Friday, July 29, 2005

Tests reveal 'Sasquatch' hair came from bison

The mystery over the existence of "Bigfoot" will have to remain a mystery a little longer.

A hair sample that some claimed came from a sasquatch has turned out to be from a bison.

Dr. David Coltman, a wildlife geneticist from the University of Alberta who conducted tests on a hair sample found in the Yukon, announced to a news conference Thursday that the DNA match for a bison was 100 per cent.

"We are quite sure -- we are absolutely certain, in fact -- that this hair sample comes from a bison and not from a new species of primate," Coltman later told CTV Newsnet.

Several residents of Teslin, Yukon, swear that the hair sample was left behind on a bush after a large, hairy creature made a late-night run through their backyards in early July. It was the second report of the creature near Teslin in just over a year.

Coltman agreed to test the hair to determine its origin. He compared the sample's DNA to an electronic database that contained the DNA of nearly all large animals in the Yukon, including bison.

He noted that the DNA was highly degraded, suggesting the hair sample was not fresh.

"We had quite a difficult time getting a DNA profile from this specimen," Coltman told CTV.

"So it was unlikely to have been recently separated from its owner. It's possible that this hair sample probably wasn't left by a bison that went through the bush the night before."

But Coltman conceded though that his testing doesn't prove that Bigfoot doesn't exist.

"The Bigfoot believers can take solace in that we can't disprove the existence of such a creature," he said, before jokingly adding: "You know, maybe Bigfoot stepped on this pile of bison hair on his way out of Teslin."

Story here.

Monkey attacks Aussie orienteer

One of Australia's leading orienteers has been attacked by a monkey while training in Hong Kong.

Troy de Haas, 25, was running up the bush track on Victoria Peak when a monkey jumped off a rubber tree and attacked his back and neck.

The monkey, which was apparently after an energy bar de Haas had just taken out of his back pack, inflicted bites and scratches which required hospital treatment before de Haas was allowed to return home to rest.

The injury forced him to delay by 24 hours his departure for Japan, where he will be one of 11 Australians competing at the world championships starting on August 7.

Animal attacks are an occupational hazard for orienteers, who run against the clock through bushland and are required to check in at various control points.

De Haas, considered a medal prospect in the long distance event, has been attacked by ducks, emus and kangaroos in the past.

"It's amazing really. He's got a phobia about animals but he seems to get attacked everywhere he goes," said team manager Rod Dominish.

Story here.

Man Gets Five-Year Prison Term for Stealing Pet Monkey

A Baltimore man who stole a pet monkey worth $7,000 has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Twenty-five-year-old Kenneth King was sentenced Thursday in Annapolis for his guilty plea on a burglary charge in the case.

The capuchin monkey named Janey was taken during a February break-in at the Glen Burnie home of Brian and Michelle Howard. The judge Thursday told King he took a member of the family.

Prosecutors say King and his girlfriend Wendy Ward became interested in Janey when they went to the Howards' home to buy a bird.

Ward received a one-year suspended sentence. And King and Ward were ordered to pay $2,500 for damage caused by the break-in.

Story here.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Primate Gene Link Opens Up Eye Research

A genetic link between rhesus monkeys and humans with macular degeneration -- an incurable eye disease that's the leading cause of blindness in the United States -- may provide information about the earliest stages of the disease, when severe vision loss could be halted.

"Stopping the development of the disease is something the monkeys will help us do that we can't do with humans. This is a big step forward in dealing with the disease," study co-author William W. Dawson, a professor of ophthalmology and physiology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, said in a prepared statement.

With help from researchers in Germany, Dawson's team say they've pinpointed a chromosome region and genetic markers for macular degeneration in both humans and rhesus monkeys. The finding enables researchers to study how macular degeneration progresses in the monkeys, which could lead to better treatments and possibly a cure for the disease in humans.

Story here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Baby gorilla born at Lincoln Park

Good news came in a small package to Lincoln Park Zoo Tuesday morning when keepers arrived at the apehouse and discovered that Kowali, a 27-year-old lowland gorilla, was holding her newborn baby.

