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  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • A resident of England was able to take a picture of an albino squirrel, living in a city park. But the image of the small mammal with a rare mutation does not look as nice as you can imagine. Instead, I remember that they are often compared to conventional urban mice.

      Tim Clifton from Sussex was able to take pictures of a rare albino squirrels, which they have seen several times in the Hastings town park. When the man realized it, he at first did not understand what kind of animal, and rodents mistaken for a seagull. Identified a protein, Tim took some pictures while she begged the man for a meal (like the usual urban protein).

      -When I saw him, I could not believe it. I thought how big he is. I sat down on the bench, and he came up to me. He looked at me as if to say, “You have something for me-Mr. Said Clifton’s publication.

       

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Do you have any idea about when calla lilies started to call Zhuzihu home? Do you know that japonica rice was first successfully cultivated in Zhuzihu? What are the tips to pluck calla lilies? Interested in finding out more stories about Zhuzihu and the flower? The Department of Economic Development (DED) has joined hands with Beitou Farmers’ Association in presenting the Calla Lily Festival between March 24 and April 23. Flower enthusiasts should not miss out on the opportunity to learn more about this beautiful plant.

      According to DED Commissioner Lin Chung-chieh, most of the farms at Zhuzihu have been shifted from rice- and vegetable-growing farms in the early days to recreational farms today. Accounting for over 80 percent of the island’s total calla lilies production, Zhuzihu has seen somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of the flowers blossoming, with some areas reaching as high as 60 to 70 percent. The months of March and April are prime time to appreciate calla lilies. DED invites the public to visit Zhuzihu in Yangmingshan and experience the romance permeating the air, and to participate in a wide range of activities and events spanning ecological tours, hands-on flower picking sessions, and more.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Season 7 had came to an end. No spoiler here, so not going to say who got killed. Will be waiting for season 8. Meanwhile, have a break from the walkers and start mixing with the living.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Looking at these lush succulent desserts anyone could easily mistake them as being real, when in fact, the lush succulents are actually made from butter!

      The talent behind these absolutely stunning creations lies in the artist called Ivenoven, who is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. "My baking passion and journey started one fine day when I was sneaking around in my godma's house trying to look for her baking recipes", writes the artist on her Facebook page. She started baking for other people in December 2013 and since then her bakery grew from just her and her husband, to a small business of 12 talented bakers.

      The lush succulent terrariums are made using  butter, powdered sugar, food coloring, and sometimes some additional flavoring as well, all of which give them that velvet-smooth texture.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Oreo, the cat who somehow found her way into a nursing home – and decided to work there. “She’s like the family here. She helps the residents, she helps the employees, and we just love her,” said Carmen Delgado, receptionist of St. Augustine Health Ministries in Cleveland, Ohio.

      Everyone appreciates the kitty’s presence. “Most of the people we serve here had pets… so to have Oreo here, for them to be able to come out and pet the cat and see how the cat is doing… it brings… those feelings of home,” Dana Carns, director of advancement, said.

      “I’m always getting pictures, even on the weekends or at night that the staff are taking. ‘Oh look, Oreo is at the reception desk, answering the phone, because it’s after hours’, or ‘she’s sitting on a bench with a resident who’s waiting for her ride.'”

      “The residents were so excited to have Oreo around. They all love her and seek her out for a snuggle,” Carns told Meow News.

       

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • SINGAPORE — They loiter around void decks at night, swooping in when they spot a prized catch. No, it is not Pokemons they are hunting – these “collectors” are after pregnant queen ants to kickstart their own ant colonies.

      Keeping ants as pets seems to be slowly catching on among a small community here. Since last December, at least 30 local enthusiasts have banded together.

      Like in Pokemon Go, there are varieties to collect and “hot spots” where more-prized species can be found. More than 50 ant species can be found in Singapore, including a rarer one called the trap-jaw, characterised by its ability to open its mouthpiece up to 180 degrees wide and shut it in a snap.

      Jurong Bird Park assistant curator Angelin Lim, like most local hobbyists, got intrigued after stumbling in February upon a YouTube channel called AntsCanada, which has been promoting the cultivation of pet ant colonies using queen ants since 2009.

      The 32-year-old told TODAY: “In my workplace, we feed our baby birds with ant eggs, so I started out wanting to see if I can cultivate them.”

