Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mystery Ailment Strikes Lincoln Park Zoo Chimps

Lincoln Park Zoo officials are watching six ailing, quarantined chimpanzees around the clock after an adolescent member of the group died in the zoo's hospital earlier this week.

The 9-year-old chimp, a male named Kipper, died Tuesday, a day after veterinarians brought him to the zoo hospital. He and the other six members of his group, who are usually on exhibit in the Regenstein Center for African Apes, came down with a mysterious upper respiratory infection March 19.

The cause of the respiratory ailment is still unknown, and there is no indication that it has spread to the ape house's other chimp group or to its two gorilla families, said Steve Thompson, the zoo's vice president of conservation programs.

The initial necropsy reports listed pneumonia as the cause of Kipper's death, according to Thompson. The youngest member of his group, Kipper had a congenital condition that may have limited his breathing capacity, causing more serious problems for him than for the others, Thompson said.

Great apes like chimpanzees and gorillas suffer from the same sorts of respiratory diseases as humans, so zoos have been instituting increasingly more rigid protocols to limit direct contact between humans and apes. Even on a normal day at Lincoln Park Zoo, any human coming into contact with the apes is required to wear sterile masks, clothing and footwear.

It's possible the apes could contract disease from wild animals that occasionally get into their outdoor habitats, such as squirrels and birds, Thompson said, adding that it may be impossible to learn how the chimpanzees were infected.

With the initial symptoms in the chimpanzee group persisting over the weekend, the zoo took the seven chimps off display and put them in quarantine quarters in the lower level of the ape house.

The facility has no true isolation ward, but ill and healthy animals are kept on opposite sides of the building and keepers do a complete clothing change when moving between groups.

Story here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

E. coli transfer people to gorillas

The study, published in Conservation Biology, examines the exchange of digestive system bacteria between humans, mountain gorillas and domestic animals with overlapping habitats. The findings show the presence of identical, clinically-resistant bacteria, in gorillas, which implies that antibiotic resistant bacteria or resistance-conferring genetic elements are transferring from humans to gorillas. Gorilla populations that are the subject of research and tourism are particularly vulnerable.

It has been observed elsewhere that apes that are focus of research or tourism apes could be entry points for pathogens into the ape population. In rural Uganda, for example, antibiotics are easily obtained over-the-counter and may not always be used appropriately as evidenced by high rates of antibiotic resistance in bacteria from people in rural Uganda.

The results further show that even in well-managed situations, mountain gorillas may be at increased risk of pathogen exchange with humans and domestic animals, and preventing direct contact between people and mountain gorillas may not be sufficient for eliminating microbial exchange.

Other actions may be needed, such as encouraging hand washing before and after entering the forest, discouraging human defecation in the forest and mandating the wearing of aerosol-limiting face masks for people entering ape habitats.

Antibiotic resistance is an emerging problem in humans, and the presence of resistant bacteria in gorillas suggests that targeted interventions are needed to ensure natural disease resistance and overall health among native gorilla populations.

Story here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monkey Jungle Closed By Herpes

monkey herpes parkThe drive-through monkey jungle at Longleat in Wiltshire has closed after a monkey was found to have Simian B herpes, which can be fatal to humans.

Only one creature in the group, a female, was found to have the virus during routine tests of the rhesus monkey colony at the safari park.

The jungle will remain closed while the park finds out how it tested positive when all the others are negative.

The monkeys are regularly tested by the Health Protection Agency.

Keith Harris, head warden at Longleat, said: "We are well aware that Simian B herpes is dangerous for humans.

"We are being governed by the Health and Safety Executive and are taking every precaution to make sure that no-one is put in any danger.

"We expect the Monkey Jungle to be closed for the next few weeks while we and the Health Protection Agency investigate how this has happened."

The Simian B virus is part of the herpes family and is not thought to be a serious infection for monkeys - but it can be fatal if transmitted to humans.

Nigel Scott, of the Herpes Viruses Association, said: "This virus is fatal for humans and should not be confused with the everyday herpes simplex virus which commonly causes cold sores."

The monkeys were last routinely tested in October and were all found to be negative. Monkey Jungle has not been open to the public since then as it was closed for the winter.

The infected monkey is currently in quarantine.

Story here.

