2010 Briefs : April - June

April Fool Hotlines at Blank Park Zoo

April 1, 2010  www.kcci.com

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Blank Park Zoo has setup it's annual April Fools' hot lines:
Mr. Rory Lion, 515-974-2670
Ms. Sally Mander, 515-974-2671
Mr. Perry Keet, 515-974-2672
Mr. Wally B. Hopin, 515-974-2673
Each number has a pre-recorded message that will let them know they have been fooled … but in a nice way. The messages are also available at the zoo’s website. Officials said last year, the zoo’s phone system was overwhelmed with 30,000 phone calls on April 1.

2010 Tyler Environmental Prize to Laurie Marker & Stuart Pimm

April 1, 2010  www.eurekalert.org 

Los Angeles, CA -- The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, established in 1973, is the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy, given to those who confer great benefit upon humankind through environmental restoration and achievement. Past laureates include Edward O. Wilson,  Jane Goodall, Jared Diamond, and Thomas Lovejoy. Tyler Laureates receive a $200,000 annual prize and are presented a gold medallion. This year, the award goes to Dr. Laurie Marker, the co-founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, and Professor Stuart Pimm, the Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Marker's nomination for the Tyler Prize was initiated by a former U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Jeffrey Bader. In his letter of nomination, Bader called Marker "literally and figuratively a force of nature," describing the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund as "the most successful project I have ever seen to protect the world's biodiversity." Stuart Pimm’s letter of nomination came from  Edward O. Wilson. Public lectures by the recipients will occur April 22, 2010 at 2 p.m., at the Davidson Conference Center of the University of Southern California, which administers the prize. At a private ceremony, on Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m., the Tyler Prize Executive Committee and the international environmental community will honor the recipients at a banquet and ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Zoo Vets Get a CT Scanner
April 1, 2010  www.suntimes.com  BY KARA SPAK

CHICAGO, IL -- The Maywood hospital has donated a CT scanner able to handle weights of up to 400 pounds to the Brookfield Zoo. Brookfield and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo are currently the only zoos in the country with on-site scanners. "It makes it much easier and safer for the animals," said Michael Adkesson, a Brookfield veterinarian. "When we take an animal to Loyola University Medical Center it has to be under anesthesia for the move." Most of the animals are still anesthetized for the quick scans. Slow moving turtles and small amphibians that are unlikely to move in the seconds needed are the exceptions, he said. Specific body parts of animals weighing more than 400 pounds also can be scanned in the machine. The CT scanner will be used as part of the zoo's routine wellness checks, Adkesson said. For 6-year-old Jessi the aardvark, that means a check of the teeth, which are hard to examine because of her distinctive snout. The zoo's Animal Hospital was renovated to include a lead-walled room holding the equipment. The zoo also owns a digital X-ray machine. Adkesson said they are the only zoo in the country with both machines on site.

Lowry Park Zoo Chief Cleared
April 1, 2010  www.miamiherald.com

TAMPA, FL -- A Florida Department of Law Enforcement inquiry into the business dealings of former Lowry Park Zoo president Lex Salisbury has found no criminal wrongdoing. Lex Salisbury resigned in December 2008 after he was accused of inappropriately using the Lowy Park Zoo's money and resources for personal use, including starting an exotic animal park in central Florida. The investigation conducted by the FDLE found no evidence that Salisbury intended to misappropriate the zoo's money for his personal benefit. According to investigators, they examined 16 issues in the case but found nothing illegal.

Zoo Opens Farm Babies Exhibit
April 1, 2010  wcco.com

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. ― The Minnesota Zoo’s Wells Fargo Family Farm kicks off its 10th anniversary celebrations Thursday with the opening of its Farm Babies exhibit. It features new piglets, chicks, ducklings, calves and goat kids. The farm exhibit brings attention to the past, present and future of Minnesota's family farms. While it's open to the public from April 1 through Oct. 31, the farm operates year round.

Female Orangutan Born at Zoo Atlanta

April 1, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Keisha N. Hines

Atlanta, GA -- Miri, an 18-year-old Bornean orangutan, gave birth to an infant on March 30, 2010. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams continue to observe mother and newborn closely to monitor the infant’s condition. Although Miri is an experienced mother, it is not yet clear that the infant is thriving. The new arrival is only the second Bornean orangutan born at Zoo Atlanta. Six-year-old Satu, born to Miri and her mate Sulango in November 2003, remains with his mother and new sibling. Zoo Atlanta houses the nation’s largest zoological collection of orangutans, now with 11 individuals living in separate family groups. Lori Perkins, Director of Animal Programs, chairs the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Turkey’s Gaziantep Zoo

April 1, 2010  www.worldbulletin.net

GAZIANTEP, Turkey -- Gaziantep is the sixth largest province in Turkey and the largest one in the country's south-eastern Anatolia region. The Gaziantep Zoo is Turkey's largest zoo and is among the most popular zoos in Europe. It is located on 247 acres exhibits ~4,000 animals from 250 species. Director General of the Zoo is  Celal Ozsoyler. The construction of the Gaziantep Zoo began in 1998 and ended in 2001. The popular attraction expects 1.5 million visitors in 2010

Stress Suppresses Population Recovery

April 1, 2010  www.nature.com 

Snowshoe hares in the Canadian territory of Yukon undergo a 10-year cycle of population growth and collapse, closely followed by a similar trend in predator numbers. However, there is a puzzling slow rebound in the number of hares (Lepus americanus) after the decline has ended, even when predators have all but disappeared and food is abundant. Michael Sheriff at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and his colleagues show that high levels of predation result in a sharp increase in levels of maternal stress hormones. These levels remain high in the offspring of these stressed animals and persist into adulthood, depressing reproduction. This suggests that the inheritance of stress levels results in a slow recovery of a population of wild mammals. The study appears in the journal Ecology.

Critical Habitat for Milk Vetch

April 1, 2010   www.gpoacess.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to revise designated critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk-vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus). The previous final rule designated 0 acres (ac) (0 hectares (ha)) of critical habitat and was published in the Federal Register on April 8, 2005. We now propose to designate approximately 16,156 ac (6,538 ha) of land located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, which, if finalized as proposed, would result in an increase of approximately 16,156 ac (6,538 ha). We will accept comments until June 1, 2010. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or U.S. mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R8-ES-2009-0078]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.  For further information contact: Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone (805) 644-1766; facsimile (805) 644-3958.

Zoo’s Baby Gorilla Injured
April 1, 2010  www.courier-journal.com

The Louisville Zoo’s veterinary staff worked late Thursday afternoon to stabilize an infant, after an encounter with her biological father, 22-year-old silverback Mshindi. John Walczak, the zoo director, said the baby lost its left leg from the knee down. The baby was born February 6 to western lowland gorilla Mia Moja. Mshindi came from the St. Louis Zoo in 2005 and this was his first offspring. It is challenging to identify the reason for this occurrence, particularly in light of the fact that Mia Moja, Mshindi and the baby have been together, sharing the same space since the birth and doing well. The staff hopes to return the baby to its mother as soon as possible. Walczak said, “At least for the time being, the mother and father are being separated.” One of North America’s leading gorilla experts, said such accidents are not common.

