Sitting on the northern border of the U.S. with Canada is a zone called the Boundary Waters. It’s wilderness, pure and simple. Huge forests span large geographic areas, and it’s very, very easy for a person to get lost. If involving a dog, a search might have better luck looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes.
Luigi, a big black fun ball of canine at six years, managed to become the subject of a search that lasted almost a month. The doofy dog somehow figured out how to survive and not get seriously hurt or attacked during that whole time, as well as finding his way back to his owner, one Zane Brunette. How Luigi ended up in the forests in the first place started with a camping trip.
Brunette brought his dog along with him for a bit of exposure to the wilderness. Unfortunately, the dog’s curiosity got the better of the canine during the stay, and Luigi got separated within the first day. Brunette thinks the trigger was actually caused by some characters they came across on the Sawbill Trail who seemed a bit fishy to begin with. Chocking up the possibility of a potential dognapping motive, Luigi was probably lured, and Brunette never had enough time to figure out what happened before Luigi was gone.
Brunette spent hours the first day hollering and looking for the dog. Logically, the owner knew his dog had disappeared, but emotionally, he just kept going until becoming exhausted looking for Luigi. The initial search went on for a number of days, with fliers posted, and asking questions of anyone in the area who might have seen the canine. Unfortunately, there was no hint or sign of Luigi. Ultimately, Brunette had to leave.
At one point, a resort owner thought he saw the dog and called Brunette. That location was at least 45 miles distant from where the campsite had been. Clearly, the dog had traveled or been moved. However, the owner turned out to actually have the dog, as Brunette answered and got details, and he hopped in his vehicle to go see. At the resort, Brunette immediately called out to Luigi, and the dog responded. There was no question who his owner was.
Looking the dog over after the initial excitement, Brunette was amazed how Luigi had stayed in such good condition. There was no sign of ticks, serious injuries, scratches, animal fights or anything to show the stay in the wilderness had been hard except for weight loss. The dog had clearly not eaten during the time he was gone, losing a solid 15 pounds of mass. Now, Luigi is busy recuperating and putting those pounds back on, but the whole event still has Brunette a bit jittered.
Suspecting the dog thieves realized the dog was older than they thought, Luigi was probably dumped after a while and left on his own. Given the canine’s disposition to being around people, Luigi made his way to whoever seemed friendly enough to give him water and food. Someone made the connection to Brunette’s lost dog fliers, and Luigi got found again.
First Wild Kiwi Egg Laid in Wellington in A Century
The first wild kiwi egg to be laid in Wellington in more than a century is a historic event for both conservationists and animal lovers. Due to habitat damage and predation by imported predators like stoats and feral cats, the kiwi, New Zealand’s national bird, has been experiencing population reduction in recent years.
The last wild kiwi in the region was last spotted in the early 1900s, and Wellington’s kiwi population has been particularly heavily impacted. The Zealandia wildlife sanctuary and the neighborhood iwi (original Maori tribe) have been leading a new project to encourage the kiwi to return to the region.
A predator-proof fence was first built around the 225-hectare sanctuary as part of the effort, allowing local species to flourish without concern for predation. This offered the kiwi a secure sanctuary, and a breeding program was started to increase the population.
The first wild kiwi egg to be laid in Wellington in well than a century was finally discovered after many years of toil and dedication. A ranger discovered the egg while doing a normal survey of the sanctuary’s kiwi population, and it was then brought right away to the Zealandia hatchery for incubation.
The birth of this kiwi chick is a significant accomplishment for Wellington’s conservation efforts and the kiwi species as a whole. It serves as a reminder that endangered animals can be saved from extinction with the appropriate actions and commitment.
The kiwi chick is not simply a sign of hope for this species’ survival, but also Wellington’s entire ecology. Kiwis’ are key seed dispersers in their ecology and aid in the management of invertebrate populations. If they suddenly vanish, the entire ecosystem may be affected.
A great example of how local groups and conservationists may collaborate to make conservation efforts succeed is the breeding program at Zealandia. The collaboration between Zealandia and the local iwi, which provides practical support like kiwi population monitoring together with cultural and spiritual counseling, has been crucial to the program’s success.
With plans in place to release more kiwis into the wild in the upcoming years, the kiwi population in Wellington has a promising future. The quest to bring the kiwi back to Wellington has just begun, but this is a big step in the right direction.
The first wild kiwi egg hatched in Wellington in more than a century is a testament to conservation efforts and the fruit of a fruitful collaboration between the community, the local iwi, and the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary. It serves as a reminder that we are capable of saving endangered animals from extinction with perseverance and hard effort. We anticipate the Wellington kiwi population’s continuous growth and the contribution they will make to the ecosystem.
