Welcome to the second 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.
Any right-thinking person who saw the front page of the Bermuda Sun on Friday, February 18th would have been deeply shocked at the image of an emaciated and tethered pit bull, whose owner was callously allowing it to slowly starve to death.
The Bermuda Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established almost a century ago, and this article aptly illustrated why the island’s primary animal charity is as crucial today as when it was formed.
Back in 1919, in the immediate aftermath of World War I, most Bermudians were poor and badly educated.
Bermudians now are generally affluent and the vast majority of people on this island are literate. Advice on animal care is easy to come by.
Pit bulls were banned in Bermuda several years ago as a dangerous breed, but we all know that they are still illegally bred here for dog fighting.
They endure the most wretched lives, and when they are deemed to be of little or no more value, their owners simply discard them to their fate.
They don’t even have the decency to hand them over to the SPCA’s Shelter; these cowardly people are too scared that they might get prosecuted for owning or breeding a banned dog.
People can further assist the SPCA by becoming members of the Society, making a donation or leaving a bequest in a will, or adopting an animal through the Shelter.
Finally, when cases do come to court and offenders are found guilty, magistrates can send a clear message to similar animal abusers by imposing the maximum sentences that the law allows.
Viewing times for adoptions are between 11am and 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
For specific details about adopting an animal through the Shelter, please check the Society’s website www.spca.bm
Mischief lives up to his name
Ever the intrepid explorer, a four-year old horse named Mischief quickly discovered to his surprise that the plastic cover over a neighbour’s swimming pool was just that, and he swiftly plunged into the cold water.
The incident happened in the village of Godshill in southern England, and fire-fighters and animal rescuers were soon on the scene.
The horse had to be sedated (which is normal under such circumstances), before they were able to winch him to safety.
Mischief was quickly reunited with his owner, and other than the initial shock of the almost freezing water, he seemed to suffer no ill effects.
Just a few days earlier in mid-January, a similar fate befell a horse called Mikey in New York State.
The temperatures there were so low that small ice flows had formed in the pool.
Likewise, Mikey seemed to suffer from no ill effects following his ordeal, but ironically two of his rescuers had to be treated for hypothermia!
The primary objectives in both cases were to keep the animals calm, keep on-lookers at bay, and to extricate the horses from their predicaments as soon as practicable.
Mysterious new cats
Just when we think we know about all the species of animals living on this planet, scientists surprise us by announcing the discovery of a new sub-species.
Scientists concluded as recently as 2007 that this species of clouded leopard, which lives on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, is in fact a separate species to the leopards which inhabit the dense mountain forests of mainland Asia.
Clouded leopards are the most elusive of all the big cats, which include lions, tigers, jaguars, snow leopards and normal, spotted leopards.
Weighing on average between 40 and 45lbs (the size of a typical Border Collie), little is known about their behaviour in the wild because of the very secretive nature of their existence.
They have excellent climbing skills (the best amongst the big cats) and have even been seen to climb branches upside down.
In captivity they have also been observed hanging from branches simply by their hind legs, which suggests that they catch at least some of their prey in the wild by pouncing from above.
Both species of clouded leopard continue to suffer from loss of habitat and poaching, and they are both on the endangered species list.
From time to time we learn about new forms of co-habitational behaviour practiced by animals or other organisms, which initially seems contrary to nature because of their distinct and opposing lifestyles.
It transpires that in Borneo (where else!) a particular species of bat roosts inside the carnivorous pitcher plant.
The plants normally rely on trapping insects to obtain enough nitrogen in order to grow, but this particular species relies instead on bats’ droppings.
The pitcher plant benefits by attracting the bats, which defecate into the pitcher (effectively using it as a toilet), and bats benefit from having a secure roosting place free from blood sucking parasites.
A date for your calendar
And finally, an important date for your calendar! Paws To The Park, the SPCA’s major annual fundraising event, is to be held this year on Sunday March 20. Further details to follow.