Mike McNeil was untangling a net off the back of a fishing boat docked in Sand Point in January when he felt a pair of teeth sink into his calf.
A Steller sea lion had jumped onto the boat, slammed him down, and was now trying to drag him into the water. Fortunately, that was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, after other crew members carried him to a tool room to examine the injury, it was found to be pretty serious; those sea lions, weighing 1500 pounds or so, can do a lot of damage. Skin and muscle had been severed down to the bone.
He was rushed to the clinic, then airlifted to an Anchorage hospital, where a surgeon repaired the three muscles that had been severed.
The damage to his leg was reminiscent of a bear attack, doctors told him.
"They told me they were going to deal with it like a bear bite," he said. "That was the only thing they had to compare it to."
Such incidents are rare, but hardly unheard of, and they generally happen around docks, leading to speculation that, just as "garbage bears" become habituated to humans, so can the sea lions.
Meanwhile, further to the south in Beaumont, California:
Officers were nonplussed to discover two calves in a Honda Civic last Saturday. Must be city boys; when I lived in Oregon City, I bought two calves and drove them home in a Volkswagen Beetle. They seemed comfy enough; I even rolled down the windows so they could enjoy the scenery on the way.
Further to the north, in Warrenton, Oregon:
Dinner is served. The main course apparently arrived yesterday.
Yes, that's a dead whale. A 36-foot, exceptionally dead, sperm whale, to be exact. The seagulls appear to like their meat well-aged. If you happen to be heading over to view the Peter Iredale shipwreck, you may find it easy to locate the latest addition to the fine dining scene in the Warrenton area. Just follow your nose.
Nope, ODOT's not going to try to blow it up. They seem to have learned back in the 70s that it's not really a good idea.
Finally, from across the pond:
David Gill's claim for a licence to run South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton-in-Furness was unanimously refused by Barrow councillors.
Back when I was doing a bit of consulting work in the U.K., I'd been excited at the opportunity to talk with staff at various zoos there. I assumed that since they had a 100 year head start on us, they must be doing some great stuff. Sadly, in many cases, they were about a century behind the USA in standards, staffing, and facilities.
During the course of the last four years, 486 animals died at the South Lakes Safari Zoo and a 24 year-old keeper managed to get herself eaten by a tiger - as she was feeding it in the enclosure. That sort of thing seems par for the course - prior to the latter incident, another keeper was killed by a tiger at one of John Aspinall's two zoos, as he believed that staff should "bond" with the animals by entering their enclosures and playing with them. Basically, that's like jumping off a 40-story building and as you pass each floor, telling yourself "so far, so good".
It is nice to see that Gill plans to exit the zoo biz; he turned over operations - and hopes to sell it to an outfit called Cumbria Zoo Company. Problem: That company was formed following rejection of the operating license, and guess who set it up - and when?
Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd was set up in January by former South Lakes Safari Zoo chief executive Karen Brewer.
Karen Brewer, a chief executive of Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, which operates the South Lakes Safari Zoo, told the Guardian that the company was focused on “the animals’ physical and behavioral needs.”
Just like they've always been.
In other words, they'll change the name, but keep the game. People and animals will keep dying because the managers in many cases don't seem to know what they're doing. When I was over there doing the consulting thing, I'm on video warning two people that they won't be long for this world if they keep doing the dangerous things they're told to do.
Both are now dead - one was killed exactly in the manner that I warned him of, and in fact it happened just a few days later. It's an odd place - very PC on one hand; don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, after all. Yet unconcerned with exposing people to needless danger while affording minimal animal care in their many small zoos.
About a mile out of Dalton-in-Furness Safari Zoo is the Lake District’s only zoological park, which is recognised as one of Europe’s leading conservation zoos. You can walk freely amongst many of the animals, and hand feed penguins, giraffes, kangaroos, and lemurs, and get close to rhinos, tigers, bears, primates and vultures.
Nice PR pitch, and a great way to spread zoonoses.