There’s a bit of good news in animal land. A particular kitten who became famous for getting herself stuck on a highway sign situated in one of the busiest freeways in California has been adopted and now enjoys a new, safer home.
Gwyneth, managed to make big news when she was spotted yowling her heart out in a small highway nook next to San Francisco International Airport. The particular location was a highway sign base on an overpass leading to the airport off of Highway 101 South. The calico kitten was pretty much in a bad place, digging her claws into the patch of cement she found for safety on the edge of the overpass wall opposite the deadly traffic moving at full speed. The fact that the kitten was seen at all was amazing enough. How she got to that location in the first place without being runover is anyone’s guess in terms of the miracles she went through on the trip. Whatever it was, everyone agreed her nine lives were banked and charged in full by the time the kitten found herself in the nook overlooking the main highway below her.
An SFO airport worker with a keen eye was the first witness on the scene to realize what was going on, and that person made the call to the local SPCA chapter to get help for the small cat. Operating via the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA, response folks realized the location of the cat was deadly on description. The feline was stuck in a sign flare of the cement on the 380 connector with at least a 50 foot drop to the 101 South Highway below. Even if she survived the fall, the cat would likely have been instantly run over by the traffic below, and the same risk was present if she managed to jump and get back up on the overpass as well. The cat, it turned out, did the smartest thing it could do – stay still and scream for help.
Eventually, a crew was able to get to the location, block off traffic and rescue the kitten, which was clearly traumatized by the entire event. So, on June 10, 2021, Gwyneth, the name given to the errant cat, managed to save her 9th life with the help of the local SPCA and survived getting stuck on a highway and otherwise certain death.
After a full check, Gwyneth was estimated to be about three or four months old, hungry, but otherwise a healthy kitten. The PHS/SPCA put her up for adoption, along with the kitten’s crazy story, and now the cat has been thoroughly adopted into a safe, solid home far away from highways, overpasses and fast-moving cars. She’s also been micro-chipped just in case Gwyneth gets the wandering itch again to go exploring.
More than Three Decades After Adoption, DNA Reunites Mother and Son
Melanie Pressley found out she was pregnant when she was 18 years old. Her boyfriend insisted on a termination, which she declined, but she worried that she wouldn’t be able to give her kid the life he deserved. She gave her baby child up for adoption, but she never forgot about him. The mother and son have eventually reunited after 33 years apart.
Pressley described what lead her to explore adoption in an interview. “I simply knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish it financially,” she explained. “And the second issue is that I wished him to have parents, so I thought it best to place him for adoption at that juncture.”
During her pregnancy, Pressley engaged with an adoption center with the help of her family. She gave birth to her son in June of 1988 but didn’t name him. After an initial objection, she convinced a nurse to hold the baby, and her sister snapped a photo.
Even after marrying and having three additional children, she pondered what her first child looked like while stressing every year on his birthday. After the death of Pressley’s mother, she became overwhelmed with the desire to meet her son and cried since her mother never got the opportunity.
As a result, one of her daughters sent her a 23andMe kit as a surprise gift in May 2021. Meanwhile, her kid was doing the same activity approximately 300 miles away.
When Greg Vossler was nine years old, his parents informed him that he was adopted, but he was uninterested in learning more about his biological family. “I used to joke that ‘I don’t see a star who looks like me,’ or ‘No one who is a king or queen in some foreign nation looks like me,’” he remarked. “And I always claimed it was a joke. It was my method of getting that fast reply in my back pocket whenever someone asked; I’d never actually given it any serious thought.”
But later, Vossler had his child, a son whom he named after himself. “One night, my spouse and I were relaxing and talking, and I remarked, ‘I don’t know anything about my medical records, heredity, or where I came from,’” he recalled. “And there was some 23andMe campaign going on.” As a result, I took the exam.”
Vossler did the test in 2019; therefore, when Pressley sent in her specimen in 2021, he was immediately identified as a match. Pressley stated, “I immediately sent a reply, and my first text was, I believe we’re related.” “I feel I am your birth mother,” said the following message. And it just exploded up from there.”
They started conversing, though Pressley stated that she didn’t want to hear his voice until they met in person. They were ultimately reunited earlier this summer, and the bond was instantaneous. Vossler not only met his original mother, but he also received new family members. Meanwhile, Pressley has a recent photo of herself with her long-lost son.
“Everyone is emotional; they’re all holding hands or hugging one other. ‘Hey, I’m your half-brother, half-sister,’ and so on. Melanie’s elder sister, who was key in permitting Melanie to take that initial photo, approached me and touched my face. “It’s the first time she’s seen me in 33 years,” Vossler said. “It’s an incredible sensation. And that demonstrates that there’s always space for families to develop and more love to share among them.”
Dogs Embrace the Smiles of Humans, According to Recent Research
Many people have exclaimed how their pets, specifically dogs, lovingly look at them. Often it’s to a bout of laughter from friends and family members.
It would leave dog owners who feel that way questioning themselves and sometimes even their sanity. Fast-forward to 2021, and guess who the joke is on? According to recent university research was undertaken, dogs respond in kind to the love they get from their owners. Read more to learn about this incredible discovery.