Chimpanzee Research 50 Years After Jane Goodall

April 2, 2010  www.nature.com Jon Cohen

Fifty years after Jane Goodall arrived in Gombe, the environment has changed dramatically for both primates and the scientists who study them. The current issue of the journal Science focuses on a new crop of chimpanzee investigators in Africa, Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Researchers are conducting refined studies of vocalizations in both wild and captive chimps. Long-term data amassed in the field and at primate centers and zoos are filling in gaps about life span, social structure, reproduction, and disease. Carefully constructed lab experiments are uncovering new insights about cooperation, empathy, and teaching. Comparative work is also taking place with bonobos. Today’s researchers have many advantages. For one, several sites have habituated wild communities, which means a student can go to the field and immediately start a research project. New technologies have had an even broader impact, enabling researchers in both wild and captive settings to explore questions they could not have probed 50 years ago. The chimp genome is now available, and more routine DNA sequencing has exposed occult infections like the chimp AIDS virus, SIVcpz, and complex familial relations. Experiments with captive apes using touch-screen computers reveal new dimensions in their cognitive capacities. Global imaging systems help chart animal movements and habitat. Magnetic resonance imaging scans of captive chimps are clarifying how their brains differ from ours

The Max Planck model of linking zoos to academic institutions may become more commonplace. The Edinburgh Zoo in the United Kingdom opened the state-of-the-art Budongo Trail exhibit in May 2008 that has 40 chimps and welcomes researchers from the University of St. Andrews. The zoo also supports field studies in Budongo, Uganda. "Zoo funding is better than research grants because zoos are going to stay there and keep funding you if they like your work," says Vernon Reynolds, an anthropologist emeritus at the University of Oxford who started the Budongo project in Uganda. Some zoos also allow academics to do research without directly supporting them. But this has its limits, cautions de Waal, who did groundbreaking chimp work at Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands, and bonobo studies at the San Diego Zoo. "Zoos can be very constraining," he says. Biological anthropologist Brian Hare of Duke University, has opened a new avenue for studies by tapping into the African sanctuaries that now house bonobos and chimpanzees, many confiscated from animal traders or orphaned when their mothers were slaughtered by bushmeat hunters. According to the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, more than 850 chimps now live in sanctuaries there, which is more than all the chimps in Europe's zoos and three times the number held by accredited U.S. zoos. Long-term sites where researchers study wild chimpanzees and bonobos have nearly doubled during the past decade but given the rapid pace of the populations' decline from habitat destruction, the bushmeat trade, and disease (some transmitted from humans) many researchers worry that their days are numbered, too. As the wild chimp population dwindles (population estimates are at 200,000 to 300,000) those opportunities will be lost forever.

One particularly productive new site is the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. The remote area, which has 1000 gorillas and 500 or so chimpanzees in more than a dozen communities, wasn't studied until David Morgan went there in 1999.  Morgan is now a fellow at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, and runs the project with his wife, biological anthropologist Crickette Sanz of Washington University in St. Louis. The new generation of chimp researchers has one other trove of data to mine: Studies can now be done with little more than a computer and an Internet connection. Anyone can scour the chimpanzee genome and compare it to those of other species. The recently launched Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny at the University of California, San Diego, is currently digitizing and putting online one of the largest collections of chimpanzee skeletons ever available for study

Reprieve for Madagascar’s Forests

April 2, 2010  www.sciencemag.org   ByJohn Bohannon

Last week, after months of pressure from scientists, conservation groups, and foreign diplomats, Madagascar's military rulers announced a ban on the logging and exportation of rosewood, a commodity from a threatened ecosystem. Logging of rosewood was banned before but resumed after a military coup toppled Madagascar's science-friendly government a year ago. Madagascar has 43 species of rosewood trees—all but one of which exist nowhere else—and thousands of endemic plant and animal species that depend on them. One such species is the silky sifaka, a lemur. It is one of the rarest mammals on Earth, found only in Madagascar's northeastern rosewood forests, where loggers are encroaching. Conservation in Madagascar has never been easy, says Brian Fisher, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences and director of the Madagascar Biodiversity Center in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo. Inhabitants of the California-sized island are among the poorest in the world. They have stripped more than 90% of the forests for agriculture and charcoal. Since the coup, most foreign aid to the country has been frozen and eco-tourism has plummeted, worsening poverty.

Zoo Gorilla Dies Unexpectedly
April 2, 2010  www.dailymail.co.uk

The average lifespan of a gorilla in captivity is between 35 and 45 years. But for the 2nd time in less than two years, the London Zoo has lost a young male gorilla to unexpected illness. Yeboah, a 12-year-old male gorilla, arrived at the London Zoo last November from France, and after months of gradual introductions, in March he began living full-time with three females - Effie, 16, Zaire, 35, and 11-year-old Mjukuu - in the £5.3million Gorilla Kingdom enclosure. Zoological director David Field said there was no evidence that he was suffering from stress after his move to Britain. 'He had settled so incredibly well and he was getting on with all the girls. He was a fit, strong gorilla.'  Two weeks ago tests revealed high levels of blood sugar and he was kept under observation by vets who adjusted his diet. At first he improved but then his condition worsened and his heart rate dropped. Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he died last Thursday. The zoo is now waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination. In December 2008, 25-year-old silverback, Bobby,  was found dead in his nest after a heart attack.

Will Get Gift of Pandas
April 2, 2010   english.people.com.cn

The Chinese mainland has set up a panel of nine experts to pick a pair of pandas as gift for Macao. The pair of pandas to be sent to Macao will selected from those raised in the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base. The gift will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Macao Special Administrative Region. There are 290 pandas in captive-breeding programs worldwide, mainly in China.

Butterflies at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park

April 2, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com

Butterflies from Africa, Asia and Central and South America can now be seen in Butterfly Jungle at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. Thousands of insects have been released into the two-story glass greenhouse and aviary. Children’s activities, butterfly-friendly plant displays and daily keeper talks are all part of the jungle experience, which runs through April 18. Tickets for the park cost $27 to $37, and children 2 and younger are free.

Zoo Adopts New Rules After “Free Day” Fiasco
April 2, 2010  www.myfoxmemphis.com  By Lauren Lee

MEMPHIS, TN – The Memphis Zoo will no longer have free Tuesdays in March after several fights led to shooting outside the park last Tuesday. Dr. Chuck Brady, President of the Memphis Zoo said after careful consideration, free Tuesdays will be canceled during the month of March. That's when local schools have spring break and zoo attendance is high. 25,000 people were at the zoo when the violence broke out. Brady says the zoo will now only allow 10,000 people in the zoo at a time, on any day. And on free Tuesdays, minors must be with an adult 21 or older and each adult can only bring five kids. The zoo will use Twitter, Facebook, and its website to get the word out when the zoo is reaching capacity.

New York
Area Native Plant Census
April 2, 2010  www.physorg.com 

Researchers from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden recently completed a 20-year plant census, mapping species in every county within a 50-mile radius of New York, and providing detailed information on the health of more than 15,000 native and nonnative species. So far, the project has identified 50 native species that have disappeared from metropolitan New York during the last 100 years, and others that have become far less abundant. The landscape is also becoming less biologically diverse and less American. "We are going to our national parks now and seeing Europe," said Tom Stohlgren, a research ecologist for the USGS. "We are homogenizing the globe at a very fast rate." Experts say the trend has many causes, but the biggest one may turn out to be globalization. European traders and settlers have been bringing Old World plants to the Americas since colonization, but the process has accelerated with every advance in travel. "It took 170 million years for the continents to drift apart, but only 400 years to move them all back together," he said. Climate change and pollution may only worsen the problem, as they make the habitat of many native plants less hospitable, according to Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. [Also see the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Plant Atlas Project]

N. Carolina Zoo Is Now Largest U.S. Zoo

April 3, 2010  www.wral.com  By Minnie Bridgers

ASHEBORO, NC – The North Carolina Zoo has expanded in size to more than 2,000 acres with the acquisition of 322 acres of Randolph County forestland to be known as the Selma Trogdon Ward Nature Preserve on Bachelor Creek. The zoo acquired the property this week from the Piedmont Land Conservancy with funding from the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund. Combined with another 272 acres purchased last year by the N.C. Zoo Society, the N.C. Zoo now encompasses 2,040 acres, although only 500 acres are developed. The Preserve will provide about two miles of hiking trails, and Bachelor Creek will provide environmental education opportunities through the zoo’s water quality monitoring program. Several Randolph County high schools participate in maintaing the flow of clean water from these creeks to protect the health of rare fish and mussels that live downstream in the Deep River.

The Problem With "Free" Zoo Days

April 5, 2010  www.memphisflyer.com  BY JOHN BRANSTON

So many people showed up at the Memphis Zoo's “free day” last week that Overton Park had to be closed because of fights and riots. The zoo administration has come up with some possible remedies but here’s another idea: Make free day dollar day. We value things differently when we have to pay for them, even a small amount. If I go to a deli and there are free cookies at the checkout point, I take one. If the cookies cost a dollar, maybe I don't. In any case, I think about it. Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine, wrote about this in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. "It's as if our brains were wired to raise a flag every time we're confronted with a price. This is the 'is it worth it?' flag. But if the price is zero, that flag never goes up and the decision just got easier." Normal admission to the zoo, if you are older than 11, is $15. So the students who came to the zoo last Tuesday afternoon (possibly drawn by the "flash mob" phenomenon, driven by cell phones and texting) were making a rational economic decision. Would they have come if the price was $1 or $2?

