Melissa's Blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Wildlife news... not sure why I'm so drawn to this stuff....

B.C. zoo charged over hippo's home
Last Updated Wed, 31 May 2006 16:16:38 EDT
CBC News
A B.C. zoo, criticized for its treatment of a young hippopotamus, has become the first in Canada to face animal cruelty charges.

FROM AUG. 13, 2005: Zoo criticized for baby hippo barn

The director of legal services for the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General said the Great Vancouver Zoo was charged with two counts of cruelty following a review of a report by the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which enforces laws relating to animal cruelty and prepares cases for prosecution.

"The allegation is that the accused did cause or permit an animal to be, or continue to be, in distress," said Geoffrey Gaul, adding that the zoo will soon be served with a summons and told when to appear in court.

The Vancouver Humane Society had been lobbying for charges since Hazina the hippo was moved to the Aldergrove facility from a zoo in Quebec in October 2004.

The very social animal has been kept in solitary confinement in a windowless shed with a very shallow pool since its arrival, society spokesman Peter Fricker said. "Alone, without access to the outdoors, with only a small shallow pool to wade in, and we feel that's totally inappropriate for an animal of that size."

Fricker said the zoo is the first in Canada to be charged with cruelty to animals.

Hazina was the star of a Telus commercial that aired on television last Christmas, with the proceeds to be used to build her a new home and pool that is supposed to open later next month.

But Julie Woodyer, a spokeswoman for the animal rights group Zoocheck, said the process has taken too long, adding the zoo has been warned repeatedly to make improvements.

"The SPCA gave them every opportunity to rectify the situation and move the animal into a better situation, and as far as I can tell, they just ignored that and went ahead and left her in a concrete barn," Woodyer said.

The zoo's animal care manager, Jamie Dorgan, said he's surprised at the pending charges. He said the SPCA had been working with the zoo for months and had seemed happy with the zoo's progress.

Hazina's new pool is going to open soon, Dorgan said, and the hippo has been doing well.

"She's doing great," he said. "She eats regularly. We spend a lot of time with her, working on her target training, which is great enrichment for an intelligent animal like a hippo. She gets all sorts of different enrichment opportunities as well with other things.

"And the reason we can say that she's doing very well is because she's in great mental condition. She shows no signs of having any problems at all. She's in great physical condition."

Dorgan said the zoo would plead not guilty to the charges under the Animal Cruelty Act, which provide for a fine of up to $2,000 and six months in jail.

I keep hearing these random wildlife in the city stories, but this one is especially interesting as it takes place in my home town. Poor little guy, he's probably just confused and lost. Let's hope we can get him off the streets safe and sound. The included image is the trail the bear has taken thus far. At the bottom I've included some cute black bear stock images, I believe our little guy has been proven quite camera shy

Bear Still on the Loose


WATERLOO REGION (May 31, 2006)

Police are waiting for a definite sighting of the elusive bear tracking its way south through Waterloo Region before they launch another large-scale hunt.

Believing they were closing in on the animal, police evacuated a Cambridge city park earlier this week.

The search came up empty. And despite the loose path travelled by what is believed to be a young male black bear, little else is known about the animal's current location.

"The bear has simply outfoxed us," Insp. Bryan Larkin of Waterloo regional police said yesterday, after things had settled down on the bear front.

"There's not much we can do right now because we don't know where he is."

There have been at least six suspected sightings of the bear over the past week, including two by police. Possibly originating from the Bruce Peninsula, the bear was first seen in West Montrose. It has since trekked through Maryhill, Breslau, Kitchener and Cambridge.

Ministry of Natural Resources officials believe the young male bear weighs no more than 54 to 68 kilograms.

It hasn't been deemed a nuisance or problem bear, said ministry official Bill Murch.

"It's more at risk than the public is," he said, explaining the bear would be in trouble if it wandered onto a busy road or Highway 401.

