Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bigfoot -- Imminent Capture Anticipated

what me worry?

"The elusive creature known as Bigfoot may not be elusive for very much longer," according to C. Thomas Biscardi, a Bigfoot explorer and founder of the Great American Bigfoot Research Organization.

In the next few days, Biscardi will begin an investigation into a cavernous area near Happy Camp, California, in which he expects to find evidence of Bigfoot inhabitation and hopefully be able to contain and capture a live creature.

This particular location has been chosen based on two very recent sightings from very credible witnesses. When Biscardi was contacted to follow up on these sightings, his investigation led to finding footprints indicative of a large primate. An account of this investigation is available in an article by Linda Martin datelined June 27, 2005 in the Happy Camp News at

Since the public is skeptical of any Bigfoot sightings, Biscardi has invited news organizations and a team of documentary filmmakers from Sweden to join him on this investigation. Joining him will be Megan Landers, a reporter from The Medford News, Medford, Oregon, and filmmakers from Sweden, led by producer, David Sayer. The filmmakers are currently doing a movie about Bigfoot.

In the event that Biscardi and his team will be able to contain and capture a creature, further scientific study is slated to be coordinated under the supervision of Dr. George W. Gill, Ph.D., a professor of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming.

Story here.

Infant abuse linked to early experience, not genetics

Intergenerational transmission of infant abuse is more likely caused by early experience than genetic inheritance, new University of Chicago research on macaque monkeys shows.

"Maternal abuse of offspring in macaque monkeys shares some similarities with child maltreatment in humans, including its transmission across generations," said Dario Maestripieri, Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.

"The mechanisms underlying the intergenerational transmission of abuse are not well understood," said Maestripieri, who is also an affiliate scientist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University. " Ours is the first study to show that rhesus monkey females who are abused by their mothers in infancy tend to become abusive mothers themselves, and the first to provide experimental evidence that the intergenerational transmission of abuse is the result of early experience and not genetic inheritance," he said.

Maestripieri reports his findings in an article, "Early Experience Affects the Intergenerational Transmission of Infant Abuse in Rhesus Monkeys," published in the online Early Edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA the week of June 27-July 1.

Among macaque monkeys, most of the abuse occurs in the first six months of an infant's life, and most of that abuse occurs during the first month. The abuse consists of such behavior as biting, dragging or hitting.

Maestripieri and his research team cross-fostered female infants between abusive and non-abusive mothers and followed these infants, along with others who were reared by their biological mothers until they gave birth.

Nine of the 16 females who were abused in infancy by their biological or foster mothers were abusive toward their own offspring, while none of the 15 females reared by non-abusive mothers were abusive toward their offspring.

In particular, the researchers found that none of the offspring who were born to abusive mothers but raised by non-abusive foster mothers developed abusive parenting patterns, suggesting that genetic factors do not play a primary role in the intergenerational transmission of abuse.

Story here.

Gorilla attack in Rwanda

Armed insurgents infiltrated the Volcanoes National Park, which straddles Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, this week, killing four gorillas and selling the bodies for meat in a nearby market.

The killings overshadowed this year’s gorilla-naming ceremony — welcoming 31 baby gorillas into the world — held yesterday in Rwanda in the presence of President Paul Kagame.

Rosette Rugamba, of the Rwandan Tourist Board, hastened to reassure visitors that gorillas and tourists on her side of the border were safe. “Experienced National Park guards ensure the security of our gorillas night and day,” she said. “That continues to be our top priority.”

There are just 650 mountain gorillas left — a third of which live in the Volcanoes National Park.

Story here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lassa fever vaccine succeeds in Monkey test

Lassa virus can cause deafness and fecal explosions

A vaccine against Lassa fever has protected monkeys in experiment from infection with lethal doses of Lassa virus, US and Canadian scientists reported on Monday.

The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine, could eventually lead to development of a vaccine for human use, the researchers said.

The Lassa fever, transmitted to humans from rodents that carry the virus, is common in parts of West Africa where it causes a significant amount of death and disability among the population.

Recently, some travelers died of hemorrhagic fever in the US and Europe after being infected with this virus in West Africa. The reported cases aroused panic, but there is no preventive measure available currently to halt the spread of Lassa fever other than rodent control in affected areas.

In this new research, lead investigators Thomas Geisbert of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases ( USAMRIID)and Heinz Feldmann and Steven Jones of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) developed the vaccine using a non- pathogenic form of vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV, as a carrier.

The researchers inserted genetic material from the Lassa virus, which express the Lassa viral glycoprotein. The team then immunized four rhesus macaques with a single dose of the Lassa vaccine, while two monkeys received only the VSV "carrier" virus.

Four weeks later, all six animals were experimentally infected with a lethal dose of Lassa virus. The four vaccinated monkeys survived with no signs of clinical illness, while the two control animals died.

Story here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Rwandans Name 30 Rare Gorilla Babies

Kampanga, a female adult mountain gorilla, with her 6 month old baby Thursday, June 23,who she has already named 'eats his own poop'.

Rwanda's president joined villagers and conservation workers on the edges this national park Saturday to name 30 rare mountain gorilla babies, in what the country hopes will be an annual ceremony for one of its biggest tourist attractions.

Among those named Saturday were the only recorded set of twins to survive to the age of 1.

Conservation workers and researchers traditionally name primates they track after identifying each one based on the patterns formed by wrinkles on their faces.

But on Saturday, members of the public were invited to propose names for the gorillas. More than 20,000 visit the central African nation each year, and the gorillas are the main draw.

President Paul Kagame and his wife named the twins Byishimo, meaning happiness, and Impano, or gift. They were born in May 2004.

Children from villages around the park proposed several names for each of the mountain gorilla infants, and an official chose one.

The names included Kunga, or peacemaker; Izuba, or sun; Isoni, or shy; Ubufatanye, or cooperation; Kubana, or living together; Icyerekezo, or vision; Inkurwa, or loved; and Itsinzi or victory.

"The naming ceremony reflects our culture. We do it in families in Rwanda when we name new babies," said Fidelle Ruzigandekwa, head of the Rwanda Wildlife Agency.

Story here.

Blaine Woman Devastated By Pet Monkey Confiscation


His owner says he's a pet, but the City of Minneapolis says he's a pest.

Tracy Quinn of Blaine, Minn. left the family's pet Capuchin monkey, Muki, with a pet-sitter in Minneapolis while her family went on vacation.

Muki is properly registered with federal and state authorities, Quinn said, but she didn't realize she needed a special permit in order to bring him within Minneapolis city limits.

Quinn just learned that the hard way.

The pet-sitter brought Muki to a park on Friday, where he interacted with some kids and gave one a kiss.

Someone reported the incident to Minneapolis Animal Control, and Muki was confiscated and taken to a shelter in North Minneapolis.

"I don't know why they took him," Quinn said tearfully Saturday. "I take him everywhere I go. He goes in stores, anywhere, as long as he's leashed and contained."

However, it's unlawful to bring an exotic animal into Minneapolis without first clearing it with Animal Control.

Story here.

Monkey Bites Clerk, Quarantined

The animal bit store clerk Ashley Rodgers in Morehead.

The incident happened at the Viking BP Mart.

Rodgers says she was waiting on a customer at the drive thru who had a monkey in the car.

When she handed the person a drink, she says the monkey bit her. Store video shows Boo Boo walking up the woman's arm to grab a soft drink.

Rodger had her hand checked by a doctor. She says she's on antibiotics to guard against infection.

The monkey's caretaker, Jamie Dehart, has agreed to pay Rodger's medical bill.

Meanwhile, Boo Boo is in monkey quarantine at the primate rescue center in Nicholasville.

Story here.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Gorilla born at Gladys Porter Zoo

mom, your ankles smell funny.

Wandering around the small island inside the Gladys Porter Zoo, a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla carries a very precious, and very private, bundle of joy.

Although other gorillas and zoo officials are curious to the see the newborn, Martha has kept the infant to herself since its birth last Friday.

“They’re doing just fine,” said Jerry Stones, general curator at the zoo.

The baby gorilla, the second born at the zoo since last year, was born just after 1:30 p.m. on June 17, but zoo officials have yet to get close enough to identify its gender.

Twelve gorillas are at the zoo, its highest mark since toxic fumes killed four of the dozen gorillas in January 2002.

Story here.

Male monkey menace robs Kalna of peace

A monkey deserted by it’s herd has been creating havoc in Purbasthali, about 45 km from here for the past fortnight. It has injured as many as 60 people including schoolteachers and students, beggars, railway staffs and four policemen. According to government reports the health services authorities have recorded 39 cases of monkey bites till now. The Kalna SDO has sought the forest department’s assistance to help ending the menace in the area.

The monkey herd had struck the locations adjacent to the Purbasthali Police Station complex about one and half months ago. The herd, according to the policemen: “Had been quite calm.” But according to the officials, “The herd one day deserted a male and vanished from the area. The male is still roaming in the area and has been on the rampage ever since.” Initially locals expected the animal would leave the place within a day or two. But, according to Mr Akhil Das, secretary, Purbasthali market committee: “The male monkey became reckless after it was deserted. It started biting the pedestrians and shop owners in the market.” He complained: “The market committee had sought assistance from the administration and police but it has remained indifferent.”

Story here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ancient bone not from Napoleonic monkey spy

The bone was found on a beach near Hartlepool along with some frog legs.

Hopes of unravelling the mystery of the legendary Hartlepool monkey - said to have been hanged as a Napoleonic spy - have been scuppered by science.
Earlier this month archaeologists hoped a leg bone found in the sea close to the town could have been from a monkey.

Folklore says a French ship was wrecked off Hartlepool in the Napoleonic Wars. A monkey found in the water was hanged by fishermen fearing it was a spy.

However, tests show the bone to be from a prehistoric deer.

The mystery was solved by experts from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Durham and Tees Archaeology.

Peter Rowe, of Tees Archaeology, said: "We could tell straight away that the bone was ancient. It has a tell-tale black surface which suggests that it has come from a prehistoric peat bed.

Story here.

Masked Men Steal Monkey, Miami Police Say

Miami-Dade County police are looking for three home invasion robbers who they said stole a monkey this morning.

The masked men also got away with money and jewelry from a home at 15460 S.W. 216th Street.

Police think the monkey bit one of the robbers, so they have issued an alert to area hospitals, asking them to be on the lookout for anyone coming in with an unusual bite.

Story here.

Baboon goes ape in Brooklyn, South Africa

A baboon on the loose got up to some serious monkey business in leafy Brooklyn yesterday, creating a mixture of bemusement and disbelief.

Dinah Burke, whose home is at the corner of Nicholson and Rupert streets, said she could not believe her eyes when she saw the animal jumping off the wall into her garden.

"I was sitting in my bedroom and I saw the baboon. It was a big one
and it ran around the garden before jumping over the wall on to my
neighbour's property. I immediately ran and called my mother.

"But it was already too late. We went outside and a number of road
construction workers said they had seen it. It was apparently running fast and jumping over a number of garden walls," said Dinah.

Her mother, Simone, said she was shocked, but also concerned about the safety of the animal. Burke said: "It is worrying to think where it could be now. It may be in the Menlyn or Groenkloof areas or the other surrounding suburbs, but judging from my daughter's story, the poor animal is scared and we are just afraid of what might
happen to it, if it is not captured and put in a place of safety."

Burke said she was also concerned at the increasing prevalence of wild animals in the city. She recalled a Pretoria News report less than two months ago about a lynx captured in the eastern suburbs.

Story here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Johannesburg monkey escapes

The Johannesburg Zoo's "Zoo to You" programme came to the people, but not the way zookeepers intended.

For more than two hours, Johannesburg's Jan Smuts Avenue was closed to traffic to allow emergency services to capture a monkey that had escaped from the zoo on Tuesday.

A zookeeper noticed one of their seven mona monkeys was missing from the cage when he made his daily check.

On further inspection, zoo staff spotted the German-born monkey lurking just outside its cage, tried to catch it but it proved much too elusive for them.

After leading the keepers a merry dance around the zoo, the monkey scaled a perimeter wall and nipped over Jan Smuts Avenue, disappearing up a tree in Parkview.

Story here.

DRC soldiers 'killing gorillas'

A gorilla eats leaves at the Virunga national park in the Democratic Republique of Congo, not for long though.

Three government soldiers have been jailed for allegedly killing four endangered lowland gorillas in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a United States (US) conservation group said on Wednesday.

The Atlanta-based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International said the troops were detained after offering to sell meat from the dead gorillas to villagers near the Bakumbule Community Primate Reserve (Recopriba) earlier this month.

"According to eye-witness reports from people who work with us they were killed by members of the military," said Patrick Mehlman, the fund's Kigali-based vice-president of Africa programmes.

"Two foot-soldiers and one lieutenant have been arrested and put into military prison," he said.

The killing of the Grauer's gorillas took place on June 7 but news of it filtered out only slowly due to the remoteness of the region where the reserve is located in the DRC's Walikale Territory, he said.

The fund said in a statement residents of Pinga village had turned down the soldiers' offer of the bushmeat and several had reported the incident to local authorities, prompting the arrests.

Story here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Primate-specific microRNAs found


Israeli scientists have identified what may be the first microRNAs specific to primates, in research published online June 19 in Nature Genetics. They suggest these new microRNAs might mean that hundreds remain to be found in the human genome.

"Finding a group of genes that is specific to primates is very important for understanding our evolution, and bears significant diagnostic and therapeutic potential," lead researcher Isaac Bentwich, at Rosetta Genomics in Rehovot, told The Scientist.

MicroRNAs are single-stranded RNAs roughly 22 nucleotides long that regulate gene expression by binding to target gene mRNAs. The DNA sequence that codes for a microRNA gene includes the microRNA sequence and a nearby complementary sequence that, when transcribed, form a double-stranded RNA hairpin loop.

Past studies have identified 222 human microRNAs, of which scientists had confirmed the sequences of only 86 in humans. To uncover more, Bentwich and colleagues computationally folded the entire human genome into hairpins 55 nucleotides or longer. Of 11 million potential hairpins, 434,239 appeared to be viable microRNA candidates.

"Conventional approaches start with genome comparisons, to identify sequences important enough to be conserved across species. This new approach doesn't start with genome alignments. This allows them to find microRNAs not conserved beyond primates," Victor Ambros of Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., who did not participate in this study, told The Scientist.

Of the initial candidates, Bentwich and colleagues selected a representative sample of 5,300 as a manageable amount for high-throughput microarray experiments in placenta, testis, thymus, brain and prostate—revealing 886 that were expressed. Using 359 of these for cloning and sequencing, the researchers confirmed 89 new microRNAs.

"Given the thousands of predictions they generate, of which many are false positives, the high-throughput validation procedure they have developed is essential," Chris Burge at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, who did not participate in this study, told The Scientist.

Extrapolating from their findings, Bentwich and colleagues estimate the human genome contains at least 800 microRNAs. The first estimate of human microRNA number from the labs of Burge and David Bartel of the Whitehead Institute and MIT in 2003 was no more than 255, but since then they and others have acknowledged that figure as low.

Fifty-three of the new microRNAs are located in two large clusters apparently unique to primates, unlike all other known human microRNA clusters, which are found in all mammals. One cluster, located on chromosome 19 and expressed only in placenta, is the largest ever reported and comprises 54 new microRNAs. The second cluster is located on the X chromosome and includes 10 microRNAs expressed only in testis.

Story here.

Bidders go ape for chimpanzee art

Congo painted the pictures at the age of three, that's 24 in chimp years, not so impressive is it?
Three works by Congo were auctioned together, but who could tell them apart?

Three abstract paintings by a chimpanzee named Congo have been sold for £12,000 - after being given a price tag of just £800.

The animal art, painted when the chimp was three, went under the hammer on Tuesday at auction house Bonhams in central London.

Congo's work was included in a 1957 chimp art exhibition curated by animal behaviourist Desmond Morris.

The three works were bought by US modern art enthusiast Howard Hong.

Bonhams said there had been a "fantastic" amount of interest in the paintings, which had been sold as one lot.

The chimp art was part of an exhibition at London's ICA put on by animal expert and painter Morris.

Morris, author of The Naked Ape, had attempted to understand "chimpanzees' ability to create order and symmetry as well as to explore, at a more primeval level, the impetus behind our own desires for artistic creativity," auction house Bonhams said.

His encouragement led to Congo producing about 400 drawings and paintings in the late 1950s which were received by the art world with a mixture of scorn and scepticism.

Story here.

Monkey Escapes San Diego Zoo Enclosure

Takala, the golden-bellied mangabey, was back in the San Diego Zoo's Monkey Trains and Forest Tales exhibit Sunday after escaping for about an hour.

The young male monkey apparently got out through a hole in some overhead netting and was spotted in a ficus tree about 5:45 p.m. Saturday, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

"When we build a natural habitat, animals behave naturally. They sometimes surprise us and do things we don't expect them to do," Christina Simmons of the zoo told the newspaper.

Takala eventually climbed down, and zookeepers found him at one of the doors to the exhibit, Simmons said. When zookeepers opened the door, the monkey went inside.

The exhibit will be closed Sunday so zookeepers can repair the netting.

Story here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Orang-utans killed for illegal trade

Behind bars – one of 559 orang-utans found on sale in Indonesian bird markets.

Around 1000 orang-utans are being killed each year so that their babies can be traded as pets, leaving the primate species on the brink of survival, the WWF warns in a new report.

The orang-utan - meaning “man of the forest” in Malay - is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. They are already under severe threat due to intensive logging of their habitat - over 90% of the species were wiped out during the last century.

Orang-utans are now the most expensive primates for sale in Indonesian markets - the babies are kept as household status symbols or traded for use in the entertainment industry. Once they reach adulthood, many are killed or abandoned, says the report.

It has been illegal to hunt or trade in orang-utans since 1931, but the study by WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, discovered that fewer than 10% of people found in illegal possession of the apes were prosecuted.

Christian Thompson, species officer for WWF, called on the Indonesian judiciary and police to enforce the existing laws to protect the remaining 40,000 to 55,000 orang-utans. “The solutions are clear - we need better enforcement of the law to protect orang-utans and gibbons from being captured and traded illegally. Bird markets need to be monitored stringently, and a wide-scale education campaign needs to be launched in Indonesia to raise awareness about this appalling trade,” he says.

Story here.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Endangered rhesus monkey rescued from Abu Dhabi pet shop

C'mon, give the monkey a break.

An endangered rhesus monkey was rescued from a pet shop within hours of a tip-off from a teacher.

A statement from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) Management Authority in the UAE said: "Only two hours after receiving a tip-off from a teacher from one of the emirate's private schools, staff from the UAE Cites Management Authority at the Federal Environment Agency (FEA) raided a pet shop in Al Ain and confiscated a rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) which was being sold illegally and without the proper documentation.

"Interestingly, these species of monkeys were the first primates to be rocketed into space, which makes them extra special. The Cites in the UAE encourages members of the public to alert the authorities if they suspect any pet shop is trading in species in an illegal manner."

The statement added: "After the specimen was confiscated, pet shop attendants were handed a letter declaring they had violated Article No. 27 of Federal Law No. 11 ( 2002) on Regulating and Controlling the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Story here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Logging Changed Ecological Balance For Monkeys, Damaged Health

Black-and-white colobus (Colobus

Twenty-eight years after intense selective logging stopped in the region now known as Uganda's Kibale National Park, the red-tailed guenon (Cercophithecus ascanius) is a primate still in decline. The logging practice, scientists report in a new study, changed the ecological balance for these monkeys, leading to behavioral changes and opening the door for multiple parasitic infections.

The researchers focused on three primate species, collecting 1,076 fecal samples from the heavily logged area and from an undisturbed, nearby forest from August 1997 to August 2002 as part of a longitudinal study of logging's impact. The samples came from red-tailed guenon, red colobus (Piliocolobus tephrosceles) and black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza) and were analyzed for the eggs and larvae of worms and protozoan cysts.

The study appears online ahead of publication in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

While the three primate species were subject to a higher risk of infections, only the guenons (pronounced GWINN-ins) suffered from an increased number of parasites, including three parasites not found in undisturbed forest. In the selective-logging area, more than 50 percent of the trees, many of them the food sources for the mostly fruit-eating guenons, had been removed.

"We saw dramatic changes in the prevalence of infection and in the frequency of multiple infections in these logged areas," said lead researcher Thomas R. Gillespie, a postdoctoral fellow in veterinary pathobiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "When you see infection characteristics like these, they can be associated with very detrimental effects on the host."

Story here.

Panel recommends ban on exotic pets

Monkeys and other wild animals would be added to the list of pets banned in Kentucky under a proposal approved by a legislative panel on Tuesday.

People who now own the animals could keep them as pets. However, pet owners would not be allowed to obtain new ones or breed them under the proposed regulation brought by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The proposed ban would not apply to people who require their animals for medical reasons.

"They just don't belong in living rooms, basements and back yards," said April Truitt, who operates the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville. "They don't belong."

The General Assembly's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee approved the proposal, after nearly two hours of heated debate - most of which focused on the proposed ban of primate pets.

Elephants, lions and bears were among the list of exotic animals that would also be banned as pets. Circuses and zoos would not be affected.

Story here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Victim Of Chimp Mauling Out Of Coma

St. James Davis is taken away on a stretcher after being a wuss mauled by chimpanzees at the Animal Haven Ranch.

A California man mauled by two chimpanzees in March has been brought out of his medically induced coma.

His attorney said 62-year-old Saint James Davis has begun his slow recovery. Davis was attacked by two chimps while he and his wife were visiting their own pet chimp at a wildlife sanctuary near Bakersfield.

Davis was attacked while he and his wife LaDonna were visiting the Animal Haven Ranch outside Bakersfield to celebrate the 39 birthday of their pet monkey Moe.

While the couple was standing outside Moe's cage with a birthday cake, two other chimps escaped and attacked them. They chewed off most of Saint James Davis's face, tore off his foot and attacked his limbs and genitals.

Story here.

Monkey still running wild in Tokyo after 2 months

A monkey clings to an electric wire while showing off to apparently inept monkey catchers in Taito-ku, Tokyo, on June 8.

A wild monkey that abruptly appeared in Shibuya-ku in late April has since been roaming around downtown Tokyo to the frustration of police officers, metropolitan government officials said.

The government of Kita-ku, where the monkey appeared, installed a cage with food in a bid to trap the animal, but it was a raccoon dog that was caught.

Experts and local government officials have urged residents not to approach the animal.

"Don't chase the monkey or feed the animal," said Motoharu Ida, the chief monkey breeder at Ueno Zoo.

The Taito-ku government warned local residents not to approach the monkey if they spot the animal.

Three residents reported that they spotted a monkey in the Hiroo district of Shibuya-ku on April 30, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's public health section.

The monkey that three people reported having spotted is believed to be the same animal. The metropolitan government has received information that the monkey was seen in the busy Roppongi district of Minato-ku during the same period.

The monkey subsequently moved in a clockwise direction in the following month, traveling north from Shinjuku-ku to Bunkyo-ku and then to Kita-ku where it wandered around for another month. It then moved to Arakawa-ku early this month and then to Taito-ku.

Story here.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Animal rights group reports USF for neglect

An animal rights group filed a complaint Tuesday, claiming that USF neglected and mistreated research monkeys, resulting in the deaths of five monkeys.

The complaint, lodged with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was made by Stop Animal Exploitation Now, or SAEN, which claimed it received a report from an anonymous source on May 30 stating that five primates used in diabetic research by the Department of Internal Medicine died in a two-week period. Officials from health sciences denied mistreating the animals but confirmed that five animals had died since May from various chronic conditions.

SAEN is asking the USDA to conduct an official investigation. The group also filed a request with USF's Division of Comparative Medicine on Tuesday asking for all primate health care records, including post-mortem paperwork. The division oversees the care of research animals at USF.

"If what we have been told is true, and I can only assume it is, then there is a problem at the University of South Florida," said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN. "To have five primates die in a period of a couple of weeks, reportedly due to neglect, is a very serious allegation, and we think that it is something that should be looked into immediately."

Story here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Skunk Ape Festival set for June 11th

come get some.

The third annual Skunk Ape Festival, hosted by Dave Shealy, will be on June 11, 2005 from noon to 9 PM at Trail Lakes Campground.

Kimberly Lamp will be co-host and entertainer.

Many side events will follow throughout the day.

The elephant trainer from Lion Country Safari will be available to talk with anyone interested.

The Ms. Skunk Ape Contest will be held at the festival. It is judged solely on personality and Skunk Ape knowledge. Any female over 18 can enter. Previous winners were 1st year, Michelle, a Marine Biologist and 2nd year, Misty Haney.

The new film "The Ochopee Skunk Ape" will be viewed on 3 separate occasions throughout the day in the Campgrounds Rec Hall.

The 1st Skunk Ape festival was held by Bill Mitchell, owner of what is now the Oasis Visitors Center in the Big Cypress Preserve. The last festival was held 25 years ago. Then Dave Shealy decided to carry on the tradition, making this an annual event. There will be a special dedication to Tommy & Danny Mitchell, son's of the late Bill Mitchell.

"Do I think there will be a live sighting?...Of course, there is always that possibility," stated Dave Shealy.

Surprised guests are expected.

Admission is $10.00 per person. Campsites available.

Bring a cooler, lawn chair, bug spray & umbrella. Super Dogs & Bubba Cola also available.

Story here.

Public review on monkeys as pets, IFAW demands ban

Pets may suffer distress similar in nature to humans who have to wear diapers

The public are to be consulted on keeping monkeys and apes as pets as part of a review of government policy.

Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight is due to announce the consultation as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) condemned keeping such pets.

An IFAW report said primates made unsuitable pets and could suffer distress similar in nature to humans.

Consultation will consider how to use European law regulating the keeping of primates and other endangered species.

The European regulations only relate to conservation though, and cannot be used to address animal health or welfare issues.

But Mr Knight will say that the proposed Animal Welfare Bill, outlined in the Queen's Speech, will "set the framework for the law governing pets for many years to come".

He will say: "The extended duty to promote animal welfare will mean all domestic or captive animals must be cared for in accordance with best animal management practices."

Story here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cops hunt bizarre Catgarookey

Thank you to the Sun, for this brilliant photoshopping experience.

A MYSTERY animal, said to be a cross between a cat, kangaroo and monkey, is being hunted by cops.

The bizarre beast — dubbed the Catgarookey — has been spotted three times roaming a city’s streets at night.

The first sighting was by two policemen who saw the creature run out in front of their car in Salisbury, Wilts.

They said it was 2ft high, with a long ringed tail and “the gait of a monkey”.

The next night Nicki Lomas, 23, reported seeing a strange animal just a mile away. She described it as “cat-like” with a yellow and black tail with a white tip.

Retired pilot Raymond Clark, 79, then spotted the beast disappearing into bushes in the Laverstock area of Salisbury.

He said it had a sloping back like a kangaroo and believed it could be a coati-mundi — a racoon-like animal from Central America.

Wiltshire Police said the animal was likely to be an unusual pet on the run and they did not believe it was dangerous.

They are hoping someone will take a picture of the creature so they can solve the mystery.

Story here.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Cheeky monkey returns home

A mischievous monkey who ran away from his home at Belfast Zoo after he was scolded by his dad is today recovering from his week-long adventure.

However, the young colobus monkey will not be returned to his enclosure at the zoo and members of staff are now turning their attention to locating a new home for the animal.

It is believed that relations between the youngster and his father will remain sour and the decision has been made to house him separately until an alternative home can be found at another zoo in the UK.

Acting manager at the zoo, Mark Challis, said the past week has been extremely tense for everyone involved in the search and staff are elated that the animal has been returned to the zoo "safe and sound".

The four-year-old monkey was captured at about 1pm yesterday afternoon after members of the public and staff saw him sitting on a picnic bench next to the giraffe paddock.

Mr Challis said: "He really is a cheeky monkey - he was spotted sitting around near the giraffes and we raced up there and managed to get a dart into him.

Story here.

Monkeys understand numbers across senses


Rhesus monkeys possess a natural ability to match the number of voices they hear to the number of individuals they expect to see vocalizing, new research concludes. The results indicate that abstract representation of numbers is possible in the absence of language.

Writing in the June 7 Current Biology, Elizabeth Brannon of Duke University and her colleagues describe their experiment. The researchers played the monkeys "coo" calls made by either two or three unfamiliar conspecifics. They then let the monkeys watch their choice of video images showing either two or three animals. The vast majority of the monkeys selected video images that corresponded to the number of individuals heard on the audio sample. Each monkey was tested only once and did not receive a reward. This allowed the team to observe the animal's spontaneous behavior, as opposed to skills learned over the course of evaluation.

Brannon notes that in the wild, a monkey could conceivably hear various animals calling but not see them. "In a territorial dispute, you could imagine that an animal would want to know, 'Well, how many animals are really about to encroach on our territory?'"

"The results we obtained provide evidence that monkeys spontaneously detect a correspondence in number between two different sensory modalities, and this tells us that language is not necessary to represent number abstractly," Brannon comments. "When we humans apply the word 'three' to sounds or visual images, we're using language to link these different sets from different modalities. And the question has been whether an animal without that kind of language based representation can still notice or represent these commonalities."

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Hong Kong warns 'stop touching your monkey'

Hong Kong on Monday warned people not to approach or feed wild monkeys after Taiwan reported that some of the animals tested positive for a virus deadly to humans.

The strain -- CHV-1, also known as Monkey B virus -- is common and harmless to monkeys, but with humans it can cause acute encephalitis, which is often fatal.

The virus -- usually contracted by lab workers --is transmitted by monkey bites, scratches or contact with fluids and tissue.

Health officials in Taiwan's second-biggest city, Kaohsiung, have recently reported that wild monkeys have tested positive for the virus

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Animal rights museum, primate labs to be neighbors

A pair of animal rights groups are working to open a museum detailing primate suffering between two primate research labs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saying it will serve as a constant reminder of the horrors of animal research.

The Primate Freedom Project and the Madison-based Alliance for Animals announced Saturday they're close to closing a deal to buy a set of sheds between UW-Madison's National Primate Research Center and primate psychology lab. The sheds currently belong to Budget Bicycles, which uses them to store inventory, UW-Madison officials said.

About 60 people, many with cameras and camcorders, gathered in the street in front of the main shed to hear the announcement. Several held poster-sized photos of monkeys with their brains spilling out of their skulls. One woman held a stuffed ape.

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Covance sues PETA and spy who alleged monkey abuse

A New Jersey biomedical company accused by an animal welfare group of mistreating monkeys has sued the organization and the activist who infiltrated and secretly videotaped one of its research labs.

Princeton, N.J.-based Covance Co. accused the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and its infiltrator, Lisa Leitten, of committing fraud, conspiring to harm its business and violating a nondisclosure agreement Leitten signed when she began her 11-month stint as a primate technician at Covance's Vienna, Va., lab in April 2004.

"This type of malicious activity by PETA, in which it conspires with individuals to lie about their intentions, to videotape and potentially disrupt medical research, and then to launch vile disinformation campaigns against pharmaceutical research companies, has got to stop," said Covance lawyer James Lovett.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the company said it wants PETA and Leitten to hand over the original versions and all copies of her notes and videotapes, to stop publicizing the campaign on its Web sites, and to never again infiltrate Covance. The civil suit, filed in Fairfax County, Va., also seeks money for attorney fees and other, unspecified relief.

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Monkey vaccine a step toward Ebola prevention in humans

ebola for everybody!

Scientists trying to develop vaccines against Africa's deadly Marburg and Ebola viruses are reporting an important milestone, a new type of vaccine that prevents the diseases in monkeys. Successfully immunizing monkeys is an essential step toward producing vaccines for people.

Two new vaccines, one for Marburg and one for Ebola, were 100 percent effective in a study of 12 macaques published today in the journal Nature Medicine. Monkeys given just one shot of vaccine and later injected with a high dose of virus did not even get sick. Normally, all the animals would be expected to die.

The Marburg and Ebola viruses are closely related, and in both people and monkeys they cause hemorrhagic fevers that can be fatal within a week. There is no vaccine or treatment for either disease.

The new vaccines are still experimental, and will not be ready to be tested in people for at least two years. If human trials are successful, products might be ready for licensing five or six years from now, the researchers said. The vaccines would not be used for routine immunization, but would be given to health workers in high risk areas, virus researchers and people who had been exposed to the disease, such as relatives and other close contacts of sick patients.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

'My mate's a Primate' campaign begins

Toto, a circus chimp who was rescued by Animal Defenders International, and is now making pancakes at IHOP

Wildlife conservation group Animal Defenders International (ADI) has launched a new campaign in a drive to abolish the worldwide trades posing an increasing threat to the survival of monkeys and apes in the wild.

Aimed at raising public awareness of the dangers facing primates, the campaign, 'My mate's a Primate' was launched on June 2 at the Natural History Museum, London.

The new campaign calls for the abolition of the exploitation of primates in the entertainment industry, the use of primates for experimental research and bushmeat, as well as calling for tougher regulations to control the illegal smuggling of wildlife into Europe.

As chimpanzees are humans' closest relatives and share 98 per cent of human genes, Animal Defenders International are appealing to the public to support their demands for the increased protection of primates in order to avert the escalating crisis.

'My Mate's a Primate' has already received strong celebrity support from the likes of Jamiroquai star Jay Kay, television star and comedian Alexei Sayle and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mark Radcliffe.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hartlepool hanging monkey legend revived

monkey bone?

The famous legend of the Hartlepool monkey has been revived following the discovery of a mysterious bone on a beach.

A family looking for sea shells discovered what could be proof that a monkey was hanged in Hartlepool on suspicion of being a French spy.

The family made the shock discovery of what they thought was a human thigh bone on the beach at Seaton Carew. The dad, who declined to be identified, took the bone to the police station.

He said: "It just seemed to jump out at me. I thought it was old and looked human and I thought it may be something the police would want to look at."

A police surgeon confirmed fears that it could well be human and detectives were dispatched to the beach.

But the next day a pathologist at the University Hospital of North Tees confirmed the bone was definitely not human - and was more likely to be from a large monkey or gorilla.

The monkey-hanging legend is the most famous story connected with Hartlepool. During the Napoleonic Wars of 1793 to 1815, when there were fears of French spies and infiltrators, a ship was wrecked off the Hartlepool coast.

Hartlepool fishermen found among the wreckage the ship's pet monkey. Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman or a monkey looked like, they came to the conclusion that it was a French spy and it was then, according to the story, hanged on the beach.

Detective Sergeant Matt Mason, who became the first officer to investigate the monkey bone, has had wisecracks from colleagues.

A gorilla with one leg and a crutch has been drawn on the wall and comments such as "Which one's the monkey?" have been bandied around.

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Plan for monkey kennel dropped after ALF attacks

The owners of the PeonyLand nursery have dropped their proposed monkey kennel, but not because of intimidation by animal rights extremists.

Michael Hsu, who owns the business with his parents, Chao and Susan Hsu, said Wednesday an engineering review determined the proposed 23,800-square-foot kennel would have exceeded the percentage of the 47-acre Church Road property that can be built on under township regulations. He said reducing the size of the building was not considered.

"We are not capitulating because of the attacks," he said, referring to vandals who struck the greenhouses early Friday, destroying hundreds of valuable Chinese peonies and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Spray-painted threats mentioned the ALF, an apparent reference to the radical Animal Liberation Front.

The Hsu family will continue to process imported Chinese monkeys for laboratory use at an undisclosed location, Michael Hsu said. The Richland facility was intended to consolidate that operation and house up to 500 monkeys awaiting shipment to private and government laboratories.

"We are not new to the biomedical industry. We're proud to be in this industry, which is engaged in research to find cures for millions of Americans and improve their quality of life," he said.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Escaped monkey spotted near zoo

pre-jail break.

A monkey which escaped from Belfast Zoo after an "argument" with his dad has been spotted near his enclosure.

The Colobus monkey has been seen lurking in dense woodland about 300 metres from the zoo's perimeter.

The two-feet tall, black and white animal escaped on Sunday night but a man living near the zoo raised the alarm after seeing him in his garden.

Police joined staff in the hunt for the animal. Zoo manager Mark Challis said the sighting was good news.

"He was spotted yesterday afternoon by half a dozen visitors in the zoo," Mr Challis said.

"By the time we got there he had gone, but that's quite encouraging.

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Humans left Asia for Africa, then returned

Three newly discovered primate species that lived 30 million years ago suggest that our ancestors originated in Asia not Africa, challenging the well-known "Out of Africa" theory of human evolution.

But it could be something a bit more complicated, such as "Out of Asia into Africa and Back to Asia", since some researchers now think Asian primates journeyed to Africa, where they evolved into humans, who then travelled both in and out of Africa.

According to a study published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, numerous fossil teeth found in the Bugti Hills of central Pakistan were from three new anthropoids.

Anthropoids are the group scientists believe were our world-travelling animal cousins, the primates from which humans evolved.

"The Oligocene period [30 to 25 million years ago] in south Asia was so far totally undocumented palaeontologically," says lead author Dr Laurent Marivaux.

"So, it is not surprising that the discovery of fossilised animals from this period is totally new for science, and that they [may] change or modify substantially our previous view on mammal evolution, notably here, the evolutionary history of anthropoid primates.

"The evolutionary history of these old anthropoid lineages represents the beginnings of the evolutionary history of humans."

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28-foot inflatable gorilla stalks Louisiana's Republican congressman

Don't Monkey with my Social Security?

A 28-foot gorilla has begun stalking some of Louisiana's Republican congressman, starting Tuesday by menacing U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr.'s office in Lafayette's federal courthouse.

While it wasn't granting interviews, the bright red inflated gorilla did carry a sign stating its demand: "Don't monkey around with my Social Security. Say no to $131,458 benefit cut."

The mega-monkey spent part of the day camped out across from the courthouse at the behest of the Louisiana United to Protect Social Security group, which is calling for Boustany, R-Lafayette, to take a stand against the Republican thinking on reforming Social Security.

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Three Tulane primates still on the loose

Of the 53 pigtail macaques that went missing from the Tulane National Primate Center on May 9, three animals remain on the loose somewhere in the Covington area as of Friday.

The macaques, part of the breeding stock within the colony of 1,200 primates living in large corrals off Three Rivers Road, are small animals ranging in size from 15 to 20 pounds with a distinct curly tail like that of a pig. They are not impregnated or experimentally infected with any sicknesses.

Fran Simon, director of Tulane University Health Sciences public relations, said every animal is tagged and numbered.

"They know exactly which three are missing," she said. "These animals are very valuable."

No credible tips on animal sightings have been received for the past week, Simon said.

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NDA’s monkey menace turns cadet into inventor

If you thought the National Defence Academy can only churn out battlehardy officers, think again. The premier defence institute can also make scientists out of them. Even as the battle against the langurs continues, a cadet of the C/112 batch has, after the slowdown by the Forest Department’s ban on tranquillising and sterilizing the simians, invented a monkey dispeller device.

The device promises to scare away monkeys without harming them. Developed by Cadet C Pichipooraja, the device has a touch switch with an attached wire. This wire, which does not produce any electric shock, can be draped over trees or walls. Whenever a monkey touches the wire, a loud machine gun fire sound is activated. All this at a cost of just Rs 140!

‘‘We can shoo the monkeys away without harming them,’’ says a cadet who was demonstrating the device at the NDA Expo inaugurated by Rashmi Chopra, wife of Commandant Lt Gen A K Chopra, on Saturday. The three-day exhibition is part of the end-term activities by cadets of hobby clubs.

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