Friday, September 30, 2005

Wild gorillas spotted using tools for first time

For the first time, biologists have documented gorillas in the wild using simple tools, such as poking a stick in a swampy pool of water to check its depth.

Until now, scientists had seen gorillas use tools only in captivity. Among the great apes, tool use in the wild was thought to be a survival skill reserved for smaller chimpanzees and orangutans.

The research in the Republic of Congo's rainforests was led by Thomas Breuer of the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, which released details of his study. Breuer is in Africa and was not immediately available for an interview.

"This is a truly astounding discovery," he said in a statement. "Tool usage in wild apes provides us with valuable insights into the evolution of our own species and the abilities of other species."

Other scientists said the observations were important, but not surprising.

Breuer's observations were made late last year in a marshy clearing called Mbeli Baia located in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park where monitoring has been ongoing since February 1995.

The first instance was observed last October when a female gorilla (nicknamed Leah by scientists) attempted to wade through a pool of water created by elephants, but found herself waist deep after only a few steps. Climbing out of the pool, she retrieved a branch from a dead tree and used the stick to test the depth of the water.

In November, a second female gorilla (named Efi) used a detached tree trunk to support herself with one hand while digging for herbs with the other hand. She also used the tree trunk as a bridge to cross a muddy patch of ground.

Details of the findings are being published in the online journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Biology. Video of the gorillas will be broadcast Saturday on the PBS program "Wild Chronicles."

Story here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Great Ape Commissions Life-Size Ape Sculpture

The Great Ape Trust has commissioned a life-size sculpture of Azy the Orangutan.

It will be made out of Indiana limestone.

When it's finished, it will be 8-and-a-half feet tall and will weigh more than 14,000 pounds.

The stone sculpture should be complete by next spring. It will be placed between the orangatan home and the bonobo home on the Great Ape Trust campus.

Story here.

Mojo off to sunny climes

Mojo the monkey, who went AWOL from Belfast Zoo after a row with his dad, is to be given a new home.

The 3ft tall black and white colobus monkey is to leave for sunny South Africa on Tuesday, October 4.

Mojo shot to fame in June this year, after he temporarily escaped his enclosure following the fall-out with his parent.

The zoo decided that dad Tommy and Mojo could not be reconciled and that it would be best to try and find a new home for the little adventurer.

When colobus monkeys become teenagers they start to challenge their dads, just like Mojo did. The dad will face any competition and chase them off before they become a threat to his male dominance within the group.

But Mojo will not be heading off on his own; his six brothers are going with him.

Story here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Chris Ofili Paintings of Dung-Adorned Monkeys Dazzle in London

These days, the transition from enfant terrible to establishment figure can be swift.

When ``Sensation: Young British Artists From the Saatchi Collection'' was shown at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999, New York reverberated with shock. The most scandalous exhibit was Chris Ofili's painting,``The Holy Virgin Mary'' (1996), decorated with dried elephant dung and adorned with pornographic clippings. Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani denounced it and a vandal attacked it.

Now, the most talked-about exhibit in the new BP British Art Displays at London's Tate Britain is Ofili's ``The Upper Room,'' a self-contained installation of painting and architecture on the theme of the Last Supper. Christ and the disciples are represented by 13 paintings of rhesus macaque monkeys, resting on balls of the artist's favored exotic manure.

This time, there has been no mention of the word blasphemy. The only discussion centers on whether it was proper for the Tate to buy a costly piece from an artist who also sits on the museum's board of trustees.

Story here.

Monkey trial brings Darwin's theory versus intelligent design

"Intelligent design" is a religious theory that was inserted in a school district's curriculum with no concern for whether it had scientific underpinnings, a lawyer told a federal judge Monday as a landmark trial got under way.

"They did everything you would do if you wanted to incorporate a religious point of view in science class and cared nothing about its scientific validity," said Eric Rothschild, an attorney representing eight families who are challenging the decision of the Dover Area School District.