      But her plans were soon scuppered as she fell in love with the six-legged critters.

      “The more I learnt, the more amazed I got at how they take care of one other, how they take care of their queen, and the hive mindset. Their world is not me, I and myself, but me for the entire colony,” she said.

      So whenever it rains or when there is increased swiftlet, bat or lizard activity, Ms Lim gets excited – as these are harbingers of a queen ant flying out to mate – which increases her chances of nabbing one.

      Her biggest colony is made up of more than 10 worker ants, all of which were laid by one queen carpenter ant.

      Her newfound hobby, however, is not appreciated by many around her. “My parents said: ‘What? You have nothing else to do, is it?’”

      The draw, said Ms Lim, her fiance and other hobbyists, is they can relive their childhood adventures of catching spiders in the field and guppies in the drain.

      There is also joy in being able to build a colony big enough to observe how the castes work – workers tending to hive’s daily needs and soldiers protecting the queen.

      Designing the formicarium (or ant’s homes) can also feel like playing the once-popular computer game SimCity.

      (Above) Member of the Ants Community Singapore Facebook group, Joshua Tan, holding up two 3-D printed formicariums of varying sizes he built at his workplace. He printed them using a 3-D file of the design that's available online. The smaller one is his prototype.

      Ms Lim holding up a formicarium she built using plaster of Paris fitted in a small fish tank she got for about S$5. Below is a photograph she took in the process of her making it.

      Above) A formicarium made of a mix of clay and fine sand built by Member of the Ants Community Singapore

      While ants might seem like hardy creatures, a whole colony can be wiped out by one wrong move, as Mr Muhammad Iskandar Riza Bin Noor Affandi found out.

      His six-month-old colony of seven workers and one carpenter queen died last Monday (March 27) for reasons unknown, devastating the 29-year-old lifeguard who started keeping ants eight months ago.

      At the peak, the founder of Facebook group Ants Community Singapore had a colony of 20. He suspects they might have suffocated because he used a cover that’s too thick to keep them in the dark, which they prefer.

      Antkeepers who want to get a head start without hunting can buy their queens from suppliers. Listed on AntsCanada’s website are seven ant “farmers” in Singapore, offering 44 colonies for sale.

      The biggest and most expensive at S$2,000 is a nest of over 1,000 yellow crazy workers with four queens, kept in a 0.6m enclosure. A collection of 50 to 100 weavers is also going at a high price of S$800, as queen weavers are harder to catch than trap-jaws since they mate high up in the air.

      Mr Chris Chan, a former shipping executive, started ant-keeping a year ago. He supplies schoolboys starter carpenter ant colonies consisting a queen with at least one worker for S$15 to S$30. His biggest ant sale to date is a trap-jaw queen with five workers in a small formicarium for S$250.

      In what the 29-year-old said is a sign of the growing trend here, he also managed to sell five formicariums he designed in recent months for between S$40 and S$300.

      One room in his rental home is dedicated to housing his collection of at least 10 formicariums – each built differently – and about 40 recently-caught queen ants, six of which are trap-jaws.

      His largest colony consists up to 1,000 red fire ants, known for their stinging bites, housed in a large fish tank lined with a paste of talcum powder and alcohol at its mouth to prevent them from escaping.

      Mr Chan’s dream is to be the region’s go-to for all things ants-related, as it is an “in-thing in the US and Taiwan” at the moment, but has yet to catch on in as big a way locally.

      Even so, not all ants are pets to Mr Chan. Pointing to pharaoh and ghost ants crawling across his room furniture, he said: “Because of their size, they can squeeze through tight spaces, steal all the goods and kill my whole colony.”

      One reminder he has for beginners: “Keeping ants is as big a responsibility as keeping dogs and cats; if you release captive ants back into the wild, it can affect the ecosystem. Give them a home, or don’t home them at all.”

       

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • A US firefighter has been praised for giving a dog 20 minutes of "mouth-to-snout" resuscitation after the animal was rescued from a house fire.

      The dog was overcome by the heat and smoke of the blaze in Santa Monica, California, and was unresponsive.

      But firefighter Andrew Klein managed to bring 10-year-old Nalu, a Bichon Frise/Shih Tzu, "back from the dead".

      Mr Klein discovered Nalu unconscious in a back bedroom after crawling on all fours into the blazing apartment

      "He was totally lifeless," the firefighter told the Associated Press news agency. "I picked him up and ran out of the apartment because time is key, especially with a small dog... Failure was not an option.''

