An autism-friendly hospital emphasizes nature for resiliency and healing

January 13, 2021 by  
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Charleston, South Carolina has raised the bar for inclusive healthcare design with the opening of the new Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. Designed by Perkins and Will in collaboration with associate architect McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, the new, 625,000-square-foot facility aims to be one of the country’s most autism-friendly hospitals with its welcoming design that emphasizes access to natural light, a warm materials palette and an abundance of greenery indoors and out. The building also prioritizes resiliency by placing all patient care areas above the designated flood elevation and integrating flood-proof panels, an absorbent native planting plan and a series of flood walls into its design.  Using feedback from parents with children who are on the autism spectrum, the architects crafted calming interiors that take into account the full-sensory experience — from the removal of automatic flushers and hand dryers in bathrooms to the minimization of visual clutter — as a means of avoiding potential triggers. The biophilic design also taps into the healing power of nature by creating connections between the indoors and out wherever possible. Fresh air, natural light, indoor greenery and nature-inspired artwork by local artists create a joyful indoor atmosphere. Related: Biophilic campus provides a safe haven for children with autism The rich culture and history of Charleston also inspired the interior design, from the two-story main lobby with recycled cypress paneling that takes cues from historic Charleston’s Courtyard Garden to a large-scale, stained glass artwork that evokes Angel Oak, an approximately 400-year-old Southern Live Oak. Timber-lined patient bedrooms mimic local beach houses and come with simple furnishings and customizable features to encourage children to decorate their own spaces. The 10-story, 250-bed facility is set back from the street to make room for an “urban green space” in a nod to Charleston’s famous civic gardens. Defined by a low seat wall that can help mitigate low-level flooding events, the landscape is planted with native species for low maintenance. Outdoor terraces on the seventh and eighth floors also connect the hospital with the outdoors.  + Perkins and Will Photography by James Steinkamp and Halkin Mason via Perkins and Will

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An autism-friendly hospital emphasizes nature for resiliency and healing

2 gorillas at the San Diego Zoo test positive for COVID-19

January 13, 2021 by  
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Two gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time since the pandemic started. The gorillas showed symptoms, including coughing, at the San Diego Zoo last week. The staff took tests, which came back positive early this week. “Despite all our efforts and dedication from our team members to protect the wildlife in our care, our gorilla troop has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the zoo. Related: WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic Zoo officials indicated that the animals might have contracted the disease from an asymptomatic member of the staff. Specialists look at this incident as proof that the biggest risk in the transmission of the virus is proximity to the infected party. “The fact that we are just seeing the first evidence of ape exposure now after months of transmission potential for captive and wild apes underscores the importance of proximity, as opposed to contaminated surfaces, as the primary source of infection,” said Thomas R. Gillespie, a disease ecologist and conservation biologist at Emory University. Throughout the pandemic, there have been concerns about the possibility of humans infecting animals and vice versa. There have been some reports of humans passing the virus to pets such as dogs and cats, but there has been no conclusive report to ascertain the risk that animals face. The most severe cases were reported in Europe, where millions of minks on fur farms were culled . In another incident, a tiger at Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for the disease in April 2020. Later the same year, four tigers and three lions also tested positive for COVID-19. The news of the San Diego Zoo gorillas contracting the virus is already causing concerns among conservationists. The biggest risk lies in Africa , where the only remaining populations of wild gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees are found. Given that gorillas and other great apes share approximately 95% of the human genome, they are likely to suffer similar effects of the virus as humans. “Confirmation that gorillas are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 does give us more information about how the pandemic may affect these species in native habitats where they come into contact with humans and human materials,” the zoo said in a statement. “By working with health officials, conservationists, and scientists to document this case, we will be expanding our knowledge about this potential challenge so that we can develop steps to protect gorillas in the forests of Africa.” + San Diego Zoo Via Mongabay Image via San Diego Zoo

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2 gorillas at the San Diego Zoo test positive for COVID-19

Trumps name found scraped into a manatees back

January 13, 2021 by  
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Manatees resemble half-ton potatoes, but researchers can tell them apart. According to Patrick Rose, aquatic biologist and executive director for Save the Manatee Club, most adult manatees have unique scars from accidents like boat strikes. But one manatee stands out more than the rest. This week, viral videos showed a West Indian manatee with “Trump” scraped into its back. The maimed manatee was spotted in Florida’s Homosassa River last Sunday. In 2019, Inhabitat reported on illegal interactions between manatees and humans in this same river. Related: Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees While scraping the presidential surname into a layer of algae will probably not injure a manatee — unless the perpetrator scrapes too hard and the sea cow becomes infected — it is still harassment. Under U.S. law, anyone guilty of harassing a manatee faces a $50,000 fine and up to a year in prison. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is leading an investigation into the defiled manatee. The Center for Biological Diversity is adding $5,000 as a reward for intel leading to a conviction of the responsible party. “It’s a little hard to see the extent of damage from the video,” said Ruth Carmichael, marine biologist at Dauphin Island Sea Lab. “It is harassment, regardless. If the scrape penetrates the skin, then it likely caused some pain and stress. The animals have nerves and sensory hairs in the skin. Additionally, open wounds could become infected.” Florida has an estimated 6,300 manatees, a big increase from a 1991 estimate of 1,267. But the gentle giants are susceptible to terrible fates due to human activity. At least 10 were drowned or crushed last year by locks and floodgates, in addition to the usual boat strikes. In 2017, the IUCN upgraded manatees from endangered to vulnerable. But it’s especially cruel that a creature that has faced the threat of extinction should have to bear the surname of a man who has spent the last four years weakening protections of endangered species . Do you have information on who scraped “Trump” onto the manatee? Call the wildlife crime tips hotline at 1-844-397-8477 or email FWS_TIPS@FWS.GOV . Via BBC , HuffPost and Save the Manatee Club Image via NOAA

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