Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gorilla In France Lives With Zoo Manager

A gorilla in France is living with a zoo manager and his wife in their home.

Digit, a 13-year-old female, spends her days in an enclosure with other animals at a zoo near Lyon.

But at night, she goes to stay with Pierre Thivillon and his wife Elianne who consider her one of the family.

Digit, who weighs 120kg, even sleeps on the couple's bed.

The arrangement started when Digit's mother refused to breast feed her and has stuck.

Mr Thivillon says: 'It's going very well, because we have a 13-year-old relationship with Digit so obviously we have created a very strong bond with each other.'

The arrangement started when Digit's mother refused to breast feed her and has stuck.

Mr Thivillon says: 'It's going very well, because we have a 13-year-old relationship with Digit so obviously we have created a very strong bond with each other.'

Even the zoo's vet Jean-Christophe Gerard is surprised at the close bond that has developed between the gorilla and her adoptive parents.

'It's an animal. It can have reactions. It can react violently to things it doesn't like,' Mr Gerard said.

'It's a female that was never aggressive with Pierre or Elianne so there has never been any behaviour or other concerns.

Full story here.

Experiment Creates Advertisements To Sell Food To Monkeys

Keith Olwell and Elizabeth Kiehner had an epiphany last year. At a TED talk, the two New York advertising executives learned that captive monkeys understand money, and that when faced with economic games they will behave in similar ways to humans. So if they can cope with money, how would they respond to advertising?

Laurie Santos, the Yale University primatologist who gave the TED talk, studies monkeys as a way of exploring the evolution of the human mind. A partnership was soon born between Santos, and Olwell and Kiehner's company Proton. The resulting monkey ad campaign was unveiled on Saturday at the Cannes Lions Festival, the creative festival for the advertising industry.

The objective, says Olwell, is to see if advertising can make brown capuchins change their behaviour. The team will create two brands of food – the team is considering making two colours of jello – specifically targeted at brown capuchins, one supported by an ad campaign and the other not.

How do you advertise to monkeys? Easy: create a billboard campaign that hangs outside the monkeys' enclosure.

Full story here.

Malnourished Monkeys Removed From Lansing Home

Two monkeys have been seized from a home in south suburban Lansing, according to the Cook County Sheriff's office, found stuffed in cages, "covered in excrement and cigarette butts."

46-year-old Rachel Birkenfeld is charged with possession of a dangerous animal and neglect of owner's duties, although the monkeys in question were found not at her residence but at her mother's home. She allegedly told authorities they were kept at her mother's home because there was more space.

The sheriff's office says one "undernourished" female monkey was kept in a small wire dog cage and a male monkey was kept in a metal cage designed for birds. Five dogs were also recovered, according to the office, "The dogs were also being kept in small filthy cages. None of the animals had food or water."

Full story here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Study: Psychiatric Disorders in Lab Chimpanzees Mirror Those in Human Trauma Survivors

Chimpanzees used in invasive experiments show symptoms of depression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors similar to mood and anxiety disorders seen in traumatized humans, a new study shows. The findings, published June 16 in PLoS ONE, the Public Library of Science’s peer-reviewed journal, raise new ethical concerns about harmful experiments on chimpanzees. Study lead author Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is urging Congress to consider these findings as it weighs the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act.

“Chimpanzees clearly have the capacity to suffer mental and physical anguish, much as humans do,” says Dr. Ferdowsian, a practicing physician and director of research policy at PCRM. “We now know that a chimpanzee's mind and emotional well-being are affected by experimentation in ways that parallel the psychological trauma experienced by victims of torture and other forms of abuse. This makes it critically important for the United States to join the long list of countries that have ended invasive experiments on chimpanzees.”

Full story here.

Woman Falls To her Death After Monkey Pounces On Her

A 35-year-old woman was today killed when she fell from the terrace of her house after a monkey pounced on her in Ranipur town of the district, police said.Poonam had gone to the terrace for some work when a monkey pounced on her. Frightened by the incident, she lost her balance and fell from the building, they said.The victim was rushed to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries, police added.

Full story here.

Miami's Baby Gorilla Dies Overnight

Just five days after being born, a baby gorilla was found dead Friday at Zoo Miami.

