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
    • 3.9 • 18 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

    Dr. Justin Perrault, Director of Research at Loggerhead Marinelife Center

    Dr. Justin Perrault, Director of Research at Loggerhead Marinelife Center

    Dr. Justin Perrault—Director of Research at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation, education, and conservation center, located in Juno, Florida—recalls growing up a landlocked kid in Memphis, Tennessee whose first exposure to a sea turtle came during a family trip to Mexico when he was 12. This serendipitous encounter spurred a profound connection with sea turtles, fastened to another, subsequent serendipitous development involving, he acknowledges, misplaying his grad school application process, and ended up attending Florida Atlantic University, which happened to have a specialty in…sea turtles. Perrault addresses what he likes about sea turtles, what attributes of theirs he finds most intriguing. Perrault provides an overview of the history and evolution of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, dating back to the late 70s/early 80s when Eleanor Fletcher who was struck by the large number of sea turtles nesting on the shore of Juno Beach, began doing the very beginnings research and the formative stages of the education programs that have become a signature element of Loggerhead. (She was later dubbed “The Turtle Lady.”) Perrault points out the Center underwent a major expansion in 2007, and is in the midst of yet another expansion currently. So even now, the facility includes a research lab, an animal hospital (a Live TurtleCam allows you to observe one of the patients; that morning, the patient was Little T.), exhibits, tanks and aquariums. He mentions that one by-product of the present expansion will be a larger, more versatile hospital, equipped to treat more patients and more maladies, as something of a postscript to describing what ailments or injuries are most commonly responsible for bringing turtles in for care.  He outlines some elements of his research, which this time of year—nesting season—involves wee-hours treks to look for, or at, nests, often noting what’s in the nests and, sometimes, what’s indicated in the tags affixed to them. (Photos Courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center) (https://marinelife.org, https://www.facebook.com/loggerheadmarinelifecenter/ https://www.instagram.com/loggerheadmarinelifecenter/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Karen Windsor, executive director of Foster Parrots (part of The New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary), a Rhode Island facility that, on April 1, experienced a major fire roaring through a section where some of the birds were housed, killing more than 80 of them. Obviously, this was a devastating tragedy, and I invited Karen on the program to see how people might help her and her Foster Parrot colleagues rebuild and rebound. First, though, she provided an overview of the sanctuary and its mission, noting their “animals don’t belong in captivity” credo, and the challenges posed by having parrots as pets, exacerbated by the bird industry that tends to obscure or slant the crucial information that prospective bird buyers would find helpful (the birds’ repetitive screaming, other striking behaviors, like pulling its feathers out, their notable longevity–they can live 60 or more years, etc). We discussed that the most fundamental need Foster Parrots has in the wake of the fire is “funding,” Windsor explained—more so than supplies or other resources—and that monetary donations can be made via their website: https://www.fosterparrots.com/support-us-page
    COMEDY CORNER:  Paula Poundstone’s “Cats Puff Up” (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/2021/04/TAApril7Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Carlton Ward, Jr., conservationist and photographer

