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The Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest bear in existence measuring around 47-59 inches. These bears typically have short, sleek black fur with some under-wool but there are some sun bears that have reddish or grey fur. The paws are large and naked, and the claws are curved and long which indicates adaptation for extensive climbing.

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The Sun Bear resides in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia ranging from north-eastern India and the Yunnan province of China to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. These animals are constantly being threatened by deforestation and forest fires, decreasing the population of Sun Bears by around 30% over the past 3 bear generations. One of the other main threats against these bears are poachers. Poachers target these bears for the bear bile trade in Southeast Asia, where they keep the bears on bile farms and extract it for use in commodities such as cough drops, shampoo and soft drinks. They are one of the main 3 species of bear that are targeted for this trade.

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With the Sun Bears living in tropical climates, they have no need to hibernate due to the yearlong food sources. The sun bears diet primarily consists of termites, ants, beetles, bees and a large variety of fruit. Bees, beehives and honey are also important food items to the sun bears, which explains why they are often referred to as ´honey bears´.  They have a keen sense of smell which allows them to find food sources all year round. It has long sharp claws, which come in handy for tearing open trees where insect and bee nests can be found, and then this bear can slurp them up using an extra-long tongue!

The female sun bears mate at around 3 years of age and exhibit signs like hugging, play fighting and head bobbing with its mate. They commonly birth one to two cubs which are born blind and hairless and completely dependent on their mothers. After one to three months the cubs are seen to run, play and forage near their mothers.

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Listening to the epic sounds of the animal kingdom is a magical experience in itself, typically only heard if you travel through the natural habitats of these beautiful creatures. There’s something artistic about the way these creatures use sounds as both a way of communicating and creating music. Well thanks to Fondation Cartier pour l´art contemporain and famous American musician and bio acoustician, Bernie Krause, we can see and listen to just how magical the animal kingdom can really be.

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From 2nd July, 2016, to 8th January, 2017, Fondation Cartier pour l´art contemporain will host the exhibition The Great Animal Orchestra, inspired by Bernie Krause’s work. Not only will you be able to listen to the orchestic sounds of a wide variety of species, but you will be able to see paintings, photographs and other artistic works that depict the wonderful animal world.

For over 40 years, Bernie Krause has collected more than 5,000 hours of sound recordings of the natural habitats of around 15,000 different animal species, both terrestrial and marine. Bernie Krause is a unique artist. He contemplates the world as a poet, he listens to animal vocalisations as a musician and he studies their recordings from the perspective of a scientist- all to bring us the wonderful experience of listening to these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat, before humanity shrouds them in silence, and hoping to help avoid just that.

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The three room exhibition is home to many different artists´ interpretations of their relationship with the animal kingdom, with works coming from Asia, Africa, the Americas and even Europe. The ground floor exhibition is the main attraction of this exhibit, with paintings, drawings, photographs and even videos covering the walls of the orchestra designed room.

The big room downstairs is where you can listed to the magnificent vocalisations recorded by Bernie Krause, from different locations around the world. Finally, the third room provides visitors with an immersive experience, offering a visual and musical journey through the world underneath the ocean, accompanied by plankton, an astonishing lifeform.

Can’t miss it.

The Arctic fox, also known at the snow fox or polar fox, is a small fox species native to the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. This creature is well adapted for cold temperatures and can survive freezing cold temperatures as low as 50°C. It is one of the only land mammals that are native to Iceland. Towards the end of the last ice age, they walked across the frozen see and became associated with the isolated North Atlantic Island.
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Its thick, deep fur provides an incredible amount of insulation. They have a beautiful white coats, which sometimes turn blue-grey, that acts as winter camouflage. The natural bland of colours allow the animals to blend into the snow and ice. The fur changes as the season do, the summer coat of the Arctic fox turns a brown-grey which again provides camouflage against the rocks and plants.

The average size of a male measures at around 22inches, with a range of 18-27inches. The females are slightly smaller at 20in, ranging from 16-22in. In some regions, male and females don’t differ in size at all, and both sexes have a tail as long as 12inches. Like a cats, this fox´s tail aids in balance but it also acts as warm cover in cold weather.

The average diet for an Arctic fox is mainly made up of rodents, birds and fish. During the winter months, when food is scarce, they will follow polar bears and eat the leftovers of their prey. They will also eat vegetables when available.

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As far as reproduction goes, they usually mate between September and May, with litters of about 5-9 being born at one time. Larger litters are not uncommon. These animals mate for life and both mothers and fathers share the responsibility of raising the cubs.