Gorilla receives MRI

The on-site procedure—performed by dozens of wildlife veterinarians, zookeepers, and medical personnel from several institutions—was made possible by the Bobby Murcer Mobile MRI Unit, a 48-foot-long MRI facility on wheels that conducted a comprehensive neurological scan on the brain of Fubo, a 42-year-old western lowland gorilla. Fubo is one of two adult males, or silverbacks, living in the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit, which houses one of the largest breeding groups of western lowland gorillas in North America (more than 20 individuals). Fubo recently suffered a seizure, prompting WCS health and curatorial staff to seek out a neurological diagnosis.

The Brain Tumor Foundation responded to WCS's request for assistance with Fubo by sending its mobile MRI facility and staff to the Bronx Zoo's campus, free of charge. The gorilla was sedated for the two-hour procedure, placed into the MRI's magnetic tube for the scans (a snug fit for a patient with gorilla-sized shoulders), and returned to the Congo Gorilla Forest as planned. Under strict protocol, the MRI Unit was cleaned and sanitized after the procedure.

The MRI images were interpreted by staff of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and reviewed with WCS's Global Health Program staff. The findings indicated that Fubo's condition was caused by a lesion in the left temporal lobe of his brain. The specific cause of the problem has not yet been determined. Veterinary staff has concluded that Fubo's condition is not treatable with surgery, so they will continue to treat the gorilla with medication in an effort to control his seizures and other clinical signs.

More story here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mountain Gorillas Caught Getting Drunk On Fermented Bamboo Sap

drunk gorillaWhen wildlife photographer Andy Rouse was told he would find a family of endangered gorillas high on the mountain, he did not expect to find them this high.

Sitting back in the foliage as if it was a cocktail bar, the mountain gorillas had been gorging on alcoholic sap from fresh bamboo shoots and were looking distinctly the worse for wear.

Some were propping up the bar with a bleary air, while others staggered to their feet obviously hoping the mountain police would not ask them to walk in a straight line.

'It was not exactly Gorillas In The Mist, more like gorillas who were p*****,' said Rouse, 43, who was on his fourth trip to see the animals in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, Central Africa.

'I had heard they sometimes get like this, but I had never actually seen it. It was just like any family party when one or two members have a little bit too much to drink.

'The boss of the group, a huge silverback called Kwitonda, and some of the younger males were completely out of it.

'Some were running round cackling to each other, others were going mad swinging through the trees, some were just lying on the ground in an inebriated state.

'Normally, they eat handfuls of other vegetation, like a sort of salad to soak up the sap, but this time they were just enjoying a drink.'

The bam-boozled family lives between 8,000 and 13,000 ft up the mountain and are some of the 380 gorillas still living in Rwanda, an area made famous after Dian Fossey's conservation work there.

The book and film, Gorillas In The Mist, told how the animals were threatened by loss of habitat, poachers and disease. Miss Fossey was murdered by poachers in 1985.

To protect the gorillas, photographers and safari groups are not allowed to go within 21ft of them.

Mr Rouse said: 'I was allowed to stay with them for only an hour each day and it was difficult taking photographs of them at their party because I was laughing so much. It was hilarious.'

As these remarkable pictures show, 30-stone Kwitonda could hold his liquor - up to a point.

'When I went back the next day, it was all very quiet, as if they were nursing gorilla-sized hangovers.'

Story and pics here.

Hundred Of Rare Primates Found In Quang Binh

red shahnked doucThe Scientific and Rescue Centre of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, in the central province of Quang Binh, on March 23, announced its discovery of 41 groups of Siki gibbons (Nomascus leucogenys siki), the biggest Siki gibbon community in Vietnam.

Of the 41 groups of Siki gibbons, 37 live in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and the 4 remaining are in the Bo Trach Forest Farm. There are a total of 115 individual Siki gibbons.

Besides the gibbons, scientists found 10 groups, totaling 137 individual red-shanked douc (Pygathrix nemaeus), also the largest community of red-shanked douc in Vietnam.

Siki gibbons and red-shanked doucs are two rare species of primate, ranked at the E level (endangered) in Vietnam’s and the world’s red books.

The discovery is the result of surveys taken by Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and Fauna and Flora International (FFI), under the framework of an FFI-funded project to raise the scientific research ability of staff at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and to survey the community of Siki gibbons.

Story here.

Katy Perry Peed On By Chimp During Photo Shoot

kate perry chimpPop star Katy Perry was left red-faced during a recent photoshoot - after a chimpanzee urinated on her.

