Tuesday, August 29, 2006

UCLA To Increase Security After Threats To Primate Researchers

UCLA will increase security for animal researchers because of a harassment campaign that included the attempted firebombing of a professor's home, the acting chancellor said.

"These activities have risen to the level of domestic terrorism, and that's what we should call them," Norman Abrams told the Los Angeles Times in Saturday's editions.

The school will increase security and try to reduce the time it takes police to respond to threats at the homes of researchers, Abrams said. It also will warn researchers of possible threats.

The university will double, to $60,000, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who tried to firebomb a Bel-Air home on June 30.

A Molotov cocktail was mistakenly placed outside the home of a neighbor of researcher Lynn Fairbanks. It failed to ignite.

The Animal Liberation Front took credit for the attack in a posting on the Web site of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office.

The posting said Fairbanks had conducted "painful addiction experiments" on monkeys.

"I don't do invasive research; I don't kill or torture animals," Fairbanks told the Times.

Earlier this month, UCLA neurobiology professor Dario Ringach announced he was stopping his primate research after years of harassment and threats to his family.

A spokeswoman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office took issue with Abrams' remarks.

"That's just sad commentary, when people killing animals are calling other people terrorists," said Camille Hankins, adding that her group has no direct link to the ALF.

Extremists in the animal rights and environmental movements have become increasingly aggressive over the past decade, the FBI said.

"We have seen an escalation in their rhetoric and the violence associated with their crimes," bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Abrams said UCLA remained committed to biomedical research involving animals. About 750 people are conducting about 950 animal research projects, a university spokesman said.

Story here.

Monkey Attacks Teenage Girl On Chicago's Northwest Side

monkey in a netChicago Police had a wild afternoon on the Northwest Side Monday as they found themselves in a standoff with a spider monkey that had attacked a teenage girl.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the 14-year-old victim was in pretty bad shape. Chicago police tell CBS 2 she was bitten to the bone, but what caused the animal to attack is unclear.

Armed with a net, Chicago Animal Control workers entered the house at 4305 N. Mobile to catch the monkey. It was running loose inside the Portage Park home after police say it attacked someone inside the house.

“The monkey got out of the cage and bit one of the residents of the house, a 14-year-old girl. He bit her severely on the arm. She was taken to Lutheran General and a plastic surgeon is looking at the injuries,” Sgt. Raphael Ramos said.

The monkey was clearly agitated as Animal Control workers tried to capture it, at times clearly trying to get out of the house. Neighbors saw the girl lying on the ground after being bit.

“We saw the paramedics and the fire department come and do the blood pressure and that and then they took her away. And someone said she got bit by a monkey,” a neighbor said.

Animal Control employees say monkeys are legal in Chicago with the proper license and permits. No permits were issued for this monkey, and officials remind everyone the wild primates can be very dangerous.

“Monkeys are very smart animals. If you mess with them, they will mess with you,” Sgt. Ramos said.

The monkey is now in the custody of Animal Control. They will test it for any diseases. At this time, they do not know what will happen to the animal.

Story here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A moment of albino marmoset monkey zen...

Rare newborn albino Pygmy Marmoset monkeys perch on a zookeeper's fingers at Froso Zoo in Ostersund, Sweden August 22, 2006. The Pygmy Marmoset, which lives in the upper Amazon basin in South America, is the world's smallest monkey and reaches 35 cm (13.7 inches) in length and weighs up to 100 grams (3.5 ounces) at maturity.

Viruses can jump between primates and humans, researchers warn

Viruses that jump the species barrier between monkeys and humans can harm both people and animals, and we should take steps to reduce the risk of virus transmission. That's the message running through the September issue of the American Journal of Primatology, a special issue on disease risk analysis edited by a primate expert at the University of Washington.

The special issue covers a range of topics, including an estimate of the viral transmission risk for visitors to a monkey temple in Indonesia, and a study showing how methods to limit contact between monkeys and humans can reduce the risk of transmission between the species. Other researchers describe how human viruses infecting monkeys and apes can wreak havoc on those animals' populations.

"Viruses are already jumping the species barrier and affecting both people and animals, and there is the potential for much worse," explained Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, a research scientist in the Division of International Programs at the UW's Washington National Primate Research Center and guest editor for the journal's special issue. "It's especially cause for concern in Asia, where people and monkeys have so much interaction, and there has been little research done on this topic."

