Animal

Does the U.S. President’s Dog Get Its Own Secret Service Agents?

Ryan asks: If the president has a pet dog, do their bodyguards also watch over his dog like they do his family?

Even before the U.S. president is elected such, if they’re considered a “major candidate” for the job, they get offered Secret Service protection. Whether they accept that protection or not, once elected until the day they die (unless they opt out after leaving office), they will be shadowed by an elite team of Secret Service agents. These individuals, while not actually sworn to do so (contrary to popular belief), are generally expected to, if necessary, give their lives to keep the president safe. While in office, this protection extends to a president’s immediate family. But does this ever include their family pet? Technically no.

According to former Secret Service agent Dan Emmett, as noted in his book Within Arm’s Length, the agents tasked with protecting the First Family are under no obligation to protect any pets said family may own. In fact, he noted that even beyond not directly having any obligation to protect the animals, “Walking the dog or cat is not and will never be a part of an agent’s job description.”

Emmett put this little tidbit in a section of his book specifically dispelling myths about the Secret Service. This is a section that humourously enough also includes this gem of a supposedly widely held myth:

Myth: All women are attracted to Secret Service agents.

Emmett goes on to explain that the truth is actually that only “Many women are attracted to Secret Service agents…” (Presumably to ones called Dan Emmett most of all.) On top of this, he states that the life of a Secret Service agent includes a

never-ending string of temptations sometimes literally thrust into one’s face by women who are impressed by such things as men who protect the president. It can be almost frightening at times when seated in a bar, and a woman recognizes and agent she has just seen on television with the president. On more than one occasion, my shift mates and I had phone numbers and hotel room keys shoved into our hands or thrown to us while working a rope line with the president…. For the single agent, it was paradise; for many married agents, it was a constant struggle between good and evil, which was sometimes won and other times lost.

Back to literal dogs (as opposed to the cheating kind)- although the Secret Service isn’t obligated by any means to walk or take care of the president’s pet dog or cat (Emmett tersely claims that White House custodial staff do this), it doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily do it.

For example, Bo and Sunny, the pet Portuguese Water Dogs of the Obama’s, were often pictured being taken for a walk by some member of Obama’s protective detail. Given there were presumably other staff available for the task when necessary, we can only assume they did this because of scenarios like that the president was in the midst of doing so himself when called away for a moment (so they had to take over temporarily), and perhaps because they liked to walk the dogs, so weren’t quick to call other White House staff in. After all, it stands to reason that Secret Service agents who spend a lot of time around the president would occasionally grow fond of the president’s pets, assuming they liked the type of animal, and thus wouldn’t mind the occasional pet detail.

Said agents have also been known to do such things as a favor to the president. For instance, the Secret Service agents…

The Star-Nosed Mole Is Almost Too Weird

The more we learn about the star-nosed mole, the stranger this animal gets—and that’s saying something. We learned just a little bit more this week, as mole expert Kenneth Catania presented his latest findings at the 2017 Experimental Biology Meeting in Chicago.

The neuroscientist has been obsessed with the lumpy, hamster-sized creatures since his days as a research assistant at the National Zoo.

Kenneth Catania

“Obviously they are among the weirdest looking creatures on the planet,” he said in a statement. “But when I began trying to understand the star, the mole’s brain organization, and its behavior—that’s when things got really surprising.”

In 2011, for example, Catania realized that the moles have developed a technique for smelling underwater. They aim their strange snoots at fish or other prey, then start blowing bubbles. The bubbles bounce off the hapless prey and are instantly…

Improbable ‘black swan’ events can devastate animal populations

black swan
Like black swans, black swan events are rare. But for animal populations, they can be devastating. That’s why conservation managers need to keep them in mind, a new study argues.

Sometimes, the improbable happens. The stock market crashes. A big earthquake shakes a city. A nuclear power plant has a meltdown. These seemingly unpredictable, rare incidents — dubbed black swan events — may be unlikely to happen on any specific day, but they do occur. And even though they may be rare, we take precautions. A smart investor balances their portfolio. A California homeowner stores an earthquake preparedness kit in the closet. A power plant designer builds in layers of safeguards.