The zoo had been expecting Kowali to give birth for the last two weeks. She chose to do so sometime between 5 p.m. Monday, when keepers locked the building and went home, and 7 a.m. Tuesday, when they arrived for work.

"The baby was already dry and cleaned off. That means the birth probably occurred several hours earlier," said Andy Henderson, an apehouse supervisor who first found Kowali at 7 a.m. She was sitting placidly in the indoor habitat she shares with the father, Kwan, and two other adult females, Bulera and Madini.

It was Kowali's fifth baby but the first for 16-year-old Kwan, who a few years ago was featured in a Hollywood movie, "Return to Me" starring Minnie Driver. The movie was partially filmed in the zoo.

"It is an important birth in that it is Kwan's first offspring," said Sue Margulis, the zoo's curator of primates. "There are about 360 lowland gorillas in captivity, and it is important that genetically each one is represented in the next generation. Now Kwan is successfully passing on his genes."

Story here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rare Bonobo Dies at Jacksonville Zoo

A member of the Jacksonville Zoo family has died. The oldest member of the Bonobo family was 34-years old.

Bo was found first thing Friday morning lying in his favorite hammock in the Bonobo night house of the Great Ape area.

He was born in the African Republic of the Congo in 1971 and came to the Zoo in 1998 from Yerkes Regional Primate Center. He had been under treatment for heart disease for several years and had also been treated for hypothyroidism.

A post-mortem examination indicates that the likely cause of death is associated with chronic heart disease.

Story here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Quebec gorilla becomes North America's oldest

A gorilla in Granby, Que. has become North America's oldest one in captivity.

Mumba, who came to the zoo as a two-year-old, turned 45 on Sunday, in his home about 90 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

To put that in perspective, Mumba is 90 years old in human years. For even more perspective, gorillas generally live to about 35 in their years.

While Mumba has lived a long life, it's been lacking in some ways.

"He was kept in a human family for many years, so he doesn't really relate to other gorillas very well," said Louise LaBarre, the zoo's educator. "He's really an old bachelor."

Some pictures from the early 1960s showed him dressed in human clothes and being bottle-fed.

Story here.

Mirror images strike monkeys as special

When a capuchin monkey looks at its own image in a mirror, something strange happens. The diminutive creature reacts not as if it sees a stranger, as many researchers had assumed. Instead, the reflection gets treated as a special phenomenon, generally eliciting curiosity and friendly overtures from females and a mix of distress and fear from males, a new study finds.

Capuchins' reactions signal an intermediate self-awareness that lies somewhere between seeing the mirror image as another individual and recognizing the reflected figure as self, according to a team led by psychologist Frans B.M. de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta.

"It's clear that capuchins don't regard their mirror image as that of a stranger," de Waal says. "I'm not sure why they react as they do to mirrors." He suspects that confused capuchins are responding with sex-specific tactics for dealing with ambiguous situations.

Investigators typically regard an animal as self-aware if it inspects a paint spot on its face in a mirror. People routinely pass this test by about age 2. Apes and dolphins often do so as adults. Capuchins and other monkeys ignore facial markings in the mirror.

Yet capuchins distinguish the sight of their own reflections from the sight of other individuals, much as human babies do at about age 1, de Waal says. He and his colleagues studied eight female and six male monkeys housed at a research facility in Georgia.

Each capuchin was placed in a test chamber and exposed twice to each of three conditions: seeing an unfamiliar, same-sex monkey on the other side of a clear barrier positioned behind a mesh screen; seeing a familiar, same-sex monkey through the same setup; and seeing his or her own reflection in a mirror placed behind a mesh screen. Each condition lasted for 15 minutes.

When faced with a stranger, females avoided eye contact and otherwise appeared anxious. Males made threatening gestures. Familiar monkeys elicited few reactions.

Story here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hair samples scrutinized in Yukon sasquatch sighting

The question of whether or not there is a bigfoot roaming around the Yukon hangs by a hair, as a biologist analyzes samples taken from the community of Teslin where nine people reported sasquatch sightings 10 days ago.

Phillip Merchant, a territorial biologist, says so far tests show the hair was likely not from a bear.

He made the assessment after comparing hair samples found at the scene, with samples of known local mammals.

