<strong>Rudely awakened</strong>: The ability that bears have to substantially lower and maintain their metabolic rate and suspend their heart beats for up to 20 seconds could have beneficial medical benefits if they could be replicated in humans. <em>*MCT visual</em>
Rudely awakened: The ability that bears have to substantially lower and maintain their metabolic rate and suspend their heart beats for up to 20 seconds could have beneficial medical benefits if they could be replicated in humans. *MCT visual
Welcome to the third in a new series of Animal Tales from the Bermuda S.P.C.A., which have kindly been sponsored by our good friends at Noah’s Ark.

The bear necessities of life

A detailed study of five hibernating bears, utilizing man-made dens, special monitoring equipment and infra-red cameras, has confirmed many long-held theories about their activities during their slumber periods, but has equally thrown up a number of interesting surprises.

For example, throughout their hibernation period, the bears were observed to rise on average once a day to groom themselves and to move about their bedding. 

Though their body temperatures during hibernation fell some 20 per cent, their metabolism rates actually dropped to just 25 per cent of normal.

Even after they finally awoke and their body temperatures returned to normal (38°C/100ºF), their metabolisms remained low (at around 50 per cent of normal) for up to three weeks afterwards.

Equally of interest was the bear’s ability during hibernation to take in a deep breath and then exhale, after which the bear’s heart would stop beating for between 10 and 20 seconds. Once they inhaled again, their heart would resume beating.

It’s the bears’ ability to substantially lower and maintain their metabolism rate at a quarter of their normal rate, and their ability to take in deep breaths and suspend their heart beats for up to 20 seconds that have most excited scientists. So can this be replicated in humans? 

The implications for medicine are potentially immense.

If an injured person’s metabolism could be greatly lowered and his or her heart effectively stopped for perhaps fifteen seconds at a time, thus substantially reducing their basic physical needs, medical staff and caregivers would have so much more time in which to respond and deal with that person’s particular condition. It would, of course, immensely increase their possible success rate.

Something to sleep on!

Responsible ownership

Few things annoy people more easily — especially non-dog owners — than when they see people exercising their dogs off the leash in public places, and when those said owners allow their pets to defecate and they fail to pick up after them.

We’ve all seen people do it, and these same irresponsible citizens know full well that they are in the wrong. 

Some of them try to pretend that their animals never defecated in the first place  (unless it’s pointed out to them).

Others simply ignore the issue — to them it’s animal nature and they choose to absolve themselves of any responsibilities and to overlook the possible health hazards.

Yet others seem to invite a challenge, and that’s exactly what happened in the State of Mississippi recently with near fatal consequences.

One resident of a rural community visited his neighbour and accused him of allowing his dog to defecate on his lawn (sight-unseen I should add).

The other neighbour retaliated by blaming him for shooting his dog just the week before (again, sight unseen) — the dog survived — and he suggested that they meet at the levee where he would ‘shoot him down’. The first neighbour wisely declined.

However, a second confrontation soon arose, and this time each neighbour happened to be armed with a weapon.

Shots were exchanged — though who fired first is still unclear — and one man sustained multiple non-life-threatening injuries. He ended up in hospital and the other man was arrested (the second man may yet be arrested too!).

The moral of the story of course is that we should all show respect one another and not jump to conclusions without clear evidence. Pet owners in return must accept responsibility for their animals and clean up after their messes. Perhaps then we might all get along better.

Beach ban

Following on from the piece above, residents are reminded that dogs are not permitted on Bermuda’s beaches between April 1 and October 31.

Furthermore, in all public areas away from the beach, dogs must be kept on a leash — this regulation applies throughout the year.

Annual tag days

The SPCA’s annual tag days are their largest single fundraising events, and this year they will be held on Friday 15 and Saturday April 16 between 8am and 5pm. At the time of going to press, the Society is still in need of volunteers to work the many locations throughout the Island. 

Specifically they are looking for team leaders, who effectively oversee one particular location; the staffing of the site, handovers between taggers, and making sure that there is a constant supply of tags on hand.

The Society also needs taggers, who are prepared to ‘man’ a certain location for at least two hours. Their job, of course, is to encourage members of the public to buy tags in support of the S.P.C.A.

If you are interested in helping out in any way, please contact Sara Corday at the Society’s Shelter on telephone number 236-7333 ext. 204, or by fax. on 236-6185.