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Pet Dyeing a New Fad For Dog Owners in China

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Chinese Fad Dying Dogs

A new trend in China has people bringing home panda’s and tigers as live in pets.  Is this true? No.

The new upper class fad has pet owners dying their canine companions to look like wild animals. From panda’s and tigers, to buffalo and rainbow colored peacocks, these animals are shining in the limelight. It’s almost becoming common to walk down the street, and see someone leading a small chow-chow sized panda along.

Dying pets has always been a factor in the pet pampering department, but dying them completely is a new development in the K9 world. With this year being the Year of the Tiger in accordance to the Chinese calendar, the tiger is, at the moment, the most sought after look.

This trend demonstrates how quickly Asia’s attitude towards pets, dogs in particular, has changed over the years. Just ten years ago dogs were considered a delicacy, and were still eaten in public restaurants, and raised on farms for that sole purpose. But this being said, eating dog is still a common practice in various parts of China and Asia, while in other areas it is viewed as an embarrassing reminder of a poorer time.

Now wealthy owners take their pets into department stores, restaurants, and enter them into dog dying competitions at places such as Pets Show Taipei.Pet Dyeing Becomes Popular in China

Pet Coloring China

Some vets have warned that by dying their pets they could be potentially damaging the dogs mental and/or physical well being. It is highly emphasized that owners should seek out pet spas that use natural coloring that runs no risk of harming the animal. At the same time, many critics have said that the trend is inhumane, that forcing the dog to undergo hours of dying and grooming is a form of abuse. But with this said, dog owners have stated that the attention their pets receive after these stylish dye jobs has improved their mental well being and confidence.
Expert Dr. Marty Becker says you never want to dye a cat because the dye is very toxic to them.

Dyeing Your Dog: Do or Don’t?

Dog Creative Stylist Anais Hayden and Dog Spa Owner Sarah Segal joined Anderson with their dyed dogs, Swinger, Casino and Phoenix. The animal lovers say the vegan dyes are safe.

Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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Offbeat

All You Need To Know About The #AgeChallenge Meme

The new meme is taking over social media and allows you to see what your 40 or 50-years-old self look like.

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Photo: Charlene Mcbride | Flickr.com | CC BY 2.0

A new meme challenge is making rounds on the Internet. Faceapp, an artificial intelligence-based photo app that edits your selfies to show how you look like when you’ve aged, is starting the #AgeChallenge trend.

Also known as the #FaceAppChallenge, the meme uses AI to augment a portrait photo to look old. Also, users can choose between the app’s templates to quickly edit a photo. Are they not smiling in a photo? You can select the Smile template to add a smile across their face. Users can also choose a different hairstyle or make themselves look younger using the app.

FaceApp does not require users to use their camera to take a selfie before using the filters. Users can upload pictures of other people then apply the filter of your choice.

In Twitter, netizens are having quite the fun in uploading pictures using the Age filter. Users trade pictures of how each other will look like in 40-50 years.

Pictures of celebrities like Tom Holland, Jennifer Aniston, and the cast of the Harry Potter film franchise are also making rounds on Twitter. Fans are ecstatic to see their favorite actors and actresses age beautifully.

Athletes such as Dwayne Wade and Kevin Love are also joining in, posting a picture of themselves on Instagram and Twitter. An England soccer team named Tottenham Hotspurs posted photos of their team members using the age filter in their official account.

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🤔🤷🏾‍♂️ Grandpa Wade huh

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FaceApp was initially released on iOS and Android last January and February 2017, respectively. The app is free to download but has options for in-app purchases.

Because of the meme challenge, FaceApp has since top the charts for ‘Most Downloaded’ in the App Store this week.

This year, SnapChat also released new filters that change a photo’s gender. A person could view what he or she looks like if he or she was born of the opposite gender using the app’s Female and Male filters. It also has one that turns a person’s face into a baby version of themselves.

Issues on Privacy

However, questions on the app’s privacy security are now being raised, as the app’s popularity started to rise.

Speculations on the app extracting photos directly from the user’s phone without extra permissions started when Joshua Nozzi, a software developer based in the US, posted his speculations on Twitter.

