Friday, August 28, 2009

Gorillas Shown Dating Pictures Of Possible Mate

gorilla photograph
gorilla photo
gorilla shown pictures of mate
The new arrival is coming to ZSL London Zoo from La Boissiere Du Dore zoo in western France this autumn.

Mjukuu, 10, Effie, 16, and Zaire, 34 have been without male attention since the death of silverback Bobby in December.

Staff at the zoo offered the animals a tantalising glimpse of his hulking 20-stone replacement by showing them a picture of him to see if they would make an association between the face in the picture and Yeboah's face when he arrives.

Tracey Lee, team leader of the zoo's mammal south department, said: "It would be nice to think they'll recognise him. I wouldn't be surprised if the penny drops when he arrives."

Staff at the French zoo are also showing German-born Yeboah pictures of the females so that he can get to know their faces too.

It is hoped that Mjuku, the youngest, will get pregnant very quickly.

Ms Lee said: "Mjukuu was holding the picture as if she was reading a newspaper. We think Yeboah will go for her first because she's very pretty, very social and she's a terrible flirt. She used to hug Bobby and sit on his knee all the time, while looking over her shoulder at the others."

Full story here.

Missing Park Monkey Turns Up In House

monkey missingA marmoset monkey missing from a Bedfordshire safari park surprised a family when it suddenly turned up on a curtain rail in their house.

Two-year-old Kite, who went missing from Woburn Safari Park, appeared at a house in nearby Aspley Guise.

Gemma Peck, 18, was eating breakfast and watching TV when her boyfriend Colin Hinder, 21, noticed Kite.

Safari park staff were alerted and Kite was returned to his proper home.

Kite's twin, Ponty, is still missing following last week's escape.

Miss Peck's mother, Jean, said her daughter and boyfriend thought it was a stuffed, motorised toy.

"It just kept moving its head backwards and forwards watching all that was going on," she said. "The television was on so he was probably watching a bit."

A spokesman for the safari park said the marmosets were free-ranging animals and it was not unusual for them to forage in the woods within the park for several days at a time.

"It is therefore highly probable that Ponty is within the boundary of the 3,000 acre walled Woburn estate," the spokesperson said.

Dr Jake Veasey, head of animals and conservation, said: "Marmosets live on insects and Ponty was probably following these insects in the hedgerows and woodland around Woburn Safari Park when she got lost.

"Finding a marmoset outside the boundary of the park is unprecedented and Woburn Safari Park will be monitoring the group carefully for the next couple of weeks to understand why this happened. "

Full story here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lab Produces Monkeys With 2 Mothers

monkey cloneScientists have produced monkeys with genetic material from two mothers, an advance that could help women with some inherited diseases have healthy children but that would raise a host of safety, legal, ethical and social questions if attempted in people.

Using cloning-related techniques, the researchers developed a way to replace most of the genes in the eggs of one rhesus macaque monkey with genes from another monkey. They then fertilized the eggs with sperm, transferred the resulting embryos into animals' wombs and produced four apparently healthy offspring.

The technique was developed for women who have disorders caused by defects in a form of DNA passed only from females to their children, and the researchers said they hope the work will eventually translate into therapies for people.

"We believe this technique can be applied pretty quickly to humans and believe it will work," said Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, who led the work, published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.

Many scientists hailed the research as a technically impressive feat that could help many families rid themselves of a variety of terrible disorders caused by defects in genetic material known as mitochondrial DNA.

"This is of great importance. This approach will be beneficial to many families," said Jan Smeitink, a professor of mitochondrial medicine at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

But the work could also raise thorny ethical and legal issues, including questions surrounding the creation of offspring with DNA from two mothers and a father.

"With this you have potentially three genetic parents," said David Magnus, director of Stanford University's Center for Biomedical Ethics. "This will create the potential for legal and social conflicts."

If applied to people, the work would permanently alter genes for their future generations, violating a long-standing taboo against tinkering with the "germline" because of the chance of unforeseen consequences. Some experts worry, too, that germline genetic manipulation would give rise to a market in expensive elective genetic enhancements.

