elke Vogelsang scooped first prize for a hilarious photo of rescue dog Noodles.

The winner of the 2020 Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photographer of the Year Award has been revealed.

Elke Vogelsang scooped first prize for her photo of rescue dog Noodles, a Galgo Espanol mix breed. With his goofy expression, Noodles was a clear favourite with the judges and also won the Dog category award.

On hearing the news, Elke Vogelsang said: “It's wonderful to be associated with something that makes people happy. This dog definitely is a mood-lifter. Happy to share her funny, gorgeous face with the world.” 

Elke discovered Noodles in a kill shelter in Spain, abandoned at the end of the hunting season. Determined to rescue her, Elke said that she ‘fell in love with her gorgeous face and funny ears immediately.’

The Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photo Awards aims to showcase the incredibly positive impact that pets have on our lives and raise awareness around homeless pets in the UK. Pet and animal lovers were encouraged to submit funny images of their pets for a chance of winning £3,000 and to raise money for the Blue Cross Pet Charity. 

Elke said that she intends to reinvest some of the prize money back into an organisation for pet rescue. Other winners include:

  • Cat Category: Malgorzata Russell’s brilliant photo of Basil, peeking from under a fence titled ‘Why are you upside down, Mum?’ 
  • Mighty Horse Category: Magdalena Strakova with her great shot of three horses ‘Gossip Girls’ 
  • All Other Creatures: ‘Drama Queen’ by Anne Linder took the prize with her yawning rabbit 
  • Pets Who Look Most Like Their Owner’s Category: ‘Morning Mood’ a photo by Hannah Seeger and her dog
  • Junior Category: Ayden Brooks for his sleepy cat called ‘Fox Mulder’.

Tom Sullam from the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, adds: “I think it’s fair to say that most people can’t see the end of 2020 fast enough! 2021 will hopefully bring some good news, some cheer and positive horizons for everyone - but in all the gloom of 2020, the Comedy Pet Awards managed to raise our spirits more than most things.

“The importance of pets in our lives - the positive life-affirming friendship that they bring without even realising it - is often underestimated and taken for granted. But this year has really given these pets a chance to shine and I think without pets many, many people would have had a harder time dealing with the isolation. Thank you to the pets, all of them, for making us smile through this competition, and keeping many of us on an even keel!”

Image (C) Mars PetCare.

Dormouse rescued after getting stuck in garden bird feeder

Dormouse rescued after getting stuck in garden bird feeder

Homeowner baffled upon finding sleeping creature in their garden

A dormouse that had been 'plumping up' for winter got itself into a tight spot when it managed to squeeze into a garden birdfeeder and needed help from the homeowner to get out.

The dormouse was spotted on Tuesday 17 November by the homeowner, who lives on the Isle of Wight. It's thought that the nocturnal animal got into the feeder overnight in search of food and then fell asleep when it became stuck inside.

The concerned Isle of Wight resident contacted the Hampshire Dormouse Group on Facebook, asking for urgent advice on how to get the creature out safely. The group sent them a link to register the animal on the National Dormouse Database and explained how and when to release it.

The dormouse was released successfully and quickly skittered away, apparently unscathed after its ordeal.

Catherine Hadler, a volunteer for the Hampshire Dormouse Group, was baffled when she saw the picture of the trapped dormouse.

“The dormouse had entered the bird feeder and eaten so much bird food that it was too chubby to get out,” she said. "Safe to say this fatty will survive hibernation just fine."

According to the group, dormouse populations in Britain have declined by 51 per cent since 2000. This is largely due to the destruction of hedgerows for housing developments and farmland.

The Hampshire Dormouse Group is urging the public to help dormice by reporting any sightings to the National Dormouse Database (NDD). This will help organisations to gain an understanding of where dormouse are living across the country, and will inform conservation efforts.

Image (c) Hampshire Dormouse Group.

'Genius canine' study explores dogs' learning ability

'Genius canine' study explores dogs' learning ability

Six border collies to take part in live experiments

Scientists from the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd (ELTE) University, Budapest are conducting an international research project which aims to find 'the world's smartest dog'.

The Genius Dog Challenge will see six dogs from around the world demonstrate their ability to learn the names of various toys.

The research team will be sharing the dogs' efforts with the rest of the world as part of several live broadcasts taking place from 11 November to 16 December.

The challenge will be split into two stages. For the first stage the dogs have a week to learn the names of six new toys and at the second stage the dogs will be given the same amount of time to learn the names of 12 toys.

At the end of each stage, the dogs will be tested live on the Genius Dog Challenge's Facebook and YouTube. The team aims to publish the data gathered during these live streams as a scientific article.

The project is led by Shany Dror, a PhD Student from the Department of Ethology, ELTE University. She said: “Well-trained dogs can easily learn the names of many commands such as sit or down but learning the names of objects appears to rely on different learning mechanisms.

“There is only a handful of studies conducted on dogs with a large vocabulary of object labels, such as toy names, and these studies are normally conducted on only one or two subjects.