      As the dog's distraught owner Crystal Lamirande knelt crying nearby, Mr Klein and his crew spent the next 20 minutes giving the dog oxygen and performing "mouth-to-snout" resuscitation.

      "After 20 minutes, the dog began breathing on its own and regained consciousness, even regaining the ability to walk around," the Santa Monica Fire Dept  said in a press release.

      Nalu has now fully recovered after spending 24 hours in an oxygen tent.

      Ms Lamirande, a radiology nurse, said she was overwhelmed by the effort made by Mr Klein and his team to save her dog.

      "His eyes were glazed over and he was not breathing and I assumed he was dead," she said. "But the firefighter said 'I'm a positive person. Let's just get him back'."

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • TAIPEI — Rows upon rows of books in different South-east Asian languages are stacked neatly on shelves on the ground floor of this three-storey walk-up located in a small lane in the heart of New Taipei City’s bustling Zhonghe District.

      At Brilliant Time Bookstore, the books are not for sale, but you can take them home for a small fee and return them any time you like. “We are therefore neither a bookstore nor a library,” said founder Chang Cheng.

      The bookstore’s story started two years ago, when Mr Chang wrote a column in the highly regarded Commonwealth magazine calling for greater understanding of South-east Asian culture and history among the Taiwanese.

      “I noticed that there were hardly any books in Taiwan about Asean countries,” he said, adding that he urged Taiwanese to send such books to him so he could share them with others.

      The donations slowly started coming in, including from Taiwanese tourists visiting Southeast Asian countries.

      Today, Mr Chang gets an average of 50 books a week, some of which he sends to partners in other parts of Taiwan so they can be handed to foreign workers from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

      He rents the space for NT20,000 (S$910) a month, and the bookstore takes in about NT60,000 every month through the talks and language classes it conducts. Brilliant Time itself stocks about 5,000 books, said Mr Chang. Two staff members help him to run the place, which is frequented by tourists, foreign workers and students.

      “We obviously cannot make money from this,” he said. “But what we can do is foster a better understanding of South-east Asia among Taiwanese and provide foreign nationals access to books from their home countries.”

      The place has attracted not only book lovers, but also VIPs. Ms Tsai Ing-wen visited in April 2015, months before she won the presidential election, while Mr Ma Ying-jeou was there a year later, shortly after losing to Ms Tsai in the election.

      “I hope to keep this going as long as I can,” said Mr Chang.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Your life centres around your cat. We know that, we have cats too. That’s why Hide and Seek has been designed with cat owners in mind. Consisting of the Hide coffee table, and the Seek cat toy, the collection seamlessly integrates a pet’s habits with our daily lives.

      Made chiefly from sungkai wood and rattan, the Hide coffee table combines functionality, sustainability and playtime. Lift the solid wood top to find a rattan cage that’s perfect for your cat to nest in or explore. This area is accessed through a hole cut into the tabletop as well as a rattan ring at the bottom, so your feline friend can enter or leave whenever it pleases.

      The coffee table’s smooth, edgeless design also makes it a charming centrepiece for any cat owner’s home. At 1m x 0.6m, the Hide is also an ideal size for most modern living rooms, where the cage area can also double up as a storage space.

      We’ve got sustainability in mind too. To reduce our carbon footprint, we’ve used materials native to the region: native sungkai wood from Indonesia is used to craft the tabletop, while rattan is used to shape the base. The rattan itself is hand-bent craftsmen From a family-owned business with over 50 years of history in Bandung, where rattan working has been a traditional craft for centuries.

      Watch what your cat is up to through the bare-bones concept of the cage area, or lure it out of it’s nesting spot with the Seek cat toy. Made from rattan, paper and nylon string, the Seek cat toy is environmentally friendly, safe and elegantly designed

      Swish it around and watch as your cat pounces and swats at the spinning propeller powered by the wind. The paper propellers are easily replaceable, so you can give your cat the satisfaction of catching its ‘prey’ during playtime. The Seek’s made of flexible rattan, giving it a much more natural feel compared to plastic, while at the same time harmonizing perfectly with the Hide coffee table.

