WTF Fun Fact 13663 – Dog Longevity Drug

For dog lovers, the prospect of a dog longevity drug sounds fantastic. Who doesn’t want their furry friends to live longer, healthier lives?

Recent developments from a San Francisco-based biotech company, Loyal, bring this dream closer to reality. They’ve announced an anti-aging drug for dogs that has cleared its first hurdle for FDA approval. This marks a pivotal moment in veterinary medicine, as it’s the first time the FDA has shown openness to endorsing longevity drugs for pets.

Dog Longevity Drug Holds Promise of Longer Lives for Man’s Best Friend

Loyal’s groundbreaking drug, LOY-001, targets a growth and metabolism hormone called IGF-1. This hormone, linked with size, appears in higher levels in larger dogs and lower in smaller ones. Studies on other species suggest inhibiting IGF-1 can increase lifespans. LOY-001 is aimed at healthy dogs over seven years old and weighing more than 40 pounds. Administered every three to six months by a vet, it holds the potential to slow down the aging process in dogs.

Parallel to this, Loyal is developing LOY-003, a daily pill form of the treatment. CEO Celine Halioua emphasizes that they’re not creating immortal dogs. The goal is to slow their rate of aging, thus maintaining a healthier state for a longer period.

As promising as these developments are, they raise significant ethical questions, particularly concerning the quality of extended life for these animals. Veterinarian Kate Creevy, involved in a similar trial for an anti-aging drug called rapamycin, stresses the importance of ensuring that any extended lifespan is accompanied by good health and quality of life.

Moreover, the human manipulation of dogs through selective breeding, which may have contributed to accelerated aging in larger breeds, underlines the ethical complexities in altering canine aging processes.

Trials and the Future of Canine Health

Loyal plans to start a large clinical trial for LOY-001 with around 1,000 large and giant dogs by either 2024 or 2025. The ultimate aim is to have a market-ready product by 2026. This trial not only represents a major step in veterinary medicine but also opens doors to understanding aging in more complex organisms like humans.

The success of Loyal’s drug could potentially revolutionize how we approach canine health and aging. It offers a glimpse into a future where our canine companions can enjoy longer, healthier lives alongside us. However, it’s crucial to balance this scientific advancement with ethical considerations to ensure the well-being of these beloved animals.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “A New Drug That Could Extend Dogs’ Lives Inches Closer to Approval” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 13390 – Pet Appreciation Week

The first full week of June 2023 marks a special occasion for pet lovers around the world—it’s Pet Appreciation Week! This week-long celebration is dedicated to honoring the love, companionship, and joy that our furry friends bring into our lives. That means this week is a time to recognize the immeasurable value that pets bring to our well-being and to show our appreciation for their unwavering loyalty and affection.

Why do we celebrate Pet Appreciation Week?

During Pet Appreciation Week, people of all ages come together to express gratitude for their beloved pets. Whether you have a dog, cat, bird, fish, or any other furry, feathery, or scaly companion, this week is all about cherishing their presence and recognizing the positive impact they have on our lives.

Pets hold a special place in our hearts and homes. For example, they provide unconditional love, comfort, and support, offering a sense of companionship that can brighten even the dullest of days. And their playful antics, gentle purrs, wagging tails, and welcoming chirps can instantly lift our spirits and bring a smile to our faces.

This dedicated week encourages pet owners to reflect on the happiness and joy that their pets bring and to engage in activities that strengthen the bond between human and animal. It’s a time to shower our pets with extra love, attention, and care, as well as to raise awareness about responsible pet ownership.

How can you celebrate?

Throughout Pet Appreciation Week, there are various ways to celebrate and express gratitude towards our pets. Here are some ideas to make this week extra special:

  1. Quality Time: Set aside dedicated time to engage in activities that your pet enjoys. Take your dog for a long walk, play with your cat using their favorite toys, or spend time bonding with your bird or reptile in their habitat. The key is to focus on creating meaningful moments of connection.
  2. Healthy Treats: Surprise your pet with some delicious and nutritious treats. Consider making homemade pet-friendly snacks or explore the wide range of healthy treats available in pet stores. Remember to choose treats that are suitable for your pet’s dietary needs.
  3. Support Animal Shelters: Use this week as an opportunity to give back to animals in need. Volunteer at a local animal shelter, donate pet supplies, or consider adopting a rescue pet. By supporting shelters, you’re making a positive impact on the lives of animals and promoting responsible pet ownership.
  4. Pet Photography: Capture precious moments with your pet through photography. For example, snap some candid shots or arrange a professional photoshoot to create lasting memories. These photographs serve as beautiful reminders of the joy and love shared with your pet.
  5. Learn and Educate: Take the time to learn more about your pet’s specific needs, behavior, and health requirements. Expand your knowledge by reading books, attending workshops, or consulting with veterinarians or experienced pet owners. Share your newfound knowledge with others to promote responsible pet ownership in your community.

Love your pets!

Pet Appreciation Week is a reminder to cherish our furry friends, not only during this dedicated week but throughout the year. Pets bring immeasurable joy, comfort, and companionship, and they deserve our utmost appreciation. So, take this opportunity to celebrate the bond you share with your pet and make their week extra special with acts of love, care, and gratitude.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Pet Appreciation Week” — National Today

WTF Fun Fact 13341 – Parrot Video Calls

Parrots are social animals. That’s why they don’t always make the best solo pets. However, recently, researchers have given pet parrots a new way to thrive after teaching the birds to use technology to make parrot video calls.

Parrot playtime with video calls

Researchers from Northwestern University, MIT, and the University of Glasgow conducted the study. With the help of some parrot parents, the team successfully trained parrots to communicate with each other.

Over several months, participants taught captive African grey parrots to use a custom-built video-calling system. First, researchers trained the birds to use touchscreens mounted inside their enclosures with easy-to-understand symbols and icons representing different contacts. The researchers rewarded their interactions with food treats. As the birds grew more comfortable with the devices, they were gradually introduced to video calls, first with their handlers and later with other parrots.

Parrots embrace technology

The African grey parrots demonstrated a remarkable ability to learn and adapt to the use of the video-calling system. Not only were they able to initiate calls, but they also showed preferences for specific contacts, indicating that they understood the purpose of the technology and were actively seeking social interaction through the calls.

The study found that the parrots were more likely to engage in video calls when they were alone in their enclosures. This suggests that the video-calling system provided social stimulation and companionship, especially in the absence of human interaction. The introduction of video-calling technology in captive settings could potentially improve the quality of life for these intelligent and social animals.

So, it turns out parrots like to video chat with one another just like humans do, and that it makes them feel less lonely. Many birds in the study stayed on the calls for the maximum allotted time and still choose to call their buddies from the research study over a year later.

According to Northwestern University:

“The most popular parrots were also the ones who initiated the most calls, suggesting a reciprocal dynamic similar to human socialization. And while, in large part, the birds seemed to enjoy the activity itself, the human participants played a big part in that. Some parrots relished the extra attention they were getting from their humans, while others formed attachments for the humans on the other side of the screen.”

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Scientists Taught Pet Parrots to Video Call Each Other—and the Birds Loved It” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 13131 – Queensland’s Rabbit Laws

We’ve heard of rabbit control, but Queensland’s Rabbit Laws are a bit on the strange side. For example, you cannot own a rabbit in Queensland unless you can prove you are going to display it for an acceptable purpose.

Queensland, Australia’s unique outlook on rabbits

It’s illegal to keep a rabbit as a pet in the state of Queensland. But according to the state’s business website: “…you can obtain a European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) for the purposes of exhibiting to the public. Under the Exhibited Animals Act 2015 (EAA) rabbits are category B species and may be exhibited for purposes such as educational exhibits or for entertainment.”

Those who work with rabbits much apply for a license and the premise at which the exhibition takes place needs to be licensed as well. “An example may include an invasive pest educational centre, or a zoo where the public enter the regular enclosure site to view the rabbit.”

The rules continue: “Rabbits may also be obtained solely for the purposes of exhibition outside of the premise where the licence is issued to (off the regular enclosure site). An example of activities permitted solely off the regular enclosure site include persons in the business of conducting magic performances at children’s parties.”

Queensland’s rabbit laws, continued

You must apply to exhibit a rabbit using an authorized form as well as submit a management plan detailing the way you are going to exhibit the rabbit and deal with it on a daily basis.

