A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Weekly Recap July 14, 2012

From bird flu … to chimpanzees on the lam … to people who paint their pets … to nice people and not-so-nice people … to what it means if you like heavy metal … to a new book about death … and lots more. [readon]

After bird flu broke out in dozens of factory farms in Mexico, millions of chickens were destroyed. It’s all part of the terrible wastage of life, and a reminder that while bird flu isn’t in the news every week, it has not remotely gone away.

Chimpanzees escaped at a zoo in Germany. They’d constructed a ladder to get out of their compound, and one of them went to visit the gorillas. No one was hurt, the chimps were soon “home” again, but 2,500 people were evacuated, and lots of them look a bit scared in the video.

Things didn’t go so well for two chimps who escaped from a private house in Las Vegas. One of them was shot dead by police; the other is now left alone in a cage. Captivity is not good for intelligent beings of any kind.

In the wild, we visit a mother leopard and her son who are the subjects of a gorgeous and heartwarming TV show on Nat Geo WILD. If you miss it tomorrow, Sunday, there will doubtless be plenty of repeats.

The all-too-human practice of painting pets to look like tigers, pandas, etc. has crossed the Pacific from China and is catching on in the U.S. It’s another version of pets as fashion statements. Expect dogs to be dropped off at shelters because “the kids want one that will come out like a giraffe.”

Meanwhile, pigs and miniature horses are being allowed on planes as “service” animals. If you can persuade the airline that you need Miss Piggy for “emotional support,” they’ll likely let her on. (How do you get you and a 250-pound pig into the middle seat?)

There are nice people … and no-so-nice people. In Colombia, an ex-bullfighter now fights against bullfighting. In Northern Ireland, by contrast, the authorities decided, after appeals from around the world, to kill a dog they deemed had a large head like a “pit bull” (rather than just put him in a car and sent him south to the Irish Republic). And in the polygamy enclave that used to be run by convicted rapist Warren Jeffs, some evil person dropped a kitten into some concrete to “send a message” to a non-polygamist.

A Minneapolis museum is planning the first-ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival. They say that many of these videos are true art forms. We agree.

And about the human animal: A new study explains that if you like acid/metal/punk rock (assuming you do), there’s a good reason why. And here’s a fascinating new book about death. When you’re dead, are you really? Turns out there’s no simple answer to this. And there are lots of implications.

Enjoy the weekend!