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
    • 4.1 • 22 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

    Steve Koyle, founder & CEO of Elephant Care Unchained

    Steve Koyle, founder & CEO of Elephant Care Unchained

    Steve Koyle—founder and CEO of Elephant Care Unchained, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating elephant cruelty and improving their welfare across multiple countries—recalls loving animals since he was a little kid, when he would spend his summers working on a goat farm. Koyle solidified that fauna fondness by earning a degree in zoology from Michigan State University. Not long after, he explains, he landed a job with the Wildlife Waystation, a 160-acre animal sanctuary in northern Los Angeles County dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wild and exotic animals. (The facility contended with a complicated reputation, and closed permanently in 2019.) Koyle left the Wildlife Waystation, years before it closed, and began a stint training dogs. Next, he says, he was hired at the Phoenix Zoo, an experience that clearly became professionally pivotal—if not personally pivotal—for Koyle. Especially after he was given the opportunity to specialize in caring for the Zoo’s three elephants. Koyle recounts some anecdotes of his nearly 15 years at the Zoo, most of which was working with those elephants. Over time, the elephant program “took off,” as Koyle put it, becoming a lodestar in the zoo industry, such that keepers and other staffers from other facilities began visiting to observe. Koyle says this period included taking a sabbatical of sorts, involving spending two weeks at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, returning with a proposal to Zoo management that their three elephants be relocated to The Elephant Sanctuary. The proposal was rejected. (The idea–if not stated in the proposal explicitly—was that Koyle would accompany the Zoo elephants to the Sanctuary.) He notes that In a largely unrelated move, at a later period, the Zoo let Koyle go. What amounted to a blessing in disguise, the dismissal left him, as he points out, “unchained,” launching Elephant Care Unchained, freely and independently pursuing the organization’s mission–chiefly, to cultivate elephant welfare across multiple countries. The countries he’s visited thus far, to carry out that mission, include India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. (https://www.elephantcareunchained.com/, https://www.facebook.com/elephantcareunchained/, https://www.instagram.com/elephantcareunchained/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dr. Martha Placeres, Chair of the Music Department and the Director of Orchestra at Florida Southern College, who was slated to lead the Orchestra in a concert that night (Nov. 16), entitled  “Musical Animals and Nature,” described in event listings as “a journey to explore the portraits of animals in music.” In our interview, Placeres made it clear the evening reflected her own fondness for animals, and was to feature music both well known, and less so, including “Carnival of the Animals” by French composer Camille Saint-Saens, a piece based on the film “Dances with Wolves” and an excerpt of “The Firebird Suite,” by Igor Stravinsky. (https://www.flsouthern.edu/admissions/undergraduate/programs list/programs/music.aspx)
    COMEDY CORNER: Brian Regan’s “Doctors & Veterinarians” (https://brianregan.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  The B-52s’ “Rock Lobster”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/TANov16Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Dr. Shayla Toombs-Withers, plant-based doctor

    Dr. Shayla Toombs-Withers, plant-based doctor

    Dr. Shayla Toombs-Withers–who runs a medical practice in Chattanooga, Tenn. called The Essence of Health Wellness Clinic—describes growing up in the South (Atlanta), where dishes like fried chicken and mac and cheese were common to family meals and larger celebrations. About 20 years ago, Toombs-Withers recalls, when she was experiencing stomach pain, the doctor recommended eliminating items, one at a time, from her diet. Dairy turned out to be the culprit, which she eliminated permanently, a major step toward embracing the plant-based diet that’s become central to her life—and her concierge-style medical practice. Indeed, The Essence of Health Wellness Clinic reflects Toombs-Withers holistic philosophy, which combines her extensive medical training (including in Obesity Medicine), her nutritional ideology that revolves around following a plant-based diet, and recommending regular exercise, if not athletic training. She also contrasts the way patient care works in her concierge-style practice versus a conventional practice, starting with the length of appointments (60-90 minutes, on average), with particularly extensive examination and exploration offered in the initial consultation. Toombs-Withers explains the distinction she makes–professionally, if not personally—between “plant-based” and “vegan,” acknowledging that some of her patients, while urged to embrace a plant-based diet, sometimes will consume meat or another variant. She hints at the sorts of subjects she’ll addresses in the talk, entitled “Food as Medicine,” she’ll be delivering at the Tampa Bay Veg Fest, this Saturday, Nov. 5, at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, in Tampa. (https://www.essenceofhealthwellnessclinic.com/, https://www.facebook.com/Essenceofhealthwellnessclinic/, http://www.tampabayvegfest.com/)
     