      Imagine coming home after a long day at work. You’re looking to unwind and play with your furry friend, and he pops his head of a hole in your coffee table, his attention fixed on the spinning Seek toy. That’s our goal with Hide and Seek—a breezy, effortless combination of lifestyle and pet ownership.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Thailand's National Elephant Day is celebrated annually on March 13. It is a day of respect for an animal that is very important to Thai history and culture. In the Elephant Kraal Pavillion in the ancient historical city in Ayutthaya province, the elephants are treated to a huge feast of fruits and vegetables, and are even given blessings by a monk during a religious ceremony.

      Elephants are seen during Thailand's National Elephant Day celebration in the ancient city of Ayutthaya on March 13, 2017.

      Elephants, together with their Thai mahouts, take part in an elephant fighting demonstration during Thailand's National Elephant Day celebration

      A baby elephant stands under its mother

      Students feed elephants

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Is this the best quokka photo ever?

      COULD this be the cutest quokka snap ever?

      Landsdale resident Campbell Jones, 21, cycled past a quokka during his first trip to Rottnest and could not resist pulling over for a classic selfie.

      Mr Jones said the friendly quokka seemed happy to be the subject of a few snaps on his GoPro.

      “As I walked back to my bike, the quokka chased after me,” he said.

      “I put down the GoPro and it jumped at me as if to say come ‘come back’.”

      The image has received more than 20,000 likes on Instagram since Friday, which he said was “quite humbling”.

      Comments posted on Instagram included, “This shot will end depression”, and “I’ve never been more excited for anything in my life”.

      Another viewer commented that the furry creature looked “as happy as Steve would be”, referring to the fugitive quokka still at large in Perth.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • In 2008, Jack Norheim’s cat, Ernst, left their home in Skellefteå, Sweden, and failed to return. After a while, Norheim, who described Ernst as “practically his best friend,” gave him up for gone, The Local reports. Norheim moved across the border to Norway, built a life, found a partner, and had a son. A year ago, he moved back to Skellefteå.

      Then, last week, he got a call from the local animal shelter, asking him to come in and pick up his cat.

      Ernst wasn’t dead—he had just been playing the long game. After he left the Norheim household, the tabby took up with an older couple in a nearby village, who cared for him until they passed away a few weeks ago. He ended up at the shelter, who called the phone number attached to his microchip.

      Ernst—who, in photos, looks very pleased with himself—now lives with Norheim and his family once again. “I was a little bit nervous at first,” Norheim told local TV, but things have been working out great.

      Although Ernst is certainly impressive, other recent footloose felines have him beat. This past July, Moon Unit of East London was reunited with his family after eight years of absence, during which he somehow made it to Paris.

      In the fall of 2015, Glitter, a stylish cat from Sweden, also turned up in France, about 1000 miles away from home. And way back in 2013, a tortoiseshell named Holly jumped out of his family RV in Daytona, Florida, and staggered 200 miles back home—apparently on foot—to West Palm Beach.

      We salute Ernst for his relatively lazy feat.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • The island of Rottnest near Perth, Australia is the primary home of the quokka, a type of marsupial. Quokkas have round, compact bodies that are 40-54 cm (16-21 in.) in length. They are covered with short, coarse brown-grey fur and have small rounded ears and a black nose.

      An early Dutch visitor to the island, Willem de Vlamingh, mistook the marsupials for large rats when he arrived in 1696. He named the island “Rattennest” (Dutch for “Rat’s Nest”), which was later adapted to Rottnest.

      Aside from Rottnest Island, small groups of quokkas also inhabit the mainland in Western Australia, as well as Bald Island, a small island to the southwest. Groups of quokkas live in territories, which are defended by dominant males. They often live in tall grass near water sources. Quokkas can also climb trees!

      Quokkas are herbivores who primarily feed at night, meaning they are mainly nocturnal. They eat the leaves, stems, and bark of many plants in addition to grass. If necessary, they can survive for long periods of time without food or water by living off the fat stored in their tails.

      On the mainland, quokkas can breed all year round, but on Rottnest Island they only breed from January to August. After a month of gestation, the female gives birth to a baby called a joey. Females can give birth twice a year.

      The joey lives in its mother’s pouch for six months. Once it leaves the pouch, the joey relies on its mother for milk for two more months. At 1.5 years old, quokkas are old enough to have their own babies. In the wild, quokkas can live up to ten years.

