Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gorilla Born At Columbus Zoo

A baby gorilla was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, September 29 at approximately 2:00 p.m. The baby, whose sex is currently unknown, is being cared for by mother “Cassie” under the watchful eyes of father “Annaka” and two other members of their group.

This is the first offspring for Cassie who was born at the Columbus Zoo in 1993 and the third for Annaka who was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 1985 and came to the Columbus Zoo in 1993. It is the thirtieth gorilla to be born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

As part of the Zoo’s normal protocol in anticipation of the birth of a great ape, Cassie was under 24-hour observation prior to the birth. Observations will continue indefinitely during this critical time period in order to monitor the overall health of both the mother and baby including care and feeding of the infant. During this time the group will not be able to be seen by Zoo visitors.

Full story here.

Monkeys Can Recognize Themselves In Mirrors

Monkeys may possess cognitive abilities once thought unique to humans, raising questions about the nature of animal awareness and our ability to measure it.

In the lab of University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Luis Populin, five rhesus macaques seem to recognize their own reflections in a mirror. Monkeys weren’t supposed to do this.

“We thought these subjects didn’t have this ability. The indications are that if you fail the mark test, you’re not self-aware. This opens up a whole field of possibilities,” Populin said.

Populin doesn’t usually study monkey self-awareness. The macaques described in this study, published Sept. 29 in Public Library of Science One, were originally part of his work on attention deficit disorder. But during that experiment, study co-author Abigail Rajala noticed the monkeys using mirrors to study themselves.

Full story here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trained 'Monkey Police' Used At Delhi Games

Delhi's security preparations for the Commonwealth Games include a squad of trained langur monkeys to thwart common monkeys who threaten to disrupt the international event by running rampant through public venues.

Reuters reports that the New Delhi Municipal Council has deployed 38 trained langurs to scare away the lesser primates.

The smaller stray monkeys, which are considered by some Indians to be sacred and cannot be killed, roam freely through buildings, creating a public nuisance, the BBC reports.

In 2007, the deputy mayor of New Delhi was killed when he fell from his balcony during an attack by wild monkeys, while 25 other people were wounded when a monkey went on a rampage in the city, the Associated Press notes.

The larger black-faced langurs with gray fur are controlled by trainers who keep them on a long leash.

One langur guards the headquarters of the games organizing committee, while others keep an eye on the major stadiums during the events.

Full story here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deadly Malaria Came To Humans From Gorillas, Not Chimps

A US-led study of malaria parasites in wild apes in Africa suggests that the parasite that causes the most deadly form of the disease in humans, Plasmodium falciparum, did not come from chimpanzees as first thought but from gorillas.

You can read how lead investigator Dr Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US, and colleagues from the US, the Republic of Congo, the Republic of Cameroon, France, and the UK, arrived at this conclusion in a paper published online in the journal Nature on 23 September.

Of the five species of human malaria-causing parasites carried by mosquitoes, P. falciparum is the most prevalent and the most deadly; it causes hundreds of millions of cases of malaria and more than one million deaths every year. However, its evolutionary roots are a much debated topic.

Until this study, it was thought that P. falciparum's closest relative was P. reichenowi, which infects chimpanzees, but this is based on small studies that only included a few apes, and even fewer in the wild.

For their study, Hahn and colleagues analysed the DNA of thousands of samples of droppings from wild-living African apes and discovered that the Plasmodium parasites most closely related to the human one are to be found in the western gorillas rather than chimpanzees or bonobos.

Their findings also suggest that all existing strains of the human form evolved from a single jump from one species to another.

Full story here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Zoo Builds Barrier For Stone-Throwing Chimps

With officials long worried that a serious injury, or even death, is just waiting to happen, a multimillion-shekel barrier is under construction in the capital to separate loud, unruly crowds from frequent rock-throwers.

Sound like another security hot spot? Try the chimpanzee exhibit at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, popularly known as the Biblical Zoo.

“It’s kind of embarrassing to be stoned by a chimp,” said zoo director Shai Doron.