Study of Ethiopia’s Bale Monkey

April 5, 2010  www.newstrackindia.com

The Bale monkey (Chlorocebus djamdjamensis) is an arboreal primate restricted to the forests of the Bale Massif and Hagere Selam regions of southeastern Ethiopia. Between 2007 and 2008, Addisu Mekonnen from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and Peter Fashing from Cal State University, and others studied two neighboring groups of Bale monkeys in the Obobullu forest. The research team discovered several previously unknown Bale monkey populations and found that Bale monkeys are quite different from other green or vervet monkeys.  “Bale monkeys rely on the bamboo forest to meet their needs," Mekonnen said. The monkeys feed on just 11 plant species, and of those, bamboo leaves account for 77 percent of their diet. They consume mainly young bamboo leaves, perhaps to avoid being poisoned by cyanide that accumulates in mature leaves. Only one type of primate is known to rely more heavily on bamboo than Bale monkeys - the bamboo lemurs of Madagascar, of which there are three species, each consuming a diet that is 90 percent bamboo. Dr Fashing said that most other forest monkeys eat far richer diets, typically consuming between 50 and 100 different plant species or more. Researchers from Ethiopia, US and Norway describe the behavior of the Bale monkey for the first time in the International Journal of Primatology.

Coquerel’s Sifaka Born at Bronx Zoo

April 5, 2010  news.mongabay.com

The Bronx Zoo has announced the birth of a male Coquerel’s sifaka, named Ares. He is one of only 51 sifaka in captivity. Sifakas are generally arboreal and are known for their mode of "dancing" across open ground with their arms aloft to get to another tree. They also have the remarkable ability to leap from tree to tree in Madagascar's unique spiny forest without injuring themselves. They generally live in groups of 3-13 individuals (average size is around 6). Ares, his parents and other sifakas are currently on display at the zoo's Madagascar! exhibit.

Metroparks Zoo’s Research Team
April 5, 2010  blog.cleveland.com  By James Ewinger

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has its own “CSI Unit”, composed of three veterinarians, three Ph.Ds and five graduate students who assist or conduct their own research at the zoo. Dr. Pam Dennis is a vet who also has a doctorate in preventive medicine and a master's in environmental law. Her specialty is veterinary epidemiology, and she studies the spread of disease in exotic animals. Zoo personnel cannot perform the same range of tests on animals that people at a research facility are allowed to do. They can draw blood from a lion, for example, for the sake of that lion's health, but not to gauge health trends in lions. Her projects include an analysis of fat in the blood of Metroparks deer (Deer that are culled and donated to the Cleveland Foodbank)  She’s also working with the zoo’s curator of conservation and science, Dr. Kristen Lukas, on the golden-frog population’s response to the chytrid fungus, and the zoo's loris population’s hormonal response to light. She’s also working with the zoo’s diabetic mangaby who has been trained to present an arm to a zoo keeper in exchange for a treat.

’s Minister of Charities Wants To Close Zoos
April 5, 2010  www.allheadlinenews.com

LONDON, UK  – To commemorate Zoo Awareness Weekend for 2010, British Minister of Charities Angela Smith called on the government to close all zoos in the country. Smith – who supports the Captive Animal Protection Society’s campaign to phase out zoos over the next few decades – said the first step to take would be not to add any new animals to existing collections. She said during the Victorian era it was understandable that people were fascinated and wanted to learn about animals by visiting zoos because travel was limited. But now films and television documentaries could serve the purpose of educating people about animals. Animal Welfare Minister Jim Fitzpatrick stressed Smith’s view is personal and does not reflect government policy. He said the British government has no plans to shutter zoos, although there are plans to prohibit the inclusion of wild animals in circuses.

Female Blackbuck Antelope Has Cataract Surgery

April 5, 2010  www.stuff.co.nz  By Amanda Fisher

The Wellington Zoo has successfully performed cataract surgery on a 13-year-old female black-buck antelope. This is the largest animal to have cataract surgery at the zoo's Nest Hospital.  “Post-op recovery has been very good,” says Wellington Zoo vet Francois Lampen. “We haven't had any signs of infections – she's tolerated our treatment very well.” The antelope had only 10 percent of normal vision. The operation was performed by one of the country's two veterinary ophthalmologists, flown in from Palmerston North. The antelope was injected with a general anesthetic and given gas anesthesia before the operation, which lasted 1 1/2 hours. Craig Irving removed the lens from her right eye, stitched it up, and reinflated the eye with liquid. The life expectancy of a blackbuck is around 15 years.

Viral Life Cycle of Malignant Catarrhal Fever Discovered

April 5, 2010  www.ars.usda.gov  By Sharon Durham
Malignant Catarrhal Fever or MCF is a leading cause of disease in American cattle and bison. It is usually transmitted by sheep, but vaccine development has been hampered because the virus won't grow in cell culture. Now scientists from the Agricultural Research Service and the University of Washington have identified the various changes that occur to the virus inside the sheep's body. The viral replication has three stages: entry, maintenance, and shedding. The virus enters the sheep through its nasal passages and reaches the lungs, where it replicates. It then infects the sheep’s lymphocytes, and enters a maintenance stage, circulating through the whole body, with little replication. (This type of infection is referred to as a "latent infection.") During the shedding stage, the virus reactivates from the infected lymphocytes and targets specific cells in the nasal area to complete its replication. It is then shed through the sheep's nasal secretions. Now that these viral changes have been identified, scientists can begin to find the right cell types to grow the virus in cell culture, according to Microbiologist Hong Li

Madagascar’s Radiated Tortoise Nears Extinction

April 5, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

A team of biologists from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently returned from field surveys in southern Madagascar's spiny forest. They found entire regions without any of the previously-abundant Madagascar radiated tortoises. Local people reported that armed bands of poachers had taken away truckloads of them to supply meat markets in urban centers. Poaching camps have been discovered with the remains of thousands of radiated tortoises, and truckloads of tortoise meat have been seized recently. "The rate of hunting of radiated tortoises is similar to the hunting pressure on American bison during the early 19th century," said Brian D. Horne, turtle conservation coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Species Program. Rick Hudson, president of the TSA said, "I can't think of a tortoise species that has undergone a more rapid rate of decline in modern times, or a more drastic contraction in range.” One of the most troubling trends is that poachers are now entering protected areas (Special Reserves, National Parks, World Heritage Sites) to collect tortoises and the staff there are poorly equipped to patrol and protect populations. Contributing factors: Years of extreme drought leading to tortoise hunting for survival; Severe habitat degradation; and Current political instability. The Bronx Zoo owns many radiated tortoises kept at the Behler Chelonian Conservation Center and other U.S. zoos and about a dozen held at the Bronx Zoo. Many of these are SSP recommended animals for breeding. These animals form a significant percentage of the animals in the U.S.

San Diego Butterfly May Get Endangered Status

April 5, 2010  voiceofsandiego.org  By Rob Davis

The Thorne's hairstreak butterfly - found only in San Diego -has suffered from frequent wildfires, and USFWS has agreed to evaluate the butterfly for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The hairstreak feeds exclusively on the rare Tecate cypress tree, and its population is only known to exist around Otay Mountain, which has been hit twice by fire in the last seven years. In 2003, when the entire mountain burned over, some biologists feared the hairstreak had gone extinct. The insect's habitat was also impacted by construction of a new segment of border fence. Environmental groups have worked since 1991 to get the thumbnail-sized beige butterfly listed. The Center for Biological Diversity sued after the federal government rejected a 2004 request for listing. The review is expected to take a year.

Petition To List Thorne's Hairstreak Butterfly as or Endangered

April 5, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list Thorne's hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys [Mitoura] grynea thornei or Callophrys [Mitoura] thornei) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended and to designate critical habitat. We find the petition and information currently available in our records presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing Thorne's hairstreak butterfly may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Information must be received on or before June 4, 2010. You may submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0016; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; by telephone at 760-431-9440.

