Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way” – Author Unknown
And you thought we were the only creatures capable of language…
by Alex Daniel, BestLifeOnline
Everyone knows that cats meow, dogs bark, and cows moo. But you don’t need Old MacDonald to tell you that animal communication is infinitely more complex than that. In fact, if you do a dive deep on how, exactly, some creatures talk to each other, you’ll find secret languages that make the disparate languages of humanity—of which there are 6,900, according to the Linguistic Society of America—seem rudimentary by comparison.
1 White Rhinos Speak via Dung
White rhinos, who have terrible eyesight, use communal dung heaps (called “middens”) as a something of a community bulletin board where they can leave messages—that one rhino is sick or another is ready to mate, if a dominant male has recently wandered through—to the rest of the group.
2 Mantis Shrimp Flash Lights
This creature has some of the most impressively complex eyesight in the animal kingdom, with 16 color receptors (compared to our measly three), which come in very handy when trying to communicate with one another. They use their own bodies to communicate using polarized light that other animals cannot spot. Researchers have found that they bounce light off bleu spots on their appendages called maxillipeds, scattering and arranging light across the surface in ways that can covey information to other mantis shrimp—rather than merely reflecting it.
3 Sperm Whales Click
This species of whale uses clicking sounds known as “codas” to convey information to one another. Those in different areas of the ocean use different clicking patterns, sort of like regional dialects—so Caribbean sperm whales sound slightly different than those in another part of the ocean. Researchers have been particularly interested in a group near the Caribbean island of Dominica, which they’ve found may even have variations between different clans or individual whales.
4 Caterpillars Send Out Decoy Distress Calls to Ants
The caterpillar of the alcon blue butterfly scrapes its abdomen to create a kind of song. But unlike many other such critters, who use their communication techniques to contact others of their species, this is a message meant for a very different creature: red ants. The song imitates that of the red ant queen, so those soldier ants that hear it will guard the caterpillar, even killing their own kind in order to protect it.
5 African Elephants Vibrate to Each Other
Technically, elephants make very low sounds to one another. Thing is, they’re so low that it does not strike the human ear as a sound—or anything more than a rumbling vibration. Known as “infrasound” (sounds below 20 hertz, too low for humans to detect), this way of communicating may seem quiet to humans, but researchers estimate that one African elephant making an infrasound can be heard by another more than 175 miles away!
6 Tarsiers Screech
These tiny, big-eyed primates living in Southeast Asia communicate at the opposite range of elephants—ultrasound frequencies over 20,000 Hertz that are far too high-pitched for the human ear to detect. Scientists recorded them using similar devices as those used to record bats, capturing their vocalizations at 70,000 Hertz, which is believed to help them communicate over the jungle noise (and out of range of predators), making it ideal for avoiding or alerting one another of danger. By the way, tarsiers are one of the smallest animals in the world.
7 Ravens Have Sign Language
Just as humans use their hands to emphasize a point, ravens do their own kind of gesticulating, using their beaks and wings to show or offer items such as moss, stones or twigs (usually aimed at members of the opposite sex). They also interact by clasping their bills together or moving an item together, as a show of potential bonding.
8 Egyptian Fruit Bats Argue
You’re probably aware that bats use high-pitched squeals to connect and communicate with each other. But you probably didn’t know how specific such communications could get. Researchers at Tel Aviv University used a machine-learning algorithm to recognize bats’ intonations and the messages they may be trying to convey, “translating” 15,000 calls into several specific messages—more than 60 percent were arguments about four specific things: food, sleep positions, invasion of personal space, or unwanted advances.
9 Chimpanzees Scratch Each Other
Chimps love to groom and to be groomed. But just like your spouse or partner loves a backrub…but even more if you focus on that one spot right there, chimps can be particular about where they want to get scratched, using “referential gesturing” to draw the attention of another chimp to the specific area they’d like to have groomed.
10 Geckos “Seamless” Their Food
Day geckos, native to Madagascar, pioneered the idea of instant-order takeout long before Seamless (or even humans) came along. But rather than an app on their phones, they simply nod their heads at treehoppers—insects that digest sap an excrete it in a sugary liquid known as honeydew. When the gecko communicates to the treehoppers that it would like some of that honeydew, the insects oblige, excreting it right into the amphibian’s mouth.
11 Electric Fish Discharge Electricity
You’re probably familiar with electrically charged sea creatures such as the electric eel, but there is a particular species of electric fish that is able to use its voltage as a means of communicating. Known as “weakly electric fish,” these creatures, which, as their name implies, produce a mild electric discharge, use it to “chirp” out information, such as a male stating it’s attracted a female. When two of these fish meet, they are known to tweak their wavelengths in order to allow each other to produce similar levels of voltage.
