Two stray dogs in New Zealand went through an extensive 5-week training program where they learned how to shift and steer a car. This is real life. They started out on little “doggie go-karts” then upgraded to modified Mini Coopers.
For the four-legged competitors, two months of hard work – and a fair few treats – ensured they were raring to get on the racetrack. So when the big day rolled around, the only ones likely to get hot under the collar were any bystanders who spotted a Mini hurtling towards them with a dog at the wheel. Two mutts made history yesterday by driving a car down a racetrack. Ten-month-old beardie cross Porter put his paws to the pedals first, steering the Mini down the straight and then turning a corner.
He was followed by Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer cross, who completed the same feat. As the Mail reported last week, the pair – along with one-year-old beardie whippet cross Ginny – had been taking driving lessons, which began with them learning to steer a wooden cart pulled along on a string by their trainers.
In just eight weeks, they progressed to driving a real car – a modified Mini in which they sat on their haunches in the driver’s seat. Their front paws were on the steering wheel, while their back paws were on levers attached to the accelerator and the brake.
Brazilian scientists have announced that they are moving ahead with plans to clone a number of endangered species, a list of animals that includes the jaguar, maned wolf, and black lion. The groundbreaking initiative is being conducted by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA. The researchers claim that they’re not looking to repopulate habitats, but to increase the number of captive specimens available. But in the event of extreme cases, they admit that they’re prepared to release these cloned animals into the wild.
Researchers at the Brasilia Zoological Garden have selected eight animals for the initiative, most of which are on the the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The genetic material required to clone these animals were collected over the course of the past two years, including the genomes of the bush dog, coati, collared anteater, gray brocket deer, and bison. The genomes were harvested primarily from dead animals native to the Cerrado, the vast tropical savannah biome that stretches across central Brazil. The researchers say they have already collected 420 samples which are currently being stored in their gene banks.
Now that this initial phase is complete, the next step will be to train the researchers at the zoo.
These animals will not be the first ones to be cloned by EMBRAPA; the government agency was responsible for the birth of a cloned cow in 2001. Since that time, various other animals have been cloned in Brazil, including other cows and horses.
A few years ago, one prison in Indiana began to allow criminals to adopt kittens and keep them in their cells. The criminals allowed to have cats range from murderers to burglars, and the program actually seems to be improving quality of life and the overall atmosphere of the maximum security prison.
Read about the program HERE