Saving a Dog Against the Icy Odds￼
Moose is an odd name for a dog. Then again, once people meet the canine, they realize why the dog’s name fits the dog. Moose should have been born a cat as well; he’s definitely had more than one life with the number of situations he’s barely escaped death. However, in this case, this Australian Doodle had gotten himself into more of a cooler than his dog brain expected.
Like a lot of dogs, Moose didn’t always get to go everywhere with his owners. On one particular trip, Moose ended up at the dogsitter, specifically a fellow named Nic Converso, over in Edgewater, MD. Moose had no problem with the arrangement. As Converso noted, the dog adjusted and made himself darn comfortable. And so, everything was fine up to December 23. That particular morning, as soon as Converso opened the door, Moose bolted out. There was no block, no time to react, the dog was out in the open before his sitter could do anything.
That December 23 was a particularly cold day in Maryland, and everything was brisk and frozen, or at least it appeared that way. Converso went out the door trying to get the dog but it was impossible. Moose was on the run. So, she started enlisting the local community. Converso also digitally connected with Moose’s owners, to let them know what happened. The dogsitter feared the worst.
The whole neighborhood was mobilized in the search for the dog. At first, nobody found a clue where Moose went. However, the dog was getting around. Converso was repeatedly getting calls, texts and emails with momentary glimpses of the canine on the move. However, Moose got a bit too exploratory. He finally got himself into a bad mess by walking on thin ice, literally. A neighbor was clued into the dog’s location by hearing his crying and whimpering, and she called for help. The whole crew with Converso got on the road and to the specific location only to find Moose in a really bad situation. The dog was in the icy water. He had broken through and was trapped, sure to drown in minutes once Moose got exhausted from paddling.
Fortunately, Moose’s dogsitter also happened to be a water polo coach. And, not wasn’t just any coach, Converso was a U.S. Naval Academy water polo coach (and a darn good swimmer too). The dogsitter immediately went into the ice, smashed into the water and got to the dog. The news of the safe rescue of the dog was then distributed via social media to make sure everyone involved got notified the rescue.
Of course, Moose’s big adventure makes for one hell of a dinner story. As for the dogsitter, Converso, found a sense of fulfillment. The moment of finding the dog in the ice went from joy, to disaster, and then to saving Moose’s life. For Converso, the whole experience has given a sense of personal gratitude for being fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to do good.
Airline Acts of Kindness￼
Flying is More Stressful Than Ever
Flying has always been stressful. You need to have everything with you when you check in, and your luggage must meet airline standards. Airlines encourage passengers to arrive at the airport hours ahead of time so they can go through security and take care of any last-minute problems, which then means waiting for hours until the actual departure. The plane cabin feels confining, even to some passengers with more room, because you can’t leave once the trip starts. And you are surrounded by people experiencing the same feelings of stress.
In the past few years, stressed out passengers have taken out their frustrations on the crew and other passengers. There have been arguments, assaults, and general refusals to follow airline rules. That is why it is such great news to hear of times when an airline has gone above and beyond to simply spread kindness, proving that we can get through this and return to days of greater civility and enjoyment when flying.
A Lost Phone
If you’re like most people, you have almost everything you need on your phone. You use it to communicate with your friends and family, to stay in touch at work, to buy food, to keep up on the news, to keep track of the time, and an endless variety of other tasks. Losing your phone for any extended period of time will cause anything from a minor inconvenience to a disaster. Imagine getting ready to start a flight to another city and realizing that you don’t have your phone.
A passenger traveling from Long Beach, California lost their cell phone. The traveler was about to put hundreds of miles between himself and the phone that had all that important information. When the airline workers found the phone, the plane had already been pushed back from the gate and was about to leave. The plane was unable to open back up, even knowing that the passenger needed something important.
In a great act of kindness, the Southwest people worked together to make it happen anyway. The Captain had the idea, but it wouldn’t have worked without a lot of help. The baggage handlers who were allowed in the area brought the phone within reach of the the Captain so that he could grab it through his cockpit window.
Taking Care of a Dinosaur
Another passenger had a great experience when bringing an important model dinosaur while traveling on Southwest. Concerned about how well the model would be taken care of, the young passenger spoke with the airline while checking in. Kind workers assured him that the model would be handled carefully, even loading it separately and taking pictures of the journey. This simple act of kindness was much appreciated by a worried youngster.
Southwest really appreciates its customers and proves it with these kinds of actions. When a pilot decided to propose during a flight, he gave more proof that Southwest treats their passengers like family. Pilot Brad Ruff made a traditional proposal to his girlfriend during a flight, bended knee and all, in front of all the passengers. It was their second anniversary of dating, and he felt like it was the perfect time. There was applause and whistles as the couple made their happy moment a special moment for everyone flying that day.
