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Tag: national geographic

Dogs are on the trail of Amelia Earhart, too

kayle

You’ve probably heard about the guy who thinks an enlarged and grainy photo he stumbled across at the National Archives may solve the mystery of what became of Amelia Earhart.

But you might not have heard that some dogs are on the case as well.

While the photo, unearthed by former U.S. Treasury agent Les Kinney, is grabbing headlines, four dogs retained by a group with a different theory on Earhart’s death have been trying to sniff out the pioneering aviator’s remains at a location hundreds of miles away.

Kinney is convinced the photo shows Earhart (with her back to the camera) and her navigator Fred Noonan some years after they disappeared.

The dogs are looking for something a little more concrete — namely Earhart’s bones.

There are competing theories on what became of Earhart — with some arguing her plane crashed and sank into the ocean, others suspecting she and Noonan survived after crashing on a remote island and others believing they ended up in the custody of the Japanese in the Marshall Islands or on Saipan.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has focused its recent investigation on Nikumaroro Island, nearly 1,000 miles from the Marshall Islands.

The group sent four border collies — named Marcy, Piper, Kayle, and Berkeley — to the island on June 30 as part of an expedition sponsored by TIGHAR and the National Geographic Society.

According to National Geographic, TIGHAR researchers had previously visited the island and narrowed their search to a clearing they call the Seven Site, where a British official reported finding bones in 1940.

In 2001 searchers located unearthed possible signs of an American castaway at the site, including the remains of campfires, and several U.S.-made items including a jackknife, a woman’s compact.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared on July 2, 1937, on their way to a refueling stop at Howland Island, about 350 nautical miles northeast of Nikumaroro.

TIGHAR’s theory is that, when the aviators couldn’t find Howland, they landed on Nikumaroro’s reef during low tide.

The bone-sniffing dogs were brought to the island in hopes of finding proof that their remains were on Nikumaroro.

All four dogs alerted to a particular spot, indicating they had detected the scent of human remains, and excavation began on July 2, the 80th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.

dnaNo bones have been found, but TIGHAR researchers collected soil samples, which have been sent to a lab for DNA testing.

If she were buried there, the soil could still contain traces of Earhart’s DNA.

Kinney’s counter theory, meanwhile is that the aviator and her navigator ended up in Japanese custody, which, he says, the photo seems to support.

Kent Gibson, a forensic analyst who specializes in facial recognition, said it was ‘very likely’ the individuals in the photo are Earhart and Noonan, according to NPR.

amelia

Under Kinney’s theory, when Earhart couldn’t find Howland Island she turned back westward and landed on Mili Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands.

Kinney suspects Earhart and Noonan were rescued after the crash and taken to Jaluit Island, and later taken to a Japanese prison on the island of Saipan.

(Photo: At top, forensic dog Kayle sits on a spot where she alerted to the scent of human bones; lower, the excavation for bones begins; both photos by by Rachel Shea / National Geographic; at bottom, the photo some suspect shows Earhart (seated at the center) and Noonan (standing at the far left), from the National Archives)

If the Guardians of Rescue look familiar …

If some of the bulging biceps, shaved heads and never-ending tattoos you see on Animal Planet’s new series, “The Guardians,” look familiar, that may be because they are.

The Guardians, when it comes to both personnel and concept, is a reincarnation of Rescue Ink, the National Geographic Channel program that featured burly and biker-esque “heroes” rescuing dogs in need.

Rescue Ink, the rescue group on which the old reality show was based, underwent a splintering about six years back. Its website remains in existence, but, on TV, it exists only in reruns.

misseriGuardians of Rescue, put together by former Rescue Ink co-founder Robert Misseri, formed not long after that, and now it’s the focus of a six-episode Animal Planet series. It premiered last month, and airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m.

As was the case with Rescue Ink, its members seek out the most heart-wrenching of animal abuse and neglect cases, and do whatever it takes to correct the situation, making sure the cameras don’t miss a second of it.

As with Rescue Ink, some of the tales they tell seem to get a little embellishment — in the name of dramatic license, or, to take a cynical view, evoke more financial support from viewers.

In the video above, for example, the Guardians of Rescue say the Long Island dog they are so dramatically freeing of its chains, is being freed for the first time in 15 years.

Once released, he doesn’t behave too much like a dog that spent 15 years on a chain; instead he trots up and happily greets those who are watching.

Still, this being reality TV, we have to take their word for it.

“The poor dog had spent his whole life attached to a heavy chain,” Misseri told the New York Post.

The dog, a Lab-chow mix named Bear, is now at Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue in Port Jefferson Station, waiting to be adopted.

According to a New York Post feature earlier this month on the group — one that strangely makes no reference to its roots in Rescue Ink — the Guardians of Rescue is a slightly more diverse collection of animal lovers.

