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New OSU center explores relationship between animals, humans

Macon Overcast



If you house a bunch of roosters together like a frat house off of North High, they won’t outwit their biology and learn to lay eggs.

This was the dilemma phoned in to Dr. Kelly George by a local backyard chicken cooper whose new flock had remained eggless for weeks after the purchase. Recalling the story, Dr. George smiles with a both a sense of irony and empathy.

“Because they didn’t know how to sex a bird, they got all roosters, which they couldn’t legally have in the city limits.”

Dr. George is Co-Director of a new center in the Department of Animal Science at OSU, the Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE).

CHAIRE’s mission is to study a brood of topics including human welfare, animal welfare, companionship and conservation science – all in relation to human-animal interaction. Almost anything that relates human and animal health is fair game for research, even backyard chicken debacles.

However, Dr. George chose not to formally investigate backyard poultry raising in this instance, unfortunately for those of us wondering what happened to that rooster coop stuck in an eternal Saturday-is-for-the-boys chant.

But, she sees her anecdote about illegal rooster operations as a analogy of CHAIRE’s impetus. That is, our encounters with animals are significant and they aren’t always even realized.

“We are very, very fortunate to be here. We sit in a rural-urban interface. Right here in Columbus. I go to farms everyday, and yet I also sit in an office. I can go to the zoo. I have lots of different interactions with animals. And so does everyone in the neighborhood as they drive through Lane and Kenny where they see a dairy, or see our equine facility on Sawmill.

There are lots of different ways people are affected by animals every day, even if it’s just ‘Oh, I saw a foal in the pasture, and it made me smile.’ They may not even realize when it happens, but bringing awareness is important.”

For Dr. George, interactions with animals include the cheese stringing from your Condados taco, the Dublin Pet Fair adverts on Facebook (stop tracking my location, Zucks!), or even smelling cow manure while you drive into the city on 315 past Ackerman.

Don’t miss the point. Animals are important.

Before the emergence of CHAIRE, Dr. George garnered the support of another Columbus animal science juggernaut – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Wanting to investigate the use of animals in zoo education, she reached out to Suzi Rapp.

One word can fully describe Rapp’s dedication to conservation education: Passionate.


Rapp has worked for the Zoo for 39 years and has made a career as the Vice President of Animal Programs. After listening to Dr. George’s research proposal, it only took her a moment to agree.

Animal keeping and zoo management already requires long hours, heaps of holiday work, and the persistent threat of getting crapped on by an exotic animal, so why add more to the plate?

The answer: Zoos need it, and Rapp wants the best for the animals under her care.

“We don’t have the manpower or the expertise to create that science,” she explained. “Ohio State has professors, researchers, students, grad students that would love to perform this science. Even if the science is as simple as measuring stress through cortisol and stereotypical behaviors.

That’s how the partnership [with OSU] began. I’m an advocate of science. I’ve made many changes to the way I operate, to the way I work an animal, or the way I house an animal, or an exhibit I build –based on this science.”

CHAIRE and the Zoo have created a near perfect synergism to promote the platform of human-animal interactions. Not many programs like this exist in the country, but Columbus has the capacity, and interest, to inspire this majorly interdisciplinary, multi-organizational feat.

Rapp put it plain and simple, using refreshing rhetoric in our frequently bipartisan world.

“It’s partnership. We are all working for the same thing. We just need to figure out how to get there.”

And CHAIRE is a fitting piece to that puzzle.

My favorite concept CHAIRE includes in its research vision is zooeyia.

You can experience zooeyia when making eye contact with you dog, when a cardinal lands on your window sill, or when your cat does one of its infinitely unpredictable behaviors.

Zooeyia is when human health benefits from animal interaction. Animals help us be happy. Precisely how and when this happens, CHAIRE seeks to discover.

Dr. George and Suzi both expressed great admiration for the Columbus community during their interviews and look forward to exploring this frontier. In the words of Dr. George: The more we learn about humans and the species we share the planet with—those relationships almost have to change.

Central Ohioans have the opportunity to experience zooeyia on September 19th, when CHAIRE hosts their first fundraising event.

The event will be hosted by Columbus’ own conservation king Jack Hanna.

He will bring with him various ambassador animals from the zoo for attendees to personally witness the impact of zooeyia during his presentation regarding CHAIRE’s vision.

[symple_button url=”” color=”black” button_target=”_self”]RSVP to the event[/symple_button]

For more details about purchasing tickets to the event and about the program at large, visit To become a Friend of CHAIRE, please email [email protected] expressing your interest in joining a list-serve for future happenings of CHAIRE and possible volunteer opportunities.

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Things To Do

Date with Danger: 10 exciting outings for adrenaline junkies

J.R. McMillan



First dates are the worst dates. Expectations are impossibly high, and almost always fall short. The delicate balance between intriguing and arrogant tends to favor a lot of forgettable chitchat and awkward silence. And the longer couples are together, the more boring it becomes.