But in his opening statement, the school district's attorney defended Dover's policy of requiring ninth-grade students to hear a brief statement about intelligent design before biology classes on evolution.

"This case is about free inquiry in education, not about a religious agenda," argued Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Dover's modest curriculum change embodies the essence of liberal education." The center, which lobbies for what it sees as the religious freedom of Christians, is defending the school district.

Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, the opening of the trial in federal court marked the latest legal chapter in the debate over the teaching of evolution in public school.

Story here.

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Reports Gorillas in Eastern Congo More Numerous Than Expected

New scientific surveys by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have revealed some encouraging news about the status of the "eastern lowland" gorilla, known more properly as Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri).

Based on its latest research with its Congolese partners -- the DRC wildlife authority (ICCN, Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature) and a federation of community-based reserves (UGADEC, Union for the Conservation of Gorillas and Development in Eastern DRC) -- the Fossey Fund now estimates that Grauer's gorilla, which exists only in eastern DRC, ranges from a population of 5,500 to some 28,000 individuals, occupying an area of about 21,000 square kilometers. While the Fund's recent analyses indicate that at least 24 percent of this gorilla's range was lost between 1959 and 2005, Grauer's gorilla has continued to survive throughout long periods of civil war.

This recent research also indicates that earlier surveys appear to have missed or underestimated important priority areas for this gorilla's overall
distribution. This demonstrates clear and present opportunities for protecting Grauer's gorilla, through the Fossey Fund's continued support for national parks and community-managed nature reserves in this region.

Story here.

Zoo Visitors Stress Out Gorillas

Zoo animals often seem to ignore the presence of human visitors, but new research suggests that is not always the case for captive gorillas, which repeatedly become agitated and anxious when large numbers of people approach their exhibit.

The research, published in the current journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, is the first analysis on the influence of visitors on the behavior and welfare of zoo-housed gorillas.

"We noticed more behaviors suggestive of relaxation, such as increased resting, during low visitor density, and more behaviors suggestive of agitation, such as repetitive rocking, group-directed aggression and self-grooming during high visitor density," said the study's author, Deborah L. Wells.

Wells, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at Queen's University Belfast, Ireland, explained to Discovery News that she studied six western lowland gorillas housed together at Belfast Zoological Gardens in Northern Ireland. The gorilla group includes both wild-born and captive-born males and females of different ages.

The gorillas were observed for four hours a day on 20 busy days, when the average number of visitors was around 1,288. The gorillas also were observed on 20 quiet days, usually on weekdays when an average of six people visited the zoo.

During these periods, Wells documented known gorilla behaviors, such as standing, sitting, resting, grooming, aggression, playing, walking, running, climbing, socializing and banging on the viewing window. She also recorded "abnormal" behavior, like repetitive teeth clenching, body rocking and spinning.

Visitors seemed to have no effect on basic behaviors, such as standing, walking and socializing.

Story here.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Soap, lipstick endangering orang-utans

Demand for crisps, bread, lipstick and soap could drive orang-utans to extinction, research suggests.

The UK alone imports nearly a million tonnes of palm oil a year for use in such products, but campaigners say plantations for it destroy rainforests.

Friends of the Earth and international ape conservation groups warn in a report that 90% of the animals' habitat in South East Asia has been wiped out.

Their research claims the apes could become extinct within 12 years.

The report, the Oil for Ape Scandal, said palm oil plantations have now become the primary cause of the orang-utans' decline in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Some experts estimated 5,000 orang-utans perished as a result every year.

The research claimed at least 84% of UK companies failed to take effective action to ensure they do not buy palm oil from destructive sources.

Ian Redmond, chairman of the Ape Alliance, said if the government failed to act, "it is we who will have to explain to our children that the orang-utan became extinct because of corporate greed and a lack of political will".

Story here.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Monkey regains sense of power by slapping lions

A MONKEY has been slapping lion cubs in a Beijing safari world, reported on its Website Thursday, citing Beijing Star Daily.

