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Three creatures, two species, one love

The story of Hug (means love, because he’s very lovely), a 2 year-old rhesus macaque (Macaca mulata)
Nobody knows how he ended up at a villager’s house. Nobody knows what exactly happened to his mom. Nobody knows why his head was shaved bald. He was tied and kept as a pet in one remote village of Laos. He was rescued by a kind lady named Claudia who spotted him and came back to rescue him. She spent one night in a local boat, crossing the country border to travel to the village again. Her next night was spent in an overnight bus to travel from the village to our rescue center. Moreover, she traded her camera to save this baby monkey. The cost of camera and 48 hours journey to save this little creature were only the beginning. Read more about her rescue here.

Hug's first few days at our rescue center.

Hug’s first few days at our rescue center.

The story of Faloo, an 8 month-old rhesus macaque (Macaca mulata)
He was found in a local market. The seller said his mother had been killed by hunters. A couple decided to save him by buying him. Maybe they wanted to keep him as their pet but later found out that he’s quite aggressive and not as cuddly as he looks. Maybe they simply want to save him and immediately donated him to our rescue center after buying. Whatever their plan was, Faloo ended up at our rescue center. This story is not new. What he has experienced is no surprise. Most of the animals who ends up at black market have the same history. Probably Hug’s history is similar.

Faloo when he arrived at our rescue center.

Faloo when he arrived at our rescue center.

The story of Dam (means black, because she has a dark colored face), a gentle loving Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis)
To be honest there’s nothing much to tell about Dam. She was already there when I first came. Nobody knows for sure where she came from. Nobody knows what happened to her before she came to the former zoo. As usual, Dam seems to be ignorant. She didn’t care when Faloo was introduced into her group. She looked at him, but didn’t approach him unlike other macaques. To the contrary, Hug was very curious and wanted to befriend Faloo right away. He followed him, grabbed him, chased him, basically he did anything he could do to know more about his new friend. Faloo, on the other side, was scared of Hug’s rather aggressive approach. Dam has been a substitute mother for Hug for a while. Because of this bond, I expected her to treat Hug as her own baby and Faloo as a stranger. Guess what, I was definitely wrong. Whenever Faloo felt threatened by Hug, Dam ‘scolded’ Hug instead of Faloo. She didn’t know Faloo before, she didn’t even approach him when he came, but her maternal instinct tells her all baby should be protected. She knows anyone shouldn’t bully Faloo, not even Hug, ‘her own baby’.

Dam, the substitute mom and Faloo, the most recent rescued macaque.

Hug and Faloo are inseparable like brothers now. They go together everywhere.

Hug and Faloo are inseparable like brothers now. They always go together everywhere.

That’s a story about 3 monkeys with unknown past, met at our rescue center and created a new family by their own. Animal bond is beautiful. They teach us true and unconditional love, regardless of EVERYTHING. Yet, they are often considered as nothing more than ‘just an animal’. And we, human, think ourselves are superior while some us can’t even show compassion toward other humans.

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If You’re a Smart Traveler You Won’t Fall For This Tourist Trap

If you travel to Asia, chance is you’ll see cute animals, mostly baby animals, dressed in cute clothing with cute accessories and available for photos. Nobody denies that baby animals are so cute and adorable. Everyone would love to have their pictures taken with them and upload it to social media. Touching their tiny fluffy body is so hard to resist!

Slow loris is one of the exploited wildlife used as photo prop.

Slow loris is one of the most exploited wildlife used as photo prop.

But who knows a single photo capture equals to miserable life for them? Want to know why? Let’s read more.

The easiest way to catch a baby is to kill its mother.

Most animals used as photo props are babies which are cute and photogenic. Where do the babies come from? If they tell you the animals are domestically bred, it’s likely a lie. Even though it were true, separating young babies from the mothers are distressing for both sides. Wildlife are prone to stress in captivity (except they have spacious enclosure and gets plenty of natural diet every day, which, in this case, is unlikely) and they can’t easily breed in a stressful condition. Most of the animals obtained for photo props are taken from the wild by killing their mothers. Once the animal grows, they are not as cute anymore and not so easy to handle anymore. Then what happens when they are adult? They probably kill the adult animals, or give them to a small zoo, or leave them in tiny dirty cages with minimum amount of food to keep them barely alive.