Full story here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cop Investigated For Feeding Gorillas Pop-Tarts

GORILLA poptartsA police officer in America is under investigation over allegations that last year he snuck into a zoo after hours to feed gorillas Pop-Tarts.

The police officer, who hasn't been identified, was reportedly one of a larger group of people let into Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minneapolis, by two security guards at around 2 a.m. one day last January.

Surveillance cameras caught the officer apparently then trying to feed the snacks to the gorillas, who are named Schroeder, Gordy and Togo. The zoo says that Pop-Tarts are not part of a gorilla's diet.

The zoo says they don't know if the gorillas actually ate the Pop-Tarts, but that the animals do not appear to have suffered any ill-effects from the experience.

Full story here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hunter Shot in Monkey Cull

A member of a hunting group here has been arrested for allegedly shooting a fellow hunter to death on Sunday morning after mistaking him for a monkey, police said.

Police accuse Suminori Maeda -- a 51-year-old resident of the Chiba Prefecture city of Kimitsu -- of mistakenly shooting 72-year-old fellow member Masayoshi Murakoshi with a shotgun in a mountain forest in the city at around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. The two were reportedly taking part in the culling of wild monkeys, in response to the municipal government's request for the extermination of harmful animals.

Murakoshi was rushed to hospital, but later died from injuries to his upper body, according to police.

Police, who arrested Maeda on the spot on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in injuries, are now investigating the case for alleged professional negligence resulting in death. "I mistook Murakoshi for a monkey," Maeda was quoted as telling investigators.

According to police, Maeda and Murakoshi were among 11 members participating in the hunting trip from early Sunday morning. After learning that hunters had found some monkeys, Maeda is believed to have mistaken Murakoshi -- who was at about 20 meters away on the other side of a river -- for a monkey and shot the victim with the shotgun.

Full story here.

Machu The Monkey Briefly Breaks Out Of Wellington Zoo

machu monkeyA tiny monkey's big day out ended abruptly when he got cold feet.

Pygmy marmoset Machu who weighs about 120 grams escaped from his enclosure at Wellington Zoo yesterday, a fortnight after he and female friend Picchu moved in.

He appeared to be following in the pawprints of Minty the monkey, who spent nearly a week on the run before being recaptured by Christchurch's Willowbank Wildlife Reserve last Wednesday.

Unlike Minty though, Machu strayed a matter of metres from home. He was recaptured two hours after he wriggled out through a crack in the enclosure.

In the open without Picchu, he proved to be a bit of a wuss, primate zookeeper Vimal Patel said. "He's quite nervous when she's not around so, as soon as he realised she wasn't following him, he kind of freaked out and stayed put."

After putting Picchu in a secure part of the enclosure, zoo staff cut holes in the enclosure's roof for Machu to climb back through.

"We did have to give him a little spook to get him across and down inside."

The pygmy pair were now staying in the zoo hospital until staff had blocked any gaps in their enclosure, he said.

"We've had a good look through the enclosure and there are a few small cracks that looked too small for them to get through, but ... "

Machu was unhurt but a bit shaken by his adventure.

Full story here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thailand Launches Primate Birth Control

monkey sterilizationThailand is trying to limit the number of monkeys that roam freely in the town of Lopburi after residents complained the primate tourist attractions are becoming more annoying, and aggressive.

About 2,500 macaques live in close proximity to the people of Lopburi, north of Bangkok, scrambling around its famous, ancient Hindu-Buddhist shrine and Khmer-style pagodas as well as homes and the local market.

The monkeys often snatch bags away from passers-by, and even enter homes to steal food and play. Barbed wire and iron fences are a common sight on buildings to deter them.

For years, residents have tolerated the animals, but the monkey population is growing rapidly and intensifying the battle with humans for food and living space.

Veterinarians, who are sterilizing male monkeys, say this will benefit the macaques, not just the people.

"There is not enough food or homes for monkeys," said veterinarian Juthamas Sumanam. "If their numbers increase, people will be in trouble as well as the monkeys."

Every day, a team of vets marches into alleyways, armed with candy bags to tempt the monkeys, who are then captured and operated on.

At least half of the 1,500 male macaques are expected to be sterilized as part of the program. Male monkeys can mate 10 times a day and females can give birth twice a year.