Conservation managers should be doing the same thing, scientists warn. Black swan events happen among animals, too, and they rarely have positive effects, a new study finds.

How often do black swan events impact animals? To find out, Sean Anderson of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues looked at data for 609 populations of birds, mammals and insects. Often, the data were noisy; there could be lots of ups and downs in population sizes, not always with good explanations for what happened. But, Anderson notes, “it turns out that there are plenty of black swan events that are so extreme that we can easily detect them with available data.”

The researchers looked for upswings or…

Pennsylvania Wildlife Center Gives Orphaned Animals a New Lease on Life

Chalfont, Pennsylvania, an hour outside of Philadelphia, is a lucky place to be a baby squirrel in need. It’s home to one of the oldest wildlife rescues in the U.S., the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.

Over the course of the year, Aark takes in more than 5200 animals, focusing its efforts on anything wild, native, and in need. That means everything from sick hawks to injured raccoons to orphaned squirrels, rabbits, and fawns.

Aark doesn’t see its mission as saving the environment as much as helping both four-legged and two-legged creatures deal with how human activity affects animal habitats. “As human beings encroach more and more on their habitats, they get involved with us in often not-good ways,” as Aark’s executive director, Leah Stallings, told mental_floss. “So instead of the squirrel building the nest in the tree, they build it in the house—because the house is where the tree used to be. And then people have squirrels living in their ceiling.”

Neither the people nor the squirrels win in that kind of situation. “It’s not really the people’s fault, but it isn’t really the animal’s, either,” she explained. Aark can help alleviate the problem for both. “There’s no government place where you can take something like that—that’s where we come in.”

Image Credit: Sara Kushner, courtesy Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

Having critical care centers for wildlife that has been affected by human activity—whether it’s a songbird with a broken wing or a raccoon that’s been orphaned…

Mysterious Box Sat At The Airport For 7 Days Until Someone Finally Opened It

An unmarked wooden box only 16 inches tall sat at the Beirut Airport in Lebanon for a week before being opened – and people were shocked to find out three endangered Siberian tiger cubs inside. Dehydrated and starved, they were covered in urine and feces, their bodies infested with hundreds of maggots. “Nothing indicated that the box contained tigers or even live animals, and there were no details of a shipper or receiver,” rescue group Animals Lebanon (AL) wrote.

Turned out, the cubs were travelling from the the Nikolaev Zoo in Ukraine to the Samer al-Husainawi Zoo in Damascus, Syria when they got stuck in Lebanon.

This horrible scene people witnessed when they opened the box revealed just how badly exotic animals are sometimes being treated. AL made a plea to confiscate…

8 Heartwarming Animal Retirement Homes

image credit: iStock

Among the many animals who need homes are those that are considered “unadoptable” due to old age, illness, or disability. While many would-be pet parents looking for a long-term companion may pass them by, other folks relish the opportunity to care for these animals in need. Those are the founders, volunteers, and donors of specialized shelters that offer a home for the rest of these pets’ lives. We highlighted a few of them in an earlier post; here are eight more animal retirement homes you should know about.

In 1999, upon learning that his beloved 15-year-old cat Tabby had terminal cancer, Jonathan Rosenberg decided to quit his day job and create Tabby’s Place, a cat sanctuary in honor of his beloved pet. Currently, the Ringoes, New Jersey-based organization operates out of a single building with room for up to 95 cats. Rosenberg’s long-term goal is to erect two more buildings on the sanctuary’s eight-acre property—creating enough space to provide forever homes for up to 400 cats that are elderly, disabled, chronically or terminally ill, or in danger of being euthanized at another shelter. A staff of volunteers cares for the cats, some of which are available for adoption.

Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, cares for aged, abused, and injured horses. Some are rescued from abusive situations, while others are given over after they reach age 20. However, there is a waiting list for horses that are not in emergency situations. The farm is open for public tours, and also offers internships, volunteer opportunities, and lessons in horse care and horsemanship. To learn more, you can watch this video about Ryerss Farm.