"It is with great sadness that Zoo Miami announces the tiny western lowland gorilla, born June 19, Father's Day, has died," stated a news release from the zoo.

Zoo officials don't yet know the cause of death, said general curator Steve Conners. A necropsy is being performed but the results may not be known for two weeks.

"We're pretty disappointed," he said, adding the tiny gorilla's gender wasn't known because it was never removed from the care of its mother, 14-year-old Kumbuka.

Full story here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Research Monkeys Die While Trapped At ULL Facility

UL Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center violated a federal regulation in connection with the deaths of three Rhesus monkeys, a May 31 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service alleges.

The Rhesus monkeys, all one- to two year-old yearlings, died after they were "accidentally blocked" in a chute connecting two outdoor cages, NIRC Director Thomas Rowell said on Wednesday.

Michael Budkie, executive director of the research watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, provided The Daily Advertiser with the report and a letter he sent Wednesday to the USDA seeking citations against UL Lafayette.

The USDA report, based on a self-report that Rowell submitted, states that the three monkeys' bodies had begun to decompose inside the enclosed metal chute, "therefore they had been trapped for some time and not properly monitored."

That indicates the NIRC did not follow Animal Welfare Act regulations requiring daily observation, the report states.

The monkeys probably died from dehydration or starvation, which may have taken days, Budkie said. It also probably took several days for the bodies to decompose, which means the monkeys were probably trapped inside the chute for up to a week before anyone noticed they were missing, he said.

Full story here.

Florida's Mystery Monkey Spotted Again!

The monkey really is alive and well. And we have video to prove it.

Following a story published this week in the St. Petersburg Times about a rhesus macaque's elusive ways, a reader who gets regular visits from the Mystery Monkey e-mailed a video he took from his home.

The 27-second video shows the young male monkey picking seeds from a brick patio and shoving them into his mouth while looking around. The videographer, who asked to be kept anonymous to keep his identity and address private, narrates the short video.

"A raccoon was just out there," he says over the video. "The monkey kind of chased him off a little bit, not much."

The videographer lives near the southern tip of Pinellas County, where the Mystery Monkey has been residing for several months and has been seen in various backyards and streets.

This latest video is perhaps the clearest image of the monkey since he has been roaming throughout the Tampa Bay area over the last couple of years.

Full story here.

Research Monkey Escapes From Emory University

A monkey has gone missing in Lawrenceville.

A 2-year-old female rhesus monkey was counted absent from its compound at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center near Collins Hill Road more than a week ago, according to a statement released by the center.

Officials noticed the primate, which weighs about five pounds, was missing from its compound during a June 15 veterinary exam of the center’s animals.

Each compound inside the 117-acre Emory University field office is fenced in with sheet metal at the top and “block walls” connecting individual compounds, spokeswoman Lisa Newbern said Thursday. Yerkes personnel are unsure how the monkey may have escaped.

“We don’t know, and certainly that’s something that we’re looking at,” Newbern said. “Part of this process is looking at the structural integrity, seeing if anything came loose.”

Newbern said this was the first incident of an animal escaping from the center that current employees “can think of.”

The field office, opened in 1966, sits near the intersection of Collins Hill and Taylor roads, nestled among several subdivisions and a short distance from Collins Hill High School.

Newbern said residents of the Westchester Commons, Edgewater and Richland neighborhoods have been warned about the monkey, though officials stressed that it does not have the herpes B virus, “something common” to the species of rhesus macaques.

“This animal was in the process of being assigned to a behavioral research study, which is the focus of the research at the Yerkes Field Station,” the center’s statement read. “The animal was not part of a scientific study in which it would have been infected with any disease.”

Full story here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Breakdancing Gorilla Video Goes Viral

Calgary Zoo’s “breakdancing” gorilla Zola entered strange territory Tuesday as his Internet video spread around the globe and crossed over into international news.

The video collected nearly a quarter-million views on YouTube by Tuesday afternoon and stories of his funky feat showed up on news sites, blogs and Facebook pages.

With the zoo continuing with a spotlight on gorillas this month, the senior gorilla keeper was equipped with a pocket video camera so he could capture some “gorilla stuff.”

“He told us that Zola . . . (likes) to play in water and just caught this moment in time,” said Skene, adding a staff member added tunes to the video before posting it online.