The monkey slapped and scratched three lion cubs for about two weeks, injuring two cubs' ears. The cubs, which were about one month old, did nothing to strike back but to let out a few desperate mews, their keeper told the newspaper.

The monkey behaved itself for a month after a bitch mothering another lion cub gave it a lesson by an angry bite on its butt, the keeper said.

The monkey, though injured, didn't hold its mischievous instincts for long before finding new victims.

The monkey might be a deposed king of a monkey group. It was in exile after a new king emerged following a coup, which often takes place in monkey society, the keeper told the newspaper.

Deposed kings usually turn to new victims to regain themselves a sense of power.

Story here.

Zoo Euthanizes Primate

A five-year-old golden lion tamarin at the National Zoo has died.

Zoo officials say the small, endangered primate was euthanized Tuesday after months of treatment for chronic kidney disease.

A zoo spokeswoman says veterinarians first diagnosed the disease in June. The tamarin responded well to treatment and was returned to its exhibit a month later. But the animal took a turn for the worse Tuesday, and animal caretakers decided it was best to euthanize it.

The National Zoo has ten golden lion tamarins in its collection. The primates are native to Brazil's Atlantic coastal forest. The normal life expectancy for adults in captivity is about eight years.

Story here.

Ape gets root canal

Petunia can't afford to lose her teeth.

Her boyfriend, Sandy, might attack her over a piece of papaya, and she needs them for self-defense.

Petunia is a white-handed gibbon ape, and on Wednesday, she had a root canal to save the two rotten upper canines that she flashes to communicate and needs to eat.

''Animals need dentistry just like humans,'' said Dr. Susan Clubb, head veterinarian at Petunia's home on Parrot Jungle Island, the zoological theme park on Watson Island in Biscayne Bay.

On hand to operate was Dr. Richard Souviron, a Coral Gables dentist and forensic expert known for his tooth-related trial testimony -- the most famous of which helped convict serial killer Ted Bundy in 1979.

Because few veterinarians specialize in zoological dentistry, animal parks often pair up with human practitioners who volunteer their services, said Roger Sweeney, animal division director at Parrot Jungle.

Souviron, for example, has treated lions, tigers, bears, a hippo and a koala at parks across Miami.

Petunia is one of about 1,000 animals, including 32 monkeys and apes, on display at the park. Gibbons are quintessential ''monkey-bar'' apes: flying acrobats who flit hand-over-hand across their native rain forests in Southeast Asia at speeds nearing 35 mph.

But at 22, Petunia is middle-age and mellow, while Sandy, 12, can sometimes get rough, trainers said. He guards his mate fiercely -- swatting at strangers and once even snatching the toupee off a stunned park volunteer -- but he fights with her, too, for melon chunks or turns at the drinking hose.

Petunia's smaller female teeth are key to fending him off, and they allow her to forage and chomp a wide variety of food -- something especially important for captive primates, said Serena Moss, primate supervisor at Parrot Jungle.

Story here.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Principal Chases Streaker in Gorilla Mask

Some may have called it monkeying around, but school officials didn't find the stunt amusing. A 17-year-old student was arrested Monday after streaking through his high school wearing only a gorilla mask and outrunning the school principal.

Union Springs High School Principal Kimberle Ward -- who said she runs three to five miles a day -- couldn't catch the fleeing student, but she was able to help police identify the teen after watching a hallway surveillance camera video and interviewing students.

"There's no way anyone in the district would consider this a prank," said District Superintendent Linda Rice. "We're here to teach children, and we do have high standards."

The student, whose name was withheld by police and school officials, was charged with exposure, a violation punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a $250 fine. He also faces up to five days' suspension and possibly more severe punishment if the case goes to a hearing before the superintendent.

The student said he had been dared by friends to streak through the school, according to police.

