75 episodes

Hosted by Duncan Strauss, Talking Animals is a weekly radio show about animals and animal issues. It currently airs Wednesdays, from 10-11am ET, on WMNF (88.5 FM), a 70,000-watt NPR affiliate in Tampa.

The core of Talking Animals is a long-form interview with prominent figures in the animal world or notable folks in other fields who have ties to animal welfare.

Past guests include Jane Goodall, Alec Baldwin, Temple Grandin, Dr. Neal Barnard, Lily Tomlin, Bob Barker, Neko Case, Nathan Runkle, Dr. Lori Marino, Jackson Galaxy, Paula Poundstone, Brian May, and Sy Montgomery.

Alongside the interview, Talking Animals is rounded out by animal news and announcements, animal songs, animal comedy, and a quick quiz feature, Name That Animal Tune. https://talkinganimals.net

Talking Animals Duncan Strauss

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.0 • 20 Ratings

Hosted by Duncan Strauss, Talking Animals is a weekly radio show about animals and animal issues. It currently airs Wednesdays, from 10-11am ET, on WMNF (88.5 FM), a 70,000-watt NPR affiliate in Tampa.

The core of Talking Animals is a long-form interview with prominent figures in the animal world or notable folks in other fields who have ties to animal welfare.

Past guests include Jane Goodall, Alec Baldwin, Temple Grandin, Dr. Neal Barnard, Lily Tomlin, Bob Barker, Neko Case, Nathan Runkle, Dr. Lori Marino, Jackson Galaxy, Paula Poundstone, Brian May, and Sy Montgomery.

Alongside the interview, Talking Animals is rounded out by animal news and announcements, animal songs, animal comedy, and a quick quiz feature, Name That Animal Tune. https://talkinganimals.net

    Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project

    Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project

    Steven M. Wise—founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP); an attorney, author, and legal scholar, Wise is leading NhRP’s pioneering effort to free an elephant named Happy from the Bronx Zoo through a writ of habeas corpus, aiming to change her status from “thing” to “legal person”—reviews NhRP’s legal gambit when we previously spoke in 2013, when the organization was focusing its efforts on chimpanzees. Wise recounts that their emphasis in presenting cases has been animals with demonstrated sophisticated cognition–chimps and other great apes, elephants, orcas—noting that they had Happy in mind as a test case some years earlier. Now, she’s at the center of NhRP’s current case; Wise and his colleagues contend that Happy, who has been living alone at the Bronx Zoo for more than 15 years, should be able to secure her right to bodily liberty, and be relocated to an elephant sanctuary. Wise highlights the historic significance of The New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in that state, having agreed to hear the case in 2022 (or maybe it’ll be 2023, he says)—the first time the highest court of any English-speaking jurisdiction will hear a habeas corpus case brought on behalf of an individual other than a human being. The Atlantic calls this “the most important animal-rights case of the 21st century.” In response to my observation that NhRP has clearly made inroads with its quest for animals to be granted “personhood” status, and, not coincidentally, the legal landscape has shifted, at least moderately, on this issue, Wise cites a pivotal opinion issued by Judge Eugene M. Fahey of the New York Court of Appeals, including “While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a ‘person,’ there is no doubt that is is not merely a thing” and Maryland Judge Michele Hutton dissented to a majority in a case last year that precluded all nonhuman animals from having rights, asserting that the legal arc of Maryland should “extend a recognition of limited personhood to pets.” And so on. He describes the experience of “Unlocking The Cage,” the documentary by noted filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, profiling Wise and his NhRP work. And Wise elaborates on the Happy case, including the dozens of experts and others who filed amicus briefs supporting the NhRP position, and the relatively miniscule number who wrote documents in opposition, including, he added wryly, one that outlined the certain demise of the dairy industry if the court ruled in Happy’s favor. He also elaborates on the intricacies of The Elephant Sanctuary’s support for the cases, conceding that if Happy is freed, she’ll likely be relocated to the Sanctuary. [Photo of Happy: Gigi Glendinning] (https://www.nonhumanrights.org, https://www.facebook.com/NonhumanRights, https://www.instagram.com/nonhuman.rights.project/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Kevin Nealon’s “Cows On The Roof” (https://kevinnealon.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Jenny Lewis’ “Puppy And A Truck,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/TAJan12Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Dr. Lisa Wiese, associate professor of Nursing at Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, at Florida Atlantic University

    Dr. Lisa Wiese, associate professor of Nursing at Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, at Florida Atlantic University

    Dr. Lisa Wiese—associate professor of Nursing at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and co-author of a study conducted recently at FAU, which found that interacting with a robotic pet can serve as a boon to the health of people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia—recalls launching her lengthy nursing degree, becoming a nurse in what she calls “the Dark Ages”: 1978. Wiese discusses the subsequent degrees she pursued in the ensuing years, culminating in a PhD, in Nursing, from FAU, in 2013. She explains that the path of a PhD in nursing is typically pursued by those primarily interested in teaching and research, and that her research is concerned with Alzheimer’s—specifically, increasing the understanding, early detection, and prevention of the disease in rural populations. She notes that this academic interest was spurred, in part, by her mother’s experience with Alzheimer’s. Wiese addresses the genesis of the study involving patients with Alzheimer’s or related dementia, saying it was propelled by questions raised by a then-doctoral student, Bryanna Streit, inspired partly by results generated in studies featuring PARO, a sophisticated, interactive robotic seal. Wiese goes on to talk about the structure and process of the study that she and now-Dr. Streit conducted, and while the study was small in scope—12 participants interacting with the robotic cats two to three times per week, for 12 weeks—the findings, and implications, seem potentially enormous: They found that participants evidenced improvements in multiple mood assessments, and slight to moderate improvement in some categories of cognition assessments—notable and surprising, Wiese observes, because the brevity of the study had seemed likely to work against the possibility of cognitive improvement.   (https://www.fau.edu/newsdesk/articles/robotic-pet-cat-dementia.php, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2021/11/02/dementia-robotic-cat/3011635801875/)
     
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Tiffany Grunert, the president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, an enormous nonprofit dedicated to funding studies to improve the health of pets and wildlife. Additionally, as Grunert explained, the organization maintained a 50-year relationship with Betty White, who  died five days earlier; I invited Grunert on the show, to remember White and help pay tribute to her. We traded stories about White, including one I’d heard in which someone went to their grocery store one afternoon, saw that three women were tabling outside the entrance, discovering upon closer inspection, that one of the women was Betty White!  We also discussed a suggestion that had spread like proverbial wildfire online that, because White would have turned 100 on Jan 17, folks have been urged to pick a local rescue or animal shelter, and make a donation—as little as $5, more if they can swing it—in Betty White’s name. (https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org)
    COMEDY CORNER: Paula Poundstone’s “12 Cats” (https://paulapoundstone.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/TAJanFinal-.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Ellen Quinlan, executive director of the Darbster Foundation

    Ellen Quinlan, executive director of the Darbster Foundation

    Ellen Quinlan—executive director of the Darbster Foundation (& Darbster Rescue), whose chief mission involves plucking cats and dogs from crowded south Florida shelters, and finding homes for them in the adoption-friendly New England area, with that process including arranging interstate transportation for these animals—recounts growing up in a family that lived with cats and dogs, sometimes other pets, and in what may constitute a pivotal part of the Quinlan, and Darbster, narrative, notes that she stopped eating meat at age 12. Quinlan says that she continued her vegetarian ways deep into her 30s, when, in 1999, she and her then-future husband, Alan Gould, attended a presentation by a major animal welfare organization, after which the couple decided to go vegan. In 2003, after becoming full-time residents of West Palm Beach, Quinlan and Gould—who enjoy eating out—routinely made a 40-minute trek to the vegan restaurant they loved in Fort Lauderdale; they tired of doing that drive multiple times each week, but lamented the dearth of vegan restaurants in their city. So, displaying a can-do attitude (and naivete, Quinlan wryly acknowledges) that’s marked a few of the couple’s ventures, they opened their own vegan restaurant—despite zero experience in the restaurant biz. They named it after a rescue dog they’d adopted: Darby, nicknamed “Darbster.” That was in late 2009, and after some tough episodes while traveling the learning curve, they settled into a groove, and a dozen years later, Darbster is going strong, with some key staffers having held their positions for 8-9 years, Quinlan says. It’s wholly fitting that they named their eatery after their adopted rescue dog because, Quinlan explains, over time, the couple became aware that shelters in the New England area were often sorely lacking in adoptable animals—completely the opposite of the scenario in south Florida: crammed, low adoption rate, high euthanasia rates; among the nation’s highest, Quinlan says. She spells out how The Darbster Foundation/Darbster Rescue addresses this paradigm by, in a sense, flipping it: With the help of local rescue organizations, the Darbster operation identifies cats and dogs that are promising adoption prospects, arranges ground transportation from south Florida to New England (some of the cats are flown), the animals are then transferred to Darbster-owned facilities in New Hampshire, as an interim step, before landing at their forever homes.   (https://www.darbster.com,  https://www.darbsterfoundation.com, https://www.facebook.com/DarbsterFoundation/, https://www.instagram.com/darbsterfoundation/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with H.H. German, the writer-creator of “Calico,” what may be the first comic-book hero dedicated to fighting animal abuse. I had spoken with German not quite a year ago, when he was launching the eight-issue series, “Here Comes Calico.” Now that he was about to publish issue Number 4–the series’ halfway mark–I reconvened with him briefly to gauge response to “Calico”—which German says has been enthusiastic amongst both animal lovers and comic book aficionados, adding that there’s a crowdfunding opportunity to support the series, and in the process, receive all four issues: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sigmacomics/here-comes-calico-4  (https://sigmacomics.com, https://www.instagram.com/sigma_comics, https://www.facebook.com/sigmacomicsgroup)
    COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Pepitone’s “Dog Therapy” (https://www.eddiepepitone.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Part 1:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/TADec29Part1.mp3 | Open Player in New Window
    Part 2:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/TADec29Part2.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Annual Christmas Animal Song Special