The “dance” happened in an area where the zoo can transition gorillas between indoor and outdoor exhibits or keepers can check them over.

For Zola, some water was put on the floor for him to play.

Full story here.

Baby Colobus Monkey Born At St. Louis Zoo

A baby colobus monkey is now on view with his family. The male black and white colobus monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Primate House on May 20, and is the first colobus to be born at the Zoo in 11 years.

“Mosi” and all Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their face and half of their tail. They have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their back. Infants will change color gradually until they reach adult coloration at about six months.

The 23-year-old mother “Roberta” came to the Saint Louis Zoo after attempts to introduce her to the colobus group at Binder Park Zoo in Michigan were unsuccessful. After the move to St. Louis, Roberta was easily integrated with the Zoo’s 11-year-old female “Cecelia,” and Mosi’s father, five-year-old “Kima.”

Full story here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pennsylvania Wildlife Officers Seized Helper Monkey

A suburban Pittsburgh man has been fined for illegally possessing a monkey he says acted as a helper for him and his cancer-stricken wife.

Samuel Govannucci says he got the small monkey, named Kira, about 10 years ago as he was recovering from an accident. He says the creature became more important when his wife was diagnosed with leukemia.

But the Pennsylvania Game Commission seized the monkey during a raid in April. On Wednesday Govannucci was found guilty of possession of a monkey without a permit.

The game commission says it rarely grants permits for monkeys because they can carry diseases potentially fatal to humans.

Amanda Govannucci says she has hearing problems and Kira would alert her when someone was at the door.

The Govannuccis say they'll appeal.

Full story here.

Iran Plans To Send Monkey Into Space

Iran plans to send a live monkey into space, a media report said on Thursday.

The space capsule designed to carry a live monkey was unveiled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in February.

"The Kavoshgar-5 rocket will be launched during the month of Mordad (July 23 to August 23) with a 285-kg capsule carrying a monkey to an altitude of 120 km," the Daily Mail quoted Hamid Fazeli, head of Iran's Space Organisation, as saying.

Fazeli announced the plans at the launch of the Rassad-1 satellite to produce detailed maps of the earth. It was put into orbit about 260 km above the Earth on Wednesday.

In 2010, Iran sent a rat, turtles and worms into space aboard its Kavoshgar-3 rocket.

Full story here.

Baboon Adopts Bush Baby

In the grounds of the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, the duo cavort around in each others’ arms, drink milk out of the same bowl and poke mischievously at a Reuters television camera.

“This is not normal. It has not happened here and I guess it has not happened anywhere else,” said Edward Kariuki, a warden at the animal home in the Kenyan capital.

Kenya, however, has a history of unlikely cases of fostering among orphaned animals.

In 2004, a giant tortoise adopted and became an inseparable friend to a baby hippo washed out to sea off the coast of Kenya in the aftermath of the southeast Asia Tsunami. The pair became an Internet sensation.

Full story here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

USDA Cites Princeton For Primate Research Violations

Princeton University continues to run afoul of federal regulations in its testing of primates, including depriving some of the animals of water for over 24 hours, according to a report obtained by The Times.

Lab inspections conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February and April resulted in six violations, most of them involving the watering schedules of the primates used in experiments.

Similar violations were found during an inspection last year at the facility, which university officials said houses 15 macaques and 10 marmosets, and an animal research watchdog group is calling for the federal government to halt all primate experiments at Princeton University.

Inside the research lab at Princeton, neuroscientists study the brains, actions and behavior of the monkeys to gain better insight into the human brain and neurology.

“The treatment of animals at this facility illustrates attitudes of carelessness and negligence that must be punished so that meaningful changes can be made,” said Michael A. Budkie, executive director of the organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN).

Full story here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pet Monkey Injures Two Kids While On The Lam In Ohio

A small monkey attacked two children and ran wild for hours Thursday in Fremont, police said.

The two girls were around nine years old and suffered scratches, according to Fremont Police Chief Tim Wiersma. Wiersma said the girls should be okay.

The grivet monkey, which is about the size of a raccoon, figured out a way to unlatch his leash and run away from his owner on Hickory Street, Wiersma said. Police fired two rounds at the pet monkey during a nearly three-hour pursuit that ended with the owner capturing it around 6 p.m.

