Animal Health & Behavior
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1993:
Studying the relationship between brain evolution and the death of fetal cells, University of
Tennessee researcher Dr. Robert Williams has discovered that cat species seem to have an unusual capacity for
fast biological adaptation to suit their circumstances. All mammals seem to select adaptive capabilities through
the death of up to half of their neural brain cells just before birth, enabling the remainder to grow, but cats shed as
many as 80% of their fetal neurons––and this explains the key differences between domestic cat brains and those
of Spanish wildcats. Williams studied the brains of domestic cats and Spanish wildcats who had been euthanized
due to illness and/or injury.
Rio, a seven-year-old sea lion kept by the University of California at Santa Cruz, has convincingly
displayed use of logic in categorizing silhouettes, according to animal behaviorist Ronald Schusterman.
Washington State University researcher Michael Moore has meanwhile confirmed that a four-year-old dalmatian
named Juliette, born deaf, has learned a significant American Sign Language vocabulary from her humans, Jody
and Michael Eisenman of Spokane, Washington. Both findings greatly raise estimates of nonhuman intelligence.
Chevron, Dupont-Delisle, and First Chemical Inc. have donated a $16,000 aviary to Wildlife
Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Inc., of Pass Christian, Mississippi. According to WRANPS president
Christina Morse, the group treats about 600 birds per year, mostly suffering “the results of gunshot wounds.”
Wild Canid Survival and Research Center administrative director Vicki O’Toole and veterinarian
Marlene Drag have resigned following a probe of health conditions at the sanctuary by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. Located in Eureka, California, the facility is adjacent to Washington University’s Tyson Research
Center, and houses 14 Mexican wolves, 40% of the entire Mexican wolf population in the U.S., along with nine
wolves of other species. The wolves were reportedly fed only every other day to cut costs.
European Community internal market commissioner Raniero Vanni d’Archirafi is trying to devel-
op a pet passport to ease the six-month quarantine now placed on dogs and cats brought to Britain and Ireland.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has recommended to the American Kennel Club that
mention of cropped or trimmed ears should be deleted from official breed standards, and barred from show com-
petition. The AVMA reportedly also favors a ban on tail-docking. The British Kennel Club recently banned ear-
cropping under pressure from the British Veterinary Medical Association.
A Vanderbilt University team led by pediatrics professor Dr. Kathryn Edwards believes it has dis-
covered the cause of cat scratch fever, a bacterium called rochalimaea. This could lead to finding a cure.
The mid-Atlantic raccoon rabies pandemic is reportedly waning in New England, but spreading into
the vicinity of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania––following a 15-year pattern of decline where raccoons are not heavily
trapped and hunted, and of spreading most rapidly where hunting and trapping pressure is strongest.