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  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘canine distemper’

Endangered Species Now Need Vaccines, Too

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 21, 2015

(Photo: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS)

(Photo: Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS)

One reason some modern parents persist in their delusional fear of vaccines is that they’ve forgotten the appalling reality of measles and other childhood diseases. But I remember, because measles was the closest I came to dying as a child, in the last gasp of the disease before widespread availability of a vaccine. It has left me with a feverish memory of feeling as if a suffocating pink graft of skin had been stretched across my face (probably because I couldn’t open my eyes) and of being unable to do much more than lie on my back struggling to breathe. Measles killed about 500 American children a year then. I got away cheap.

But this is a column about wildlife, and about a different virus—essentially measles for carnivores—that is causing an equally miserable sickness, often leading to death, in some of the world’s rarest species. Scientists are now proposing to use vaccines to save these animals from the brink of extinction. But figuring out how to vaccinate a scarce, shy, wide-ranging predator can be even more frustrating than trying to talk sense into recklessly misinformed human parents.

As the name suggests, canine distemper virus generally spreads among domestic dogs. In the United States, anybody who takes little Maggie or Jack to the vet for mandatory rabies shots typically gets the canine distemper vaccine too. But in parts of the world with feral dog problems or poor vaccine coverage of domestic dogs, the virus can readily jump to wildlife, and the victims aren’t just members of the canine family. In the mid-1990s, for example, canine distemper roared through the Read the rest of this entry »

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