Scientists believe that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, started out as simian immunodeficiency virus (or SIV), and jumped to humans decades ago when African bush meat hunters became infected by the monkeys they were hunting for food. Other viruses, like influenza, have also jumped species barriers with frightening results. In one article, researchers estimate that about six people out of every thousand who visit a monkey temple in Bali, Indonesia, will be infected with simian foamy virus (SFV) from a monkey bite. SFV is a primate retrovirus that so far has not been shown to cause disease in humans. Monkey temples are religious sites that have become gathering spots for populations of wild macaque monkeys fleeing deforested areas.

"This study is basically the first step in quantifying the risk associated with human-to-monkey viral transmission," said lead author Dr. Gregory Engel, attending physician at Swedish/Providence Hospital in Seattle, and clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the UW. "We have a lot more work to do in determining the risk of viruses jumping the species barrier in these different settings, but the risk is obviously there." In addition to bushmeat hunting, people are in close contact with monkeys in many settings in Asia: religious temples, open-air markets, street performances, nature preserves, zoos, and even homes, where monkeys are kept as pets. Each of these settings could provide entry points for monkey viruses like SFV to infect humans, or for human viruses like measles to jump to monkeys. Either population can be at risk from these transmissions: measles can devastate monkey populations, while some monkey viruses can also harm people.

Though SFV and a similar primate virus called SRV are not yet known to cause disease in humans, both are retroviruses, which are typically slow-acting in their host. It could be many years before physicians know the effects of those virus exposures. Other viruses carried by monkeys can cause disease and death in humans.

Visitors to monkey temples shouldn't avoid monkeys at all costs, Engel said, but they should use caution and common sense to keep themselves and the animals safe. People should not feed the monkeys or encourage the animals to climb on them. Such precautions can help reduce the risk of exposure. In the event of a bite or scratch, proper wound care can reduce the likelihood of infection, he said.

"Governments and non-governmental organizations can also take steps to reduce the risk of virus transmission," said Jones-Engel. "Better management of monkey populations, disease surveillance of human and primate populations, and improved public sanitation can all cut down on the risk of viral transmission within monkey populations, and between animals and people."

Story here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Man arrested over SpongeBob monkey theft

spongebob monkeyA man has been arrested in connection with the theft of a rare squirrel monkey from a Surrey zoo.

The disappearance of SpongeBob the monkey last month led to a high-profile media campaign and the endangered primate was eventually found playing with children in Clapham Common, south-west London.

He was returned to the zoo at Chessington World of Adventures on July 19th, having allegedly been stolen two days earlier.

It was thought that the two-year-old was deliberately targeted as he is the only breeding monkey of his type in England and concern was high for his safety.

But a member of the public who had seen his picture in newspapers returned the monkey to the zoo and he was said to be recovering from his ordeal well, although he was "hungry and stressed" for some time afterwards.

And today, officers from the Metropolitan police arrested a 22-year-old man from Brixton in south London at 08:45 BST in relation to the case and he is being questioned at a south London police station.

Story here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shimla authorities opt sterilization to curb monkey menace

Shimla residents have long been battling monkey menace. But in a recent initiative, the Forest Department of Shimla has opted to sterilize monkeys after residents complained about their growing nuisance.

Recently, the Forest Department nabbed 25 monkeys for sterilizing them to control the growing number of monkeys at the popular Hanuman temple in Jakhu.

To identify the 'rounded-up' monkeys, they have been shaved off under the belly and near the tail as a mark of sterilization.

"Thirty monkeys were captured by the Wildlife Department officials of both genders. We were unaware about it. It was later the forest department officials informed us about the sterilization of monkeys. The effect of this 'operation family planning of monkeys' will be known only in future," said BP Sharma, the head priest of the Hanuman temple in Jakhu.

The monkeys had turned the neighborhood into nightmare, the worst sufferers being children.

"Monkeys here are very mischievous. Often children get late in reaching schools due to the scare of monkeys. In the past, many incidents of monkey attacks have proved fatal for some students," said Ritu Kakkar, a resident.

Story here.