12 African Demon Mole Rats Head-Bang
“African Demon Mole Rat” sounds like a pretty good name for a metal band. As it turns out, these critters communicate through a kind of head-banging. Spending their lives underground, they can communicate with one another by thumping their heads against the tops of their tunnels, in that way sending vibrations through the earth that travel much farther attempting to make a loud noise would be able to. The pace and intensity of the thumps indicate different meanings. Rock on.
13 Black-Footed Titis Squeak
When black-footed titis (a brown, rainforest-dwelling monkey), use high-pitched squeaks to let each other known not only what types of predator may be near but their general location. Researchers have found that the monkeys vary their calls in a number of ways, creating their own syntax and complex communication system.
14 Gorillas Hum
Sometimes, singing to oneself is a way to tell the world you are away in your own world and don’t really want to be bothered by all the craziness happening elsewhere (hence, singing in the shower). That’s true of silverback gorillas too, which researchers have found will hum or sing while chomping down on their favorite vegetation. It’s not just a way to indicate that they are enjoying their meal, but a way to convey that they would prefer not to be bothered while eating. When they go quiet, that’s a sign that they are willing to chat.
15 Dholes Whistle
Dholes, otherwise known as Asiatic wild dogs, are also sometimes called “whistling dogs“—and with good reason. These fox-like animals alert each other about the location of prey through whistle sounds. This allows them to make coordinated attacks on other animals much larger than them, communicating in packs to take down prey that’s more than 10 times their own body weight.
16 Prairie Dogs Call to Each Other
These creatures are known for their complex underground tunnel systems, but they also have complex ways of calling to one another, using slightly different intonations (reportedly of a “chee”-like sound) depending on the type of predator—coyote, hawk, human—nearby. In one study, they were found to seemingly identify the difference between a person wearing a blue shirt and one wearing a yellow shirt.
17 Tap-Dancing Blue-Capped Cordon Bleu
As if its name isn’t cool enough, the blue-capped cordon bleu also has some killer dance moves, using a kind of winged tap dance to attract a mate. Both male and female birds of this species court by holding a piece of nesting material in their beak, and then bob up and down while they sing, and make super-fast dance steps with their feet. Researchers believe the dance is meant to not only catch the attention of a mate, but to demonstrate health and fitness.
18 Bison Choose Leaders With Their Feet
European bison are large creatures, but they speak softly, letting their feet do the talking. When the herds of these impressive creatures seek to move on, they decide which way to go not through the guidance of a single leader, but a complex process in which one of the members of the herd (it can be anyone, male or female, young or old) would walk 20 or more steps in a particular direction without stopping to graze. If the others trust the decision, they take the cue and follow along—and that leading animal becomes the herd’s de facto leader (until the process restarts). Perhaps we could take a cue from the bison…
19 Apes Stomp, Clap, and Shake Heads
There are many, many other cool ways that great apes communicate with each other; researchers have isolated some 80 gestures at least. But what may be most interesting is that these significantly overlap with human toddlers; as Smithsonian puts it, “researchers found the human toddlers used 52 discrete gestures to communicate, including clapping, hugging, stomping, raising their arms and shaking their heads, often stringing the moves together to convey complex ideas. It turns out that the chimps also used 46 of the same gestures, meaning there’s a 90 percent overlap.”
20 Caribbean Reef Squid Changes Color
Using specialized cells containing pigments and light-reflecting molecules known as chromataphores, the Caribbean reef squid can change the color of their skin to convey a variety of messages: to court a potential mate, to warn others of a predator or a number of other messages—even conveying one message to a squid on their left side and a different one to a squid on their right.
21 Dancing Bees, Well, Dance
Research going back centuries has noted that bees use dance moves to alert fellow hive-dwellers of a honey source. A famous study found that, when a bee discovered a honey source, it would head to the hive, performing a dance while other bees touched its abdomen, allowing the others to then find the honey source without needing to be shown. The direction and speed of the dance indicated specific geolocation details that the others could follow.
22 Jackdaws Glare
Just as humans can stare people down with their eyes in order to express their anger or frustration, so too can jackdaws, a bird that’s part of the same family as crows, ravens, and jays. Researchers have found that one of these birds will use his conspicuous eyes to glare at a would-be competitor, deterring it from trying to take over his nest.
23 Coral Groupers Team Up For Hunts
When these predatory fish are outsmarted by prey that dives deep into the cracks of the coral reefs, it get some help from other predatory species: usually either the napoleon wrasse or moray eel. The grouper will point with its nose to the location of the fish, shaking its body, and the wrasse will smash against the coral to open it up or the eel will creep into the cracks itself. Thanks to this team work, at least one of the predators, if not both, usually end up with dinner.
24 Chimpanzee Footsie
You could spend a lifetime analyzing chimps’ gestures. There are so many, in fact, that you can review an entire Great Ape Dictionary. Chimps have striking similarities with humans, and one of the other ways that researchers have found they signal to one another is through extending their feet to alert another (usually young) chimp to climb on them to travel.
