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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
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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