Sometimes, you need to be bold and hold nothing back. Skip the white linen tablecloth and track down that new food truck. Forget the latest rom-com and go for an obscure indie film. But if you really want to impress, make it the best first excursion or overdue evening out you and that certain someone have ever had by booking a date with danger.

Here are some local adventures to get your hearts pumping and hormones humming — because adrenaline is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Kinetic Climbing and Fitness

Rock climbing, or “bouldering”, is a year-round sport for beginning to advanced climbers at this enormous west side facility. Come conquer the walls, or work your way up and under one of the angular ledges if you dare. Owner Tony Reynaldo is not only an accomplished climber himself, but a world-renowned climbing equipment designer whose unique finger and toe holds pepper the colorful vertical playground.

The Bullet Ranch

If Bonnie and Clyde were a contemporary courting couple, they’d probably be road-trip regulars at The Bullet Ranch in Pataskala. In addition to the standard amenities of an indoor rifle and pistol range, rental firearms include an authentic 1928 Thompson machine gun with two drums of ammunition. There’s also a 5-stand shotgun course out back during warmer weather with a little more boom for your buck.

Royal Arts Fencing Academy

Satisfy your inner swashbuckler with a pointed lesson in classical fencing from a seasoned professional. Founder Julia Richey, a former member of the Russian National Team, began fencing when she was just 14. Though Royal Arts east side studio started as a club for sport fencing, it has grown to include classes for long sword, samurai, and yes, lightsabers. There’s even bartitsu (think British gentlemen’s jiu-jitsu) for the debonair duo.

Columbus Axe Throwing

What’s more deadly than a dart and less blunt than a bowling ball? Axe throwing, of course. If you’re looking for something sharp and spontaneous, you really can walk in, grab a slab of metal on a wooden stick, and hurl at a target on the wall. Tucked away off Busch Boulevard, it’s safe, simple, and supervised — and there’s beer. What could possibly go wrong?

Movement Activities

Join the circus for the weekend without quitting your day job. Among the many unexpected startups at 400 West Rich, Movement Activities offers aerial dance classes. Their monthly beginners workshop will show you the ropes before moving on to more advanced maneuvers. Between the trapeze and the climbing silks, you and your partner could be fifty shades of fit and flexible in no time flat.

LVL UP Sports

If body paint is too weird, why not try paintball? LVL UP Sports offers multiple distinct parks in one. From the dense darkness of “The Woods” and Minecraft-inspired “Cubez” to the castle and kingdom of “Valken Village”, this Grove City shooting gallery is close to home, yet worlds away. And when both of you get back and throw your clothes in the wash, who know where the night might lead?

ZipZone Outdoor Adventures

Explore 20 acres of elevated trails on the grounds of Camp Mary Orton, just north of 270 and 23, as you zip from platform to platform over the forest below. Courageous couples might consider a “Zip Rush” tour with two new sky bridges and a free fall “rappel”. Two-hour canopy tours reveal plants and wildlife in silent serenity, while monthly moonlight tours make the most of Earth’s round romantic satellite. 

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Every couple eventually argues over who is the better driver. Here’s your chance to finally find out. In addition to operating two professional racecar circuits about an hour north of Columbus, Mid-Ohio also offers performance driving schools. Learning the physics and dynamics of high-speed racing might seem dry. But climbing into an Acura ILX for several pulse-pounding trips around the track should get your engines going.

Skydive Greene County

There are plenty of fly-by-night outfits willing to let you jump out of a perfectly good aircraft. But Skydive Greene County, founded in 1961, is the oldest skydiving school in Ohio. Why take chances at 10,000 feet? The private airport in Xenia is a short drive for a fast free fall. Tandem jumps are available all year, weather permitting. (Please note, you’ll each be strapped to a stranger, not each other.)

Balloon Masters

If slow and serene is more your style than a speeding car or plummeting from the sky, try a tranquil sunset view from a hot air balloon instead. From a “champagne flight for two” to a bona fide “balloon wedding”, Balloon Masters even has a honeymoon package paired with a local bed & breakfast on Lake Logan in Hocking Hills for a weekend away — and a polite, piloted escape from your guests and in-laws.

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Food & Drink

Discount Date Destinations: Saturday Samplings at The Refectory

Lindsay Pinchot



Welcome to Discount Date Destinations, where we’ll bring you the best places in the city with date-night-worthy atmospheres and food and drink specials that won’t break the bank. In today’s installment, we head to The Refectory.

For many, The Refectory evokes images of elegant anniversary dinners and impressive date nights, and rightly so. The Refectory has long been established as one of Columbus’ best and most beautiful restaurants, serving contemporary American and classic French cuisine. It probably isn’t one of the first places you think of when you hear “discount,” but maybe it should be.

Every Saturday afternoon from 12pm- 3pm, The Refectory hosts Saturday Samplings, a weekly wine tasting event. For only $15-$20 per person, depending on the flight that week, you taste a selection of different wines and help yourself to light hors d’oeuvre while relaxing in the Refectory’s charming bar area.

