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.”
CNBC: Pets are the new social media inflencer, and this Harvard Law grad represents many of them. “The Kardashians aren’t the only ones able to make a career from posting on social media. A new wave of dogs, cats, monkeys — and even a possum — are fetching big bucks and wide followings as influencers on social media. Star pet talent agent Loni Edwards has a roster of unique clients include @realdiddykong, 2 monkeys with over a million Instagram followers; @hamlet_the_piggy, with over 300,000; and @itsmesesame, the rescue opossum with over 62,000; and @lionelthehog, who boasts over 130,000 followers.”
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.”
New-to-me: an online museum of maritime pets. “[Patricia] Sullivan founded the resource in 2006, and runs it with four volunteers from her home in Annapolis, Maryland. She defines a ‘maritime pet’ pretty broadly: ‘We include animals living or working on or near the water, who collaborate with man in times of peace and war.’ Dogs, cats, and prescient chickens are included, but so are cormorants, which have been domesticated as fishing birds in parts of Asia, as well as much larger animals such as the bears and reindeer that played important roles in northern maritime history.
CNET: Yes, Google Photos can tell your pets apart. “Last week, Google Photos gave me a ‘Meow Movie,’ a video slideshow stuffed with pictures of my two sibling black cats. What it didn’t include were photos of other people’s cats, of which I have many. On Monday, Google confirmed it can not only identify cats and dogs in your photo archive, it can also tell the difference between individual animals.”