From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2011:
Old Man, 32, a naked mole rat born in Kenya, died on Thanksgiving morning 2010 at the Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies on the Texas Research Park campus near San Antonio. Old Man was the senior member of the University of Texas Health Science Center’s colony of about 2,000 naked mole rats. Captured with 75 kin in a sweet potato field in 1980 by physiologist Rochelle Buffenstein, Old Man traveled with Buffenstein to the University of Cape Town in South Africa, then to the City College of New York in Harlem, arriving in San Antonio in 2007. Naked mole rats, who live to an average age of 26, “in many ways confound what scientists think they know about how diseases progress and why living things age,” Buffenstein told Richard A. Marini of the San Antonio Express News. For example, naked mole rats rarely develop cancer, and although they develop the same type of brain plaque found in Alzheimer’s disease victims, they do not suffer similar cognitive decline.
Na’au, 5, a California sea lion who stranded herself three times in 2010, was euthanized on December 7, 2010 at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito due to brain deterioration caused by chronic domoic acid poisoning. The condition results from eating fish who have been poisoned by red tides. Of 614 sea lions treated at the Marine Mammal Center in 2010, 50 suffered from chronic domoic acid poisoning, spokeesperson Jim Oswald told media. This was down from 2009, when the center treated about 900 sea lions, about 20% of them for chronic domoic acid poisoning. Na’au was picked up first near Santa Cruz in May 2010, distraught after the death of a pup. Nursed back to health, she was returned to the sea, but in July resurfaced at the Santa Cruz wharf and beach, pursuing humans and fighting with dogs. Treated and released at Point Reyes National Seashore, Na’au in December turned up at Knightsen Elementary School, in Oakley, far inland, more than a mile from an irrigation canal which apparently provided her route into the Sacramento Delta.
Splash, 13, longtime Portuguese water dog companion of the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy and his wife Vicki, died in December 2010. After growling at Senators Paul Wellstone and Joe Biden (now vice president) when they talked out of turn at a Senate Democratic caucus meeting, Splash was made an honorary member of the caucus by Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes. Credited as author of a children’s book, My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View Of Washington, D.C., Splash reportedly inspired the Kennedy family to give U.S. President Barack Obama’s daughters a Portuguese water dog in 2009.
Rebecca, 50, matriarch of the Asian elephants at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 sanctuary in Calaveras, California, died on December 8, 2010. Rebecca came to PAWS in 2001.