Friday, July 30, 2010

Denver Zoo Celebrates First Sumatran Orangutan In 25 Years

Hesty the orangutan
Hesty, the first newborn orangutan at the Denver Zoo in 25 years, is bonding with her mother after an anxious start, zoo officials said.

Zoo officials have taken extraordinary measures - including giving breast-feeding lessons to the baby - to help insure the odds of her survival.

Hesty, a female born June 19 to mother Nias and father Mias, is the first baby for the pair.

After her birth, zoo staff found that Hesty wasn't breast feeding. She became significantly dehydrated, was unable to maintain her body temperature and had a low blood sugar count, said Dr. Felicia Knightly, a zoo veterinarian.

Hesty was bottle-fed to ensure she got the nutrition she needed. Veterinarians watched Hesty closely 24 hours a day to make sure she was safe.

Staff had to sedate Nias to teach Hesty how to find her mother's nipple. An orange velcro vest, simulating Nias' body hair, was donned by zoo staff to help Hesty during her breast-feeding lessons.

Nias was also trained by staff who used a stuffed bear to show her how to put the baby in the right position to correctly nurse Hesty.

The training appears to be successful, as Hesty has begun nursing on her own, zoo officials said at a news conference today.

"We're watching her very closely and taking it day by day, but we're pleased with her progress so far," said Ronda Schwetz, a supervisor with the zoo.

Full story here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

USDA: Princeton University Mishandled Lab Primates

A group of primates participating in animal research at Princeton University may have been receiving water at levels below the minimum amount allowed by federal guidelines and also may not have been properly administered painkillers following surgeries, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report obtained yesterday by The Times.

The citations are among 11 procedural violations reported during a routine inspection of the facility, which university officials said houses 15 macaques and 10 marmosets, conducted in June.

According to the report, a copy of which was provided by the organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), non-human primates (NHPs) used in the research "at times "¦ are offered water on a schedule that is less than the minimum required."

The other citations charge that the university was negligent in following certain reporting protocols required of animal researchers.

Federal guidelines for the treatment of research animals were established under the Animal Welfare Act, which was originally passed in 1966.

Under the standards, researchers are allowed to use a process known as "water scheduling" or "fluid restriction" wherein water or juice is used as a reward for getting animals to participate in various experiments.

The report also cited Princeton for animals undergoing more than one surgical procedure when research proposals indicated they would only be undergoing one.

However, officials with Princeton chalked up most of the violations to improper maintenance of records.

"Overall, I think most of it was oversight and documentation procedures that we were already aware of and in the process of correcting," said Emily Aronson, a university spokeswoman, yesterday.

Full story here.

African Bushmeat Seizure In Chicago

Conservationists say Chicago has become a center of the trade in so-called bushmeat, which involves smuggling animal carcasses eaten by Africans immigrants.

The Chicago Tribune said Sunday that federal wildlife agents raided an African art store last month and seized a shipment of monkey heads and dead cane rats as part of an ongoing investigation.

The feds had no comment on the raid; however, conservation groups say meat from endangered and possibly diseased African animals continues to turn up in immigrant communities in the United States.

The Tribune said the seizure was the latest confiscation of meat being smuggled into the Chicago area from Africa.

"It's an important subculture for a number of people," said Crawford Allan, a spokesman for TRAFFIC, an international group that monitors animal trafficking. "But it just really isn't appropriate for this to happen in the U.S. There's a major conservation impact with this kind of meat."

Full story here.

Colobus Monkey Born At Chehaw Animal Park

monkey bornChehaw Wild Animal Park is proud to announce the birth of the latest addition to the Black and White Colobus Monkey family. The baby was found during a morning routine check on July 5.

The mother and baby were taken off the exhibit to ensure the baby was doing well, and has since been reunited with its family on the exhibit. This is the third successful birth of this species at the park, which was recommended by the Association of Zoo and Aquariums' Black and White Colobus Species Survival Plan.

This plan pairs up animals for breeding with the goal of maintaining a genetically healthy captive population.

Colobus babies, like this one, are born white and gradually change to their characteristic black and white coloring as adults. The gender of the baby is still uncertain at this stage of development.

Full story here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mama Monkey Adopts Baby of Another Species

monkey babyA childless female monkey has found a way to satiate her maternal drive — adopt a baby from another species, zookeepers report today.

The mother, a golden-headed lion tamarin named Maternal Juanita, lives at the ZSL London Zoo. She took a liking to her neighbor's baby — an emperor tamarin — just weeks after it was born.

Now the surrogate mum can be seen jumping around zoo exhibits with the 2-month-old baby on her back. The emperor tamarin's grey body and white moustache stand out against its "mother's" fiery orange mane. The baby tamarin is already showing signs of an adult's signature white moustache. In fact, the animals are thought to have been named after the Emperor of Germany, Emperor Wilhelm II, due to their long, white moustaches.