Thus ends a slow week in monkey news.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Zoos prescribe drugs to anxious animals

A gorilla and a tiger on Valium. A swamp monkey on anti-psychotic medicine.

The Toledo Zoo, like many other zoos around the nation, is increasingly using antidepressants and tranquilizers to manage their animals' behavioral problems.

Sometimes, zoo keepers use drugs to calm down animals when they are at odds or when they are moved into a new enclosure.

The zoo's zebras were given an anti-psychotic drug that is used to treat schizophrenia in humans when the zebras were being moved into the zoo's new Africa exhibit.

That's because zebras will chase anything new or unfamiliar in their environment, said Wynona Shellabarger, the zoo's veterinarian.

"It would be silly to try an introduction without some type of intervention," she told The Blade in a story published Monday.

The zebras were put on the drug haloperidol again when an impala in the same exhibit gave birth. "Zebra are known to kill baby impala. That's just a natural behavior," Shellabarger said.

The same drug, though, didn't work on a swamp monkey named Maxine who was fighting with her daughter. The zoo tried the drug on Maxine over the objections of the monkeys' keeper.

It first made the monkey groggy, but a reduced dose didn't stop her attacks so Maxine's daughter was separated from the group. "It's not a foolproof thing," Shellabarger said.

Story here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

3 Chimps killed at zoo after escape

Three chimpanzees from a small-town zoo were shot and killed after they escaped from their enclosure and could not be captured, the zoo director said.

The primates at Zoo Nebraska were able to get out of the cage Saturday when a padlock was not completely closed after cleaning, said zoo director Ken Schlueter Jr. He killed the animals with a deputy's service revolver after a tranquilizer gun didn't show any effect.

No people were hurt, state patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said. The zoo is located in Royal, a northeastern Nebraska village of 75; one of its major donors was the late entertainer Johnny Carson.

After the chimps lifted the padlock and broke out, employees immediately moved visitors in an office area, but the chimps tried to get into the building, Schlueter said.

"When it became apparent there'd be danger here, they had to be destroyed," Schlueter told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Schlueter did not immediately return a message left for him by The Associated Press on Monday.

Story here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Trap-breaking chimpanzees found in Guinea

Wild chimpanzees capable of passing on knowledge of how to detect and destroy traps have been found in the West African nation of Guinea.

Japanese researcher Gaku Ohashi surveyed a group of more than 10 chimpanzees near the village of Bossou over 15 months between 2002 and 2004.

Ohashi, a researcher at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute, began the project after learning that 30 years of research discovered no chimpanzees in the area had ever been seriously injured by traps, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Friday.

In one case, when a trap made with sticks and wires used to catch large rats was found, two male chimpanzees of the group would avoid the trap, vigorously shake it and try to destroy it.

Three other males also tried to shake the trap.

Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a professor at the Primate Research Institute, said the Bossou chimpanzees were highly intelligent and used many tools, including stones for opening nuts.

"They probably also have the ability to spot danger," he said.

Chimpanzees injured by traps have become a serious problem in Africa in recent years. In 2002, a long-term study found 32 of 422 chimpanzees in 10 areas had been injured by traps.

Story here.

Pet Monkey Escapes, Bites Boy on Buttocks

A monkey, apparently a pet, escaped, then chased a 12-year-old boy into his house and bit him on the buttocks in the western Malaysian state of Pahang, a news report said Friday.The monkey, which was believed to be a pet animal because there was a chain around its neck, ran up and down the street in the housing area in Kuantan town as it appeared just after dusk Wednesday, scaring people into their homes, the Bernama news agency reported.

Story here.

Congo Conference to End With Agreement Outlining Strategy to Save Primates From Extinction

Nearly two dozen countries were to commit themselves Friday to saving primate habitats and stopping poaching in a historic push to protect the world's dwindling great ape populations.

The Kinshasa Declaration is the culmination of a five-day conference held this week in Congo's capital. Experts warn that without urgent action, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and gorillas in Africa and Asia could disappear within a generation.