Marmosets give lives to show how fatherhood may change brain

Marmoset monkey fathers who carry their infants show physical changes in a part of their brains associated with goal-directed behaviour and planning, a study found.

Monkey fathers with recent offspring had changes in their pre-frontal cortexes including increased numbers of the tiny features called dendritic spines, said Princeton University professor Elizabeth Gould in this week’s issue of Nature Neuroscience. The finding was the latest in a series to show that the brains of adult mammals can change as a result of physical and even social stimuli.

‘‘Increased dendritic spine density might imply a greater number of synapses, improved network connectivity and, possibly, more efficient function,’’ said researcher Genia Kozorovitskiy.

Further study will be needed to determine whether the changes actually make the brains more efficient. That area of the brain in marmosets is associated with short-term memory, goal-directed behaviour and planning, Gould said. In humans, that part of the brain also affects moral reasoning and possibly personality and emotions, she said.

The act of caring for the young might be what causes the brains to change, Kozorovitskiy said. Newborns in the study were carried by fathers more than 70% of the time in the first month, the study said.

“Marmosets are unusual among mammals as the fathers care extensively for offspring”. Gould and her researchers previously found brain changes in other adult mammals, such as rats that grew new neurons when they became dominant in a small community, Princeton Weekly Bulletin reported last year.

Twelve of the eight-inch-tall monkeys were sedated and killed to complete the study.

Story here.

Surgery on endangered monkey successful in Vietnam

Veterinarians in Vietnam have successfully performed surgery on an endangered red-shanked Douc langur whose foot was broken in a trap, wildlife researchers said Tuesday.

The surgery, lasting 2 hours, set the bones in the 5-year-old female's left foot on Monday, days after the injured monkey was brought to the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, according to Elke Schwierz, head animal keeper at the centre.

'She looks quite well. Better than I expected,' Schwierz said Tuesday.

The langur, which was wearing a cast Tuesday, should recover some use of the foot, she said. 'For walking, yes. For climbing, we'll have to see.'

The langur is one of two seized by authorities in central Vietnam earlier this month.

Story here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Use of stone hammers sheds light on geographic patterns of chimpanzee tool use

In a finding that challenges a long-held belief regarding the cultural spread of tool use among chimpanzees, researchers report that chimpanzees in the Ebo forest, Cameroon, use stone hammers to crack open hard-shelled nuts to access the nutrient-rich seeds. The findings are significant because this nut-cracking behavior was previously known only in a distant chimpanzee population in extreme western Africa and was thought to be restricted by geographical boundaries that prevented cultural spread of the technique from animal to animal. The findings, which involve the most endangered and least-understood subspecies of chimpanzee, are reported by Dr. Bethan Morgan and Ekwoge Abwe of the Zoological Society of San Diego's Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) and appear in the August 22nd issue of the journal Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

Prior to this discovery, it was thought that chimpanzee nut-cracking behavior was confined to the region west of the N'Zo-Sassandra River in Cote d'Ivoire. Because there are no relevant ecological or genetic differences between populations on either side of this "information barrier," explain the researchers of the new study, the implication had been that nut-cracking is a behavioral tradition constrained in its spread by a physical barrier: It was absent to the east of the river because it had not been invented there. The new finding that chimpanzees crack open nuts more than 1700 km east of the supposed barrier challenges this long-accepted model. According to the authors of the study, the discontinuous distribution of the nut-cracking behavior may indicate that the original "culture zone" was larger, and nut-cracking behavior has become extinct between the N'Zo-Sassandra and Ebo. Alternatively, it may indicate that nut-cracking has been invented on more than one occasion in widely separated populations.

This is one of the first reports of tool use for Pan troglodytes vellerosus, the most endangered and understudied chimpanzee subspecies. It highlights the necessity to preserve the rich array of cultures found across chimpanzee populations and communities, which represent our best model for understanding the evolution of hominid cultural diversity. As such, the new finding promises to both benefit research and inform the conservation of our closest living relative.

Story here.

Baby gorilla dies at Calgary zoo

A two-week-old gorilla has died at a Canadian zoo after her mother's nursing routine was disrupted by other females and feedings by staff failed to maintain the baby's strength, zoo officials said on Friday.