The sterilization procedure takes around half an hour. The monkeys are released back into their concrete jungle the next day, after they have recovered.

Full story here.

Monkey Still Missing After Animals Released At Zoo

loose monkeyAn animal is still missing from a Wisconsin zoo after vandals broke into some of the cages.

More than a dozen animals got out and wandered around the Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls, Wis. on Wednesday.

"They found the fence here was cut into, a couple of big holes in the outside fence, and they found all the cages open, said William Faherty, the Chippewa Falls Park and Recreation director.

Faherty said the vandals had a bolt cutter to cut some of the locks or they pried the cages to let the animals out.

"The lemurs stayed in, but the capuchins got out and the coatimundi got out and the porcupines got out," Faherty explained. Workers were able to re-capture the porcupines and the male capuchin fairly quickly.

Eight buffalos also roamed free.

"They let the buffalo out," Faherty said. "They opened up the pasture and we have eight buffalo that were out walking in the street."

The buffalo got hungry and came home. Zoo workers captured the coatimundi late on Thursday. Coatimundis are a relative of the raccoon.

Workers are still searching for a female capuchin monkey, which is a challenge in the 300-acre park.

"Cold weather is what's going to bother her and that's what our concern is, that we find her before the cold weather really hits, because she can't survive," Faherty said.

Full story here.

Roasting Lemurs Threatens Endangered Primate In Madagascar

lemur huntedLemurs, an endangered species found on Madagascar, are being illegally hunted and ending up roasted at restaurants on the world’s fourth-largest island.

An increase in logging in protected nature reserves has opened areas for hunting the tree-leaping primate, with “large” numbers now ending up as dinner in local restaurants, Russ Mittermeier, president of Conservation International, said today in a telephone interview from Washington.

“What we’re seeing is likely just the tip of the iceberg,” Mittermeier said. “Once this kind of hunting starts, it’s very easy to destroy an entire population within weeks. These are very na├»ve animals and easy to hunt.”

Poachers are paid about 50 U.S. cents for each lemur, which are then sold to restaurants for about $4, the conservation group said. Hunters use slingshots, poison and traps to kill the lemurs, which are noted for their large reflective eyes and wailing cries of the Indri and other species. Lemurs are only found on Madagascar and smaller surrounding islands.

The surge in lemur hunting is taking place amid a political crisis in Madagascar, a former French colony, adding to a lack of monitoring and protection of nature reserves in parts of the island off southeast Africa. The lemurs, which range in size from one-ounce pygmies to 22 pounds, live in communities as small as a few acres and as large as a few hundred.

Full story here.

Rare Primate Gives Birth To Twins At Metrozoo

tamarinA pair of endangered primates are the newest arrivals at Metrozoo. They're twins and they were born less than a month ago.

But if you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the babies known as Cotton Top Tamarins, you'll have to wait.

The parents have been raised in captivity at the zoo, but the species originates from the tropical forests of northern Colombia. It's believed that there are fewer than 1,000 left in the wild.

Fully grown Cotton Top Tamarins aren't very big. In fact, they only grow to weigh about a pound, but they're great parents.

Both parents care for their young and the image shows a father carrying them. He will take on that responsibility until they have to nurse, which is when he will turn them over to the mother.

Ron Magill, Miami Metrozoo spokesman, said they are still too fearful for public viewing. The twins were just born on July 25th.

Full story here.

Gorilla Returns To Pen After Escaping Enclosure At Denver Zoo

charlie gorillaA gorilla returned to its enclosure after escaping it for a few minutes on Thursday afternoon at the Denver Zoo.

A zookeeper spotted the primate in a private, behind-the-scenes area at the primate house, zoo officials said. Charlie, the 12-year-old gorilla, was spotted in the back of the outside enclosure area.

The zookeeper opened the door to Charlie's enclosure and the gorilla returned to its area.

“I imagine it was curious," Denver Zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart said. "It didn’t get very far. He did come across some monkey biscuits in the back and ate some of them."

Barnhart said nobody was in any danger at any point. Charlie was reported back in its living area and in good shape.

