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natural pet


bodies, clay adds needed sodium to their diet, researchers now believe. A pregnant elephant in Kenya’s


Tsavo Park was observed by ecologist Holly Dublin, Ph.D., to travel miles to fi nd a tree not normally eaten. Four days later, the elephant gave birth. Dublin discovered that Kenyan women make a drink from the same leaves and bark to induce labor. While studying Bornean


Nature’s Remedies How Animals Self-Medicate


by Sandra Murphy Every species embodies a solution to some


environmental challenge, and some of these solutions are breathtaking in their elegance.


~Linda Bender, Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals


F


rom birds and elephants to dolphins, animals, whether by instinct or learned behavior, have discovered ways to cope with parasites, pests, aches and pains. T is science of self-medication is called zoopharmacognosy (zoo for animal, pharma


for drug and cognosy for knowing). At home, a dog or cat that eats grass is practicing it to eliminate parasites or hairballs. Donald Brightsmith, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University, directs the Tambopata Macaw


Project in the lowlands of southeastern Peru, studying the many macaws and other parrots that gather clay to eat as a supplement. First thought to help remove toxins from their


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orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) in the Sabangau peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, primatologist Helen Morrogh-Bernard, Ph.D., of the University of Exeter, UK, observed an orangutan chew the leaves of a plant that were not part of its usual diet until it formed a lather. T e orangutan spit out the leaves and used the lather much like humans apply a topical pain reliever. While animals have been known to


eat certain plants when ill, hers may be the fi rst sighting of an animal creating a salve. Nearby villagers grind the leaves to make a balm for sore muscles and infl ammation. Morrogh-Bernard believes humans learned this topical application from apes and passed it down through the generations. In the Red Sea, bottlenose dolphins


rub against bush-like gorgonian corals covered by an outer layer of antimicrobial mucus that may protect them from infection, according to dolphin researcher Angela Ziltener, of the University of Zürich, Switzerland. “It’s amazing how much we’ve


learned, but forgotten,” says Ira Pastor, CEO at Bioquark Inc., in Philadelphia, a life sciences company developing biologic products to regenerate and


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