The gorilla died late Thursday after females in the Calgary Zoo's gorilla troop took her away from her mother three times after she was born, creating stress for both the mother, named Zuri, and the newborn, whose energy was sapped, veterinarian Sandie Black said.

Supplemental feedings by zoo staff helped with nutrition but added to both gorillas' anxiety, Black told reporters.

"What we believe happened late in the afternoon yesterday as we were working toward separating the baby from Zuri for another supplemental feed is that baby ran out of the very small store of energy newborns have," she said.

"They don't have fat stores, they don't have adult, or mature, energy-handling mechanisms developed in the body yet and she essentially ran out of that gas."

Officials said the troop was aware of the loss of the baby, which was born August 5, and was showing changes in behavior.

Story here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Court told chimps should be removed from Texas sanctuary

A lawyer who evaluated seven chimps at a Texas sanctuary is recommending the animals be moved to Louisiana.

Charles Jackson the Third was assigned to check the health and welfare of the chimpanzees.

They arrived at Primarily Primates this year after being used for cognitive research at Ohio State University.

Jackson says the San Antonio-area facility doesn't have the proper enclosures for the social animals. He recommends they be moved to Chimp Haven, near Shreveport, Louisiana.

A lawsuit was filed by some former caretakers at O-S-U, Klaree Boose and Stephany Harris, and California veterinarian Mel Richardson.

Two other O-S-U chimps died within two months of their arrival. A Primarily Primates lawyer says the pair had heart problems.

Sanctuary founder Wallace Swett has said the suit is wasting time and money that could go for animal care.

Story here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Scientists Identify Gene Difference Between Humans and Chimps

The DNA sequences of humans and chimpanzees are 98 percent identical. Yet that 2 percent difference represents at least 15 million changes in our genome since the time of our common ancestor roughly six million years ago. Now a new computational technique has identified 49 regions that have changed particularly quickly between humans and chimps, and may have revealed at least one gene critical to the development of our larger brains.

Katherine Pollard of the University of California, Davis, first used computers to search for segments of DNA that showed the most changes between human and chimp genomes. The computers identified 49 such areas in the human genome, dubbed human accelerated regions (HAR). The most radical revolutionary, tagged as HAR1, transformed 18 of its 118 nucleotides in the course of the last few million years; only two had changed in the prior 310 million years that separate chickens from apes. "It's really an extreme case," Pollard notes.

Closer observation of the region by Sofie Salama of the University of California, Santa Cruz, revealed that it overlaps with two neighboring genes: HAR1F and HAR1R. These genes do not code for proteins that then carry out a particular function in the body, rather they produce a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule that guides the production of proteins by other genes.

Further experiments by an international team of collaborators revealed that HAR1F is strongly expressed in the developing neocortex of human embryos, starting in the seventh week. The mRNA is produced by Cajal-Retzius neurons, which previous research has shown to direct the creation of the layers of neurons in the human cortex. These cells also produce the protein reelin, which helps create the architecture of the human brain. The corresponding gene in other primates plays a similar role, according to experiments with crab-eating macaques.

Although this research does not definitively link this region to brain differences between humans and our closest relatives, it is intriguing. "We don't know what it does, and we don't know if it interacts with reelin, but the evidence is very suggestive that this gene is important in the development of the cerebral cortex, and that's exciting because the human cortex is three times as large as it was in our predecessors," notes team leader David Haussler of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "Something caused our brains to evolve to be much larger and have more function than the brains of other mammals."

And, of course, this is just the first of the 49 rapidly evolving regions to be studied. "Now we have to go through the other 48," Haussler says.

Story here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cincinnati Zoo Welcomes 48th Newborn Gorilla

mukeThe Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrating its first gorilla birth since 1998.

The zoo said Muke, a 24-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth to a healthy baby late Sunday. Currently, the zoo is unsure of the gender of the baby gorilla.

Jomo, a 15-year-old silverback on loan from the Toronto Zoo, fathered the baby.

Samantha, a 36-year-old mother of six and grandmother of 11, is expected to deliver later in September.

Cincinnati Zoo's gorillas have been some of the most prolific in history, with the zoo reaching its 48th birth after Muke's delivery.

Cincinnati's breeding program had been on hiatus since 1999, when Chaka, a silverback on loan from Philadelphia and father of nine babies here, returned home. The zoo's other male, Colossus, never showed interest in breeding, and died in April.