Barnhart said initial reports pointed to Charlie breaking through metal mesh that enclosed its holding area. The area around the primate house was closed shortly thereafter as part of the investigation.

Barnhart said the zoo and the primate area will be reopened on Friday.

Full story here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vandals Try To Release Animals In Zoo

zoo vandalsMore than a dozen animals intentionally were released from their pens in Irvine Park Zoo sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Bill Faherty, Chippewa Falls parks, recreation and forestry director, said two holes were cut in a chain fence that separates the public from the animal cages.

"They were large enough for a body to get through," Faherty said.

The vandals then cut open several cages, allowing three porcupines, two coatimundi (similar to raccoons) and two capuchin monkeys to escape.

"They also let out all the buffalo," Faherty said. "They cut the locks, and they opened the sliding gate."

All eight buffalo returned to their pen in the morning to be fed, he said.

During the day Wednesday one of the porcupines, acoatimundi and a monkey were captured. Another porcupine had been spotted, and workers were trying to get it down from a tree. As of 9 p.m. the three remaining missing animals still were loose and presumably still in the park, Faherty said.

The parks department followed its emergency plan for such a scenario, immediately closing all gates in the park after the damage was discovered. Because the animals are loose, no vehicle traffic was allowed in the park Wednes-day.

The park will remain closed to vehicle traffic this morning as the search continues.

"People walking through, we've told them the situation, and some have helped us look for them," Faherty said. "I don't think there is any danger to the public."

The monkey could attack if provoked, but it likely will shy away from human contact, he said.

Faherty said this is the first time anyone has intentionally let out animals in the park.

Full story here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Police Clear Monkey In Couple's Deaths

spider m onkeyThe pet spider monkey found standing guard near the body of a College Park woman had nothing to do with her death, or that of her boyfriend, police told Sentinel reporter Bianca Prieto in this story.

Officers found Kathryn Whitson, 72, dead in the bedroom with Amos, the pet spider monkey, standing nearby. The body of her live-in boyfriend Walter Simpson, 72, was found in another part of the home. Another three monkeys, all capuchins, were secured in their cages. They also found five cats, 11 dogs and 20 birds.

The dogs and cats were turned over to Orange County Animal Services, while the birds were sent to Fallen Pines Critter Rescue in Christmas.

The monkeys -- Amos, Rosey, Dolly and Andy -- were taken in by the C.A.R.E. Foundation, a non-profit sanctuary in Apopka for non-releasable wildlife. They seemed to be in good condition but looked as though they were stressed, a volunteer said.

Full story here.

Sloth and Primate Fossils Found in Underwater Cave

monkey cave bonesBones from several Caribbean sloths and a primate skull, possibly from an extinct monkey, have been discovered in a prehistoric water-filled cave in the Dominican Republic, scientists reported today.

The animal bones were found alongside stone tools possibly crafted by humans. The researchers say the treasure trove holds clues to the Caribbean's earliest inhabitants.

"I couldn't believe my eyes as I viewed each of these astonishing discoveries underwater," said lead researcher Charles Beeker, director of Academic Diving and Underwater Science Programs at Indiana University, Bloomington. "The virtually intact extinct faunal skeletons really amazed me, but what may prove to be a fire pit from the first human occupation of the island just seems too good to be true."

The tools, made of basalt and limestone, were likely crafted some time between 6,500 and 4,000 years ago, while the animal bones range in age from 10,000 to 4,000 years old, according to the researchers.

The primate skull, which may have belonged to a howler monkey now extinct in the Caribbean, is notable for its small size. "Very few primate skulls have been found in the Caribbean," said Jessica Keller of IU Bloomington. "The others, found in the late 1800s and early 1900s, are three times as large."

Full story here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Couple Found Dead, Monkey Guarding Bodies

monkeyPolice are trying to figure out what happened to two people who were found dead Saturday in an Orlando, Fla., home, surrounded by dozens of pets, including dogs, cats, birds and four exotic monkeys.

One of the monkeys was holding on to one of the two people and would not let go, police told ABC News affiliate WFTV in Orlando.

A family member called police after finding the two inside their home in College Park, police said.

