Thursday, July 24, 2008

I've Got Rhythm! Well, Snowball does anyway...

Does a Dancing Cockatoo Really Feel the Rhythm?

Discovery Magazine writes:

Perhaps you’ve seen the YouTube video, of Snowball the cockatoo bobbing its head and kicking its legs in time with Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Nature reports that some scientists have seen it, too, and they say it could be more than a neat trick. If Snowball really feels the beat, the researchers say, that could help show them whether there’s a biological basis for rhythm perception.

At first, Aniruddh Patel of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, and his colleagues had doubts. Snowball’s owners say they actually would dance off-camera while filming the bird to encourage it to bust a move. If Snowball were just a copycat, Patel says, that wouldn’t be nearly as impressive as if he could dance on his own. So to figure out whether the bird could actually feel the rhythm, they traveled to Snowball’s home in Indiana and videoed the bird dancing to music with different tempos. You can see the rhythm get progressively faster here, here, and here.

Read the entire article HERE

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meet Tipper the Congo African Grey

Meet Tipper

Tipper was born in captivity in 1998, and eight years later relinquished to the Utah Critter Sanctuary & Ferret & Parrot Rescue Shelter.
Destined for the pet trade, Tipper was raised at the nadir of a booming market for hand-fed Grey babies. What happened between his hatching and his surrender to sanctuary is anybody’s guess. Only Tipper knows for sure. He was probably less than 3 months old when he was sold to humans who bought him, a cage, a toy, bowls and food. Less than 10 years later, Tipper has been rejected and passed from “owner” to “owner,” until he finally became homeless.

When he was surrendered into shelter, the people who gave up Tipper told their story of disappointment: Tipper doesn’t act like a well-socialized Grey: he isn’t friendly, he won’t come out of his cage, he’s not playful, he doesn’t talk all that much, he’s easily frightened, and worst of all, he’s a biter. They described how they struggled to get him to exit his cage until they discovered “toweling.” Using a towel, Tipper would be caught by the head and neck in his cage and his wings pinned to his body. Tightly wrapped and held feet up, the panicked bird twitches and thrashes until he is “set free” back into the cage and allowed to kick off the towel. (It is notable that at the shelter, Tipper has never bitten anyone and is considered to be very gentle.)

Unlike many traumatized birds, Tipper is still in overall good health, beautiful, and in excellent, full feather--an “upright and feathered” parrot. For the full story and more, please click HERE

As you will read in the rest of Tipper's story at The Kerulos Center Website, Tipper has come to the attention of many Avian Experts and lovers. We will be keeping up with Tipper and his story here as we learn any news of him finding a new forever home and over-comes his life of being cage bound and mis-understood.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Air fresheners - nothing to be sniffed at!

by Lesley Grimwood

The following report was originally presented to the members of the English Societe L'Institut Pierre Franchomme (ESIPF), one of the UK's longest established professional associations of aromatherapists and one of the members of the Aromatherapy Consortium. It has also been published in the International Federation of Aromatherapists newsletter.

While reading, please keep in mind that if chemical scents are so dangerous to humans, they can kill our pet birds. Please use only 100% pure, natural, theraputic grade essential oils for freshening your home and exercise caution. (We reccomend only Young Living Essential Oils)

Although it was prepared for aromatherapists, the information presented is relevant for all healthcare practitioners of whatever discipline. Whilst you are reading please consider this question - at what point does anecdotal evidence become clinical-based research? May I suggest it is when a wide base of therapists unites to gather information that is collated into a formal report. If there is no evidence of anything untoward to be found, then so be it. However, at the moment there are only suspicions and anecdotal reports to go on. We need firm evidence and, as complementary therapists, we are in a position to pool our information without breaking any client confidentiality responsibilities.

As aromatherapists, at one time or another, we have all come across a form of the comment, ‘Aromatherapy - isn't that something to do with smells?’ We have been hijacked by the marketing men who tend to think that anything with an artificial pong can be tagged with the term aromatherapy and will therefore sell. This seems to cover everything from potpourri to fabric conditioners to washing-up liquids. Our sense of smell didn't evolve by chance, it is fundamental to our very survival. It warns of dangers from fire to decaying food, it triggers our memories and affects our emotions. The 'normal' life smells are now perceived to be something to be hidden but not dealt with. If the dog's bed smells of dog, we are supposed to spray it with a chemical solution - whereas our sense of smell tells us that it - and the dog - needs washing to destroy any harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites along with the odour.

