Prancer (1989)

Kat Eschner's newsletter about animal-human relationships Vol. 3 Iss. 5

This issue of CREATURE FEATURE is brought to you by Laid-Back Camp, which is the coziest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s making me long for chilly autumn camps where I’ll read beside the lake just like Rin Shima (minus the moonlit view of Mount Fuji, alas.)

Books are both my greatest source of knowledge and meaning, and my greatest solace. I think reading is important. But people in prison have very limited access to books!

I’m getting involved with some different groups sending books to prisoners (there is, of course, the larger issue of the carceral state, which is not confined to America, but I think agitating for change while trying to support those currently imprisoned is necessary.) If you want to join me: US resource list; Canada resource list. Neither of these are complete and you may be able to find other ways to help.)

GIF: A shiba inue on a leash runs up to the main character of Laid-Back Camp, who is a small girl with blue hair. A second shiba inue on a slightly longer leash runs into her, bowling her over.


Lots and lots of dead reindeer! Thanks, climate change.

At least TWO HUNDRED reindeer starved to death in Svalbard last winter, per the Norwegian Polar Institute. “Climate change is making it rain much more. The rain falls on the snow and forms a layer of ice on the tundra, making grazing conditions very poor for animals,” the head of the reindeer census told Agence France-Presse.

Extra credit: Speaking of northerly ungulates, Canadian experts are concerned that deer and caribou who may be infected with a prion disease known as "chronic wasting disease" are being allowed into the food system. Only the animals confirmed to have the disease in a herd are culled, while the others are sent to market—even though CWD can't be detected in an animal under 12 months of age. So far, the disease hasn't been transmitted to humans.

Chronic wasting disease is a huge deal in both Canada and the US as well as some places in Europe (I know less about the EU situation) and there is absolutely not enough reporting/public awareness for what I suspect will become a much bigger issue over the next decade.

There are so many mysterious pythons slithering around Toronto

The family of Monty the missing ball python was relieved when he was found near a gas station in Toronto, Canada. Then they realized the snake WASN’T MONTY. They’ve nicknamed the impostor “Sneaky Pete,” writes Morganne Campbell for Global News. I think the important takeaway here is that there have been, in the past week, at least three ball pythons at large in Toronto.

Although this bizarre story sounds like something out of a movie, snakes are master escape artists and more get away than you would think. Since January 2017, Toronto Animal Services has picked up 28 stray snakes and re-homed five.

Poachers and their dogs decimate chimp family, as a scientist steps in

Anthropologist Kevin Langergraber has been studying the Ngogo community of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda, for 19 summers, Ed Yong writes for The Atlantic. Then he found himself fighting alongside them when poachers attacked with a pack of dogs.

Notes: Chimpanzee culture keeps chimpanzees going, but humans are (predictably) fucking it up.


Here is a cool table about all the Sovet space dogs and what happened to them. These dogs weren’t initially pets, but I get the sense they were generally treated pretty well by handlers before their voyages. Not all of them died, even! RIP Laika.

GIF: A photoshopped corgi-looking dog sits on a picture of a submarine sandwich. The image of the sub and the dog bounces up and down against a starry background. (Credit: Nebraska Humane Society)


listen to me there have
been some doings here since last
i wrote there has been a battle
behind that rusty typewriter cover
in the corner
you remember freddy the rat well
freddy is no more but
he died game the other
day a stranger with a lot of
legs came into our
little circle a tough looking kid
he was with a bad eye

—Excerpt, “freddy the rat perishes,” Don Marquis


Please read me

My work from this week.

  1. A common genetic cause of ALS leads to toxic protein buildup, but we may now have a way of stopping it

  2. This ancient predator had claws like rakes and a body like a spaceship

  3. Canada manhunt: police move search for teen murder suspects after tip-off


Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact me at my email or on Twitter. If you enjoy this newsletter and would like to tip me, I am on Ko-fi.

CREATURE FEATURE is edited by Tracey Lindeman.

All images in CREATURE FEATURE are used under Creative Commons licensing. Efforts have been made to ensure that photographs of living animals or natural scenes have been taken ethically, in responsible pet ownership conditions, at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums or under safe, non-damaging conditions in the wild. If you see an issue with any image we share, please notify me.