Police identified the two people as Kathryn Whitson and her boyfriend Walter Simpson, both 72. It had not yet been determined how they died, but foul play was not suspected, police said.

"You can't really describe how you feel when you respond to something like that, especially when you have two people dead and you don't know why," Orlando Police Sgt. Barb Jones told WFTV.

Police and Orange County animal welfare agents had been to the home before to investigate reports of squalid conditions in the house.

Full story here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Paignton Zoo Mourns Death Of Rare Gorilla

kiri gorillaA rare gorilla has died suddenly at Paignton Zoo and two of the endangered tiger cubs are recovering after emergency life-saving surgery for crippling injuries.

An expert vet had to be called in to help with emergency surgery after two of the cubs were found to have broken limbs less than a month after one of the quartet born in February had to be destroyed due to severe bone injuries.

The zoo said five-year-old gorilla Kiri died at the Ape Centre on Tuesday evening while being treated for a suspected bacterial infection.

His death is the first gorilla fatality in the dozen years the zoo has been keeping a bachelor group of the great apes.

Full story here.

Minty The Monkey Caught In Banana Trap

minty the monkeyMinty the South American Capuchin monkey, who has been missing from a wildlife reserve in Christchurch, has been found.

Minty has been on the run from Willowbank Wildlife Reserve since late last week and a trap had been set with a banana as bait to try to capture the escapee.

Several people had spotted the little brown South American Capuchin monkey but park staff had not managed to get close enough to catch her until Thursday afternoon.

Willowbank marketing manager Jo Moore says they laid a banana in a trap at the base of the tree she was hiding in. She believes rain overnight Wednesday helped persuade Minty into the trap. She is now back at the park in a heated bedroom to warm up.

Moore says Minty's health will be assessed over the next two days.

Minty last tasted freedom a year ago when she took to the streets of Christchurch during a trip to the vet. After three days on the run, climb and scramble, Minty was safely recaptured and returned to her reserve.

Full story here.

Monkeys Share Human Preference For Imitation

monkeys imitateA new study shows capuchin monkeys prefer humans whose behavior mimics theirs, a trait they share with humans, scientists say.

Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health in cooperation with two Italian institutions examined how monkeys reacted to two types of humans -- ones who copied their actions and ones who didn't.

"If one person imitates what a monkey does, and the other person does not imitate, the monkey prefers to spend more time in front of the person that imitated them," said Dr. Annika Paukner at the National Institutes of Health offices in Poolesville, Maryland.

Research has shown for some time that humans prefer to interact with others who act like them, and people have a subconscious tendency to imitate others. Paukner told CNN the new study shows it is more than just a human trait.

"It's something that's quite old and something very, very basic. It's not just for us sophisticated humans," she said.

In the study, a capuchin monkey was given a wiffle ball and was allowed to interact with a pair of researchers -- one who, using another ball, attempted to mimic the action of the monkey, and one who deliberately acted in a different way.

Monkeys in the study consistently spent more time interacting with the imitators. They also more readily accepted food and trinkets from the mimicking humans, even when the non-imitators offered the same rewards.

According to the report, the new findings indicate an evolutionary link to the way humans form friendships and create social connections. It also eventually may help people who struggle in social situations, including those suffering from autism.

Full story here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Study Shows Bipedal Humans Came Down From The Trees, Not Up From The Ground

wristA detailed examination of the wrist bones of several primate species challenges the notion that humans evolved their two-legged upright walking style from a knuckle-walking ancestor.

The same lines of evidence also suggest that knuckle-walking evolved at least two different times, making gorillas distinct from chimpanzees and bonobos.

"We have the most robust data I've ever seen on this topic," said Daniel Schmitt, a Duke University associate professor of evolutionary anthropology. "This model should cause everyone to re-evaluate what they've said before."

A report on the findings will appear online during the week of Aug. 10 in the research journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Full story here.

Monkey Goes On The Run Again From Willowbank

minty the monkeyA recidivist runaway monkey has wound up outside Christchurch's Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for the second time in a year.

Minty, a female capuchin monkey, made an unfortunate series of errors on Saturday night, resulting in an adventure outside the Monkey Island enclosure.

She has been spotted daily in a thicket of trees near the park.

