We humans, with our vastly superior intellects, and being the far more evolved and civilized species, don’t need no stinkin’ animals to show us how to live life.
You’d think not — especially with Christmas approaching. Between all the peace, good will and fellowship the season supposedly brings, and all the attention, with his death, on Nelson Mandela’s legacy of kindness and forgiveness, we shouldn’t be needing, right now, any furry creatures reminding us bigger-brained, two-legged types how to get along with each other.
Yet, in the past month, they seem to keep doing so — almost as if they think the message has failed to get through.
First, it’s a goose and a dog partnering up in the UK. Then it’s an elk and a dog becoming backyard playmates in Washington state. Both pairs were shown at play, raising the question, at least in some heads, if animals of different sizes and species — like elephants and dogs, or cats and crows – can get along with each other, why can’t we?
Now comes this latest pair, a fox and a dog in Norway who met in the woods last summer and became fast friends.
Norwegian photographer Torgeir Berge was out for a walk with his four-year-old German shepherd, Tinni, when they encountered an abandoned baby fox. Since then the fox, which Berge named Sniffer, has regularly met up with them on their trips through the woods, and Berge has been taking pictures of the get-togethers.
Now he’s working on a book about the unlikely friendship with writer Berit Helberg, who told TODAY.com that the fox was probably an orphan whose mother had died, and was probably seeking food, help and company.
“Not many people are privileged to see and enjoy a friendship like this, but Torgeir Berge has both seen them in action and gotten the opportunity to catch this in images that don’t need words,” Helberg wrote in post. They hope the story will raise awareness for animal rights and the conditions that some animals are forced live in as a result of the fur trade, Helberg said.
Yes, animals of different species far more often kill and eat each other to survive. And these unlikely interspecies friendships, seemingly choreographed from the grave (or wherever he is) of Walt Disney, are the exception. It’s not like animals got together and said ”Let’s rethink this whole survival of the fittest thing, and live together in harmony, eating wild berries.”
It was from animals, after all, that we most likely learned that mindset — that the world belongs to the fittest, richest or whoever roars the loudest.
Heartwarming as these unlikely friendship stories are, they’re not messages being sent to humans by animals.
But, particularly at Christmas, they are messages worth receiving, and learning from.
(Photos by Torgeir Berge, via Today.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, book, cat and crow, christmas, dog, dog and elephant, dog and elk, dog and fox, dog and goose, elephant, elk, fox, fox and dog, friends, goose, humans, interspecies, kindness, love, man, mandela, norway, pets, photographer, photography, relationships, society, torgeir berge, unlikely friendships, wildlife
Despite a loudly crowing rooster, a pesky human and a playful baby elephant, this dog manages to keep napping.
A Canadian couple filmed the scene in February of this year while visiting Lampang in Northern Thailand.
Once they stopped filming, they said, the elephant stopped teasing the dog and went to sleep himself, resting his head against the fence.
No word on the YouTube post on who the pesky human tickling the poor dog with a blade of grass was, but we assume he or she gave up, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, annoying, disturb, dog, dog and elephant, dogs, elephant, elephant and dog, let sleeping dogs lie, pestering, pets, sleep, sleeping, sleeping dogs, teasing, thailand, video, viral, waking
Tai, the 42-year-old Asian elephant who stars in the new movie “Water for Elephants” may not have been harmed in the making of that particular film — but he learned the tricks he does in it by being repeatedly shocked with electricity, an animal welfare organization says.
Animal Defenders International said a six-year-old video of Tai being trained has been posted on the Internet, shows trainers administering electric shocks as they teach him tricks.
“Water for Elephants,” a romantic drama set in a 1930s-era American circus, stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. It is premiering this month.
Tai, supplied by Have Trunk Will Travel of California, plays the role of Rosie, an elephant who is brutally attacked with a bull hook by by the circus owner.
The American Humane Association monitored production of the movie — and it, as well as the producers, stars, and trainers have said Tai was treated with nothing but kindness during the movie’s making.
