Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gorilla Gains Internet Fame After Walking Upright

A gorilla has achieved fame for walking upright on his hind legs like a human at a British animal park.

Ambam, a Western lowland gorilla, was filmed strolling about his enclosure by animal researcher Johanna Watson.

She posted the clip on YouTube, where it has been viewed by more than 250,000 people.

Ambam, a 21-year-old silverback, is part of a bachelor group of the critically endangered animals at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, which is run by an international conservation charity, The Aspinall Foundation.

Gorilla keeper Phil Ridges said Ambam, who now weighs 485 pounds, had been hand-reared at another animal park when he was a one-year-old for several months because he was ill.

He said the human-like walking style seemed to run in the family.

"Ambam’s father Bitam used to display the same behavior if he had handfuls of food to carry," Ridges said in a statement. "Ambam also has a full sister, Tamba, and a half sister ... who also sometimes stand and walk in the same way."

"All gorillas can do it to some extent but we haven’t got any who do it like Ambam and he is quite a celebrity at the park," he added. "We think he might use it to get a height advantage to look over the wall when keepers come to feed him and standing up can also help him in looking for food generally in his enclosure as it gives him a better vantage point."

Full story here.

Chattanooga's Hank the Chimp Dies

Chattanooga joins the city's zoo in mourning its best-known occupant. Hank the chimpanzee died Monday at the age of 42. He joined the zoo in 1976, and since then he's become their most famous face. Hank has entertained visitors through the glass and through generations, up until his death Monday morning.

The faces of the chimps show their sadness, either huddled together, or just sitting alone. They don't walk or play, just mourn their longtime friend Hank. Zoo visitor Kimberly Clampet says, "He's probably the most recognized animal at the zoo."

Both visitors and staff came to the zoo to see the familiar face, and wait for his kisses. Even little Camebre, barely old enough to talk, knew Hank. He was known for playing with people more than chumming with the other chimps. Kimberly Clampet says, "It's awful, that's one of the reasons we came to the zoo so often was to visit him, he would always come up to the glass and give her kisses."

Full story here.

Researchers Perform Genomic Analysis Of Orangutans

According to a recently published genome analysis of orangutans, the two populations of the creatures in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra have similarities and differences between the Great Ape family and their human cousins.

"As more information about primates becomes known, we find additional genes for which there is positive selection," said Dr. Kim Worley, associate professor in the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center and an author of the report that appears in the recent issue of the journal Nature.

The study includes a "deep" or intricately defined genome sequence of a Sumatran orangutan and less detailed genomic studies of five Sumatran and five Bornean orangutan genomes.

The scientists reveal intriguing clues about the evolution of great apes, including humans, and showcase the immense genetic diversity across and within Sumatran and Bornea orangutans.

Full story here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lucky The Monkey Recaptured After Escape Attempt

After a day on the run, Lucky the monkey ran out of luck.

The infamous primate -- known for biting more than 100 people near Shizuoka, Japan, in the fall of 2010 -- escaped from a Japanese park Monday morning and was captured around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Rakujuen Park in Mishima, Japan.

Lucky, who is about 4 or 5 years old, escaped when her handler opened an inner door of her cage for cleaning without locking an outer door, according to the park.

Officials in Mishima worried that Lucky could pose a danger to residents and instructed them to lock their doors while she was on the loose, city official Hiroo Sugiyama said.

A caretaker at the park captured Lucky with the help of a witness. No injuries were reported, according to the park.

In last year's biting spree, Lucky bit most of the victims on the hands or legs. She has been in the care of Rakujuen Park since October 2010, the park said.

Full story here.

Zoo Celebrates Harvey The Chimp's 52nd Birthday

Harvey, one of the oldest chimpanzees in the United States, celebrated his 52nd birthday Sunday at the Toledo Zoo with gift-wrapped presents, surprise guests, and a "cake" topped with Cheerios.

Although chimp life expectancy has increased significantly in recent decades with better nutrition and veterinary care, reaching 52 is still an extraordinary achievement, said Suzanne Husband, the zoo's lead keeper of primates.

Harvey is believed to be the third-oldest male chimp in an accredited U.S. zoo. He has been Toledo's sole chimp since the October, 2009, death of his longtime platonic girlfriend, Fifi, who lived to age 49.

Full story here.

Female Gorilla Dies After Seizures At Zoo In Ohio

An Ohio zoo is in mourning over the death of a popular female gorilla thought to be 46 years old.

Officials at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium say Lulu died Monday after suffering seizures that began Saturday. The zoo says the western lowland gorilla had not previously shown signs of illness, besides arthritis.

The animal equivalent of an autopsy is being performed.

Zoo President Dale Schmidt said in a statement Tuesday that Lulu was a zoo favorite known for her pink tongue that was perpetually sticking out.

Lulu was born in Africa and brought to New York's Central Park Zoo in 1966 when she was approximately 2 years old. The gorilla later moved to the Bronx Zoo, then came to Columbus in 1984.

Full story here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chimpanzee And Gorilla Heads Seized In Gabon

Authorities in Central Africa have arrested five people who were found with the heads of 12 chimpanzees and an endangered gorilla in a seizure that officials said Thursday was the largest of its kind in a decade.

WWF said the raid last week in the coastal nation of Gabon also included 30 chimpanzee hands and body parts belonging to leopards, elephants and a lion. If convicted, though, the suspects only face up to six months in prison.

Officials said they did not know what the body parts were intended for.

"Heads and hands, for example, are sometimes used for ritual ceremonies," said Natalia Reiter, communications manager for WWF International. "Some people believe it would bring them luck and some just keep it as souvenirs. Hands are believed to bring more power or are used as trophies."

Wildlife officials believe the case spans far beyond Gabon's borders as lions are not native to the country, so those animal parts originated elsewhere. The suspects are also all from elsewhere in Africa — four Nigerians and a woman from Benin.

"We don't know yet where these were going to be sent to in this case," she said.

WWF African Great Ape Manager David Greer said the haul was "highly disturbing."

"To my knowledge, there has not been a seizure of great ape body parts of this magnitude in Central Africa over the last ten years," he said.

Full story here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gorilla Known For Using Own Cup Dies At Fukuoka Zoo

A gorilla at a local zoo, who is known for using his own cup to drink water, has died of old age.

Willy, the western lowland gorilla who was estimated to be over 45 years old, spent 43 years and three months at the Fukuoka City Zoological Garden, making him over 80 years old in human terms, according to zoo officials. He is believed to have been the oldest western lowland gorilla in captivity in Japan.

Willy drew attention from visitors after he started drinking water using a cup that a visitor to the zoo accidentally dropped about a decade ago.

He lost his appetite several years ago, and his condition worsened on Jan. 3 this year. Even though he showed sings of recovery at one point, he died on the evening of Jan. 16.

Full story here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Little Rock Zoo Loses Two Infant Chimps

The Little Rock zoo announced Wednesday two infant chimpanzees have died. The chimps were born on December 26th, with one being stillborn, the other dying a few days later. The second chimp was thought to be nursing, but necropsy results showed it wasn’t, even though there was never any indication something was wrong. Both were born to a 40-year-old chimp named Judy, who zoo staff says has had birthing problems in the past. Zoo spokeswoman Susan Altrui says because of the chimp’s troubled past, she will no longer be allowed to breed.

“We are now going to be permanently sterilizing Judy, so she will have a tubal ligation. We had had her on birth control pills before, [but] there were a few days where she refused to take her pill, and that was how she became pregnant. So we think permanent sterilization is the only way to prevent it in the future.”

Despite several animal deaths over the past few years, Altrui says the Little Rock zoo is very safe, and is remains accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Full story here.

Chimp Haven's Teresa Passes

One of Chimp Haven's original residents who gained nationwide fame four years ago with the surprise birth of her baby has died, officials announced Monday in a news release.