Source: careforthewild.com

Source: careforthewild.com

In order to entertain the tourists without hurting them, the animals used for photo props have gone through horrific and abusive process to tame them.

In addition to experiencing animal abuse, most of the times those animals have their weapons (read: body parts) removed. All animals have their special weapons and defense mechanisms. Lorises have poisonous bite. In order to avoid hurting the tourists, their teeth have to be removed, but removing a loris’ teeth takes a lot of effort and money for the drugs. The easiest way to prevent them from biting you is to clip their teeth, which cause the tooth root exposed to bacteria and leads to tooth root abscess.

For more aggressive animals, like tigers, lions, or bears, sedative drug is usually used to behave them, but it doesn’t prevent them from attacking tourist. Dangerous animals also have their claws removed so they won’t hurt the tourists, their gold mine. Imagine if a tourist gets hurt and spread the news, they won’t be able to earn money anymore.

Elephants are physically abused by sharp metal in order to control them. Baby elephants are not given enough food so they are starved and beg tourists for food. Never buy any food from their owners.

Enough about the animal’s life. Now let’s talk about your life. When you handle the animals, has it ever crossed your mind that wildlife can bring zoonotic disease and spread it to human? You never know what bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungi the animal is carrying. When you touch it, you get the microorganism, but you don’t wash your hand because you thought the animals were healthy. Congratulations, now you can infect anyone including yourself.

If you’re a foreigner/westerner, it’s not an excuse for you to take pictures with this exotic pet just because you don’t have it back at home. This kind of attitude is what exactly started wildlife exploitation in Asia.

Usually locals are not so interested with animals they can see every day and they do not want to pay high amount of money to do it. On the contrary, foreigners are willing to pay big sum of money to get this so called ‘once in a lifetime experience’. If you take your picture posing with animal and upload it, you are encouraging more people to do the same. More and more people are coming to do this wildlife exploitation tourist trap. More and more animals will be caught from the wild and treated badly by the owners.

Now you know the truth. Think twice before you take pictures with them and don’t contribute any money for them. Please be a smart traveler, unlike this embarassing Instagram user. First of all, it’s not a lemur. Second, they can’t suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed.

First of all, it's not a lemur. Second, they can't suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed. Source: instagram.com

First of all, it’s not a lemur. Second, they can’t suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed. Source: instagram.com

Similar articles:

http://inthistogetherblog.com/animal-prop-photos-and-the-wildlife-trade/

https://ecologyliz.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/the-exotic-pet-trade/

http://www.care2.com/causes/why-wild-animals-should-not-be-props-for-your-travel-photos.html

http://right-tourism.com/issues/animals-attractions/photo-prop-animals/

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3 Animals that Can Mimic Human Voice

After watching a barking cat video that has gone viral (must see!) and a video of meowing dog, I was curious to see if animals can mimic human voice. To my surprise, they can! So here is the list of those 3 smart animals:

2nd runner-up – Chicken

This rooster laughs as if there was something very funny. Now doesn’t he make us laugh?

1st runner-up  – Cat

The poor cat in this video is in a lot of pressure after Batman asks a question. However it’s still able to answer his question even though in fear.

Aaand…. the winner is:

Winner – Goat!

She sings more beautifully than I do! Well done, goat! You deserve it to be the winner.

Happy weekend everyone! I hope you enjoy those animal-cruelty-free videos on my blog 🙂

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Fun Fact: Sunda Pangolin

Woo hoo, it’s that time again this week for fun fact Friday! A fun fact a week keeps the foolishness away. Today’s topic is about Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica).

This species is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on IUCN Red List and on Appendix II of CITES. They are hunted mostly for human consumption and as traditional Chinese medicine. Now here are 5 fun facts you probably didn’t know about Manis javanica:

1. They don’t have to see any dentist. For you who hate dentist, you probably will envy this cute creature because they don’t have teeth. Their main diet is insect, with mostly ants and termites. Their stomach contains tiny stones to help with food digestion.

2. They have long attractive tongue. Their tongue is longer than their total body length and is sticky in order to attract ants.

Source: arkive.org

3. We should start biting our nails to keep us healthy. Their scale is composed of keratin, the same substance that builds our nail. They have same composition as reptile scale too. If their scale had medicinal properties, so did our nail. So why don’t we start biting our nails instead of killing them? Same fact applies for rhino horn.