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Fun Facts

  • Their hearing is so good that they can locate the exact position of their prey under the snow.
  • Arctic fox lives in the underground burrows that have up to 100 entrances. These burrows are usually very old (hundreds of years) and used by numerous generations of arctic foxes.
  • Arctic fox has rounded body, short legs and small ears. These morphological features represent adaptation to the life in extremely cold environment (prevent loss of body heat). Arctic fox curls its bushy tail around the body to warm itself.

When you stare out at the horizon, the last thing on your mind is the vast amount of creatures that live below the surface in a world underneath the sea. It’s extraordinary the way the creatures can somehow effortlessly glide through the water. The way the coral and sand create homes to these perfectly stunning creatures. The way each and every animal has their own language in order to communicate. The way their world seems completely serene compared to the hustle and bustle of the world above.

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One of many of the creatures that lives in the ocean is known as the Bottlenose Dolphin, a wonderful grey mammal capable of many things. Its smooth silver skin allows it to glide majestically through the waves of the water and it is streamlined physique makes it quick and agile. They live in many different waters across the world, but Bottlenose Dolphins inhabit the warm seas all over the planet.

Did you know dolphins could talk? It’s true, the sweet clicking whistle of a dolphin is how they talk. These clever creatures certainly are something wonderful. It is known that each dolphin has its own specific pitch of whistle, which is the equivalent of a name, and researchers are studying if they actually have a language we could learn.

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These creatures travel together in what’s known as a pod, a group of up to 10-30 dolphins.  These highly intelligent animals use something known as echolocation in order to find prey. They send out a series of clicks and whistles and listen for the echoes to determine size and location of their prey. Dolphins also use this as a defense mechanism when being hunted by bigger fish. There are aspects of human interference within the oceans that threaten the lives of these creatures. Many dolphins are unintentionally being killed as a result of getting caught in tuna fishing nets, but it´s not the biggest reason why dolphins are threatened. Global warming and climate change seems to be a major player in the endangerment of these creatures. As the water temperatures decrease due to the melting polar ice caps, this will no doubt cause the dolphins slowly freeze in the arctic water temperatures, when they are used to the likes of the Mediterranean water temperatures.

The Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum) is a relatively large, unusual rodent in the Mara genus (Dolichotis). It is also known as the Patagonian Mare or dillaby. This rabbit-like animal is an herbivore and is mainly found in open or semi-open environments in Argentina.

 The Patagonian Mara resembles a jackrabbit with its distinctive long ears and limbs, with its hind limbs being longer and more muscular. The Mara has a head and body length of 27-30 inches with a tail of around 2.0 inches. Unlike other cavids, the glands are located between the anus and the base of the tail, rather than being anterior to the anus.

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These animals can only be found in the arid central and southern regions of Argentina, where they live in habitats with lots of shrub cover or overgrazed barren soils. When running, these animals have been compared to animals like the Antelope or Deer.

They are primarily diurnal and on average, 46% of its daily activities involve feeding. The females spend more time eating due to the demands of gestation and lactation. Whereas the males spend most of their time sitting being vigilant for predators. The main predators of these creatures are felids, grisons, foxes and birds of prey.   

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During the breeding season (between August and January) dens are dug for the young to be raised. They all live communally which helps protect them from predators with the young having more chance of survival. After the first three weeks the young can leave the den and graze with their parents.

The Patagonian Mara has been classified as a near threatened species by the IUCN due to the hunting and habitat alterations in Argentina.

There is far more to this real life Pokémon than exotic looks. The Axolotl is a very special amphibian.

Native to the region of Xochimilco, near Mexico City, where they historically had a close relationship with humans ever since we settled in the area. The axolotl nourished both the bodies and souls of people from ancient Mexican civilizations, as it was both revered and eaten.

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Axolotls are a type of salamander; they usually measure about 23cm (9in) in length, although some have been found to reach 45cm (18in), and they become sexually mature between the ages of 18 to 24 months. Nonetheless, they are subjects to neoteny; which is to say that axolotls can reach sexual maturity without undergoing a full metamorphosis, imagine if you could hold on to teenage features throughout your life.

As biologist Randal Voss told WIRED, one advantage of neoteny is that “if you don’t undergo this metamorphosis, you’re more likely to reproduce sooner. You’re already one step ahead”.

So, for example, their limbs remain underdeveloped, their tail is rather a caudal fin, and unlike other salamanders or toads, axolotls keep using their gills and stay in the water, in spite of growing lungs. Therefor it is a “perennibranchiate” salamander. The axolotl’s gills are also quite unusual; did you notice the fancy headdress? Well, that is what they use to breathe underwater.

Rarely, some of them do experience metamorphosis. Then, among many changes, it develops eyelids, and it loses the gills.

