Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pliny the Elder and Combats of Elephants

Hey everyone, here is a summary of Pliny the Elder's Combats of Elephants.

The Roman military commander, Hannibal, encouraged prisoners to fight each other and last prisoner to survive was forced to battle an elephant. Hannibal promised the prisoner that slays the elephant freedom from imprisonment. Eventually, a prisoner accomplished the task of killing the elephant and was set free. However, Hannibal was not pleased with the outcome and ordered his men to kill the freed prisoner while the he was traveling back home. In the battles with Pyrrus it was discovered that the trunks of the elephants could be easily severed. Despite this, it was discovered that elephants fought in Rome in the Circus for the first time during the curule aedileship of Claudius Pulcher. This was not the only instance of elephants fighting, during the second consulshop of Pompeius at the dedication of the temple of Venus Victrix, about twenty elephants fought in the Circus against a multitude of Gaetulians under the threat of javelins. The elephants were a worthy opponent and fought endlessly enduring the massive injuries they accumulated such as being pierced in the feet. An elephant was killed in a single blow by a weapon piercing the animal below the eye and injuring a vital part of the head. In the midst of this, the elephants tried to break down the enclosure but failed to. They expressed extreme grief and this brought about compassion from the audience turning them against Pompeius, who eventually became the victim. The elephants also fought in the third consulship of Dictator Caesar. Twenty elephants were outnumbered against five hundred foot soldiers. In another instance, twenty elephants each defended by sixty men were opposed to the same amount of foot soldiers and an equal amount of horseman. The last exploit performed by gladiators were singlehandedly fighting against Emporers Claudius and Nero. 
The elephant typically displays a merciful and empathetic disposition to animals much smaller than it. The elephant will misbehave only when provoked and is a highly sociable animal that likes to be in herds. The elephant can be quickly tamed in isolation by being fed properly and treated kindly.


On a lighter note from my last post, over the weekend my boyfriend and I got a kitten together. His sister also got a kitten from the same litter and so we have two! (We're ecstatic).

Our friend showed us this photo of her cats litter asking if we wanted any of them. (We've been looking for the past 2 and a half months!)
The one with the orange face completely stole our heart. Her current nickname is Pumba as we look for another, though we might keep it. :)
The one with the white back is her brother Piggy. He eats all of her food! 

When we first met them they were very shy. Pumba is the most timid of the litter. She hides behind furniture and hisses, but I won't be deterred. She just needs time and love. Piggy however, is more curious. He knows no fear and charges forward. 

This is their first meal in their new home! They're very hungry. 

Our friend adopted another pair from the same litter. It's a sibling play date!

The next day my boyfriend went out to by them a bed while I was at work. These were the photos he sent me. What cute little fur balls. I'm in love. 😍
I'm trying to get Pumba to open up. She's still a bit timid, but she loves to be pet. Turns into a total motor and just purrs away.

It's been about a month and a half since I started this blog. I never figured out how to attach videos,which sucks, but I'll share some current photos.

Pumba is now named Clover. She become a real social butterfly.

Piggy's name is still up for debate. Currently, Valerie calls him Puppy cat. He has so much energy, but the WORST farts.

Thanks for watching a snippet of their growth and lifetime with me :) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Producing Protein Therapeutics: Could Water Buffalo Be The Next Big Thing?

Scientists are using animals’ milk to produce therapeutics for humans. Manipulating the use of transgenic animal milk for drugs has been researched for 20 years. The milk is purified of the proteins and used as a drug. Only two drugs have been FDA approved since the beginning of its research, but they have found a new animal, the water buffalo, that would be a good model organism for this area of research.
 I think it is very interesting that the protein can solely be expressed in the milk of the animal. This is confirmed by co-expressing the GFP protein with a protein of interest, and therefore the fusion protein can be fluorescently detected wherever it may be present. This is the same protein as we saw in “GFP Bunny” by Eduardo Kac, who requested an albino bunny to glow green for his transgenic artwork.

If this mechanism of therapeutics is deemed successful within the next decade, and would be deemed a good mechanism of producing a drug, how would vegans feel about this? Perhaps some viewers can weigh in.

Here is a list of animals whose milk is currently being used to create drugs:

Here is the link to the article:


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Cute Puppy?

So recent I came across this video about a cute puppy! The video shoes an adorable, what looks like a white baby Pomeranian(?), repeatedly jumping into the arms of the girl.