Food Web Study

April 5, 2010  www.pnas.org

The standard ecological pyramid shows plants at the bottom and large carnivores at the top. A  new study examines the complex interactions in the middle of the pyramid, where birds, bats and lizards consume insects. These predators eat enough insects to indirectly benefit plants and increase their growth. Previous theory on food webs suggested that the effects of insect-eaters on plants would be weak, because animals like birds not only feed on herbivores – which is good for the plants– but may also benefit them by feeding spiders and predatory insects. If a bird eats a lot of spiders, for example, caterpillars could be "released" from spider predation and then consume more plant material. The authors found that previous theory did not hold true; in fact, the birds simply ate the spiders and the caterpillars. An international research team reviewed more than 100 studies of insect predation by birds, bats or lizards from four continents. They found that the identity of the predator didn't make much difference. Together, by eating herbivores and their insect predators, they reduced damage to plants by 40 percent, which resulted in a 14 percent increase in plant biomass. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Iran – India Species Exchange is Questioned

April 5, 2010  www.presstv.ir

The IUCN has opposed an Indian proposal to bring a few Persian cheetahs from Iran to India in return for India’s giving a number of Asiatic lions to Iran. The Asiatic lions once ranged from the Mediterranean to the north-eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent, but excessive hunting, water pollution and decline in natural prey reduced their habitat. They survive today only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India. Persian cheetahs are distributed over Iran's central deserts and are not capable of expanding their territory; therefore, their transfer could endanger the species, an IUCN official said. The Asiatic lions, on the other hand, are confined to the Gir Forest and their transfer to Iran could be useful, he added. The IUCN official warned, however, that no decision could be made without a detailed study of whether the Asiatic lion could adapt to its new habitat. Today, the Persian cheetah, the Eurasian lynx and the Persian leopard are the only remaining species of large cats in Iran. The once common Caspian Tiger and the Persian lion have been driven to extinction.

Baby Baboon Killed By Father At Riverbanks Zoo

April 5, 2010  www.wmbfnews.com

COLUMBIA, SC –- A Hamadryas baboon, born yesterday at the Riverbanks Zoo, has been attacked and killed by its own father. Zoo staff was aware of the impending birth, and the mother, Imi, was on exhibit during her labor. She delivered her offspring naturally, and approximately 15 minutes later, the infant was attacked by Makale, the father and dominant male in the troop. After the attack, the young baboon was rushed to the veterinary hospital where several unsuccessful attempts were made to resuscitate him. At this time, Imi is under keeper observation and appears to be normal. Riverbanks participates in the Hamadryas baboon species survival plan (SSP), a cooperative population management and conservation program that recommended the breeding of Imi and Makale.

New Protection for Mojave Desert Plant

April 5, 2010  www.enn.com  

LOS ANGELES – As a result of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the USFWS has proposed 16,156 acres of habitat as critical to the survival and recovery of a very rare California desert plant - the Lane Mountain milk vetch. Only four populations are left on the planet and recent studies indicate that the number of individuals is declining. The proposal, however, fails to include all of the areas where the plants currently exist, excluding two of the four remaining populations. The Lane Mountain milk vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus) is only found in the central Mojave desert northwest of Barstow, California. More than half of the species' range is located within the recently expanded boundaries of the Fort Irwin National Training Center, with some areas heavily used for desert tank training. The habitat on Fort Irwin is proposed to be exempted from the designation based on a commitment by the Army to establish two on-site conservation areas and a third "no-dig" zone, which limits the extent of ground disturbance. Like most members of the pea family, milk vetch helps to enrich desert soils by converting nitrogen in the air into usable fertilizer. This milk vetch is scattered in a 20-mile-long region in San Bernardino County. Destruction by off-road vehicles, mining, and suburban development are major threats.

Zoo Condor Egg Hatches in Boise
April 6, 2010  www.oregonlive.com  By Katy Muldoon

Last Friday, the Oregon zoo's curator of birds, Shawn St. Michael, drove 7 hours with a California condor egg in a mobile incubator to The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. As the chick started to punch through its shell Saturday morning, keepers in Boise placed it in a nest with foster parents. The female warmed the egg and chick as it hatched, then relinquished her spot to the eager male, said Marti Jenkins, The Peregrine Fund's condor propagation manager. The pair is now taking turns tending the newcomer. The egg transport represents new thinking by the California Condor Recovery Team in restoring the wild populations. They believe it will be easier to move eggs than large, stressed-out adult birds. This chick will experience one fewer capture and transport before it's released in a year or two in northern Arizona. In coming weeks, St. Michael will transfer two Oregon-laid eggs to the Los Angeles Zoo; those birds eventually will be released in Southern California and Baja, Mexico. He expects to take in a Los Angeles-laid egg for hatching, and that bird will stay in Oregon as a captive breeder. Three more eggs laid in recent months at the zoo's Clackamas County site will hatch there. Condor eggs incubate about 52 days. As of last February, the captive breeding population was at 347 birds; 184 fly free.

Captive Iberian Lynx Cubs Born in Portugal

April 6, 2010  news.yahoo.com

LISBON (AFP) – The Iberian lynx is native to the Iberian peninsula. At the start of the 20th century, 100,000 cats inhabited the region, but urbanization, hunting and a disease that killed their main prey (rabbits) caused the wild population to collapse and it now numbers no more than 200. There have been no trace of the species in Portugal since 2001. For the past 5 years Spain has maintained a captive breeding program for the species. Spain has 72 lynx in captivity, and since October 2009 has sent 16 cats to Portugal, where the animals are housed in a similar reproduction centre in Sines. Last Sunday, two Iberian lynx cubs were born in Portugal. First time mother was Azahar, a five year-old female. These are the first Iberian lynx to be born in Portugal as part of the captive breeding program. They will live at the reproductive center for 3 years before being released into their natural environment.

USFWS Plans Update of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Plan

April 6, 2010  www.fws.gov

The USFWS announced today that it is beginning an update of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 22 year-old Comprehensive Conservation Plan that will establish goals and objectives and include wilderness and wild and scenic river reviews. It is normally updated every 15 years. Public meetings will be held in April and May throughout Alaska, and a draft plan will be released for public review and comment in February 2011. As part of the planning process for Alaska refuges, the Service may inventory, study, and possibly propose areas suitable for wilderness within the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness areas preserve a landscape’s natural conditions for the benefit and use of the American people. A wilderness area recommendation by the Service is forwarded to the Secretary of the Interior for consideration. Any new wilderness designation requires Congressional approval. Alaska Regional Director Geoffrey L. Haskett said, “The Refuge’s current CCP is more than 20 years old, and much has changed since then. New laws and policies have been enacted, climate change has emerged as a concern, the Dalton Highway has opened to the public, and visitor use patterns have changed.”  Additional information is posted at arctic.fws.gov.

Large Philippine Monitor Lizard Discovered

April 6, 2010  www.livescience.com
"A large, brightly colored species of monitor lizard managed to escape the notice of Western scientists for the past 150 years," said researcher Rafe Brown, a U. of Kansas herpetologist. The Agta and Ilongot tribes, indigenous communities in the Phillipines, have known about it for many generations. "People had taken photographs of hunters as they were carrying the reptiles back to their homes to feed their families in 2001," Brown said. In 2005, two different groups procured juvenile specimens "but didn't collect genetic samples, so we couldn't yet prove that it was genetically distinct." Last summer, the researchers set out on a two-month expedition and a tribal hunter was able to capture a large adult male with snares on northern Luzon Island. Although closely related to the slightly smaller Gray's monitor lizard (Varanus olivaceus), the arboreal fruit-eater remains separated from its cousin by a more than 90-miles. Genetic analysis confirms that Varanus bitatawa is a new species. The new species is a keystone in its environment. It eats the fruit of the palm-like Pandanus trees, "and as the seeds travel through its gut, it helps remove their coats so they germinate faster, thus promoting forest growth," Brown said. "Given that rapid deforestation in the major threat to many Philippine species, especially the ones restricted to areas with tree cover, we suspect that the new species is a major conservation priority. We need to know the size of its home range, exactly what it eats, how long it takes to mature, how often it breeds, and details of its ecology and population structure." Brown and his colleagues detailed their findings online March 7 in the journal Biology Letters.