Police are now relying on the public to alert them to the bear's whereabouts. If the bear pops up again, they'll be ready.

Members of the ministry's bear unit, who drove in from Aurora on Monday with a steel trap in tow, would have to be called back to the region to capture the animal.

"We're continuing to assess how accurate sightings are," Murch said. "People may be getting excited and mistaking another animal for the bear."

Dozens of youth sporting events were cancelled Monday when police, city and provincial officials staked out Riverside Park in Cambridge.

Although the bear wasn't found, city council members meeting that night said the situation was well-handled. "It's a huge inconvenience, but would you want your kids in there with a bear running around?" Jim King, the community services commissioner, asked. "It's a safety issue."

There are 12 soccer fields and eight baseball diamonds in Riverside Park. With at least one game booked on each playground Monday night, and 15 players for each team involved, at least 600 children and adults were directly affected by the hunt. Probably more, if players' friends and family are added in.

An afternoon school soccer tournament was also shut down, and some people were prevented from returning to work in the park after lunch.

King has worked in the city since 1975 and can't remember a situation like the one that unfolded Monday.

"I don't think we've ever closed a city park. We've never had a bear in a city park." Anyone who spots a bear should immediately call police or the province's Bear Wise line at 1-866-514-BEAR (2327).


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tulip Festival in the Rain

We also went to the tulip festival in the rain this weekend... It wasn't as fun as it sounds, but we got some cute photographs along the way.

Here is me, enjoying the few tulips that made it to this weekend (most did not unfortunately). It's really too bad that it rained pretty much every weekend of the tulip festival, it's a huge draw for the Ottawa tourist industry (and the major kickoff for tourist season).

We saw the cutest little family of ducks at the edge of Dow's Lake on our very extended walk to Commissioner's Park. I fell in love, as I often do with local wildlife, but they didn't take to me as much as I took to them.

So, so, so cute.

I saw Cirque du Soleil last night in le Grande Chapiteau at Landsdown Park. It was AMAZING... unlike anything I could ever describe or you could ever imagine.

You can check out a video here
but it doesn't do it justice. You really have to be there to believe it.

The show combines gymnastics, acrobatics, yoga, tai chi, skipping and cheerleading with fantastic costumes and erie music. These guys really defy gravity throughout the show.

The skipping scene was incredible, at one point a guy was skipping double-dutch and within that normal rope as well. I can't really describe it anymore than that (except to say that I never imagined a childhood game of jumprope could be relegated to this level), but here is the pic they provide on the website.

These ladies were also quite outstanding, they did a bunch of stuff with hoola-hoops suspended in the air. At one pointed they were hanging 15 feet in the air with the hoola-hoops between their neck and shoulders as their only support. I can't imagine the type of strength these performers have...

I wish I could better describe the show, but quiet honestly, I have no words to adequately describe it. The Cirque performers defy gravity and will absolutely take your breath away. They are in Ottawa from May 18th until June 25th, and while the shows are expensive (between $55 and $120), it was worth every penny.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Blogger has been really slow with uploading pictures lately, so I haven't been blogging. We'll try today and see how it goes.

My new furniture is settling in nicely, although I still need to fix up my apartment to do it justice. It's Skylar and Pepplar set, made here in Ontario. Check out their website to see more of their fabulous stuff.

Here is what mine looks like:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Sunday, Elizabeth, Adam and I went to the Tulip Festival here in Ottawa. I have to admit, all those tulips were pretty stunning. We went to two of the four major sites, Major's Hill Park (between the canal and Sussex) and Casino du Lac Leamy (in Hull), with plans to hit the other two (Dow's Lake and Parliament Hill) later (hopefully around sunset for a different perspective). The Casino was a little disappointing, but Major's Hill Park had a lot of tulips and was worth the visit. I'm looking forward to seeing Parliament Hill and Dow's Lake.

You can learn more about the Tulip festival @

I love this photo, that poor little red tulip looks so out of place, yet it's so beautiful at the same time.

