Missouri Has the Most "Problem Puppy Mills" in the U.S., Humane Society Says

Categories: Animals, Missourah

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Courtesy of the Humane Society of the U.S.
This photo from a 2011 USDA inspection shows puppies in an overcrowded cage at Country Pets in Montgomery City, Missouri.
A Maltese that apparently froze to death, while other puppies shivered in the cold. Shih tzus that were so emaciated, their shoulders, ribs, hips and spines jutted out prominently. A cage holding multiple dogs where feces covered 85 percent of the floor space.

These are among the local lowlights from a new report by the Humane Society of the United States -- a report that finds, despite the 2010 ballot proposition that was supposed to clean up Missouri's puppy mill problem, the state still leads the nation in the number of "problem" dog breeders.

Of the 100 worst breeders identified by the Humane Society in its "Horrible Hundred 2015" report, 23 were based in Missouri. That's significantly higher than the next-worst state, Kansas, with its 16, and Nebraska, which had 14.

Eight of Missouri's problem breeders were identified as repeat offenders. And some of the details, listed in federal and state inspections and compiled by the Humane Society, are appalling.

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What It's Like to Get Bitten By This Penguin During a St. Louis Zoo Penguin Parade

Categories: Animals

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Micha Usher
The penguin that bit Riverfront Times photographer Micah Usher.
After nineteen long and penguin-less months, the Saint Louis Zoo re-opened its Penguin & Puffin Coast exhibit Thursday to the joy of St. Louisans of all ages, hundreds of whom bundled up against the cold to watch the unveiling.

Riverfront Times sent trusty photographer Micah Usher to capture the zoo's kickoff parade of king penguins, a significant (and adorable) moment in St. Louis history. He was the perfect candidate for the job: Usher routinely takes his camera for long walks after snow storms that keep the rest of St. Louis trapped inside eating bread, eggs and milk. Plus, his photos of cuddly puppies celebrating Mardi Gras at the 2015 Beggin' Pet Parade could cure even the darkest depression.

Yes, Usher was the man for the job. Little did we know, the job was more dangerous than we'd thought.

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RIP Bert: Grizzly Bear Rescued from Alaska Dies at Saint Louis Zoo

Categories: Animals

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Robin Winkleman/Saint Louis Zoo
Bert the grizzly bear died at the ripe old age of 25. His brother Ernie died at the Saint Louis Zoo four years ago.
Bert, the beloved grizzly bear at the Saint Louis Zoo, has died.

The zoo humanely euthanized Bert Tuesday after a veterinary exam showed irreversible age-related problems that limited his mobility. He was 25 years old.

See also: 9 Reasons to Celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of Saint Louis Zoo's Penguin & Puffin Coast

"We are saddened by the loss of Bert, who has been a great bear for many years," said Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo in a statement. "He lived and died with dignity."

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9 Reasons to Celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of Saint Louis Zoo's Penguin & Puffin Coast

Categories: Animals

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All photos by Jon Gitchoff
"We're bAAAAAaaaaack."
The wait is almost over, St. Louis.

It's been a year and a half since the Saint Louis Zoo closed the popular Penguin & Puffin Coast exhibit temporarily to make way for a brand-new polar bear exhibit. This week, the zoo re-opens the penguin and puffin exhibit, allowing visitors to reconnect to St. Louis' gentoo, rockhopper and king penguins and horned and tufted puffins.

See also: 5 Best Moments of Oshie the Baby Penguin's Life at the Saint Louis Zoo -- So Far

The penguin and puffin habitat officially opens at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 5. In honor of the re-opening of one of the coolest parts of St. Louis city, here are nine reasons why we can't wait until Thursday:

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"Move This Cat To the Suburbs" Fundraiser Aims to Save Foster Pet from St. Louis Crime

Categories: Animals

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Courtesy of Melissa Debus
Alonso, or "Hans," a foster cat whose owner is fundraising for a safer home across the county line.
After nine years of living in south St. Louis city, Melissa Debus wants out.