Currently, the zoo has eight female gorillas and one baby at the Zoo's Gorilla World. The majority of the Cincinnati-born gorillas are living in zoos around the United States.

Story here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Orangutans in the Apenheul Primate Park will get internet chat

Orangutans in the Apenheul Primate Park near Apeldoorn, in the western Netherlands, will soon be able to communicate by means of an Internet connection with their counterparts in a park on Borneo in Indonesia.

An Apenheul spokesperson said the aim of the project was to draw attention to the possibility that there would soon be no orangutans in the wild.

"We are are going to set up an Internet connection between Indonesia and Apeldoorn so that the apes can see each other and, by means of pressing a button, be able to give one another food, for example," she said.

She said the remaining orangutans in the wild in Indonesia were under threat from deforestation.

Apenheul, spread over 12 hectares, was a revolutionary concept when it was set up in 1971, allowing primates and people to interact in an open environment, although with strict rules against touching or feeding the animals.

Story here.

Cyprus monkey found and returned to family

A small monkey that had caused chaos in Paphos over the past few days has been found and returned safe and sound to her owner.

Mariou, as she was christened by her owners, was spotted on Wednesday morning wandering a wooded area near the Ayios Neophytos Lyceum and later immobilised by a team from the Veterinary Services.

“Members of the public contacted us and told us that they had seen the monkey wandering in that area,” said Regional veterinary official of the Veterinary Services in Paphos, Andreas Kyrazis yesterday.

At the same time, the exotic pet’s owners were also found. They had imported her from Lebanon around three years ago.

Little Mariou had found refuge in the forest, which is only a small distance from her home.

There are dense plantations and many gardens in the area, where the little ape found food and water.

“We sent a team out to find the monkey, who located her and tried to trap her with a net,” Kyrazis explained. But the monkey was difficult to catch and, after she climbed up a tree, the men were ordered to use a tranquiliser gun.

The ape fell out of the tree and the veterinary services caught her.
“We notified the monkey’s owner, who came and picked her up.”

Owners Sylvia Sophocleous and her husband said they were delighted to be reunited with their monkey, which they bought in Lebanon as a playmate for their children.

The family own another monkey, but said they were afraid of contacting the authorities when Mariou went missing, because they weren’t licensed to keep the animals. They also claimed that somebody had tried kidnapping Mariou and that was how she managed to escape and wander the streets of Paphos.

Story here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Chimpanzee dies at Chimp Haven

A 31-year-old chimpanzee died Wednesday at Chimp Haven from what sanctuary officials believed were natural causes.

Staff members found Woodruff, who was unconscious and not breathing, in his indoor bedroom about 1 p.m. and tried to revive him, according Linda Brent, Chimp Haven president and director. He had lived at the chimp retirement center since it opened in April 2005.

Woodruff, referred to as "Woodie" by the staff, is the first chimp that has died at the facility, Brent said.

"He's actually a favorite of everybody's," Brent said. "He was gentle and sweet. He liked people a lot."

The exact cause of the chimpanzee's death is unknown, but staff veterinarians were beginning an autopsy Wednesday afternoon. Final results are expected in two to three weeks, Chimp Haven spokesman Rick DelaHaya said.

Woodie had known health problems, DelaHaya said, including heart trouble and difficulty walking, but those appear to be a result of old age and not the research in which he had been involved. He was kept in an area for medical care not normally seen by visitors.

Chimps older than 30 are considered old, DelaHaya said. Chimp Haven's oldest resident is 54. It's youngest is 14.

Story here.

Primate Peptide May Block HIV

U.S. scientists say they've determined a defense peptide found in primates might block some human HIV transmissions.

As primates evolved 7 million years ago, the more advanced species stopped making a protein that University of Central Florida researchers believe can effectively block the HIV-1 virus from entering and infecting blood cells.

HIV-1 often mutates quickly to overcome antiviral compounds designed to prevent infections. But a team led by Associate Professor Alexander Cole of UCF's Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences has demonstrated that, during a 100-day period, the virus develops only weak resistance to retrocyclin, a defense peptide still found in monkeys and lower primates.

