Hip-hop-o-potamus

I had a friend all through junior high and high school who was absolutely terrified of hippos. We went on a field trip to the zoo once, and everyone threatened to throw her in the hippo tank, just to see her freak out.  At the time it seemed pretty silly, but now, I realize she was on to something.

Hippos are the #1 killer in Africa. Well, technically AIDS is the #1 killer, but when it comes to animal attacks, hippos take first place.  Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20 inch canines(teeth, not dogs).  I know this is only really relevant to people who live in Africa or who are planning to visit, but still, it might help someone somewhere. I think you need to be aware that they are a threat and to not get close to them.

Animal Planet has a new 20 part series called the Deadly 60.  It is all about the 60 most lethal animals on earth.  It begins November 13 and will play every Friday at 9 pm on Animal Planet.  The crew travels across India, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Europe, United Kingdom, South America and North America. It should be pretty spectacular, like the series Planet Earth, but with deadly animals killing things instead of baby ducks falling out of trees.

Fun Hippo Facts:

  • The hippo’s closest living relative is the whale
  • Hippos can kill crocodiles
  • Hippos consume over 100 pounds of vegetation per day.
  • Hippos secrete a natural sunscreen that is colored red and eventually turns brown
  • The hippo is in danger of becoming extinct
  • Hippos can’t jump

Ferrets? really?

Are ferrets really banned in some places? Yes. Yes they are. In California, Hawaii and New York City.  Owners of ferrets believe that they are harmless and that children could do more harm to them than they could do to children. They say that ferrets just need to be taught not to nip at people, just like puppies are trained not to bite.  If you have read my previous post about pit bull attacks, that is not a very sound argument. Despite training, animals still have that wild streak and will attack.

One woman in California who has a ferret said this in defense, “Ferrets have the ultimate short attention span, so they have no capacity for meanness”. She wrote an article about laws regulating ferret ownership. She defends her position that ferrets are not at all a threat and should be legal.

In June of 1999, New York City’s health Department decided to uphold their ban on ferrets.  Click here to see their press release on the subject.

As with all pets. I think it comes down to responsible pet ownership.  People who choose to have ferrets need to educate themselves on what they are getting into.  Ferrets are much more high maintenance than dogs or cats.  They require constant attention, grooming and exercise.

 

So not as scary as a pit bull attack, but still. Rodents + babies = not a good idea. Ever.

Rabies

For those of you who are not quite sure what rabies is and why it is so bad, here is a short description: it is a virus that infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

Before 1960, the majority of animal cases reported to the CDC were domestic animals.  Now, more than 90% of all animal cases reported now occur in wildlife.  The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores (eg. raccoons, foxes, skunks, etc) and bats.

In the United States, human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure. So now that you know what the signs and symptoms are, hopefully you will go to the doctor instead of staying home to die.

Although human rabies deaths are rare, the estimated public health costs associated with disease detection, prevention, and control have risen, exceeding $300 million annually. These costs include the vaccination of companion animals, animal control programs, maintenance of rabies laboratories, and medical costs, such as those incurred for rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Bottom line is that you should avoid rabid animals.  Don’t try and pet the animals you see when you go hiking, or the ones who might be riffling through your garbage cans.

http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/rabies-38595-raccoon-exposure.html

bears

Who do we blame? The bears, or ourselves? There has been some debate as to whether or not we are responsible for the increased amount of bear attacks.  Some people say that we have encroached into their natural habitat, and others believe that bears are just vicious creatures who are out to get us.  In my opinion, bear attacks just occur as a result of being in  the wrong place, at the wrong time. I understand that people are sometimes foolish and provoke bears. But if they are doing that, I think they deserve to be attacked.

No matter how much experience you have or how much of an expert you seem to be on bears, attacks can still happen.  Take for example Timothy Treadwell, the self proclaimed eco-warrior and photographer.  For 13 years, he would go up to the wilds of Alaska to film and take pictures of bears, but then one summer he and his girlfriend were brutally attacked and eaten by one.  An audio tape was found onsite, which documents the attack.  It is six minutes long and it has not been released to the public and probably won’t be.