"The declaration affirms political will at the highest level for the first time in the history of the great apes," said Matthew Woods of the U.N. Great Apes Survival Project, which organized the meeting.

Officials said the agreement would be key to helping stamp out poaching and cross-border animal smuggling.

"We need the commitment of governments for anti-poaching efforts to work," said John Sellar, a Scottish former police officer who now heads the anti-smuggling and organized crime divisions for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. "Collaboration that is necessary has not been present until now."

Great apes gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans have been threatened for decades by logging, poaching and conflict worldwide. There are believed to be about 400,000 left Africa and Asia, compared to millions in the 19th century, according to the United Nations.

Story here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Monkey casserole and ape stew

Take one soup cube, pepper, salt and onions, not forgetting chunks of monkey, head included, AFP reports from Libreville. At the restaurant 'Maman Marie Gibier ' in Libreville, the dish will set appreciative dinners back 2.80 dollars. "I have been eating monkey since I was little", said Sandra, 28, who works for a bank. Prices range from 17 dollars for a whitenosed monkey to 77 dollars for a mandrill. Gorillas cost between 34 to 51 (approximately) dollars.

A moment of bizarre monkey zen via the Star of Mysore, India.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Monkey turns pickpocket in Hunan

A visitor to China's Hunan province became the victim of an unusual crime - a primate pickpocket with a taste for cash.

The incident happened at Mount Emei, one of China's four Buddhist Mountains and one of the country's most prestigious scenic spots.

Monkeys standing by the path and demanding food have become a common site in the area, but what happened to one person was anything but common.

Much to the surprise of a group of tourists from central China's Hunan province, instead of begging for food, one monkey stole 100 yuan notes from a visitor's pocket and then ran away into the trees. The monkey then put one note into his mouth and began chewing.

The visitor was heard shouting 'Oh my God, he is eating my money!," but didn't know what to do.

Finally, the staff at the scenic spot came and enticed the monkey to throw away the rest of the money by offering him his favorite food.

Story here.

PSNI fire warning shots at chimp

Several warning shots have been fired by police officers trying to recapture a chimpanzee which had escaped from its enclosure at Belfast Zoo.

Police said officers had consulted with a vet and zoo management before firing the shots near nine-year-old chimp Phoebe.

The zoo had to be closed for about an hour after Phoebe used a log in her enclosure to climb over a wall.

She has since been recaptured and returned to the ape-house unharmed.

A spokesman for the zoo said the log had been removed from the animal's enclosure.

"We want to thank the PSNI who were called as a precautionary measure for their help and thank those visitors in the zoo for their co-operation in remaining indoors while the effort was under way," he said.

Story here.

Researchers discover discrete region of the monkey brain that processes pitch

Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a discrete region of the monkey brain that processes pitch, the relative high and low points of sound, by recognizing a single musical note played by different instruments.

Given the similarities between monkeys and man, humans may have a similar pitch-processing region in the brain too, which might one day help those with hearing and speech problems. The paper appears in the Aug. 25 issue of Nature.

By recording the activity of individual brain cells as monkeys listened to musical notes, the scientists identified single neurons, located in what they've called the brain's "pitch center," that recognize a middle-C as a middle-C even when played by two different instruments.

"Pitch perception is such a basic function of human and animal auditory systems, yet its source has remained elusive to researchers for decades," says Xiaoqin Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences. "The discovery of a pitch-processing area in the brain solves an age-old mystery of auditory research."

According to Wang, pitch's importance to humans is found in facilitating our ability to follow a sequence of sounds we would recognize as "melodic" and combinations of sounds we identify as harmony. As a result, pitch gives meaning to the patterns, tones and emotional content of speech, like how raising our voice at the end of a sentence indicates a question, and cues the listener to the speaker's gender and age.

Although a melody or conversation is not as essential to monkeys, pitch perception is crucial for nonhuman primates to interpret the source and meaning of prey and predator calls or other sounds from the environment. Such information is crucial for the animal's survival.