“Chimps know how to throw forehand, but can’t throw overhand, like a baseball. So usually the rocks they throw have a big arc and people have time to escape.”

“The chimps throw rocks every time they’re upset when there are a lot of people,” explained Noa Danen, the head of the primate section at the zoo. “People thought it was funny, until they got a rock in the head.”

Instead of leaving the area when the primates are upset, news of chimpanzees throwing rocks usually draws even larger crowds, said Danen.

“And monkeys throw really well,” she noted.

After frequent incidents of irate chimps tossing rocks at the public, the zoo installed a net across the chimpanzee exhibit 10 years ago. While it took care of the danger of injury, it made the chimps hard to see and even harder to photograph.

A new, reinforced glass barrier is part of a NIS 2 million general overhaul of the chimpanzee exhibit, which will include more room for the chimpanzees to frolic. The plan includes filling in the moat to allow the residents to come right up to the glass and interact with their fellow primates “nose to nose,” Doron said. The glass will be specially treated so as not to shatter on impact from stones or other projectiles.

The zoo will also cover the exhibit with a deep layer of fresh soil, not the rocky Jerusalem soil, in the hopes of halting the flow of weapons into the chimps’ hands.

Full story here.

Jimmy The Painting Chimp Draws Hordes To Rio Zoo

Jimmy the painting chimp
A retired circus chimpanzee is the Cezanne of simians, drawing crowds to a Brazilian zoo to watch him paint. The 26-year-old chimp called Jimmy has been producing surprisingly lovely paintings each day for three weeks at the Niteroi Zoo.

Trainer Roched Seba said Monday Jimmy doesn't like the toys and other diversions that other chimps enjoy. So three weeks ago, Seba introduced him to painting after reading about animals in zoos elsewhere that enjoyed a little canvas time.

Temperamental as great artists can be, Jimmy at times declines to paint if his cage is surrounded by too many gawkers.

But for at least 30 minutes a day, he carefully dips his brush into plastic paint containers and uses broad, bold strokes to create his art.

Full story here.

Scientists Discover New Ape Species In Asia

German scientists said on Tuesday they had discovered a new rare and endangered ape species in the tropical rainforests between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by its distinctive song.

The new type of crested gibbon, one of the most endangered primate species in the world, is called the northern buffed-cheeked gibbon or Nomascus annamensis, a statement from the German Primate Centre (DPZ) said.

"The discovery of a new species of ape is a minor sensation," said Christian Roos from the DPZ.

"An analysis of the frequency and tempo of their calls, along with genetic research, show that this is, in fact, a new species."

The distinctive song "serves to defend territory or might even be a precursor of the music humans make," the statement added.

The male of the new species is covered with black fur that appears silver in sunlight. His chest is brownish and his cheeks deep orange-golden in colour. The females are orange-beige in colour.

Crested gibbons are found only in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China. Scientists had assumed there were six different species but the recent discovery takes the number to seven.

Full story here.

Pesky Monkey Leads To Carjacking

A man trying to get a monkey out of his car was hijacked by two gunmen in Glenwood, Durban, paramedics said on Monday.

Nick Dowell told paramedics his car was parked on Queen Mary Avenue in Glenwood when he opened his car door and a monkey jumped in, Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeff Wicks said.

"The man told us that the monkey was in his car and he was trying to get it out. As he got it out, two men with guns approached him," he said.

Wicks said the pair "pistol-whipped" Dowells several times, then took his car. He sustained severe head trauma.

Paramedics on the scene treated and stabilised him before he was taken to St Augustine's Hospital.

Full story here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Study: HIV Precursor In Monkeys Ancient

The roots of an HIV-like virus in monkeys go back thousands of years more than thought, scientists have found.

Simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, is between 32,000 and 75,000 years old and may even be much older, according to a genetic analysis of SIV strains found in monkeys on Bioko, an island off the coast of Africa.

It took thousands of years for SIV to evolve into its mainly non-lethal state, which could have implications for human immunodeficiency virus, researchers say in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Previous estimates of the virus's age, based on DNA sequencing data, were only a few hundred years.