    Annual Christmas Animal Song Special

    This morning, I once again set aside the customary “Talking Animals” format to deliver the Annual Christmas Animal Song special—that is, a show almost entirely devoted to Holiday-oriented animal tunes. As has been required in the previous years of this special, and as I acknowledge while over-explaining this program’s premise (over-explaining the premise has become its own tradition—one of many in this show), the only way to effectively pull off this conceit is to assemble the special with a liberal sprinkling of “Rudolph”-related songs. Which meant including various versions of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” including Chris Isaak’s velvety-smooth yet rollicking take, as well as an inimitable rendition by the inimitable Ella Fitzgerald. And it’s essential to include at least one version of “Run Rudolph Run,” this one a barn-burner by Keith Richards. Which we did again this year, but we also included, this time around, a decidedly different rendition of that Chuck Berry classic by Norah Jones, from her new Holiday album, “I Dream of Christmas.” While acknowledging, musically and otherwise, that the attention accorded to Rudolph is understandable and well-earned. But we do feel some obligation to note that not all reindeer are named Rudolph–making the point by placing Otis Gibbs’ “Lloyd The Reindeer” back-to-back with Joe Diffie’s “Leroy The Redneck Reindeer.” These numbers took their place alongside a longtime staple on this show, the quirky, if delightfully verbose “Dominick, The Italian Christmas Donkey” by the also delightfully-verbose Vinnie Bonofici And His Italian American Band—in recent years, this song is often requested, just as we’re playing it, or about to. Which happened this year. To round out our playlist, a program of this nature is practically constitutionally obligated to spin “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”—in this case, the more recent version by Kacey Musgraves. We also worked in something by my beloved EELS, the propulsive fave, “Christmas Is Going To The Dogs.” We also played the Bobs’ lilting “Rasta Reindeer.”  I took a brief break from playing cool yule songs for the traditional reading of what I call the Dorothy Strauss Christmas message, as dictated by tradition, or at least the tradition of the Talking Animals Annual Christmas Animal Song special. That message, whose author had always been unknown to me and my family while I was growing up–my Mom hung a poster of it each Christmas season, as part of our home’s holiday decorations–-was written by Howard W. Hunter, whom we credit multiple times in this show for fashioning those poignant, powerful words.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Part 1
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/TADec15Part1.mp3 | Open Player in New Window
    Part 2
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/TADec15Part2.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Dee Boersma, penguin researcher extraordinaire