Wang's team studied marmoset monkeys using single-neuron recording, a technique that measures the electrical activity of individual neurons in the brain. The researchers viewed each neuron's reaction as different notes were played by a computer.

Story here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Police detain 'demonic' monkey

What could lead a pet to become a threat to the life of its owner? This is the puzzle detectives from the Kano State Police Command are battling to unravel following complaints from the owner of a monkey that it was tormenting his life.

The owner, simply identified as Nafiu and son of a Kano-based multi-millionaire businessman, drew the attention of the police to the alleged bizarre conduct of the animal, which was consequently arrested and for three months now has remained in police custody.

The animal, a long time pet of one of Kano’s most celebrated business mogul, and managing director of a multi-purpose indigenous group of companies, has remained a regular sight at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Kano State Police Command following its arrest early June this year.

Sources at the Bompai headquarters of the state police command told Saturday Independent that the police had begun to probe the animal over allegations by its owner that the monkey occasionally, diabolically transforms into a human being to torment him.

However, the sources said that since its arrest the pet had not exhibited any diabolical trait.

According to the source, the police took the action following a request by the millionaire businessman to the state commissioner of police, Ganiyu Dawodu that armed men were after his life and policemen be deployed to his high-brow Nassarawa mansion where he stated that armed men had taken strategic positions waiting for the right time to strike.

In response to his request, the police boss immediately deployed three armed policemen to go with him to the scene.

“When the men got there and saw nothing that depicted danger they accosted their host who later took them to the court yard of his mansion and showed them the monkey as the suspect,” the source added.

Later, he told the policemen to take away the monkey, which he accused of being demonic and responsible for all his misfortunes.

Stunned by the development, the detectives reluctantly took the pet to the Bompai Police Station with instructions from the businessman that they could kill it anytime it transformed into a human being.

“This is my problem (the monkey). It is diabolic and demonic as it is capable of transforming into a human being to torment me,” the businessman was quoted as saying.

Story here.

Capybara kills monkey at zoo

Officials at Japan`s most popular zoo say a territorial dispute might have led a capybara, a large South American rodent, to kill a spider monkey.

The fatal attack occurred in the spider monkey-capybara exhibit at the Asahiyama Zoo on the island of Hokkaido.

'There are no problems with them living together,' a zoo official told Mainichi Shimbun. 'The accident occurred at a stage in which they were coming to understand each other.'

The capybara, native to the Amazon basin, is the world`s largest rodent, weighing up to 145 pounds, and looks like a cross between a beaver and a pig. Spider monkeys also inhabit South American tropical forests.

While capybaras spend their time on the ground, spider monkeys are at home in the branches.

The unfortunate spider monkey was in a pool used by the capybara. Officials say the two animals appear to have startled each other, and the capybara seized the monkey by the neck, inflicting a fatal wound.

There are no plans to break up the two species, since zoo officials believe the attack was a one-time occurrence.

Story here.

Team of believers to hunt for Swamp Ape

It's had more sightings than Elvis.

They call it Yeti in Nepal, Yowie in Australia and Sasquatch in Canada. In Florida, it's called Swamp Ape, Skunk Ape, Stink Ape or Stink Man. More plainly put, Bigfoot.

For one man, finding the creature has become like searching for the Holy Grail, and he is teaming up with other believers the first week in November for a field research class through Florida Keys Community College. He hopes to bring back proof of its existence.

"I know it's there. I know it on several levels," said Scott Marlowe, a founder of Pangea Institute in Winter Haven and instructor of an online class in cryptozoology, the study of creatures that may or may not exist, through Florida Keys Community College.

"Of all the species on Earth, man is presumed to be the only one that has one example of its genus -- the only genus that has only one species still alive. All other species have more than one."

Marlowe isn't the only one with faith that the creature exists.

