The High Five
8:45 am
Mon July 15, 2013

2 Big Cats Die As Canine Distemper Ravages Wylie Sanctuary

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Distemper kills and sickens lions and tigers at Collin County preserve; court will ask, "Does BPA-free mean hormone-free?"; Dallas teen is youngest to win a PGA title in eight decades and more.

A canine distemper outbreak at an animal sanctuary in Wylie has killed two big cats and infected as many as 20 others. Staff and volunteers are monitoring the animals around the clock. Apollo, a 12-year-old male tiger, and Layla, an 18-year-old lioness, died from the virus last week. According to the Dallas Morning News, three more cats were reported to be in critical condition over the weekend.

Big cats are vaccinated against feline distemper but not the canine version. “By the time we realized what was going on, the distemper had already spread out,” says Lisa Williams of In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center. Officials think raccoons that walk on top of the animals' enclosures may have brought the virus into the sanctuary. Cats are being given vitamins and antibiotics to bulk up their immune systems. They’re also being fed special meals made up of pork loin, bacon, deer and elk to mask the 50 to 60 pills they need to take daily.

  • The five queen bees rode shotgun en route to the zoo. Their royal subjects were stuck in the back.
    The five queen bees rode shotgun en route to the zoo. Their royal subjects were stuck in the back.
    Credit Cathy Burkey / Dallas Zoo

    Dallas Zoo Abuzz Over New Residents: Five queen bees and thousands of their devoted subjects have arrived at the Dallas Zoo. They’ll set up shop near the new garden outside the Animal Nutrition Center. KERA’s BJ Austin spoke to the Texas Honeybee Guild about what it takes to install a hive, and what the North Texas bee population looks like after last year’s West Nile outbreak and resulting aerial mosquito spraying. (Plus, BJ didn't get stung!)

  • Battle Of The Bottles: From bees, to BPA ... water bottles are getting their day in court. The safety of some “BPA-free” plastics is up for debate this week in U.S. District Court in Austin. The question is whether a line of plastics by Eastman Chemical contains chemicals that can act like the hormone estrogen, potentially causing health problems. These water bottles have been marketed as a “BPA free” option. The additive BPA has been known to act somewhat like estrogen. [NPR]
  • Dallas Teen Youngest PGA Winner In 82 Years: Dallas native Jordan Spieth doesn’t turn 20 for another two weeks, and good thing, too: Winning a PGA event at 19 puts him in rare company. He took the John Deere Classic title Sunday, making him the youngest golfer to win a PGA event since Ralph Guldahl won the Santa Monica Open in 1931. Spieth will now head to Scotland for the British Open alongside the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. [AP via NPR]
  • Embracing Golf, Relinquishing Trauma: A program designed to help female veterans bond and heal uses simple tools: nine irons and drivers. This PGA-backed program has seen major success in other parts of the country, and according to the New York Times, organizers plan to expand it to Texas in the near future. Because female veterans often feel marginalized when they return from service tours, this program allows them to reach out to like minded women on work on something as a unit. Learning to play golf is a pretty straightforward goal, but beyond mastering short putts and chip shots, the exercise also calms PTSD and promotes inclusion.
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