Merchant says he can't make an exact match, but says the hair most resembles that of a Yukon bison. He says more precise tests could be fairly expensive.

"There are new electron microscopes that could be applied and it's all a question of getting someone who is interested in doing it and what the bill is and who will pay," says Merchant.

"If it comes from the government of the Yukon does it give it an aura of authenticity? We have to be careful we don't send people on a wild goose chase."

Merchant says he's skeptical about the sasquatch claims. But he says he will do what he can to determine the origin of the hair sample.

Story here.

Ape escapes from Apenheul

A Javan lutung escaped from the Apenheul in Apeldoorn on Wednesday.

The orange ape is suspected to be wandering through the Apeldoorn woods, the park organisation said on Thursday.

The lutungs in Apenheul live on an island and are separated from the public by water barriers. The ape that escaped is thought to have done so by using the rocks in the new Barbary apes’ area that opened last week.

Apenheul is asking people who see the ape to report the sighting. The park said the lutung is not dangerous. Lutungs live on leaves.

This ape is related to the one that escaped from the animal park Diergaarde Blijdorp last June. That one, a pregnant female, returned a few days later of her own volition.

The puma which has been at large in the Veluwe for the past several weeks was also sighted at the end of June near Apeldoorn.

Story here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pet monkey, ‘Buddy,’ still missing, despite sighting

A pet monkey that escaped from a Noble County home is still on the loose this week, despite a sighting in Guernsey County last Friday.

“It’s just a matter of sighting him and getting there quick enough,” said Hollis McInturff, the monkey’s owner. “With the foliage right now, it’s almost impossible to sight him.”

Noble County Sheriff’s Office Detective Steve Hannum said a truck driver spotted the monkey, named Buddy, running across the road Friday while waiting to unload logs at a logging site two miles east of Ohio 40 near Cambridge. The Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office was unable to confirm the monkey sighting, but McInturff has been looking for Buddy in the Cambridge area since Friday.

Story here.

Child abuse appears to be a learned behavior

Scientists studying monkeys have found that child abuse appears to be a learned behavior passed on from generation to generation. As this ScienCentral News video explains, researchers were trying to determine if abuse was learned or genetic.

All too often we hear of a parent arrested for abusing his or her child. Inevitably, someone asks, "how can this happen?" While the exact reasons for any human behavior are complicated, researchers now have evidence that sometimes such behavior may be passed on from one generation to the next.

Because infant abuse is found in animals as well as humans, researchers have been able to study animals like Rhesus Monkeys to see if there are lessons that can be applied to humans.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago reported that the infant's "early experience" being abused seems to be how the behavior is passed on, adding, "It doesn't seem to be genetically transmitted."

He found this by swapping infants "at birth between [the] abusive and non-abusive mothers" eliminating the possibility of a genetic link between mother and any abusive traits the offspring might later show.

When the infants grew up and became mothers, Maestripieri found that, "The individuals that had been reared by abusive mother had a high chance of becoming abusive mothers, themselves. Whereas, those that were born to abusive mothers, but were reared by control mothers did not become abusive parents."

Story here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Robotics show Lucy walked upright

Australopithecus afarensis, the early human who lived about 3.2 million years ago, walked upright, according to an "evolutionary robotics" model.

The model, which uses footprints to predict gait, suggests "Lucy", as the first fossil afarensis was called, walked rather like us.

This contradicts earlier suggestions that Lucy shuffled like a bipedally walking chimpanzee.

The research is published in the Royal Society Interface journal.

"I think it is very interesting work," Professor Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, told the BBC News website. "There was controversy as to whether these prints where showing a human pattern. And it looks like they do."

A team of scientists from around the UK have used computer robotic techniques to work out the most energy efficient gait for afarensis based on Lucy's skeleton and the Laetoli footprint trails.

They claim to have cleared up the debate by finding that, based on their model, Lucy almost certainly did walk tall.

"Assuming that the early human relative Australopithecus afarensis was the maker of the Laetoli footprint trails, our study suggests that by 3.5 million years ago at least some of our early relatives - despite their small stature - could sustain efficient bipedal walking at absolute speeds within the range shown by modern humans," co-author Weijie Wang from Dundee University told the Scotsman newspaper.