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Another awesome feature: regeneration. Well, it is not uncommon for amphibians to manage this but axolotls take it further like no other species. They can pretty much regrow any part of their bodies, including spinal cord! And, on top of that, without producing any scar tissue! Professor Stephane Roy, from University of Montreal, has some interesting things to say about this extraordinary capability.

Sad to say, nowadays it may be impossible to find wild axolotls in their natural habitat and they are a critically endangered species. There is hope, though, several organizations are making a conservation effort, maybe someday axolotls could be introduced back in a cleansed habitat and thrive.

Jacobs Jungle did this nice documentary about the beloved axolotl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e0IqAlK6QM

The sloth is a very interesting animal. It is a tropical mammal originally from Central and South America, known for being slow and even sleepy. Yet, while it is not exactly true, there is a lot more to them than that.

First of all, not all sloths are the same; as worldwildlife.org points out: There are two different types of sloths, two-toed and three-toed, and six species (Pygmy three-toed sloth, Maned sloth, Pale-throated sloth, Brown-throated sloth, Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth and Hoffman’s two-toed sloth. Their page at animals.mom.me website shows detailed descriptions of each present-day species of sloth. Thousands of years ago, sloths were much bigger, about the size of a rhinoceros or even an elephant. Some paleontologists think they could have been “opportunistic carnivores”, meaning that they would eat mainly plants although they might have enjoyed a bite of meat if the prey came easily enough.

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Nowadays sloths eat leaves, yet it is not that much of a light diet as you would guess; they have very slow metabolism, digesting one meal in their four-part stomach can take as much as a month. Plus, it is not a very nutritious diet and they don’t get much energy from it. Hence, they are slow; just not as slow as pop-culture will have you think. Actually, they may be clumsy on land but they are good swimmers.

Sometimes, during the rainy season, their fur may look green due to a symbiotic presence of algae colonies which help it camouflage in its environment. 

Some sloths can turn their necks up to 270 degrees around in either direction.

Sloths evacuate only once a week, and they do it on the same spot, which makes them easy prey for patient predators.

They have a life-span of 40 years. Their grip is so powerful that sometimes their bodies keep clinging on to the branch where they passed away.

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Dogs are really impressive animals.

Descendants of wolfs, their profound sense of familiarity, their mindset about the importance of the pack and its members, brothers and sisters, elders and the young, for survival has allowed them to develop a  sophisticated form of social cognition and communication, to interpret situations. Naturally, early human hunter-gatherers found in them a valuable ally. Even then and ever since, they have also had starring roles as protectors, herders, traction force, emergency services assistants and handicapped aid, to name some.

Warm-blooded, as they are, they feel for those around them. Dogs are family members primarily because they feel that way themselves. Such a bond as there is between humans and dogs emerges from reciprocity and, in time, it only becomes more profound and, sometimes, beyond mere companionship.

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But sometimes… Well, every person, every being, has a story and every family, every group, is a combination of stories in Time. Sometimes, for particular reasons, those stories grow apart, and life must go on for every member. Sometimes, some abandon the dog, something especially sad because dogs are smart as a two year-old human; they may not understand the reasons that led to the situation but they do realize what is going on, what happened to them. They feel grief and fear just like anyone would.

All you need is love, as John Lennon sang, and it is true. Love is the cornerstone of life and sanity for beings such as humans and dogs. Just as the living stories, we are, sometimes need to regroup to find their way, dogs can also have a second chance of happiness, both to live it and to help provide it for a new group, a new family.

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A dog is, so to speak, the classic pet, but there are many different kinds of pet and much of what has been said here applies to them as well.

This is way organizations such as Geneva SPCA launch campaigns as «A voice for a future», where we can hear the testimonies of people who chose to visit the shelter and adopt a pet. Because while these animals have a past, they also have a future.

Here is a very interesting video about «A voice for a future».

And also, Zoo Portraits would like to share this touching video By  La Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis.

Here are their websites, http://www.sgpa.ch and http://www.30millionsdamis.fr, which are very nice and helpful but, most importantly, remember that there always is a shelter somewhere near you with many kinds of animals waiting for someone to love and trust.

All black panthers are the melanistic color variant of any Panthera species. But then, black panthers found in Asia and Africa are leopards while black panthers from the Americas are black jaguars. Although some sightings of very dark cougars have been reported as North American black panthers, many experts rule it out as a stable branch of this family.