Here's the link for video:

I enjoyed watching this video a lot however, until I read upon the comments about the stores and their relations to puppy mills in which, the stores would sell puppies that come from puppy mills for profit. I did some research about them and found out that, any store that sells puppies are profiting off of puppy mills. And also that, it's better to adopt puppies from stores that offer that in order to give puppies homes, saves money, and people are not supporting the continual use of puppy mills. Judging by the video in a different perspective, it does look like they are selling the puppies. The puppies are kept in small living spaces, sometimes with another puppy, and there were price signs possibly. The lower living space under the white puppy had a dog bone tag in the corner of the space, it could be a sign of selling the puppy. Another sign that does show they are selling these puppies are the decoration placed around the puppies, there were colorful papers to make the living space "pretty". 

In a response to the comments I saw, is it a cute video? Yes. Is it wrong for stores to sell these puppies that have a high chance to come from puppy mills? Yes. However, this video was posted for enjoyment of watching the cute puppy whereas people are bringing this up as, "sharing this video supports puppy mills!" I disagree, sharing the video itself only shows the puppy and not people constantly buying the puppy with every "share". Moreover, people who come over the video will likely look and the comments and be educated about the stores and puppy mills in turn, will might end up like myself, researching to see if it's actually true. We can't ignore the puppy mills but isn't that a little extreme to make a innocent video so controversial? 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

sex sells


When I read Carol Adams' “The Sexual Politics of Meat” the first thing that came into my mind was this commercial. At first glance it seems like a car commercial or possibly a bathing suit commercial, but it is actually an ad for a carls jr hamburger. In this minute long ad, the hamburger is shown for only about 5 seconds and the rest is just a "sexy" girl washing a car. So how is this an affective way to sell the product at all? because sex(ism) sells. This video is basically equating women to a piece of meat and saying that if you buy their product women will be throwing themselves at you. In our society women are often seen as pieces of meat for the taking and its things like this that perpetuate it and make it accepted. The oppression of women and the oppression of animals are often tied together. An example of this is the advertisement used by many barbecue restaurants, a pig dressed in a bikini. 
This image legitimizes violence for both women and animals. Adams says, "The pig on the plate is like the prostitute on the street — ready to be consumed by fork or by phallus." When men go to these restaurants and see pigs like this, the idea of women being lesser than men and theirs for the taking is subconsciously engrained into their minds. 


Elephants are some of the most incredible animals on the planet. For anyone who believes that animals don't have thoughts or emotions, it takes simply reading up on them for no more than 2 minutes to realize how wrong that is. Much like humans, elephants have a hierarchy, they grieve, they cry, they love, and they have special rituals such as a burial ceremony for the dead. It's impossible to know exactly whats going on in the mind of an elephant, but when a mom sits by her dead baby, crying, for 3 or 4 days and nights straight without moving, we know that theres got to be more there than just instincts. People say the thing that really sets us apart from animals is language, but just because we can't understand it doesn't mean its not there. According to Daily Mail, "They can talk to other elephants 50 miles away through the ground, communicating in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. It is possible that each elephant can recognize up to 100 other individuals by their infrasonic ‘voice’." They communicate not only through sounds, but through small vibrations in the ground. To me this seems even more advanced than humans.

This is an awesome video showing the elephants recognition of death

Friday, June 5, 2015

Save the Turtles!

Hi everyone,

I came across an interesting article about scientists trying to save a species of giant turtles from becoming extinct. Link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/26/science/yangtze-giant-softshell-turtle-artificial-insemination.html?_r=0

Here’s a summary of the article:
In Shanghai’s Suzhou Zoo, Dr Kuchling and his team of scientists made an attempt save the population of Yangtze giant softshell turtles from extinction by artificially inseminating unfertilized female eggs. The population of Yangtze giant softshell turtle dwindled down over the years due to various reasons including pollution and hunting. Today, only four individual Yangtze softshell turtles remain on Earth and all previous attempts to have the males and females turtles reproduce failed. On May 6, an initial attempt to obtain semen from a male Yangtze turtle was performed. The process of extraction sperm from the male turtle involved transporting him onto a stack of tires, treating him with anesthetics, and using a electric probe to stimulate an erection. The physical appearance of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle’s penis was described to be “equipped with fleshy spikes, protuberances and lobes.” However to the group’s discontent, it was discovered that the male turtle’s penis was mutilated. Nevertheless, the sperm that was obtained from the male turtle was viable and used to inseminate the female turtle. Due to the lack of information on the turtle’s reproductive system, the group encountered the major problem of locating and transferring the semen into the correct compartment within the female turtle. The team is now forced to wait, in hope that their efforts provide viable results.