If additional laboratory tests demonstrate only weak resistance, Cole will study how retrocyclin could be developed into a drug designed to prevent the HIV virus from entering human cells.

If we could develop retrocyclin in plants and produce enough of the drug cheaply, we could potentially save a lot of lives, Cole said.

Cole was recently awarded $4 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for the HIV-1 research and similar studies.

Cole's findings appeared in the June 1 issue of The Journal of Immunology.

Story here.

Baby Tamarin Born At Philadelphia Zoo

tamarinThe Philadelphia Zoo now has a new addition to their monkey family. A baby golden lion tamarin was welcomed into the world on August 2.

Pele, an adult female, gave birth to the tiny baby, who will join four other tamarians at the zoo.

Tamarins are typically found in the southeastern coastal region of Brazil. They were considered one of the 25 most endangered primate species in the world, but a major conservation effort has helped boost their population from hundreds to thousands in the wild.

Story here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Calgary Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

The Calgary Zoo welcomed a new addition to its family this weekend.

Zuri, a Western Lowland Gorilla, gave birth Saturday.

Keepers have not been able to determine the gender, but say the baby is bright, alert, and nursing well, and mom is being very attentive.

This is Zuri's first baby. She came to the Calgary Zoo in 2001 from Toronto.

The new family will remain in the main indoor display to keep their routine as consistent as possible.

The zoo says it won't restrict public access to the building unless complications arise for Zuri and the baby.

Story here.

Lincoln Park Zoo pays fine in monkey deaths, gorilla attack

The Lincoln Park Zoo has paid a $3,000 fine after federal authorities ruled it was to blame for a gorilla attack on a zookeeper and for the deaths of several langur monkeys last year, officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the fine was imposed in February and the zoo paid it promptly.

"The matter is considered closed by the USDA" and there are no further investigations of the Lincoln Park Zoo, agriculture department spokesman Darby Holladay told the Chicago Tribune.

Scrutiny of the zoo began after a series of deaths over the past two years.

The deaths included three elephants, two gorillas and a camel - incidents that led to protests by animal rights groups outside the zoo.

But the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service only held the zoo responsible for the gorilla attack in July 2005 and for the deaths of the three Francois langur monkeys in May of that year.

The zoo did not have proper barriers in place at the gorilla habitat and it didn't have adequate enclosures for the monkeys, the USDA spokesman said.

"They followed all regulations regarding all the other animal deaths," he added.

Lincoln Park Zoo spokeswoman Kelly McGrath said the three monkeys died after they ate leaves from a yew tree just outside their habitat.

"We knew a mistake had been made, and we immediately removed the plant not only from the exhibit but from the zoo grounds," she said.

An employee's error led to the zookeeper being bitten by the gorilla, she said.

But the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the action suggests other animals at the zoo could be at risk.

"The fact that the zoo was fined - a rarity, to say the least - for failing to maintain the woefully minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act does not bode well for the animals who still live there," PETA director Debbie Leahy said in a statement.

Story here.

Black spider monkey briefly escapes at zoo

A black spider money briefly escaped its holding area at the Gladys Porter Zoo on Tuesday.

The monkey fled from its keepers as they tried to round up a group of monkeys for their annual physical. While monkey wasn’t able to get out of the zoo’s grounds, it did escape captivity for about two hours.

“You wouldn’t be working in a zoo if you didn’t have to catch something every once in a while,” said Jerry Stone, general curator in charge of mammals.

According to zoo employees, the incident started at about 10:30 a.m. when a group of six primate keepers paddled out to the small island inhabited by four black spider monkeys.

Once on the island, the men descended upon the monkeys, scooping two of them into their nets. With two of the monkeys under control, the keepers closed in on the last two, including Pita, a 7-year-old female.

“When you go out there with nets, they want to get away from you,” Stone said.

A spider monkey doesn’t like to swim, but with the primate keepers blocking access to the trees, the only escape route for the last two monkeys was the resaca.

Pita dove into the resaca, while the other monkey also made its attempt at freedom, drawing the attention of several primate keepers.

Pita dog-paddled to shore, leapt onto the visitor walkway, scampered around the resaca to Macaw Canyon. The primate keepers captured the other monkey, but even as its escape attempt was short-lived, the chase for Pita had just begun.