However, rangers plan to bide their time to ensure a calm capture, rather than panic Minty into running further afield.

Reserve manager Jeremy Maguire said the escape was probably the result of a "not very bright monkey" rather than a calculated breakaway.

"We think she's fallen into the moat (around the Monkey Island enclosure) and swum the wrong way," he said. "Then she's climbed the electric fence and got a shock which swung her up and over. I don't think she's actively tried to get out.

"They're social animals and they like to hang out with the troop."

He said Minty, who was born in captivity, would be feeling "pretty uncomfortable" outside her habitat.

The elusive primate absconded in August last year during an enclosure transfer.

Full story here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Researchers Create Fully Formed Cloned Monkey Embryos

monkey embryo cloneResearchers in Oregon on Wednesday reported they had created the world's first fully formed, cloned monkey embryos and harvested batches of stem cells from them - a feat that, if replicated in people, could allow production of replacement tissues or organs with no risk of rejection.

Successful creation of the cloned embryos, each from a single monkey skin cell, effectively settles a long-standing scientific debate about whether primates - the family that includes monkeys and people - are biologically incapable of being cloned, as some had come to believe after years of failures.

That fact alone could reinvigorate a stalled congressional battle over whether restrictions on human embryo cloning should be tightened or loosened. Currently such work is legal with private funds but off-limits to federally funded scientists.

The Oregon researchers did not transfer the embryos to female monkeys' wombs to grow into full-blown clones, as has been done with several other species. They destroyed them to retrieve the embryonic stem cells growing inside.

Those cells can morph into every kind of cell and tissue in the body, and the Oregon team has already coaxed theirs to become monkey nerves and heart cells that spontaneously beat in unison in a lab dish.

Because they were grown from cloned embryos, those cells are genetically matched to the monkey that donated the initial skin cells. That means that any tissues or organs grown from them could be transplanted into that monkey without the need for immune-suppressing drugs.

"We only work with monkeys," said Shoukhrat Mitalipov, who led the research at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton. "But we hope the technology we developed will be useful for other laboratories working on human subjects."

Full story here.

Orangutans Make Musical Instrument

orangutan kiss squeak leafThe evidence is mounting that culture isn't something unique to us humans: Orangutans in Borneo have developed and passed along a way to make a useful, improvised instrument, researchers report.

When in a tight situation, the orangutans will strip the leaves off a twig and make a crude musical instrument to alter the calls they use to ward off predators — not exactly a Stradivarius, but it seems to get the job done.

Several animals, particularly our primate cousins, have been found to use tools to aid in efforts such as foraging for food, a sign of culture, specifically the transmission of knowledge. This new finding marks the first time an animal has been known to use a tool to help it communicate, say the scientists who studied the behavior.

Wild Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) emit a particular call known as a kiss squeak — a sharp intake of air through pursed lips that makes a kissing sound.

Orangutans make this noise when they feel threatened, for example, when they fear a predator — such as a snake, clouded leopard, tiger or human — most likely to ward the predator off and not as a distress call. (Orangutans are somewhat solitary and it would take too long for the next nearest orangutan to respond.)

Kiss squeaks come in three different forms: unaided (lips only); with the hand in front of the lips; and with leaves in front of the lips. The leaves are stripped off a twig and held in a bundle in front of the orangutan's mouth while the animal makes the kiss squeak.

When scientists first observed this behavior, they weren't sure exactly why the orangutans used the leaves. The new study suggests that the tool lowers the frequency of the kiss squeak, making the orangutan producing the call sound bigger to their potential predator.

Full story here.

Rare Monkeys Stolen From Indian Zoo As Guards Sleep

cage stolen monkeysEight rare monkeys the size of large rats and worth around Rs 1 lakh each in the illicit wildlife market were stolen from Alipore zoo early on Sunday.

The theft was the first in the history of the 133-year-old zoo, though not the first attempt to steal a common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). A lone thief was caught stealing a marmoset, a native of Brazil with grey heads and a pair of furry white ears, in March.

A team of 14 guards was on duty between 10pm on Saturday and 6am on Sunday but none of them knew about the theft until a zoo employee found eight marmosets missing from the enclosure around 8.30am.