Wolfgang2242 is not a charitable organization, but the Instagram…

Identity of ‘Tully monster’ still a mystery

illustration of Tully monster
MONSTER MYSTERY The Tully monster (illustrated) was an aquatic creature that lived about 300 million years ago. Its strange features have made it difficult to classify, but new research suggests that it wasn’t a vertebrate.

The true nature of the “Tully monster” may once again be a mystery.

Just last year, some researchers declared that the extinct aquatic animal was a vertebrate, possibly a relative of today’s lampreys. Not so fast, says vertebrate paleontologist Lauren Sallan. Like a mismatched puzzle, the Tully monster lacks some vertebrate pieces and has others that are the wrong shape, Sallan and colleagues report in the March issue of Palaeontology.

Tullimonstrum gregarium didn’t get its monstrous name because of its size. Only about a foot long, the oddball creature, which lived about 300 million years ago, sported wide-set eyes like a hammerhead shark and a pincerlike mouth at the end of a long trunk. In the past, it’s been lumped in with everything from sea slugs to arthropods.

Most recently, in a paper published in Nature in 2016, paleontologist Victoria McCoy, who was then at Yale University, argued that the Tully monster was a vertebrate (SN: 4/30/16, p. 5). Analysis of more than 1,200 Tully monster specimens dug up from…

Animal Facts: 72 Adorable Facts About Animals

animal facts

Animal facts: Interesting facts about animals. Bеfоrе you think аbоut bесоmіng a chinchilla оwnеr уоu ѕhоuld carry out some rеѕеаrсh into this wоndеrful сrеаturе fіrѕt. Wіth a ԛuісk ѕеаrсh online уоu wіll find numеrоuѕ chinchilla fасtѕ аvаіlаblе thаt саn nоt оnlу tell you аbоut thе creature but also hоw tо саrе fоr them.

Bеlоw wе tаkе a lооk аt just ѕоmе оf thе more interesting facts regarding thіѕ beautiful but quite strange looking аnіmаl.

Animal facts

A chameleon’s tongue can bе аѕ lоng as its bоdу.

Grеаt white sharks саn detect a drop of blood іn 25 gаllоnѕ оf wаtеr аnd саn еvеn ѕеnѕе tіnу amounts of blооd from thrее miles аwау.

Thе blue whаlе’ѕ tоnguе wеіghѕ аѕ muсh аѕ аn adult еlерhаnt.

Hоuѕеflіеѕ hum in thе kеу оf F.

Flеаѕ can jumр dіѕtаnсеѕ 100 tіmеѕ thеіr bоdу length.

A beaver’s tееth nеvеr ѕtор growing. It nееdѕ to сhеw оn tree trunks and branches to kеер them frоm gеttіng too long.

Oуѕtеrѕ саn сhаngе…

Animal Facts: 72 Adorable Facts About Animals

animal facts

Animal facts: Interesting facts about animals. Bеfоrе you think аbоut bесоmіng a chinchilla оwnеr уоu ѕhоuld carry out some rеѕеаrсh into this wоndеrful сrеаturе fіrѕt. Wіth a ԛuісk ѕеаrсh online уоu wіll find numеrоuѕ chinchilla fасtѕ аvаіlаblе thаt саn nоt оnlу tell you аbоut thе creature but also hоw tо саrе fоr them.

Bеlоw wе tаkе a lооk аt just ѕоmе оf thе more interesting facts regarding thіѕ beautiful but quite strange looking аnіmаl.

Animal facts

A chameleon’s tongue can bе аѕ lоng as its bоdу.

Grеаt white sharks саn detect a drop of blood іn 25 gаllоnѕ оf wаtеr аnd саn еvеn ѕеnѕе tіnу amounts of blооd from thrее miles аwау.

Thе blue whаlе’ѕ tоnguе wеіghѕ аѕ muсh аѕ аn adult еlерhаnt.

Hоuѕеflіеѕ hum in thе kеу оf F.

Flеаѕ can jumр dіѕtаnсеѕ 100 tіmеѕ thеіr bоdу length.

A beaver’s tееth nеvеr ѕtор growing. It nееdѕ to сhеw оn tree trunks and branches to kеер them frоm gеttіng too long.

Oуѕtеrѕ саn сhаngе…