Flying can be hard and stressful, but it makes it easier when remembering that everyone you are dealing with is another person trying to achieve a goal. These Southwest employees made flying more special and less stressful for everyone.
Pneumonia-Fighting Tiny Robots￼
Be careful mixing up the movies of the future and medical reality; they might start to blend. That is the case at least with fictional nanobots and the actual work going on using tiny robots to help attack pneumonia bacteria.
Most people, thanks to Hollywood, think of robots as mechanical constructs, with wires, joints, metal parts and glowing eyeballs. In reality, robots can be made from proteins, biological material, and organic matter. The key factor is that they can be assembled in mass and controlled to do specific actions. This was the case recently with swimming robots that were sent into a lab mouse to directly attack pneumonia. The goal, of course, is to take an overt approach to fending off a pneumonia infection versus using the indirect approach of bolstering the body and its own immune system.
The exact assembly of the micro-robots is a construct of an algae cell that is then coated with antibiotics. The algae cells have the ability to move through the lungs with ease, and then they are programmed to find and target pneumonia microbes. It’s a bit like sending in a guided missile at the cellular level. Everything else is left alone as only the target is recognized.
The experiment has shown very positive results. Those mice with the algae treatment cleared up their pneumonia within a few days. The mice that had no treatment died very soon after infection. So, will we be seeing algae robots in people at the local hospital? Not so soon. The experiment was a prototype test, a proof of concept that the idea could actually work. Now that the algae robots have a proven effect, there comes a long road of lots of additional tests to make sure the results can be consistently performed, as well as whether there are any harmful side effects. In short, a lot more mice are going to have to be used.
The assembly of the algae cells is a bit complicated and involves a lot of bio-genetic work. Each algae “robot” is covered with spheres that do the actual medical work. These are then covered with neutrophils, effectively white blood cells. The combination guides the algae cell to its target and then the antibiotics are released in close proximity, basically killing the pneumonia microbe and everything around it, a microscopic suicide drone. The mix also helps reduce local inflammation, which then clears up the area in the lung and the patient can effectively breathe better.
Other methods were tried before using an inhalation approach. A bloodstream entry of the algae cells was tried, but the circulatory approach diluted things so much, the dosage had to be thousands of times higher to have an effect. Instead, direct inhalation went straight to the source of the problem.
The approach of medical micro-robots is a big one, and it represents the frontier of bio-technology. Pneumonia kills thousands every year, especially seniors with compromised immune systems. Pneumonia can happen through social contact as well as when people are in the hospital and put on ventilators for other reasons, such as COVID, for example. Many times, patients in these situations end up staying in the hospital longer and have a higher likelihood of mortality once an infection sets in.
Again, the concept is a long way off from any practical use. Human immune systems are very different from mice, and what works on rodents may automatically trigger bad responses or perform little in humans. No surprise, lots of testing is in store, but the early results clearly advocate for more work versus killing the project altogether.
Tiny Turtles Prove the Odds Wrong￼￼
What chance does a creature have when it is one of the world’s smallest in the big ocean and the most endangered? As far as nature is concerned, it never seems to listen to the odds. That’s the case with a sea turtle species that has made itself at home near a Louisiana barrier island.
The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has managed to survive and has been observed again after being missing in biological terms for almost three-quarters of a century. Grinding out a delicate survival on the Chandeleur Islands, which have no human presence, the turtles have been eaking out an existence despite oil spills, hurricanes and everything else that can go wrong. While other wildlife was decimated by the BP spill a decade ago, the turtles somehow avoided certain elimination and instead are still alive, laying eggs, and hatching. However, much of that was missed because nobody was paying attention to the barrier islands.
However, on an off chance, scientists who were visiting the area realized what they had been watching was two small hatchlings struggle to get to the water after birth. And since that day, a total of at least 53 individual hatchlings have been tracked on the islands. Additional evidence comes in the form of the movement tracks made by the mother turtles to their egg nests and then back to sea. Add in the dozens of smaller tracks of hatchlings heading back out and some being observed getting into the water, and the proof is conclusive. The turtles survived and are growing in number.
The discovery is easily argued as one of the rarest moments that most researchers wish they could happen on. Many spend decades studying the sealife and wildlife of the Gulf and never get a chance to re-discover a known extinct species. Not only seeing them alive, but seeing the very young versions make it to water and swim is an extremely rare instance of biology most only read about or watching in films.
Now that the turtles are confirmed alive and functioning on and around the Chandeleur Islands, increased government presence is being applied to keep the area protected. The islands themselves, however, are numbered in days. They’ve lost their soil, and what’s left is being washed away by the ocean. Eventually, the island will be completely submerged at their current erosion rate. What happens to the turtles at that point is anyone’s guess, but they will likely end up opting for another similar island instead, if they can reach it.
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