From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2000:

Usha Mehta, teacher-in-residence
at the Manibhavan Gandhi Memorial Trust in
Gandhi’s former Mumbai home, died on
August 11. Wrote her longtime friend Geeta
Mehta, “Her warmth of love and friendship
were not limited to humans. As a vegetarian
throughout her life, she had a compassionate
heart for animals, wild or domesticated,”
evident in a brief meeting with A N I M A L
PEOPLE at the Gandhi Memorial Trust during
December 1997. Among the last survivors
of Gandhi’s close associates, Mehta in
1942 organized children to help seek Indian
independence from Britain, and helped operate
the underground Indian National
Congress radio station. Recalled Geeta
Mehta, “Eventually she was arrested and sentenced
to four years imprisonment, during
which she was tortured so much that she permanently
lost her appetite for food.” She
went on to become head of the political science
department at the University of Bombay,
joining the Manibhavan Gandhi Memorial
Trust fulltime upon her retirement.

Ganga Ram Bishnoi, police officer
of Meena Ki Dhani, near Jodphur, Rajasthan,
India, was shot dead circa August 12
near Chirai village when he confronted three
jeeps full of “influential persons” who had
just killed a chinkara deer. Chinkara are the
state animal of Rajasthan, and are revered by
the Bishnoi, who have protected the wildlife
of the Rajasthan desert for more than 3,000
years. “Through his exemplary deed of selfsacrifice,”
said Harsh Vardhan, honorary
general secretary of the Tourism and Wildlife
Society of India, “Shri Ganga Ram Bishnoi
has earned a place in the galaxy of great martyrs
of the Bishnoi community.” The
Tourism and Wildlife Society paid Ganga
Ram Bishnoi’s family token relief of about
$220, and asked the government of Rajasthan
to pay the family full compensation. Four of
the alleged poachers were reportedly later
identified by other Bishnoi.
Manuela Ramos Fyock, 72,
known as the “cat lady” of Rialto, California,
was beaten to death in her home on July 22,
allegedly by Christy Phillips, 15, who is
believed to have gained entry with a mildly
retarded 13-year-old girl by asking to adopt a
kitten. Phillips was on July 27 charged with
first degree murder. The 13-year-old was not
charged with committing a crime.
Forest ranger Pradip Mandhre,
42, forest guard Baba Thomre, 25, and
newspaper reporter Suresh Paliwal, 40,
drowned on July 29 during an unsuccessful
attempt to rescue five starving monkeys who
were isolated by water backing up behind the
Khairi dam project on the Kar River near
Nagpur, India. Nine monkeys were saved
the day before, but when 14 people crowded
aboard a boat meant for six while trying to
catch the rest, the boat capsized.
Janice Stoneley, 51, of Manchester,
England, “possibly met her death
out of her kindness to animals,” deputy coroner
David Horsley told an inquest on August
25. Concealing a dog bite from her husband
“because she knew I would have made her get
rid of the dog,” widower Edward Stoneley
testified, the victim evidently contracted a
deadly antibiotic-resistant form of sepitcemia
while helping her husband clean a fish pond
immediately afterward. The Stoneleys had
many pets, of multiple species, but the dog
who bit had just been left with them by another
couple, who had recently separated.
Leslie Glass, 36, founder of the
Baltimore-based dog and cat rescue/adoption
group Pet4Pets, died from breast cancer on
August 4 in Baltimore. The Penthouse “Petof-the-Month”
in February 1992, Glass was
scheduled to appear again in an October 2000
feature about breast cancer awareness.
Peter Gladstone, 71, died on July 25. A
pacifist who served as a police officer in
Palestine rather than fight the Nazis in World
War II, Gladstone took a job teaching biology
at Shrewsbury School in 1954, alma
mater of Charles Darwin, where according to
the London Times he “shifted the emphasis
from the dissection of dead animals to the
appreciation of living animals,” including
foxes, badgers, and dogs whom he brought
to class, and a flock of hens who supplied the
school with eggs. While capturing penguins
for the Edinburgh Zoo in the Falkland Islands
during 1964, Gladstone and colleague
Charles Martell observed that the so-called
kelp goose of the Falkland Islands eats algae
rather than kelp, and drew maps reputedly
used by the British during the 1980 Falkland
Islands War against Argentina. A waterfowling
companion of World Wildlife Fund
founder Peter Scott, Gladstone in 1971 left
Shrewsbury at Scott’s suggestion to found a
bird sanctuary at Martin Mere, Lancashire,
and then left that in 1976 to take up deer
farming in Scotland. Eventually he became
chair of the British Deer Farmers Association.
Gladstone was best known late in life, however,
noted for his 1998 trek through the
Himalayas in quest of a species of pink-headed
duck believed to have been extinct since
1935, but purportedly seen by Tibetan
foresters. While he didn’t find it, he believed
he did observe a previously unknown species
of fish-eating duck. He had hoped to return
to Tibet in 2001 to study it.
Travis Yonkers, 9, whose dog
alerted him to a 1997 housefire in time to
save the family, was killed on August 15
while trying to save the dog from a 3 a.m. fire
in the same house, owned by his grandparents,
Robert and Linda Homan, of Mio,
Michigan. Awakened by a smoke alarm,
Yonkers woke his grandmother and his mentally
disabled older brother, enabling them to
escape, and instructed the brother to summon
help, before returning inside to seek the dog.
Mark Garrat Shea, 11, of
Baltimore, was killed on July 19 at the
Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana by a
hyena who entered his tent through unsecured
flaps. Shea and his mother, who was reportedly
still in extreme mental distress three
weeks later, were in their third week on
safari tour in Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Johnny Ambrose, 23, a tour
guide at Luanga National Park in Zambia,
was killed on July 30 while distracting an
enraged female elephant from trampling
American client Kenny Karen, 40, who had
fallen down in attempting to escape. A recent
graduate of Bristol University in England,
Ambrose had reportedly wanted to guide
wildlife tours since age 13.
Robert P. Wagers, DVM, 86,
died on August 14 in Westminster, Maryland.
While in the Army veterinary corps
during World War II and immediately afterward,
Wagers treated the animals used in the
Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests and in poison
gas experiments at the Edgewood Arsenal.
Thereafter, he served as Baltimore Zoo staff
vet from 1949 into the early 1960s, and for
more than 50 years treated the animals at
local humane societies, often as a volunteer.
Bughat Mostafa Said, 63, a catrescuer
in Heliopolis, Egypt, died on August
19 from natural causes, police said, but was
not found for a week. His 18 cats so violently
defended his remains that removing the
corpse took more than two hours.

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