Bristol university research
This mantra of disguise is most prevalent in the marketing of air fresheners. Sold in various forms to mask household smells, anecdotal evidence has been building for some years as to the physiological and psychological impact these products are having. So much so, that Bristol University undertook a study to follow 14,000 women through pregnancy. It found that those who used air fresheners on most days suffered 25 percent more headaches than those who used them less than once a week. It also reported a 19 percent increase in post-natal depression. The babies under six months exposed on most days had 30 percent more ear infections and were 20 percent more likely to suffer from diarrhoea.

One of the report's co-authors, Dr Alex Farrow, who now works at Brunel University in West London, summed it up most succinctly: "People may feel using air fresheners brightens up their homes and lives, but exactly the reverse may be happening. They are presented as bringing natural fragrances into the home - things like lemon, pine and flowers, but it is all synthetic and that is the bottom line. You might as well have a cut lemon in the loo. That would be more effective and at least would not give you headaches."

The Bristol report was originally published in 1999 and, as far as I am aware, the only publicity it received was a two-inch, single column report in the London Evening Standard. Dr Farrow will be publishing it in full shortly. Details of his research were raised in the House of Commons in March, 2003, when the Public Health Minister Hazel Blears, responded in writing to questions raised by the Liberal Democrats environmental and rural affairs spokesman, Norman Baker. Given the potential directive(s) due from the EU regarding household cleaners and products, this is one that is not going away (no matter how much the manufacturers wish it would).

However, it isn't just mums-to-be and their babies who are effected. As far back as 1996 the Medical Monitor published an article by a GP, Dr Richard Lawson, describing two cases of apparent clinical depression caused by the use of air fresheners and reported that he (then) had a further 50 cases of 'anxiety/hyperventilation syndrome' who recovered when they threw out their synthetic 'fresh air' perfumes, including one lady who discovered that her symptoms were the result of wearing perfumed panty liners.

In my own practice I routinely include questions on air fresheners in my consultation process. It is frightening the number of times patients with the vague symptoms of nausea, irritability, feeling down, anxiety, sleeplessness and generally not feeling right improve when asked to get rid of their air fresheners. Below is one of the more serious cases in which I gave no treatment other than the advice of 'bin the things!'.

And this is where we need your help. The ESIPF have asked its members to be aware of this and report any similar cases for collation and ask you to do the same. We are not asking for any major research undertaking, just add one question to your normal consultation and follow up on the answers. All submissions will be acknowledged and a report will be available for publication. I have undertaken to do the collation and request that you contact me via the ICM office.

Case study report - negative effects of air fresheners
As an aromatherapist I visit a residential care home on a regular basis. During one of my visits I was approached by one of the carers asking if I would see her daughter, to which I agreed.

The lady in question was in her mid-thirties, happily married with two teenage children and with no major stress factors in her life. However, for the two years prior to consultation she had been suffering from intermittent bouts of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. On talking this through these seemed to coincide with the time the family moved home. However, they are very happy in the house, they liked the area and the children are settled in the schools. The only thing that she didn't like with the house was, that as it was a new house, the smell of the paint and new plaster. To deal with this she had bought plug-in air fresheners and used them in most rooms. She had fallen into the habit of using them and replaced them periodically. I suggested that she try removing them, opening the windows to get air circulating more and where possible switch to cleaning products that were unscented. Although not convinced, she was willing to try. After a couple of weeks she reported that she did indeed feel a lot better, but considered it to be more down to co-incidence.

A couple of months later the symptoms returned and she contacted me again. I asked if she had started using the air fresheners again and she said no. I suggested that we scheduled an appointment for the following week. However, before the appointment she contacted me and told me that, unbeknown to her, the daughter had been helping her with the housework and had found an unopened plug-in in the cupboard and had put it into the socket behind her parents' bed. Once removed, the symptoms disappeared.

Fast-forward 18 months and I was talking to her mother. She told me that her daughter was now a registered child-minder and was taking care of a little boy. About a month previously the lad had developed a tummy bug during the day, which resulted in a nasty bout of diarrhoea, the smell of which had spread through the house and her daughter, still convinced it was all a coincidence, had purchased some air fresheners. Within two days she had all the symptoms of full-blown clinical depression (crying, insomnia, anxiety, shaking). This time her husband took 'affirmative action'; he threw out the air fresheners, opened the windows and packed her off to her mother's until the house cleared. Within days she was back to normal, has never used air fresheners since and has had no recurrence of symptoms.