"Juanita has never had a baby before so it seems like her mothering instinct has just kicked in this time around," said Lucy Hawley, a senior zookeeper at the zoo. "Who knows what animal she'll be carrying around next?"

Full story here.

Monkey Gets Loose, Terrorizes Hamilton County Residents

monkey escapesA Hamilton County family said they have no plans to get rid of a pet monkey that attacked several people and a dog after it got loose on Wednesday.

A teenager in the home called 911 just after 10 a.m. to report that his family's pet Patas monkey had gotten out of its cage and was tearing up his house at 2936 E. 276th St. in Atlanta.

"We have a monkey and he's gotten out of his cage. My brother's hurt and so is my dog," the man told the operator.

When police and animal control officers responded to the scene, the monkey's owner, Bobbi Phelan, had gotten the animal back into his elaborate indoor-outdoor cage.

Her 15-year-old son suffered a cut to his head, and the family's dog had his ear torn off by the animal, police said.

Still, Phelan said the monkey, Eujo, isn't going anywhere, 6News' Tanya Spencer reported.

"He is part of the family. In fact, when people ask if I own a monkey, no, I don't own a monkey, because he's my son. We have a monkey," Phelan said, "But I'm not taking it lightly. I do understand human life and protecting it and the risk."

She said the 40-pound monkey, who she's had for six years, jumped around the home and ate some Pringles, but didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

Full story here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Record-Breaking Monkey Birth at Trentham

monkey birth strangefaceThe oldest Barbary macaque monkey ever known to give birth has produced a daughter at Trentham Monkey Forest in Stoke-on-Trent.

The monkey mum, known as Strangeface, is already a grandma; and is now in the record books as the oldest Barbary macaque recorded as giving birth.

"Strangeface" is so-called due to the unusual colouring on her face.

Strangeface's baby is the seventh born this season at the Monkey Forest attraction on the Trentham Estate.

Full story here.

Man Caught Smuggling 18 Monkeys At Mexico Airport

tiki monkeyA man with a mysterious bulge under his T-shirt was stopped, searched and detained at Mexico City's international airport after authorities found 18 tiny endangered monkeys in a girdle he was wearing.

The Public Safety Department said in a statement Monday that 38-year-old Roberto Cabrera arrived on a commercial flight Friday from Lima, Peru, when authorities noticed the bulge and conducted a body search.

The department says Cabrera was carrying the 6-inch (15-centimeter) titi monkeys in pouches attached to the girdle. Two of the monkeys were dead.

Cabrera was arrested on charges of trafficking an endangered species.

Cabrera told authorities he was carrying the monkeys in a suitcase but decided to put them in his girdle "so the X-rays wouldn't hurt them."

Full story here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Primate Feared Extinct Photographed In Sri Lanka

horton plains slender lorisThe first ever pictures of the Horton Plains slender loris, a rare and endangered breed of primate that had long been thought extinct, have been captured by scientists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), according to a Monday press release from the conservation organization.

According to the ZSL, there were only four sightings of this loris subspecies from 1939 through 2002, which led many scientists to believe that they had all died out. However, as part of the ZSL's "Edge of Existence" program, researchers were able to snap the world's first photograph of a Horton Plains slender loris--officially known as Loris tardigradus nycticeboides.

The photographed subject is an adult male, roughly 8 inches long, with short limbs and thick fur.

The pictures come after more than 200 hours of work, as ZSL researchers conducted over 1,000 evening surveys in a Sri Lankan forest area in search of the nocturnal, wide-eyed primate. Furthermore, according to Andrew Hough of the Telegraph, they were able to capture and measure three live subjects, despite the belief that there are only 60-100 such creatures still alive today.

Full story here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gorillas Learn To Play Fair By Playing Tag

gorillaThere's more to an innocent game of tag than meets the eye. When gorillas play the playground favourite, it teaches them a valuable life lesson about unfairness, social boundaries and retaliation. That, at least, is the conclusion of the first study to observe the primates' reactions to inequity outside a controlled laboratory setting.

Young gorillas often engage in play fights that resemble what children do in a game of tag: one youngster will run up to another and hit it, then run away. The other gorilla then gives chase and hits the first one back (see video, above).

Marina Davila-Ross of the University of Portsmouth, UK, and colleagues studied video footage of six groups of gorillas in zoos. Twenty-one juveniles – both males and females – were observed chasing one another in a total of 86 games.

They found that the gorilla that did the hitting almost always moved to run away before its victim started moving. The researchers argue that this means the hitter is expecting retaliation and has therefore learned something about acceptable social behaviour.

It was a different story, however, when the gorillas played the game more gently, grabbing each other rather than hitting. Then the "grabber" was not the first to run – perhaps because the gorillas saw the gentler act as less aggressive. "Apes use play to explore the ramifications of unfair social situations," says Davila-Ross.

