By Rachael Bale, ANIMALS Executive Editor
A few weeks ago, a family reached out to Nat Geo Animals reporter Natasha Daly. They said their dog was the first in the U.S. to test positive for the novel coronavirus—news that we covered in June. All that was public at the time was that the dog was a German shepherd, one human member of the family had had COVID-19, they lived in New York, and the dog was expected to recover.
It turns out that the dog’s name was Buddy. He was almost seven years old, loved car rides and sprinklers, and he started having trouble breathing in mid-April, several weeks after his owner, Robert Mahoney, got sick with COVID-19.
Buddy died on July 11. That's his picture (above), in the backyard of his Staten Island home.
While it later became clear the symptoms that directly preceded his death were likely a result of cancer, questions remain about whether the coronavirus played any role in the progression of his cancer—or whether his cancer made him more susceptible to the virus in the first place.
In an exclusive interview published yesterday, the Mahoneys told National Geographic about their two months of frustration and confusion while they tried not only to help Buddy, but also to make sure experts could learn from his case.
The Mahoneys’ detailed accounts of Buddy’s health, along with independent reviews of his vet records, are the most in-depth look to date that we’ve had of a pet with the coronavirus. But more than that, they highlight the lack of clear, standardized protocols for practicing veterinarians and state and local public health officials when it comes to monitoring pets with the virus and just how helpful better information sharing could be.
Read the full story here.
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Today in a minute
Shark attack: Monday brought the first reported fatal shark attack in Maine's history. It reflects both a conservation success and a public health concern, though attacks remain extremely rare. It shows that great white sharks are on the rebound, as are their favorite prey, gray seals, Ret Talbot reports for Nat Geo. Authorities said they believe the shark involved in Monday's attack probably mistook a 63-year-old woman for a seal.
Bad news for salmon: Numbers of migratory freshwater fish—a group that includes salmon, sturgeon, and many freshwater eels—have plunged 76 percent since 1970, a coalition of environmental groups have found. Europe has seen the greatest decline, with populations there plummeting 93 percent in the past five decades—followed by Latin America and the Caribbean with an 84 percent decline, Stefan Lovgren reports for Nat Geo. An emergency recovery plan calls for letting rivers flow more freely, reducing pollution, and protecting wetlands.
Banned: Vietnam has announced it’s halting the legal import of wild animals to reduce the risk of future pandemics. Conservation groups hailed the directive, which also calls for harsher penalties on illegal wildlife trading, the Guardian reports. (Vietnam is one of Asia’s biggest consumers of illegal wildlife products.) Nat Geo’s Dina Fine Maron, however, points out that the ban on legal trade is temporary for now.
Self-isolating: Normally, vampire bats are very social. But a new report says that changes when they’re sick. They don’t muster the energy to call out to others when ill, the New York Times reports. Researchers say the behavior could have a beneficial side effect: It may reduce the spread of pathogens.
The big takeaway
Ice is nice: Researchers studying the rare and mysterious glacier bear—a black bear with unusual coloring—suspect that ice may help them survive. The bears stay clear of easier paths traveled by the more common dark-colored black bears for icier, more distant ones. The research notes the same ice is melting as temperatures rise due to climate change, Grant Currin reports for Nat Geo. This lack of intermixing between populations may be one reason the bears are so small in number compared to the black bears, which are rebounding in much of their range. Pictured above, a glacier bear resting at the base of a tree in Alaska's Tongass National Forest in 2018.
In a few words
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The last glimpse
What’s new? It turns out we’ve learned a lot about sharks in the past decade, from the walking bamboo sharks to the glow-in-the-dark lantern sharks to the “virgin births” of zebra sharks. “The biggest misconception is that sharks are these preprogrammed, small-brained eating machines. I’ve learned this is not the case,” says Kara Yopak, a comparative neuroanatomist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Writer Joanna Klein incorporates recent findings (whale sharks can carry up to 300 babies at once!) in this Nat Geo roundup of fascinating shark discoveries. Pictured above, a while shark feeding on plankton off the Yucatán Peninsula.
Want more sharks? Tune in to SharkFest for action-packed, heart-pounding, and informative shows about these awe-inspiring creatures. SharkFest airs until Sunday, August 9, on Nat Geo WILD.