A representative of the American Humane Association stated during the making of the movie, “all these animals have been treated fairly and humanely throughout the entire course of their training.”
Gary Johnson, a founder of Have Trunk Will Travel claimed: “Tai was never hit in any way at all,” according to ADI.
ADI, however, says video filmed at Have Trunk Will Travel in 2005 clearly shows Tai being shocked as part of his training.
Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “We were uncomfortable with the message of this film, but the more we saw the repeated assertions that this elephant has been treated with love and affection and never been abused, we realized that we had to get the truth out. The public, the stars and the filmmakers have been duped. This poor elephant was trained to do the very tricks you see in the film by being given electric shocks.”
ADI said it was sending copies of the video to the film’s stars and makers.
“I believe that Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson will be horrified to learn what Tai went through,” Creamer said.
ADI has also contacted American Humane Association, urging them to re-evaluate how they assess the use of animals in films. ADI is also calling for a boycott of the film.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adi, american humane association, animal defenders international, animals, circus, elephant, elephants, have trunk will travel, movie, no animals were injured, performing, reese witherspoon, robert pattinson, rosie, tai, treatment, video, water for elephants
PETA is pulling a fur-free ad campaign that used the likeness of first lady Michelle Obama without her permission.
PETA said it used photos of Michelle Obama in an anti-fur campaign because the first lady does not wear fur. But they never received authorization to use her image.
Michael McGraw, a PETA spokesman, told the Associated Press they pulled the ad, which also featured Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Underwood and Tyra Banks, “to show good faith.”
At the same time, PETA is urging the White House to take a stand against another unauthorized use of the First Family’s name — the debut last week of the Ringling Bros. circus’ newest performing elephant, “Baby Barack.” In a letter Tuesday to the president, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk urged the White House to demand a name change for Baby Barack.
Baby Barack made his debut last week in Tampa.
The White House has said it does not condone the use of the first family’s name or images for commercial purposes. Last week, the Weatherproof outerwear company agreed to pull an ad campaign built around a photo of Obama at the Great Wall of China in which he appeared to be wearing a jacket made by the company.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ad, advertising, baby barack, barack obama, campaign, carrie underwood, circus, elephant, fur, fur-free, image, jacket, likeness, michelle obama, oprah winfrey, permission, peta, president, pulled, ringling bros, ringling brothers, tyra banks, unauthorized, weatherproof, white house
What do you do with an ever-so-slightly used $100,000 elephant treadmill?
If you’re a zoo in Alaska, you do the same thing you did with your captive elephant – admit it was a mistake and find it a new home.
The Alaska Zoo had the treadmill custom made so that Maggie the elephant — fat, cold and lonely being the only elephant in Alaska — could get some exercise in her otherwise cramped quarters. When the zoo finally came to its senses and shipped Maggie to a sanctuary in northern California, that left them with a contraption that wasn’t in too great demand. Not the sort of thing you can put out at the yard sale. Though the zoo did try selling it on Craigslist.
While the zoo didn’t get paid for the treadmill, they did find a home for it: Iditarod musher Martin Buser has hauled it to his kennel to be used to train his dogs for the 1,150-mile race, the Alaska Dispatch reports.
While he won’t have it reassembled in time to train dogs for the coming race, Buser, a four-time Iditarod winner, expects to use it in the future. Built for an 8,000-pound elephant, it’s 10,000 pounds and 22 feet long, more than big enough to let a whole team of dogs run on at once.
At Buser’s Happy Trails Kennels, he plans to use it to let his dogs run long distances while getting nowhere, invite scientists to use it to learn more about sled dogs, and possibly entertain tourists who want to see a team of dogs run long distances without getting anywhere — like the Iditarod, only without the freezing cold or the breathtaking scenery.
Maggie the elephant left the Alaska Zoo in 2007, after several years of controversy over whether she should ever have been brought there in the first place.