Dallas Zoo's New iPhone App

April 6, 2010  www.examiner.com

The Dallas Zoo is the first in the nation to offer an iPhone app that provides guests with information both in English and Spanish. “Guests with phones programmed to default to Spanish will automatically download the app in Spanish,” said Sean Greene, Deputy Director for Education and Interpretation. “We’re proud to offer educational and entertaining tools to our visitors in a way that fits their lifestyle. The new Dallas Zoo iPhone app can keep guests up to date about what’s new concerning the opening of the Giants of the Savanna on May 28th.”  The app is free and can be downloaded from iTunes. The app will also work on the larger Apple iPad, and provides visitors with information about zoo hours, admission, parking, directions, maps that will help guests navigate exhibits at the Zoo, information about the Dallas Zoo’s animals, membership, educational programs, special events and more. The GPS-based system provides locations of favorite animals and more than 130 animal descriptions. Facebook users can send automatic messages and photos of our most popular animals to their friends. Further, the Friend Finder feature uses GPS locations to connect you to friends who are also at the Zoo, while the Near Me feature helps guests locate Zoo amenities like restaurants, vending machines, first aid stations, and rest rooms.

5-Year Review for Southern Resident Killer Whales

April 6, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The NMFS announces a 5-year review of Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) under the Endangered Species Act. We are requesting submission of any such information on Southern Resident killer whales that has become available since their original listing as endangered in November 2005. We must receive your information no later than July 6, 2010. Please submit information on to Lynne Barre, NMFS Northwest Region, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. Information may also be submitted via email to orca.plan@noaa.gov. For further information contact Lynne Barre, Northwest Regional Office, 206-526-4745; or Susan Pultz, Office of Protected Resources, 301-713-1401.

Designation of Critical Habitat for the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle

April 6, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating critical habitat for the Salt Creek tiger beetle (Cicindela nevadica lincolniana) under the Endangered Species Act. In total, approximately 1,933 acres located in Lancaster and Saunders Counties, Nebraska, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. This rule becomes effective on May 6, 2010. The final rule, final economic analysis, and map of critical habitat are available on the Internet at www.fws.gov. Supporting documentation used in preparing this final rule are available for public inspection. For further information contact John Cochnar, Acting Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Ecological Services Field Office, telephone 308-382-6468

Zoo Staff ‘Milks’ Rhino Mother to Feed Baby
April 6, 2010  www.stuff.co.nz  By Rob Kidd

Blood blisters in a white rhino calf's eyes made it difficult for him to find his mother Kito's teats to suckle milk so keepers learned how to milk his mom to obtain the formula he needed.  Hamilton Zoo acting director Samantha Kudeweh said sitting under a mother rhino and hand-milking her had not been too scary. "We do a lot of conditioning with our rhinos as a daily routine so they're happy to stand in our protective chute," she said.  "Every day they get a big rub down, we check their feet and we can even take blood samples from their ears – they're actually very tactile animals."  Kito, who tips the scales at about 1500 kilograms, was milked three times a day for five days, producing three liters a day. Kito's milk supply was not quite enough to meet the calf's needs so he was also given commercial foal formula. The baby rhino now weighs 76kg and, with his eyesight continually improving, is successfully suckling from his mother.

First Condor Hatch at Pinnacles in 100 Years

April 7, 2010  www.mercurynews.com  

PINNACLES NATIONAL MONUMENT, CA — Biologists have confirmed the first successful hatching of a condor egg at the Pinnacles National Monument in more than 100 years. Pinnacles National Monument was chosen as a California condor release site because of its intact habitat and good cliff-nesting opportunities. Six groups of condors have been released at the monument, with 2009 marking the first year that a condor nested. The young nestling is receiving regular feeding and incubating from its first-time parents. The parent condors are 7-year-olds that were released at the monument in 2004 and were in courtship during the past winter and paired for their first breeding attempt. Eric Brunnemann, park superintendent, said the areas directly around the nest cliff will be closed to public use for the duration of the nesting period. Nestlings remain flightless for about five to six months, which means the young condor should take its first flight in early October. Biologists are closely monitoring the nest through the breeding cycle. The USFWS-led Recovery Team hopes to establish a population of at least 150 condors in California with at least 15 breeding pairs.

San Diego
California Condor Egg Hatched at Pinnacles
April 7, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com 

FRESNO, CA —  A pair of condors at Pinnacles National Monument in Central California conceived an egg in March. And according to plan, biologists took the egg for safekeeping, replacing it with a plastic egg. It was later discovered the embryo had died seven days into its development. "It wasn't surprising the egg wasn't viable," said Daniel George, manager of the condor program at Pinnacles. "That can happen with first-time breeders." Later a fertile egg produced by a pair of condors at the San Diego Wild Animal Park was slipped into their nest. They successfully incubated the egg and the chick emerged on March 24. Its sex will be determined soon with blood tests done when it receives its West Nile Virus vaccine. "It's a good step forward for the program," said biologist Joe Burnett of Ventana Wilderness Society. Removing new eggs from nests so the gangly birds with nearly 10-foot wingspans don't accidentally destroy them is just part of the tedious recovery effort. Biologists don't want this first generation of new birds to become discouraged if their mating efforts don't pay off. "So far all of their instincts seem to be operating properly." Biologists and the public were able to monitor the progress of the birds' 57-day egg-sitting from Scout Peak above the cliff-side nest. Two days before the birth, visitors witnessed the sometimes-comical reaction of the birds as the egg began to move and emit noises. "They'll get up all of the sudden and look at it, then try to reposition it," George said.

In 1982, the last 22 California condors were placed in captive breeding programs. Although hunters and lead poisoning from bullets left in carcasses have hampered the recovery, the birds now number 350. Over the past decade, the birds have been released at three sites around California and one in Arizona. Without parents in the wild to teach them safe behavior, some of the newborns have been caught and placed in breeding programs after repeatedly perching on power lines or coming too close to people. Of the 77 eggs laid in the wild since 2001, 33 lived for at least six months - long enough to fly. If the newest one survives, its wings will grow from their current thumb size to a span of at least 9 1/2 feet. The young condor will live with its parents for a year.The adults will wait two years before producing another egg. Condors generally mate for life. The complete article and picture is at www.signonsandiego.com.

Mapping the Habitat of North American Squid

April 7, 2010  www.eurekalert.org  

WINNIPEG, MB — The northern squid, Gonatus fabricii, along with octopus and bobtail squid (Rossia spp.), play an important role as prey in Arctic waters for species such as narwhal, beluga, seals, cod and Greenland halibut. Kathleen Gardiner, a PhD candidate at the University of Manitoba is co-author of a paper in the online edition of Polar Research, on their preferred habitats. She is building broad distribution maps using data from international and national databases, museum collections, government reports and published articles.  Identifying the feeding and spawning grounds of squid is of particular importance right now because of the changing climate. The Arctic Ocean is warming and the extent of sea ice is shrinking, exposing more water to light and heat. There are already indications that new species of squid are moving north. Squid are a high-energy food source for many large marine species. Much of their body mass is liver (digestive glands), which are rich in lipids. A change in the number of squid in Arctic waters could have an impact on species that rely on them as a food source. There is little information available about the temperature tolerance of cephalopods in the Arctic and the relationship to climate change. Squid can be difficult to track. Some species are quick and can easily out swim fishing gear. Other species are located in very deep water, which makes them difficult to find. Fortunately, there are better data for some that are regularly taken as bycatch by commercial fishers. "Once we isolate the baseline data and find hot spots, breeding grounds and feeding grounds, we can protect these areas," says Gardener.

New Ultrasonic Monitoring System for Bats

April 7, 2010   www.redorbit.com

CONCORD, Mass. -- Wildlife Acoustics, the leading supplier of acoustic monitoring systems for endangered and threatened wildlife species around the world, announces breakthrough technology for monitoring bats. The SM2 Terrestrial Ultrasonic Package starting at US$849 is a weatherproof, low-power two-channel ultrasonic recorder capable of continuous unattended monitoring and recording of bat echolocation calls for long periods of time. Each channel has independent triggers, filters and gain settings and the two channels allow bats to be recorded on two different microphones up to 800 feet apart. Alternatively, one microphone can be used to monitor bat activity while another simultaneously records birds, frogs, and other non-ultrasonic sounds. A typical configuration for wind farm pre-construction surveys includes one ultrasonic microphone near ground level and another mounted at nacelle height at the end of a long cable for each tower. The SM2 allows monitoring in this configuration with the benefit of only one recorder to mount and power.