      Conservation Status

      The IUCN RED list classifies the quokka as vulnerable due to declining populations and loss of habitat from logging and development. Threats include foxes, dogs, and cats on the mainland, which has limited their population. On Rottnest, there are no foxes, dogs, or cats, but human visitors have killed quokkas out of cruelty.  Quokkas are also at risk of developing muscular dystrophy, a disease in which muscles are damaged and weakened.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Trolls worse than zombies, says 'Walking Dead' star

      SINGAPORE — If there is one thing The Walking Dead star Josh McDermitt hates, it is haters.

      The 38-year-old, who plays Dr Eugene Porter on the popular American TV show, was recently in the news for speaking out on behalf of co-star Alanna Masterson. She received brutal online criticism in November about her weight after being seen in the show’s new season, having returned to shooting her role as Tara Chambler after giving birth to her first daughter in 2015.

      McDermitt responded to the criticism, saying that weight gain was part of the natural and beautiful process of childbirth.

      “There’s a bigger issue here. It’s not just about body shaming. It’s more about the Internet and how there are no consequences on social media,” he said in an interview with TODAY. “That’s a problem because we’re breeding a lot of people who spew hatred. It’s sad that our society is headed in that direction.”

      Irresponsible Internet trolls are why McDermitt thinks many public figures, including himself, hold back from sharing their lives on social media: There is just too much negativity.

      “I’ll be honest: I don’t get on social media as much as I used to, because I see a lot of bad things there and it drags me down. I get negative,” he said.

      “When people say, ‘I hate Eugene’ — you’re entitled to your opinion and I get that he’s not going to be everyone’s favourite character, but do you have to send that message to me? Have some manners. I’m not saying you have to like him, but you don’t have to throw that in my face.

      “That’s why I’ve kind of pulled back from social media; I think that’s why other people do too ... And at the end of the day, the people who then suffer are the fans of the show.”

      McDermitt was in town last week for the first time to promote the show, which has begun airing part two of its seventh season.

      One thing that you cannot escape talking about with McDermitt is his mullet. His character is so known for this distinctive hairstyle that it even led to the star commenting on how Singapore is somewhat similar to Atlanta, Georgia, where many scenes for The Walking Dead are filmed.

      “It’s very hot, very humid,” McDermitt said of Singapore, noting that Atlanta can be the same.

      “The humidity (here) is taking its toll on the mullet,” McDermitt deadpanned.

      Asked whether he minds having to wear that particular style for the show, he says that “the mullet is iconic. I don’t know that many people having the mullet these days, and so it’s nice to represent that sect of society”.

      Does that sect of society write to him to thank him for being their champion?

      “I don’t think people who have a mullet know how to write. Unfortunately, they’re so busy maintaining their mullets, they’re not literate,” he quipped.

      On a show where every character’s fate hangs in the balance (fan favourites like Abraham Ford, played by Michael Cudlitz and Glenn Rhee, played by Steven Yeun, have been killed off), something as insignificant as an actor’s hairstyle can be a spoiler.

      “A lot of fans say, ‘Oh, you still have the mullet, therefore you’re still alive (on the show)’. I want to caution them on that,” McDermitt said.

      “Just because I have the mullet doesn’t mean anything. You could be talking to a dead man right now, and you don’t even know it.”

      Ask him about how Eugene would really do in a real-life zombie apocalypse, and McDermitt chuckles.

      “I think Eugene represents what many people would be like in the apocalypse: Someone who is scared, maybe a bit of a coward, hoping someone else protects them.

      “If the apocalypse started tomorrow, I think we would see a lot of Eugenes out there. Unfortunately, a lot of people would die,” he said.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • VIENNA: On a wintry afternoon, tourists huddle around their guide outside Vienna's central train station.

      But instead of exploring glitzy palaces, tour guide Barbara will take them around night shelters and soup kitchens as part of a new initiative aimed at helping homeless people like herself get back on their feet.

      Vienna is ranked as one of the world's most liveable cities with an excellent social security system, but thousands of people nonetheless fall through the cracks.

      VIENNA: On a wintry afternoon, tourists huddle around their guide outside Vienna's central train station.

      But instead of exploring glitzy palaces, tour guide Barbara will take them around night shelters and soup kitchens as part of a new initiative aimed at helping homeless people like herself get back on their feet.

      Vienna is ranked as one of the world's most liveable cities with an excellent social security system, but thousands of people nonetheless fall through the cracks.

