People, Stop Killing Wild Animals With Kindness

Left: The Yellowstone baby bison. Right: The Wissahickon black bear.

Left: The Yellowstone baby bison. Right: The Wissahickon black bear.

One of the most embarrassing things I ever did was find a dog that wasn’t lost. It was near Second and Washington, while I was stuck in traffic. I saw a very adorable Beagle-y Bassett-y thing wandering along the perimeter of a park, but outside its gates rather than in. I drove around and didn’t see an owner anywhere — the area looked pretty deserted — so I concluded the dog was lost and in need of rescue. I pulled over, grabbed the befuddled dog off the pavement and stuck him in the back seat of my grandfather’s hand-me-down Oldsmobile. Then I drove somewhere quiet where we could talk.

“Are you lost?” I asked the dog, who stared at me with liquid eyes but said nothing. “Do you need my help, you precious cutie?” He did have a collar and tags, so I called a number and left a triumphant message: “I found your dog!” A few minutes later, a woman called back and said, “You found him! Thank god! We didn’t know what happened.” She said her husband took her dog to the same park every day, where he’d sit on a bench and read while the dog would roam around. Her husband always kept a close eye on him, she said, but on this day, when her husband raised his eyes from his book, the dog was gone. He ran around the entire park calling the dog’s name.

Where had this happened? I asked. Near Second and Washington, she said.

Uh-oh.  Read more »

Penn Vet Students to Learn on Jon Stewart’s Farm

stewart pennn vet

The veterinary students at the University of Pennsylvania certainly are going Hollywood these days.

Months after it was revealed that a new “Penn Vet” reality show will feature the students and their work at West Philly’s Ryan Hospital, comes news that they’ll also be cooperating with comedian Jon Stewart and wife, Tracey, as they start an animal sanctuary in Monmouth County, N.J.

The Asbury Park Press reports that Penn students will join students from Rutgers’ Cook College to study animals at the sanctuary. The Stewarts want the sanctuary to become an “agricultural education center” that offers tours to the public.

“I do think of the farm as the perfect classroom,” Tracey Stewart told the Monmouth County Board of Agriculture on Tuesday night. “The goal of the farm is to get kids to be excited and to see where food is coming from.” Read more »

PHOTOS: Le Cat Café is Finally Open — We Checked it Out

Le Cat Café | By Mariam Dembele

Le Cat Café. Photo | Mariam Dembele

Are you a cat lover? Do their little paws and furry tails overload your cuteness receptors? Do you secretly follow multiple cat blogs on Instagram — and find yourself liking every pic? If so Le Cat Café at 2713 W. Girard Ave. is the spot for you. By now you’ve probably heard the spiel: cats and cappuccinos. But were you wondering what it’s like to be surrounded by eight of the furry felines? We were, too, so we stopped by Wednesday last week on their first day of appointments (the grand opening was Sunday, March 6th) to check it out. We were not disappointed.

As Philly Mag’s Sandy Hingston had previously hypothesized, this is not the right place to compose a formal email or leisurely drink a glass of water — in fact I would strike getting any work done from your agenda. However, I would argue that it’s a pretty enjoyable place. We stopped by last Wednesday around 2 p.m. — after the cats were tired out from playing and were in the mood to snooze — making it the perfect spot for cat cuddles and photo ops. Read more »

These Are the Top 10 Dog Breeds in Philadelphia

The Labrador retriever may be the No. 1 dog in the country, but in Philadelphia another breed is top dog.

Yesterday, the American Kennel Club released its annual list of the top dog breeds in the United States. The labrador retriever was first, the 25th straight year the dog has claimed the honor.

Things are different in Philadelphia, however. According to figures provided by the American Kennel Club to Philadelphia magazine, the German shepherd dog is the top breed in the city. The Labrador retriever falls all the way to fifth! The lists are generated by the number of purebred dogs registered with the AKC; the group does not release the number of dogs registered, only the rankings. Read more »

Should All Animals Be Banned from the Circus?

Say goodbye to the elephants of the Ringling Bros. Circus. (Photo via Feld Entertainment)

Say goodbye to the elephants of the Ringling Bros. Circus. (Photo via Feld Entertainment)

“Please, smart people I know, stop supporting the circus.”

That was the Facebook status of a Philadelphia artist friend of mine on Wednesday morning, and I’m pretty sure that it was directed at me. Read more »

Penn Vet Students to Star in New Animal Planet Series, Penn Vet

Photo | Penn Vet

Photo | Penn Vet

The next time your new kitty won’t eat and keeps coughing up hairballs, you might want to check the mirror before you rush her off to Penn Vet. Animal Planet just announced a new series featuring “the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at the University of Pennsylvania’s highly competitive veterinary school.” Taking advantage of what it promises is “unprecedented access,” the series, titled (duh) Penn Vet, will shadow students in their fourth and final year as they’re taught and mentored by Penn’s renowned animal docs. Read more »

5 Furry Philly Groundhog Day Alternatives to Punxsutawney Phil

There is nothing wrong with Punxsutawney Phil.

In fact, for a groundhog, the little guy is pretty cute. Getting a bit chubby in the cheeks, perhaps, but by February, who isn’t. Maybe he really can predict the weather, or maybe he only emerges from his cozy winter burrow for the same reason we all eventually do. Either way, he’s a good-natured Groundhog Day MC, and for that we should be grateful — especially since he forecasted an early spring this morning.

But growing up in the city, I can’t say that I’ve ever actually seen a groundhog, much less a groundhog meteorologist.

What I did see on Saturday afternoon was the world’s mangiest sparrow struggling to carry a Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot down Second Street. As my dogs and I approached, he fluffed up what were left of his post-blizzard feathers and teetered toward us, one wiry little foot at a time, as if to say, “Come one step closer and you’ll be sorry, lady — and your little dogs, too.” We backed off, and eventually he was able to secure his cargo, flying away to enjoy it in the safety of my neighbor’s gutter.

Did this mean that we’re looking at six more weeks of Cheetos-hoarding weather? Who knows, but I’d trust my little orange-dusted friend to know what’s up in Philadelphia over a backwoodsy groundhog. (No offense, Phil — you did good this morning, and I’d love to believe you.) I’d trust these guys, too. Read more »

Three Philly-Area Pups Will Compete in Puppy Bowl XII

From left: Rottweiler Leah; Lab Marley; Kevin

From left: rottweiler Leah from Center City’s Morris Animal Refuge; lab Marley from Souderton’s Salfid Rescue, Inc.; schnauzer Kevin from Marlton’s New Life Animal Refuge.

If Super Bowl Sunday finds you curling up with dog treats instead of chips and dip, chances are your idea of the Big Game is Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. This year’s production, the 12th, will feature contestants from three local animal shelters: Center City’s Morris Animal Refuge, Marlton’s New Life Animal Rescue, and Salfid Rescue, Inc., in Souderton. Prepare to lose your heart: Read more »

Fox Spottings Increasing in Philly’s Germantown Neighborhood

So far, they haven’t kept neighbors up at night howling at the moon (or is it wolves that do that?), but the foxes who have moved into Germantown have kept them talking for several months now.

The earliest mention of a fox in the neighborhood on the Facebook discussion group “Living in Germantown: All Together” came back in July, when resident Alima Umm Lam’yaa “spotted a FOX running down the street on Coulter near Morris earlier.”

Since then, there have been several more sightings; at least one case involved two foxes together. The most recent one was a “home invasion,” where G’towner Garlen Capita, a community planner at WRT Architects, photographed one on the front porch of a neighbor’s home in the 300 block of West Earlham Terrace. Read more »

Watch: The Country’s Oldest Polar Bear Eats Her Birthday Cake at Philly Zoo

Courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo

Courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo

On Wednesday, personnel and guests at the Philadelphia Zoo gathered around the polar bear exhibit to celebrate the birthday of Coldilocks. The female polar bear turned 35 this week, holding tight to her title as the oldest polar bear in the United States.

Part of the celebrations included treats, of course: a three-tiered ice cake covered in peanut butter, nuts and raisins, and a couple hollow pumpkins to knock around. Onlookers also treated her to a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” with kids and parents alike chiming in. It was all captured by the zoo in the video below:

Read more »

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