For tips on safe travel through bear country, click on the following link:   http://www.mountainnature.com/Wildlife/Bears/

Bear Pepper Spray has been proven to be more effective against bears than guns. To order some, go to:   https://store.udap.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=BS

da dum…da dum…DA DUM

I HATE SHARKS. THEY ARE THE WORST. Here’s why: they eat you, they come out of nowhere, they swim in the water where you are practically helpless and they are terrifying to look at!  The eyes, the teeth, the nostrils. I can’t handle it.  Researching for this post was awful. I was going to put up a video, but just searching “shark attacks” on YouTube was enough to scare me out of it.   I’m not exaggerating.

There are many ideas about how to best survive a shark attack.   If you are unfamiliar with these, here is a brief recap:

  • punch them in the nose
  • poke them in the eyes
  • jab them in the gills
  • remain calm
  • keep your eye on the shark at all times
  • get into a defensive position
  • fight
  • get out of the water (obviously)

Follow this link to read of an amazing story where a man used one of these tactics to fight the shark off who had swallowed his head.   http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article1295618.ece

One of the most gruesome tales of shark encounters would have to be the USS Indianapolis.  She holds a place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy.  TheDiscovery Channel has stated that the Indianapolis sinking resulted in the most shark attacks on humans in history, and attributes the attacks to the oceanic whitetip shark species.  One survivor tells of his experience. To read it, follow the link below.

http://www.fearbeneath.com/2008/10/uss-indianapolis-crewmember-recounts-harrowing-tale-of-survival/

Florida has had over 400 reported shark attacks since 1990. I think this is a big enough problem that something needs to be done.  Shark hunting season perhaps? More shark nets? What do we need sharks for?  I can’t come up with any reasons. I feel like there are way too many and we could do without them.

the worst dogs ever.

Ok, here’s the deal. Pit Bulls are crazy. Why on earth do we need to have them? We don’t. They were bred to be vicious, killing machines and while that may work for drug dealers and dog fighters, it is unwise to keep these dogs for cuddly house pets. They weren’t made for that.  I get so mad when I see people pushing strollers and walking their pit bull at the same time.  To me that is just about the same thing as pushing a stroller and smoking a cigarette.  The risk of harm to the child and to yourself is extremely high and not worth it! Many times people think they are buying a pit bull as protection against unwanted visitors in their home.  What many don’t know is that the dog will just as easily turn on them.

Maybe the owners of killer dog breeds (i.e.-pit bulls, rott weilers, german shepards, etc), just look at the positive traits that these dogs have.  What I think they need is a healthy dose of reality.  Here is what that looks like…

and one more…

4.7 million people a year are bitten by dogs. That is way too many. 10% of these victims involve sleeping infants.   This website has numerous examples of people who were attacked by dogs, some made it out alive.  Take a minute to read them. They are haunting.

http://dogsbite.org/bite-fatalities-2009.htm

For some tips on staying safe, go to: http://www.dogsbite.org/staying-safe.htm

 

Gorilla Glasses

I found this online and thought it was pretty ridiculous and would like to know your thoughts.

The Rotterdam Zoo is giving away cardboard glasses that make it appear that you’re looking off to one side; these are gorilla-viewing glasses, meant to avoid incidents in which gorillas attack visitors for making eye contact with them. The glasses’ introduction follows an attack on a woman by an escaped gorilla.The specs are sponsored by a local health-insurance company.

http://www.geekologie.com/2010/04/gorilla_glasses_help_prevent_a.php

When it comes to preventing animal attacks, some people come up with crazy things.  Typically they are more common sense based than research based.  I honestly don’t think these glasses would have an effect on whether or not a gorilla would attack you.  It is not only the eye contact, but the mere presence of anything, human or otherwise, that the gorilla would feel threatened by.  Just having eyes that look away won’t stop it from attacking you.  My advice would be to not climb into the gorilla cage at the zoo.