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8 Heartwarming Animal Retirement Homes

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Among the many animals who need homes are those that are considered "unadoptable" due to old age, illness, or disability. While many would-be pet parents looking for a long-term companion may pass them by, other folks relish the opportunity to care for these animals in need. Those are the founders, volunteers, and donors of specialized shelters that offer a home for the rest of these pets' lives. We highlighted a few of them in an earlier post; here are eight more animal retirement homes you should know about.

1. TABBY'S PLACE // RINGOES, NEW JERSEY

In 1999, upon learning that his beloved 15-year-old cat Tabby had terminal cancer, Jonathan Rosenberg decided to quit his day job and create Tabby's Place, a cat sanctuary in honor of his beloved pet. Currently, the Ringoes, New Jersey-based organization operates out of a single building with room for up to 95 cats. Rosenberg's long-term goal is to erect two more buildings on the sanctuary's eight-acre property—creating enough space to provide forever homes for up to 400 cats that are elderly, disabled, chronically or terminally ill, or in danger of being euthanized at another shelter. A staff of volunteers cares for the cats, some of which are available for adoption.

2. RYERSS FARM FOR AGED EQUINES // POTTSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, cares for aged, abused, and injured horses. Some are rescued from abusive situations, while others are given over after they reach age 20. However, there is a waiting list for horses that are not in emergency situations. The farm is open for public tours, and also offers internships, volunteer opportunities, and lessons in horse care and horsemanship. To learn more, you can watch this video about Ryerss Farm.

3. WOLFGANG 2242 // DENVER, COLORADO

Wolfgang2242 is not a charitable organization, but the Instagram account of Steve Greig, a Denver, Colorado man who opened his home to elderly animals and who promotes senior dog adoption. He has nine elderly dogs in his home, plus a pig, a rabbit, a chicken, and other animals who deserve love during their golden years. More than 600,000 Instagram followers love Wolfgang2242, too.

4. KINDRED SPIRITS ANIMAL SANCTUARY // SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary/Facebook

Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a hospice for senior dogs, horses, and poultry. They're currently home to 20 dogs, three horses, and a variety of poultry, from the chickens Fred and Ethel to a peacock named Verdito. The sanctuary offers classes on all aspects of senior pet care.

5. VALLEY OF THE KINGS SANCTUARY AND RETREAT // SHARON, WISCONSIN

Valley of the Kings Sanctuary and Retreat/Facebook

Valley of the Kings Sanctuary and Retreat in Sharon, Wisconsin takes in abused, abandoned, or elderly exotic animals such as lions, tigers, bears, and wolves. The sanctuary is not open to the public, but you can become a member or sponsor an animal to help support the organization, which comes with visiting privileges.

6. OLD FRIENDS SENIOR DOG SANCTUARY // MOUNT JULIET, TENNESSEE

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tennessee provides guaranteed loving care to senior dogs for the remainder their lives. In addition to the 50 dogs who call the organization's main facility home, there are 150 more dogs in permanent foster homes in the area. If you live within 100 miles of Nashville, you can become a Forever Foster Home with the shelter's support. (You can read the stories of some of their dogs on Facebook.)

7. HOME FOR LIFE // STILLWATER, MINNESOTA

When a pet has a problem that makes it unadoptable, the alternative is often euthanasia. Home for Life, a nonprofit organization in Stillwater, Minnesota, offers a "third door" solution in its lifetime care facilities. Around 115 dogs and 85 cats live in a compound that consists of multiple buildings. Some are elderly or disabled, others have behavioral problems. The buildings each have multiple rooms and protected outdoor areas, and no cages are used.

8. THE STEVENSON COMPANION ANIMAL LIFE-CARE CENTER // COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS

The Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center at Texas A&M's veterinary school in College Station, Texas is a place where hard-to-place pets can live once their owners are no longer able to care for them. It was endowed in part by Madlin Stevenson in 1993; when Stevenson died in 2000, her seven dogs, four cats, pony, and llama came to live at the sanctuary. Pictured above is Reveille VIII, Texas A&M's mascot from 2008 to 2015. Upon retirement from her position, she went to live at the Stevenson Center, where she is cared for by plenty of loving veterinary students.

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Animals
Scientists Discover 'Octlantis,' a Bustling Octopus City
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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]

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Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
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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]

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