25 Warbling Antbirds Sing Off-Time
Female Peruvian warbling antbirds will not tolerate other females making moves on their male mate and convey that message clearly to any would-be competitor who invades their territory. The mates generally sing together in a kind of charming harmony, but at the sight of an interloper, the female will shift to an arrhythmic singing that messes up the sound and creates an unpleasant cacophony, ensuring the other woman is not allured by the usual pleasant singing that might otherwise attract her. And for more on all things animal, check out these 50 Amazing Animal Facts
“I think something as selfless as rescue could be an example to the world of unity and working together,” said Sterling Davis, a.k.a. the TrapKing.
Sterling Davis, aka The Trap King.Weir MediaNov. 29, 2020, by Jen Reeder
This story was originally published on Today.com.
Atlanta resident Sterling Davis was on a break from a rap tour when he applied for a job at the county shelter scooping kitty litter. He just wanted to stay busy and make a little money. Plus, he’s always loved animals, like his cat at the time, Rick James.
“I did horrible in the interview because they had cats in the room and I was playing with all the cats, kissing all the cats,” he told Today.
Even though he didn’t really answer any of the questions because he was distracted by the friendly felines, he got the job because, as the person who hired him said, “We’re not seeing people like you with cats.”
Davis, 40, started helping shelter employees with trap-neuter-return cases. The team would trap community cats (formerly called “feral”), bring them to the shelter to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered, and then return them to their outdoor realm.
While Davis learned about TNR, he came to another realization.
“At the county shelter, there were no men and no Black people that worked in the cat department,” he said. “When I would go out and do TNR with all my friends, it would be all women — that’s who trained me. I finally asked the difficult question: ‘Where are all the guys and where are all the Black people?’’
The answer: There’s just you.
Davis realized he had a new calling. He let his band know he would not be coming back on tour. Instead, he was going to devote all his time to cat rescue as the TrapKing.
His bold goal: to change stereotypes of men in cat rescue and bridge the communication gap between Black communities and predominately white animal welfare organizations.
“I’ve seen rescue be something that’s looked at as hard, tedious, sad,” he said. “If people can see me and I make this look like this is a rock-star type life, this is fun — you can do it.”
When his music money dried up, Davis sold everything he owned and bought a conversion van to live in to help pay for cat surgeries and support his nonprofit. He plastered the van with TrapKing logos and people started noticing. He hosted contests for kids, who would watch his humane traps. Whoever texted him first about a cat in a trap won $20, second place got $15 and so on.
“I started going into neighborhoods and kids would see me like the ice cream truck,” he said with a chuckle. “I would pull into apartment complexes and see young boys running up to the van trying to give me cats. ‘Hey Trap, look — I got a cat. Do I get some money?’”
As the TrapKing became better known, opportunities arose. The Atlanta Humane Society offered to spay and neuter cats he brought for free, which was a huge help since he wasn’t charging anyone for his services.
Davis, who enlisted in the Navy right out of high school and served for two years as an operations specialist manning the ship’s radar, said he believes his experiences have helped him connect with people from all walks of life as the TrapKing.
“I think being in the military, being around different people, different cultures and being in entertainment is what actually helped me better communicate with all types of people and better communicate this mission,” he said. “I’ve literally been pushing to make TNR community cat care as common as recycling and get more people engaged in so many fun ways.”
It hasn’t always been easy. Early on when Davis was returning cats to a predominately Black neighborhood, a group of men walked up and told him: “White people put tracking devices and diseases in these cats to hurt the Black community and you’re helping that. You’re bringing them into the neighborhood.”
“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so wrong.’ It was really difficult to explain it because all the Black community could see was this is a white person’s thing,” he said.
Over time, perceptions have changed. When protests erupted across America in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Davis launched a T-shirt campaign called “Allies in Rescue, Allies in Life.” He announced he would donate all of the funds to the nonprofit Campaign Zero, which promotes policy changes to end police violence. Support from rescue advocates and organizations was overwhelming.
“I got a lot of feedback from the Black community on that, like, ‘So you got all of these animal people to donate to issues other than just cats or dogs?’” he recalled. “I’m like, ‘Yeah — we’re allies in rescue and allies in life.’ So that really turned a lot of things around.”
Davis now runs TrapKing Humane Cat Solutions from an RV, which he shares with his cats Bowie, Damita Jo and Alanis Mewissette. He hopes to travel across the country soon promoting TNR and fundraising for animal shelters. He’s also pushing for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to start offering a TNR badge.
Through it all, he’s continuing his outreach to communities and modeling his motto, “You don’t lose cool points for compassion.”