The management plan must address “animal welfare, human health, safety and wellbeing, social amenity, the economy and the environment…” People need to be aware of their obligations.

Why is this all such a big deal? Well, rabbits are an invasive species that Queensland has been trying to get rid of since the 1880s!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Exhibiting a rabbit” — Business Queensland

WTF Fun Fact 13016 – Petting an Animal Reduces Stress

You’ve probably heard that petting an animal reduces stress. If you’re lucky, you’ve even experienced it firsthand. And if you have the pleasure of consistently getting some hands-on time with a furry companion (or even a pal’s pet), you may not always notice it, but you probably do have less cortisol in your system.

How does petting an animal reduce stress?

One of the most oft-cited studies about the animals reducing our stress comes from a study in the journal of the American Educational Research Assocation (AERA). It was a rigorous study that controlled for multiple other factors, such as overall health of the subjects. And it found that just 10 minutes of petting a cat or dog (many of which happened to come from a shelter and probably benefitted from some socialization) results in measurably smaller levels of cortisol, the hormone that regulates our flight-or-fight response.

The research was done on college students (who often get stressed out around midterms and finals). And one of the best parts was that even brief animal encounters could help reduce stress levels.

The researchers didn’t find the same effect when students viewed photos of pets or saw them in person – the real benefits came from physical contact.

Details of the study

The researchers collected saliva samples from 249 college students who participated in one of four types of animal encounters. (Cortisol levels can be measured using saliva.)

  • 73 students got to pet the cats and dogs
  • 62 watched other people pet the animals
  • 57 watched a slideshow of images of the same animals
  • 57 remained on the waitlist

Saliva samples were collected first thing in the morning and then two more samples were collected 15 and 25 minutes after the animal encounter.

Students with hands-on animal interactions had the lowest cortisol levels, though it didn’t necessarily last throughout the day. Still, even momentary stress relief can help regulate stress.

The researchers hope the knowledge that petting animals reduces stress will help colleges (and others) help people regulate stress before it causes more serious physical and psychological disorders.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Animal Visitation Program (AVP) Reduces Cortisol Levels of University Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial” — AERA Open

WTF Fun Fact 13000 – Valentine’s Day Gifts for Pets

Fun Fact: U.S. consumers spend over $1 billion annually on Valentine’s Day gifts for pets. In 2020, 27% of people said they were planning on buying Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets.


It makes sense that you’d want to give a gift to the creature that loves you unconditionally on a holiday meant to celebrate love. But since animals don’t know it’s a holiday, it’s still pretty interesting that 27% of Valentine’s shoppers choose to pick up a gift for their furry (or feathered or scaly) friends. This represented a 10% increase over the last decade.

Why do we buy Valentine’s Day gifts for pets?

“Much of the growth in Valentine’s Day spending over the last decade has been fueled by consumers’ interest in celebrating the other important relationships in their lives — friends, co-workers and, increasingly, pets” This is according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that conducts these surveys with and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

According to FOX13 news in early 2022:

In 2020, $103.6 billion was spent on our pets in the U.S., according to National Pet Owners Survey Statistics — and 70 percent of U.S. households own a pet.”

That’s due in part to the COVID pandemic.

“One in five households acquired a cat or dog at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said in a survey published last year, on May 21, 2021.”

The Valentine’s Day gift survey

The NRF conducted the survey of 7,728 U.S. adult consumers from January 3-11, 2022, and also found that spending for the holiday increased overall, with people in the U.S. expected to spend $23.9 billion in 2022 (up from $21.8 billion in 2021). 

“Shoppers expect to spend an average of $175.41 per person (per human, that is) on Valentine’s Day gifts, which is up from $164.76 in 2021,” the NRF said.

When it comes to human gifts, people are sticking to tradition. “Candy (56 percent), greeting cards (40 percent), and flowers (37 percent) remain the most popular gift items…

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Source: “Valentine’s Day 2022 pet spending: You won’t believe what we’ll shell out for our dogs and cats” — FOX13 News

WTF Fun Fact 12900 – Goldfish Bowls Are Banned in Rome

If you want to keep a goldfish in a simple round, glass bowl, don’t move to Rome. While many people believe the myth that goldfish have no memories, that’s simply not true. Research has shown that they do, in fact, remember things. And that’s part of the reason goldfish bowls are banned in Rome.