Deadly Fungus Threatens 9 Bat Species in GA, KY, NC, SC, TN

April 7, 2010  www.srs.fs.usda.gov
ASHEVILLE,  NC — Research Ecologist Susan Loeb, a leading bat expert with the USDA Forest Service's Southern Research Station says nine bat species in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee are most threatened by white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungus that kills bats and appears to be rapidly spreading south from the northeastern United States. "In the five states where most of my research has centered, little-brown bats and Indiana bats are among the most threatened by WNS – meaning their populations could either be seriously decimated or become extinct."  Loeb is also concerned that WNS will have serious effects on populations of small-footed bats, northern long-eared bats, and Eastern pipistrelles, either because of their small populations, their susceptibility to the disease or both. Other species that could be infected are the Virginia big-eared bat, Rafinesque's big-eared bat, gray bat and southeastern bat. More than a dozen bat species inhabit Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. "Virginia big-eared bats are endangered, so their small numbers and limited distribution put the species at serious risk of becoming extinct in Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia if they become infected," said Loeb. "Rafinesque's big-eared bat is a rare species that hibernates in caves in the karst regions of North Carolina,  Tennessee and Kentucky. Thus they too could be infected with WNS and suffer dramatic declines. However, this species also roosts in large hollow trees and other structures in the coastal plain regions and may be safe from the disease in part of its range."

Bats play an important role in keeping forests and other landscapes healthy and productive. One of their primary roles is insect, or pest, control. A handful of bats can eat thousands of mosquito-sized insects in one night. In tropical and subtropical regions bats also pollinate many agricultural plants and help with seed dispersal. Unfortunately, most bat populations in the United States have declined over the years. Habitat loss and disturbance and degradation of hibernacula and maternity roosts are major contributors to their decline. So far, WNS is confirmed in the following 11 states: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.  The disease is also confirmed in Canada. The first case of the disease in the United States was reported in New York State in 2006. The disease is confirmed in six bat species. WNS affects bats that hibernate in caves and mines. Government agencies closed caves to the public in an effort to reduce the spread of WNS. The disease received its name because of the white fungus often seen on the noses, muzzles and wings of infected bats. In 2008, government scientists identified the fungus that causes WNS. Researchers are trying to better understand exactly how and why the fungus kills bats. More than a million bats have died as the result of WNS. Some experts believe the disease originated in Europe.

Genetics of Animal Design/Coloration

April 7, 2010  www.nature.org

MADISON — A team of researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has determined how animals make new body ornamentation.  After years of experimentation, their research has been published today (April 7) in the journal Nature. The new study is important because it is the first to provide concrete evidence for a long-hypothesized system for generating animal color patterns, be they stripes, spots or any of the myriad designs animals use to camouflage themselves or find a mate. In particular, the Wisconsin group is the first to identify a color-inducing morphogen, a diffusible protein that tells certain cells to make pigment. The team was able to successfully manipulate the decoration of the Drosophla fruit fly's wing, creating stripes instead of spots, and patterns not seen in nature. "We can make custom flies," said Sean Carroll, a UW-Madison molecular biologist and the senior author of the Nature report. Carroll's group was also able to deduce the evolutionary history of wing coloring in Drosophila guttifera. Although the study was conducted in a lowly fruit fly, the principles uncovered by Carroll's group, he argues, very likely apply to many animals, everything from butterflies to boas. "This is animal color patterning, how they are generated, how they evolved."

WCS "Rarest of the Rare" List Released

April 7, 2010  www.livescience.com

WCS's "Rarest of the Rare" list includes an eclectic collection of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Threats to each individual species vary widely, but all the animals on the list face real danger that could lead to their ultimate disappearance, according to Kent Redford, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Institute. "While the news is dire for some species, it also shows that conservation measures can and do protect wildlife if given the chance to work."  The list includes:
Cuban crocodile: Currently restricted to two small areas in Cuba.
Grenada dove: The national bird of Grenada is threatened by habitat loss.
Florida bonneted bat: Thought to be extinct in 2002; a small colony has since been discovered.
Green-eyed frog: Only a few hundred of these small amphibians are left.
Hirola: Also called Hunter's hartebeest; the hirola is a highly threatened African antelope.
Ploughshare tortoise: With only 400 left, this tortoise is threatened by the illegal pet trade.
Island gray fox: Living on the California Channel Islands, this is the smallest fox in the U.S.
Sumatran orangutan: The population has declined 80 percent during the past 75 years.
Vaquita: This small ocean porpoise is drowning in fishing nets
White-headed langur: Only 59 monkeys remain on a small island off Vietnam.
The list also highlights positive news: 2 species that are on the road to recovery thanks to conservation efforts are Robert's tree frog due to captive breeding in zoos; and Przewalski's horse, recovering after being re-introduced into the wild. The 2010-2011 edition of State of the Wild also includes a special section devoted to the impact of human conflicts on wildlife and the environment, and considers how conservation can contribute to peace-building and reconstruction in post-conflict areas.

Zoo Has 4 New Manatees
April 7, 2010  www.examiner.com

Four young manatees arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Tuesday, April 6, as part of the USFWS Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program. These manatees are estimated to be approximately a year and a half old and weigh between 250 and 500 pounds, well below the average weight of 1000 pounds for an adult. The manatees are currently being acclimated to the Zoo in quarantine tanks, but they will shortly be moved into the main manatee exhibit space. The Columbus Zoo was the first non-Florida partner with this program and remains one of only two sites outside that state that help rehabilitate these marine mammals. Hopes are high that all four of these manatees will be rehabilitated and subsequently released back into their home waters. Three of these manatees suffered from cold-stress syndrome due to Florida's uncharacteristically cold winter. Despite their large size, manatees have only a small amount of body fat, so they cannot tolerate water temperatures below 68 degrees for an extended period of time. The first three months of 2010 have seen more manatee deaths (450) than were seen in the entire record-breaking year of 2009. The fourth was struck by a boat, the most common cause of manatee endangerment.

Possible Relocation of Sacramento Zoo

April 7, 2010  www.kcra.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento Zoo is looking for more room, and city leaders have been studying the feasibility or relocate the zoo to Sutter's Landing. "We have been looking for a site to land bank for more than seven years," said Sacramento Zoo Director Mary Healy. Zoo officials currently have only 14 acres but there are issues with moving the zoo to Sutter's Landing including not having the proper road work and the area is a former landfill. The other possibility is to expand the zoo's current location in Land Park. A community meeting to discuss options is scheduled for April 21. Officials said if a move was to happen it would be 15 to 20 years from now.

Sun Bear Rescue in Borneo

April 8, 2010  news.mongabay.com  By Jeremy Hance

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) has finished Phase 1 of its construction of a new home for rescued sun bears in Sabah, Borneo. Eventually the center will include visitor facilities and observation gallery where tourists will have the chance to watch the bears. For now, though, the bears will enjoy brand new state-of-the-art facilities and, for the first time, access to a pristine forest. "For most of these bears, it will be their first forest experience since their captivity into the pet trade at infancy," writes Siew Te Wong, head of the BSBCC, in his blog at Wildlife Direct.  BSBCC is now raising funds for phase 2 of the project, which will include the tourist facilities and an observation deck. Estimated at 300,000 USD, donations to the project will be matched by the Sabah government. The BSBCC is a joint project between the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), and non-profit organization LEAP (Land Empowerment Animals People), which has been instrumental in raising funds for the BSBCC. It is adjacent to Adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Sanctuary

Learning in Tortoises

April 8, 2010  www.nature.org

To see whether 'social learning' might be a reflection of an animal's general ability to learn, Anna Wilkinson and her colleagues at the University of Vienna experimented with eight naturally solitary red-footed tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria). To obtain food on the far side of a V-shaped fence, they had to detour around this barrier. None of the control tortoises navigated around the fence but, after watching a trained tortoise's demonstration, all of the 'observer' tortoises reached the food. This shows that non-social animals can use social cues to solve problems. The study appears in the journal Biological Letters.

