Monday, October 23, 2006

Great Ape pulls alarm at Great Ape Trust in Des Moines

One of the great apes at a research center in Des Moines was doing more than monkeying around -- she ended up with the fire department on the way.

Officials at the Great Ape Trust say a bonobo (bah-NOH-boh) pulled a fire alarm last Friday.

Des Moines fire department spokesman Brian O'Keefe says that was a first. The alarm was reset.

Trust spokesman Al Setka says an adult female named Panbanisha (pan-buh-KNEE'-sha) was the guilty party -- and she's been told not to do it again.

The alarm is mounted on a wall in the bonobo home in an area used by the apes and scientists.

Setka says they're securing the alarm by putting it in a case.

Story here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

AIDS activist with baboon marrow transplant dies

The California AIDS activist who received the first bone marrow transplant from a baboon in a desperate bid to combat the disease died this past week, his partner of 26 years said on Sunday.

Jeff Getty, 49, died from heart failure at a hospital in Joshua Tree, California, on Oct. 9, Kenneth Klueh told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Getty had been suffering from cancer, Klueh said.

Getty was a pioneer among AIDS activists, pressing for greater access for those with the disease to drugs still in development despite unknown risks.

In 1995, he received the bone marrow transplant, a controversial procedure because of its risk of rejection, damage to his AIDS-weakened immune system or unknown infections.

"He was always at the forefront of new therapies. He worked hard to make new AIDS drugs available to people with AIDS with compassionate-use programs and things like that. And he wanted to advance the research," Klueh said.

While the transplant was risky, AIDS researchers at the time had few options in treating the disease, said Jeff Sheehy, an AIDS activist on the governing board of California's voter-approved stem-cell research financing center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

"There was only one prognosis for HIV and that was death at the time he did the experiment," Sheehy said. "It was at a dark time. People were hoping something would emerge, but there was no clear sign of anything emerging to treat HIV, and everyone who progressed to AIDS died."

The transplant neither obviously hurt nor helped Getty, and within a year researchers discovered drug "cocktails," or a combination of drugs, to treat patients with AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Story here.

Monkey to be freed from five year police lockup

A monkey, lodged in an Orissa police station for the past five years, will be freed into the wild, but it will have to wait a bit as officials admit they don't have a suitable cage for the simian's transfer.

Eight-year-old Ramu has been detained inside the Remuna police station in Balasore district ever since he attacked a boy and injured him.

The incident gained communal overtones because the boy was a Hindu and Ramu belonged to a minority family in Jagannathpur village. Tensions ran high for some days and some villagers complained to the police, forcing them to take action.

Authorities' attention was drawn to Ramu's plight after the media, including IANS, reported the matter Saturday and the state government ordered an inquiry.

"I visited the police station and inquired about the ordeal of the Rhesus Macaque," Laxmidhar Behera, a forest range officer, told IANS.

"Our immediate job is to release the simian to the wild. We are taking steps for his release.

"However, the main obstacle is that we do not have a cage. I have asked the officials of the Kuldiha reserve forest to make a cage so that the monkey can be shifted soon," he said.

"I hope by Wednesday it will be completed and we can free the ape," Behera said.

Meanwhile, Ramu doesn't seem to be complaining and is well looked after.

"He eats fruit in the morning and evening and has rice and curry for lunch. We spend at least Rs.20 a day from our own pockets," said police station in-charge Niranjan Kumar Dhir.

While Dhir admitted that the law prohibits keeping a wild animal confined but added that he had little choice. "What can we do? Whenever we have tried to free him, he has come back and attacked people."

Story here.

Former employee blames U.S university officials in monkey deaths

A former employee at the University of California, Davis' primate research center said Wednesday that university officials ignored problems that led to the deaths of seven research monkeys in 2004 when a heater malfunctioned.

Some of the research center's monkeys were being kept at the university's Animal Resources Service, a separate entity that houses a variety animals.

Cheri Stevens, a former animal technician at the California National Primate Research Center said she was present at the Animal Resources Service building when its ventilation system failed a regular maintenance check.

Stevens said she then urged officials to move the monkeys to the primate center, which has 24-hour environmental monitoring in each room. They did not follow her advice, she said.

Several weeks later, the heater at the Animal Resources Service building blew hot air into the animals' room, raising the temperature to about 115 degrees (46 Celsius).