Debus, 31, is over the armed robberies, burglaries and car break-ins she's seen in her neighborhood, Tower Grove South, since she moved there two years ago.

"Our apartment building keeps getting broken into," says Debus, who lives in the 3900 block of McDonald Avenue. Her downstairs neighbor was robbed again Sunday, and burglars took his laptop and television. "He's on first-name terms with the crime lab now."

Debus also wants to save her eleven-month-old foster cat Alonso -- "Hans" for short -- from "slumming it" in the city.

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Cincinnati Zoo Names Lion Cub In Honor of St. Louis Zookeeper

Categories: Animals

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Wendy Rice
Huruma, named after the Swahili word for "compassion" in honor of St. Louis zookeeper Becky Wanner.
The compassionate spirit of a St. Louis zookeeper who died of breast cancer lives on in the cub of the lion she helped raise.

Lion keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo named three-month-old cub Huruma, or "Uma" for short, after the Swahili word for "compassion" in honor of Becky Wanner, who worked as a lion keeper in St. Louis before her death two years ago.

Wanner helped hand-raise Uma's mother Imani, the first lion born at the Saint Louis Zoo in 37 years. When Imani's mother wasn't able to produce enough milk to sustain her, Wanner and a team of zookeepers fed her by hand.

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14 Adorable Dogs (And One Horse) Who Are Totally Ready for Mardi Gras

Categories: Animals

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All photos by Micah Usher
Being this cute is a lot of work. Take a breather, Kelly!
Mardi Gras will always be a time for beads, king cake and masquerades, but here in St. Louis, home to one of America's largest Mardi Gras celebrations, the best costumes are going to the dogs.

Pups (and even a horse!) turned out in style last weekend for the 2015 Beggin' Pet Parade, featuring a performance by Blues Traveler. Riverfront Times photographer Micah Usher was on had at the parade to capture the best moments of canine revelry.

See all photos: 2015 Beggin' Pet Parade and Blues Traveler

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[VIDEO] Colobus Monkeys Go Bananas Over Baby Monkey Simon at Saint Louis Zoo

Categories: Animals

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Ethan Riepl/Saint Louis Zoo
Welcome to the world, Simon.
It's a boy!

The newest member of the Colobus monkey tribe at the Saint Louis Zoo is baby Simon, born at the Primate House on December 30.

Simon lives at the zoo with his mother, Cecelia, who is 16 years old; his father, Kima, 9 years old; his sister, Kivuli, 2 years old, his grandmother, Roberta, 27 years old, and his aunts, Pili, 2 years old, and Binti, 1 year old.

"A new infant is always the focus of so much excitement and attention for the family," says Joe Knobbe, zoological manager of primates at the Saint Louis Zoo in a statement.

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[PHOTOS] Saint Louis Zoo Throws Shower, Reveals Name for New Baby Orangutan

Categories: Animals

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All photos by Micah Usher
Baby Ginger pokes her face out as her mother Merah snacks at the Saint Louis Zoo.
St. Louis, meet Ginger.

Born in mid-December at the Saint Louis Zoo, Ginger, a female Sumatran orangutan, made her public debut Monday at a baby shower, complete with brightly-colored decorations and sweet treats for the entire orangutan colony.

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One Rescue Group's Adorably Low-Tech Campaign to Save Dogs From Freezing to Death

Categories: Animals

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azoome via flickr
The Jefferson County Humane Society needs a vehicle to rescue dogs abandoned in the cold.
The only reason Jean Woolery didn't fax her press release to St. Louis media outlets is because she doesn't have a landline.

Woolery is in desperate need of a vehicle, any vehicle, that can fit two or more animal crates so she can rescue abandoned animals in something other than her torn-up 2007 Pontiac G6. So she printed up a photo of herself protesting animal cruelty, wrote her Facebook message address on a business card and mailed it to the Riverfront Times.

Why not send an email? Daily RFT asked Woolery. Why not launch an online fundraising campaign? Or a Twitter hashtag? Why snail mail?

"We don't know how to do the computer," Woolery replies. "We're just trying to help the animals."


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