When Men Meet Animals
Some properly used, some heartlessly abused
BENEFIT OF TLC
Can TLC (tender loving care) reduce the risk of heart disease even though large amounts of cholesterol are consumed? It apparently can—at least in rabbits. Researchers at Ohio State University reported on experiments with two sets of rabbits who were given identical diets. One set got “tender loving care,” and the other group got ordinary care. As for the TLC rabbits, a researcher said: “I’d visit them four or five times a day just to say hello and cuddle. They were happy.” The result? Said Dr. Fred Cornhill, assistant professor of surgery at the university’s College of Medicine: “We saw twice as much atherosclerosis [cholesterol buildup]—in one case three times as much—in the aortas of the animals given ordinary care as we saw in the TLC rabbits.” The experiment seems to agree with other studies showing that stress may contribute to heart disease, and the rabbits receiving tender loving care evidently felt less stress. Doubtless humans would too.
Ever since Bible times survival in the desert has depended on cooperation between man and camel. Why are camels so suited to desert life?
Water retention is a major factor. If you lose 10 percent of your body weight in water, you will die. A camel can lose three times as much water safely. If you get hot, you sweat easily, but camels get hot very slowly and sweat very little. Your kidneys excrete much more water than camel kidneys do. But that isn’t the whole story.
Did you ever notice the mist formed by your breath on a cold day? That mist of water vapor means that you are losing water each time you breathe out. Not so the camel. It is unique in its ability to conserve water when it exhales. How does the camel do it?
If you roll a piece of paper into a loose scroll and blow through it, you have a model of the inside of a camel’s nose. But the camel’s “scroll” is not made of paper. It is a mucous membrane with a special water-absorbent coating.
Incoming air picks up moisture from the membrane’s coating, leaving the membrane cool and dry. When the camel breathes out, warm moisture from the lungs is absorbed by the membrane before it can be lost out of the nose. In this way the camel saves 68 percent of the moisture it would otherwise have lost!
SNATCHED PURSE RETRIEVED
A doctoral candidate in zoology at Rutgers University was recently on her way to deposit a turtle in a swamp. She planned to attach a transmitter to the back of the turtle; then with a receiving device tuned to the transmitter she could follow the turtle’s movement when the turtle deposited her eggs. However, at a traffic light, a man reached into her automobile and snatched her purse. It contained the turtle transmitter. So, shortly thereafter, she and a zoology professor activated the receiver. It homed in on a stable behind an uninhabited house, a few blocks from where the purse was stolen. There it was, with everything intact, except the cash. With purse recovered, the transmitter was soon placed where it belonged—on the back of a turtle in a swamp.
Even pigs have joined the jogging fad. To test the effects of jogging and high-fat diets on heart problems, a group at Arizona State University decided to use pigs, since they are said to have psychological characteristics that resemble those of humans, such as susceptibility to stress. The goal of the pigs is two miles (3.2 km) a day. However, not all 18 pigs in the study jog. Six just eat and sleep pig-fashion. Six others started jogging when they were piglets. And six more started jogging when they reached the weight of 150 pounds (68 kg). As for the jogging pigs, Ross Consaul says: “They burn up the track for about the first lap. After that, most of them need some encouragement.” This is given by prodding them occasionally with a long two-pronged fork. Another reason why pigs were chosen for the jogging study is, as assistant professor of agriculture George Seperich says: “We can be fairly sure no one is going to invite our pigs out for beer and pizza in the middle of our study.” Preliminary findings are that the jogging pigs appear to have more energy and to have a more contented disposition.
“NO MORE TEARS”? FOR WHOM?
“Science News” of last October reported: “Remember shampoo commercials hawking ‘no more tears’? Most data on whether or not a product is an eye irritant have emerged from Draize testing. Named for the Food and Drug Administration researcher who developed it during World War II, the test involves dropping a substance directly onto the cornea of an albino rabbit. Reactions—such as blistering, lesions or other tissue damage—are scored by comparing the tested eye against the rabbit’s other, unexposed eye. Many rabbits undergo intense pain in order to validate suspicions that bleaches and other goods shouldn’t make eye contact.”
A coalition headed by the Humane Society of the United States is pressuring laboratories for humane alternatives to the Draize test. “It’s a fairly inhumane test,” admits EPA’s Jim Roloff. Technicians hate to do it, he says, because “if you get a very corrosive chemical, it’s really cruel.” He contends the test is unnecessary if skin tests indicate that a substance is highly caustic.