Wondering where the tulips originally came from? Check out a history of the tulip festival here:

This is a little odd...

DNA tests confirm hunter shot 'grolar bear'

Tue May 09, 07:50 PM EST

Scientists testing the DNA of a strange bear shot in the N.W.T. last month have confirmed it was a hybrid of polar bear and grizzly - perhaps the first ever seen in the wild.

Jim Martell, a sport hunter from the United States, was on a guided hunt when he shot the animal on April 16 near Nelson Head on southern Banks Island.

Since the bear looked like an odd-coloured polar bear, the outfitter turned the hide over to the territory's Environment and Natural Resources department for testing.

By comparing the DNA from the bear with DNA previously collected from polar bears in the area and with DNA previously collected from grizzly bears along the coast south of the area, the analysis confirmed that this bear was a hybrid

Officials say this could be the first recorded polar/grizzly bear hybrid found in the wild.

- Bears would rather make war, not love -

It was considered nearly impossible for the two species to mate, since polar bears mate on the ice, while grizzlies mate on land.

"It's a total surprise," says Roger Kuptana, Martell's guide. He says the relationship between polar and grizzly bears is usually more adversarial.

"Some of the elders here in town say in the past there's been grizzly sightings but usually they fight."

Additional analyses are underway to determine if the mother was a grizzly bear or a polar bear and to determine the age of the bear.

Martel had a tag for a polar bear, but conservation officers were threatening to charge him with shooting a grizzly. That could have landed him 12 months in jail.

Martel wasn't very happy, having spent $50,000 on his trip. He was worried he wouldn't be take the hide back home with him to Idaho.

ENR will return the hide to Martel, who is already back in the N.W.T.... to shoot a grizzly.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Many people know about my love for gnomes. I'm not really sure why I find the little guys so endearing, but I just like the idea of these mystical little creatures appearing in gardens unannounced. I've never personally had this happen to me, but I do own a few of the little guys.

Gnomes are also pretty popular nowadays; evidence of this can be found in movies, television, IKEA stores and even my daily newspaper. Check out this cute little article on gnomes from Saturday's Citizen:

Here is Tony, he's been my own personal gnome for quite a while. He's a little shy and quiet but definitely smart (note the book he carries with him everywhere).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hungary workers get shock at bottom of rum barrel

According to

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported.

According to online magazine, workers in Szeged in the south of Hungary tried to move the barrel after they had drained it, only to find it was surprisingly heavy and were shocked when the body of a naked man fell out.

The website said that the body of the man had been shipped back from Jamaica 20 years ago by his wife in the barrel of rum in order to avoid the cost and paperwork of an official return.

According to the website, workers said the rum in the 300-liter barrel had a "special taste" so they even decanted a few bottles of the liquor to take home.

The wife has since died and the man was buried in a proper grave.

I'm not so sure I believe this story... some of the other major American news agencies are still trying to verify it. It sounds suspiciously like an Urban legend that has been circulating for the past 100+ years... Check it out at

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I bought a new couch over the weekend, it's not here yet, but yesturday I had the pleasure of sending my previous couch on to a new family. I love the idea of Ottawa Freecycle, its a web group (you must subscribe) that brings together environmentally friendly people who have things that they no longer use. The idea is that you post what you have to offer, and someone that wants it can come and take it off your hands. Everything is totally free and it's a great way to keep perfectly useful items out of the landfills.

Many communities have freecycle type organizations, do a websearch to see if yours does. If you're here in Ottawa, is the URL.

I've very recently become addicted to the Eagle Eye Cam @ Who wouldn't love LIVE streaming video of an eagle sitting in its nest. The Eagle is waiting for its second egg to hatch, apparently that should happen any day now. The website is based out of British Columbia and is getting a whopping 10 million hits a day.

Right now the adult eagle is just chilling... I have to admit this is pretty cool.