    Carlton Ward, Jr., conservationist and photographer

    Carlton Ward, Jr.—a Florida native, conservationist, and celebrated photographer whose striking photos of the Florida Panther are featured in the April edition of National Geographic—recalls how growing up in Florida first spurred his love of nature and wildlife. He adds that this love evolved into a deeper, more philosophical and complex affection through college studies in such courses as biology and anthropology. And while he notes that, as a kid, he played around with his Dad’s camera here and there, Ward explains that his true foray into photography unfolded while he was studying abroad in Australia. Later, he observes, more globetrotting—including making seven trips to Gabon, with scientists, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution—proved pivotal to his growth as a photographer. And may have helped galvanize his growing inclination toward becoming a conservationist, a role he acknowledges he values more highly than that of photographer, particularly in his advocacy of Florida fauna, protecting habitats, and resisting development that invades or destroys those habitats. Increasingly in recent years, those concerns have intersected at Ward’s passion for—and desire to protect–the Florida Panther. In discussing the new National Geographic piece, written by Douglas Main–which carried the title “Return of the Florida Panther”–despite this rosy headline, and the reported rebound in the cats’ population (Ward reminds us that there were about 20 Panthers in the 1970s, and there’s now thought to be 200), he agrees that the article ultimately constitutes a cautionary tale. Ward briefly describes a few techniques he employed in capturing some of the story’s images—including the shot featuring four Panthers—revealing he spent anywhere from two to five years making those pictures. There was more to the conversation, including Ward responding to an array of listener calls and emails. [Photo credits–Florida Panthers: Carlton Ward., Jr/National Geographic…Ward: Malia Byrus] (https://www.carltonward.com, https://www.facebook.com/CarltonWard/, https://www.instagram.com/carltonward/, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/issue/april-2021)
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dr. Bryan Franks, assistant professor of biology & marine science at Jacksonville University, and member of the science advisory committee at Ocearch, an organization devoted to assisting scientists collect data in the ocean, including tagging and tracking great white sharks. I asked Franks to address a particular shark, Edithe, who had made headlines recently in the Tampa area by turning up in waters there, given that Ocearch had first tagged her in (in October) in Nova Scotia, representing a trek of some 3000 miles. Franks explained some of what Edithe’s journey—extensive, but not unprecedented, he said—tells us, and the implications in terms of feeding and other behaviors, predicting that it won’t be long before she starts heading back, arriving in the Nova Scotia area by September or October. [Photo of Edithe: Ocearch] (https://www.ocearch.org)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Mark Forward’s “Don’t Feed The Wildlife” (portion) (https://www.markforward.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/2021/04/TAMarch31FINAL.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Caitlin O’Connell, author of “Wild Rituals: 10 Lessons Animals Can Teach Us about Connection, Community, and Ourselves”

    Caitlin O’Connell, author of “Wild Rituals: 10 Lessons Animals Can Teach Us about Connection, Community, and Ourselves”

    Caitlin O’Connell—a noted scientist who’s spent much of her career studying elephants and their communication, and author of several books, most recently “Wild Rituals: 10 Lessons Animals Can Teach Us about Connection, Community, and Ourselves”—addresses some of her varied professional pursuits, including a NASA project that involved the Space Station, that had prompted me, tongue partly in cheek, to dub her “a Renaissance Woman.” O’Connell explains that the NASA endeavor represented something of a detour from her work with elephants, which recently has focused on the animals’ middle ear and how bone conduction may have implications for human hearing aids. She also recounts another professional pursuit that partly accounted for the “Renaissance Woman” tag—that, in addition to writing a number of books that are highly serious, research-oriented (she’s taught scientific writing), she’s penned fiction: novels that are set in the bush, and draw on her many years living and studying in Africa…still, kind of unusual for a PhD scientist with ties to Harvard and Stanford.  She discusses the impetus for writing her latest book, “Wild Rituals,” while noting that the pandemic has wrought major changes to many of the 10 types of rituals she highlights in the book—to Grieving most of all; Covid-19 has generated a staggering number of deaths, so a lot more grieving, as well as altering the kind of grieving—people haven’t been able to attend conventional funerals or other services. In this portion of the conversation, O’Connell observes that, pandemic notwithstanding, many of us are not adept at grieving, citing as lessons we can take amidst the animal world examples from “Wild Rituals,” of how some captive elephants and wild zebras mourned the loss of a family member. She adds that other important rituals emphasized in the book have also been notably altered by the pandemic, including Courtship Rituals, Play Rituals, and Rituals of Travel & Migration. O’Connell also fields some intriguing questions and reflections from callers.  (https://www.caitlineoconnell.com, https://www.facebook.com/caitlineoconnell/, https://www.instagram.com/elephant_skinny/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Aubry Walch, co-founder with her brother, Kale, of The Herbivorous Butcher, the country’s first vegan butcher shop. This Minneapolis-based business has been flourishing during the pandemic (they ship their food anywhere in the U.S.), and in a classic David & Goliath confrontation, the Walch siblings vanquished no less a corporate behemoth than Nestle, which had sought to trademark phrases that included the words “vegan butcher.” Walch also elaborated on the recent announcement that they’re launching a new enterprise, Herbie Butcher’s Fried Chicken, which will serve vegan fried chicken and all the plant-based fixings. She also noted they intend to open multiple locations of Herbie Butcher’s, extending their reach to other states, and at some point, their plans include starting additional casual dining outlets offering other vegan fare. (https://www.theherbivorousbutcher.com, https://www.facebook.com/theherbivorousbutcher, https://www.instagram.com/theherbivorousb/)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Paul F. Tompkins’ “Alternative Pets” (https://paulftompkins.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/2021/03/TAMarch10Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Elizabeth Lo, Director of (who also produced, filmed & edited) “Stray”

    Elizabeth Lo, Director of (who also produced, filmed & edited) “Stray”

    Elizabeth Lo—an award-winning filmmaker who directed “Stray,” a wildly-inventive documentary about the stray dogs who roam freely in Turkey (by law, no one there may hold captive or euthanize a stray dog)—discusses her lifelong love of dogs, spurred by her childhood dog, Mikey; “Stray”’s end credits note the film is “In memory of Mikey.” Lo explains that her initial plan for “Stray” was visiting multiple countries to document, and contrast, how they each treated stray dogs. But by first landing in Turkey, with its law protecting strays, the attendant cultural leaning—citizens tend to reflect true concern for the dogs, feeding them and otherwise looking after them—and by meeting Zeytin, Lo recognized the entire film should be made there. She describes some of the traits and behaviors that made Zeytin her movie’s pup-protagonist. From merely knowing Zeytin from the movie, it’s not hard to see why she emerged as its star: she’s highly charismatic, even by dog standards, she has enormously expressive eyes, she seems whip smart as she navigates through Istanbul rush-hour traffic and other day-to-day challenges. She appears to always know exactly what she’s doing, and what others are doing—for example, Lo tells a story about, while editing the film, spotting Zeytin giving her a previously unseen, knowing wink while the dog had seemed to be in a precarious position. Lo talks about how Zeytin’s two canine co-stars, Nazar and Kartal, came to occupy those roles, and addresses the ethical dilemma she faced around Kartal, a sweet puppy who was dognapped, and whether to intervene; the police ended up intervening. She offers observations about the trio of homeless, somewhat nomadic Syrian refugee boys, and how their storyline parallels (they’re strays, too), then intersects that of our pup trio: they obviously feel a real kinship with the dogs, and even though they’re squatting in local buildings, Lo says they somehow had the resources to get the dogs veterinary care. The final portion of the conversation includes a discussion about the notion of whether Zeytin would want to be adopted—using as a jumping off point comments on the “Stray” Instagram page that, while kindhearted, suggested a serious misunderstanding of the film)—and my asserting that Zeytin’s feelings may echo that of the Frances McDormand character, Fern, in “Nomadland”: She likes her solo life just fine, thanks, and would not be inclined to change it.“Stray is available everywhere March 5.”  (https://www.straymovie.com, https://www.instagram.com/straydocfilm/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Amanda Wight, Program Manager of Wildlife Protection for the Humane Society of the United States, who provided information and analysis about the horrific situation that happened in Wisconsin last week, when trophy hunters killed nearly twice the sanctioned number of wolves in just under 60 hours—when officials halted the wolf hunt. Wight addressed the repercussions and implications of this fiasco, lessons we can learn from it, and methods to voice our displeasure, and outrage, to Wisconsin and Great Lakes lawmakers, and the Department of Tourism. (https://www.humanesociety.org)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Jim Gaffigan’s “I Rescued A Dog”–within the piece “A Good Dad.” (https://www.jimgaffigan.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/TAMarch3Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Ginny Sweet, co-founder of Corsos for Heroes

    Ginny Sweet, co-founder of Corsos for Heroes

    Ginny Sweet—co-founder (with Harry Toro) of Corsos for Heroes, an organization based in Lutz, Florida, that donates specially-trained service dogs, of the Cane Corso breed, to military veterans who are contending with one or more disabilities—describes some of the members of her military family. This includes her Dad being a WWII veteran, noting that back then what we now label PTSD was then called “shell shock,” and she provides details about the military family of her co-founder Harry Toro. Sweet notes how that familial perspective, coupled with a number of years of experience both she and Toro had as dog breeders—and having recently become acquainted with, and impressed by, Cane Corsos– created something of a lightbulb moment, prompting the pair to launch Corsos for Heroes. Sweet recounts placing their first Corso with a veteran, and how things proceeded from there. Given that word has spread fast and there are far more veterans in need than available Corsos—and that the dogs are trained to reflect and respond to the specific needs of that individual veteran–she also outlines the criteria by which veterans are selected to be awarded a Corso. And those selected do receive their trained dog at no cost, Sweet says, noting that they’ve provided 10 dogs thus far since founding the organization, with two more to be offered at a big then-forthcoming (Feb. 28) event, slated to be held at Harley-Davidson of Brandon. Sweet adds that she and Toro have longer-term aspirations that include presenting Corsos to 40-50 veterans each year, and operating their own, in-house training facility, whereas some of the Corsos for Heroes thus far have been trained in various location, even in other states. (https://www.corsosforheroes.com, https://www.facebook.com/Corsos4Heroes/)
     
