Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Larry's stolen, and Curly misses him.

A CALLOUS thief's idea of monkey business could prove fatal for a 16-year-old cotton-top tamarin, stolen from a Far South Coast zoo.

Larry was taken on Sunday night, leaving Mogo Zoo staff devastated.

"It's like our home has been invaded and one of our children stolen," Mogo Zoo owner Sally Padey said yesterday.

As well as the distress of losing Larry, Mrs Padey and her staff were distraught at the thought of the likely consequences.

Mrs Padey said Larry was one of the zoo's original cotton-tops, having been there since 1996.

"He's 16 years old, so he's a little old man," keeper Katie Hooker said. "He's old and he needs medical attention. He needs special conditions, their diet is very important.

"I'm worried that the stress is going to give him a heart attack."

Larry's sister Curly is also upset, she has been with him all of his life.

The thief or thieves cut through padlocks to get at Larry and seem to have specifically targeted the rare and endangered animal.

Story here.

Alleged smuggling of monkeys by Thai zoo investigated

Intense campaigning by conservation groups has so far failed to pressure the Thai Government to resolve the alleged smuggling of some 100 orang utans by private zoo Safari World in Bangkok.

Groups such as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), its Thai counterpart the Wildlife Friends of Thailand (WFFT) and ProFauna of Indonesia have demanded that the Asian great apes be returned to Indonesia, where they were likely poached from.

Visitors are entertained to kickboxing fights between orang utans at Safari World animal park. An international animal rights group has called on Thailand to ban this activity which is held daily at the Bangkok wildlife park.

WFFT director Edwin Wiek said, however, that there has been a glitch in DNA analyses to determine the origins of the apes. Early last month, a government lab failed to identify the genetic code of 50 orang utans, citing insufficient tissue samples. Fresh ones would have to be collected, causing further delay.

Trade in orang utans is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and the questionable high ratio of young animals in the zoo-cum-amusement park challenges the owner’s claim that the orang utans were born in captivity. Of the 115 orang utans seen during the initial Forestry Police raid on Safari World early last November, 101 were juveniles and babies.

Safari World director Pin Kewkacha insisted that there had been a 20-year breeding programme, and it had registered seven births every year.

Scientific analyses of the birthrate, however, shatter that claim. Dr Willie Smits, an orang utan expert at BOS, said it was biologically impossible for 31 babies aged between two and four years to have been conceived by Safari World’s three female adults given the species’ birth intervals of between three and four years.

“There is no theoretical way to explain how the 115 orang utans can be there legally,” said Smits, who was enlisted by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to assist in the investigation. He also said the orang utans belong to three different subspecies, which suggested that they were likely poached from the wild.

Full story here.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Monkey Day in Lop Buri!

Lop Buri draws countless visitors each year to witness an enormous banquet in the Khmer ruins. None of them are allowed to partake, however, because the banquet is exclusively for monkeys.

Although overrun by them, the town is also rather proud of their monkeys who inhabit the local Khmer ruins. An enterprising local hotelier decided to pull in the tourists by staging this extraordinary lunch for the 600-odd monkeys of Lopburi with napkins, Coca Cola and menus to boot. It now takes place every year. Just 17km from Lopburi along Highway 1 is the most important pilgrimage site in central Thailand, Wat Phra Phuttahabat, which is believed to house the Buddha's footprint; frequent buses from the Sakeo roundabout will take you there.

Annually in November, travel info here.

Baby Gorilla Newest Star At Boston Zoo

The city's Franklin Park Zoo has unveiled its latest resident -- a tiny 3-day-old lowland gorilla.
Crowds were gathered at the gorilla enclosure Saturday as the baby's proud mom, Kiki, showed her off, with photographers snapping away.

The baby doesn't have a name yet, since its gender won't be known for several months. Zoo officials have to wait until then to physically examine the infant without upsetting the mom -- who they say is very protective of her new baby.

Thailand to return smuggled orangutans to Indonesia

A year-long effort to return rare Indonesian orangutans trafficked illegally to Thailand will finally happen, with a delegation from the Thai police visited Indonesia to check the final preparations for the repatriation.

The team from the Thai forestry police led by Maj. Gen. Swake Pinsinchai said on Sunday that his visit was aimed at ensuring Indonesia's readiness to accept the endangered primates, as well as to strengthen cooperation to end the trade in protected animals.

"I will present reports of my visit here to the Thai authorities so as to speed up the repatriation process," Swake told a press conference here.

Speaking through an interpreter, he added the visit reflected his government's seriousness in bringing the species back to their natural habitat.

However, there was no specific date for the return of the primates or the number of orangutans in question.

Orangutan are an endangered primate living in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

After a year-long investigation it was found that 150 orangutan were in the hands of Bangkok Safari World, and were being ill-treated as show attractions.

Swake said most orangutans were illegally acquired with the backing of certain high-ranking officials in Thailand, and were put on display for boxing competitions as well as other entertainment purposes.

The ill-treatment of the primates caused a uproar among Indonesian wildlife activists, who demanded the return of the animals to their original habitat.

Story here.

School science debate has evolved

The long-simmering battle over how evolution is taught in high school biology is boiling again.
Schools in Cobb County, Ga., outside Atlanta, placed this sticker in science textbooks.

Nearly 80 years after the famous "Monkey Trial," in which Tennessee teacher John Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution in violation of state law, 24 states this year have seen efforts to change the way evolution is taught.

And because of a requirement in the federal No Child Left Behind law that states must review science standards over the next two years, the debate is likely to intensify. That requirement provides an opportunity for critics of evolution to help reshape how it is taught in public schools.
The battlegrounds include small school districts as well as state school boards that write policy for every district in the state. Among them:

• In western Wisconsin, the small Grantsburg School District now requires that alternative theories of evolution be taught.

• In Ohio, the state school board passed a measure that encourages the teaching of evolution and "intelligent design," a hypothesis that says life is so complex that some intelligent force was responsible.

• In Kansas, the defeat this month of a "pro-science" incumbent on the state school board by a candidate who had questioned evolution has shifted the balance of power on the 10-member board and ensures that the issue will come up again. The board ended the teaching of evolution in 1999, then reversed that decision after a subsequent election. It has been deadlocked since.
Debates over religion, science and natural phenomena are not limited to schools and evolution. The bookstore at Grand Canyon National Park sells Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a Colorado River guide. The book says the Grand Canyon was created during Noah's flood, not through millennia of erosion by the Colorado River.

Story here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fossil Ape May Be Ancestor of All Apes

In Spain scientists have discovered 13-million-year-old fossils of new species of ape. The species may have been the last common ancestor of humans and all great apes living today.

The great apes—which later gave rise to humans and which now include orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas—are thought to have diverged from the lesser apes about 11 to 16 million years ago. Today's lesser apes include the gibbons.

The new species was christened Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, after the village, Els Hostalets de Pierola, and region, Catalonia, where it was found. Like great apes and humans, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, had a stiff lower spine and other special adaptations for climbing trees.

Story here.

Animal Aid's Mad Science Awards handed out to Cambridge University's Department of Experimental Psychology

ANIMAL rights protesters said they achieved their aim when they handed out "Mad Science Awards" to people who carry out scientific research on animals.

Going ape: The Animal Aid protesters Five members of Animal Aid, dressed as boggle-eyed blood-covered "scientists" and a giant caged "monkey", on Wednesday handed out their annual Mad Science Awards to research staff at Cambridge University's Department of Experimental Psychology, who they claim deliberately inflict severe brain damage on primates.

Specially-prepared certificates were taken to the university as members of Animal Aid aimed to show the public the significance of the occasion.

Andre Menache, a veterinary surgeon and scientific consultant to Animal Aid, said: "It went very well. We achieved our aim and handed the certificates to the security people to give to 16 researchers who have performed really grotesque scientific research. Two of them got the main awards for mutilating the brains of monkeys. They say this research is to improve treatment of people with strokes but not one of the treatments has had any bearing on people."

Story here. Mad Science Awards here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Adopt an ex-laboratory monkey!

An animal rights group is offering monkey-lovers the chance to adopt 50 macaques recently released from a laboratory in Thailand.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection is selling custody rights to the animals for £25 each, although proud parents will not be able to bring their new pets home.

The monkeys will be cared for at a sanctuary outside Ranong, in the south-west Thai rain forest, where they were originally captured.

The organisation said it had persuaded Thai authorities to release the animals from a research lab. It declined to provide any details on the lab or the release.

Story here. Adoption here.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Monkey's immune system aids scientists to design a new type of male contraceptive.

They report that they injected nine male macaque monkeys with Eppin, a protein from the testes. Seven became infertile, and of these five became fertile again when the treatment stopped.

Researchers have been experimenting for years to find reliable male hormonal contraceptives. Some are in clinical trials. But so far the only reliable male choice has been the condom, or vasectomy, reports Guardian.

According to The State, male monkeys that developed a strong immune response to the eppin were still able to copulate but could not impregnate females, the researchers said.

"We don-t understand the exact mechanism yet, but we think the immunocontraception works by preventing the sperm from freeing itself from the seminal fluid to make its way to the uterus and oviducts to fertilize the egg," O-Rand said.

In the experiments, carried out in India, seven of the nine males developed high antibody levels. Five of the seven recovered fertility once the immunization ended.

