KATV: Zoos using social media to delight, raise money amid virus. “Social media is one way zoos worldwide are engaging with people who can no longer visit — their main source of income — and raise some much-needed cash. Zoos and aquariums have brought adorable distraction by posting photos and videos of animals, but the closures mean they’re still in jeopardy. While a smattering of zoos, from Utah to Germany, have started reopening with social distancing rules, there’s no telling when they will reach their usual levels of visitors and revenue. Besides jobs, the well-being of the animals is at stake.”
National Geographic: Fake animal news abounds on social media as coronavirus upends life. “People are compelled to share posts that make them emotional. When we’re feeling stressed, joyous animal footage can be an irresistible salve. The spread of social phenomena is so powerful, 2016 research shows, that it can follow same models that trace the contagion of epidemics.”
KSL: New website allows people to look at Utah’s wildlife migration patterns. “Since the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Migration Initiative launched in 2017, nearly 3,000 animals have been tracked over more than 15 million locations. Some of the information gathered from the research is now available for the public to see online.” Regular readers of ResearchBuzz might be saying, “Didn’t you just do a thing about wildlife migration in Utah?” I did in October, but that was just waterfowl.
Washington Post: USDA reposts animal welfare records it purged from its website in 2017. “Tuesday’s move made available unredacted reports for nearly 10,000 zoos, circuses, breeders, research labs and Tennessee walking horse shows that were publicly available on Jan. 30, 2017 — days before they were purged — as well as those generated since, the department said. The reports, based on unannounced inspections, can be used by the agency to build cases against facilities that violate animal welfare regulations, and animal protection groups had long used them to call attention to operations they said treated animals inhumanely.”
Wired: Can a Database of Animal Viruses Help Predict the Next Pandemic?. “Search ‘coronavirus’ on GenBank, a public repository for genomes, and today you’ll find more than 35,000 sequences. Alpaca coronaviruses. Hedgehog coronaviruses. Beluga whale coronaviruses. And, of course, lots and lots of bat coronaviruses. But very few people have carried out the downstream laboratory work—figuring out how these coronaviruses behave, how they get into the bodies of their hosts, and how likely it is that they could make the hop to humans.”
New York Post: Spotify is now making playlists for your pets. “Spotify can now generate playlists for your pets, with a new tool that claims to customize mixtapes to a critters’ species and personality traits.” I tried this but it did not work for me; got all the way to the end of the process of generating the playlist and then threw an error. I tend to listen to Spotify kind of erratically, though.
Science Blog: AI-Based Motion-Capture System For Animals Has Applications From Drug Development To Ecology. “A new system that uses artificial intelligence to track animal movements is poised to aid a wide range of studies, from exploring new drugs that affect behavior to ecological research. The approach, shown in the video above, can be used with laboratory animals such as fruit flies and mice as well as larger animals.”
Science: New website aims to gather all those camera trap mugs of wildlife. “Wildlife Insights will allow users to upload camera trap images and then have software powered by artificial intelligence analyze them. Users will be able to ask the system to search for their animal of interest, and all of the images will be publicly available. That could be a huge help to researchers, Kinnaird says, saving time and putting a global data set within easy reach.” I spent a few minutes playing with this, and for the most part it’s pretty good, but I really doubt there’s a camera in North Carolina capturing pictures of white-nosed coati. Call me cynical.
CBC: Research, photos of Manitoba tundra open to public. “An archive of photos and research of plants and animals in Manitoba’s tundra are now available online, providing public access to decades of Churchill, Man., history. Professors from York University in Toronto are in the town 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg this week to share the Churchill Community of Knowledge — a digital archive that more than 50 York University students have been putting together since 2011.”
FarmingUK: ‘Meat dictionary’ goes online in boost to industry. “The latest version of leading industry tool the Meat Purchasing Guide has been launched as a digital edition, with 170 pork cuts now added. To increase awareness of lesser-used cuts and improve quality, the world’s largest digital meat dictionary has had an update. The guide aims to save chefs, meat buyers and butchers time – enabling professionals to locate cuts and view products as they order from suppliers.” The guide is free to access and download.
Newswise: Museums Put Ancient DNA to Work for Wildlife. “Scientists who are trying to save species at the brink of extinction are finding help in an unexpected place. Heather Farrington, curator of zoology for the Cincinnati Museum Center, is using DNA from specimens collected more than 100 years ago to help understand the evolution and stresses faced by today’s animals.”
Cornell: CVM scientists develop online tool to guide wildlife repopulation efforts. “Wildlife ecologists often turn to reintroduction programs to help sustain key species in certain habitats. While the wild turkey effort was a success, other long-term reintroduction programs struggle to see their species thrive. To help address this problem, a multidisciplinary team with the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab has created StaPOPd, an interactive online tool that tells users exactly how many plants or animals they need to introduce into a habitat in order to establish a stable population.”
Animal Legal Defense Fund: Exposing Animal Abusers: Update on the Animal Welfare Blackout. “In early 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purged tens of thousands of important documents related to animal welfare from the agency’s website…. On February 22, 2017 the Animal Legal Defense Fund, leading a coalition of organizations including Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, Companion Animal Protection Society, and Animal Folks, sued the USDA.”
The Independent: Social media helps prove UK animals are migrating north as climate warms. “Dozens of animals, from birds to bats, are moving north across the UK as a result of climate change, scientists have discovered thanks to the help of social media.”
The Naked Scientists: Farm animals are talking and we are listening. “Old McDonald should be listening to what his overcrowded, over-medicated, and overlooked animals say… Meanwhile, a team from Queen Mary University in London and the University of Roehampton are, thanks to a deep learning AI that can tune in to what farm animals are saying. It can tell whether cows and pigs are happy and well-fed, or sick and distressed – all from their moos and oinks.”