The treadmill was the zoo’s attempt to get Maggie exercising through Alaska’s long winters. It was one of the steps the zoo took to improve her controversial and cramped living conditions. Critics argued she should be in a warmer climate , with more open space, where she could walk outdoors year-round and be with other elephants.
But the zoo decided to try the treadmill experiment first. It didn’t work out, zoo officials admitted. Maggie would have nothing to do with the treadmill – an objection to which we can relate.
At that point, the zoo gave up and loaded Maggie on an Air Force C-17 for a flight to northern California, where, thanks in part to funding from animal activist/game show host Bob Barker, she’s living the rest of her life at ARK 2000, an animal sanctuary in San Andreas operated by the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
After Maggie left town, Buser called the zoo and inquired about the machine. In exchange for the treadmill, Buser added the zoo to his list of official sponsors.
In addition to drawing tourists, Buser says the treadmill will allow for closer scientific research of his sled dogs. Instruments like oxygen consumption masks and heart rate monitors can yield valuable information, but can’t be used when the dogs are running outside.
Sled dogs cruise at 10 to 12 mph, the Swiss-born Buser said, but he’d like to get the treadmill up to 20 mph so he can put his dogs through some speed workouts. Buser said he probably won’t get his dogs on the treadmill until after the coming Iditarod, which has its ceremonial start in Anchorage on March 6.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animal welfare, animals, ark 2000, california, captive, captivity, elephant, happy trails kennels, iditarod, maggie, martin buser, paws, performing animal welfare society, sanctuary, science, sled dogs, tourists, training, treadmill, zoo, zoos
Our old friends Tarra, the elephant, and Bella, the dog, who bonded at an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee, are featured on Unlikely Animal Friends, a one-hour special that airs tonight at 8 on the National Geographic Channel.
The special asks the questions: Can animals really build friendships with other species, people, or even their own prey? How do these odd couples come to be? And what do they gain from these improbable companionships?
The answers come in video footage — some old, some new — that’s bound to warm your heart, and maybe provide a little hope: If mortal animal enemies can reach detente, peace, friendship even, maybe we humans could, too, if we really put our minds to it.
Other duos featured tonight are a baby hippo who chooses a giant tortoise as a surrogate parent, a lion who instantly recognizes two men a year after their last encounter, a cat and crow that have become inseparable, a dog and orangutan, and a lioness who turns down an easy kill in favor of nurturing when she comes across a baby oryx.
In case you miss it, we’ll be posting clips of each of the duos in the week ahead.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bellla, cat and crow, christian, dog, elephant, friends, hippo and tortoise, lion, lioness, national geographic channel, orangutan, relationships, sanctuary, tarra, television, unlikely animal friends, unlikely friends, videos
Remember Tarra and Bella, the elephant and dog who became steadfast friends at a Tennessee animal sanctuary?
Here’s a new development that’s almost as refreshing as the original story. After the report by Steve Hartman aired at CBS, The Elephant Sanctuary, located outside of Nashville, was deluged with calls and offers.
“The pair showed such devotion, such tenderness and trust, it was almost hard to believe,” Hartman reports in this update. “The whole story seemed like a Disney movie to a lot of people – including people at Disney.”
Disney pitched a live action movie that would star Tarra or another trained elephant. Scott Blais and Carol Buckley, cofounders of the sanctuary, answered with a resounding no.
“It just goes against the core of who the sanctuary is,” Blais said.
“We don’t want them to be in those environments where they’re dominated and trained to perform for people,” Buckley said.
As Hartmann summed up: “Here at the sanctuary, they’ve got this crazy idea that animals — elephants especially — aren’t just here to serve us. They honestly believe that some animals are here for the same reasons we are — to love and do for others, whether it’s appreciated or not.”
Well said, Steve-O.
While Tarra and Bella won’t be going to the big screen, they will be showing up in picture book. It will be coming out Sept. 8, and profits will be used to support the sanctuary.