What’s wrong with goldfish bowls?

The bowls in which many people house their goldfish are quite small compared to the distance the fish like to swim when free. That makes many people believe that it’s cruel to keep them in such a small space with so little stimulation.

According to CBC News, “Rome’s daily newspaper Il Messaggero reported that round bowls cause fish to go blind. Animal activists call the bowls cruel, while fish experts say the bowls don’t provide enough oxygen.”

In 2005, Rome’s city councilors decided that it would ban spherical goldfish bowls for the health of the fish. It also banned giving away goldfish and other animals as prizes.

“The Roman bylaw also prevents animal owners from clipping dogs’ tails or trimming cats’ claws for visual appeal or leaving animals in hot vehicles or store windows. It also offers legal protection to people who feed colonies of cats.”

The fight for (all) animal rights

Rome also made it a law that all owners need to exercise their dogs daily, and that failure to walk your dog could mean a fine of $700.

It’s all part of a trend across the world to secure the well-being of pets, remind people of their responsibilities when they adopt an animal, and try to prevent pet owners from treating animals as simply property instead of living beings entitled to a certain quality of life.

While it’s unclear exactly what effect the law has had, it’s likely made some people second guess their behavior towards animals.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Rome bans ‘cruel’ goldfish bowls” — CBC News

WTF Fun Fact 12454 – Insomnia is Universal

Sometimes pets and bugs are the reason WE can’t sleep, but did you know animals and other critters can suffer from insomnia as well?

Our knowledge on the topic started when National Geographic replied to a Facebook question from a fan: Do Bugs Sleep?

“Yes—with an asterisk,” replied biologist Barrett Klein from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. He studies sleep in honeybees.

He continued:

“Paper wasps, cockroaches, praying mantises, and fruit flies are among insects that doze. Fruit fly sleep is even similar to mammal sleep, since the flies respond to sleep-inducing chemicals and caffeine, just like people.

Still, measuring sleep in insects is tricky—it’s not always easy, for instance, to differentiate between sleep and sleep-like states.”

According to Klein: Signs of true bug sleep are not moving, “drooping in the direction of gravity,” and more relaxed muscles.

Bugs are in charge of putting themselves to bed, but sometimes they experience a state of arousal (awakeness, not the sexy kind) that prevents them from getting quality sleep, it seems. And we can relate!

Experiments in fruit flies also show that they experience ‘sleep rebound.’ That means that a fruit fly deprived of sleep will subsequently need it more—something most of us busy people can understand,” Klein told National Geographic.

As for honeybees, Klein’s specialty, when they get sleepy they get sloppy with their work.

Now, when it comes to more pet-like animals (and we know plenty of people keep bees!), the issue is pretty much the same as it is in older humans. Cats and dogs can have trouble regulating sleep as they age or when they have medical issues. The result can be lethargy during the day.

Since cats sleep so much – and hardly ever at night – it can be a bit hard to tell when they change their schedule. But as their hearing and sight grow weaker with age, they wake up at different times feeling more confused and even yowling to express it.  – WTF fun facts

Source: “Do Bugs Sleep? Why They’re Surprisingly Similar to People” — National Geographic

WTF Fun Fact 12444 – Roosevelt’s Pet Hyena

There’s an official Presidential Pet Museum dedicated to all the furry and feathered friends that have roamed the White House halls (and lawns).

Theodore Roosevelt has quite a few pets, and he and his family were animal lovers. However, he wasn’t terribly fond of hyenas. And that turned out to be a bit of a problem at first when Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia gifted him a male hyena in 1904.

It was reported by the captain of the ship that brought him to America that the hyena, plainly named “Bill,” “laughed all the time.” Apparently, this grew on Roosevelt, who became fond of the creature. In fact, he even let it into the White House and gave it scraps from the dinner table!

It has always been common for world leaders to give exotic pets as animals, but a hyena seems like a bit of an odd choice. Then again, what do you get the man who has everything?

Roosevelt reportedly was able to teach Bill a few tricks before he was sent along with his White House pal Joe the Lion to the National Zoo to live out his life. After all, Roosevelt was a busy man. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Theodore Roosevelt’s Hyena” — The Presidential Pet Museum