From WAMU 88.5 and American University in Washington, it's "The Animal House," connecting you with everything that concerns the animal world. I'm Sam Litzinger. Later on the program, we hear the amazing story of Sophie, the cattle dog that was lost in rough waters off the coast of Australia, but reunited with its companions after swimming six miles to safety. We'll also hear about a new Internet TV network devoted entirely to pets. Dr. Gary Weitzman joins us later to answer questions about animals of all shapes and sizes.
First, there's been a major recall of dog food products, and Maria Goodavage, a reporter for the website Dogster.com, joins us from her home in San Francisco, California to tell us more. Maria, what's the latest information you have?
Well, they voluntarily recalled their -- just one of their foods and it's the Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal and Rice, and it was done as a precautionary measure because it may have had the potential to be contaminated with salmonella, and that is nothing you want to mess with. This is only in 12 states and it is -- so far no illnesses have been reported, and this is really good, but I have actually read some complaints online that some dogs have been made ill by -- their owners think that they've gotten ill perhaps by eating other forms of this dog food from other times that aren't listed on this list, and, you know, that can be subject to interpretation because, you know, if your dog's gonna get diarrhea and he happens to have eaten this food, you know, sometimes you're gonna put it together with that even if it's not the same lot that may have been contaminated.
They're usually really careful about these things, but there's been a lot of salmonella out there lately in dog food, and people are pretty cautious and rightly so. In fact, the FDA has been upping its inspection of salmonella in the last several months, so we may see more and more of these recalls as that happens, and again, it's nothing you want to mess with. If your dog has -- well, it can cause diarrhea, fever, cramps, in people who have been infected, and you can get this, it's a zoonotic problem, meaning it can be transferred from animal to human.
You know, usually -- okay, if your dog is sick, you're not going to get sick, or if there's something wrong with their food, you're not gonna get it. You don't eat the food. But this is something that is easily transferable, so if you touch the dog food -- if you touch dog food these days, it's a good idea to wash your hands before you eat, and this can really affect people with lower immune systems and little children as well. So it's not -- it doesn't seem to have caused any problems yet, we're good, but, you know, keep an eye out and there's -- you can go to the Diamond Naturals website, which actually it's diamondpet.com, and they have a button on the front page which says something about the recall.
You can click on that and find out exactly what states and what lot numbers and production codes were affected by this. So it's great that they're doing these recalls. They are voluntary, and, you know, some of these have caused illnesses in dogs, which is really terrible, and some dogs have died, but this one is free and clear so far. And I just read about this case where a birds nest on the roof of a plant and some of the water from the roof leaked in and got into the food barrels that were being stored. Well, that's how that salmonella outbreak happens.
We do dog food recall alerts on dogster.com, and yeah, last year, I would say at least, you know, seven times I -- this is I think the first one of this year, so that's a good sign.
We've been speaking with Maria Goodavage, reporter for the website dogster.com about the recent voluntary recall of dog food by Diamond Pet Foods. Maria is also author of the new book "Soldier Dogs." African Elephants live their lives constantly under threat from ivory poachers to the various combatants taking part in civil conflicts throughout the continent. But thanks to the efforts of conservationists, there is one place where the majestic animals can feel safe. The Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which is the setting for a new National Geographic TV film "War Elephants."
It airs this weekend on the National Geographic TV network. Here to talk about the film and the work being done to protect the animals, director Bob Poole, and his sister, Dr. Joyce Poole, who is the world's foremost elephant researcher. Glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Tell us about the elephants. We almost lost them, did we not, Joyce?
That's right. There was somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 elephants in the early '70s, and by the end of the civil conflict, they were down around just over a hundred elephants.
What was happening to them?
Well, the Renamo and Frelimo rebels were killing elephants and other wildlife to feed their soldiers, and also the ivory to sell for arms and ammunition.
But today it's turned around. There's protection for the park now, with the Gorongosa Restoration Park is full underway, and in the time that I've been going there since 2008, it's remarkable how much wildlife there is there now to see. We came to know individual elephants, and we'd like to come to know every elephant in that population. But the ones that we came to know quite well, I spent time with after Joyce left, and it was remarkable.
Elephants that would used to charge us, by the end of my time there on my last trip, they were literally feeding around my car with the babies playing, you know, within 20 meters of the car, and this was unheard of that this could happen. There were no threatening at -- nothing. It's amazing.
They're smart animals. I mean, we're talking about very smart animals. So they can -- they can tell the difference between men and women, you know, who's in the car, where -- what sort of people those are, what kind of ethnic group they're from. They learn people, they learn vehicles, the sounds of engines, the smells of engines, very fast, so it can be done.
How do you educate the locals about the need to preserve the elephants and the overall ecosystem?
It's not really the locals. It's the education that has to go on when it comes to the poaching. It really has to do with the buyers.
How will you rate the film a success? What other -- what's the criterion for deciding if it works for everyone?
Well, I think the most important thing would be to get people coming to Africa and visiting Gorongosa National Park. Come see the place, experience it for yourself, and by coming, you support the project, you support the local people, and you support the wildlife there.
We've been speaking with filmmaker Bob Poole and his sister, Dr. Joyce Poole about their new documentary "War Elephants." It airs this weekend on the National Geographic TV network. In a few moments, Dr. Gary Weitzman will join us with answers to your questions about pets. First though, let's revisit the subject of elephants. Our Animal of the Day. In an election year, the world's largest living land creature is also recognized as a political animal. Why? We'll have the answer just before the end of today's program.
This is Bird Note. The populations of some birds have declined dramatically, more than 80 percent in the past 40 years. Here are a few.
That's the call of the Northern Bobwhite. A chubby quail that prefers grasslands in the eastern states.
That's the song of the Evening Grosbeak, a Robin-sized bird that frequents the Boreal forests of Canada and the mountains of the western United States during spring and summer. Northern Pintail, slender and elegant ducks, seek shallow ponds and wetlands throughout the northern hemisphere.
Common Terns migrate along both coasts and through the interior to their nesting grounds in Canada from their winter home in the tropics.
This Earth Day, join those who are working to conserve that natural resources that sustain the full community of life for people and birds. You'll find lots of ways to help on our website birdnote.org. Knowledge, will, and action are the keys. Together we can ensure that the rich sounds of birds continually join, not disappear from, the Earth's chorus.
For Bird Note, I'm Michael Stein.
Next week in "The Animal House," stories from the notebook of a world renowned animal lover.
When I was six years old and I stumbled onto my first snake, a garter snake, I was hit with a lightning bolt. Sometimes I think if I turned over the log and I found a guitar, maybe I would have been a rock star, or if I found a golf club, I'd have been a Tiger Woods or something, but I found a snake, and I knew for the rest of my life I'd be working with animals.
Conservationist, author, and television host Jeff Corwin, next week in "The Animal House."
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