To find out more about it, click here.
The original story of Tarra and Bella was one of most popular videos of all time at CBSNews.com, so it deserves an encore:
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bella, cbs, disney, dog, elephant, entertainment, friends, movie, offer, rejected, sanctuary, steve hartman, tarra, tennessee
Don’t worry. We’re not becoming ohmielephant!, but after your response to Bella the dog and Tarra the elephant, we thought we’d share another amazing elephant story one with you.
This elephant, according to the information posted on YouTube with the video, was rescued from abusive treatment in Burma, and now makes a living as an artist in Thailand.
Her mahout talks to her throughout the process and rewards her with sugar cane and banana as she uses her trunk to paint.
The video was posted on YouTube by Exotic World Gifts, which supports, “Starving Elephant Artisans” by selling their paintings so they can continue to have a new life in Thailand.
“Some Thai elephant experts believe that the survival of the Asian elephant species will most likely depend on the good treatment of the elephants in well managed privately owned elephant camps,” the website says. “All of us would prefer that all of the elephants be free to be in the wild. For many reasons, that is not possible at this time.”
To see more elephant art, and learn more about the program, visit exoticworldgifts.com
Posted by John Woestendiek January 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, art, artist, artists, bella, burma, draw, drawing, elephant, elephants, paint, painters, painting, painting elephant, pets, tarra, thailand, video
The special bond between an elephant and a dog in Tennessee has captured the attention of humans — if the number of web hits I’ve been getting since posting Steve Hartman’s CBS News report is any indication.
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has been flooded as well — “with high fives and uncounted media offers,” according to its website.
Tarra, an elephant, and Bella, a stray dog the sanctuary took in, have enjoyed each other’s company for years. When Bella suffered a spinal cord injury a few months ago, Tarra — despite having 2,700 acres to roam, stood vigil outside the sanctuary office, where Bella was recuperating.
The CBS report didn’t provide any details of how Bella was injured, but that’s addressed on the sanctuary’s website.
“Since Bella and Tarra’s recent television exposure, a lot of people have asked how the spinal injury happened. When Bella was found in a shallow ravine in the elephant habitat, unable to walk, she was rushed to the veterinary hospital. X-rays revealed that she had sustained a spinal injury. The absence of deep tissue damage and puncture wounds led the veterinarian to surmise that Bella’s spinal injury was the result of an awkward twist, most likely sustained when she was running and jumping over something.”
Also on the website is the video above, filmed before the CBS visit, which we provide for those of you can’t get enough of this inter-species love story.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: bella, cbs, dog, dog and elephant, elephant, elephant and dog, elephant sanctuary, explanation, friends, happy, injury, interspecies, love, news, ohmidog!, report, spinal, steve hartman, tarra, tennessee, video
Here’s a wonderful report by Steve Hartman of CBS News about Tarra, an elephant, and Bella, a dog, and the amazing bond that has developed between them at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.
Sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley says it’s common for elephants arriving at the sanctuary to pick another elephant to hang out with. But in this case Tarra picked Bella, or vice versa.
Buckley spent more than 20 years performing with her elephant, Tarra, in zoos and circuses before deciding the animals deserved a different life and opening the sanctuary. Bella is one of about a dozen stray dogs they’ve taken in.
For years, Tarra and Bella have played together and eaten together, and when Bella suffered a spinal cord injury a few months ago (the piece doesn’t explain how, but hopefully Tarra wasn’t involved), Tarra — despite having 2,700 acres to roam, stood vigil outside the sanctuary office, where Bella was recuperating.
Bella’s better now, and she and Tarra remain inseparable, Hartman reports.
(For another video about Tarra and Bella, click here.)
(To see another amazing elephant video, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 3rd, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, carol buckley, cbs, cbs news, dog, dogs, elephant, elephant sanctuary, friendship, hohenwald, news report, odd couple, refuge, sanctuary, steve hartman, tennessee, video