Weekly News Roundup 1/8 to 1/14



Pet mask sales spiked 500% during the pandemic

New York–based company Pet Masks has reported a sixfold increase in sales for 2020—even though health officials advise against putting a mask on pets. People had previously bought the $25 masks as a novelty or to protect their cats and dogs from pollution, the company’s founder, Salitia Henwick, said. But sales have boomed during the pandemic as people look to protect themselves and their pets from COVID-19, despite the AVMA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising people not to put masks on their pets because it can distress them and make it difficult for them to breathe. . . . more

Ice Age hunters’ leftovers may have fueled dog domestication

Sometime between around 29,000 and 14,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers navigating northern Eurasia’s frigid landscapes turned wolves into dogs by feeding them lean-meat leftovers. That, at least, is a likely scenario that would have benefited both wolves and people, according to archaeologist Maria Lahtinen, PhD, of the Finnish Food Authority in Helsinki, and her colleagues. In harsh Ice Age winters, when game hunted by both species was lean and fat-free, prey animals would have provided more protein than humans could safely consume. People could have fed surplus lean meat to captured wolf pups being raised as pets because the animals wouldn’t have had the same dietary limitations . . . more

Major Biden will get his own “indoguration” as White House’s first shelter pup

The Bidens adopted Major, a German shepherd, from the Delaware Humane Association in Wilmington in November 2018. At the inauguration on January 20, he will become the first shelter dog to take up residence at the White House, alongside the Bidens’ other dog, Champ. Ahead of the big move, Major’s former home is hosting an “indoguration” for the pup on Zoom to celebrate the first-ever shelter pup to become First Dog and raise money for other dogs like Major. It will take place on Sunday, January 17, at 3 pm EST. Participants can even nominate their pups to be part of Major’s Cabinet as the “Secretary of Rescue Dogs.” . . . more

Fashion for breeding “grumpy” cats fueling rise in feline fights

The trend of breeding cats to look grumpy is making them have more fights with fellow felines, a study has suggested. Pedigree brachycephalic cats with exaggerated big eyes or grumpy features are often known to have breathing difficulties, problems with their eyes, and other health conditions. Despite this, these breeds have increased in popularity in recent years, with celebrities such as Taylor Swift fueling the trend with her three specially bred, flat-faced cats. But a study, published in the journal Frontiers In Veterinary Science, has stated that, aside from health issues, this breeding may also be impacting the cats’ ability to effectively communicate through facial expressions. . . . more

Several gorillas test positive for COVID-19 at California zoo

Three western lowland gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus, the US Department of Agriculture announced on Monday, making them the world’s first-known great apes to contract the virus. The gorillas, who live in a troop of eight, are expected to recover, says Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Caretakers have decided to keep all eight gorillas together and monitor them closely. Gorillas are the seventh animal species to have contracted the virus naturally, following confirmed infections in tigers, lions, mink, snow leopards, dogs, and domestic cats. . . . more

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