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

    Michael Hingson, author, inspirational speaker, 9/11 survivor

    Michael Hingson, author, inspirational speaker, 9/11 survivor

    Michael Hingson—a former high-tech executive, now an author and international public speaker—recounts some of the experiences around the time of his last “Talking Animals” appearance, when he had published the book, “Thunder Dog: The True Story Of A Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero,” which immediately landed on The New York Best Seller List, later rising to No. 1 on that list. Hingson clarifies an aspect of the central story in that book—a story about working for a company housed in the World Trade Center, and how on 9/11, he and his guide dog Roselle made it safely from the 78th floor: He corrects the error that I and others have made, suggesting it was Roselle who guided Hingson down, when it was actually Hingson who guided them both to safety. This reflects a fundamental, common misunderstanding of the roles guide dogs and their handlers can and should play. Hingson introduces a new coaching program he created, “Blinded by Fear,” noting many people are “blinded by fear because they have experienced a major life change and are so blinded that they can’t see how to decide to move forward. The pandemic is a good example. However, today there are still people who are so fearful from September 11, 2001 that won’t fly. The Blinded by Fear website is here. http://blindedbyfear.net In response to an observation of mine, wondering how he, as a blind man, “saw” things as he was studying physics and becoming skillful enough to earn a Master’s Degree in that discipline, he explains there are numerous ways to approach solving a problem, adding that “eyesight is not the only game in town.” He describes a bit of the process of forging a relationship with his newest guide dog, a black Lab named Alamo—his eighth guide dog—and some of the pluses, minuses, and challenges in working with the previous dogs. He repeats a detail about blind people that had haunted me since our last interview—that they tend to be seriously underemployed, mainly because people don’t hire them for jobs they absolutely are qualified; Hingson placed the employment rate at 65%.  (https://michaelhingson.com, https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Claudia Baeza, a former adjunct college professor and attorney who moved to Florida, opening the Pineapple Yoga + Cycle Studio in Sarasota. Baeza discusses launching Yappy Yoga Sundays With Dharma,” a yoga class you can take accompanied by your dog—it’s offered the last Sunday of every month, and the class takes place outdoors.  The titular Dharma is Baeza’s English bulldog (pictured), who, she says, often plays host at these classes. Baeza outlines some of the post-Yappy Yoga activities that typically happen for the dogs and their humans.(https://pineappleyogastudio.net, https://www.facebook.com/pineappleyogastudio/, https://www.instagram.com/pineappleyogastudio/)
     
    COMEDY CORNER:  Mike Feeney’s “Service Dogs Are A Miracle” (portion) (https://www.mikefeeneycomedy.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/2020/11/TANov25Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Michael Shikashio, Prominent Dog Behaviorist Who Specializes In Aggression

    Michael Shikashio, Prominent Dog Behaviorist Who Specializes In Aggression

    Michael Shikashio—a dog behaviorist whose credentials include serving as past president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), reportedly one of fewer than 200 CDBCs worldwide—describes growing up in “a Japanese family,” so they had dogs, but the pooches were required to live outside. Shikashio recalls that while in his 20s, living on his own—in something of a “my house, my rules” rejection of the family protocol—he rescued and fostered a string of dogs which ultimately grew to more than 100, the shelter sending him increasingly challenging canines, recognizing that behavioral issues often lead to owners surrendering dogs back to the shelter or, worse, being euthanized. This experience, Shikashio recounts, prompted him to seek a more “formal route” of expanding his understanding of dog behavior, going to school to study applied behavior, ethology, and more. He sifts through the alphabet soup of acronyms prevalent in the dog behavior and wider animal behavior world, what they mean and what’s involved in become certified in some of those endeavors. Shikashio explains why he decided to speicialize in helping dogs overcome aggression issues, noting the important of keeping in mind that “aggression is behavior, not personality.”  He responds to a number of listener calls, emails, and texts with questions about aggression and other behavioral issues about their dogs.  (https://aggressivedog.com, https://www.instagram.com/michaelshikashio/)
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Sarah Veatch, Senior Legislative Specialist at the Humane Society Legislative Fund, about the recently-announced move by the State Department to deny visas to wildlife traffickers trying to enter the United States. (The pangolin, left, is the world’s most trafficked animal.) She places the decision in context, outlining the history here, and the confluence of factors that prompted the State Department to act now. Veatch describes the means by which the policy will be implemented, with information about criminal syndicates and other trafficking operations being funneled to those State Department employees charged with carrying out the directive. She also addresses the implications of the new policy.  (https://blog.humanesociety.org/2020/11/u-s-will-deny-visas-to-wildlife-traffickers.html)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Bill Burr’s “Dog Trainer” (portion) (https://billburr.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/2020/11/TANov18Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Jeffrey Masson, author, most recently of “Lost Companions: Reflections on the Death of Pets.”

    Jeffrey Masson, author, most recently of “Lost Companions: Reflections on the Death of Pets.”

    Jeffrey Masson—the New York Times bestselling author of books about animals and their emotions, including “When Elephants Weep” and “Dogs Never Lie About Love”—explains how being on the cusp of turning 80, and contemplating his own mortality, formed the chief impetus for writing his new book, “Lost Companions: Reflections on the Death of Pets.”He elaborates on that motivation, noting the family’s beloved dog Benjy, a senior dog increasingly showing signs he was reaching the end of his life. So,  Masson says, he researched the literature for good books about losing a pet, didn’t find what he was looking for, and decided at that point to write his own–“Lost Companions.”  He responds to my observation that the book represents something of a surprising potpourri, that while a central premise might involve contending with the loss of a pet, Masson widens out considerably over the course of the book, addressing livestock, wild animals, dog-meat markets, veganism, and more…topics and discussions that a reader drawn to a book about pet death wouldn’t necessarily expect. We touch on his musings in the book about animal grief might feel to the animal. And he outlines what sorts of issues he hopes to explore in his next book, provocatively (and, I suspect, temporarily) titled, “What The F**k Is Wrong With Our Species.” (https://jeffreymasson.com, https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.m.masson/, https://www.instagram.com/jeffrey.m.masson/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Quinn Pigott, one of the leaders of Replace Denver BSL, an organization pivotal in passing the recent repeal of Denver’s ban on pit bulls, which had been in place for more than 30 years. Pigott describes the ban, its flaws, previous efforts to overturn it—and the strategy she and her Replace Denver BSL colleagues, and others formulated to defeat it, which hinged in no small measure on the alliance forged with Denver City Councilman Christopher Herndon. She also notes the chief obstacles the campaign faced, and the implications its victory has for other cities (and provinces) with pit bull bans. (https://replacedenverbsl.org, https://www.facebook.com/ReplaceDenverBSL, https://www.instagram.com/replacedenverbsl/)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Eddie Pepitone’s “Dog Therapy” (portion) (https://www.eddiepepitone.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/TANov11Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, professor, speaker, musician

    Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, professor, speaker, musician

    Dr. Neal Barnard—founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, among other notable hats he wears—recalls growing up not particularly interested in being a doctor, like his Dad, then after becoming more inclined to pursue medicine, initially veering toward psychiatry. But  it turned out he ended up, among other areas, treating patients with diabetes—which had long been his Dad’s specialty, and I asked him to address how the medical perspective on treating diabetes has changed—just within one generation (maybe within one family, for that matter). In what becomes something of a running motif of the conversation, Barnard speaks to the connection between diet and certain diseases, noting that his Dad’s generation of doctors didn’t have the inclination to think in those terms, when the prevailing principle for treating various ailments was keeping the patient alive as long as possible, without directly dealing with the ailment. He discusses the evolution of PCRM, including the nutrition courses it offers to help satisfy physicians’ continuing education requirement, as well as annual conference featuring all sorts of programming and additional continuing education courses. Barnard offers a sneak preview of a webinar he’ll be delivering on Halloween day, “Your Body In Balance: The New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health AND How Foods Can Help Us Fight Covid-19,” part of a trio of webinars presented over Halloween weekend through a collaboration between Tampa Bay Veg Fest, Central Florida Veg Fest, and Florida Voices for Animals. (Tickets for the webinars: http://www.cfvegfest.org/webinars.html) He later weighs in on the Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat, and comparable products. At the end, we touched on a rarely-discussed topic in the realm of Dr. Barnard interviews: That’s he’s an accomplished guitarist and has played for years with a band called CarbonWorks—he describes their latest song, a lullaby, called “Everything’s All Right,” which can be accessed on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ER86cLvaC4 )as can the beautiful French version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsUm-q_cZb8 (https://www.pcrm.org, https://www.facebook.com/PCRM.org, https://www.instagram.com/physicianscommittee/)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Jackie Ott Jaakola, executive director of the Cat Depot, in Sarasota, FL. She outlined the history of this multifaceted shelter (opened in 2003, moved to current location in 2009), and its mission, which includes adoption, a cat-only veterinary clinic, and a 10,000 square education center. She noted the adjustments they’ve made for Covid-19, yet pointed out their number of adoptions for the year, thus far, appears to be nearly on track with adoptions in pre-Covid years. She also discussed some of the cats there currently available for adoption, including orange tabbies Mario and Luigi, brothers deemed a “bonded pair,” meaning the two cats must be adopted together. (https://catdepot.org, https://www.facebook.com/CatDepot, https://www.instagram.com/catdepot/)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Chris Porter’s “Vegan Date” (portion) (https://chrisportercomedy.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TAOct28Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Jacky Poon, producer-cinematographer of “Pandas: Born to be Wild”

    Jacky Poon, producer-cinematographer of “Pandas: Born to be Wild”

    Jacky Poon—filmmaker-producer-cinematographer of “Pandas: Born to be Wild,” a new documentary in PBS’ “Nature”—recounts that he did not have a particular passion for animals or wildlife while growing up in China, but those interests were spurred after he moved to the UK at 12 years old. Subsequently, Poon says, he additionally gravitated toward cameras, enrolling in a two-year photography course, and wound up in a program with a natural history focus. He points out that there were people who sought to dissuade him from heading in that academic direction, suggesting it would be an impractical field, tough to make a living, etc. But Poon says he recognized this was his passion, and that he had to pursue it or potentially be haunted by regrets. Turns out he was right–more than a little professionally prescient: He’s 32, and already his CV includes work on films for such first-tier television outlets as PBS, BBC, multiple National Geographic channels, and among those was part of a series headlined and narrated by a towering figure in the world of wildlife films: Sir David Attenborough. Addressing “Pandas: Born to be Wild,” Poon describes some of the unique challenges of shooting the film, including how solitary wild pandas tend to be…and, not unrelated, how unpredictable their movements can be, noting that for every 10 outings planned to see or film pandas, they’d actually spot the animals maybe twice…how dense the forested areas are in and around the Qinling Mountains, where much of the filming was centered. Shooting of “Pandas” spanned three years, and outlines some of the surprises he and his colleagues experienced, part of illustrating the sharp contrast that there turns out to be between “cute and cuddly” captive pandas and their wild counterparts. He also discusses a key storyline of the film: a cub born in captivity undergoing training to become a panda that, once released, could live in the wild. (Photos: Jacky Poon) (https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/, https://www.instagram.com/pbsnature/, http://www.jackypoon.org, https://www.instagram.com/wildlifechinaman/)
     
     

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Maria Matlack, Marketing & P.R. Manager at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, about its inaugural “Wagoween” extravaganza, to be held Saturday, Oct. 24. Matlack outlines some of the activities on tap for the day, including decorating pumpkins, enjoying grilled food and snacks, and—perhaps the centerpiece of “Wagoween”—costume contests for kids and for dogs. Categories for the dog contest include Best Costume and Best Trick. (https://humanesocietytampa.org/event/wagoween/)
    COMEDY CORNER:  Matt Braunger’s “Panda Butler” (https://www.mattbraunger.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Loudon Wainwright’s “Dead Skunk”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TalkingAnimalsOctFinal.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Michelle Gadd, elephant expert, head of global conservation for Walters Conservation

    Michelle Gadd, elephant expert, head of global conservation for Walters Conservation

    Michelle Gadd—who heads global conservation for Walters Conservation, created and funded by philanthropists Mark and Kimbra Walter, and owner of White Oak Conservation, a 17,000-acre spread in northeastern Florida, which houses and cares for endangered and threatened species, among other animals—recounts how, at 19, she embarked on a three-month study abroad program in Africa…and ended up staying about 13 years. Gadd briefly describes the research and fieldwork with elephants in Africa that constituted the core of work on her Master’s degree, and then her PhD thesis. She also notes she spent a number of years overseeing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s African elephant and African rhino programs. Gadd explains what White Oak Conservation is, and its mission, which includes providing a home for such endangered and threatened species as rhinos, okapis, bongos, and cheetahs, breeding many of those animals—some with the intention of returning them to the wild, some to be sold to zoos or other facilities, or exchanged with them. (White Oak also houses fauna native to its northeastern Florida locale, and devotes efforts to rehabilitating injured Florida panthers, Gadd says.) But the core of the conversation, and chief reason for it, was to address the recently-announced plans that White Oak will provide a home for 34 elephants that had performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, until they were retired in 2016. They have been living in a 200-acre facility in Polk City, owned by Feld Entertainment, which operated Ringling Bros. But Gadd points out that White Oak has purchased the Polk City place, as well as the elephants, and is now caring for them—making the transition to protected contact, in which elephant and keeper do not share the same space; the use of bullhooks has ended, Gadd says–in preparation for relocating them to a 2500-acre habitat that’s being constructed for them at White Oak, featuring wetlands, grass, forest and 11 waterholes. Gadd went on to relate that of those 34 elephants set to move to White Oak, 16 are female, and of those, 13 will be made available for breeding. Some of the resulting offspring will be sent to zoos or other facilities that house captive animals; none will be released into the wild, Gadd says. White Oak is open to the public, and offers tours, but Gadd notes it’s unclear what arrangements will be made for seeing the elephants, especially during the pandemic, so it may involve virtual viewing and/or webcams. (Photo of two elephants: Stephanie Rutan/White Oak Conservation) (https://www.whiteoakwildlife.org, https://www.facebook.com/whiteoakwildlife, https://www.instagram.com/whiteoakconservation/)
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer at Live Science, to discuss Fat Bear Week. As she did in her Live Science story (https://www.livescience.com/fat-bear-week.html), she describes the yearly competition, in which the brown bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park gorge themselves on as much salmon as possible in an extended pre-hibernation feast—and onlookers from across the country and beyond wager on which ursine contestant will pack on the most pounds by the end of the week, Sept. 30-Oct. 6. For those who might be critical of Fat Bear Week, or misunderstand its intent, Weisberger explains why those in Katmai and elsewhere consider this a positive event, evidence that nature is functioning as intended. Spoiler alert: At the end of our chat, we announced that this year’s winner was…Bear 747.  (https://explore.org/fat-bear-week, https://www.livescience.com )
    COMEDY CORNER:  John Mulaney’s “Horse In A Hospital” (http://www.johnmulaney.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://talking

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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