However, Professor Stringer believes the controversy will not vanish overnight.

"There are still some people who argue that, looking at the anatomy of the foot bones of afarensis, that they were unlikely to have made the Laetoli footprints," he told the BBC News website.

Story here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Primate Studies to Have Strict Ethics Limitations

An influential group of bioethicists has given the go-ahead to future research that would introduce human neural stem cells into the brains of our primate cousins, but outlined strict ethical boundaries.

At least two American teams of scientists are already creating "chimeras" by inserting human neurons into primates. Such "neural grafting" conjures up images of supersmart primates such as those in the sci-fi horror film "Planet of the Apes."

Could the introduction of human cells into primate brains make them more "humanlike"? How would one tell? And where should the line be drawn?

To answer such questions, Johns Hopkins University assembled a group of 22 philosophers, neuroscientists, primatologists, stem- cell researchers and other experts, including Stanford University law professor Hank Greely.

"We can't say that it is impossible that putting human stem cells into nonhuman primates will lead to some aspect of humanlike consciousness, although it is highly unlikely," said Greely. "And no one is trying to do that.

"These recommendations are an effort to make sure that something like that doesn't happen inadvertently or accidentally," he said.

There are huge therapeutic opportunities in the field of embryonic stem-cell research, according to the group's report, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Some brain diseases, such as Parkinson's, could be remedied by inserting healthy neurons.

Because future therapies may require testing in primates, the panel sought to create responsible research guidelines.

"We may want animal tests before we use treatments in humans," said Greely.

"The closer to humans you get, the better your model - but the better your model, the more you worry about 'humanizing' the animal you put the cells into," he said.

Six factors should be considered before attempting such research, their report concluded. They include: the number of human cells injected, the age of the animal, the species, the size of the animal's brain, the site of injection, and whether the animal's brain was injured or diseased.

The group was not troubled by transplants of a few human cells into healthy adult brains of more distant relatives like monkeys.

But it had far greater concerns about implanting large numbers of human cells into the developing brains of chimps and great apes, whose brain size and genetic makeup are close to humans - and perhaps transferring humanlike behaviors.

Adult animals are not as impressionable as younger ones, and embryos are thought to be the most impressionable of all, said Greely.

And the larger the quantity of human embryonic stem cells inserted, the more powerful the influence they are likely to have, he said.

In April, a National Academy of Sciences report recommended that stem cells shouldn't be implanted into the embryos of primates. Both Canada and the United Kingdom ban such research altogether.

This group agreed with the academy's recommendations, but said there might be a role for placing such cells in adult primates.

"An adult animal already has a functioning brain, and adding new stuff is much less likely to cause major changes than if you add new cells into an eight-cell embryo," explained Greely.

The group also recommended that scientists who do these experiments report any changes in the animals' cognition. No one is expecting the animals to recite Shakespeare. But there are other ways to detect altered minds.

"You'd look for changes in brain structure. And you'd look for changes in behavior - anything that seems human or un-monkeylike," said Greely.

Story here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

No 'crispy, fried monkeys' at fire-ravaged animal park

There was no evidence of "crispy, fried monkeys" at the fire-ravaged premises of the Animal and Reptile Park in Muldersdrift, an International Wildlife Welfare Organisation inspector said after visiting the private sanctuary on Monday.

"There was a fire ... from my observations, no animal was injured ... every animal is accounted for," said the inspector, Cecilia Knox.

"I cannot see anywhere that any animal was in immediate danger [from the fire]. That is the bottom line," she said.

A fire started by sparks from a bonfire on a neighbouring farm swept through the park on Saturday.

A Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) senior officer, Phillip Roberts, claimed shortly afterwards that he was not only refused access to the park to help, but was told he would only be allowed to enter if he produced a court order and had a police escort.

In addition to claims that three moneys died in the fire, it was further alleged that singed fur was seen on a surviving monkey.

Knox, however, dismissed the allegations, saying she had found "no animals injured, dead or dying" during her inspection on Monday afternoon.

"Every single one of them is here. Nothing awful happened here," she said.

The blaze was limited to the centre of the U-shaped primates' enclosure and had been doused by 20 workers using 10 hose pipes.