Dogs are more impacted by happy smiles than by angry or frightening looks, according to a University of Helsinki study.
Your dog enjoys looking lovingly into your eyes as you smile about as much as you enjoy your pup’s adorable canine grin. It’s evident that the two of you admire each other, but it’s also science.
When you look into your dog’s eyes with affection, its levels of oxytocin, the hormone related to love, bonding, and trust, rise, as do yours. But scientists already knew that.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki’s Canine Mind study have discovered that dogs are so enamored with seeing people smile that they will disregard the possibility of danger in exchange for a glimpse of our pearly whites. The findings were published in the Frontiers in a Psychology journal in October.
Scientists showed forty-three canines photos of smiling or angry human faces during the study. Each of the dogs underwent the test twice. They were still under the effect of oxytocin the first time (which the canines received as part of the course), and they didn’t get any more oxytocin the second time.
The scientists monitored the size of the test pups’ pupils using an eye-tracking device each time. Eye-tracking provides insight into what happens inside a dog’s brain since emotional reaction and awareness drive a dog’s gaze and control pupil size.
Prof. Outi Vainio of Finland led the research. “We were among the world’s first researchers to use pupil measures to assess dogs’ emotional states… “The procedure was only utilized on humans and chimps previously,” Vainio explained.
In most social situations, dogs are more inclined to focus on menacing or harmful cues. The hormone oxytocin caused them to ignore or overcome their innate survival instinct, according to the study. Instead, smiling human features piqued their interest and elicited a response. As a result, when the dogs did not receive oxytocin, their pupils dilated more in response to angry faces.
Woman Goes to Adopt a Pet And Miraculously Finds Her Lost Pet
Adopting a dog or cat is highly recommended. Not only does it help reduce the number of animals that otherwise have to be euthanized due to overcrowding and the need for animal control, it also gives a dog or cat that is already domesticated a second chance at a full life with a human home. That was the motivation for one woman who decided it was time for a new pet. She checked up on the lists available from her local shelter society, expecting to see a few good candidates to consider. However, what she didn’t expect to see was her lost dog.
Aisha Nieves had spent the previous two years mourning the loss of her favorite dog in Allentown, PA. She was extremely close to the pet, and Aisha would regularly bring the dog with her on everyday outings and trips. However, in June 2019, a car accident sent a vehicle blasting through Aisha’s backyard, taking out her fence and spooking her dog. By the time everything was settled, it was clear her dog, Kovu, had escaped through the gap and was gone.
Kovu, being a pit bull-rottweiler mix, was not going to stay on the streets for long. Either the dog was going to be picked up by someone or get captured by animal control. However, Aisha was never able to find Kovu and, after months of searching, had to give up on trying to find him again.
What Aisha didn’t know, however, was that Kovu was picked up and transferred to the Lehigh County Human Society. The dog immediately stood out because of his extremely friendly disposition, and soon enough, the local staff nicknamed Kovu a different name, “Ash,” to match his coat color. Kovu had been on the street for a bit though, and was covered with fleas and ticks. So, he had to go through extensive pest-removal treatment which took him offline and off the rosters of available dogs at the Society. That was just about the time that Aisha had been looking for Kovu and hadn’t seen any related listing or photo of her missing dog.
In the meantime, Kovu was eventually adopted out to another family because he did so well with people. However, it wasn’t meant to be. The family ended up losing work and going through eviction thanks to the COVID pandemic, and Kovu was brought back to the Society Shelter as a last resort. Being so adoptable the first time, the Society posted his photo on the available list, and Kovu showed up when Aisha began looking for a new pet. It was karma.
Aisha Nieves was convinced on sight it was her dog, and she connected with the Humane Society as fast as possible. Aisha had been smart, saved all her ownership paperwork from when she originally took on Kovu, and proved legally the dog was hers. Any last minute doubts, however, were wiped out, when Aisha got a chance to speak and see the dog. Kovu immediately recognized her and went bananas trying to get to Aisha. She did have her concerns that Kovu might have changed during the gap, but dogs have an amazing memory tied to their smelling ability to recognize an owner immediately.
The dog’s approach to Aisha was not a typical hesitant approach. Instead, he was whining, flipping, squealing, screaming and worming his way to Aisha in a big spectacle. To the Society Shelter staff, it was obvious Kovu was her dog. And, the Humane Society took the opportunity to emphasize online why it’s so important for dog and cat owners to tag, ID and license their pets, making it easier for everyone to reunite with their pets when animals get lost.
‘Trail Angel’ Leaves Behind Good Deeds For Other Hikers to Find
A marked route stretching between the Eastern United States and into Maine, the Appalachian Trail offers hikers the chance to experience the longest hiking-only trail on the planet. As a one-of-a-kind destination, the Appalachian Trail brings in more than 2 million visitors every single year. Reaching heights of 6,643 feet and extending for more than 2,200 total miles, the Appalachian Trail is as challenging as it is inviting, a testament both to nature and those willing to overcome it.