“The Long Island-based group counts ex-military personnel, retired police detectives, carpenters, electricians and even former convicts among their unpaid volunteer ranks,” the Post reported.

Rescue Ink’s members spawned a TV show, a book, and some criminal charges.

Member John Orlandini, who ran the Long Island shelter they took over, was charged with grand larceny and accused of personally profiting from public donations. In 2014, though, a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial.

rescueinkRescue Ink’s popular TV show brought them large numbers of fans and followers, but there were a few doubters as well.

Some of those questioned whether the group was more focused on achieving fame and fortune than rescuing dogs.

A lot of those concerns show up on this Facebook page, created to inform the public that the group — even though people are continuing donating to it — is no longer in existence.

The group fractured in 2010, with about half of its members leaving, including Misseri.

“(Rescue Ink) was an organization I started,” Misseri told a blogger for Newsday. “I was against doing a TV show at the time, but there was another guy who was the face of the show and it got to his head. I refused to go on and subsequently National Geographic shut it down…”

Clearly, he had no objections to a TV show this time around.

Animal Planet is billing the show this way:

“Though they may be an eclectic team – ex-military personnel, retired police detectives, former FBI investigators, carpenters, electricians and even former convicts and gang members – they unite in their passion and dedication for animal advocacy. With this group, first impressions are not always what they seem. When an animal is in need, their tough facade washes away and clients see their true love and compassion come forth.”

Let’s hope, this time around, the pack of tough guys with hearts of gold stay out of trouble, keep the hype and exaggeration to a minimum, cool it on the self-promotion and portray what they do with some honesty.

Boomer: The man who wants to be a dog

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Dogs crave attention. Humans crave attention. So it’s only logical to assume that, being both, Boomer the dog, also known as Gary Matthews of Pittsburgh, requires large doses of it.

He got some from ABCNews.com last week. Although there haven’t been any major developments in his life or legal case, the website ran a lengthy feature on the 48-year-old retired technology worker man who eats dog food, wears a collar, barks at cars and wants to have his name legally changed to Boomer the Dog.

Matthews petitioned a court in 2010, but his request for a name change was denied. He appealed that ruling, and lost again in 2011 — a development he laments on his website, Boomerthedog.com:

boomernocostume“I believe that everyone should be able to choose the name that they would like. We didn’t get a choice when we were born, we were given names. Since we can build the identities that we choose to carry on in life with, why can’t we choose a name that goes along with it, recognized by everyone, even on official ID?”

The original judge ruled that the request for a name change was frivolous, but Matthews said plenty of other cases have been approved, including, a man in Oregon who had his named changed to Captain Awesome, and a man who legally changed his name to that of his band and is now known as the Dan Miller Experience.

Matthews — who was featured in June on the National Geographic Channel program “Taboo,” in an episode called, “Extreme Anthropomorphism: Boomer the Dog”– wears a costume made out of shredded paper and considers himself a furry. He can often be seen wandering around Pittsburgh, his hometown.

“When I go out, I get the feeling and I wave to people as a dog,” he said. “I go to local festivals because kids like the costume. That’s my way of reaching out to people and spreading the word that I can be myself in life. They see that you can have fun in adulthood. But I am kind of a loner dog.”

“Sometimes I sleep in my dog house, which is up in the attic —  I built it myself,” he added.

He enjoys Milk Bones and eats dog food (canned), but not all the time. “I eat regular human food, too, like pizza,” he told ABC.

Matthews said he got the name from the television series about a stray dog called “Here’s Boomer,” which ran from 1979 to 1982.

But he traces his obsession with dogs to long before that.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “It started when I saw “The Shaggy DA” in 1976 when I was 11 years old. I went with my Dad to see it. I was already a dog freak and collecting pictures of dogs. I saw this movie and there was something different about it — the dad transforms into a big sheep dog. I had never seen that idea played out anywhere.”

“I started playing dog and getting into it,” said Matthews. “It was like a kid thing. Sometimes, I would bark or maybe get into a big box and peek out with my paws over the side of it like a dog would do. In a couple of years, I really got into it. … Maybe I was looking for a personality to have.”

Matthews said he lives off a trust fund left to him by his parents.

“Going public with being a dog isn’t just about the name change,” he said. “That’s only the most recent thing that I’m focusing on, because really, being a dog is about everything — it’s the way that I live.”

Matthews said he often got teased when acting like a dog as a child. “I got flak for it,” he said. “My parents didn’t like it. Earlier on, they saw it as a kid thing and they laughed. But at a certain point in time there are adult expectations and they want you to go off to work and date. Society wants to straighten you out.”

Other children teased him and he was sent to a “special school” for teens with social and emotional problems, but he insists there is nothing wrong with him.

“I see it as a lifestyle,” he said. “I just live differently.”