Full story here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

W.C. Fields Captured!

The monkey that's been running around San Antonio's north side has been caught.

Known as W.C. Fields, he had escaped from a primate preserve for about a week, but personnel caught him Wednesday on Boerne Stage Road, hanging out at a nearby Concept Therapy Institute-- a campus designed to teach people stress remedies.
They spotted him in some trees along the roadway.

"He was just perched on a fence, looking around and he saw me," said Stephan Tello, Executive Director for Primarily Primates.

Tello followed him to the therapeutic campus, where employees there offered their help. Others would video-tape the monkey with their cell phones.

"We have a lot of excitement here, and that's unusual because we teach stress management and behavior modification," said Warren McKenney, who operates Concept Therapy.

Tello and his crew used grapes and bananas as bait to get close to W.C.

When that didn't work, they used Deanna Strobel. W.C. exhibited some excited behavior when she was around, and his handlers wanted to use that to their advantage in capturing the monkey.

"He sounded angry. They said something about being an un-submissive female. I was clapping my hands and striking my knees and making monkey gestures," said Strobel.

Strobel's antics helped prod the animal along, and the handlers said W.C. followed the trail of grapes into the center's banquet hall where he received a mild tranquilizer dart.

He’ll stay in a small cage adjoining the enclosure until tomorrow morning, allowing time for the tranquilizer to wear off. Handlers said it isn’t wise to re-introduce him into the larger enclosure until he’s had time to get reacquainted with the spider monkeys who reside there.

Full story here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monkey Escapes Texas Sanctuary, Traps Woman

Wildlife sightings are expected in the small hills north of San Antonio, Texas.

However, a recent wild encounter with a monkey has spurred the local Sheriff’s deputies into action.

Primarily Primates believe a storm last week ripped open the monkey's enclosure and it allowed the animal to get out.

Sheriff's deputies joined the hunt after a woman reported being attacked and trapped by the primate.

The family says their dog scared up the monkey under the backyard patio and the creature then chased the woman into her garage – trapping her for over an hour.

Too shaken to appear on camera, the woman said her screams finally alerted her nephew who was sleeping in the house.

Sanctuary officials say the monkey is the only escapee after inventorying their populations.

Full story here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Documenting Tilin The Baboon's Rescue

This summer, the ADI Rescue Team rescued and rehomed four ex-circus lions to a sanctuary in the USA, building them a brand new enclosure and pledging to fund their care for the rest of their lives. Now, we are rehoming Tilin the ex-circus baboon to a new home in the UK, where he will be able to live in peace, happiness, and surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature – a far cry from the circus beastwagon.

Follow Tilin's journey here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Animal Testing Restrictions Adopted By European Parliament

European Union on Wednesday ruled to ban animal testing on primates -- including chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans -- as it tries to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research.

After two years of intense debate on how to protect animal welfare without hindering scientific research, the European Parliament agreed to cut back the number of animal tests in Europe and enforce stricter regulations for animal use in research.

Under the new legislation, experiments on great apes are to be banned and strict regulations set on the use of primates in general.

Members of the 27-nation union have been given two years to comply with the rulings. They also need to “ensure that whenever an alternative method is available, this is used instead of animal testing.” And they must find ways to reduce the “level of pain inflicted on animals.”

The revision to the 25-year-old rules had originally envisioned a more complete ban on primate research, but were heavily contested and lobbied by industry.

Researchers argued that primates were crucial for work in finding cures for diseases such as HIV, Alzheimer’s, cancer, hepatitis, malaria and others.

In theory, great apes can be used in such research, but in practice license applications face tough EU scrutiny.

Researchers feel a fair balance has been brought to the table.

Full story here.

Grandpa The Monkey Predicts U.S. Open Results

Grandpa The Psychic Monkey
Paul the Octopus, Germany's world-renowned soccer prognosticator, captivated mankind by correctly picking eight of eight winners in this year's World Cup, including the final. Regrettably, he was forced into retirement shortly after the event, leaving the world devoid of proper wildlife sports handicapping.