Stevens was an employee of the primate center who regularly went to care for the monkeys housed at the service building, university spokesman Andy Fell said.

The university paid a $4,815 (Ђ3,838) fine to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2005 because of the monkeys' deaths.

Stevens said she was never interviewed by the Department of Agriculture's investigators, even though she was the first technician to enter the overheated room.

Dallas Hyde, the primate center's director, asked a university committee to investigate the multiple complaints Stevens leveled during her news conference Wednesday, Fell said.

Stevens also said mistreatment and starvation of monkeys was common at the Primate Research Center, reports AP.

"It's surprising to us," Fell said. "We think the animals have a very high standard of care."

The primate center is routinely inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, Fell said.

The dead cynomolgous monkeys were breeding monkeys and were not being used for experiments.

Story here.

Texas seizes primate sanctuary

A lawyer for a Texas animal sanctuary Saturday said the state's seizure of the home to nearly 1,000 monkeys and other large primates was "totally unwarranted."

Texas state officials seized the Primary Primates sanctuary after a judge found evidence of substandard conditions and "great mismanagement" of donations, The San Antonio Express-News reported.

Attorney Eric Turton disputed the finding, saying the operation's financial records were in good shape, the animals were well cared for and the sanctuary "will be vindicated."

The 28-year-old primate sanctuary has been embroiled in controversy and legal disputes since March, when it took a group of retired research chimps and monkeys from Ohio State University. Two of the chimps died shortly after their arrival and one monkey escaped its enclosure and has not been captured, the newspaper said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed suit on behalf of the remaining seven chimps and two monkeys, charging conditions at the sanctuary were substandard.

Story here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monkey throws brick, woman killed

A 30-year-old woman who had come to AIIMS to see her nephew a dengue patient in the hospital, died after a monkey threw a brick at her inside the hospital complex, police said today, citing a a complaint filed by her relatives.

Bindu, a resident of Meethapur in Badarpur had gone to the hospital with her husband. The couple was passing near a construction site on the campus when a monkey threw a brick from the eight floor which hit Bindu on her head. She was rushed to the emergency ward, but police said that Sanjay and the deceased’s relatives have alleged that she was refused admission at first.

“We are probing the matter and have registered a case of negligence,” said a senior police officer.

Story here.

Villagers pray for recovery of monkey

The people of a village near Kalpetta are all prayers for the speedy recovery of a monkey hospitalised after suffering an electric shock.

The black Neelgiri langur, has been loved and pampered by the people Nedumullykadalmadu village after it strayed into the hamlet from its forest home four years back, villager said.

Never in confines, it has been welcome to all homes in the tiny village where grown up and children used to treat him with nuts and fruits. But for occasional harmless pranks, the monkey has brooked no trouble for them, the villager said.

The animal ran into trouble yesterday when it climbed up an electric transformer to escape a chasing street dog. On touching the live wires, it had its neck and mouth burnt severely.

The villagers immediately informed the Forest authorities and took the monkey to the veterinary hospital at Pookkod near here, where it is now recovering.

"Neelgiri langurs are mostly found on the slopes of the Western Ghats. They normally shun human habitat and rarely live in harmony with human beings," said Wildlife Protection Society Co-ordinator, S. Guruvayurappan.

Story here.

Stillborn gorilla disappoints zoo

All signs pointed to the likelihood that a healthy baby would be born to Samantha, a 36-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her pregnancy had no problems and delivery was within hours of the projected due date.

But when Samantha's baby was delivered Thursday morning, zoo officials discovered there will be no addition to the gorilla family.

Around 3 a.m., Samantha gave birth to a stillborn baby. It might take several weeks to determine the cause.

"To be honest, it's a little frustrating because everything went great with Samantha," said Ron Evans, primate center team leader. "Everything about this baby and the pregnancy was absolutely ideal. You can't help but feel rotten."

Samantha cradled the baby in her arms Friday. Zoo officials did not have the heart to take the newborn away yet, Evans said. The baby's gender was still unknown.

It wasn't clear whether Samantha understood what happened, but Evans said it won't be much longer.

"We have to give her time to put the baby down and she'll do it when she's ready," he said. "However deeply gorillas understand their own mortality, I'm sure it makes parting a little easier."

Story here.