As the curtain falls on another season of superhero blockbusters, Hollywood is already hard at work re-booting "Batman," "Captain America," and the "Fantastic Four" franchises. More than sixty high-profile superhero films have been released since the surprise success of "X-Men" in the year 2000.
Joe Hanson points us to a more enduring source of awe-inspiring acts: nature. Hanson is a biologist who writes and hosts the PBS. video series “It’s Okay to Be Smart.”
Fifteen-thousand years ago, nearly 100 species of large animals known as ‘megafauna’ roamed the amazon forest before going extinct. A team of researchers from oxford and Princeton University studying the ‘megafauna’s’ effects on the ecosystem discovered that they were crucial in maintaining soil fertility. Chris Doughty is currently a lecturer in ecosystem ecology within the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, and lead author of a recent study: “The Legacy of the Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions on Nutrient Availability in Amazonia.”
Sarah Kirsch rescued her dog, Angel, from the Concord-Merrimack County SPCA, and enrolled Angel in a program to become a therapy dog through that organization. Now certified, Angel makes regular visits to nursing homes.
The presence of a therapy dog can have a significant impact on the residents.
Kirsch and Angel were directed to one resident, Pearl. Though she seemed to be unresponsive, her roommate informed Kirsch that she really did like dogs.
Animals have long played a part in human therapy and healing; from dogs trained to assist the disabled, to all manner of animals making visits to hospitals and nursing homes. For one Vermont woman, it’s a horse that’s helped her heal; not from physical ailments, but from the emotional and spiritual scars of abuse. Sean Hurley brings us her story.
There are many ways to ease the pangs of loneliness, illness, and old age –among them, spending time with a friendly animal companion. More than ten thousand animals are currently registered as care workers in the United States - only fourteen of them however, are llamas. I recently spoke with llama trainer Niki Kuklenski of J.N.K. Llamas about how this unusual animal is playing a role in human therapy.
The Kilhams are those someones. Last spring, black bear specialist Benjamin Kilham, his wife Debbie, and his sister Phoebe, who together operate a bear rehabilitation sanctuary near Lyme, New Hampshire, took on the care of twenty orphaned black bear cubs - much higher than their usual number of charges.
Pets ingest pollutants and pesticide residues and breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants just like children do -- and since they develop and age seven or more times faster than children, pets develop health problems from exposures much faster.
Today when dogs do a disappearing act, infrared cameras, tracking devices, and social media help owners keep tabs on wandering pets. These security technologies are a growing part of the 56-billion dollars spent annually on America’s pets.
More than three decades ago, the Mountain Gorilla project started a tourism project to save the threatened gorilla population from poaching. The project hired poachers as park rangers and demonstrated that live gorillas were much more valuable as tourist attractions than dead ones. Since then, gorilla tourism has added hundreds of millions of foreign tourist dollars to state coffers in Central Africa, and the great ape populations have seen a modest rebound.
Recent studies out of Duke University have discovered that everyone’s favorite lab rat, the humble mouse, has a penchant for singing – and more importantly, singing in tune...in a way. Producer Taylor Quimby is Word of Mouth’s always willing investigator of strange science, and he has the story.
Check out Cinderella's singing mice. They are true heroes: