June 11, 2014

This little moose needed a vacation—it's hard out there in the wilderness.     Photo: Katie Nelson/Antlers at Vail

Baby Moose Checks in at Vail Ski Lodge

Sometimes you just get sick of roughing it

On Monday morning, after the GoPro Mountain Games crowd had cleared out of town, staff members at the Antlers at Vail ski lodge found a four-legged guest hunkered down in the lobby. The baby moose, which was estimated to be about a week old by Kevin Wright, the Upper Roaring Fork District wildlife manager, wandered in through the open front doors of the hotel.

Staff members said children were chasing the moose around the hotel before wildlife officials were called in. But before help arrived, it checked out early and went running down the street. "He just ran right into the lobby and was in there for about 10 to 20 minutes," Antlers conference services manager Katie Nelson told Vail Daily. "We were looking around to see if the mom was around."

But the mother was nowhere to be found. In fact, Wright had received calls earlier in the day concerning the calf bleating and roaming along a creek. He'd left the calf alone in hopes that it would reunite with its mother without human intervention, but next thing he knew, Wright was being called to Antlers to help the calf. Its mother never did turn up.

Wildlife workers tranquilized the moose and took it to a nearby facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, where it is being cared for along with another abandoned baby moose.

Wright said that the future of the calf is undetermined, but it is very unlikely that it will ever find a home in the wild again because of its exposure to humans at such a young age.

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Lincoln and Teddy, looking tasty.     Photo: Jack's Links

Behold "Meat Rushmore"

National Jerky Day spotlights all-beef monument

Row, row, row your boat, gently across the Pacific. That may or may not be a helpful mantra for the rugged oarsmen and women who are competing in the inaugural Great Pacific Race, a 2,400-mile travail from Monterrey, CA, to Honolulu, HI. Called “the biggest baddest human endurance challenge on the planet,” the event is a test of the will, as participants must cover the distance using nothing but arm strength and determination.     
Although 13 teams were slated to compete, only 7 set off on Monday, due to the late arrival of some teams' vessels. This logistical snafu shouldn't come as a huge surprise, giving the scale of the undertaking. Indeed, Monday's start already came on the heels of a 48-hour delay, due to 40-knot offshore winds over the weekend. 
The boats that did set off included four-man crews, pairs, and intrepid soloists–with Guinness Book Record titles lying in wait for some, should they manage to successfully cover the distance. Finishers are expected to arrive in Honolulu sometime between 30 and 90 days from now.
As the Monterey Herald reports, the race is the brainchild of a 33-year-old Briton named Chris Martin, who is hoping to break even after scrounging up $668,000 to put on the event.

Those who were unaware, take note: Today is National Jerky Day, a time when citizens of this great nation come together to reflect on the importance of dried meat. To mark the occasion, Minong, Wis.-based company Jack Link's Beef Jerky has commissioned a 13-foot replica of Mount Rushmore to be constructed from, you guessed it, jerky.    

Laboriously fashioned by art director Alex Valhouli and more than 20 additional flesh sculpturists, "Meat Rushmore" consists of 1,600 pounds of beef, pork, and turkey jerky. The piece, which took 1,400 man-hours to build, will be on display today in Columbus Circle in New York City.

We can only speculate what Teddy Roosevelt or George Washington would have thought about seeing their larger-than-life likenesses rendered in meat, but then again, the original monument is already pretty strange to begin with.

To quote George Carlin, "The Black Hills are sacred Indian ground. Imagine the creepy feeling of four leering European faces staring at your ancestors for eternity."

Amen.

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Better pose harder if you want to get your money's worth out of D.C.'s yoga classes—they may come with an extra tax in the coming year.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

D.C. Proposes Tax on Gyms, Yoga Studios

Owners protesting "fitness tax"

A new tax proposal in Washington, D.C., has yoga instructors and gym owners sweating bullets in a bad way. The city is looking to implement a 5.75 percent sales tax on all health club services, including gyms and yoga studios, as part of its 2015 budget, and industry members are worried that it could turn away new customers.

"This feels like a tax on healthy lifestyles," said Betsy Poos, co-owner of yoga studio in Southeast D.C., in an interview. The tax would place and extra 69 cents on her $12 hourlong classes and another dollar on classes of 75 and 90 minutes. Although she doesn't believe the tax would cause current members to stay away, it could be a turnoff to new students who are already stretching their budgets for a membership. "In the past five months, 25 percent of our sales revenue has come from consumers brand new to our studio—first-time walk-ins."