Teresa, 46, died Friday. She suffered from a degenerative orthopedic condition. She and Rita were the first to arrive at the forested sanctuary nearly six years ago. Both were used in Air Force and biomedical research programs.

The value of Teresa's participation in the research programs may never be publicly known, but she gained national fame Jan. 8, 2007, when she walked out of the forested habitat with a baby chimpanzee cradled in her arms. Then, at age 42, Teresa was considered too old to give birth.

But she defied the odds with the help of Conan, one of the males in Teresa's group, whose vasectomy failed. The baby was later named Tracy.

"Teresa was an excellent mother," Chimp Haven President Dr. Linda Brent said in the news release. "She protected her baby and kept her safe; yet, she knew when to give her freedom."

Although Teresa kept Tracy close, she allowed other members of her group to help with child care. Mason, 26, and Suzanna, 34, have been particularly close to Tracy. Their relationship with the 4-year-old brings comfort to the Chimp Haven staff, according to behaviorist Amy Fultz. "Having Suzanna and Mason look after Tracy could provide her with comfort now that her mother is gone. She already sleeps with Mason at night. We see the two of them curled up together."

Full story here.

Chimps At Nebraska Zoo Bite Off Keeper's Fingers During Attack

A zookeeper in Nebraska lost two fingers when she was attacked by two crazed chimpanzee after she petted one of them.

The worker at the Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff, Neb., was apparently stroking a grumpy 40-year-old chimp on Friday afternoon, local police said, when the animal grabbed her hand, causing her to scream.

Her yelling allegedly spooked another nearby chimp, who joined the attack and also grabbed the woman's hand.

The woman was bitten several times and lost her index finger and ring finger at the knuckle. Her middle finger was cut but remained intact, police said.

It was unclear which chimp's bite took off the worker's digits.

Anne James, executive director of the western Nebraska zoo, said the woman's severed fingers were recovered, and she was taken to a Scottsbluff hospital for treatment.

Doctors in Denver may try to reattach the fingers, James told the Scottsbluff Star Herald.

It was the first attack at the zoo involving chimps, James said.

Full story here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Man Injured In Monkey Attack At Temple

A man was seriously injured Monday in a brutal attack by a monkey on the premises of the historical Hanuman Temple on the picturesque Jakhu hills of Shimla, an official said.

'Sanjeev Kumar, 20, got serious injuries when a fully-grown monkey attacked him without any provocation,' a wildlife official said.

Saved by the passers-by, who scared away the monkey, Sanjeev Kumar was admitted to Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital with multiple injuries, mainly on the face.

The town has a long problem with the monkeys snatching food and scaring people.

Instances of monkeys taking away spectacles and virtually forcing people into giving them foodstuff are not uncommon in the Jakhu temple.

Even in villages across the state, the monkey menace is quite acute as they mainly target the cereal and fruit crops, causing extensive damage.

The government in November last year allowed the farmers to shoot marauding monkeys. This angered animal right activists and they moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court which Jan 6 put on hold the government's decision.

Full story here.

Lincoln Park Zoo Welcomes Newborn Gibbon

It’s a boy or a girl at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Zoo staff aren’t quite sure yet of the sex of the zoo’s newest addition, a healthy white-cheeked gibbon born Thursday.

Male or female, a gibbon’s external genitalia, like many young mammals, look nearly identical.

Zoo officials will know after an examination, and the unnamed baby will reveal its sex to all as it ages.

Adult male gibbons are black, females are beige. All baby gibbons are tan-colored, develop black fur with white cheek patches around 18 months and then settle into their final color during sexual maturity, between 5 and 7 years old.

For now, the little one is hitting all its milestones, clinging to its mother as she swings from branch to branch.

“It’s nursing, holding on and mom is being appropriately attentive to the infant,” said Steve Thompson, the zoo’s senior vice president of conservation programs. “Everything looks great,”

The baby is the third child of Caruso and his mate Burma. The pair joined the zoo in the mid-1990s after the renovation of the Helen Brach Primate House.