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In any case, as we can read on softschools.com, panthers are solitary animals who meet only during mating season. Adults may have 2-2.5 m (7-8 ft) in length and weigh between 45-110 Kg (100-250 lbs). They have large and strong paws with sharp claws and, on top of that, they are very skilled hunters, capable of taking down birds, reptiles and even large mammals. At 2-3 months of age, cubs begin to learn how to hunt from their mother. By the time they are only nine months old, panthers can catch medium-sized prey. This is not just because of their nature, they also learn quickly. They have outstanding eyesight and sense of hearing, adults can leap up to 20 feet and the panther is the strongest tree climber in the cat family.

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Despite the fact that panthers are native to three different continents, as facts.net points out, they are an extremely rare species; especially nowadays, and they explain that “Panthers are now considered to be endangered, since, although they are not a distinct species, both leopards and jaguars are considered to be threatened.” This is largely related to industrial deforestation, trophy hunting, among other radical changes in their environment. And the team at facts.net goes on to say that “Panthers are now so rare, and so stealthy, that they are rarely seen by humans at all. For this reason, they are known as the ghosts of the forest.”

The white-tailed eagle, with a wingspan of 2 to 2.5 m (6.56 to 8.2 ft) a length of 90 cm (2.95 ft) and a weigh of 3.1 to 6.9 kg, is largest European eagle. As arkive points out, it is a monogamous bird and the couple will breed in the same territory year after year. Furthermore, successive generations will continue to procreate at their sites over a timespan which can stretch for many decades. Only one or two chicks hatch in a year and, together, both parents look after them.

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This animal’s diet consists of fish, mammals, birds and carrion. During the early 20th century, white-tailed eagles went extinct due to illegal killing in the UK and many regions of western, central and southern Europe,  but fortunately it has been has been reintroduced and now its conservation status is of least concern.

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Nonetheless, farmers had objections in the face of the reintroduction, because the eagles would take lambs, and some have taken action against the birds by poisoning and even shooting. But eaglets have been hatching and the species continues to thrive. Although, as the BBC warns, they may still be at risk. Caring people can never sit back and relax; conservation is a never ending struggle. However, there are reasons for optimism; in the words of seafariireland: Studies of DNA in White-tailed Sea Eagles from North-central Europe have shown that the recovering European population has retained appreciable amounts of genetic diversity, implying low risk of inbreeding depression.

Here is a short video of this majestic creature

The Emu, one of Australia’s most famous creatures, is a really remarkable animal.

It has remained pretty much unchanged for about 80 million years, as convictcreations put it, the Emu walked the plains alongside dinosaurs, and they knew their land when it was one huge rainforest.

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An ancient, flightless bird with soft feathers, a long neck and strong legs, it is the second-largest living bird by height, after the ostrich. The adult Emu can reach up to 1.9 m (6.2 ft) and sprint at 50 km/h (30 mph). Emus have a quite varied diet, they will enjoy fruit, grains, flowers, tender shoots, insects, mice, grubs, and even other animal’s droppings; although they have been known to fast for weeks, fact is they are ready to cover hundreds of kilometres in search of sustenance. They need daily hydration but their bodies manage the water they drink quite efficiently. They are powerful swimmers, too! They enjoy water so much thedodo posted images of an Emu rolling on its back like a dog as it played around a sprinkler.

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 10000birds put together a rich compilation of Emu facts, among which you can see how they dance.

Emu eggshells are green and very big. It is common for females to fight for a mate, maybe because males do the incubation, which is a demanding task, he hardly eats or drinks and loses a significant amount of weight during this eight week process and, on top of that, the young are nurtured by their fathers. Then, this leaves females free to mate several times and lay several clutches of eggs in one season. Young Emus reach full size after around six months, but can remain as a family unit until the next breeding season. Wikipedia has a lot of information on this wonderful animal.

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The emu is an important cultural icon of Australia, appearing on the coat of arms and various coins, and this appreciation of the bird dates back beyond memory, as it prominently features in Indigenous Australian mythology.

 

Moreover, The Emu and Kangaroo are two animals who cannot walk backwards. As a metaphor of the great Australian trait to leave baggage in the past and look optimistically to the future, and this is why the two hold the shield on the Australian Coat of Arms.

This may seem an imaginary beast from Star Wars, but it actually is a real life animal… A tiny one.

The tardigrade, also known as “water bear” or “moss piglet” is a Micro-animal; it is 1 millimeter (0.039 in) long when it reaches adulthood.

But never mind its many legs nor the pumping tubular mouth, there are far more impressive facts about it.

There are over 1,000 identified species of tardigrade. Most of them spend their lives on moist moss or at the bottom of a lake and they feed on bacteria or plant life. However, as the smithsonianmag as points out, some tardigrades have been found to survive both in boiling hot springs and buried under the ice on Himalayan mountaintops. Actually, they survive freezing temperature of -328ºF as well as heat of 300ºF and, on top of that, they can withstand pressures 6,000 times greater than an atmosphere and face radiation doses thousands of times stronger than a human would dream of surviving.