Scientists Call For $60 Million “Barometer of Life”

April 8, 2010  www.iucn.org
To date, about 48,000 species have been evaluated on the IUCN Red List, at about US$4 million each year. Most of this work is carried out by thousands of volunteers through the Species Survival Commission. While the Red List contains assessments of species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reef-building corals, freshwater crabs, cycads and conifers, the vast majority of the world's species are poorly represented, including many plants, invertebrates, reptiles, fishes and fungi. Some of the world's top biologists are proposing a 60-million US dollar program called the 'barometer of biodiversity' to gather a representative sample of all taxons. Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, said, "By expanding the current IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to include up to approximately 160,000 well-chosen species, we will have a good barometer for informing decisions globally.” Authors S. N. Stuart, E. O. Wilson, J. A. McNeely, R. A. Mittermeier, and J. P. Rodríguez propose analyzing an additional 35,000 vertebrates, 38,000 invertebrates, 25,000 plants, and 14,500 fungi and other species. The paper “Barometer of Life” appears in the April 9 issue of the journal Science.

Group Dynamics In Pigeon Flocks

April 8, 2010  www.ox.ac.uk

Researchers from Oxford University and Eötvös University (Hungary) recently studied pigeon group flight and conclude that pigeon flocks are guided by a flexible system of leadership in which almost every member gets a vote but the votes of high ranking birds seem to carry more weight. GPS (Global Positioning System) backpacks were attached to the pigeons to record the flight paths of individuals and their interactions with each other. Dr Dora Biro of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, said, "We found that, whilst most birds have a say in decision making, a flexible system of rank ensures that some birds are more likely to lead and others to follow." Dominance hierarchies can be simple linear structures, which often arise from the physical differences among individuals in a group in relation to their access to resources. They are also influenced by the complex social interactions among individuals in the group. The current study suggests that any given pigeon may be in a position to respond and lead the flock or lend a "vote" to the overall decision. How such a leader is selected or a consensus is reached is not known. The team also discovered that a bird’s position in the flock matched its position in the hierarchy, with individuals nearer the front more likely to be responsible for decisions. Additionally, they found that followers responded more quickly to those flying on their left, confirming observations in the laboratory that suggest birds process information predominantly through input that the brain receives from the left eye. The research, entitled "Hierarchical group dynamics in pigeon flocks", was published in Nature on April 8.

Report: “State of Britain’s Mammals”
April 8, 2010  www.physorg.com 

A report, entitled ‘State of Britain’s Mammals’, was written by Professor David Macdonald and Dr Dawn Burnham from the Department of Zoology’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) has been released. The study identified 14 invasive mammal species, including house mice, brown hares, grey squirrels and fallow deer, which are damaging Britain’s natural habitat. Other invaders highlighted were ferrets, muntiac deer, Japanese sika deer, Chinese water deer, edible dormice, brown and black rats, American mink and red-necked wallabies. Most were deliberately brought to Britain for aesthetic, economic or scientific reasons. Non-native species are estimated to cost the British economy at least £3bn a year in management and control. Professor David Macdonald, the report’s author, warned that the public’s emotional attachment to some of the invading species contributes to conservation problems. The ‘State of Britain’s Mammals’ report is published annually, and was commissioned by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

Population of Sibree’s Dwarf Lemur Found

April 8, 2010   www.mcgill.ca

Researchers have discovered the world's only known living population of Sibree's Dwarf Lemur, a rare lemur known only in eastern Madagascar. The discovery of approximately a thousand of these lemurs was made by Mitchell Irwin, a Research Associate at McGill University, and colleagues from the German Primate Centre in Göttingen Germany; the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar; and the University of Massachusetts. The species was first discovered in Madagascar in 1896, but was never studied and following the destruction of its only known rainforest habitat, scientists had no idea whether the species still existed in the wild - or even whether it was a distinct species. The study will be published in the current issue of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Genetic analysis confirmed that of the four known dwarf lemur species, this is the most genetically unique and probably closely resembles the ancestor that gave rise to the other species.

Natural History Museum’s New Cocoon
April 8, 2010  www.nytimes.com

The London Natural History Museum's new addition “The Cocoon” defines a new approach to science museums. This eight-story-high egg-shaped glass-and-steel box, designed by the Danish firm C. F. Moller Architects contains a major new exhibition space along with scientific-research facilities. This £78 million (roughly $120 million) annex made its debut last September. Aside from its exhibition, it houses 2 miles of cabinets containing 3 million botanical and 17 million entomological specimens; the 200-some scientists that study them work in more than 11,000 square feet of new laboratory space. The Cocoon is also designed to protect the collections with controlled humidity and temperature, scrupulously preventing infestations of creatures that devour the collections. It is designed to draw visitors into a different kind of encounter. It is an inversion of the old institution. In place of ornamentation there is geometric form; instead of Victorian-era skylights and dark rooms there is a bright atrium; instead of displays of objects there are accounts of ideas and procedures; and instead of presenting a fixed order of things it offers one under constant flux and revision. The research facilities and scientists are part of the exhibition; they are glimpsed through windows, framed by explanations. They even become the subject of the show. The Cocoon’s displays are not really about botany and bugs; they are about the collection and study of botany and bugs. The exhibition is really about the museum itself — its methods and materials, its passions and enterprise. Along the way, you learn about the natural world, but the real focus is on how that world is studied, and how the museum pursues that goal. Visitors are given timed entry tickets to the Cocoon, take an elevator to its top, and then follow a descending ramp inside that spirals around its research-oriented heart; along the way, they are presumably transformed into nascent scientists or budding devotees. You are meant to emerge from this Cocoon in more ways than one.

5-Year Status Reviews of 69 Species in Idaho, Washington, Hawaii, Guam,
and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
April 8, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The USFWS is initiating 5-year reviews for 69 species in Idaho, Washington, Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Any new information on these species that may have a bearing on their classification as endangered or threatened must be received no later than June 7, 2010. For the 66 species under review in Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands submit information to: Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850. Information can also be submitted by e-mail to: pifwo-5yr-review@fws.gov. For the Kootenai River white sturgeon and northern Idaho ground squirrel, submit information to: State Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, ID 83709. Information can also be submitted by e-mail to: FW1SRBOcomment@fws.gov. For the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, submit information to Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Dr. SE., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503. Information can also be submitted by e-mail to: FW1CBPRabbit@fws.gov.

For further information contact: Marilet Zablan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office  808-792-9400 (for species in Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); Steve Duke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, 208-378-5243 (for Kootenai River white sturgeon and northern Idaho ground squirrel); or Jodi Bush, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 360-753-9440 (for Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit). Individuals who are hearing impaired or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8337


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila aglaia



71 FR 2683


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila differens



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila hemipeza



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila heteroneura



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila montgomeryi



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila mulli



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila musaphila



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila neoclavisetae



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila obatai



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila ochrobasis



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila substenoptera



71 FR 26835


Pomace fly, [Unnamed]

Drosophila tarphytrichia



71 FR 26835


Rabbit, Pygmy

Brachylagus idahoensis


USA (WA--Douglas, Grant, Lincoln, Adams, Benton Counties)

66 FR 59734


Squirrel, Northern Idaho Ground

Spermophilus brunneus brunneus



65 FR 17779


Sturgeon, White

Acipenser transmontanus


USA (ID, MT), Canada (BC) (Kootenai R. system)