The men closed in on Pita, cornering her at Macaw Canyon, but once again, she evaded their nets. Pita scaled the Macaw Canyon fence, ran over the exhibit and disappeared.

“We completely lost control,” said Carlos Gonzalez, a primate keeper at the zoo. “We completely lost sight of her.”

Gonzalez and the others regrouped and contacted Stone, telling him about the escaped monkey.

“She can do all of this, but the guys that are chasing her can’t,” Stones said. “He has to go all the way around (the cage), so by the time he gets there, the monkey has moved on.”

Pita had made it to the zoo’s perimeter road and into a thick patch of thorny retamas and huisaches.

To trap her and seal off possible escape routes, several men ran the length of the park to access the perimeter road at one end, while Gonzalez closed in on Pita from the opposite direction.

Gonzalez slowly hacked through a long stretch of bushes. His plan was to flush Pita out of her hiding spot, but first he had to find her.

“I feed them around 3, and I always (whistle),” Gonzalez said. “When they hear that, they know the food is coming.”

Gonzalez’ whistling caught Pita’s attention, and eventually, she called back, which was all he needed locate her and flush her out.

Pita made one last attempt at escape, but Stone trapped her in a group of oleanders. From there, it was just a matter of getting his hands on her. At 12:45 p.m., Pita was finally captured.

“All I could do when I caught her was sort of kneel down and sort of (pant),” Stone said. “I had to just sit there because I was too tired.”

Story here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cypriots out searching for phantom monkey beggar

Is it a mysterious ape? Someone's lost pet monkey or the product of overactive imaginations?

Whatever it is, Cypriot authorities are searching for a stray primate reported to have tapped on windows at dinner time to beg for food near the western resort town of Paphos.

Police could not say whether they thought the animal was an ape or a monkey, but said there was no cause for alarm.

At least two sightings have been reported north of Paphos. A Russian tourist saw the beast in dense woodlands and a local woman said it appeared at her kitchen window, officials said.

Politis newspaper reported that the animal was thought to have either run away or been abandoned by its owner. Apes and monkeys are not indigenous to the east Mediterranean island and their ownership is permitted only with a licence.

"There was a team of people out this morning searching...but nothing was found," a Veterinary Services official said.

Story here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Great Apes Outperform Monkeys on IQ Tests

Great apes -- chimpanzees , orangutans and gorillas -- consistently outperform monkeys and lemurs on a variety of intelligence tests, which proves they're the smartest of nonhuman primates, say researchers who reviewed hundreds of studies.

The findings may help scientists better understand the link between intelligence and human evolution.

"It's clear that some species can and do develop enhanced abilities for solving particular problems. But our results imply that natural selection may favor a general type of intelligence in some circumstances. We suspect that this was crucial in human evolution," study leader Robert O. Deaner, an assistant professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, said in a prepared statement.

He led the study as part of his doctoral dissertation at Duke University Medical Center.

The findings were published online this week in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

"The fact that great apes performed better than other primates in these laboratory tasks is reassuring," study co-author Carel van Schaik, director of the Anthropological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said in a prepared statement.

"After all, in absolute terms, their brains are the largest, and they show the most sophisticated behavior under natural conditions -- deception and culturally transmitted behavior, including tool use," van Schaik said.

Story here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A gibbon born at the Johannesburg Zoo.

baby gibbonA NEW ape baby is adding much excitement to the lives of staff at the Johannesburg Zoo.

Born on 3 June, the baby male gibbon is the offspring of a pair of siamang gibbons who originally came from zoos in Britain. Father Dodi came from Twycross Zoo, while mother Glastonbury came from Marwell Zoo.

"The whole section was literally jumping for joy," said the curator of the animal collections sector, Althea Guinsberg, about the birth.

The delay in the announcement of the birth was to give the vets a chance to monitor the animal, said the zoo's marketing co-ordinator, Senzo Ngcobo.

The two adult gibbons are among "the most loved species in the zoo", she added.

Siamang gibbons are an endangered species, famous for their inflatable throat sacs that expand when the animals make noises.

Story here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ape Trust says P-Suke died of heart problem

Veterinarians have concluded that a bonobo from Great Ape Trust of Iowa died last month of a heart condition, the organization announced Tuesday.