Patricia Edwards of Lakeland has seen what she believes is the Swamp Ape in the Green Swamp. Although her sighting was in the fall of 2002, it was not until she read about another sighting that she decided to go public.

It began when she was going to visit a relative in an Ocala hospital. The morning was clear, and she was driving along Country Road 471, a long, straight stretch of road through the Green Swamp. She said she saw something less than half a block away.

"If I live to be a couple hundred years old, the story will not change," said Edwards, 69. "There was very little traffic and I see something that ran out in front of me. It looked like a giant sloth except I know they're slow moving -- this one moved fast and dove down into the edge of the road into a ditch area."

"It started out running, galloping on fours like a dog, but when it dove I could see the arms come up. It was sizable, almost like a bear, but not a bear, not the way its arms moved."

Chester Moore is a Bigfoot researcher from Orange, Texas, who will be attending the Florida expedition. He is also an outdoor journalist, has a degree in zoology and is founder of Project: Zoo Quest and the American Primate Conservation Alliance. The Alliance recently awarded Marlowe the J. E. Smokey Crabtree Cryptozoology Steward of the Year award for 2005.

Moore said he has also seen and heard Bigfoot.

"I've gone far past the point of trying to answer the question for myself -- these animals are real, not paranormal," he said.

Since 1999, he estimates he has logged about 300 days in the field tracking the creature. He said although he and three friends saw it in 2000, it was the vocalizations that made the biggest impression. He said the closest thing he has heard is a howler monkey.

"It's a serious pursuit and a fascination," Moore said. "I write for dozens of publications about all sorts of thing, but this is the biggest, hugest prize."

There will be about 20 participants in the field research class, said Marlowe.

Experienced hunters will be teamed with neophytes, most of whom have already taken some of Marlowe's classes.

Because the Swamp Ape is believed to be active at dusk and dawn, the daytime will consist of coordinating data and workshops, while the night hunts will rely on infrared cameras and night vision.

The location of the hunt will depend on a reported spot of Swamp Ape activity, but Marlowe said possible locations include Collier, Monroe and Levy counties and the Okeechobee and Green Swamp areas.

To learn more about the field study, log on to

Story here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

First chimpanzee fossils found

The only chimpanzee fossils known to science have been unearthed in Kenya, the journal Nature reports.
The three 545,000-year-old chimp teeth were dug up in the country's Tugen Hills and probably belonged to the same individual, the US discoverers say.

Plenty of fossils belonging to early human ancestors, or hominids, have been found at dig sites all over the world.

But until now, scientists had not identified a single fossil belonging to humankind's closest living relative.

The teeth were excavated from the Kapthurin Formation of the Tugen Hills late in 2004.

"Once you realise what they are, they're dead ringers," Professor Sally McBrearty, of the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, US, told the BBC News website.

"The thick bases of the incisors, in particular, are very characteristic of chimpanzees and also the fact that all of the teeth have thin enamel.

"The molars you might think: 'maybe this is human'; but the cusp pattern isn't really right."

The chimp probably died on the shore of a lake in a wet, wooded habitat.

Story here.

Apes may soon be extinct, says study

The first-ever World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation details the habitats of the six remaining species and how those areas are at risk.

It shows that the effects of poverty, disease, hunting and logging could result in man's closest cousin being made extinct within a generation.

The project, undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, is the first to bring together new research about apes and their habitats.

It claims that there may be less than 350,000 great apes left in the wild, and identifies the 100 most at risk populations of the eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzee, bonobo and the Sumatran and Bornean orang-utan.

The Cross River gorilla, which lives in Cameroon and Nigeria, is thought to be the rarest surviving species, with an estimated population of only 250 to 280.

Scientists behind the mapping project said that by exposing the extent of the threat to the apes, they hope to prompt more conservation efforts.

In a foreword to the atlas, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan writes: "By conserving the great apes, we can also protect the livelihoods of the many people who rely on forests for food, clean water and much else."

Story here.