“I’ve had a lot of parents reach out to me and say that their son gets made fun of because he likes cats,” he said. “I just want it to be known that you cannot lose cool points for compassion. If you are doing something compassionate, you gain cool points.”
The TrapKing would love to see the rescue community find ways to put aside any differences and work together toward the common goal of saving the lives of pets.
“I think something as selfless as rescue could be an example to the world of unity and working together,” he said. “So I want to put that out there.”
Sam Wilson is a volunteer at https://www.facebook.com/GeorgeShelterCrete/ She is a former police inspector with Nottinghamshire, England police. She served on the force for 30 years and retired in September 2020. A week later, she flew to Crete, Greece to volunteer with George Orfanidis and his George Stray Dogs organization. Sam’s plan was volunteer for four weeks, improve her Greek language skills, and then return home. The return-home part of her plan became complicated. Her time there inspired her to book three additional flights to Crete over the following two months, with more planned in the future. Sam now has a very long commute to work and works side by side with George.
George Stray Dogs was founded by George Orfanidis, who has devoted more than 20 years to rescuing and caring for dogs and bringing about positive change for animals by changing people’s minds and hearts through education. George houses 100 dogs at his shelters, which lack electricity and water supply. Every day, without fail, he drives the 70 km round trip bringing water and food to the dogs.
Animal welfare is not a priority in Greece. There are estimated to be 8 million stray dogs and cats in the country. They are routinely abandoned in the rubbish, in the mountains, and on the street. Some dogs are chained to barrels for the length of their lives, with little food and fresh water, and riddled with ticks, fleas, and worms.
George has been reliant on his fellow Greeks for donations for food for veterinary medicine, but Greece has been in recession for a long time. Many of the people who care about animal welfare have little money to give. The struggle for funding was somewhat alleviated when Australian animal activist Stella Savvas set up the organization’s Facebook page. George has also received various volunteer assistance from his brother Nikos Orfandis, and volunteers Katerina and Debra. The organization also received a boost when George’s friend, well-known Greek rescuer Takis Proestakis, mentioned him on his FB page.
The access to a wider audience has allowed George to build infrastructure at one of the shelters, which will allow all of the dogs to be housed at one site. Fencing, kennels, and easy access to water will make the rescue work easier. George, Sam, and other volunteers are currently working to complete the site work before winter sets in.
Some of George Stray Dogs rescue success stories – Before and After:
Tommy – George found Tommy in the filth of an abandoned house. The sight of Tommy reduced George to tears. Tommy had little fur and wounds all over his face and body from the effects of leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease which afflicts many dogs in the southern Mediterranean. After months of care, love, and treatment, Tommy was transformed into a beautiful dog. Tommy and George are now inseparable.
Hara – Hara was abandoned in the rubbish five years ago. George was caring for her as a stray on the streets. One day, he was alerted that some men had her on a chain and were ready to hang her. George went to the location and fought with the men to save her life. (He has been attacked more than one occasion for his work.) The men damaged George’s car and bruised him, but Hara was saved and she now lives at the shelter. Hara is a contented dog with a sweet and gentle nature. The deformed leg with which she was born causes her no issues.
Dias – Dias is known as the Gentle Giant. He is a 60kg Greek Shepherd found on the highway with shattered legs, unable to move. With two surgeries and care from George he is thriving. The puppies particularly adore him. He’s the alpha dog in his pen but calm and even natured with others.
The transformation of dogs from when they arrive at the shelter in heart-breaking condition to health, balance, and friendly dispositions. They form close bonds with each other and adore George. George has a huge heart, dedication, and deep compassion for the neglected, abused, abandoned, tortured animals on Crete, Greece.
If you would like to make a donation to George Stray Dogs, their Paypal account is
George Stray Dogs also have a Go Fund Me to raise money for a 4×4 car to provide consistently reliable transport to the shelter in winter.
For further information: https://www.facebook.com/GeorgeShelterCrete/
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Threat to Public Health
Animal Equality has launched a worldwide campaign and petition calling for the immediate closure of wet markets across the globe. Wet markets get their name in part from the blood, guts, scales and water that soak the stalls’ floors, remnants from animals brutally killed for customers who desire to eat freshly killed meat.
In exclusive footage shot by Animal Equality at wet markets in China, Vietnam and India, animals such as deer, raccoons, crocodiles, and dogs are shown living in filthy conditions, suffering from dehydration, starvation and disease.
These markets are also a threat to public health and have been the source of documented disease outbreaks in the past, including SARS. Researchers also believe COVID-19 most likely originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, notorious for trading in wild animals.
It is because of the public health crises wet markets cause, as well as the intense suffering inflicted on farmed animals, that Animal Equality is urging the United Nations to ban all wet markets. Not only do these markets pose an immediate danger to humans, but they are also intensely cruel and abhorrently inhumane to animals.
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