From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  March 2012:


“I come to bury Caesar,  not to praise him.  The evil that men do lives after them.  The good is oft interred with their bones.” –William Shakespeare

Nick Santino,  47, a New York City soap opera actor who had performed in All My Children and Guiding Light,  on January 24,  2010 had his pit bull Rocco euthanized,  after receiving veterinary advice that the dog was aggressive,  and although New York City has more resources for retraining and rehoming pit bulls than any other city, with the possible exception of Los Angeles.  Less than 24 hours later Santino killed himself with an overdose of sleeping pills, attributing his suicide to guilt over killing Rocco.  Other residents of the building in which Santino owned a condominium had reportedly complained about Rocco,  who according to building rules could not ride in the main elevators and was not allowed to be left in Santino’s apartment alone for more than nine hours.  Santino reportedly attributed Rocco’s behavior to his own depression.

Joseph T. Collins,  72,  died on January 12,  2012 from a heart attack suffered while studying reptiles in Florida.  A former instructor at the University of Kansas,  Collins authored 27 books about reptiles and other Great Plains Wildlife,  and co-authored the 1998 Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America.  Collins in 2005 founded the Center for North American Herpetology,  an online resource offering downloadable copies of nearly 1,400 herpetological studies.

Abdullahi Mohammed, a Wildlife Works ranger working with Kenya Wildlife Service rangers to track a Somali elephant poaching gang,  was fatally shot on January 13,  2012 near Voi in the Kasigau Corridor wilderness area,  located between Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks.  A second Wildlife Works ranger,  Ijema Funan, suffered a severe shoulder wound.  “This is the first time in 15 years that any of our rangers have been killed in the line of duty,” said Wildlife Works founder Mike Korchinsky,  who attributed the shootings to “an escalation in violence caused by the increasing demand for ivory in the far eastern markets,  especially China.”

John Spanish, 90,  died on December 7,  2011 in Hibbing, Minnesota.   A four-term member of the Minnesota House of Representatives,  Spanish lost his seat after he introduced a failed bill in 1978 to allow elderly,  blind or disabled people to hunt and fish without licenses.  Defeated in each of 12 attempts to regain the seat,  Spanish was in March 2011 “charged with 33 counts of animal neglect and one public nuisance count for keeping dozens of cats inside his Hibbing home and for disposing of raw sewage in the city’s storm drains. All but seven of the cats were euthanized,”  recalled John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune,  “and his home was declared unfit for human habitation.”

Wildlife cinematographer Michael DeGruy,  60,  was killed with pilot and underwater documentarian Andrew Wight on February 4, 2012 in a helicopter crash at Jaspers Brush,  New South Wales, Australia.  DeGruy contributed to productions including Sharks on their Beast Behavior (1990),  Inside the Animal Mind (2000),   and The Life of Mammals (2002).  “In 2008 Discovery Channel sent me to the Coral Sea for the filming of their Shark Week documentary Mysteries of the Shark Coast,”  recalled writer and photographer Wendee Holtcamp.  “The first day aboard the boat we’d live on for the next two weeks,  I joked about his mangled arm–‘What happened? Shark bite?’  Mike answered,  ‘Actually,  yes.’  He had been attacked by a grey reef shark after his camera flash went off in Enewetak Atoll while diving and photographing.  He barely survived.  It was a running conversation starter for him about why we should not fear sharks–they have much more to fear from us than we do from them.”

Andrew Wight,  52, was killed with wildlife cinematographer Michael DeGruy on February 4,  2012 when a helicopter he was piloting crashed at takeoff at Jaspers Brush,  Australia.  A mechanical failure is suspected as cause of the crash.  An agricultural scientist and researcher,  Wight took up cave diving.  Named “Australian Adventurer of the Year” in 1988,  Wight became a successful maker of underwater documentaries,  usually focused on wildlife,  videotaped in many parts of the world.

Michael Tyner,  35, field supervisor for the California Condor Recovery Program at the Ventana Wildlife Society,  was killed by a falling oak branch on December 3,  2011 in Los Padres National Forest.  Checking on the status of a recently released condor amid high winds,  Tyner telephoned to colleagues by cell phone that the condor was okay just before the accident.  Tyner was previously a condor nest technician for the Santa Barbara Zoo,  and was involved in several other rare bird conservation programs.

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