Welcome to the eighth in a new series of Animal Tales from the Bermuda SPCA, which have kindly been sponsored by our good friends at Noah’s Ark.
A crock of a story
Villagers in the Philippines recently captured a 21-foot long saltwater crocodile, which they believed to have been harassing fishermen in their area.
At an estimated one tonne in weight, it is one of the largest such reptiles ever caught alive.
In fact it took over 100 men several hours to capture the beast using a steel cage.
They could have killed the crocodile of course and exhibited its carcass, or even eaten its meat, but instead they have chosen to benefit from their adversary’s capture in what is an example to other people in similar predicaments around the world.
Next month the villagers will be opening an eco-park in their remote homeland and this massive living crocodile will become their star attraction.
Wild at heart
Like the Tamworth Two, a pair of pigs named Butch and Sundance, whom I wrote about previously in this column, Yvonne the cow was destined for the abattoir until she made a successful dash for freedom.
Displaying an intelligence not normally associated with cattle, she quickly disappeared into the forests of central Germany and ingratiated herself into a herd of wild deer.
By adopting the herd’s lifestyle of keeping out of sight during the daytime and foraging at night, she evaded capture for over three months, and she quite literally saved her own hide.
During this period whilst Yvonne was on the loose, a charity offered to buy her (just as happened before with the Tamworth Two), under condition of the owners that she was caught within a specific time frame — otherwise she was to become open game for hunters!
As with all good adventure stories she was captured just in the knick of time, but after acquiring a liking for living wild, Yvonne put up a determined struggle before she was safety bundled into the back of a truck.
The six-year-old dairy cow will now live out the remainder of her days at an animal sanctuary.
The Irish origins of the polar bear
It may sound like a tall story from Ireland, but the polar bear does actually have Irish roots.
Scientists from Europe and North America recently reported that all modern polar bears are descended from the now extinct Irish brown bear. It is believed that just before or during the last Ice Age (roughly 20,000 years ago), previous species of polar bears mated with female Irish brown bears, which gave rise to the present strain of polar bears.
That maternal lineage is now traceable in all polar bears living in the world today.
The benefits of micro chipping
The next time that someone dismisses micro chipping as a waste of time, recount this little story.
Willow, a distinctly marked calico cat, disappeared all of five years ago in Colorado, then suddenly last month she reappeared wandering the streets of New York.
The feline’s rescuer took her to an animal shelter, where a routine scan revealed a microchip, which had been implanted when she was still a kitten.
With the information to hand, a shelter administrator duly called Willow’s astounded, but elated owners with the news the she was indeed still alive and well.
How Willow actually made a nearly 2,000 mile, five-year journey from Boulder to New York is likely to remain a mystery forever, but everyone concerned with this story — most especially her owners — are delighted with the happy outcome.
It is worth noting that such stories of micro-chipped animals being found far from home is not as rare as you might think.
For further information about the micro-chipping process and costs involved, call the SPCA (236-7333) or your veterinarian.
What is a pet?
A simple question, but what actually qualifies as a pet?
Wikipedia defines a pet as ‘a household animal kept for companionship and a person’s enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sports animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons’.
It goes on to state that the most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics, for their attractive appearance, or for their song.
Strictly by the numbers, fish are the world’s most popular pets, since people tend to keep them in larger numbers.
It is estimated that 13.3 million US households have an aquarium, which each contain on average 13 fish.
Compare this with the 45.6 million US households who own dogs (estimated population 77.5m/average 1.7 per household) and the 38.2 million households who own cats (estimated 93.6m/average 2.4).
Other popular pets include birds, reptiles and amphibians, small mammals and equine.
Not surprisingly domesticated pets are the most common, meaning species that have been kept long enough throughout history to exhibit marked differences in behaviour and appearance from their so-called wild relatives.
Despite some potential health risks from pets (allergies, bites, parasites), we know that they can generally be beneficial for our health — especially as we grow older.
It has been documented that having a pet may help people to achieve their health goals, reduce stress and high blood pressure, and therefore heart attacks. There is also evidence that a pet can help a person lead a longer, healthier life.
Owning a pet of course, is a major responsibility, and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
As the owner you are personally accountable for your pet’s feeding, grooming, health and exercise.
It’s a sad reflection on modern society that so many owners fail to live up to their side of the bargain, and are guilty of neglect or abuse, or cause unnecessary stress.
The Humane Society of the United States estimate that between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in America alone every year, and that many more are confined to cages in shelters.
Be a responsible owner. Read up about the pets you own or would like to own and report abuse to the SPCA or police whenever you see it take place.