The developer based in Virginia claims that it seems that the app was uploading all of his photos when the app started listing all of his pictures one row at a time. The instance resembled a network delay, which Nozzi took for the app getting access to his camera phone storage.

Because he was alarmed, Nozzi turned on his Airplane mode and realized that the app doesn’t let him proceed without an internet connection.

After Nozzi posted his claims last Monday, cybersecurity experts like Will Strafach and Baptiste Robert tested the app and refuted Nozzi’s claims.

Strafach shared in his Twitter that the FaceApp does not upload a user’s full camera roll to remote servers. However, he does mention that when a user selects a photo to apply the filter, the picture is uploaded in the app’s server so that the filters can be used.

Robert also called out Noozi for his claims without sharing any pieces of evidence. Robert looked at the traffic when using the app. Similar to Strafach’s findings; the app does upload your selected photo from your phone. He emphasized that the app only uploads “one photo” in their server.

Aside from calling out Noozi, Robert also reminded the public and the media to verify their claims to avoid spreading panic based solely on speculations.

Another concern raised against the app is its vague Terms and Conditions. However, Robert also mentioned that the FaceApp’s Terms and Conditions are not different from the other apps in one’s phone. He asked the public to check out Snapchat’s Terms and Conditions if they are concerned.

FaceApp’s developer company is based in Russia. Twitter users also submitted questions to Robert if that is a factor for possible concern. The French cybersecurity researcher stated that there’s no need to worry because there are a lot of legitimate developers in Russia. “I don’t see why the nationality of the developers is an issue,” he writes in a tweet.

Further reports from Forbes verify that the photos are uploaded in servers in America, not Russia as speculated by some.

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Look: France’s ‘Cat-Fox’ — The New Unidentified Specie

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Cat Fox

Recently, the team from France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) released the news of a formerly unknown species of wildcat called the Cat-Fox or “chat-renard” in French. At first, it was only believed to be part of the French Island of Corsica’ local legend as ghjattuvolpe, a nocturnal beast which attacks sheep and goats.

During an interview with AFP, the ONCFS chief environmental technician Pierre Benedetti stated that “We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” Benedetti has been studying the species for more than ten years already.

How is it different from our pet cats?

These cats have black ringed tails that are fox-like, “highly developed” canine teeth, “very wide” ears, short whiskers. And they are bigger. Cat foxes can grow up to 90 centimeters (35 inches) from head to tail-tip, while normal cats usually grow up only to 76 centimeters. They are nocturnal (active/awake at night). Also, they have stripes on their front legs, “very-dark” hind legs and a russet-colored stomach. Their silky and thick coat is designed to repel ticks, fleas, and lice naturally.

Why is it called Cat fox?

It’s not a type of fox, neither, is it a combination of a cat and a fox. But it is believed to be a wild cat. “It’s their size and their tail that earned them the name ‘cat-fox’ across the island,” says Benedetti. Some experts stated that its ears and tail resemble a fox, but its fur and facial characteristics are somehow similar to a typical cat.

Its existence was first popularly known last 2008 when a single cat-fox was caught by accident in a hen house at Olcani in Cap Corse.

Last 2012, to get and determine the golden stripped creature’s DNA, the team created traps with wooden sticks that have an irresistible smell to cats. As a result, they were able to get its fur, when the cats rubbed their bodies against the sticks.

After some analysis, they discovered through its DNA, that it is somehow related (but can be differentiated) from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris. It’s closely related to the African forest cat, F. silvestris lybica. However, it’s “exact identity is still to be determined,” Benedetti added.

The first cat was captured in 2016 using modernized photographic traps. Afterward, the team was able to catch 12 of the 16 total cats that they’ve seen using non-violent methods.

According to an ONCFS field agent, Carlu-Antone Cecchini, the cats were found in a location where “water and plant cover offering protection against its main predator, the golden eagle.” After examining and tagging the cats with electronic chips to track their adventures, the ONCFS releases them to the wild unharmed. One of the cats they’ve captured is a male cat with a one golden and one brown eye — a result of a cat fight.

The cat-fox may turn out like the mysterious wolf-like dog found in Montana last May 2018. It was revealed that it’s just an old type of wolf.