Poos isn't alone in her protest. Multiple organizations have come together to protest the tax initiative, including the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals (CHAMPS), Capitol Hill's Biker Barre, and a bevy of local CrossFit Trainers.

D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson has defended the bill, saying its not specifically targeting fitness locations but is part of an overall package aimed at revising the individual income tax. Other businesses listed in the initiative include bowling alleys, billiard halls, water delivery services, and car washes, among others. "The goal of the [tax initiative] was to recommend an overall tax structure that is fair, equitable, and reduces the overall burden on District residents," says Mendelson. 

Still, D.C.'s fitness entrepreneurs believe the tax could have an adverse affect on their business and the overall well-being of the city. "If a doctor prescribes you a pill, there's no sales tax," said Yoga Flow co-owner Ian Mishalove. "If the doctor prescribes you yoga, there's a tax."

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Imagine going from California to Hawaii… in a rowboat.     Photo: Casey Bisson/Flickr

Great Pacific Race Underway

Rowing from Monterey to Honolulu

Row, row, row your boat, gently across the Pacific. That may or may not be a helpful mantra for the rugged oarsmen and women who are competing in the inaugural Great Pacific Race, a 2,400-mile travail from Monterrey, CA, to Honolulu, HI. Called “the biggest baddest human endurance challenge on the planet,” the event is a test of the will, as participants must cover the distance using nothing but arm strength and determination.     
Although 13 teams were slated to compete, only 7 set off on Monday, due to the late arrival of some teams' vessels. This logistical snafu shouldn't come as a huge surprise, giving the scale of the undertaking. Indeed, Monday's start already came on the heels of a 48-hour delay, due to 40-knot offshore winds over the weekend. 
The boats that did set off included four-man crews, pairs, and intrepid soloists–with Guinness Book Record titles lying in wait for some, should they manage to successfully cover the distance. Finishers are expected to arrive in Honolulu sometime between 30 and 90 days from now.
As the Monterey Herald reports, the race is the brainchild of a 33-year-old Briton named Chris Martin, who is hoping to break even after scrounging up $668,000 to put on the event.

Row, row, row your boat, gently across the Pacific. That may or may not be a helpful mantra for the rugged oarsmen and women who are competing in the inaugural Great Pacific Race, a 2,400-mile travail from Monterey, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. As the race website states, this is  "the biggest baddest human endurance challenge on the planet." Participants must cover the distance using nothing but arm strength and determination.

Although 13 teams were slated to compete, only seven set off yesterday due to the late arrival of some teams' vessels. Indeed, Monday's start already came on the heels of a 48-hour delay due to 40-knot offshore winds during the weekend.

The crews that did set off included foursomes, pairs, and intrepid soloists—some hoping to nab a Guinness World Record should they successfully manage to cover the distance. Finishers are expected to arrive in Honolulu sometime between 30 and 90 days from now.

As the Monterey Herald reports, the race is the brainchild of a 33-year-old Briton named Chris Martin, who is hoping to break even after scrounging up $668,000 to put on the event.

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A new Mexico City ban on animals in circus acts puts nonhuman performers in a precarious situation.     Photo: AaronAmat/ThinkStock

Mexico City Bans Use of Circus Animals

Violators face $70,000 fines, confiscation of animals

Mexico City circus acts have long walked fine lines between animal care and cruelty. Following abuse allegationspoliticians voted overwhelmingly Monday to ban on use of animals in circus acts

The bill, which received 41 supporting votes and had no detractors, is awaiting Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera's signature. Mexican lawmakers aren't playing games: The bill would make lawbreakers susceptible to fines of $70,000 and confiscation of their animals. Circuses have about one year to adjust their performances to meet the new standards.

When the bill passes, Mexico City will join Peru, Bolivia, and six Mexican states in banning animal circuses. American congressmen have worked to curb animal circuses, but the most recent bill was shot down.

The news has been met with international applause from animal welfare groups, but performers are breathing fire. Nearly 1,000 circus employees marched against the ban yesterday, saying that a blanket ban could hurt their jobs and penalize circuses that treat animals well. 

