Horses Never Forget Human Friends


Horses not only remember people who have treated them well, they also understand words better than expected, research shows. Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study.Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess “excellent memories,” allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more.

The bond with humans likely is an extension of horse behavior in the wild, since horses value their own horse relatives and friends, and are also open to new, non-threatening acquaintances.

“Horses maintain long-term bonds with several members of their family group, but they also interact temporarily with members of other groups when forming herds,” explained Carol Sankey, who led the research, and her team.

Bumblebees Have Supersonic Color Vision


Bees’ color vision clocks in as the fastest in the animal world. There’s a reason why bees can see you while you’re still searching for the source of that buzzing noise: Their color vision is five times faster than human vision and among the fastest color vision yet clocked in the animal world.

The lightning-fast color vision enables bees to zip through bushes and trees, escape predators, spot each other and otherwise deal with their world in fast forward. The trick to their fast vision is how many “snap shots” per second the color-detecting cells in bumblebees’ eyes take and send to their brains.

“The limiting factor is how fast the photo receptors can register a change,” explained bee vision researcher Peter Skorupski of Queen Mary, University of London. “So we measured the speed directly from the receptor.” In a human eye the receptors are the cells in the retina at the back of the eye.

Aye-Aye Threatened By Superstition


Although the aye-aye weighs a mere 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) in the wild, this tiny animal is viewed as the harbinger of death by locals in Madagascar, the only place on Earth where you’ll find these creatures in nature.

According to legend, the aye-aye, with its dark eyes, long fingers and ghoulish appearance, is thought to sneak into the dwellings of nearby villagers and use its middle finger — considerably longer than its other fingers — to pierce the hearts of sleeping humans.

Circuses Facing Ban On Wild Animals


Wild animals in circuses face being banned after a government consultation showed widespread public concern.Ministers said they were “minded” to bar animals like lions and tigers from big tops in England and campaigners hope the rest of the UK will follow.

More than 90% of the 10,576 respondents said they wanted to see a total ban.The Classical Circus Association said such a move would be “disproportionate” adding independent inspections had verified good welfare conditions.

Chris Barltrop, of the Classical Circus Association, told the BBC: “My long experience in the circus has shown me that there is not generic cruelty in the way that is described, and that circus people treat their animals very well.”If you institute a ban just in case there is cruelty, that’s a completely disproportionate reaction.”

Nursing Siamese Cat Takes On Six Orphaned Puppies


Six orphaned puppies in Beaver, Pa., are being nursed and nurtured by their doting new mom—a 5-year-old Siamese cat named Amanda, who stepped in when her canine roommate passed away shortly after giving birth.On March 7, Amanda welcomed three kittens of her own. That same day, owner Debbie Girting’s 5-year-old Maltese Shih Tzu, Lucy, had her own litter of seven puppies. Four days after giving birth, Lucy suffered a seizure, leaving her hungry puppies to latch onto Amanda and rival for milk among feline siblings.

Mother Birds Know Best — Even Before Birth


Mother birds communicate with their developing chicks before they even hatch by leaving them messages in the egg, new research by a team from the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, has found.

By changing conditions within the egg, canary mothers leave a message for their developing chicks about the life they will face after birth. In response, nestlings adjust the development of their begging behaviour.If chicks get a message that they will be reared by generous parents then they beg more vigorously for food after hatching. But chicks that are destined to be raised by meaner parents end up being much less demanding.

By attending to messages in the egg, nestlings gain weight more rapidly because they match their demands to the parents’ supply of food, and can avoid either begging too little or wasting effort on unrewarded begging.

Do Pet Owners Prefer Their Pups To Their Partners?


When traveling, it’s natural to miss everyone at home, including your pets. But a recent nationwide survey by Pup-Peroni indicates that a significant portion of the pet parent population (33 percent) actually miss their pets more than their significant others! And it’s not that these people just aren’t feeling the romance; 60 percent find their pooches to be more dependable than their human pals.

Why do you suppose this is? Probably it has something to do with the connection dog owners feel to their pups. More than a third have had wordless “conversations” with their dogs, 70 percent have “shared a look” with their dogs, and nearly three-quarters of those surveyed felt confident that they could accurately read their dogs’ expressions and body language, with almost half saying they can tell what their pups are thinking.

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