This example is doubtless but the tip of the iceberg as far as the hazardous effects of the many chemicals now used in the domestic environment and the many vague, undiagnosed symptoms they cause. Please help us to increase awareness among practitioners and patients alike.
Lesley Grimwood is a registered aromatherapist and Member of the Aromatherapy and Allied Practitioners Association (AAPA). Besides having been Chair of the Education Training Subcommittee of the former Aromatherapy Organisation Council, she is also a Fellow of the ESIPF.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dancing Cockatoo being studied by science

Our friend, Snowball the Cockatoo has been making news in several science magazines!

It was only a matter of time that someone would want to "prove" that he was just a bird and only "copying" what he had learned by watching a human dance... Hmmm, well, thankfully, science is "proving" the bird brain theory WRONG!

Will Snowball join Alex in the halls of history?

Discover Magazine wrote:

Perhaps you’ve seen the YouTube video, shown below, of Snowball the cockatoo bobbing its head and kicking its legs in time with Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Nature reports that some scientists have seen it, too, and they say it could be more than a neat trick. If Snowball really feels the beat, the researchers say, that could help show them whether there’s a biological basis for rhythm perception.

At first, Aniruddh Patel of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, and his colleagues had doubts. Snowball’s owners say they actually would dance off-camera while filming the bird to encourage it to bust a move. If Snowball were just a copycat, Patel says, that wouldn’t be nearly as impressive as if he could dance on his own. So to figure out whether the bird could actually feel the rhythm, they traveled to Snowball’s home in Indiana and videoed the bird dancing to music with different tempos.

Click HERE for more of the whole story!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Come to the Edge

Below is an article by my best friend and colleague, Dr Kim Bloomer; written about all animals and our need to take responsibility for their proper care and be the change!

Come to the Edge Part 1: The Scenario
By Kim Bloomer, VND

©Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved and may not be reprinted without express written permission.

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.” -Guillaume Apollinaire

I’m going to take you on this long journey with me and my hope is that by leaving you with questions you’ll look within to find the answers.
Recently I was sent a link to a video that was recorded undercover by a group that is known for doing undercover videos for the intent of exposing animal cruelty and abuse. I hesitated to watch it because I knew it would be something horrendous for an animal lover like me to watch, so I saved it for the time just before I was closing down my work for the day. Not a good idea. I cannot tell you how devastated and terribly upset it made me. However, it was also the catalyst for this article series. Yes, I obviously needed to watch the video. Someone has to be a voice for those who cannot express their voices. But next time something like this comes in, I will not watch it at the end of the day so that it haunts me through the night.
I am not supplying the link to that video here because I’m sure many who are reading this article have more than likely already seen that video, especially since it’s been all over the mainstream news. And interestingly enough the video is not the real focus of this article. It’s more a question: What are we really doing? Are we really aware of what is REALLY going on with regard to animals?
Before I digress let me just share the video in words. In one word: abhorrent. In a phrase: complete disregard for sanctity of life. This video was taken inside of a factory dairy farm. These dairy cows are used their entire lives for milk and then for food themselves when their milk supply is no longer up to the demand. Let me first say before I go on that I am not opposed to using animals for food. Yes I am an animal lover but I also believe it is okay for us to consume animals for food but in gratitude to them for their unwilling sacrifice that can only be honored with the humane, natural care of these animals. As a veterinarian friend Dr. Myrna Milani, said “there are consequences to what we do to animals”. Yes, there are, indeed. Juliette de Bairacli Levy states in her book, The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable that she teaches natural care of animals (according to their species needs) and shuns their treatment as machines forcing the “unnatural” on our domestic animals which brings them much pain, fear, and misery but could all be avoided by their proper, humane, natural care.

Whether animals are our companions, or utilized for food, or for entertainment, or whatever it may be we MUST care for them kindly, humanely, in gratitude to them, and as naturally as possible or there will be and are consequences to our actions. Many animals are highly intelligent and deserve to be respected as the living beings that they are; our problem is that we are wrapped up in our closed little worlds therefore we do not achieve the understanding necessary to work with or live with animals in our personal worlds.

In this video I watched as a downed cow (one that no longer can stand up because of a sick and weakened state) was being repeatedly - and I mean one right after the other – prodded with an electric cattle prod. She was screaming, and also frothing at the mouth in agony. It was obvious she was in agony and also very sick. But the worker continued to prod her. Then seeing that this wasn’t going to work he went and got a forklift to force UNDERNEATH her to lift her and carry her to slaughter. Now imagine this cow is already sick and in agonizing pain. She was repeatedly electrocuted. Then they ice the cake by shoving a painful piece of metal up underneath her. How she lived through all of that is beyond my comprehension. But no matter what, she did not deserve that kind of treatment even if the plan was to use her for human consumption. No animal no matter what deserves that kind of treatment. Never. Ever.

Read the Entire Article >>>> Here