Animals

Trump's USDA Moves Closer To Scrapping Animal Welfare Rule

Jan 19, 2018
Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs

A carton of organic eggs can cost more than double the price of regular eggs — so, what are you paying for? When it comes to the treatment of livestock and poultry, there are some murky areas. Many in the organic industry pushed for a new rule, issued at the end of the Obama administration, aimed, in part, at ensuring that the green and white organic seal on the egg carton means the chickens actually spent time outdoors.

Snatched By Hungry Eagle, Little Dog Lives To Bark The Tale

Jan 4, 2018
Jessica Hartman / via AP

Felipe Rodriguez says he thought he was hallucinating when an eagle snatched his sister's little white dog from her yard, flapped its massive wings and disappeared over the trees.

Did he really just see that?

He had. Zoey the 8-pound bichon frise was gone, taken by a hungry raptor Tuesday afternoon not 50 feet from his sister's house on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, Rodriguez said.

"It seemed like something from the 'Wizard of Oz,'" he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I'm a city boy. This doesn't happen in my world."

Greg Sousa / AP

Most drivers who hit roadkill leave the carcass on the ground, but several thousand Pennsylvanians in 2017 wanted to make the dead animal their next meal.

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday passed a controversial bill outlawing the use of certain tools for training or controlling wild animals.

The ordinance specifically bans the use of “bullhook, electric prod, shocking device, hacksaw, ankus, ankusha, elephant goad, elephant hook, baseball bat, axe handle, pitchfork, whip, stick, muzzle or instrument capable of inflicting pain, intimidating or threatening pain.”

More than an hour of public comment preceded the vote.

Buster's Plight Helps Put Spotlight On Special Needs Animals

Dec 19, 2017
Humane Society of Cambria County via Facebook

The staff and volunteers at the Cambria County Humane Society know 2-year-old pit bull mix Buster's story - ears that were cropped incorrectly, heartworm disease and a spine injury that healed improperly, causing his back legs to collapse at times as he plays.

Buster was adopted out of the shelter previously, but became notorious for running loose in his neighborhood. He was eventually hit by a car while running after another dog, but was never taken to a veterinarian for those injuries.

On Nov. 5, he was returned to the humane society as a stray.

This Ancient Penguin Was As Big As Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby

Dec 12, 2017
Gerald Mayr / Senckenberg Research Institute via AP

Fossils from New Zealand have revealed a giant penguin that was as big as a grown man, roughly the size of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The creature was slightly shorter in length and about 20 pounds heavier than the official stats for hockey star Sidney Crosby. It measured nearly 5 feet, 10 inches long when swimming and weighed in at 223 pounds.

If the penguin and the Penguin faced off on the ice, however, things would look different. When standing, the ancient bird was maybe only 5-foot-3.

Scientists Call On US To Allow Research On Pot Meds For Pets

Dec 7, 2017
David Zalubowski / AP

Dr. Byron Maas surveys a supply of marijuana products for dogs that lines a shelf in his veterinary clinic. They're selling well.

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium via AP

Two rare tiger cubs whose mother didn't bond with them are being hand-raised at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Zoo keepers on Tuesday showed off the twin male and female endangered Amur cubs, which were born Sept. 25. The keepers had noticed the cubs' mother, 10-year-old Tierney, wasn't caring for them 24 hours after their birth and decided to remove them.

Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, director of animal health at the zoo, said the twins don’t have names yet, but definitely have personalities.

Alfred de Montesquiou / AP

Police say they captured a big African cat, resembling a cheetah, running loose through the streets of a small Pennsylvania town.

Reports about the spotted feline started coming in on Nov. 3. When Reading officers tracked it down, they initially thought they'd found a cheetah.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County says they got a call from the police department about the feline on Saturday.

For Ornery Shelter Cats, 2nd Chance Is A Job Chasing Mice

Oct 18, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Gary wasn't used to being around people. He didn't like being touched, or even looked at. If anyone came too close, he'd lash out.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Cathy Schlott’s fingers are covered in blood, but she doesn’t seem concerned or put off by it. She’s feeding Anne, a 4-pound adult barred owl, which are common in Pennsylvania.

“She gets lots of treats for this,” said Schlott, curator of animal behavioral management at the aviary, while holding Anne, who’s perched on her arm.

She’s feeding her “meeces pieces,” or chunks of raw meat.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium say a baby elephant's appetite is improving following insertion of a feeding tube to help it gain much-needed weight.

Zoo spokesperson Tracy Gray said the still-unnamed female calf is taking in more food through the tube "and she's also taking more bottles."