Adjoining land was soaked with water stored in drums around the property at this time of year to prevent the spread of flames in the event of fires. Park officials had also called the fire department, she said.

Knox said that she found the park's 29 monkeys "calm" and "playing around like they normally play".

At the time of the fire, they had made straight for their concrete sleeping quarters, where they were restrained behind the enclosures' steel doors.

Story here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Officials Can't Promise Buddy Will Make It Out Alive

Deputies have searched a wooded area three miles outside of Caldwell for the missing monkey, who is 12 years old, about 3 feet tall and 18 pounds. Buddy was one of two monkeys that escaped from an outdoor cage. The other one was captured soon after by their owner.

Experts say this breed of monkey is very dangerous and is nicknamed "the miniature Mighty Mouse."

"It's very strong for its size, and it would not hesitate and easily take down an adult male," said Detective Stephen Hannem, of the Noble County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities are concerned because Buddy could be carrying hepatitis, herpes, tuberculosis and possibly rabies.

"We're going to make every attempt to take him alive, and if that can happen it will," Hannem said. "But we're not going to risk anyone else being injured. If the sheriff's office finds it, odds are we're going to shoot it."

Authorities are calling in experts to help with the search. They are using food traps and are concentrating on a wooded area near the monkey's home.

"We're looking for something brown or something jumping around," one searcher said.

Story here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Gorilla Versus Chimp At Jacksonville Zoo

A gorilla and a chimpanzee are both recovering after a fight at the Jacksonville Zoo.

The gorillas are fascinating creatures and so are the chimps. They live just across the moat from each other, which is usually a good barrier, since both fear the water and neither knows how to swim.

One of the largest gorillas at the zoo, a 24-year-old male named Quito, either fell into the moat or tried to cross it, and ended up on the chimps side.

Dr. Nick Kapustin is the Zoo's Veterinarian. He says, "There was an altercation and we have a chimp with Quito going into his territory and the two got aggressive with each other."

Chimps are more aggressive, but much smaller. A 150-pound chimp named Jackson went up against a more than 500-pound gorilla, named Quito, and the chimp lost.

Kapustin says, "Jackson the chimp sustained some bite wounds and lacerations and he was treated immediately."

Quito didn't have any physical wounds but apparently went underwater when he was in the mote, which left him very sick.

Kapustin says, "He likely inhaled water into his lungs. That can create some respiratory problems and that's what we're dealing with now."

Both Quiot and Jackson are recovering in their indoor habitats and both are expected to be okay.

Story here.

Baboons go ape in North West town

Three troops of rowdy baboons are harassing Zeerust residents by rummaging for food in rubbish bins in the North West town.

The baboons, numbering about 30, first showed up at the Abjaterskop hotel just outside the town a few months ago. The hotel is near the rubbish dump, which has been moved closer to town recently.

The animals quickly learnt that rich food pickings could also be had from the rubbish bins in town.

Hotel manager Naomi Erasmus said on Tuesday she puts everything that could interest the baboons inside the building.

"Then, at least, they behave themselves a bit," she said. "But they still run across the roofs and just generally make a nuisance of themselves."

Erasmus said campers in the adjacent caravan park have had a tougher time.

"They can't even braai outside, or the baboons come. It looks like they smell the food from miles and miles away."

The baboons are obviously hungry, because there are so many of them, she said.

Residents are highly upset about this invasion of their properties.

"Meetings have been held with the municipality in an attempt to address the problem, and it was now decided to put up boards forbidding people to feed the animals.

"But that is useless. People feeding the animals is not the problem. The baboons feed from the rubbish dumps and the bins."

No one has yet been bitten by a baboon, although there is one male that is quite aggressive.

Erasmus said she spoke to nature conservation officials about this male and their reaction was: "Shoot him."

Story here.

Primate virus jumps species barrier to humans for first time in Asia

Scientists have identified the first reported case in Asia of primate-to-human transmission of simian foamy virus (SFV), a retrovirus found in macaques and other primates that so far has not been shown to cause disease in humans. The transmission of the virus from a monkey to a human took place at a monkey temple in Bali, Indonesia, the researchers report in the July issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Even though this particular virus jumping to humans may not prove dangerous, the scientists warn that the dense human and primate populations in Asia could lead to other primate-borne viruses jumping the species barrier and causing human disease.