      "I'm happy because my hair is long again and I'm totally healthy," she told her tour group.

      "I'm confident that I'll soon have my own place again, not least because of this," she added, referring to her new job at Shades Tours.

      Launched last year, the social start-up is part of a growing European trend that sees the needy hired as city guides as a way to help them reintegrate.

      While they show tourists in Paris around famous landmarks, the Vienna concept goes a step further to peel off the stigma attached to homelessness.

      "I wanted (the tours) to be more educational," explained Shades Tours' creator Perrine Schober, a 33-year-old tourism management graduate.

      "We (see) homelessness on a daily basis but we have no idea what it is actually about, so I guess that's the reason people look away instead of trying to help," the French-Austrian told AFP.

      Shades Tours was initially aimed at Austrians, drawing hundreds of school children, social workers and companies last year, with a selection of tours costing 15 euros (S$22.70) that range from a couple of hours to all day.

      "Our guides are in a unique position to explain Vienna's complex social system and its challenges. They provide children with an emotional lesson they can't get in a classroom," said Ms Schober.

      The organisation now employs three full-time guides, two of whom have already been able to move from their shelter into private housing.

      Boosted by the success, Ms Schober recently broadened the offering to include English-language tours for international tourists.

      Barbara, who declined to give her surname, switches effortlessly from German to English and French as she explains why the central station is a "hot spot" for the homeless.

      "It's warm, it's open 24 hours a day and you can be anonymous here," she tells the visitors after they enter the huge glass structure.

      Multilingual social workers, recognisable by their red jackets, walk around the station handing out information to homeless people on where to get help.

      "What's the worst part about being homeless?" asked one of the tour group.

      The isolation, Barbara replied. "Nobody from my former life knows where I am now and I have no family," she said.

      Vienna, a city of 1.7 million, has a solid network of public institutions and not-for-profit organisations helping those in need.

      In winter, around 700 beds are added to the 300 available all year round to prevent people from freezing to death, particularly in the current cold snap gripping Europe.

      But it is not enough to meet the high demand, made worse because Vienna also draws the homeless from other European cities like Budapest, Hungary, where conditions are even tougher.

      For two euros a day, you can sleep, eat, shower, and use the Internet at the men-only VinziPort shelter, the last leg of Barbara's tour.

      At the end, participants thank Barbara for sharing her story, including Bulgarian Steliana Kokonova, 29.

      "One major thing that will stay with me is that we now have more information about how to direct homeless people towards useful institutions," she said. - AFP

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • This Walking Dead star hopes he is killed off in a blaze of glory

      t is not often someone tells you he is looking forward to his death. But not everyone is on hit television zombie drama The Walking Dead, either.

      Josh McDermitt is excited about the prospect of his demise - on screen, that is.

      The 38-year-old US actor, who plays the less-than-gung-ho survivor Eugene Porter, told The  Sun News: "I hope he goes out like a hero."

      In town as part of the show's Asian press tour, the Arizona native said: "He has lived his life in the shadows of cowardice, and I hope he goes out in a blaze of glory, saving people.

      "It will be an epic death because they do not just kill people - you have your guts ripped out and your head smashed in. I am looking forward to it."

      Not that he wants out. Before he was cast in the show, he was - and remains - a huge fan.

      "I just hope it is like three, four, five, six, 10 years down the road," he joked.

      While the series, now in its seventh season, maintains a central group of protagonists led by ex-cop Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), it has no qualms about suddenly killing off beloved characters.

      The current season opened with fan favourites Glenn Rhee (played by Steven Yeun) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) meeting gory ends.

      McDermitt, who joined the show with Cudlitz in the fourth season, was affected by their on-screen deaths.

      "They are the two I was closest to, Michael especially. He is like a big brother to me," he said.

      "I still get a little emotional when I think about not going to work with him."

      An occupational hazard of being on such a popular show is the spoilers.

      McDermitt admitted to lying to his family and friends, saying: "There is a level of protectiveness (the cast members) all have when talking to anybody, whether it is a journalist or a fan.

      "Some cast members have bigger mouths than others. I have watched some stuff get spoiled right in front of my face, and they do not even realise they are saying it."

      He said the tightly-knit cast generally keeps things light.