The I Kissed A Girl hitmaker was modelling outfits by designer Jeremy Scott when the embarrassing incident occurred.

She writes on her blog, "Jeremy Scott is one of my all time favorites and he shot the pictures while I got to prance around in his creations. I had a chimp on set with me that day. Fun fact, she peed all over me, I had to take a silkwood shower in the middle of shooting."

Story here.

Beloved Hogle Zoo Gorilla Muke dies

muke gorilla"Muke" the gorilla, a popular attraction at Salt Lake City's zoo since 1996, has been euthanized after a yearlong fight with cancer.

Hogle Zoo officials say the quality of life for the 44-year-old gorilla had drastically diminished over the last week. She was euthanized Monday.

Surgeons a year ago removed cancerous tissue and excess body fluid from her reproductive organs but veterinarians said the cancer had spread to her lymphatic system and couldn't be stopped. Zoo officials had focused on keeping her as comfortable as possible.

Born in 1965, Muke was a Western Lowland gorilla. She had been paired with a male silverback gorilla, 33-year-old Tino. The two bonded but never mated.

Story here.

Endangered Francois Langur Elke Makes Debut At Taronga Zoo

baby monkey
Elke, a five-day-old Francois Langur has faced the cameras at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital in Sydney.

Taronga's keepers have decided to hand-raise the monkey after she was rejected by her mother.

Agile and cheeky, Francois Langur live in highland forests where they forage for a variety of food sources. Babies are born coloured a deep apricot, which eventually grows out to their darker fur.

Taronga's langurs arrived at the zoo from Japan in late 2004 and Elke's parents have happily settled into the Wild Asia area. Hanoi, the male, is very curious and boisterous while, according to keepers, Elke's mother, Saigon, is a little shyer.

Francois Langur monkeys subsist mainly on leaves with fruit, buds, flowers, seeds, stems and bark providing supplements. They drink very little water.

They are are native to northeast Vietnam, southeastern China and west-central Laos, where they inhabit tall riverside crags in tropical monsoon forest in limestone mountains.

Story here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tamarin Gives Birth To Triplets

cotton top tamarinFirst a woman made big news for having octuplets, and now a monkey is making news for having triplets.

It might not seem as big a deal as eight, but for cotton-top tamarins, triplets are very rare.

They were born at the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City a few weeks ago.

Usually, this type of monkey gives birth to twins once a year.

Cotton-top tamarins are one of the most endangered primates in the world.

Story here.

Weekend reading

Wikipedia's List of fictional apes. This should take a while to read through...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NYC Bushmeat crackdown

original article by Edith Honan

Like many West African immigrants in New York's Park Hill neighborhood, Liberian Jacob Massaquoi has a story about bringing bushmeat into the United State -- in his case, three dried monkey carcasses.

Massaquoi listed "bushmeat" on his customs declaration form when entering JFK Airport around 2001. The meat was confiscated and Massaquoi, the head of an African community organization, was fined $250.

"It's like telling an Englishman, you can't have your baked beans," Massaquoi said. "Bushmeat is an integral part of our culture and something that we cherish."

U.S. health officials say a steady flow of bushmeat is brought illegally into the United States, largely by West and Central African immigrants. Officials say the imports are a serious public health hazard.

New York's state legislature may increase the penalties for smuggling, although immigrants say the dangers are overblown and the crackdown smacks of anti-African prejudice.

Officials say even a small amount of tainted bushmeat -- a staple of some African diets that includes chimpanzee, gorilla, antelope, birds and rodents -- could lead to an outbreak of Ebola, monkey pox or other infectious diseases.

"There are definitely people making money out of smuggling bushmeat into the United States and selling it to their friends and their contacts and colleagues who want that taste of home," said Crawford Allan, director of the World Wildlife Fund's traffic program.

In December, U.S. Customs officials at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., discovered the charred carcasses of three monkeys in the luggage of someone arriving from Central Africa, local media reported.

Later this year, federal prosecutors are expected to make their case against Mamie Manneh, 39, a Liberian immigrant from Park Hill -- in the New York City borough of Staten Island -- who has been charged with smuggling bits of baboon, green monkey and warthog into the country.