4. They give pangolin-y back instead of piggy back. Mother pangolins carry their babies on their backs. Do you agree if I say it’s cuteness overload?

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Source: telegraph.co.uk

5. They like to keep in shape only when they are in panic. They roll into a ball wen they are in danger. This safety mechanism is effective against predator, but not human! That’s why tonnes of pangolin are smuggled through the border every day, because they are an easy catch.

Source: pangolin.org

Source: pangolin.org

Enjoy reading the fun facts? Do you have a favorite animal or any other animals that you would like me to write the fun facts about? Let me know by commenting below. Spread the info and have a nice weekend! 🙂

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More Veterinarians Using Alternative Treatments

Holistic medicine is in the news! I’m glad to know more pet owners are turning to holistic medicine and say it works. Moreover, holistic medicine is now included in curriculum of some vet schools.
If you are not familiar with holistic vet practices, let me explain briefly how we work. We check the patients with our veterinary medicine knowledge, just like all vets do. We will run necessary tests, such as blood test, ultrasound, MRI, urinalysis, etc, to diagnoses the patients’ diseases. Once we know their health problem, of course just like all vets do, we treat the patients to make them healthy again. The only difference is: instead of using a lot drugs and injections, we minimize the drug use, which minimizes the side effects too, and minimize the animal’s stress due to injection and handling by strangers (vet nurses or vet techs). Most of holistic medicine is non-invasive and effective. Non-invasive techniques leave the patients stress-free, thus it speeds up the recovery process.
So dear animal lovers, are you ready to try better option for your furry kids? Are you interested in trying non-invasive tretment for them?

CBS Chicago

(CBS) — More pet owners are turning to alternative medicine, and they say it works.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez looks at how to judge if it will help your pet.

Resistance workouts on an underwater treadmill and acupuncture treatments gave Peter Wood’s dog, who suffered from hip problems, a new lease on life€.

“Every day you could see her getting stronger. And she’d run a little bit farther, and she’d play a little bit harder,” he says.

Peter says he tried conventional medications for Sundance, but they didn’t work or caused side effects. So, he sought alternatives.

So, what exactly is alternative and holistic veterinary medicine?

“Holistic veterinary medicine, for me, is really looking at the whole animal and trying to find a treatment that will be effective and non-invasive,”  says Chicago veterinarian Barbara Royal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Examples include using cold laser light therapy to treat…

View original post 164 more words

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Off Day = Police Training Day

It was at 3 a.m when I went to bed last night. I checked my phone to make sure my alarm was off. It was my off day so I could wake up anytime I want, couldn’t I? Unfortunately it wasn’t true. My phone rang this morning when I was dreaming about beach, sun, and sunbathing. An office lady asked for my legal document copies because police would check them today. I gave them the copies last month but they insisted couldn’t find it. So I went a long way to office, in the rain, only to submit a few pieces of paper work.

I was ready to go home when suddenly a big bus stopped in front of the office. Over 30 stern looking local men got off the bus, followed by a Western man and a lady. Bob, the Westerner, approached us and explained the purpose of their visit. He works for the UNODC and Freeland and both NGOs are giving training for local police, the 30 stern looking men,  to fight wildlife crime. They wanted me to explain to the police officers about animal handling and necessary animal care for confiscated animals at the border. The young lady would be my interpreter. But why? Why it had to be today? Whyyy? It’s my off day, please just let me rest after a long hard week at work 😦
But who can’t resist educating people to help animals? Moreover, they are police officers who work at the country’s borders to confiscate illegal wildlife. Improper care can lead to death of the animals. So… Yeah… To be honest, a part of me hate myself when I agreed to give the training.

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Explaining basic animal care and handling to local police officers.

I started by explaining the very basic of animal care, followed by specific requirements for mostly confiscated animals. As I expected, the most common animal they confiscate is pangolin. Pangolin is now listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN redlist, which is only one step away from Extinct In The Wild. This is a very sad truth about wildlife trade. Tonnes of both alive and dead pangolins are exported to China for medicine and human consumption. Most of us don’t even know what a pangolin is or how it looks like.

I ended the training by walking around the rescue center, telling them how to properly handle each animal and what the safety precautions are. Most of them were more interested in taking selfies with animals but out of the 30 officers I know some of them are interested in making difference for wildlife.