    Dee Boersma, penguin researcher extraordinaire

    Dee Boersma—a biologist and professor at the University of Washington who’s been studying penguins for decades, including Galapagos penguins for 50 years; in a piece some years ago examining her research and extensive field work, The New York Times dubbed her “The Jane Goodall of Penguins”—recalls her first foray to the Galapagos Islands 50-plus years, driven initially by an interest in the Islands themselves, but quickly developed an interest in the penguins there. That interest was spurred by many factors, including that these were penguins living on the Equator—a far cry from the stereotypical image of the birds occupying cold, icy locales—and, Boersma explains, she found them amusing, and was particularly struck by their unhesitating curiosity. She’s pretty well matched that curiosity, returning to the Galapagos year after year, charting changes in the penguins’ population and environmental factors that could affect that population, like the ongoing oil pollution in the sea, increased rainfall, and notable temperature increases that, in recent yeaers, sometimes have risen as high as 44 degrees Celsius. At one point, Boersma provides an overview of the 17 penguin species and their distinguishing traits. She also spends a few minutes explaining yet another long-term study she and colleagues have conducted: examining the serial monogamy of Magellanic penguins, who when things aren’t working out with their mates—notably, in the realm of reproductive success—will “divorce” that mate and find a new one. This study helps explore and understand the population dynamics of these penguins, and reflects how they’re prompted to adjust their behavior as a result of the ways climate change has brought modifications to their environment.  (https://ecosystemsentinels.org, https://www.facebook.com/ecosystemsentinels/, https://www.instagram.com/ecosystemsentinels/)
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Heydi Acuna, founder and president of Mercy Full Project, (MFP) a Tampa-based multifaceted organization chiefly concerned with animal rescue and finding foster and forever homes for an array of cats and dogs who’ve often emerged from difficult circumstances—including behavioral and medical challenges. Mercy Full Project will be holding an adoption event this Saturday, Dec. 11, from noon to 4 p.m., at Chakra Zulu Crystals (4907 N. Florida Ave., in Tampa), and Acuna urged prospective adopters to visit the MFP website and complete an application; you can also see the animals available for fostering or adopting on their website. (https://mercyfullprojects.org, https://www.instagram.com/mercyfullproject/?hl=en)
    COMEDY CORNER: Kellen Erskine’s “Penguins” (https://www.kellenerskine.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
     
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Beatles’ “Dig A Pony”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/TADec8Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window
     

    Glen Hatchell: dog trainer, behaviorist: “Ask The Trainer” III

    Glen Hatchell: dog trainer, behaviorist: “Ask The Trainer” III

    As we’ve done twice before, today’s show involved setting aside the customary “Talking Animals” format in order to present the extended feature, “Ask The Trainer,” in which listeners are invited to call or email questions about their dogs or cats, particularly involving behavioral issues. The Trainer these listeners were communicating with is Glen Hatchell, the Behavior and Enrichment Manager at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, who’s also an accomplished dog trainer and behavior expert, having held the Certified Professional Dog Trainer certification for many years. (Glen is also a former, longtime, WMNF programmer.) Today’s edition, for whatever reasons, involved far fewer phone calls than the previous two editions, but plenty of questions submitted by email and text. We started with my own question for Glen, regarding one of our cats routinely bullying one of the other cats, particularly when that cat (with whom I’m particularly close) starts to enter the room where I spend much of my day. Acknowledging I might be anthropomorphizing, my take was bully cat was jealous of my relationship with the other cat. His suggestions included provide bully cat with a treat as soon as the other cat approaches the room, as a reward for not bullying the other cat, with the aim of the bullying halting, even when no treat is offered…Greg wrote behind the behavior,” emphasizing the importance of first consulting one’s veterinarian about something like this, before taking the issue to a behaviorist. (Compulsive licking proved to be something of a recurring theme on today’s show, in that Scott Elliott, the wonderful WMNF music programmer, texted in a comment about one of his dogs constantly licking the furniture.)…One unidentified caller who was unable to remain on hold asked if there was a solution for chronic dog barking—a question so commonly asked, Glen jokingly wondered if this query came from his wife. He outlined a number of suggested remedies, pointing out the array of causes of barking, and the variabilities across breeds. (https://humanesocietytampa.org, https://www.instagram.com/humanesocietytampabay/, https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietytampa/?fref=ts)
    COMEDY CORNER: There was no Comedy Corner today.
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” ukulele instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/TADec1Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5
20 Ratings

20 Ratings

FlamingAsh ,

Calling all Animal Luvers!

This podcast is for any and every animal lover out there!

Nuurdheere ,

Mr

Good app. It's nice

snipeyhead ,

Upbeat and informative

What I love about this podcast is the broad range of all-star guests and topics discussed. I'm no vegan or animal rights activist - just an animal lover and pet parent who likes to stay informed on current topics - but I always learn something when I listen to this show. And no matter how serious the topic might be, Duncan keeps it upbeat with music and comedy sketches that always bring me back to my younger days when things were more simple. Duncan's passion for animals and for reaching out to people really comes through in every episode. I'm so glad I found this one!

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