NPR: Mourning And Instagramming The Death Of A Pet. “In 1998, photographer Preston Gannaway and her college roommate answered a newspaper listing that advertised kittens. They drove out to a house and found a man waiting in the driveway, carrying a kitten in each arm. Gannaway picked the one with short hair, because of allergies, and named her Isis because of the Bob Dylan song — ‘Isis, you mystical child’ like the Egyptian goddess, not the terrorist group. They lived together for almost 17 years.” Warning: may punch you right upside the feels.
Mental Floss: Animal Welfare Groups Are Building a Database of Every Cat in Washington, D.C.. “There are a lot of cats in Washington, D.C. They live in parks, backyards, side streets, and people’s homes. Exactly how many there are is the question a new conservation project wants to answer. DC Cat Count, a collaboration between Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society, PetSmart Charities, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, aims to tally every cat in the city—even house pets, The New York Times reports.”
Forbes: Instagram Zoo: The Rise and Rise Of Pet Influencers. “Move over cats with your videos! The influencer race is taking over the pet kingdom. Accounts for animals now often outperform verified humans on Instagram. However, it takes more than a devoted owner with a smartphone to get Instafamous. The rise of furry superstars on social media began more than a decade ago. Today, pet influencers merge the perfect formula of clickbait and memes and tie that with branding knowhow. Pet celebrities, like Juniper Foxx, Mr. Pokee the Hedgehog, Hamlet The Piggy or Pumpkin The Raccoon, spend their days starring in endorsement deals worth $2000+ per post.”
TechCrunch: Who’s a good AI? Dog-based data creates a canine machine learning system. “We’ve trained machine learning systems to identify objects, navigate streets and recognize facial expressions, but as difficult as they may be, they don’t even touch the level of sophistication required to simulate, for example, a dog. Well, this project aims to do just that — in a very limited way, of course. By observing the behavior of A Very Good Girl, this AI learned the rudiments of how to act like a dog.”
Science Magazine: Update: After Congress complains, USDA restores animal welfare reports. “Following Congress’s request for greater transparency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has apparently restored detail in its most recent animal welfare inspection reports. Reports published on the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website since last August have omitted inventories that list the number and species of animals housed at facilities within companies and research institutions. But newly posted reports seem to reflect lawmakers’ concerns that such redactions make it hard to track the agency’s findings and activities.”
Humane Society of the United States: The HSUS sues USDA for failing to release animal welfare records under sunshine law. “In February 2017, shortly after the new administration took office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, without prior notice, removed from its website thousands of Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act inspection and enforcement records…. The USDA tried to spin the issue by saying that the public can simply obtain these documents by way of the Freedom of Information Act. But when The HSUS submitted requests last year under FOIA for records of inspections at three puppy mills in Ohio and at the Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia, where an HSUS undercover investigation discovered serious animal welfare violations, it was months later, and only after a threat to sue the USDA, that we finally received the requested documents. All relevant information, including the inspection dates, the number and species of animals at the facilities, and even the entire substance of the inspection reports (including whether or not there were any apparent AWA violations), was completely blacked out.”
MSN: Saudi Arabia to create database on camels through microchip implants. “The Council of Ministers recently approved an ambitious project to create a national database for tracking camels via subcutaneous implanted rice-grain-size microchips, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).”