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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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Zoo Babies! We’ve got the photo cuteness




Start the ooo-ing and ahhh-ing, Columbus, because we’ve got Zoo baby pics!

A Masai giraffe calf, a sea lion pup, two red panda cubs, and a siamang (gibbon) baby—all recent births at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for these endangered species. It’s a show of commitment from the organization how they were able to nurture these species populations at-risk for extinction and bring new generations of them into the world. 

“We are extremely proud to welcome these babies as they all represent hope for the future of species that are increasingly facing challenges in their native ranges,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO, Tom Stalf. In the press release, Stalf detailed how special these births are as the threatened species received around-the-clock, top-quality care by the Animal Care staff over the three-month-closure of the Zoo, due to COVID-19. 

OK, no more waiting—get your fill of cuteness below with these Zoo baby pics!

Masai Giraffe Calf

“A Masai giraffe calf was born on June 28, 2020, at 2:29 p.m. to mother, Zuri, in a behind-the-scenes barn of the Zoo’s Heart of Africa region.”

Sea lion Pup

“During the early morning hours of June 25, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed the first sea lion pup ever to be born at the facility!”

Two Red Panda Cubs

“Two healthy red panda cubs were born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a welcomed addition to this endangered species.”

Siamang (Gibbon) baby

“On the morning of May 29, 2020, the Australia and Islands region welcomed a baby siamang. Mom, Olga, is being very attentive to her little one, whose sex and name have not yet been determined.”

Get information about conservation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium here.

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City council aims to give youth opportunities this summer




Walking down Weber Rd. toward I-71 this week, something was happening that most probably thought wouldn’t for at least another year: a group of kids playing basketball and being mentored by adults.

With the 2019-20 school year canceled, children have been confined to home, with most basketball hoops being boarded up. Summer camps were postponed and parents were starting to wonder, “What am I going to do with all of this bottled-up, youthful energy that’s been bouncing against my walls for the past few months?”

That answer was partially given on June 15, when Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown and Mayor Andrew J. Ginther announced legislation to provide funds to programs for Columbus youth. The $2 million in grants was supported by Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. 

“Providing a safe place for our kids to learn and grow during the summer is vital for them and for working parents everywhere, and Columbus children deserve every opportunity to access enriching services that connect them to nature, wellness, and creativity,” Brown said in a press release.

In mid-June, the Columbus Recreation and Parks opened a select number of programming and camps with adjusted group sizes and increased safety protocols. With funds from the CARES Act, Columbus can expect to see more opportunities arise over the next couple of months.

To find a full updated list of programs that the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department will be offering this summer, click here.

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Things To Do

Where to get your Red, White & BOOM on this July 4th




It was a bummer to hear that Red, White & BOOM would be canceled and changed to a virtual format for 2020. However, that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating in a somewhat traditional sense. Even with one of the biggest fireworks celebrations put on hold, there’s still plenty to do around Columbus, fireworks or no fireworks.

We here at (614) know that given the modern-day circumstances, people have the choice to celebrate in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Below you can find three ways to celebrate–Local 4th of July events; Red, White & BOOM alternatives; and places where you can legally celebrate yourself.


Fourth of July Fireworks

West Jefferson July 4th Streetfest

When: July 4 at 10 p.m.

Where: Watch from home

Obetz Fireworks

When: July 4

Where: Watch from home

Fourth of July Activities

Neighborhood Bike Brigade

When: Various start times

Where: Dublin neighborhoods

Sherm Sheldon Fishing Derby

When: June 26 through July 4

Where: Any Dublin pond

Fourth of July Parades

Front Yard Parade in the Round

When: July 4 at 6 until 9 p.m.

Where: Your front yard

2020 Cruisin’ On The 4th of July

When: July 4 at noon

Where: Northbridge Ln., Columbus, OH 43235

New Albany 4th of July Parade & Festival

When: July 4 at 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Where: Church of the Resurrection, 6300 E Dublin Granville Rd., New Albany, OH 43054

Other Fourth of July Events

Zoombezi Bay Family Movie Night featuring The Goonies

When: July 3 from 6 until 11 p.m.

Where: Zoombezi Bay, 10101 Riverside Dr., Powell, OH 43065


Red, White & BOOM was gearing up for its 40th anniversary before COVID-19 shut the mass gathering down. However, the beloved Columbus fireworks show will be hosting a virtual event over the first four days of July. The virtual campaign will air on NBC4.

Here are some of the events that will take place:

  • Highlighting the best Red, White & BOOM stories
  • Stories from local veterans inducted into the Ford Oval of Honor
  • Broadcasting the best Red, White & BOOM fireworks over the show’s 39-year history
  • Looking back on the tradition of parades honoring veterans


We here at (614) also know that setting off fireworks yourself is illegal. We also know that buying them within the state is legal (OK?).

So here is a list of places around Columbus you can buy fireworks from. What you do from there is up to you, but we advise you to stay within the law:

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