"I understand why some may say that this is not exactly a pressing issue but if they were one of the 700 remaining mountain gorillas, they would realize it is a very important issue," said Assemblyman Greg Ball, sponsor of a bill that would increase fines for importing bushmeat.

Edward Lama Wonkeryor, a Liberian professor of African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, said he remembers bringing bits of monkey, reindeer and lion to the United States while a student in the 1970s.

While he said he has personally forgotten the taste after living outside of Africa for decades, he says immigrants were being demonized while deforestation, mining and war were much more devastating for the environment.

"The practices of a small African community are being scapegoated for the exploitation of natural resources," Wonkeryor said.

For now, Massaquoi said he is resigned to eating smoked turkey, the U.S. product that he said most resembles monkey.

"Right now, I would pay anything for some bushmeat. I miss it so badly," he said. "It is very tasty, very delicious."

story here.

Gorillas pass heart exam

WICHITA, Kan. — Two 10-year-old gorillas at the Sedgwick County Zoo passed their heart exams with flying colors.

That was the good news Saturday after Jabir and Samson underwent an elaborate medical screening performed by physician Ravi Bajan of Heartland Cardiology and several other medical professionals.

Sedgwick County asked Bajan to perform the heart exam as part of a national effort to determine why gorillas in captivity are dying of heart disease and other complications.

Bajaj said it's unclear why captive gorillas have a high instance of heart failure. Males in their 20s and 30s have been particularly susceptible to heart-related illnesses, staff members said.

Several zoos in the country are scheduling their gorillas for an electrocardiogram, or EKG, to detect the heart's rhythm and weaknesses in different parts of its muscles.

"We hope to find out what's causing the heart muscle weaknesses and how to treat it," Bajaj said.

During the exams Saturday, a team of medical professionals, zookeepers and Douglas Winter of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital of Wichita surrounded the operating table.

They examined a sedated Jabir first, listening to his heart with a stethoscope. An ultrasound captured on a television mounted above Jabir's head showed his heart pumping. Then it was Samson's turn.

"They both have healthy hearts. That's what our hopes were," Bajaj said.

"There is an awe" being in the same room with a massive animal, said Winter, who performed dental exams. He found a fractured tooth causing some pain in Jabir's upper lip, but everything else looked good.

Sandy Wilson, an associate veterinarian, said the zoo plans to examine all eight of its gorillas.

The same exam was performed on the zoo's youngest gorilla, Virgil, several months ago and he had a perfectly normal heart, Wilson said.

Danielle Decker, a senior zookeeper with the Downing Gorilla Forest, said staff trained for the exams for three to six months. They taught the gorillas to hold their arms out for an injection, moved them to different rooms and practiced giving injections with different widths of needles.

"Training helps us do preventative care," Decker said. As an example, she said, the gorillas open their mouths to let staff brush their teeth.

Doctors plan to perform similar exams on the zoo's older silverback gorillas, which can weigh as much as 500 pounds.

story here.

Happily, The Monkey News Is Not Done...

Thanks to the interest of a few devoted followers, I am happy to announce that Monkeys In The News is not quite done. Starting today, we will officially become a group news blog.

In fact, this is an open call to anybody who would like to contribute to Monkeys In The News. Anybody interested in becoming part of the blog team, please email me at dayothemonkey(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will happily add you to the roster of contributors.

I believe Chris did a great job of laying out contributor guidelines, and I am going to reprint them (with my limited edits) here:

Guidelines For Monkeys News Contributors

* Monkeys In The News welcomes all contributors.
* To use Blogger, you must have a Blogger or Gmail account.
* To become a contributor, e-mail us at dayothemonkey(at)gmail(dot)com. We will then invite you to become a contributor by adding your e-mail in the blog's permissions. Look in your e-mail Inbox for instructions from Blogger.
* Posts should be news items about monkeys or primates, other than Homo sapiens. (Neanderthals are iffy, but relevant news is acceptable...)
* Please do not post about your personal life unless is it highly monkey-relevant. (e.g., photos and report from a Monkey Day celebration are acceptable...)
* Please keep posts confined to current news items from legitimate and impartial news sources. Do not write your opinions about news, politics, etc.
* Always post links to sources.
* When possible, please include a relevant photo with each post.
* Please also include at least one relevant label per post.
* Please check Monkeys In The News before you post, to see if somebody else has already posted the item.
* Contributors not following these guidelines may be removed.