Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monkey Restrained And Left Alone Dies In New Brunswick Lab

Five months after a monkey was scalded to death in an industrial washing machine at its lab in Pennington, Bristol-Myers Squibb has again been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after a second crab-eating macaque died at a New Jersey facility.

This time, the monkey died at the New Brunswick lab after it was left restrained and unattended, according to an inspection report from the USDA.

Company spokeswoman Jennifer Fron-Mauer confirmed the death, which occurred Dec. 17, but could not provide specific details as to how the primate died or its gender.

"Employees failed to follow established company policies and procedures designed to protect animals in our care," Fron-Mauer said in an email yesterday. "When those policies and procedures are not followed, disciplinary action is taken."

She did not say what kind of punishment was meted out.

Full story here.

Gorilla Briefly Escapes Buffalo Zoo, Bites Keeper

A 400-pound gorilla that escaped from its cage at an upstate New York zoo and bit a zookeeper has been captured in a zookeepers’ lounge and has been tranquilized.

The Buffalo Zoo says a 24-year-old male gorilla named Koga got out of his cage into an aisle where the keeper was working Monday morning and bit her on the hand and calf.

The keeper locked herself in with the zoo’s other gorillas and called the animal escape team.

Police locked down the zoo while Koga was confined to a lounge outside public areas and was tranquilized.

The Buffalo Zoo has six western lowland gorillas in its main animal building: Koga, four females and a baby female. It’s investigating how Koga escaped.

The zookeeper suffered minor bite wounds. She was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Full story here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gorilla Genome Sheds New Light On Human Evolution

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the gorilla, the last great ape to have its genes decoded, and say it gives new insights into differences between the apes and humans -- including their ability to produce competitive sperm.

While confirming that our closest relative is the chimpanzee, the research also shows that around 15 percent of the human gene map resembles the gorilla more closely than it does the chimpanzee genome.

Chris Tyler-Smith, who worked with a team of scientists who presented their findings in a telephone briefing, said that while many human genes are similar to the gorilla versions, it is the ones that differ that are often most intriguing.

One difference that stuck out was in the genes involved in sperm production, he said.

"Gorillas live in groups with one male and lots of females, so there's not much opportunity for sperm competition," he explained. "It was interesting for us to see that some genes involved in sperm formation...had either become inactive in gorillas or had decreased in copy number."

Full story here.

Zoo Gives Aging Gorilla A Bunny Companion

An elderly gorilla that lives at a Pennsylvania zoo has a new companion: a bunny named Panda. The Erie Zoo's gorilla, Samantha, has been without a full-time friend since the death of Rudy, a male gorilla, in 2005.

But officials say the 47-year-old western lowland gorilla is too old to be paired with another gorilla. So they opted last month to introduce her to Panda, a Dutch rabbit, last month.

The Erie Times-News reports Samantha and Panda get along well. Samantha will gently scratch under the bunny's chin and share her food.

Officials at the zoo say Samantha has always had a gentle personality. She was hand-raised and was more comfortable around humans even when Rudy was alive.

Full story here.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Sanctuary Chimp Pregnancies A Surprise As Males Sterilized

After two unexpected pregnancies at a sanctuary for retired research chimpanzees, other female chimps have been put on birth control and the males are getting a new round of vasectomies.

The pregnancy at Chimp Haven, opened in 2005 near Shreveport, was discovered on Valentine's Day when a worker noticed Flora, a 29-year-old chimp, carrying a newborn.

Chimpanzees like to carry things around, and the worker thought Flora was holding a stuffed toy. Then she saw a tiny foot, sanctuary director Linda Brent said Monday.

An ultrasound Friday confirmed 49-year-old Ginger also was pregnant and due in late July or early August, Brent said.

Every male gets a vasectomy before being sent to Chimp Haven because there's a surplus of captive chimpanzees.

Full story here.

Harvard Halts Research After Fourth Monkey Dies

New experiments at Harvard Medical School’s New England Primate Research Center have been suspended after a cottontop tamarin monkey died at the facility on Sunday, the fourth primate death there in 21 months.

Calling the deaths of four primates at the Southborough facility “absolutely unacceptable, deeply regrettable and personally disturbing to me,” Jeffrey Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School, vowed to take aggressive action to resolve systems, processes and human errors at the facility.

“When I learned of the most recent incident on Sunday, I immediately halted all new research protocols and new research on existing protocols at the (New England Primate Research Center),” Flier said in a statement. “The goal of this action is to provide time for our personnel to create and implement a corrective action plan.”

Harvard Medical School is assembling an independent review committee to assess the facility’s logistics and management and established a team led by veterinary staff and supervisors who will perform additional daily checks verifying the heath and wellness of every animal.

Full story here.