When you’re done tasting, additional glasses of the wines are only $5 each, so you can stay and sip your favorites. Last weekend, my husband and I attended the first in a themed, two-part Saturday Sampling series: For the Love of Wine. We had a great experience.

The ambiance was wonderful, especially for a wintry Saturday. Upon arrival, we were given a warm welcome and tasting cards listing information about each of the wines we’d be sampling. At the top of the tasting cards was a question, “When did you first fall in love with wine?” which led to some entertaining conversation, both between the two of us and with the staff. The sommelier poured each wine as we were ready for it, giving us a little background on it and explaining what we could expect from the taste. Between glasses we snacked on an array of breads, cheeses, oils, and hearty dips.

The best part? None of the selections were too pricey and all were available for purchase from The Refectory’s wine shop. Our favorite taste of the day was only $12.99 a bottle.

Saturday Samplings is a fun, relaxed way to experience The Refectory where all wine drinkers, from newbies to decades-long aficionados, will feel welcome. For the Love of Wine (Part 2) is this Saturday, so grab your valentine and head to The Refectory for a cozy afternoon. When you’re done, buy your favorite bottle to take home and split snuggled up on the couch.

The Refectory is located at 1092 Bethel Rd. For more information, visit

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Things To Do

11 upcoming events to help you battle cabin fever

614now Staff



Celebrate Valentines Day | Franklin Park Conservatory | February 14
Don’t let Valentine’s Day slip by again this year! Instead, mark your calendar for Franklin Park Conservatory’s Valentine’s Day celebration. Stroll through the beautiful flower displays, enjoy time with your significant other, and of course, take a bunch of cute Instagram pics.

Tango Moms, Girl Fox, Sylmar | Rumba Cafe | February 15
It’s an Ohio-based throwdown as Columbus’ own Tango Moms and Girl Fox will be performing along with Cincinnati-based Sylmar. Watch these local indie bands put on a stellar show in the intimate setting of Rumba Cafe.

Martin Lawrence | The Schottenstein Center | February 21
Whether you know him from his hit television show, Martin, or as Detective Marcus Burnett from Bad Boys, he’s Martin Lawrence and he’s coming to Columbus. The comedian, actor, and activist has had a long career on the big screen and has become an icon in the pop culture world.

Tim & Eric| Express Live | February 21
Anyone who has watched the Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job knows exactly what they are getting into for this evening. These two are irreverent, vulgar, and downright hilarious. Strap in for a weird show—but weird in the best way possible!

A-Trak at Otherworld | Otherworld | February 22
The Canadian DJ is making his return to Columbus and this time he’s stopping off at the scenic and enticing Otherworld. The Grammy- nominated artist has worked with the likes of Kid Cudi and Danny Brown, and has been named as one of the most important DJs in the EDM game by Rolling Stone. Combine his talents with the beautiful scenery of Otherworld and you’re in for a night of sensory overload.

4th Annual Breakfast With Characters | Station 67 Event Center | February 22
Is there ever a bad time for breakfast with lovable characters? We don't think so. Head over to Station 67 Event Center where all your child’s favorite animated characters will be happily ready to meet and greet them.

An Evening with Jack Tempchin | Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen | February 23
The legendary status of The Eagles will go down in history thanks in part to the work of Jack Tempchin. While he wasn’t playing the guitar for the band or leading the group in vocals, he is a phenomenal song writer who went on to write the lyrics to hits like “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Already Gone.” He’ll be making an appearance at Natalie’s, so Eagles fans, don’t miss the chance to get behind the music!

Columbus Winter Wine Fest | Brewmasters Gate | February 29
Just a month and a few days after the Beerfest dust settles, the Columbus Winter Wine Festival will be coming to town. It will be complete with food trucks, live musical entertainment, and of course, plenty of wine. Your purchased ticket grants you access to 10 wine samplings and a special commemorative glass to take home. Best of all: proceeds from the event will go towards the children’s charity CD102.5 for the Kids.

Chef Robert Irvine Dining Experience | Hollywood Casino Columbus | February 29
Chef Robert Irvine knows a thing or two when it comes to cooking in the kitchen; just ask all the folks he’s helped along the way in his hit television shows like Restaurant Impossible and Worst Cooks in America. At the end of February, you’ll have the chance to taste his expertise as he’ll be bringing his signature dishes to the Hollywood Casino.

Ohio State vs Michigan | The Schottenstein Center | March 1
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: we don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan! And that includes their basketball squad, too! Show up in full force as the Bucks take on the Wolverines to kick off March.

The Arnold Classic | Greater Columbus Convention Center | March 5 -8
Back and presumably bigger than ever is The Arnold Sports Classic. By now, we’re sure you know the drill: spend way too much money at the vendors, obtain all the free swag you can fit in your drawstring bag, and gaze in amazement at all the insanely fit folks walking around.

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