Full story here.

Two Teens Arrested Over Monkey Thefts

Police have arrested two teenagers over the theft of eight monkeys from a wildlife park at Helensburgh, south of Sydney.

On Sunday 30 May this year, four Cotton Top Tamarins and four Pygmy Marmoset monkeys were removed from their cages and stolen from the park in Lawrence Hargrave Drive.

Two days later, police recovered three of the Tamarins in a cage, dumped in an Auburn park.

On June 2, the four Marmosets were also located after being left in the care of an Auburn veterinary clinic.

Investigations into the whereabouts of the remaining Tamarin are continuing.

Full story here.

Fossils May Reveal When Humanity's Ape Ancestors Split from Monkeys

fossilsFossils unveiled on Wednesday reveal that the last ancestor shared by monkeys and humans lived most likely between 24 and 28 million years ago, which is several million years later than previously assumed.

A partial skull of an unknown species was found in western Saudi Arabia that rewrites the timeline of primate evolution and fills in a vast gap in the fossil record, researchers said.

Previous genome-based analysis put the split between hominoids (apes and humans) and cercopithecoids (Old World monkeys) at 35 to 30 million years ago.

But now, the new species, dubbed Saadanius hijazensis, has been precisely dated to nearly 28 million years ago, and may have endured even longer before the split occurred.

The unique features of the fragment show that the last common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans existed further up the evolutionary tree than the genetic approach had originally suggested.

The new discovery makes it possible for scientists, for the first time, to identify the mysterious fossil of another primate that lived four million years later as clearly belonging to a post-split ape.

Full story here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

La Toya: Michael Wanted Surgery To Get Bubbles The Chimp To Talk

michael jackson chimpMichael Jackson spent thousands of dollars trying to get throat specialists to make his chimp Bubbles speak, The UK's News of the World reported yesterday.

The singer, who died in June last year aged 50, pestered surgeons for four years for advice on how he could achieve his dream of having a conversation with his primate friend.

"Michael was always wanting to know how to make Bubbles speak and talk. They definitely communicated. One morning Michael called me and said 'You have got to see this - he mimics everything I do'," his sister La Toya told the British newspaper:

"He wanted to give him vocal chords and asked doctors 'Can I given him an operation so I know what his thoughts are?''"

But the plan was dashed because surgeons said Bubbles might not survive the surgery.

Full story here.

Chased By Monkeys, Woman Falls To Death

A 45-year-old woman fell to her death from the first floor of her house allegedly after being chased by monkeys in Rawatpur on Sunday morning around 8am. The victim has been identified as Usha Devi, wife of Mewalal Yadav.

One moment she was doing household chores, the next she was lying in a pool of blood, said neighbours. She was rushed to hospital where doctors declared her 'brought dead on arrival'.

Her death left the locals shocked, who demanded for a check on the monkey menace. They said similar incidents (monkey bites) had taken place earlier as well and had been reported to authorities concerned, but to no avail.

"This is something which is unbelievable. Monkeys have taken the life of my wife. The doctors said she had died of excessive bleeding and multiple fractures," claimed Mewalal Yadav, deceased's husband.

"The authorities should launch a drive to nab these monkeys that chase people and bite them. They come to our house everyday and, if nothing is offered to them, they start annoyed," claimed a local.

Full story here.

Four Dead Monkeys Found In Agra Hospital's Water Tank

Unable to bear the stench from the water they had been using for several days, employees of the district hospital decided to look into the matter and got a shock when they found four dead monkeys in the overhead tank.

"On Sunday, it was decided to check the water tank. When a person went up the tank, he discovered to his horror four dead monkeys floating and half a dozen live monkeys sitting around," said a resident of the staff quarters in the hospital premises.

The bodies were disposed of and the hospital management ordered that the tank be cleaned up. Water stored by 35 families living in the complex was thrown away and all tanks and utensils thoroughly washed. But some patients naturally panicked and fled the hospital.

Medical Superintendent BD Pathak told mediapersons that the overhead water tank was still incomplete and had not yet been handed over to the hospital by the public works department. "The connections were taken unofficially," Pathak said.

Agra has been grappling with the monkey menace for a long time with two people even dying of monkey bites in recent months.

Full story here.

Lab Monkey Deaths Blamed On Unknown Infection

An unknown pathogen was probably responsible for the sudden deaths of 44 Japanese monkeys that have died in captivity since 2001, according to research by the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University.

Located in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, the institute announced Thursday that only Japanese monkeys had developed symptoms from the pathogen and it would not affect people.

According to the institute, the monkeys died after becoming extremely anemic and bleeding from mucous membranes in their noses. Most lost all their blood platelets, which help close wounds.