Story here.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Monkey scares village by allegedly herding cattle!

Malelane - Superstitious villagers are starting to accuse each other of witchcraft after a woman claimed she saw a monkey herd cattle out her yard.

"I was going to work just before dawn and saw the monkey under a tree with the cattle," said Maggy Lubisi of Sibukeng village in Nkomazi, south of Malelane in Mpumalanga.

"The gate to my yard was wide open, even though I had locked it the night before," she said.

When she called neighbours for help, the monkey disappeared into nearby bushes.

Lubisi claims the monkey has since returned to her house several times and plays on her roof between 02:00 and dawn.

"I've seen monkeys and this one's behaviour is questionable and very strange," she said.

Her community believes the monkey is a witch's relative, who is trying to find the witch.

Story here

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mulund colony haunted by a monkey!

The bitten ear of Shailesh Dawra
Six months ago, it was leopards. Now, residents of Mulund Colony, Shastrinagar, are being haunted by a monkey.

On Sunday, the monkey attacked two children in the area and has already bitten more than 10 people, since he was first spotted a week ago.

The irate residents of the area, which is adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, said that in spite of repeated calls made to forest officials, there was no action being taken.

“When we called up the Thane forest department they gave us the phone number of a monkey-catcher who charges Rs 2,000,” says Charulata Jadhav(38) a resident of the colony. “Why should we be responsible? It’s the duty of forest officials to capture the monkey!” she adds.

Forest department officials say they are helpless. “We got a call on Monday morning. We are already understaffed and there is no vehicle to go on the spot,” said an official from the Thane forest department.

Story here

Edinburgh becomes heart of monkey study business.

Edinburgh Zoo is to become a laboratory for Scottish scientists studying primates, it has been announced.

The "Living Links to Human Evolution" centre will allow a group of primatologists from the universities of St Andrews, Stirling, Edinburgh and Abertay to focus on more detailed aspects of behaviour closer to home, it was announced yesterday.

The scientists, already internationally renowned for their studies of wild monkeys and apes, will be able to study topics such as tool use, communication, social relationships and intelligence at the £1.6m UK centre of excellence into primate research funded by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (Shefc).

A pair of large enclosures will each be home to two species of monkeys, recreating the mixed-species communities that are natural in the wild.

Professor Andrew Whiten, of St Andrews University, said the zoo staff would provide expert animal care while researchers concentrated on ensuring the highest quality science. "We also think the primates themselves will benefit from the joining together of these two different kinds of expertise. Members of the Scottish primate research group have great experience of what life is like for primates in the wild, and our aim here is to recreate those conditions as far as possible. Then we can go on to answer questions raised by what we have seen in the forest, but are difficult to answer there," he said.

Story here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

300 children bitten by 'blood sucking' monkeys!

Once the blood thirsty monkeys take over the world it should look something like this!
Monkeys lurking at an ancient Hindu temple in India's northeast have attacked up to 300 children over three weeks, temple officials said Tuesday.

"They hide in trees and swoop on unsuspecting children loitering about in the temple premises or walking by, clawing them and even sucking a bit of blood," Bani Kumar Sharma, a priest at the Kamakhya temple in Assam state, told The Associated Press. The temple, one of the most famous in India, is located in Gauhati, Assam's capital.

"I was returning home from school when a monkey suddenly pounced on me, scratched my head and hand and pushed me to the ground," said Jolly Sharma, a 6-year-old girl.

At least 2,000 rhesus monkeys roam in and around the temple, but none had shown aggressive behavior in the past, the priest said.

Story here.

Twin marmosets named for Bush, Kerry!

Examples of marmoset monkeys with their mother, not actually the new bush/kerry marmosets

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Two baby marmosets, who made their debut at the Blank Park Zoo on Monday, have been named George and John -- for President George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry.
"We wanted to find a unique way to commemorate the times the presidential candidates monkeyed around in Iowa," quipped Terry Rich, chief executive officer at the zoo."This has been a wild campaign," he added.
The tiny monkeys, born eight weeks ago, are twins -- not that uncommon in marmosets, Rich said. They were kept under close watch until deemed healthy enough to put on exhibit -- which just happened to fall on the eve of Tuesday's election.
Native to Brazil, marmosets eat fruit, leaves, seeds and insects. They live to be 15 to 20 years old, and have sent pads to mark their territory."They stay in lifelong family groups," he said. "They're very family oriented."The Weid marmoset is identified by the white tufts on its ears, Rich said. When fully grown, each of the marmosets will about a foot long -- and their tails will be as long as their bodies."
I think one of them smiled, which probably indicates they've got a little political streak in them," he said.
Story here.