Due to the intensity of the trail and its large coverage area, Trail Angels have begun to leave behind little gifts to help others follow in their path. Michele Staudenmaier had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in March alongside her son, Zach. While walking the trail, Zach and Michele got to talking about gifts left behind for the hikers. Apparently, the hiking community has always appreciated donated gifts and drinks alongside trail markers, lovingly referring to these individuals as Trail Angels.
Understanding how important food and drink can be to a wilderness hike that ranges from easy to strenuous, Michel decided that she would become a Trail Angel herself alongside her husband, Dave.
Becoming a Trail Angel
When Michel and Zach had their discussion regarding trail angels, they were in the middle of a fun family trip. Michel’s husband, Dave, had already booked several Airbnb’s along their route through the A.T., with booked stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Vermont, Maine, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The trip was scheduled to take roughly six months, crossing through many significantly remote and rural places. Some of these rural areas end up featuring a small oasis of hikers, and finding these areas is known as stumbling upon Trail Magic.
Michel and her family ran into a group of Trail Angels during their work. Michele said, “I realized there was a massive community of volunteers that spend their time and money to support A.T. hikers.” Michele went on to say, “I had no idea!”
While an average hike will knock out nearly 600 calories per hour, it can be hard to normalize this average. Many hikers will carry packs weighing upwards of 30 to 50lbs, adding a tremendous amount of stress to their physical efforts. To help keep these folks fed and energized, Michele would cook and pack foods like hot dogs, chips, sweet treats, Gatorade, and even sodas. One such Trail Magic event saw Michele arrive with several buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, leading to more than 30 hikers eating well and sharing their stories.
One event showed Michele the true stakes pertaining to Trail Angels as well as the importance of her own work. Michele had fueled a trail marker with food when a hiker arrived. After talking to the weakened hiker, he revealed that he had run out of food completely. Had he not found Michele and her food, there is no telling what could have happened.
According to Michele and many of the hiking enthusiasts that she has met, it is rare to have any food leftover after a long hike. For that reason, unexpected hot meals waiting in the middle of the A.T. will always be seen and enjoyed as a magical moment!
Oldest Gorilla on Earth Celebrates Birthday at Atlanta Zoo
Founded in 1989, Zoo Atlanta has served residents and visitors to the area with a front-row view of black bears, raccoons, jaguars, hyenas, lions, and even gorillas. Recently, the Zoo Atlanta was in the news thanks to a very special birthday celebrated by a Western Lowland Gorilla named Ozzie. Ozzie celebrated his 60th birthday and in doing so he would become the oldest male living gorilla on record, at least according to Zoo Atlanta!
The Western Lowland Gorilla
Ozzie belongs to a subspecies of the Western Gorilla, known as the Lowland Western Gorilla. This subspecies is the only known Gorilla subspecies to be kept in zoo enclosures. The most finite subspecies of gorilla, Ozzie, is considered a member of one of the stronger and larger subspecies. With jet black skin and no fur, it is easy to see how similar their hands are to humans.
Gorillas like Ozzie often walk erect and can stand up to 5’11 while weighing in at 600lbs. The male western lowland gorilla will typically weigh more while standing taller. Western Lowland gorillas can be social creatures and they often make bonds with members of both genders, across differing groups. Western lowland gorillas aren’t territorial and they tend to follow the lead of at least one adult male.
Thanks to their large hands and advanced thumbs, gorillas like Ozzie can work with tools while exhibiting real intelligence. Gorillas have been tracked using sticks to measure water depth, buckets to fill water, and tools to drink beverages while in captivity.
A Special Birthday Bash
As the oldest male gorilla on record, Ozzie was more than ready to celebrate in style with his friends, caretakers, and fellow animals at the Zoo Atlanta. To celebrate the occasion while marking a special moment for Ozzie, the staff at Zoo Atlanta would provide him with a multi-tiered cake filled with frozen fruits that had been carefully colored for decorative purposes.
According to Zoo Atlanta, Ozzie has enjoyed prolific success as a mate. Ozzie has 20 descendants spanning three generations, with many of those animals still living with Ozzie at the Zoo Atlanta. The gorillas that have been removed from captivity have been sent to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Ozzie presently lives in a habitat made specifically for senior gorillas. His roommates include females, Machi, Kuchi, and Choomba – ranging between 36 and 58 years old. According to most researchers, a gorilla is considered geriatric after they surpass the age of 40.
The Species on the Brink
While conservationists are doing their best to foster new growth within the western lowland gorilla species, they are facing an uphill battle. Primarily living in forests, brush, and lowland tropical forests, these gorillas are watching as their habitats face imminent destruction. Along with disease and hunting, multiple factors have coincided to push the western lowland gorillas to the brink of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered.
A 1980 census of Africa found gorilla populations roughly equal to 100,000. Continued studies following the Ebola outbreak, bushmeat hunting, and famine, have all merged to create a potentially insurmountable barrier to recovery.
At the time of this writing, zoos around the world have 550 western lowland gorillas in captivity.
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