Guard Ashok Patra, whose duty it was to keep watch on that enclosure, has been detained. “A probe has revealed that Ashok was asleep when he should have been guarding the enclosure. We are trying to find out whether he has any links with the thieves,” a police officer said.

S.K. Chowdhury, the director of Alipore Zoological Gardens, said four adults and as many sub-adults were stolen. “They weigh between 500 and 700gm and were donated to us by the Delhi-based Institute of Immunology in January 2001,” he told Metro.

The zoo has eight more marmosets in an enclosure at Balaram House, barely 400 feet from the shed that was raided.

Sanjay Kumar Ram, 32, who would feed the stolen marmosets, was on his morning round when he saw the enclosure empty and immediately raised alarm.

A preliminary investigation revealed that three to five thieves, armed with wire-cutters, scaled a boundary wall to enter the campus between 1am and 3am. “After reaching the shed housing the eight stolen marmosets, a couple of the thieves scaled the nine-foot gate and cut the wire mesh. The small opening was enough to take out the tiny primates,” a zoo official said.

Full story here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Created From Diseased African Green Monkeys

african green monkeyTo most people, vaccines sound medically harmless. "They're good for you!" say the doctors and drug companies, but they never really talk about what's in those vaccines. There's a good reason for that: If people knew what was really in those vaccines, they would never allow themselves to be injected with them.

Aside from the dangerous ingredients many people already know about (like squalene or thimerosal), one of the key ingredients used in flu vaccines (including the vaccines being prepared for the swine flu pandemic) is the diseased flesh of African Green Monkeys. This is revealed in U.S. patent No. 5911998 - Method of producing a virus vaccine from an African green monkey kidney cell line.

As this patent readily explains, ingredients used in the vaccine are derived from the kidneys of African Green Monkeys who are first infected with the virus, then allowed to fester the disease, and then are killed so that their diseased organs can be used make vaccine ingredients.

Full story here.

Monkey Takes Train For A Joy Ride

monkey trainIn a bizarre incident, a monkey reportedly got into the driver’s cabin of a railway engine stationed in a northern railway workshop at Alambagh, and as it monkeyed around, it pressed a lever, setting the engine in motion.

The unmanned engine hurtled down the track, hit another engine which got derailed but still travelled about 200 m before getting bogged in muddy ground, just about 15 m short of a row of shops on the busy Kanpur Road.

The incident took place on Tuesday evening. For more than 36 hours, the railways kept mum. On Thursday, the shed-man (supervisor) was placed under suspension and an inquiry ordered.

While railway officials are unwilling to discuss what exactly happened, a workshop employee, who was leaving for home after his duty when the incident took place, said the engine was running and it was a monkey that got in and pulled the lever.

“I did not see the monkey but others said they had seen it in the engine when it suddenly started moving,” said the employee. The area where the workshop is located has a large population of monkeys.

Full story here.

Monkey Study Links Social Stress To Heart Disease

On top of eating a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol, social stress may cause the body to develop and store more abdominal fat, which is a precursor to heart disease, according to researchers with Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Abdominal fat is believed to behave differently than fat deposits in other areas of the body, and is believed to speed up harmful plaque build-up in arteries, paving the way for fatal heart disease.

The researchers said that socioeconomic status is directly related to obesity in the western world, and so is heart disease. They said that poorer people have fewer resources available to them to eat healthier diets and prevent obesity.

By studying monkeys who were fed a western diet high in fat and cholesterol and that were housed in groups that fostered the natural establishment of pecking orders, the researchers observed that subordinate monkeys were often the target of aggression and were left out of grooming sessions.

These animals produced stress hormones that led to an increased development of abdominal fat. In female monkeys, this caused their ovaries to produce fewer hormones that typically protect against heart disease in women.

Full story here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Newborn Joy For Gana The Gorilla After Baby Tragedy

gorilla babyA traumatized gorilla who carried around her dead baby's body for several days in a German zoo last year has given birth again — and this time her offspring is healthy.

Twelve-year-old Gana's very public mourning for her last child gained widespread attention last year. The baby gorilla, Claudio, died when he was three months old of a severe intestinal infection.