The institute decided that the monkeys died from infection with an unknown pathogen because the causes of their deaths could not be determined despite full investigations into identified viruses.

Full story here.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Taliban Training Monkey Terrorists?

monkeys trained talibanAfghanistan's Taliban insurgents are training monkeys to use weapons to attack American troops, according to a recent report by a British-based media agency.

Reporters from the media agency spotted and took photos of a few "monkey soldiers" holding AK-47 rifles and Bren light machine guns in the Waziristan tribal region near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The report and photos have been widely spread by media agencies and Web sites across the world.

According to the report, American military experts call them "monkey terrorists."

As a form of cruel political means, wars are launched to meet political goals through conquest, devastation, assaults and other means.

In a sense, the emergence of "monkey soldiers" is the result of asymmetrical warfare. The United States launched the war in Afghanistan using the world's most advanced weapons such as highly-intelligent robots to detect bombs on roadsides and unmanned aerial vehicles to attack major Taliban targets. In response, the Taliban forces have tried any possible means and figured out a method to train monkeys as "replacement killers" against American troops.

Analysts believe that apart from using "monkey killers" to attack the American troops, the Taliban also sought to arouse Western animal protectionists to pressure their governments to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

An American official responded that the Taliban forces have started training "monkey soldiers" after suffering heavy losses, implying that they have exhausted their tricks. Nevertheless, the Taliban believe that the emergence of "monkey soldiers" indicates that they have found smarter and more effective ways to cope with American troops.

Ironically, the initiators of "monkey soldiers" are the Americans. Between the 1960s and the 1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) trained massive "monkey soldiers" in the Vietnam War and dispatched armed monkeys to dangerous jungles to launch assaults on Vietnamese soldiers. Today, the Taliban forces have given the American troops some of their own medicine.

Full story here.

Wild Cats Ape Monkey Prey

monkeySome wild cats can imitate the calls of their prey, according to a recent study in the journal Neotropical Primates. The study documents the first recorded instance of a wild cat species in the Americas mimicking sounds made by its prey.

The cat is called a margay. It does a near perfect audio impression of one of its favorite dinners: the pied tamarin monkey.

If anecdotal evidence is factored in, margays join jaguars, pumas and even domesticated house-cats as being felines that can copy sounds made by other animals. (If you've ever lived with a cat, you have probably heard it chatter away at birds, mice and other animals. The imitations likely weren't very good, but your kitty doesn't always have to sing for its supper.)

“Cats are known for their physical agility, but this vocal manipulation of prey species indicates a psychological cunning which merits further study,” said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Fabio Rohe.

He and his colleagues first recorded the phenomenon in 2005 when a group of eight pied tamarins were feeding in a ficus tree. The scientists then observed a margay emitting calls similar to those made by tamarin babies. This attracted the attention of a tamarin “sentinel,” which climbed down from the tree to investigate the sounds coming from a tangle of vines called lianas.

Full story here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Monkeys Use Trees To Catapault Themselves Out Of Japanese Laboratory

monkey escapeA group of 15 monkeys at Kyoto University's primate research institute in Aichi Prefecture, which are the focus of a string of high-profile scientific studies, escaped from their forest home which is encased by a 17ft high electric fence.

The monkeys made their bid for freedom by using tree branches to fling themselves one by one over the high voltage electric fence located nearly three metres away.

However, despite the intelligence shown in their great escape, the primates appeared unsure as to what to do with their newfound freedom: the monkeys remained by the gates of the research centre and were lured back into captivity by scientists armed with peanuts.

"It was an incredible escape and the first time something like this has ever happened," Hirohisa Hirai, the deputy head of the Primate Research Institute told the Daily Telegraph.

"We think that maybe there was some kind of dispute among the monkeys in the forest and so this group decided to leave.

"Fortunately, they stayed by the fence after escaping as they probably wanted to stay near to the other monkeys so we managed to recapture them all.

Full story here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

'Never Slaughter A Chicken In Front Of A Monkey'

one legged monkeyA Chinese man who saved a one-armed, one-legged monkey says the primate has paid him back - by killing all of his chickens.

Li Chun, from Menghai village, Yunnan province, says the monkey has become a member of his family since he nursed it back to health.

It has become to devoted to the family and performs many chores around the home - but it also copies everything Li does.

When it saw him crack some eggs to make a meal it went into the hen coop and smashed all of the eggs it could find.

And when Li slaughtered a chicken, the monkey copied him and has since killed about 80 chickens, reports the Chuncheng Evening Post.

"From then on, whenever it's not occupied, it jumps into the chicken pen, and kills the chickens, no matter how big or small, and tries to pluck them," said Li.

"His record is nine chickens in one day. The lesson I have learned is to never slaughter a chicken in front of a monkey."

Li found the seriously injured monkey in a forest more than a year ago when it jumped into a basket on his back.

Full story here.