Today, it is still uncertain whether the cat-fox is new species or an old species that hasn’t been formally recognized. But some people argue that this may be a new species which is a combination of two types of species (species hybridisation). This hybridization is possible since a new bird species was discovered in the Galapagos.

The answer behind the lineage of these cats is one of the mysteries that are yet to be known. It’s diet, and ways of reproduction, are however to be discovered and learned in the future. Also, Benedetti has a theory that these cats may have been living on the French island of Corsica since 6,500 years BC.

He added that farmers might have brought these cats in the island. Meanwhile, Scientists believe that the cat could have originated from Africa or the Middle East.

According to CNN, the wildlife rangers from ONCFS expect that by catching, studying and tagging the cat foxes, they can somehow help these cute furry friends to be known and protected shortly, hopefully in two to four years.

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Look: Exotic Pets Turned Invasive Pests

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Exotic Pets
Marcie Kapsch from Loxahatchee NWR holding the exotic sailfin catfish (FL). Photo: USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation | Flickr

A recent study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a journal from the Ecological Society of America, documented how researchers gain more awareness in the dynamics of the exotic pet trade and the role it plays in introducing nonlocal and invasive vertebrates worldwide.

As exotic pets become more popular, we need to have a clearer understanding of the factors that affect the trade to minimize the threat of having a pet-to-pests invasion soon.

Lockwood, the lead author of the study, said that since the 1970s, the market for exotic pets is continuously growing and the amount of vertebrate animals that are traded globally is surprising, even to the experienced biologists. Over the past decades, the population of reptiles and marine fish significantly increased — caused by their viral popularity as exotic pets.

Researchers take a closer look at the socioeconomic and socioecological factors that affect the exotic pet trade of vertebrates (animals with the backbone; namely fishes, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles).  The mentioned factors depend on the unique economic, social, regulatory, and cultural contexts of a particular country. There is an increasing and widespread demand for exotic pets worldwide, but it occurs mainly in developing countries like South America and Asia. In the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, more than half of all households have at least one pet.

What are exotic pets? 

In the study, it is defined as “species without a long history of domestication that are legally captured from their native range or bred within facilities and sold to consumers as household companions,” and are kept for non-utilitarian reasons (characterized by or aiming at beauty or ornament rather than utility).

Lockwood explains that species of goldfish or monk parakeets are considered as common pets for decades. Other species appear in the market for only one or two years; after that, they disappear.

The reason for this dynamic is not yet known, but researchers noted that this might be because of some species are easy to take care and breed well in captivity (which makes them cost cheaper). She added that thousands of different species are sold yearly. If a small percentage will escape or be free, they are capable of forming wild populations.

Is it really bad if our former pets decided to form a big family in the wild?

Lockwood and her team said that invasive reptiles and amphibians could force local species into extinction.

For example, the red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are turtles popularly kept as pets in the United States. It is native to the south-central region of the US, but it has created non-native populations in other parts of the country. These turtles are the real-life counterparts of the Famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Red eared slider turtle Credits: Jim, The Photographer| Flickr | Unknown

The reasons why owners release exotic pet is not widely documented. But it includes difficulty in taking care of large, old, aggressive, or sick animals. Cute little animals don’t always stay the same; sometimes, they grow and live longer than the pet owners had expected. Most countries don’t have the proper documentation of imported pet species. Also, there are challenges in monitoring and regulating them; some animals are usually recorded as “unidentified” or wrongly identified.

Factors such as the popularity of owning exotic animals, the ease of buying exotic pets from websites, and the lack of adequately implemented regulations — made it possible for the species to spread not only in their original locations but also in other parts of the globe.

This increase the possibility of having invasions in the future. To avoid or minimize the chances of having an exotic pet invasion, we need to have a better understanding of the forces that affect the worldwide trade of exotic pets.

In conclusion, Lockwood said that first “we need to know the reasons why certain species are in the trade, or what factors lead them to escape or be released,” so that we can make the right policies. These policies should be able to make both sides happy. Some people are still free to love their exotic pets while minimizing the probability of invasion.

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