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Gretchen Primack, a writer, poet, and animal activist who, several years ago, poured her passion—and compassion—for animals into a collection of poetry, called “Kind.” (We discussed that original edition of “Kind” in a full-length interview on “Talking Animals,” almost exactly seven years prior: Feb. 26, 2014.) “Kind” has now been republished, in hardcover, bearing other changes and additions, Primack explained, including a new cover design, additional artwork inside, and 10—count ‘em!–new poems. She outlines the main methods for buying the new version of “Kind,” starting with ordering from her website (http://gretchenprimack.com), noting she’ll sign books purchased there, and add an inscription if asked; another recommended method for buying “Kind” is via https://bookshop.org, kind of an indie Amazon (if that’s not too egregious a contradiction in terms). We end our short chat with Primack reading one of her new Kind poems: “Covid I.”
    COMEDY CORNER:  Mike Feeney’s “Service Dogs Are A Miracle” (https://www.mikefeeneycomedy.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Genesis’s “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/TAFeb24Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place

    Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place

    Kim Sturla—executive director of Animal Place, the 600-acre farmed animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, California she co-founded in 1989—recounts that she had been employed by a local humane society for some time before launching Animal Place, having already spent a number of years “working with and for animals.” Sturla describes how the passion and zeal to create this sanctuary propelled her and co-founder Ned Buyukmihci (a veterinary ophthalmologist and professor at UC Davis) to sell their homes and work tirelessly, while still holding down day jobs, to realize their vision. She provides the lowdown on a few of the 400 or so animals now living at Animal Place, including recent arrivals Babe and Honey, two elderly cows whose human could no longer care for them when she herself had to enter assisted care; a goat named Vincent, who had been mauled by an undetermined animal; and ten as-yet-unnamed bummer lambs–ones who are twins or triplets, but abandoned by their mothers. Sturla talks about being regularly asked to take in animals, sometimes just two or three, other times in much larger numbers, which dovetails with a discussion of Animal Place’s Rescue and Adoption Center, a 12-acre satellite location in Petaluma, California. Unlike most sanctuaries, Animal Place does regularly adopt out animals it rescues—under strict protocols for the adopters–often large numbers of chickens that have resulted from raids or hoarding cases. Sturla addresses Covid-19’s significant impact on Animal Place, not only many staffers having to work remotely, but also being forced to suspend its volunteer program, tours, and other onsite activities—but notes that a few of the ways the operation has adapted have proven effective enough that they’re likely to retain some when the pandemic is in the rear view mirror. One of those notable successes was its Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit (FACES), an all-online, multi-day symposium held last July, and she says this year’s edition is scheduled to take place Aug. 2-8. FACES is free to attend, though you are asked to register for the event. (http://animalplace.org, https://www.facebook.com/animalplace, https://www.instagram.com/_animalplace/)
     
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dr. Mike Heithaus, professor of biology at Florida International University, whom I’d invited to put in perspective the magical scene in St. Petersburg a few days prior, when nearly 200 manatees were lounging around—joined by a group of dolphins, playfully zipping in and out of their larger, more subdued counterparts. And he did offer observations on that singular sight. Additionally, because during this interview he was en route to field work he’s pursuing on alligators and bull sharks—and how those two species interact, he described that research, and some of the key findings and implications of it. (https://mikeheithaus.com)
    COMEDY CORNER:  The Trailer Park Boys’  “The Kittyman Sea Shanty” (https://www.facebook.com/trailerparkboys/)
    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/2021/02/TAFeb17Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

Nuurdheere ,

Mr

Good app. It's nice

FlamingAsh ,

Calling all Animal Luvers!

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

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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