"The issue of primate-to-human viral transmission has been studied extensively in Africa, largely because that is where HIV originated," explains Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, lead author of the study and a research scientist in the Division of International Programs at the Washington National Primate Research Center. "But there has not been much work on the topic in Asia, which has huge primate diversity and large human populations."

Jones-Engel and her co-authors also argue for more research on diverse contexts of human-primate contact. The vast majority of previous viral transmission research focused on bushmeat hunting and consumption, a practice in which local residents hunt monkeys for food. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS in humans, is believed to have originated as simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), and jumped the species barrier to humans when African bushmeat hunters came into contact with blood from infected animals.

Though bushmeat hunting and consumption may be a significant factor in viral transmission in Africa, Jones-Engel says, people in Asia have many other contexts in which they come into contact with primates, including animal markets, primate pet ownership, urban performing primates, and zoos. In addition, monkeys are significant symbols in both Buddhism and Hinduism, and monkey temples – places of religious worship that have become refuges for populations of primates – are common throughout much of South and Southeast Asia. In these areas, protected macaque populations have thrived alongside dense human settlement for centuries.

On the island of Bali alone, there are more than 40 such temples, which are frequented by tourists from around the world. About 700,000 international tourists visit the island's four main monkey temples every year. Temple workers and people who live near the temples also have a great deal of contact with monkeys at the religious sites.

"In Asia, the amount of contact between humans and primates in temple settings dwarfs the contact due to bushmeat hunting," says Jones-Engel. For this study, the researchers tested blood samples from 82 people who work in or around a temple in Bali, as well as samples from macaques in the area. They found antibodies for simian foamy virus in the blood of one 47-year-old farmer who visited the temple every day. They confirmed the tests by performing a DNA analysis of the man's blood, and found that the SFV strain he carried was the same strain found in the temple's macaques. The man denied owning a monkey as a pet, or hunting monkeys for food. He had been bitten once and scratched more than once by the temple's macaques.

Story here.

Monkey Escapes, Bites Ohio Man

Authorities were searching Tuesday for a monkey that escaped his cage and bit a man before fleeing.

Noble County Sheriff Landon Smith said two monkeys escaped from an outdoor cage, but one was soon captured by the owner. The other monkey attacked a 20-year-old man who stopped his truck when he saw him on the road, Smith said.

"The person passing through stopped because he didn't want to run him over," Smith said. "The larger of the two monkeys jumped in the truck, tore his pants and bit him on the leg. He just made a total fool of himself."

The man was treated at a hospital, where he got a tetanus shot, Smith said.

The sheriff's department asked residents of the southeast Ohio county to be wary of the monkey, which weighs about 18 pounds and stands about 3 feet tall. The monkeys' owner was allowed to keep them, Smith said.

"He had them in a cage in the yard," Smith said. "He left home and they got out."

Story here.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Scientists may produce 'human-brained' monkeys!

uh, is that a menthol?

Scientists have been warned that their latest experiments may accidently produce monkeys with brains more human than animal.

In cutting-edge experiments, scientists have injected human brain cells into monkey fetuses to study the effects.

Critics argue that if these fetuses are allowed to develop into self-aware subjects, science will be thrown into an ethical nightmare.

An eminent committee of American scientists will call for restrictions into the research, saying the outcome of such studies cannot be predicted and may in fact produce subjects with a 'super-animal' intelligence.

The high-powered committee of animal behaviourists, lawyers, philosophers, bio-ethicists and neuro-scientists was established four years ago to examine the growing numbers of human/monkey experiments.

These procedures, known as 'human-primate chimeras', involve the combination of human and monkey cells, tissue and DNA to observe any effect and examine the possibility that such combination could actually exist.

Story here.

Report released on animal deaths at Lincoln Park Zoo

A report was released on an investigation into animal deaths at Lincoln Park Zoo. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association has been investigating the deaths. This is a private organization that gives most zoos in the country accreditation. The report was released by zoo officials.

The Lincoln Park Zoo chairman and director released results of an investigation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. The zoo asked for the audit after three monkeys, three elephants, two gorillas, and a camel died since October.