Full story here.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Lansing's Potter Park Zoo Welcomes Baby Mandrill

A baby mandrill is the newest addition to the Potter Park Zoo family.

The mandrill, a primate native to Western Africa, was born Nov. 18, 2010, to mother Abuuka and father Loko. The male baby brings the zoo's mandrill population to four, including the baby's brother, Jalani.

Zoo officials typically wait at least a month before announcing the birth of a new animal to make sure the baby and mother are healthy, said Payal Ravani, the zoo's public relations coordinator.

Zoo officials are looking for help from the community in naming the baby mandrill. Names should be found in the region where mandrills originate, such as Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo.

Name suggestions can be e-mailed to by 5 p.m. Jan. 18. Staff will choose the top three names, and the public will vote for the winning name on the zoo's Facebook page,

Full story here.

Lincoln Park Zoo Laying Groundwork For Blood Bank For Apes

In April 2005, Mumbali, an adolescent female gorilla, was dying of a mysterious infection at Lincoln Park Zoo.

In a last-ditch effort to save her life, veterinarian and keepers anesthetized both Mumbali and Kwan, a male gorilla, then laid them side by side to send Kwan's blood directly from his arm into hers.

It was a crude procedure, similar to the way transfusions were done for humans before the blood bank was invented at Cook County Hospital in 1937.

But there was little to go on in the veterinary literature, which had nothing about whether or not gorillas have different A-B-O blood groups like humans or if they needed to have blood matched to their own for a successful transfusion.

"It's one of the most basic pieces of knowledge we need for the care of our animals, and it simply wasn't there," ape-keeper Jill Moyse said.

Mumbali died despite their emergency interventions. Afterward, as keepers and veterinarians met to grieve her passing, Moyse told them Mumbali's death "could only make sense if we can make something good come out of it."

Five years after that impromptu discussion, Moyse and Kathryn Gamble, the zoo's chief veterinarian, have created an entirely new body of literature on great ape hematology. Just as importantly, they have produced an international registry to record the blood types of captive apes on four continents.

The registry represents all four great ape species — gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos, which are sometimes called "pygmy chimps." In North America, it encompasses nearly every healthy male and female adult of the species who could donate blood if another ape of its species with the same blood type needed a transfusion.

"You don't want to transfuse the wrong type of blood because a transfusion reaction can make a bad situation even worse," said Gamble, who recently published the project's research in the journal Zoo Biology.

"These are small populations," she said, "so emergency calls for blood are pretty rare. But when you need it, you really, desperately need it."

Before the project began, the only species of great apes with known blood groups were chimpanzees, the majority of which have Type A blood. That is known because chimps are frequently used as stand-ins for humans in medical research.

Full story here.

Himachal High Court Stays Monkey Cull

The Himachal Pradesh High Court today put on hold the state government’s decision to issue permits to farmers to shoot monkeys that have been destroying their crops and fruits.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Ahuja directed the state government to stop issuing monkey killing permits. “The state should have to protect all the beings… by giving permission to kill the problematic monkeys, the state has not understood and applied its mind to understand the basic intent of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” the bench observed.

The judges have directed the government to look for other options to protect the crops of the farmers, like use of crackers to shoo away the simians, use of rubber bullets and air-guns and air-pistols, sterilisation, etc. “Such options have not been experimented so far,” they said.

A large number of farmers have procured permits from the state wildlife authority to kill monkeys causing them losses, a move that has angered wildlife activists. Himachal Pradesh chapter of People for Animals (PFA), a NGO, and the Animal Welfare Board of India, a central agency, have knocked at the doors of the high court demanding stopping of the animal killings.

The state government has asserted in the court that the permits to shoot monkeys have been given within the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which allows grant of such permits to kill wild animals causing damage to agriculture and humans.

Chief Wildlife Warden AK Gulati informed the court that 15 monkeys have been killed in the state by six out of the total 259 permits issued to the farmers from Nov 1, 2010 to December 5. The permits have validity ranging from two to four weeks. He said permission to kill monkeys had only been given in the fields and there would be selective killing and no mass culling.

Full story here.