To reconcile this, The Wall Street Journal did the only thing that made sense: We went to the Staten Island Zoo and recruited a 34-year-old spider monkey named Grandpa to predict U.S. Open results.

Similar to how Paul picked his games—he would choose from two boxes containing mussels, each marked with the competition's flags—Grandpa picks from two tennis balls in his exhibit every morning, each one labeled with a player competing that day. Whichever ball Grandpa grabs first is his call for the winner.

So far Grandpa has proved that his tennis knowledge runs deep, posting a 3-0 record. On Wednesday, when Melanie Oudin played Alona Bondarenko, Grandpa resisted the urge to make the sentimental choice in Ms. Oudin, the popular American youngster. Instead he prudently snatched the Bondarenko ball, rubbed it on his chest and tried to bite into it like an apple.

Full story here.

Japan Offers $2400 Bounty for Capture of Monkey Terrorizing Resort Town

A Japanese town is offering a 200,000 yen ($2,400) reward for the capture of a monkey that’s broken into houses and attacked 43 people in the past month.

A single male macaque, aged about 5 years, is believed to be responsible for the attacks, said Masayuki Miyazaki, a spokesman for the Mishima city government. The bounty will be introduced today and given to anyone able to lock the monkey in their house, he said.

“Many people are afraid to go outside,” Miyazaki said by telephone today. “We’ve had isolated cases of crop damage by monkeys before, but there’s never been anything like this.”

The monkey is also believed to be responsible for 38 attacks in three nearby towns, he said. The only reported injuries have been minor scratches and bites. Mishima, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Tokyo, updates a website every day to provide residents with information about the attacks.

At least eight people were lightly bitten in the town yesterday and there were 15 reported monkey sightings, according to the website.

Full story here.

Florida's Mystery Monkey Spotted Checking Reflection

The Tampa Bay area's elusive mystery monkey appears to have finally found a friend:

It's himself.

Former St. Petersburg Times employee Don McBride saw the young male rhesus macaque, which has been on the loose for more than a year, and photographed the monkey gazing into a mirror in the Pinellas Point area. The monkey was in his neighbor's backyard near 56th Avenue S and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, McBride said.

"He had been here once before," McBride said. "I saw him in my rear window staring back at me, eating out of the bird feeder."

McBride saw the monkey again on Labor Day. The macaque — who has been seen in various parts of Pasco, Hills­borough and Pinellas counties — appeared to be staring into a cube with mirrors on all sides.

"My neighbors who used to own the house were artists, and they sold their house to artists," McBride said. "They've had that thing in their yard, and we never really knew what it was supposed to be."

The monkey appeared to drawn to it — or rather, to his own reflection in it — Monday morning.

Full story here.

Obese Orangutan Oshine Latest Addition To Monkey World

The latest addition at Purbeck’s Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre holds the unenviable title of the largest orang-utan in Britain.

Oshine, a morbidly obese adult female, weighs in at a massive 100kg, which is double her natural bodyweight.

Experts say Oshine piled on the pounds because of her unnatural lifestyle – she was kept as a pet for 13 years in South Africa and led a sedentary existence.

But a crash diet and plenty of exercise will hopefully work wonders, says Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin.

“Now that she is at the park, we have her on a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits and she is getting a lot more exercise climbing through the specially designed, two story orang-utan creche,” said Dr Cronin.

“It will take a few months for Oshine to reach a more appropriate weight and then she will be ready to meet a new man and consider a family of her own.”

Full story here.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Monkey Makes Off With Multiple Spectacles

A mischievious monkey is not seeing eye to eye with residents of the Himachal Pradesh capital. He is focusing instead on their spectacles and running away with them! The 'farsighted' simian has even entered an office and decamped with a pair of glasses. In the past week, it has snatched five specs from the office of the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), a PSU located in the Tuttikandi area.