The report found that none of the recent animal deaths at the zoo were because of any gross negligence, but, according to the report there were mistakes made and changes should be made.

As for the three monkeys that died within 36 hours of each other in May, the report concluded that they ingested toxic leaves from a plant just outside their habitat. All such plants have since been removed from the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Story here.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Motion Pictures Featuring Monkeys and Apes

via Cinematical.

'The National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin has built a directory of "Motion Pictures Featuring Monkeys and Apes". From Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, to Zambo the Ape Man, the list is pretty comprehensive, and includes narrative details and even commentary where applicable (the entry for 1948's Who Killed Doc Robin? reads: " Another haunted house with a gorilla in it. How many of these places are there?"). '

Movie Link here.

Uganda slaps new restrictions on gorilla tourists

Picture taken January 2005 shows a gorilla chewing cud in Uganda's Bwindi National Park.

Uganda has imposed new restrictions on tourists visiting the country's population of highly endangered mountain gorillas after a new study found disease transmission from humans to be the second leading killer of the rare apes.

In addition to enforcing a seven-meter (23-foot) perimeter around the gorillas from which visitors cannot enter, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said it was now screening prospective tourists for symptoms of respiratory diseases to which the primates are susceptible.

"In our management, we are enforcing strict regulations that require minimal contact with the primates to avoid human-to-animal disease transmission," UWA chief Moses Mapesa said.

"Any person with symptoms of any diseases is not allowed to track the gorillas," he told AFP. "And, we have instituted checks and balances by involving other players in the conservation field."

Story here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Respiratory diseases kill mountain gorillas

Mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, an endangered species, are dying from respiratory illnesses, according to study published on Wednesday.

Poaching is the biggest killer of the gorillas but new research shows that a quarter of 100 gorilla deaths dating back to 1968 were due to illnesses such as influenza and other viruses.

"In a bid to cut the risk of people passing these diseases on, eco-tourists who trek to see the gorillas in the wild already have to stay at least 7 metres (yards) away, and keep their visit to no more than an hour," New Scientist magazine noted on Wednesday.

The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, which carried out the research, said 40 deaths were due to trauma which is usually due to poaching. But respiratory illnesses came a surprising second.

Story here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Gorilla bites Lincoln Park Zoo keeper

A zoo keeper was bitten on the back by a gorilla today at the Lincoln Park Zoo and was being treated for her injuries at a nearby hospital, police said.

The female zoo keeper was attacked around 9:50 a.m. at the facility on the city's North Side, said Chicago police spokeswoman Robin Mohr. The woman, whose name was not released, was in good condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Mohr said.

A zoo spokeswoman declined to immediately comment on the gorilla attack.

Story here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mexico's black minority demands apology for "monkey-like" comic stamps

Mexico's tiny black community demanded Monday that President Vicente Fox apologize for a set of stamps featuring a black comic book figure that U.S. civil rights groups have slammed as racist.

The Asociacion Mexico Negro, which represents some 50,000 blacks living on the Pacific coast, said in a letter to Fox that Memin Pinguin, a 1940s comic book character drawn with thick lips and a flat nose, was stereotypical and racist.

"Memin Pinguin rewards, celebrates, typifies and cements the distorted, mocking, stereotypical and limited vision of black people in general," said the letter signed by leaders of the association.

The letter marks the first official complaint from a Mexican group over the stamps, which went on sale last week and provoked a storm of controversy in the United States. U.S. civil rights groups said they should be withdrawn.

Fox has said the stamps are not racist and ignored calls to pull them from circulation. His Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said the affair was exaggerated by "specific groups in the United States who make a living from this kind of scandal."

"They look more ridiculous than we do," he said in a radio interview.

Political correctness is barely existent in Mexico, where there are few black immigrants, Caucasians are commonly addressed as "Guero" ("Whitey") and dark-skinned locals are nicknamed "Morenito" or "Negro" without causing offense.

Generations of Mexicans grew up reading the cartoon strip escapades of Memin Pinguin, a mischievous black boy whose looks and monkey-like antics are endearing but embody outdated ideas about blacks, like many comic books of the time.

Story here.