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Not long ago, in January, theverge published an article on an experiment carried out by Japaneese cryobiologists who successfully revived tardigrades which had been frozen for over 30 years. Moreover, the defrosted animals managed to reproduce and had 14 live offspring.

Both sciencealert and extremetech have very interesting articles in reference to a study by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who sequenced the genome of this wonder of Nature. They found that it has the most foreign DNA of any known animal, this is, one-sixth of the tardigrade’s genome is “stolen” from other species via horizontal gene transfer. And this may be the secret to their adaptability, which is extreme. The bbc and dailymail published articles about water bears sent into space on European and American Agency missions, not only did many of these astronauts survive the exceptionally harsh conditions of outer space, but some of the females had even laid eggs there, and the newly-hatched young were healthy.

Then, wired hints at how further studies of tardigrades may, for example, make cryonics possible way earlier than anyone expects.

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Josh Keyes is an American artist whose work we really enjoy at Zoo Portraits.

On the whole, it offers a reference to the fact that animals and people all share planet Earth. Actually, it has been described as “a satirical look at the impact urban sprawl has on the environment and surmises, with the aid of scientific slices and core samples, what could happen if we continue to infiltrate and encroach on our rural surroundings.”

He often depicts fauna taking over the remains of the downfall of human progress; yet it must be said that there is a variety of lectures his pieces may inspire in observant eyes, they are rich in symbolism, as there are several layers of meaning embedded in his artistic expression.

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Mr. Keyes told Scribol “I feel that animal imagery still holds a sense of mystery, and can evoke feelings and emotions in a different way than the human figure. I have always enjoyed the use of personification in the work of artists. It is a way of stepping outside human perception, in doing so it calls attention to the human condition without depicting a human figure.”

On his Facebook page his style is described as “reminiscent of the diagrammatic vocabulary found in scientific textbook illustrations that often express through a detached and clinical viewpoint an empirical representation of the natural world.” And this is a highly recommendable source of information on the latest things going on in his artistic life.

And in this video you can see Josh talking about the inspiration for his surreal artwork with host Whitney Keyes… Yes, they are siblings, so the conversation flows quite naturally, easy and familiar, it’s a nice interview.

Also, be sure to visit www.joshkeyes.com where you will find galleries, news, exhibitions and more.

Microsoft Garage is the company’s outlet for small experimental projects because, as they say, small-scale things can sometimes have a big impact.

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One of their most recent products is an app, called Fetch, which identifies dog breeds when you feed it a picture. So, you take a photo of your dog, your friend’s dog, some other dog, and the app will answer. If it doesn’t find an exact match the app will offer a percentage of the closest match, which is all very interesting because, as the app description on itunes says, while it already has data of more than a hundred popular pure breeds, its knowledge of mixed breeds is deepening as users send feedback through the app itself.

Then comes what is probably the most fun part, what dog breed would you be and why? In words of Javier Alvarez-Valle, senior software development engineer on the team that came up with Fetch, “This is the kind of app you’re going to take out when you’re with your friends,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun to learn about what dog you look like, and it comes up with surprising comparisons. It will also make for good discussions when I post on Facebook. I think people will find many more uses than we can anticipate now.” If you feed the app different pictures of the same person it will offer different results and it is interesting because it explains what features drove it to each conclusion.

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A research paper recently published in PLOS ONE hints that dogs may feel jealousy in a similar way humans do. In this study over thirty dogs of fourteen different breeds were put in the situation of seeing their owners give attention to a stuffed, animated dog. They tended to growl more, some snapped or put themselves between their owner and the puppet.

The BBC article about the study states that “The researchers believe that the dogs understood that the stuffed dog was real. The authors cite the fact that 86% of the dogs sniffed the toy’s rear end, during and after the experiment.”

However, when the object of the owner’s attention was a bucket with a face painted on it the dogs did not react so vividly although they still were unsettled, and when the owners ignored them to read aloud from a children’s book only one had something to “say” about it, as reported on The Scientist.

The lead researcher of the study at the University of California in San Diego, Christine Harris, told The Guardian that the feeling of jealousy in dogs is considered of primordial nature and similar to that observed in babies. A previous work by Harris suggests that six-month-old babies show jealousy when their mothers pay attention to a realistic doll but not when they read a book.

Surely, dog owners won’t be surprised by this news since canine behavior as is seen on this video is quite common, but the researchers point out the fact that this is the first formal experiment testing jealous behavior in dogs.

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