Amazing dog!


This dog was trained to do some tricks on the rope!

A monkey displaying very human emotions

Interesting Gif I found. I find it quite funny and sad due to the genuine human emotion the monkey displays with his failure.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

New Species Discovered

Seven new frog species have been discovered in Brazil.

It is really amazing how many different types of animals live on our planet. We are discovering more and more everyday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Smuts - "Encounters with Animal Minds"

Humans for the past few centuries have always labeled animals as inferior to that of the human mind, for their "behavior" and "actions" are considered barbaric and beast-like.  They are monstrous brutes that do not even compare to human like compassion and knowledge.

In contrast to this typical idea of animals, Barbara Smuts, an animal researcher, wrote an engaging essay entitled "Encounters with Animal Minds", where it discusses the interactions between native baboons, but also discusses the idea of further deepening our minds to how animals interact within the world, as well as how we should act towards animals.

I truly found this work inspiring for I felt that Smuts truly captures the beauty yet complexity of animalistic interactions, but also allows readers to see that animals are sensitive and emotional creatures.  I feel that, as a human being, I have seen my species constantly scrutinize and brutalize animals for their lack of understanding, as well as lack of humanistic knowledge and language.  People have constantly misunderstood animals due to this barrier, for they concluded that animals have no similar compassion or emotion that humans have.  Smuts clearly deny's this claim by not only joining the pack of baboons, but also learning their cultural ways and understandings.  In her research, she was able to fully see the emotional complexities of the baboon communities as well as certain social behaviors that aren't necessarily known to the general public.  For instance, Smuts discovered a "personal boundary space" that each baboon conforms too, and each space can be either diminished or expanded based upon the social relationship or context.  To elaborate, Smuts goes on to say that social hierarchy, such as a dominant male baboon going into the space of a lower subordinate baboon, is much more acceptable than the vice versa.  Because of his social class, the higher ranking baboon has authority and privilege to invade the lower baboon's space.  This is also true if the baboons are highly close.

In Smuts research, she fully discusses the idea that animals, regardless of what humans think, are actually much more intelligent and socially compatible with humans than most people would like to admit.  In fact, Smuts has discovered the idea that humans can actually interact with animals on a higher level.  For example, due to her excessive experimental research, Smuts implemented herself within the baboon community and later learned the behaviors and social conventions of baboons by being more than just a typical observer.  She engaged with the baboons in a very social manner, and was able to truly become a fellow baboon, and friend to the pack.  Smuts learned not only behavioral patterns, but learned to identify which baboon was which, where they were going to go before they did, learned how to use her natural instinct in an almost pre-logical mindset.  She was able to vicariously live as a baboon, and met the baboons at a more intellectual and emotional level that not many humans will ever experience.

Based upon Smuts research, I must say as a species we are slowly getting closer to a deeper understanding of what animals truly think, feel, and behave.  Though for possibly another few centuries, we won't see much improvement in animal treatment and cruelty, I know that overall however, some of us are learning from our mistakes and are able to make a stance against this practice.  It is becoming a more apparent topic in politics, and though it is ignored at times, it is at least being discussed within society, and that's a good place to start.

Internet comic on privilege in our society

"On a plate"

Thought I'd share this link because it points out an important issue in our society. If you are offended by this post then you may be very privileged.


Owls in the Night


Owls have always had a special place in  my heart. I think this stems from my grandmother having owl trinkets all around her home when I was younger. I inherited a lot of owl items when she passed and I keep them dear to my heart because they are pieces of her that I have scattered throughout my home. As a child, owls kind of gave me the creeps because of their big eyes and the fact that they only came out in the dark-- and believe me I was deathly afraid of the dark as a child (and I definitely still can be). Now, I look at them in a different way. They are smart creatures and can be mischievous in many different ways, and also have special abilities that they are born with. I envy the people in these videos and the way in which they get to interact with these beautiful creatures. I have only seen owls with my eyes from far away, which I guess is special in and of itself, but I would love to be able to touch, hold and chatter with the sweet animals.

The Ethics of Speciesism

This article summarizes the ethics behind the concept of speciesism. If given the scenario - a dog and a child are caught in a fire but you can only save one...who would you save? Most people instinctively would answer the child. This can be seen as a form of speciesism. So why do this exist? In my opinion, I believe that speciesism is natural because we will prefer our own species. This may be out of survival necessity - companionship and collaboration improve the quality of life or to raise a family. If given the choice between one of our own versus a non-human species, we would save our own.