Canada Passes 'Free Willy' Bill Outlawing Whales and Dolphins in Captivity

iStock/Rpsycho
iStock/Rpsycho

In response to accusations of animal cruelty, aquariums around the world are moving away from keeping large marine mammals in tanks. On Monday, June 10, Canada made a huge leap toward that goal. CNN reports that Canada's House of Commons passed a bill that bans holding whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity, barring special circumstances.

The so-called "Free Willy bill," named after the 1993 film that follows an orca freed from an amusement park, makes capturing and breeding cetaceans for entertainment punishable by a fine up to $150,000 USD. The exceptions to the rule are animals that are in need of rehabilitation, that have been licensed for scientific research, or that are unable to survive in the ocean on their own. The bill has been moving through Canada's legislature since December 2015.

Animal rights activists argue that highly social, intelligent mammals like whales and dolphins are unsuited to life behind glass walls. The 2013 documentary Blackfish, which focused on the captive orcas at SeaWorld, drew the issue into the international spotlight. In 2016, SeaWorld announced that it would end its killer whale breeding program.

Canada's Free Willy bill has already earned approval from the nation's Senate, but it must return there to receive "royal assent" before it can become law. Similar initiatives have been launched in the U.S.: In 2016, California passed a law making it illegal to hold orcas in captivity for "display, performance, or entertainment purposes."

[h/t CNN]

One of the World’s Most Dangerous Spiders Could Invade Homes after Australia's Recent Rainfall

Ian Waldie, Getty Images
Ian Waldie, Getty Images

While recent rainfall has been a welcome change in Australia after destructive bushfires caused a widespread crisis, it hasn’t come without an asterisk. According to the Australian Reptile Park, the wet and warm conditions have made Sydney funnel web spiders highly active—and the funnel web spider happens to be one of the most venomous arachnids on the planet.

In a video the park shared on Facebook, officials warn that the weather might cause a marked increase in the spiders' activity, as males cover territory in search of a mate. They might be found in shoes, in laundry, or in yards. Fortunately, Atrax robustus is easy to identify, with its shiny body providing a helpful visual cue to immediately begin walking in the other direction.

Male funnel webs are thought to have venom up to six times more dangerous than females and also tend to move around more, making human encounters with them more likely. Because they can’t climb smooth surfaces, funnel webs are also prone to burrowing in piled-up clothing or other hiding spaces, providing an unwelcome surprise for anyone looking to retrieve their discarded shirt or socks.

The funnel web is also aggressive, quick to attack when provoked, and packs a powerful enough bite to pierce shoes. After being bitten, pain, muscle spasms, and pulmonary edema follow. Victims should use a compression bandage and limb immobilization to compress surface tissue until they receive medical attention.

Though the species is believed to have caused 13 human deaths, there haven’t been any fatalities attributable to a funnel web bite since 1981. That’s due in large part to antivenom made from milked spiders, an advancement that saved the life of a 10-year-old boy, Matthew Mitchell, bitten by the spider in 2017. The spider was loitering in his shoe and bit him on the finger. After 12 vials of antivenom, Mitchell made a complete recovery.

The Australian Reptile Park is actually encouraging citizens to trap the spiders and bring them in to drop-off sites to aid in the antivenom production effort. They advise nudging the spider into a plastic or glass container with a spoon. Extreme caution should be exercised, but you knew that.

[h/t CNET]

Perdita, the ‘World’s Worst Cat,’ Is Looking for Her Forever Home

Brittany Taylor
Brittany Taylor

"We thought she was sick, turns out she's just a jerk."

That's the opening line of Mitchell County Animal Rescue's adoption listing for Perdita the cat. Shelters usually try to paint the animals in their care in a positive light, but this organization isn't mincing words: Perdita is being advertised as the "world's worst cat."

As The News & Observer reports, the 4-year-old cat arrived at the North Carolina animal rescue on Christmas Eve. She quickly earned a reputation for drawing people to her cage with her cute, kitten-like behavior, then batting their hands away the moment they go in for a pet. The shelter thought Perdita might be in pain, but after taking her to a vet, they realized she just had an evil streak.

According to her adoption listing on Mitchell County Animal Rescue's Facebook page, Perdita is "not for the faint of heart." Her likes include "staring into your soul until you feel as if you may never be cheerful again," "lurking in dark corners," and "being queen of her domicile." Her dislikes are "the color pink, kittens (yuk they are so chipper), dogs, children, the Dixie Chicks, Disney movies, Christmas, and last but NOT least ... HUGS." If someone is willing to take the antisocial cat into their home, the shelter will waive all adoption fees.

Her caretakers admit that while Perdita may not win over everyone, there's plenty about her to love. According to Mitchell County Animal Rescue director Amber Dale Lowery, she arrived at the shelter after her previous owner died. "We understand that she has earned every right to be a jerk and meant the post as tongue-in-cheek," Lowery tells Mental Floss. "We adore her strong personality and hope that by shedding light on her 'cattitude,' the perfect home will step forward to adopt her."

The response to the listing has been positive so far. Facebook users have commented, "I love how she looks like she is plotting world domination," "My soulmate kitty," and "I don’t even like cats and I want this cat!!"

Perdita may be a celebrity on the internet, but at the shelter she hasn't changed. "Perdita is not fazed by her fame. Just this morning she allowed me to scratch her head, admire her good looks and then promptly growled at me," Lowery says.

To inquire about becoming the owner of the world's worst cat, you can call 828-765-6952 or head to mitchellcountyanimalrescue.org to fill out an adoption application. You may want to invest in some scratch-proof furniture covers in the meantime.

[h/t The News & Observer]

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