Gana's new daughter was born early Sunday, said Ilona Zuehlke, a spokeswoman for the Allwetter Zoo in Muenster.

The newborn is healthy and lively, much to the mother's apparent joy, Zuehlke said Tuesday.

"Gana looks very happy," she told The Associated Press.

Zuehlke said the zoo probably would name the baby Claudia — after Claudia Kleinert, a German television weather forecaster and presenter.

The zoo asked Kleinert to be the baby's godmother because "she showed enormous interest in the mother's last baby, which ended up dying tragically," Zuehlke said.

Visitors already can see the new arrival, one of the zoo's six gorillas.

Full story here.

Scientists Find Malaria Jumped From Chimps To Humans

ape malariaMalaria, which affects some 500 million people a year worldwide, was first transmitted to humans by chimpanzees, according to a US study.

The origins of mosquito-carried malaria has long been unclear, and has lead scientists to come up with several inconclusive theories.

Researchers knew that chimpanzees carry a parasite -- Plasmodium reichenowi -- that is similar to the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, but they were not sure how the two strains were related.

One hypothesis suggested that they had evolved from a common strain over millions of years in their respective host species.

Another theory held that the parasite first emerged in humans and was transmitted to chimpanzees, where it gradually evolved into a separate strain.

But the authors of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, examined a third possibility, using samples taken from wild and wild-born chimpanzees in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.

They identified several new parasites among the chimpanzees they sampled, indicating that the malaria parasite first jumped from chimpanzees to humans.

The study, led by Francisco Ayala of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine, suggests the malaria strain probably jumped species in "a single host transfer."

The leap could have happened as early as two to three million years ago, or as recently as 10,000 years ago, in a process similar to the way the AIDS and SARS viruses jumped from animals to humans, the study said.

Full story here.

Orangutan's "Kiss Squeaks" Make Them More Intimidating To Predators

orangutan kissWild orangutans in Borneo hold leaves to their mouths to make their voices sound deeper than they actually are, a new study shows.

The apes employ the leaf trick when they are threatened by predators, according to scientists observing them.

By holding leaves to their mouths, the orangutans lower the frequency of the sounds they produce.

This is used to ward off predators, giving them the impression the apes are a bigger target.

The international team made the discovery while observing distress calls made by the orangutans.

The apes make the sounds in response to approaches by snakes, clouded leopards, tigers or humans.

These distress calls are known as "kiss squeaks" because they involve a sharp intake of breath through pursed lips, producing a sound similar to that made during a kiss.

But by using the leaves to modify the sound that comes out, orangutans deceive predators into thinking the calls are being made by a bigger animal.

Co-author Madeleine Hardus, from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, told BBC News: "This study clearly indicates that the abilities of great ape communication have been traditionally undervalued and that there may be traces of language precursors in our closest relatives, the great apes."

She added that the findings suggest that primate calling behaviour is not purely based on instinct, but instead is socially learned.

Full story here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Woman Infected With Gorilla Strain Of HIV

gorillas hivA woman who tested positive for HIV has been found to be carrying a new strain of the virus which is thought to have originally been passed to humans by gorillas.

The new strain was identified in a 62-year-old woman who moved to Paris after living in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Three other strains of HIV-1 have previously been identified and are all thought to have derived from a similar virus carried by chimpanzees.

The discovery of the new virus dramatically strengthens evidence that HIV was transmitted to humans from both chimpanzees and gorillas. Researchers from the Anglo-French team that identified the fourth type of HIV-1 said it more closely related to the recently discovered gorilla version of simian immunodeficiency virus, SIVgor, than the varieties associated with chimpanzees.

It is almost certain that other people have the new variety of HIV-1 as the virus appears well-adapted to the human system and the woman it was found in told researchers she'd had no contact with live gorillas or bushmeat. However, scientists are uncertain how widespread the variety is and have yet to establish how dangerous it is. The Cameroonian woman tested HIV positive in 2004, but has yet to show any signs of AIDS.

The researchers reported their findings in the journal Nature Medicine and concluded: "The discovery of this novel HIV-1 lineage highlights the continuing need to watch closely for the emergence of new HIV variants."

Full story here.