CLOSE
Original image
SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images

Here's One Way You Can Help Hurricane Harvey Victims: Foster a Pet

Original image
SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it’s estimated that at least 30,000 Texans have been rendered homeless and forced into temporary shelters. While rain continues to fall as the tropical storm moves along the Gulf of Mexico, many people are wondering what they can do to help. If you’re a pet lover with some extra space in your home, why not consider fostering one of the thousands of pets who’ve been displaced because of the storm?

By being proactive, Texas nonprofit Austin Pets Alive! was able to transport more than 235 animals to its facility—and out of harm’s way—by Saturday morning. But, according to the organization's website, “there is still a lot of work ahead of us. As we continue to care for the animals we have already saved, we have to prepare for even more animals who will need us in the coming days. We’ve been receiving reports from shelter partners in areas hit hardest by the hurricane and areas expecting the most flooding that over the course of the next 24 to 72 hours, they are anticipating another significant influx of animals that they may not be able to help.”

In addition to donations of money and pet supplies like litter boxes and leashes, APA is looking for foster parents who can commit to keeping a pet through adoption, a process that includes meeting with potential adopters, taking photos of the pet, and generally spreading the word about the ball of fuzz you're sharing your home with. Visit the organization’s website to find out about their current needs, and email foster@austinpetsalive.org if you’re able to assist.

Texas isn’t the only place where shelters are lending a helping hand. In Davenport, Iowa, King’s Harvest Pet Rescue is asking people to open their homes to displaced dogs, with the shelter providing all of the necessary supplies, including food, beds, and treats.

In Tenafly, New Jersey, Robyn Urman—founder of Pet ResQ—is working to transport 200 cats and dogs from Texas to the Garden State. On Tuesday morning, more than a dozen pets arrived in New Jersey, with another 60 expected this week. (Potential fosters can email petresqinc@aol.com.)

Not all of the animals being transported were directly affected by Harvey. On Monday morning, Wings of Rescue flew 105 animals—20 dogs and 85 cats—from Louisiana to California to make more room in local shelters in the south. In Georgia, the Atlanta Humane Society began making room for pets in the path of the hurricane so that Texas shelters would have as much space as possible to care for affected animals. “They reached out to us and we're happy to help,” Atlanta shelter manager Amanda Harris told WSB-TV. “So they can be close to their owners and have the best possible chance to be reunited with their families.”

Even if you don’t have the ability to foster a pet, there are plenty of other ways to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, from donating diapers to giving blood.

Original image
Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
arrow
Animals
Scientists Discover 'Octlantis,' a Bustling Octopus City
Original image
Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Octopuses are insanely talented: They’ve been observed building forts, playing games, and even walking on dry land. But one area where the cephalopods come up short is in the social department. At least that’s what marine biologists used to believe. Now a newly discovered underwater community, dubbed Octlantis, is prompting scientists to call their characterization of octopuses as loners into question.

As Quartz reports, the so-called octopus city is located in Jervis Bay off Australia’s east coast. The patch of seafloor is populated by as many as 15 gloomy octopuses, a.k.a. common Sydney octopuses (octopus tetricus). Previous observations of the creatures led scientists to think they were strictly solitary, not counting their yearly mating rituals. But in Octlantis, octopuses communicate by changing colors, evict each other from dens, and live side by side. In addition to interacting with their neighbors, the gloomy octopuses have helped build the infrastructure of the city itself. On top of the rock formation they call home, they’ve stored mounds of clam and scallop shells and shaped them into shelters.

There is one other known gloomy octopus community similar to this one, and it may help scientists understand how and why they form. The original site, called Octopolis, was discovered in the same bay in 2009. Unlike Octlantis, Octopolis was centered around a manmade object that had sunk to the seabed and provided dens for up to 16 octopuses at a time. The researchers studying it had assumed it was a freak occurrence. But this new city, built around a natural habitat, shows that gloomy octopuses in the area may be evolving to be more social.

If that's the case, it's unclear why such octo-cities are so uncommon. "Relative to the more typical solitary life, the costs and benefits of living in aggregations and investing in interactions remain to be documented," the researchers who discovered the group wrote in a paper published in Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology [PDF].

It’s also possible that for the first time in history humans have the resources to see octopus villages that perhaps have always been bustling beneath the sea surface.

[h/t Quartz]

Original image
iStock
arrow
This Just In
Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
Original image
iStock

Valuable jewelry isn't always made from precious metals or gems. Wildlife smugglers in Africa are increasingly evading the law by disguising illegally harvested rhinoceros horns as wearable baubles and trinkets, according to a new study conducted by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

As BBC News reports, TRAFFIC analyzed 456 wildlife seizure records—recorded between 2010 and June 2017—to trace illegal rhino horn trade routes and identify smuggling methods. In a report, the organization noted that criminals have disguised rhino horns in the past using all kinds of creative methods, including covering the parts with aluminum foil, coating them in wax, or smearing them with toothpaste or shampoo to mask the scent of decay. But as recent seizures in South Africa suggest, Chinese trafficking networks within the nation are now concealing the coveted product by shaping horns into beads, disks, bangles, necklaces, and other objects, like bowls and cups. The protrusions are also ground into powder and stored in bags along with horn bits and shavings.

"It's very worrying," Julian Rademeyer, a project leader with TRAFFIC, told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them? Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

Rhino horn is a hot commodity in Asia. The keratin parts have traditionally been ground up and used to make medicines for illnesses like rheumatism or cancer, although there's no scientific evidence that these treatments work. And in recent years, horn objects have become status symbols among wealthy men in countries like Vietnam.

"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it for lucky charms,” Melville Saayman, a professor at South Africa's North-West University who studies the rhino horn trade, told ABC News. “So they would like a piece of the horn."

According to TRAFFIC, at least 1249 rhino horns—together weighing more than five tons—were seized globally between 2010 and June 2017. The majority of these rhino horn shipments originated in southern Africa, with the greatest demand coming from Vietnam and China. The product is mostly smuggled by air, but routes change and shift depending on border controls and law enforcement resources.

Conservationists warn that this booming illegal trade has led to a precipitous decline in Africa's rhinoceros population: At least 7100 of the nation's rhinos have been killed over the past decade, according to one estimate, and only around 25,000 remain today. Meanwhile, Save the Rhino International, a UK-based conservation charity, told BBC News that if current poaching trends continue, rhinos could go extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

[h/t BBC News]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios