The House Hippo

The house hippo is the subject of a Canadian television public service announcement (PSA) produced by Concerned Children’s Advertisers (now known as Companies Committed to Kids) in May 1999 and reintroduced by MediaSmarts in 2019. The original sixty-second clip was directed by Tim Hamilton of Avion Films. Effects were produced by Spin Productions.

The narration of the piece is spoken in the style of a Hinterland Who’s Who spot, showing footage and describing the behaviour of the “North American house hippo”, a fictional animal found “throughout Canada, and the eastern United States.” The hippo is shown foraging for the crumbs of peanut butter toast in a kitchen, escaping from a house cat, and making a nest from lost mittens to go to sleep.

Their stated intent is to educate children about critical thinking with regard to what they see in television advertising, and remind them that “it’s good to think about what you’re watching on TV, and ask questions”. Nevertheless, some viewers on social media have expressed that as children, they completely believed that house hippos were real based on this commercial.

This bear couldn’t break into a pot shop’s dumpster — so it took the whole thing

Bud Depot employee nicknames the bear Cheeseburger ‘because of all the good food he’s been trying to get’

When a Colorado black bear was unable to pry open a dumpster behind a cannabis shop, the animal made off with the whole thing instead.

Surveillance footage from The Bud Depot in Lyons., Colo., caught the hungry creature bursting through a locked fence door to access the garbage bin.

After trying in vain to get through the dumpster’s metal locks, the bear stands up on its hind legs and carefully drags it through the fence door and out into the alley for several metres before finally giving up.

“Seeing the video of that definitely blew my mind,” Bud Shop employee Nikko Garza told As It Happens guest host Megan Williams.

Garza says he’s seen the bear — or at least one like it — around the area a few times in the small mountain town.

Usually, he said, it goes for the nearby restaurant dumpster, because The Bud Depot keeps its trash behind a locked fence.

But this time, he said, the bear burst through the door like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. 

“But I imagine he’s a lot friendlier,” he said. “Instead of running toward you, he’ll run away.”

Garza has nicknamed the bear Cheeseburger “just because of all the good food he’s been trying to get.”

“He loves this grease trap back there,” Garza said, referring to the restaurant’s dumpster. “He loves just rubbing up against that.”

And it’s a snack the bear was after at the Bud Depot too. Garza confirmed it wasn’t trying to score the shop’s weed supply.

“I imagine he could probably smell something from the shop, but as far as the dumpster goes, we don’t have any cannabis products in there.”

The animal ran off, but Garza says he’s spotted another bear, or possibly the same one, once more since the dumpster incident.

Local wildlife officials say they are keeping an eye out for more.

Cats, dolphins and one smart raven: the CIA’s secret animal spies

Washington (AFP) – In early 1974, Do Da was top in espionage class, on the way to becoming a high-flying CIA agent: he handled himself better in the rough, carried heavier loads, and could brush off attackers.

But on his toughest-yet spy school test, he disappeared — done in by some of his own kind: ravens.

The bird was a central figure in a decade-long US Central Intelligence Agency program to train animals as agents, helping Washington fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

On Thursday, the CIA released dozens of files from its tests on cats, dogs, dolphins and on birds from pigeons to some of the smartest: ravens and crows.

It studied cats as possible loose-roaming listening devices — “audio surveillance vehicles” — and put electrical implants in dogs’ brains to see if they could be remotely controlled.

Neither of those programs went very far. More effort was put into training dolphins as potential saboteurs and helping spy on the Soviet Union’s development of a nuclear submarine fleet, perhaps the most potent challenge to US power in the mid-1960s.

Projects Oxygas and Chirilogy sought to see if dolphins could be trained to replace human divers and place explosives on moored or moving vessels, sneak into Soviet harbors and leave in place acoustic buoys and rocket detection units, or swim alongside submarines to collect their acoustic signatures.

Those programs, too, were given up, left to the US Navy which to this day makes use of dolphins and seals.

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– Hawks and owls –

But what also grabbed the US spy chiefs’ imagination in the Cold War days was birds — pigeons, hawks, owls, crows and ravens, and even flocks of wild migratory birds.

For the latter, the agency enlisted ornithologists to try to determine which birds regularly spent part of the year in the area of Shikhany in the Volga River Basin southeast of Moscow, where the Soviets operated a chemical weapons facility.

The CIA saw the migratory birds as “living sensors” which, based on their feeding, would reveal what kinds of substances the Russians were testing, in their flesh.

In the early 1970s, the CIA turned to birds of prey and ravens, hoping they could be trained for “emplacement” missions like dropping a listening device on a windowsill, and photo missions.

In project Axiolite, bird trainers working on San Clemente island off southern California taught the birds to fly miles over the water between a boat and land.

If the training went well, a chosen candidate would have a tough mission: being smuggled to Soviet Russia, where it would be released secretly in the field, tasked to fly 15 miles (25 kilometers) carrying a camera to snap pictures of a radar for SA-5 missiles, and fly back.

They had red-tailed and Harris’s hawks, great horned owls, a vulture, and a cockatoo.

It was not easy. A cockatoo was “a clever flyer” but “maybe too slow to avoid gull attacks.”

Two falcons died from illness; another promising candidate lost feathers and trainers had to wait for it to molt and grow them back.

– ‘Star’ of the project –

The most promising flyer was Do Da, the raven. In just three months, Do Da went from a successful 3/4-mile trip to six miles from shore to boat, and then four miles back to shore on the same day.

He was the most promising candidate for the Russia mission, the “star of this project,” one scientist wrote, who figured out the right altitudes in the right winds, and acquired “sufficient guile to outwit the native ravens and gulls,” which hid for attacks on him.

But on a training mission he was attacked by “the usual pair” of ravens — and was not seen again.

The scientists were deeply dismayed. “He had a large bag of tricks and was loved by all,” one wrote.

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Wildlife Pics

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A raccoon pokes her face out of a 1970s Ford Pinto on a deserted farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. She was using the car as a safe place to bring up her young. The hole was too small for predatory coyotes to pass through. Category – Urban Wildlife.

Wild Dogs of Zimbabwe

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Sharks photographed upside down.

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Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten won the grand title with his photo of critically endangered golden snub-nosed monkeys in China.

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Jaguar in Mexico

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Motion sensor camera captures a polar bear waiting for seals at hole in the ice.

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A camera trap captures a forest elephant wading through water. Gabon, Africa.

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A mother holds onto her cub as it dangles from a high tree branch in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

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SILVERBACK GORILLA, REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

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A hippopotamus surfs the waves off the coast of Gabon.

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Polar Bear goes for a big swim, a very big swim!

BBC

A polar bear swam continuously for over nine days, covering 687km (426 miles), a new study has revealed.

Scientists studying bears around the Beaufort sea, north of Alaska, claim this endurance feat could be a result of climate change.

Polar bears are known to swim between land and sea ice floes to hunt seals.

But the researchers say that increased sea ice melts push polar bears to swim greater distances, risking their own health and future generations.

In their findings, published in Polar Biology, researchers from the US Geological Survey reveal the first evidence of long distance swimming by polar bears (Ursus maritimus).

“This bear swam continuously for 232 hours and 687 km and through waters that were 2-6 degrees C,” says research zoologist George M. Durner.

“We are in awe that an animal that spends most of its time on the surface of sea ice could swim constantly for so long in water so cold. It is truly an amazing feat.”

Although bears have been observed in open water in the past, this is the first time one’s entire journey has been followed.

By fitting a GPS collar to a female bear, researchers were able to accurately plot its movements for two months as it sought out hunting grounds.

The polar bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore, being more than twice as big as the Siberian Tiger.  It shares the title of largest land predator (and largest bear species) with the Kodiak bear.  Adult males weigh 350–680 kg (770–1500 lbs) and measure 2.4–3 m (7.9–9.8 ft) in length.   Adult females are roughly half the size of males and normally weigh 150–249 kg (330–550 lb), measuring 1.8–2.4 metres (5.9–7.9 ft) in length. When pregnant, however, they can weigh as much as 499 kg (1,100 lb).

Polar Bear swimming underwater at San Diego Zoo.

As of 2008, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) reports that the global population of polar bears is 20,000 to 25,000, and is declining.  In 2006, the IUCN upgraded the polar bear from a species of least concern to a vulnerable species.  It cited a “suspected population reduction of >30% within three generations (45 years)”, due primarily to global warming. Other risks to the polar bear include pollution in the form of toxic contaminants, conflicts with shipping, stresses from recreational polar-bear watching, and oil and gas exploration and development.  The IUCN also cited a “potential risk of over-harvest” through legal and illegal hunting.