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with H. H. German, founder of Sigma Comics, and the writer-creator of “Calico,” the first comic-book hero dedicated to fighting animal abuse. “Calico” is an eight-issue series, and I initially spoke with him around the publication of the first issue, and then again a bit deeper into the series. This time, we reviewed his original impetus for launching “Calico,” the challenges he faced in aiming to incorporate this type of crusader into the comic book world. He said the response to “Calico” has been overwhelmingly positive, including enthusiastic support of their Kickstarter (each issue is crowdfunded, including the forthcoming issue #6 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sigmacomics/here-comes-calico-6), big turnouts at various ComicCons across the country, and so on.  (https://sigmacomics.com/, https://www.facebook.com/sigmacomicsgroup, https://www.instagram.com/sigma_comics/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Chris Porter’s “Vegan Date” (DS edit) (https://chrisportercomedy.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/2022/11/TANov2Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Duncan P. Forgey, author of “Flyin’ Kai: A Pelican’s Tale”

    Duncan P. Forgey, author of “Flyin’ Kai: A Pelican’s Tale”

    Duncan P. Forgey– author of Flyin’ Kai: A Pelican’s Tale, in which Forgey has spun an inventive yarn, starting with a pelican occupying the center of the novel, and no shortage of talking animals(!) dotting the landscape—recalls growing up in Newport Beach, CA, and how that experience shaped the protect-the environment-and-wildlife themes coursing through his book. (As a related side note, we touch on some family lore, discussing how Forgey played a role in my being named Duncan: As kids, he and my older brother, Gordon, were good friends; his older brother is Gordon, too. So, when my Mom was pregnant with me, and my folks were considering boys’ names, my brother thought it’d be a neat parallel if they named his younger brother Duncan. He was surprised when they decided to do exactly that.) Forgey addresses the long and winding road Flyin’ Kai has traveled toward publication, a gestation period of 50-plus years, having taken the first stab at writing the story as a 20-year-old college senior at USC. A history major who hadn’t thought of himself as a writer, Forgey remembers being inspired in that direction by the monumental encouragement he received from one of his instructors, Anna Pearce Kramer, a writer and film executive (and former wife of director Stanley Kramer). I ask Forgey about the pelican in the room: that is, how he decided to make a pelican—the titular Kai (a quintessential adolescent)—the hero of his novel, urging him to cite the key traits of pelicans that gave him the impetus to build his book around one. He also speaks to the readership he’s aiming for, noting it could very likely appeal to the young adult (YA) audience, and could just as easily beckon older readers, distraught about the impact of climate change, and others in between. (https://www.duncanforgey.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DuncanForgeyAuthor, https://www.instagram.com/duncanforgey/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with VeganEvan, at 12 years old, considered the World’s Youngest Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. He explains the training in New York City he was required to undergo to earn that certification. VeganEvan says that while he hasn’t been hired by a client since becoming certified, he unofficially answers questions from new vegans, most commonly concerned about getting enough protein in the new lifestyle they’ve embraced. He definitely has something to say about this, noting the protein concern is actually counterintuitive. He’s scheduled to participate in the Animal Rights Panel, presented at the Tampa Bay Veg Fest, returning this year to Perry Harvey Sr. Park, Nov. 5, 11am to 5pm. He expresses his huge enthusiasm for the Panel and Veg Fest overall—he’s often been a speaker at this event. (I first interviewed him, tied to a Veg Fest appearance, five years ago, when he was seven.) When asked for a sneak preview of his talk at the Panel, he answers that one topic he’ll speak about is activism—the kind achieved by simple, everyday actions. (https://veganevan.com/, https://www.facebook.com/VeganEvan, https://www.instagram.com/VeganEvan/, http://www.tampabayvegfest.com/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Tom Shillue’s “Animal Shows”  (http://www.tomshillue.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/2022/10/TAOct26Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Ann Paul, an organizer of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival

    Ann Paul, an organizer of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival

    Ann Paul—an organizer of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, a multifaceted, multi-day extravaganza, slated for Oct. 20-23, in and around Apollo Beach, but ultimately traversing six counties—recalls when she first became interested in birds. Let’s just say a black-and-white warbler, spotted while running late for a field trip, played a pivotal role. She adds she had already developed a passion for animals, before she became enchanted by birds, but notes that observing and studying birds is more practical because they tend to be more active and visible than the mammals–many of them nocturnal—that first intrigued her. To get started in birding, Paul advises that very little is needed, but an aspiring birder should get the best pair of binoculars they can afford. She articulates the sense of joy she reaps from birding, saying it can come with spotting a species you’ve never seen before or, conversely, looking anew at a bird you’ve seen extensively, like a blue jay, and recognizing fresh or deeper qualities. Paul discusses some of the offerings of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, among them select field trips (including “Seeking Florida’s Special Birds,” as well as outings to Ft. DeSoto and Gibbons Preserve), and the two Keynote Talks–Steve Shunk’s “Woodpeckers: Florida’s Keystone Carpenters,” and “Beyond Wild: Thought, Emotion, and Culture in Birds and other Animals,” by Dr. Carl Safina, the acclaimed author and MacArthur “genius” grant winner. She describes some of the elements of the Festival’s nature expo, including representatives of multiple binocular companies, other vendors, and assorted tablers. (https://www.floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org/, https://www.facebook.com/FloridaBirdingNatureFestival/, https://www.instagram.com/fbnfestival/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Laurie Van Brocklin, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the Humane Society of Pinellas, which was gearing up for its big annual gala, Paws For A Cause. Van Brocklin first provides a brief overview of the Humane Society of Pinellas, outlining its history and mission. After describing some of the organization’s services, we move more squarely on to discussing Paws For A Cause, HSP’s big party held each year, designed to serve as its most significant fundraiser, featuring cocktails, dinner, a selection of adoptable pets, silent and live auctions. Plus, the very next day, the Humane Society of Pinellas was slated to present yet another adoption event—this one in association with the local Subaru dealership. (https://www.humanesocietyofpinellas.org/, https://www.facebook.com/HumanePinellas/, https://www.instagram.com/humanepinellas/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Jeremy Hotz’s “Bronx Zoo”  (https://jeremyhotz.com/)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Heart’s “Barracuda”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/TAOct19v2Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Dr. Eric Eisenman, founder of International Veterinary Outreach (IVO)

    Dr. Eric Eisenman, founder of International Veterinary Outreach (IVO)