“Our hope is that with this project we will be able to detect new genius dogs that are willing to participate in our research. We encourage owners of such dogs to contact us.”

Owners whose dogs know the names of ten or more objects or toys are invited to apply through the Genius Dog Challenge website.

Image (c) Genius Dog Challenge.

Battersea announces winner of 2020 Purr Minister competition

Battersea announces winner of 2020 Purr Minister competition

Commons speaker’s cat crowned Westminter’s top feline

A ginger Maine coon named Patrick, belonging to speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has been elected as Battersea’s new Purr Minister, after weeks of campaigning from pet-owning politicians.

Patrick beat out nine other cats in the public vote, earning popularity with his pledges of ‘impurrtiality’ and ‘a better work/mouse balance’. He succeeds former Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd’s cat Alfie, who was elected in 2018.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons and Patrick’s owner, said: “While it is undoubtedly a bit of fun to receive this title for Patrick – and goodness knows we need it in these difficult times – I am so pleased it has been awarded by Battersea, whose work in helping animals in need is well known and deserves our full support.

“Patrick was up against a tough field of well-loved cats, but I think his personality and beauty won over members of the public, who I must thank for all their support in electing him.”

The Purr Minister Competition was created to celebrate the companionship and joy that cats provide and to raise awareness of animal welfare issues. This year’s election was one of the most popular ever, with Battersea reporting a 200 per cent increase in votes compared to the last competition in 2018.

Lindsey Quinlan, head of catteries and feline welfare for Battersea, said that the charity had been blow away by the amount of public support that this year’s candidates received.

She added: “In what has been a very complicated year for everyone, we hope our fun competition has provided some light relief, while also highlighting important animal welfare issues and the vital work Battersea is doing to help animals in need.”

Images (c) Jessica Taylor.

RSPCA staff create DIY sauna for sickly seal pups

RSPCA staff create DIY sauna for sickly seal pups

Daily steaming sessions help intensive care pups breath easier

Rescued seal pups at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre have been receiving daily sauna sessions after staff created a mobile sauna unit out of a modified wallpaper stripper.

The centre is currently caring for 49 common seal pups, many of which have respiratory problems. They were admitted to the centre at the start of June and some will require weeks, or even months of intensive care before they can return to the wild.

The makeshift sauna was created to help the pups breathe easier. Twice a day, staff feed a hose through a hole in the wall of each seal’s isolation cubicle, switch the machine on and fill the room with steam.

Centre manager Alison Charles explained: “We had previously used veterinary equipment in the past, but it just wasn't strong enough to steam the whole room.

"So, we put our thinking caps on and got creative and made our own mobile sauna unit out of a wallpaper steamer. It even has a timer and it's on a trolley so it can be wheeled from one cubicle to another.

“We have found it makes a real difference to the seals breathing (just like a sauna can help us) after they have had a few sessions with the steamer!”

Landmine detection rat awarded animals' George Cross

Landmine detection rat awarded animals' George Cross

Magawa has saved the lives of countless individuals living in Cambodia.

A giant African pouch rat named Magawa has been awarded the animals' equivalent of the George Cross for sniffing out landmines in Cambodia.

Magawa received the PDSA Gold Medal for discovering 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordinate during his career - clearing more than 141,000 square metres of land and saving the lives of countless men, women and children.

He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honouring animals to receive a PDSA Medal – joining a line-up of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.

Magawa was trained by APOPO in Tanzania, a charity that trains rats to detect landmines and other remnants of war. He can identify the chemical compound within explosives and ignore any scrap metal laying around, meaning that he is much faster at detecting landmines than a conventional metal detector.

APOPO CEO Christophe Cox explains: “APOPO’s HeroRATs significantly speed up landmine detection using their amazing sense of smell and excellent memory. We use clicker training to teach rats like Magawa to scratch at the earth above a landmine.

“During training they hear a 'click' and receive a tasty food reward for finding the correct target scent. Unlike metal detectors, the rats ignore scrap metal and only sniff out explosives making them fast and efficient landmine detectors."

He continued: "This not only saves lives but returns much-needed safe land to the communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. This in turn will allow the families living around the minefields to improve their livelihoods and get their lives back on track.”

Magawa was formally presented with his unique miniature PDSA Gold Medal via a live link between Cambodia and the UK on Friday (25 September).

PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin, commented: “The work of HeroRAT Magawa and APOPO is truly unique and outstanding. Cambodia estimates that between four and six million landmines were laid in the country between 1975 and 1998, which have sadly caused over 64,000 casualties.

“HeroRAT Magawa’s work directly saves and changes the lives of men, women and children who are impacted by these landmines. Every discovery he makes reduces the risk of injury or death for local people.

She added: “The PDSA Animal Awards programme seeks to raise the status of animals in society and honour the incredible contribution they make to our lives. Magawa’s dedication, skill and bravery are an extraordinary example of this and deserve the highest possible recognition. We are thrilled to award him the PDSA Gold Medal.”

Image (C) PDSA.