"We have watched these animals be born and take care of them their whole lives. How would we abuse them?" said animal trainer Isaid Berti in an interview with Agence France-Presse. "They are part of our family. … So why should those who have done no wrong pay the price for those who have?"

Performers are also accusing lawmakers of grandstanding: The bill applies only to circuses rather than all forms of entertainment that incorporate animals into production, such as rodeos.

Although circuses will no longer be allowed to use animals as part of their acts, they are not being forced to give the animals up. Hopefully, they'll care for their exotic pets, profit or no profit, or instead find proper homes for them. When Peru banned animal circuses, many animals were moved to preserves in the United States.

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About 200 endangered mountain gorillas live in Virunga National Park, Africa's oldest and most diverse park.     Photo: ColognetoCapeTown/Getty Images

Huge Victory for Virunga

Oil company agrees to stop exploring World Heritage Site

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a lot to deal with. As we saw in one of our favorite documentaries at the 2014 Telluride Mountainfilm festival, a dedicated few fight to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site from an onslaught of threats, running the gamut from poachers to armed militia. There's also a battle against the British oil company Soco International, which had been surveying the park for its natural resources since 2010. But Virunga gained a surprising victory today when Soco suddenly announced it would halt its exploration.

Among the list of fairly obvious arguments against exploiting Virunga's resources is the fact that it's home to about half of the world's mountain gorillas and is Africa's oldest and most diverse park. UNESCO continues to list Virunga as in danger and urged Soco to cease surveying activities in the park. As other conservation groups took note of the threat, tensions grew. In 2013, the World Wildlife Fund filed a complaint against Soco, which led to death threats to WWF staffers (at the same time, three people ambushed and shot the park's chief warden, who also fought for protection of Virunga's wildlife). This year, other heavy hitters like Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson joined in. After a mediation process with WWF, Soco agreed to wrap up its operations and leave in the next 30 days.

The Guardian's John Vidal calls this one of conservationists' greatest successes in recent years. "If free from the threat of oil, Virunga can be a source of hope for the people of the DRC," WWF-Congo DRC director Raymond Lumbuenamo said in a statement. But that threat remains, as 80 percent of the park is open to oil exploration. The hope is to bring in more "peaceful" industries like hydropower and ecotourism. Until then, strong efforts to protect Virunga must continue. "This is the moment for the international community to support DRC and help us bring lasting change that will ensure Africa's first national park remains the mother park of Africa," Lumbuenamo said.

Want to learn more about Virunga? Check out the trailer to the powerful documentary, currently screening at film festivals around the world:

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Does anyone, really?     Photo: MilitaryHealth/Flickr

Do You Know How Hard You Work Out?

A new study says you don't

Six years have passed since the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion published Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG). Researchers funded in part by a grant from the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Faculty of Health at York University, Canada, responded a few weeks ago. Their findings were published in PLOS ONE: Adults underestimate the intensity level at which they work out.

The PAG report differentiates absolute intensity—the amount of energy expended per minute of activity—from relative intensity, the level of effort required to do an activity. "A general rule of thumb is that two minutes of moderate-intensity activity counts the same as one minute of vigorous-intensity activity," according to the PAG. Although the absolute-intensity levels might reflect similar energy expenditures, the relative-intensity levels are not the same, and overcompensating with vigorous-intensity workouts so you can get out the door faster in the morning or make it back to work in time can hurt you.

And the more recent study? Researchers started by asking participants if they were familiar with the national exercise guidelines. Most were not, but when they were handed a copy, participants felt they could follow or already were following the guidelines, the New York Times reported.

Then they took to the treadmill and were asked to maintain a vigorous-, moderate-, and light-intensity level for three minutes. "Few" ran at 65 percent (desired) of their maximum heart rate when running "moderately," and "even fewer" ran at 75 percent during their vigorous-intensity stint. When participants ran at "the slowest pace that they felt would qualify as moderate [or] the slowest pace at which someone could expect to gain significant health benefits from the exercise," about 25 percent of participants met the pace.

Worse: Current reports on U.S. and Canadian adults say that only 15 to 25 percent work out at levels intense enough to meet national guidelines. If participants played up their intensity levels, "the problem of physical inactivity may be even larger," Dr. Jennifer Kuk, who oversaw the runners, told the New York Times.

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