    Dr. Eric Eisenman—founder of International Veterinary Outreach (IVO), which provides veterinary services and training to rural areas in countries sorely lacking both, in a bid to cultivate animal welfare—shares the unusual detail that he only became interested in becoming a veterinarian at the end of his undergraduate career. Indeed, although Eisenman grew up with cats and dogs, adopting his own cat, Whiskers, at eight-years-old, he didn’t start working with animals until after he’d graduated from the University of Oregon. This included, he recalls, spending time shadowing and helping his veterinarian uncle, who practiced in Largo, Florida. And then, after moving to San Francisco, he took a job with the SPCA there, first as a receptionist, then moving into the organization’s shelter operation. Additionally—and crucially, for the purpose of IVO’s origin story—he did some traveling in Latin America, in part to pursue opportunities to work with organizations focused on animal care and animal welfare. With a resume newly-fortified with animal experience, domestic and international, he re-applied to veterinary school (he’d noted he was not accepted anywhere he applied the first time), and was accepted at UC Davis, a top-tier vet school. Early on, in that first year at UC Davis, he floated the idea for what would become IVO to some fellow vet school students, spoke with a mentor, and things—which is to say, IVO (first, as a student club) took shape: The initial IVO team embarked on their first trip, to northwestern Nicaragua, in December 2011. Eisenman chronicles IVO’s ensuing evolution, nearly immediately, achieving status as a 501 (c )(3) charitable nonprofit corporation, and widening out the mission so that, in addition to providing veterinary services and training in these rural areas, local laypeople who were guardians of animals were invited to participate, in an effort to cultivate animal welfare practices in those communities. He also outlines a new program IVO is launching this month—October, 2022—in Tanzania, focused on dog health and veterinary training in the country’s capital of Dodoma. IVO is fundraising to carry out that program. (https://www.ivo.vet, https://www.facebook.com/InternationalVeterinaryOutreach, https://www.instagram.com/ivo.vets/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Gregory Malek-Jones, a certified pet food nutrition specialist who works at Holistic For Pets, in Bradenton. Malek-Jones, who’s also a vet tech, discussed the array of food and other items the Bradenton store carries, the kind of training he underwent to achieve his status as a certified pet food nutrition specialist, and whether this expertise enables him to guide a customer to a particular food, based on a dog’s or cat’s condition; it does. Malek-Jones explains the anesthesia-free “dentals” (teeth cleaning), administered by EZ Pet Dental Care, which this location of Holistic For Pets was set to host on Oct. 8, part of a monthly event, with the next one happening on Nov. 12. This stands as an important alternative to the dental cleaning that does involve anesthesia—some animals are too elderly or frail to withstand anesthesia, or whose health might otherwise be compromised by it. Malek-Jones described the procedure. Store phone number: 941-753-7297. (https://holisticforpets.com, https://www.facebook.com/holisticforpetsbradenton/, https://www.instagram.com/holisticforpets/, https://www.ezpetdentals.com)
    COMEDY CORNER: Kyle Kinane’s “Cat Sneeze” (https://kylekinane.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/2022/10/TAOct5Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Father Andrew Heyes, Rector of St. Clement’s Church & Dog Nut

    Father Andrew Heyes, Rector of St. Clement’s Church & Dog Nut

    Father Andrew Heyes–Rector of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Tampa, a distinctive, particularly animal-friendly church, while not coincidentally, Heyes is a fervent dog devotee—recalls intensely loving dogs (and all animals, really) since childhood. Father Andrew rattles of the string of dogs he’s lived with, all of whom have names ending with the “y” sound—except his present canine companion, Winston, a literary luminary in St. Clement’s circles: He writes a monthly column for the parish magazine, “Words of Winston.” Father Andrew remarks that he’s always been accompanied by a dog at all the churches he’s worked, noting that his clergy colleagues rarely did the same—it was far more common for them to live with cats. As a lifelong pooch person, he outlines what, exactly, a dog does for him, how that dog—Winston, presently—makes his life better, later pointing to another, more professional virtue: parishioners seeking Father Andrew’s counsel about a serious problem, grief, perhaps other difficult issues, often find it easier to open up by speaking to Winston, akin to how courthouse dogs help a child victim of abuse testify. We discuss the forthcoming Blessing of the Animals, set for Oct. 1—the 35th year the ceremony has been offered by the 60-year-old parish—and how different the 2022 version will be, after two years of limitations required by COVID protocols. Beyond everything being in person, this year’s Blessing will be marked by another wrinkle: offering food! St. Clement’s is presenting a free picnic for all attendees, and some of those attendees are slated to be rescue groups conducting pet adoptions. On a related note, we touch on the church’s newly-launched People and Pets Ministry, which seeks to keep people and their pets together, even under highly trying circumstances, including providing pet food and some veterinary care to at-risk families. We examine yet another recently-introduced St. Clement’s service—literally—the Pet-Friendly Sunday, which lands on the third Sunday of the month, affording people the opportunity to worship alongside their pets, at two services that morning. At this rate, it probably won’t be long before St. Clement’s allows a dog to deliver the sermon. My money’s on Winston. (http://stclement.net, https://www.facebook.com/tampashiddengem   , https://www.facebook.com/StCPeopleandPets/, https://www.instagram.com/stclementstampa/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Alex Edelman’s “Koko The Gorilla”  (https://www.alexedelmancomedy.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Snake Farm,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Eels’ “I Like Birds”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/TASept28Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 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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