HPPCL director (electricity) A.C. Sharma too lost his glasses to the monkey. The monkey entered his room two days ago and smartly snatched them from the office table without showing any interest in other office accessories.

Another employee, Jagdish Chaudhary, said the monkey even pounced on people wearing spectacles, on two occasions, catching victims unawares, removing their glasses and then fleeing into the nearby woods.

"It is becoming a headache for employees here. We are advising visitors not to wear spectacles while coming to office," he said.

Full story here.

Hairdresser Claims Artist's Monkey Attacked Her

A Queens hairdresser was the victim of too much monkey business when the beloved pet monkey of a famed artist and hotelier attacked her. Parvin Hajihossini, 53, is suing the owner of the Kaaterskill lodge in Catskill, NY, Allen Hirsch, the artist who painted Bill Clinton's inaugural portrait as well as several Time magazine covers, after she was attacked by Benjamin, his pet monkey.

Hajihossini's lawyer says she was snapping photographs of Benjamin, a capuchin monkey, at Hirsch's six-room bed-and-breakfast when the monkey jumped out and attacked her on July 18 as a worker watched. She emerged with a long scar across her cheek from Benjamin's bites, and has been depressed and haunted by the attack since.

According to a Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman, "The monkey and owner disappeared shortly after this incident." The Daily News found Hirsch, who said he was in South America painting, and declined to comment. Health officials want to test the monkey for rabies, which would require Benjamin to be euthanized.

Full story here.

Disturbing Photos Leaked From Primate Products Research Facility

The public is getting a rare, if unsettling, glimpse inside an animal research facility right here in South Florida after ten internal photos of severely injured primates fell into the hands of animal activists.

When it comes to experimentation on live animals, emotions and opinions run the gamut. Are animals still used unnecessarily? Isn't it worth saving human lives?

The ten photos don't answer these questions. But they are certainly sparking a very public debate.

Primate Products, located in a non-descript warehouse in Doral, imports primates from around the world and sells them to animal research labs. They're also licensed for research, according to the USDA.

The photos depict bloodied, lifeless primates in a surgical setting, deep gashes on skulls, an open wound on an arm, and you can see reddish or inflamed areas on the hindquarters in one photo.

The photos got into the hands of animal activist groups, initially The Animal Liberation Investigative Unit, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, and SMASH HLS, who reposted them on various websites.

"Yeah, it's horrendous,” says Don Anthony, spokesperson for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. ARFF and one other group filed formal complaints with federal inspectors over the animal welfare act.

“We are demanding that the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, do an immediate and thorough investigation," said Anthony.

Full story and photos here.

Emergency Hip Surgery Performed On Columbus Zoo's Baby Gorilla

Misha the gorilla
Misha (MEE-sha), the infant gorilla who came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after losing part of a leg at less than two months of age is once again recovering from surgery after partially dislocating a hip.

Misha came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from the Louisville Zoo on May 24. She was receiving 24/7 care from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium experts who were raising the infant next to other gorillas while identifying a surrogate mom to integrate her into a Columbus Zoo gorilla family.

On August 23 Misha was placed in an off-exhibit habitat with Pongi (PON-jee), a 46-year-old non-reproductive female who had bonded with Misha and has been the surrogate mother to another gorilla infant. Zoo staff continued to observe Misha and Pongi while providing Misha with supplemental feedings including bottles of formula given through the protective mesh.

On August 28 Misha was exploring the habitat when her uninjured leg became stuck in a climbing structure. Without the use of her other leg she was unable to easily remove herself from feeling caught and vocalized in distress. Pongi quickly responded and in removing her from the structure caused injury to Misha’s hip.

This morning advanced imaging of the hip was performed at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center and based upon the results Misha was taken to surgery. The dislocated hip was repaired and a cast applied. The team of specialists included Nationwide Children’s Hospital pediatric orthopedic surgeons Dr. Kevin Klingele and Dr. Walter Samora, veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Dyce from the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center, and Columbus Zoo veterinarians Dr. Michael Barrie, Dr. Gwen Myers and Dr. Holly Peters.

Full story here.