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6 things you’ll experience as a wildlife vet #1

As a wildlife vet, I feel there are some unique experiences that other occupations may not be able to offer. Sometimes it’s a funny experience, many times it’s a tough one, and most of the time it’s a very rewarding one. So here it is, my 6 personal experience being a wildlife vet:

1. You will become thick skinned eventually. Literally! Apart from bruises, bites, scratches and other injuries from the animals (not to mention I’ve been stepped on by a rhino, kicked by a peacock, ‘stabbed’ by a porcupine), please admit that you’ve pricked your fingers with medical needle or scalpel blade that you were holding! Yes, you’re definitely not the only one! If you are a qualified vet, vet nurse, or vet tech, I’m sure you’ve experienced that stupidity at least once in your life. If you are still a student and haven’t experienced it, be patient, that moment will eventually come 😉

Fresh monkey bite. The tooth mark is still visible.

Personal experience: A cat that I tried to inject suddenly jumped off the table and kicked my left hand. My left index finger landed nicely on a 24G needle connected to a syringe containing Ivermectin. If you know how painful Ivermectin is, I know you must have similar experience before.

Other’s experience: My friend’s vet cousin accidentally injected herself with Brucella while trying to vaccinate a cow.

2. No matter how ugly an animal is, you still think they are cute. Some animals can reach that certain point when ugliness meets cuteness. Cannot imagine? Please check this post of Gollum at #3 and Alien face at #6 who are part of my personal experience.

3. Co-workers think you are dumb. Everyone always have this superior personality and think they can do better than others. Sadly enough, it also happens to us and in our daily work life. As a vet at zoo or rescue center, we simply cannot check the health of hundreds or thousands of animals in a short period of time. We mostly rely on keepers to report any abnormalities and unfortunately they report when it’s too late. A dying animal comes, we try our best to save its life, but when we can’t, people think we’re dumb.

Personal experience: It was an emergency case. I injected a dying animal with adrenaline and doxapram but in the end it died. People who don’t understand may think the animal dies because of the ‘wrong drug’ I give.

I’m sure some vets have experienced similar situation as well. A dying animal comes, you inject emergency drug but can’t save them. Then the owner blames you for injecting wrong drugs that kill their beloved pets. Please raise your hand if it sounds familiar.

4. You still smile when a very ill animal bites you. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. Seeing the transformation of a dying, hopeless, weak animal into a healthy (but aggressive) one is one of the biggest reward of being a vet.

Personal experience: a dying slow loris was brought into our rescue center that night. It didn’t have any energy to struggle when he put IV cathether into his vein. We had to hand feed him for the first few days because he couldn’t walk. After a few days he was able to eat by himself and after a few weeks he bit my thumb when I tried to grab him for treatment. A painful but sweet bite, a sign that he was recovering well.

Please heal, but please don't bite me. Pretty please...

Please heal, but please don’t bite me. Pretty please…

5. No matter how much you hate an animal, your heart cries when they are sick. This animal ignores you at first, then slowly chases you and constantly attacks you. He has hurt you so many times with his bite even though you don’t do anything to him. You slowly hate him for being so unfriendly to you. Sometimes you wish he was not your patient at all. But when he’s sick, you’re worried and still do your best for him.

Personal experience: There are 3 aggressive macaques who pulled half of my hair off my scalp when I was feeding them. They are not scared of anything and everyone is scared of them. Feeding them is already tough, left alone medicating these crazy boys. Why do they have to be here? Duh! Suddenly one day one of them was badly injured and I couldn’t neglect him. I still took care of him despite my spiteful feeling for him.

6. Your heart melts when you see a baby animal born. Regardless how tired you are, how much you dislike the aggressive and protective mother, how hot or cold the weather at that time, either raining or windy, your heart will melt when you see a newborn wildlife cuddling with their mom. Sounds cheesy but it’s so true. You’re not the mom, but all the blood, sweat and tears suddenly paid off.

Personal experience: I didn’t sleep for 36 hours waiting for a baby rhino to be born. That day, I was the grumpiest vet ever. However I smiled widely and was in tears when I saw him for the first time and suddenly my mood just changed completely.

Newborn baby Andatu :)

Newborn baby Andatu 🙂

These are the 6 experience I can share you for now. Stay tune, I’ll update the second part next week. Keep calm and save animals 🙂