      "If Danai Gurira (who plays Michonne) has a heavy and emotional scene, we are not going to be running up to her and goofing off. We want to give her space so that she can do that," he said.

      "But because the elements are so challenging, we do try and keep it light. We hang out as often as we can to build up that sense of family and friendship.

      "It makes the challenging parts easier because you realise you are not doing this alone."

      What would he change about the show?

      "The worst thing about working on the show is Andrew Lincoln. He is a jerk... I am kidding. You can print that, he will not care. He loves it!"

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Valentine was hardly more than a kitten when he was dropped off at a Los Angeles shelter missing his claws.

      Even worse, the surgery was so brutally botched, it left Valentine in searing pain. His paws were so infected, the staff wasn't sure if he would even survive.

      "He was in so much pain, he was acting out," Jennifer Conrad, a veterinarian and founder of The Paw Project, tells The Do. "He was biting. He was terrified."

      Valentine's apparent aggression led him to being put on the shelter's euthanasia list

      And if his picture hadn't found his way to Aurelie Vanderhoek, founder of Zoey Place Rescue, Valentine would not have been long for this world.

      "I saw the picture and my heart dropped," Vanderhoek tells The Dodo. "The incisions the vet had made were not even stitched. They were left open to bleed.

      "I said, 'I don't care how we're going to do this. He's coming with me.'"

      Freed from his shelter cage, Valentine was brought to the Animal Healthcare Centre in Eagle Rock, where veterinarian Lisa Hsuan worked to ease the pain in his festering paws.

      And a week later?

      "Now, he's in my bathroom," Vanderhoek says with a laugh.

      It took a few days, understandably, for Valentine to warm up to her.

      "All I did was sit next to him," Vanderhoek recalls. "I gave him a small room to get control over. And I just let him come to me. And within three days, he was purring and playing."

      Plenty of care also poured in from a community that had heard of the cat's plight.

      Jackson Galaxy even donated calming remedies to soothe those troubled paws.

      Perhaps most importantly, The Paw Project's program, is covering the bills for Valentine's spiraling medical expenses.

      "We take animals who were going to lose their lives because they were declawed — and we rehabilitate them," Conrad says. "We've had a 100 percent success rate in finding these animals homes once they've been taken out of pain and the infection in their paws has been taken away."

      And Vanderhoek took it upon herself to soothe Valentine's troubled mind — which is proving the easiest job of all.

      "He gets startled very easily with loud noises. I think he was abused because he has very, very sharp triggers," she says. "He's playful. All he wants right now is to be held. He just wants to cuddle.

      "This is a cat who just needs a nice, quiet environment and he'll be fine."

      Vanderhoek credits an entire community of animal rescuers for coming together to give Valentine a real chance at a life — an opportunity that's all too often not given to declawed cats.

      While some people think taking away a cat's claws makes them easier to deal with.

      "There's no doubt that a declawed cat bites more often and bites harder because they've been robbed of their primary defense," Conrad explains. "Anytime you have a behavioral problem, you should treat it with behavioral management. Not with surgery.

      Instead, she suggests simple alternatives like a scratching post or a toy. Because kittens will be kittens.

      "That's what kittens do," Conrad says. "They attack each other. They attack toys. They go crazy doing their little kitten stuff. But that's because they're babies."

      And now, thanks to an entire community's efforts, Valentine will get to be the kitten he was meant to be.

  • NeverSayGoodBye's Avatar
    8,262 posts since May '05
    • Beneath the surface of Japan's Tateyama Bay stands a shrine called a torii, sacred to the Shinto religion. But more than being a place of spiritual importance, the underwater site is host to something else that's remarkable — a unique friendship between a man and a fish.

      For more than two decades, a local diver named Hiroyuki Arakawa has been entrusted with overseeing the shrine and being a guide to others who wish to visit it. In that time, he's become well-acquainted with the local marine animals who live in the area — including one friendly Asian sheepshead wrasse named Yoriko.

      Over the course of 25 years, the pair have forged an incredible bond based on trust and respect.

      Perhaps the sweetest testament to their friendship can be seen in Arakawa's custom of greeting Yoriko with a kiss.

      Although fish may not be commonly considered particularly feeling sorts of creatures, that's a notion based more on misconception than reality. In fact, a recent study found that fish are smarter and more social than previously thought — and one only need look at Arakawa and Yoriko's quarter-century-long relationship for proof.