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 Phenomenal Animals (1)

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Number of posts : 1056
Age : 68
Location : Pretoria - South Africa
Registration date : 2007-10-18

PostSubject: Phenomenal Animals (1)   Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:06 am

Oscar, the Cat:
Predicted the impending death of terminally ill patients
Oscar was adopted as a kitten from an animal shelter and grew up in the
third-floor dementia unit at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation
Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The unit treats people with
Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses, most of whom are
in the end stage of their illnesses (where death is imminent) and are
generally unaware of their surroundings.

After about six months, the staff noticed that Oscar, just like the
doctors and nurses, would make his own rounds. Oscar would sniff and
observe patients, then curl up to sleep with certain ones. What
surprised the staff was that the patients with whom Oscar would sleep
would generally die within two to four hours after Oscar's arrival. One
of the first cases involved a patient who had a blood clot in her leg
that was ice cold at the time. Oscar wrapped his body around her leg
and stayed until the woman died. In another instance, the doctor had
made a determination of impending death based on the patient's
condition, while Oscar simply walked away, causing the doctor to
believe that Oscar's streak (12 at the time) had ended. However, it
would be later discovered that the doctor's prognosis was simply 10
hours too early – Oscar later visited the patient, who died two hours

Oscar's accuracy (currently standing at more than 25 reported
instances) led the staff to institute a new and unusual protocol – once
he is discovered sleeping with a patient, staff will call family
members to notify them of the patient's (expected) impending death.

Most of the time the patient's family has no issue with Oscar
being present at the time of death; on those occasions when he is
removed from the room at the family's request, he is known to pace back
and forth in front of the door and meow in protest. When present, Oscar
will stay by the patient until he or she takes their last earthly
breath – after which Oscar will sit up, look around, then depart the
room so quietly that one barely notices.

Abilities aside, what makes his "last hour" companionship more
puzzling is that Oscar is described by Dr. David Dosa as "not a cat
that's friendly to [living] people." One example of this was described
in his NEJM article. When an elderly woman with a walker passed him by
during his rounds, Oscar "[let] out a gentle hiss, a rattlesnake-like
warning that [said] 'leave me alone.'"
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Number of posts : 1056
Age : 68
Location : Pretoria - South Africa
Registration date : 2007-10-18

PostSubject: Phenomenal Animals (2)   Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:35 am

Cacareco, the Rhino:
Won Sao Paulo's council elections with 100,000 votes
Cacareco, a rhinoceros at the São Paulo zoo, was a candidate for the
1958 city council elections with the intention of protesting against
political corruption. Electoral officials, of course, did not accept
Cacareco's candidacy, but he eventually won 100,000 votes, more than
any other party in that same election (which was also marked by rampant
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Number of posts : 1056
Age : 68
Location : Pretoria - South Africa
Registration date : 2007-10-18

PostSubject: Phenomenal Animals (3)   Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:40 am

Alex, the Parrot:
Could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration
Alex (1976 - September 6, 2007) was an African Grey Parrot and the
subject of a thirty-year (1977-2007) experiment by animal psychologist
Irene Pepperberg, initially at the University of Arizona and later at
Harvard and Brandeis University. Pepperberg bought Alex in a regular
pet shop when he was about one year old. The name Alex is actually an
acronym for Avian Learning EXperiment.

Before Pepperberg's work with Alex, it was widely believed in
the scientific community that birds were not intelligent and could only
use words by mimicking, but Alex's accomplishments indicated that birds
may be able to reason on a basic level and use words creatively.
Pepperberg wrote that Alex's intelligence was on a par with that of
dolphins and great apes. She also reported that Alex had the
intelligence of a five-year-old human and had not reached his full
potential by the time he died. She said that the bird had the emotional
level of a human two-year-old at the time of his death.

Alex's death came as a complete surprise; the average life
span for African grey parrots is fifty years. He had appeared healthy
the day before, and was found dead in the morning. According to a press
release issued by the Alex Foundation, "Alex was found to be in good
health at his most recent annual physical about two weeks [before his
death]. According to the vet who conducted the necropsy, there was no
obvious cause of death." According to Pepperberg, Alex's loss will not
halt the research but will be a large setback. The lab has two other
birds, but their skills do not approach Alex's.

On October 4, 2007 The Alex Foundation posted the Pathology
results: "Alex died quickly. He had a sudden, unexpected catastrophic
event associated with arterosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"). It
was either a fatal arrhythmia, heart attack or stroke, which caused him
to die suddenly with no suffering. There was no way to predict his
demise. All of his tests, including his cholesterol level and asper
levels, came back normal earlier that week. His death could not be
connected to his current diet or his age; our veterinarian said that
she has seen similar events in young (<10 year old) birds on healthy
diets. Most likely, genetics or the same kind of low-level (impossible
to detect in birds as yet) inflammatory disease that is related to
heart disease in humans was responsible."
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PostSubject: Phenomenal Animals (4)   Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:31 am

Tillamook Cheddarm, the Dog:
World's most successful Animal Painter
Tillamook Cheddarm is a Jack Russell Terrier from Brooklyn, New York.
Widely regarded as the world's preeminent canine artist, she has already
had seventeen solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Tillie is eight years

In July 2005 the artist gave birth to six healthy puppies. One
of her sons, Doc Chinook Strongheart Cheddar, continues to live with
her. Thus far, Doc has not followed his mother in her artistic forays.
Her first official biography, Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist by
F. Bowman Hastie III, is published by Sasquatch Books (2006).

The artist's primary process is a dynamic color transfer
technique. In preparation for each of Tillie's works, her assistants
assemble a touch-sensitive recording device by affixing pigment-coated
vellum to a sheet of lithograph paper backed by mat board. The artist
takes the prepared "canvas" in her mouth and brings it to her
workspace. Working on the outside surface, she applies pressure with
teeth and claws in a methodic ritual marked by dramatic shifts in tempo
and intensity. The resultant sharp and sweeping intersecting lines
complement the artist's delicate paw prints and subtle tongue
impressions, composing an expressionistic image that is revealed on the
paper beneath when she is finished. She works with shocking intensity,
sometimes to the point of destroying her creations.

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PostSubject: Phenomenal Animals (5)   Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:36 am

Mike, the Headless Chicken:
Lived for 18 months with its head cut off
Mike the Headless Chicken (April 1945 – March 1947) was a Wyandotte
rooster (cockerel) that lived for 18 months after its head had been cut
off. Thought by many to be a hoax, the bird was taken by its owner to
the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to establish its authenticity.

On Monday September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita,
Colorado, had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent out to
the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen failed to
completely decapitate the five-and-a-half month old bird named Mike.
The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain
stem intact.
Once his fame had been established, Mike began a career of touring
sideshows in the company of such other creatures as a two-headed calf.
He was also photographed for dozens of magazines and papers, featuring
in Time and Life magazines. Olsen drew criticism from some for keeping
the headless chicken alive.
In March 1947, at a motel in Phoenix on a stopover while traveling back
home from tour, Mike started choking in the middle of the night. As the
Olsens had inadvertently left their feeding and cleaning syringes at
the sideshow the day before, they were unable to save Mike.
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