Full story here.

Spitting And Peeing Chimps Mimic Aesop Fable

chimp urinating problem solving
In Aesop's 2,000-year-old tale, a crow uses stones to raise the water level in a pitcher to reach the liquid so as to quench its thirst.

But when given a similar set up, chimps were able to attain an out-of-reach, floating peanut by spitting water taken from a dispenser into a vertical tube.

One hungry chimp went even further by urinating into the vessel to get hold of the prized snack.

"He was spitting water into the tube, then got frustrated," explained lead researcher Daniel Hanus from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Leipzig, Germany.

"So he started peeing and then he realised: 'Wait a minute, if I move in that direction, that fills up the tube'."

The chimp's unusual method proved successful, the scientist said. The fact that the peanut was urine-sodden did not deter the animal from eating it, he added.

The study was carried out with gorillas and chimpanzees.

The primates were presented with a vertical glass tube, which was secured to a cage so it could not be moved or broken. At the bottom was a peanut, floating on a small amount of water.

They were also given access to a water dispenser.

The idea was that the animals would take water from the dispenser in their mouths, and then spit it into the tube to raise the water level.

It would take several visits back and forth between the dispenser and tube to gather enough water to get to the peanut.

The team found that none of the five gorillas was able to complete the task.

Chimps however were more successful. Out of 43 chimps, based in the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, in Uganda, and Germany's Leipzig Zoo, 14 worked out that they needed to take the water in their mouths and spit it into the tube, and seven did this enough times to successfully obtain a peanut.

Dr Hanus said the study highlighted the chimps' ability to solve problems.

Full story here.

Woman Mauled By Chimp Receives New Face

chimp attack
A Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009 has received a full face transplant, the third surgery of its kind performed in the country, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital said on Friday.

Charla Nash was hurt after a friend's 200-pound pet chimpanzee Travis went on a rampage. The animal was eventually shot and killed by police.

Nash's face was rebuilt last month by a medical team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents, the hospital announced on Friday.

Working for more than 20 hours, the team replaced Nash's nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and nerves.

The hospital said a double hand transplant was also attempted, but the hands did not thrive and were removed.

Full story here.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Mountain Gorilla Twins Born In Rwanda

mountain gorilla twins
A mountain gorilla in northern Rwanda has given birth to twins, a rare occurrence for an endangered species whose numbers have dwindled to less than 800, officials said Friday.

"The two babies, one male and one female, were born May 27," said Rica Rwigamba, head of tourism and conservation at the Rwanda Development Board.

"The two new-borns and their mother Ruvumu are well," she said.

It is only the seventh time in the last 40 years that a gorilla has given birth to twins. Twin gorillas were last born in February.

Full story here.

'Gangster' Monkeys Removed From Cambodian Temple

gangster monkeys
A gang of big, "sharp-toothed" monkeys have been caught at a Phnom Penh temple as part of a crackdown on the unruly animals after a spate of attacks on visiting tourists, a zoo official said on Friday.

"Phnom Penh authorities asked us to remove the violent monkeys from the temple... The guards there said many visitors had been bitten by big monkeys," Nhek Rattanak Pich, director of Phnom Tamao Zoo and rescue centre, told AFP.

Veterinarians from the zoo tranquilised 13 macaques at the Wat Phnom pagoda on Tuesday and Friday and the operation is set to continue.

The temple is crowded with some 200 semi-tame macaques who occasionally cause havoc when they stray towards nearby homes and hotels, tearing tiles off roofs, destroying laundry and making off with items left lying around.

Full story here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Monkey Escapes Briefly At Kansas City Zoo

A male red-capped mangabey escaped briefly at the Kansas City Zoo today but it made no contact with the public and is back in its holding area.

“He had a little adventure and now he is back in his monkey house,” said zoo Director Randy Wisthoff.

The incident began shortly after 2 p.m. when a keeper neglected to padlock a door in the mangabeys’ holding pen. The monkey, of an African species that can weigh as much as 26 pounds, made it to the public boardwalk in the forested area leading to the gorilla exhibit. Zoo staff herded the public away from the area.

A member of the veterinarian staff tranquilized the animal about 3 p.m. and it was returned to its holding area.

Full story here.