On Saturday, the zoo posted on a blog devoted to the elephant that the baby had taken a short walk "and we're beginning to see her feisty personality return."

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Zoo officials said Friday that the elephant calf is doing well after surgery and was moving around. She is currently using a feeding tube to get one pint of formula and officials said her GI tract was functioning normally. She is also taking a bottle of milk from Nan, a lactating elephant also at the zoo.

Earlier Version:  

Pittsburgh Zoo officials announced Wednesday that the facility’s baby elephant's health is flagging, and that the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical.

Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

A Pennsylvania wildlife center says a 30-year-old bald eagle that was being treated for lead poisoning has died less than two weeks after two other eagles died of the same cause.

The Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown announced the bird's death on Facebook on Sunday.

The bird was captured Aug. 13 after it allowed people to get unusually close. Blood tests confirmed lead poisoning.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania wildlife officials say a bald eagle that is suffering from lead poisoning is in guarded condition.

The bird was letting people get close to it on a wildlife trail near Apollo over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports it was taken to a wildlife center in Saegertown, where blood tests confirmed it had lead poisoning.

Jim Fetzner / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A researcher at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has helped discover three new kinds of crayfish in Kentucky's Appalachian region. Jim Fetzner and his team said these newly classified lobster-like crustaceans could help us understand how crayfish evolve.

Well-trained guide dogs are important for visually impaired people who rely on them. But many puppies bred to be guide dogs flunk out of training programs.

A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the way a puppy's mother raises it may be the key to the dog's success, or failure. A research team at the University of Pennsylvania found that puppies destined for guide dog training are more likely to fail if they're coddled by their mothers.

Turning Trash Into Art To Save Urban Wildlife

Jul 27, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Rebecca  Reid knew it was a long shot, but she emailed Portuguese street artist Bordalo II anyway. She’d seen his large murals depicting wildlife on Facebook.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Walk into Pittsburgh's East End location of the Humane Animal Rescue and you'll feel dozens of eyes on you. The shelter is currently overflowing with an influx of stray cats. 

"It's definitely kitty season," Ashley Burk, the shelter's manager of public relations, said. "It just really has to do with the fact that if there are strays on the street, they're not spayed or neutered. It's really easy for cats to get pregnant, have those kittens and then just continue to multiply."

They are an open door facility that does not turn away any animals.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new 177-pound baby African elephant takes a stroll through the grounds.

“She knocks over the trash cans, she knocks over any signs she can find,” said Willie Theison, elephant program manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo. “She just thinks she’s the baddest little girl.”

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

At the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, inside a tall concrete room, kept warm and humid, is a series of cages filled with the most illegally trafficked animal in the world: the pangolin.

Jelly Dude / Flickr

Veterinarians in the Pittsburgh area said they've seen an increase in dogs testing positive for Lyme disease this year.

Pennsylvania already has the highest rate of human infection in the nation, and experts warned in February that the summer’s tick season could be a bad one, thanks to warmer winter weather. 

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Some lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf took a break from budget negotiations Wednesday to sign a high-profile package of bills into law.

They significantly overhauled the commonwealth’s animal rights legislation, and included a measure that has brought a lot of attention to the issue in the past year: Libre’s Law.

The bill signing saw more fanfare—and barking—than most.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County has thousands of employees, but one of them has a rather unusual title. 

Charles Krupa / AP

Pittsburgh-area law enforcement agencies are equipping K-9 handlers with naloxone as reports of dangerous opioid overdoses continue to sweep the Midwest.

Allegheny County Police Officer Steve Dawkins said dangerous situations are in his 4-year-old partner's job description. 

Guess What Else The Border Wall Keeps Out ...

May 31, 2017
Bureau of Land Management/US Fish and Wildlife Service / AP

President Trump’s proposed 2,000-mile long, 30-foot high border wall would impact more than just a pretty landscape. It could bring an end to the species that live in the lush coastal grasslands, searing hot deserts, and staggering mountain peaks in the path of the wall.

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

Pygmy hippopotamuses, giant anteaters and a zipline are all part of the newest attraction at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Jungle Odyssey.

The exhibit is the second of the zoo’s four-phase “Top of the World” project, with The Islands opening in 2016. Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO of the zoo, said the latest area will educate visitors about some of the world’s most vulnerable animals.

One Way To Respond To A Warming Planet? Get Smaller

Apr 13, 2017
Kai Schreiber / Flickr

Though the earth is experiencing its first bout of human-induced climate change, the planet has faced massive global warming events in the past. For instance, 56 million years ago, the earth was 46 degrees hotter on average than it is right now. And in response, mammals literally shrank. Imagine an early horse ancestor the size of a cat.

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