Iowa State University veterinarians examined P-Suke, an adult male, after his death on July 7 while he was under anesthesia in preparation for hernia surgery. The examination, called a necropsy, found that P-Suke had cardiac fibrosis, which results when stiff, fibrous tissue forms in the muscle and lining of the heart. That tissue makes it harder for the heart to pump blood.

Dr. Brigetta Hughes, a veterinarian for the Ape Trust, said there was no way to know whether the anesthesia played a role in the bonobo's death. However, the staff confirmed that the appropriate anesthesia was used in the correct dose.

The trust delayed release of the ISU necropsy until the final report was issued.

"Cardiac fibrosis occurs in great apes as it does in human," Hughes said. "At this time, we're unsure what caused it to develop in P-Suke, but we believe he lived with it for at least several years. We can say, however, the fibrosis was not related to arterial changes such as those seen in humans with poor diet, lack of exercise or hypertension."

P-Suke was born in 1979 in the rain forest of Zaire, now Congo.

Story here.

Langur monkey used to clear out Indian railway

They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, but India's Delhi Metro has hired a monkey to frighten off other monkeys from boarding trains and upsetting passengers.

The langur monkey, trained since the age of three months, has been patrolling monkey-prone stations on a leash.

In June, a monkey boarded a train at the underground Chawri Bazaar station and reportedly scared passengers by scowling at them for three stops. It then alighted at Civil Lines station.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation says it hopes the new hire will avert a repeat of that episode.

"It started working about a month ago and since then we've not had a single incident," said Anuj Dayal, a metro spokesman.

The langur's keeper -- or langurwallah -- is being paid 6,900 rupees (80 pounds) a month.

Langur monkeys are similarly employed around the grounds of parliament and some government buildings in New Delhi.

Story here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gucci the monkey runs from fair

A Capuchin monkey apparently decided yesterday that life looked more interesting on the other side of the bars, Wallkill police said.

The 2-foot primate was spotted by a passer-by shortly before 2 p.m., perched on a guardrail on Schutt Road. Police inquired at the Orange County Fairgrounds, where the annual fair was packing up after closing on Sunday night. They found that the monkey had escaped from a small circus that was part of the fair.

Police last night warned against trying to capture the monkey, who answers to Gucci.

Story here.

Zoo chimp killed by bite from rattler

A chimpanzee died last week at the Los Angeles Zoo after being bitten by a rattlesnake, zoo officials said Monday.

The chimp died Wednesday after it was bitten by a rattler that fell into the Mahali Mountain chimpanzee exhibit, zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said.

The snake bit the chimp from a bush inside its habitat, Jacobs said, adding that antivenin failed to save the primate. A necropsy is being performed on the animal.

A zookeeper close to the situation gave a different account of the incident, saying the chimp's minders waited hours before calling help.

The keeper, who asked to remain anonymous,said the 25-year-old male chimp was bitten at 1 p.m. and got a bad case of the shakes.

"They didn't call anyone til 3 p.m., and then they didn't even call a vet; they called The Reptile House," according to the keeper.

The zookeeper said that instead of giving the chimp antivenin, zoo veterinarians gave him Benadryl.

Rattlesnakes are common in rustic Griffith Park, Jacobs said, but snake-related deaths of zoo animals are rare. Seven years ago, a pair of lemurs died from snakebites, he said.

Story here.

Fair monkey busted for biting kid

Visitors to the North Dakota State Fair who had read a story about Leroy, the Monkey on the Midway, appearing in Wednesday’s edition of The Minot Daily News may have been surprised they were unable to find Leroy at the fair.

At the time the article was written, The Daily News was unaware of an alleged incident that apparently took place Monday, July 24 at the fair.

Capt. Todd Keller of the Ward County Sheriff’s Department said that on July 25, the same day Leroy and his owner, Kelly Payne of Doniphan, Mo., were interviewed for the newspaper article, Leroy was impounded and quarantined after the monkey allegedly bit a child after the child apparently tried to pick up the 9-year-old capuchin monkey.

Keller said Leroy doesn’t have any teeth.

Keller also said the deputy who investigated the incident immediately after it happened, didn’t think the bite broke the skin. However, the child was taken to an emergency room after returning home to Minnesota with his family.

Story here.