(Photos: From Boomerthedog.com)

More animal emotions: Chimps mourn a friend

chimpdorothy

 
As a footnote to our discussion yesterday on animals and emotions, we bring you the story of Dorothy, a female chimpanzee in her late 40s when she died last year of congestive heart failure.

As the photo above shows, a crowd of fellow chimps gathered and watched solemnly as she was wheeled to her burial.

The November issue of National Geographic magazine features the photograph, which has since “gone viral,” turning up in websites, TV shows and newspapers around the world, according to a National Geographic blog

The photographer, Monica Szczupider, is a volunteer at Cameroon’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, where Dorothy had lived for eight years. The center houses and rehabilitates chimps victimized by habitat loss and the illegal African bushmeat trade. 

After a hunter killed her mother, Dorothy was sold as a “mascot” to an amusement park in Cameroon, where she spent the next 25 years tethered by a chain around her neck, and was taught to drink beer and smoke cigarettes for the amusement of onlookers.

In May 2000, Dorothy was rescued and relocated along with ten other primates. As her health improved, she cared for an orphaned chimp named Bouboule and became a close friend to many others, including Jacky, the group’s alpha male, and Nama, another amusement-park refugee.

“Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group,” Szczupider said. “The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy’s chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration. But perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence.”

High-flying dog chosen for new Weezer album

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Weezer lead vocalist Rivers Cuomo was perusing the pages of National Geographic when he came across a reader-submitted dog photo that he thought would make a good cover for the group’s next album.

And that’s how Sidney, the high jumper above, came to grace the cover of “Raditude.”  The album comes out Oct. 27.

The shot of Sidney was entered in a reader-submitted photo contest sponsored by the magazine. When Cuomo spotted it, according to Spinner, he decided to track down the photographer.

The band then lucked out big time. When they got in touch with the winning photographer, Jason Neely of Middletown, Conn., to seek his permission to use the shot, it turned out he was a big Weezer fan. Here’s Jason’s Flickr page.

There’s a cat in the photo, too, though it’s difficult to spot.

Friends indeed: Orangutan and dog

An orangutan named Suryia and a dog named Roscoe — both now residents of a South Carolina animal sanctuary — will be showing up today on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

And the unusual friendship — reminiscent of the one we showed you between Tarra and Bella, the elephant and dog who are buddies at a Tennessee animal sanctuary — will be part of an upcoming National Geographic Channel program as well.

Suryia and Roscoe, a blue tick coonhound, live at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in Myrtle Beach.

The pair encountered each other two years ago when Roscoe followed institute staff home. He was spotted by Suryia, who came over to introduce himself. They’ve been fast friends ever since.

“As soon as he saw Roscoe, Suryia ran over to him and they started playing,” Bhagavan Antle, founder of TIGERS told UK’s Daily Mail. “‘It was unusual because dogs are usually scared of primates but they took to each other straight away.”

“‘Roscoe looked really thin and a little lost so we fed him and took care of him … We made a few calls to see if he belonged to anyone and when no-one came forward, Roscoe ended up staying.”

Suryia, while helping to raise baby primates at the sanctuary, always takes some time to spend with Roscoe, swimming, rolling around in the grass, or going for walks.

“Suryia will take Roscoe for walks around the enclosure and even feeds him some of his monkey biscuits,” Antle said.

DogTown goes to Emmylou Harris’ rescue

When singer Emmylou Harris contacted DogTown — the last hope shelter operated by the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah — for help with an unpredictable German shepherd mix, they reacted much as I would have, rushing to her estate/animal shelter in Tennessee to offer their assistance.

(I would have gotten there quicker, and most likely listened to her music on the way.)

Instead, Best Friends animal behavior specialist Sherry Woodard got the call, and her work with Gunnar, a dog deemed too violent to be adopted, is featured in tonight’s episode of the National Geographic Channel’s “Dogtown” series.

While the 12 time Grammy winner doesn’t get a lot of screen time — she’s goes off on tour shortly after Woodard arrives — Gunnar makes some major headway, first accepting Woodard, then accepting another dog who’s intended to serve as a role model for him.

Harris runs a small shelter at her home in Nashville, which she started in honor of her dog Bonaparte.

Gunnar was found on the streets of Nashville, and Harris suspected he met with some ill treatment there, leading to his fear and lack of trust with humans. The four-year-old dog has bitten a dozen of her shelter volunteers, Harris said.

Hoping to get Gunnar socialized enough to be adopted, Harris called in several trainers, and DogTown was her last hope.

Tonight’s “DogTown” episode also tells story of Little Girl, a painfully shy Catahoula mix from a California shelter that shut down, and Theresa, an abandoned pit bull with a mysterious obstruction in her stomach.

The show airs at 10 p.m. tonight on the National Geographic Channel.