Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First Example Of Whispering Observed In Non-Human Primates: Tamarins "Whisper" Around Disliked Keepers

The first example of whispering by non-human primates has been observed amongst a group of tamarin monkeys in captivity in New York City’s Central Park Zoo.

The group of cotton-top tamarins were being observed in order to study their use of human-directed mobbing calls (signals made by groups of prey to confuse and intimidate predators).

However, scientists observed that when a particularly disliked member of zoo staff entered the tamarins’ habitation the primates did not make mobbing calls but instead communicated with one another using “low amplitude vocalizations”.

The research concluded that “the tamarins were reducing the amplitude of their vocalizations in the context of exposure to a potential threat”. In other words the primates - like many humans - felt it was prudent to keep quiet when a disliked or dangerous individual was around.

The zoo keeper in question had been involved in the capture of the tamarins, with the family of five previously exhibiting "a strong mobbing response" in his presence.

Full story here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rihanna's Loris Photo Leads Police To Arrest Protected Primate Poachers

rihanna loris primate
While on a break from her Diamonds World Tour, Rihanna spent a weekend at the beach in Thailand.

At a stop in Phuket, she posted a photo on Instagram of herself in sunglasses, with a furry primate known as the slow loris perched on her shoulder. "Look who was talkin dirty to me!" the pop star tweeted.

The animal, which is native to Southeast Asia, is listed as a protected species, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities, who apparently follow badgalriri on Instagram or at least have tipsters who do, arrested two people — a man, 20, and a boy, 16 — who provided the loris for the photo opp, Phuket district chief Weera Kerdsirimongkon told AP on Sunday.

The man and teen face a penalty of up to four years in prison and a 40,000 baht ($1,300) fine.

Weera said authorities are constantly trying to crack down on vendors who exploit wildlife by offering them up to tourists who will pay to pose with elephants, orangutans and other animals.

"It's like a cat-and-mouse game. But this time it's bigger because a celebrity like Rihanna posted the picture, and there were more than 200,000 'likes' from around the world," he said.

Full story here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Herpes-Infected Monkeys Terrorize Florida

Hundreds of rare wild monkeys — some carrying herpes — are on the loose in Florida after a tour guide brought the spunky critters to the state long ago.

Wildlife officials said that three pairs of Rhesus monkeys were transported to a park near Ocala in the 1930s by tour operator Colonel Tooey after a “Tarzan” flick sparked a fascination with the creature.

But the breed has since boomed and more than 1,000 of the monkeys now live in the state, wildlife officials say.

State officials have caught more than 700 of the monkeys in the past decade — most of which tested positive for the herpes-B virus.

Wildlife officials now consider the monkeys a public health hazard.

Full story here.

Orangutans Plan Their Future Route And Communicate It To Others

Male orangutans plan their travel route up to one day in advance and communicate it to other members of their species. In order to attract females and repel male rivals, they call in the direction in which they are going to travel. Anthropologists at the University of Zurich have found that not only captive, but also wild-living orangutans make use of their planning ability.
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For a long time it was thought that only humans had the ability to anticipate future actions, whereas animals are caught in the here and now. But in recent years, clever experiments with great apes in zoos have shown that they do remember past events and can plan for their future needs. Anthropologists at the University of Zurich have now investigated whether wild apes also have this skill, following them for several years through the dense tropical swamplands of Sumatra.

Full story here.

Vaccine 'Clears HIV-Like Virus' In Monkeys

A vaccine for the monkey equivalent of HIV appears to eradicate the virus, a study suggests.

Research published in the journal Nature has shown that vaccinated monkeys can clear Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) infection from their bodies.

It was effective in nine of the 16 monkeys that were inoculated.

The US scientists say they now want to use a similar approach to test a vaccine for HIV in humans.

Prof Louis Picker, from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, said: "It's always tough to claim eradication - there could always be a cell which we didn't analyse that has the virus in it. But for the most part, with very stringent criteria... there was no virus left in the body of these monkeys."

Full story here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Evidence Shows Apes Can Visually Organize Biological Information like Humans Do

Concept formation -- as in being able to distinguish cats from dogs or to recognize the biological similarities between chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans and categorize them accordingly -- is a way of organizing information based on visual cues, one that humans utilize from an early age. But we are not the only ones. Orangutans, and possibily gorillas, are able to organize information based on visual cues in the same manner as humans, according to new research published in the new open-access journal PeerJ.

The discovery goes against the view that concept formation is dependent on formal training and/or the ability to form verbal labels for such concepts.

Jennifer Vonk, an associate professor of psychology at Oakland University, built upon a previous study where she tested a group of orangutans' and a gorilla's ability to differentiate between different animal species by selecting images on a computer touch-screen. In that experiment, orangutans, but not the gorilla, appeared to learn intermediate level category discriminations, such as primates versus non-primates, more rapidly than they learned concrete level discriminations, such as orangutans versus humans

Full story here.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Monkey Tears Off Baby's Testicle And Eats It During Terrifying Zoo Attack

This eight month old baby is recovering in hospital after a monkey tore off one of his testicles before running away and eating it.

The distressing attack took place at the Guiyang Qianling Wildlife Park in Guìyáng, the capital of Guizhou province in Southwest China, according to reports.

The mother was changing her son's nappy when the animal attacked, ripping off the testicle before dropping it onto the ground.

An elderly man then reportedly picked up the severed appendage but the monkey snatched it from his hand before scampering away and eating it.

The boy's injury is not life-threatening, Chinese media reports.

Full story here.