59 FR 45989




No common name

Alsinidendron obovatum



56 FR 55770


No common name

Amaranthus brownie



61 FR 43178



Argyroxiphium sandwicense ssp



51 FR 9814


No common name

Asplenium fragile insulare



59 FR 49025



Chamaesyce celastroides var kaenana



56 FR 55770



Chamaesyce deppeana



59 FR 14482



Chamaesyce herbstii



61 FR 53089


[revaps]Akoko, Ewa Plains

Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. kalaeloana



47 FR 36846


[revaps]Oha wai

Clermontia drepanomorpha



61 FR 53089


[revaps]Oha wai

Clermontia pyrularia



59 FR 10305



Cyanea copelandii ssp. copelandii



59 FR 10305



Cyanea grimesiana ssp. obatae



59 FR 32932



Cyanea pinnatifida



56 FR 55770



Cyanea platyphylla



61 FR 53089



Cyanea st.-johnii



61 FR 53089



Cyanea stictophylla



59 FR 10305



Cyanea superba



56 FR 46235



Cyanea truncate



59 FR 14482



Cyrtandra dentate



61 FR 53089



Cyrtandra giffardii



59 FR 10305



Cyrtandra tintinnabula



59 FR 10305


No common name

Delissea undulata



61 FR 53089


No common name

Gahnia lanaiensis



56 FR 47686


No common name

Gouania vitifolia



59 FR 32932


No common name

Hedyotis degeneri



56 FR 55770



Hedyotis mannii



57 FR 46325


Hau kuahiwi

Hibiscadelphus woodii



61 FR 53089



Isodendrion hosakae



56 FR 1454



Labordia tinifolia var. lanaiensis



64 FR 48307



Lipochaeta micrantha



59 FR 9304


No common name

Lipochaeta venosa



44 FR 62468


No common name

Mariscus fauriei



59 FR 10305



Melicope munroi



64 FR 48307


No common name

Neraudia sericea



59 FR 56333


No common name

Nesogenes rotensis


Western Pacific Ocean USA

69 FR 18499



Nothocestrum breviflorum



59 FR 10305



Ochrosia kilaueaensis



59 FR 10305


No common name

Osmoxylon mariannense


Western Pacific Ocean USA

69 FR 18499



Peucedanum sandwicense



59 FR 9304


No common name

Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis



56 FR 47686



Phyllostegia racemosa



61 FR 53089


No common name

Phyllostegia velutina



61 FR 53089


No common name

Phyllostegia warshaueri



61 FR 53089


Kuahiwi laukahi

Plantago hawaiiensis



59 FR 10305


Hala pepe

Pleomele hawaiiensis



61 FR 53089



Portulaca sclerocarpa



59 FR 10305



Pritchardia affinis



59 FR 10305


Lagu, Hayun

Serianthes nelsonii


Western Pacific Ocean USA

52 FR 4907



Sicyos alba



61 FR 53089


No common name

Stenogyne angustifolia var



44 FR 62468


No common name

Tetramolopium arenarium



59 FR 10305



Tetramolopium capillare



59 FR 49860


Vetch, Hawaiian

Vicia menziesii



43 FR 17910


No common name

Viola lanaiensis



56 FR 47686


Bighorn Sheep Monitored for Pneumonia
April 8, 2010  www.trib.com  By JEFF GEARINO

GREEN RIVER, Wyoming — Biologists estimate the Jackson bighorn sheep herd at ~420 animals. The agency has designated it a "core" native herd because it is naturally occurring and was not reintroduced to the area. Preserving core herds is a top priority for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The herd has experienced pneumonia in the past and is being closely monitored.  Two male lambs that were coughing and exhibiting signs of pneumonia were recently removed from the herd. Culture sample tests are being performed on tissue samples at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie. Removing sick animals is the only way to have a chance at identifying the original pathogen, because it can be easily masked by other bacteria as the disease progresses. So far, none of the bacteria which are often associated with bighorn sheep pneumonia outbreaks and die-offs has been found. "We did identify some lungworms, which is not too surprising, and they were not heavy loads, so that was good." Biologist Doug Brimeyer said other western states have been reporting similar problems this winter, which has raised the agency's level of concern.

Penguin Recognition Software

April 8, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com  By John Platt

Traditionally, tracking individual penguins during population monitoring, migration, and health studies, has required attaching transmitters to their backs or metal bands to flippers or legs. But transmitters are expensive, and evidence has shown that ID bands can sometimes interfere with swimming and food gathering or even injure the birds if the bands are damaged. So a team of researchers from the University of Bristol in England and the University of Cape Town in South Africa has developed a more effective, faster and less invasive method of tracking and monitoring. Similar to facial recognition software, the researchers' system identifies unique markings on a penguin's chest. The researchers found that once their software identified a penguin, it could re-identify that same bird 96.7 percent of the time. Their research, conducted on rocky Robben Island off the South African coast, was published online March 25 in the journal Endangered Species Research. They acknowledge that there are still problems with the system. It only managed to capture recognizable patterns on 13 percent of the penguins it examined—still better than the naked human eye could do.

iPhone-Assisted Cassowary Research

April 8, 2010  www.physorg.com

A collaborative project between the University of Queensland, Queensland Parks and Wildlife, Australian Geographic and Rainforest Rescue has launched a new website which hopes to encourage the public to help track local cassowary populations. Although the cassowary (Casuaris casuaris) is the only large-bodied seed disperser in the Australian rainforest spreading some 238 fruiting plants, very little is known about them. Members of the public can input the details of their cassowary sightings manually on the webpage, or if they have an iPhone or other GPS-enabled smart phone, can upload footage of the birds and record their position using Google Maps. Head researcher Dr Hamish Campbell, from UQ's School of Integrative Biology, said the website will provide much needed scientific data on the elusive cassowary’s movement patterns. “In recent times major changes in the cassowary habitat, due to human intervention, have resulted in a high mortality for cassowaries. The website will enable us to develop a large database on the populations and habits of cassowaries which frequent urban areas. The launch of the website coincides with the satellite tagging of 10 cassowaries, captured around fragmented habitats and pristine rainforests.

Zoo Will Train Zoo Employees
April 9, 2010 www.zandavisitor.com  

TOLEDO, OH — In conjunction with the AZA, Toledo Zoo will host two courses this month for the world’s zoo community. From April 11 - 16, the Zoo will hold a course titled “Advances in Animal Keeping” and from April 17 - 23, The Toledo Zoo will host the AZA’s Amphibian Biology and Conservation Management School. The Advances in Animal Keeping course seeks to elevate the standards of animal care in AZA institutions through presentations, discussion and activities. Participants will gain new insights into animal husbandry, including training, enrichment and observation skills. In addition, they will learn about nutrition, geriatric care and more. The Amphibian Biology and Conservation Management School includes lectures, hands-on workshops, and a field trip to view native amphibians. It will examine issues of amphibian biodiversity, the art and science of husbandry, reproduction, welfare and enrichment, amphibian conservation, as well as a host of other topics designed to help train the next generation of zoo and conservation biologists. The Toledo Zoo has been at the forefront of amphibian conservation, from the reintroduction of the Wyoming toad to the Laramie Basin to planning for the reintroduction of the Kihansi spray toad to its native Tanzania.

’s Baby Gorilla Is Improving
April 9, 2010  www.fox41.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—- The baby gorilla that recently suffered life-threatening injuries after its father bit out a chunk of its leg is now stable, bright and alert. The baby continues to nurse from its mother, and can cling to its mother without assistance. The surgical sites are also healing well. 24-hour observation is no longer required, though the baby's zookeepers continue to keep a close eye on her. An adult female gorilla named Kweli is also nearby and provides companionship to mother and child, according to the release. The father, Mshindi, is being housed in a separate area, but can still see and communicate with the infant.

Two Clouded Leopards at Point Defiance Zoo

April 9, 2010  www.theolympian.com  By Cole Cosgrove

TACOMA, Washington — Two  9-month-old clouded leopards from Thailand now occupy the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s Asia Day Room. Their current home is temporary. A $1 million “Cats of the Canopy” exhibit is expected to open in spring 2011. The tree-filled area will have space for two breeding pairs. The zoo hopes that female, Chai Li, and male, Nah Fun, will breed when they’re 2 years old. A third clouded leopard, 3-year-old female, Jao Ying, was brought to Point Defiance at the same time as Chai Li and Nah Fun. In the future, a young male might be brought in to breed with her. Point Defiance is part of the international Clouded Leopard Breeding Consortium. “This is one of our flagship conservation stories, and we haven’t been able to tell it because the cats haven’t been on display,” said Karen Povey, senior staff biologist. Most of the work happens in Southeast Asia, where the Point Defiance Zoo Society, uses private donations to finance education programs and research studies in Southeast Asia. Since 2002, $742,784 has been spent on conservation projects. About 10 percent of that has been spent on clouded leopards and other small cats. Andy Goldfarb, zoo biologist and “cat guy”  has been going to Thailand, where he oversees the clouded leopard breeding program at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo, since 2003. The zoo has produced 48 clouded leopards, including Chai Li and Nah Fun. Currently, 33 cats reside there. There are about 60 to 65 clouded leopards in North America, all in captivity.

Zoo’s Faces of African Forest Exhibit
April 9, 2010  www.twincities.com  By Jessica Fleming

APPLE VALLEY, Minnesota — 550 trees and plants from Florida will be planted in the Minnesota Zoo's newest exhibit, Faces of the African Forest, which opens Memorial Day. The 2,280-square-foot indoor exhibit includes two species of monkeys, dwarf crocodiles, red river hogs, hyrax and African bats. "We want the exhibit to feel adventuresome," Ehmke said. Kids will crawl through the rainforest in a hollow log that cuts through the monkey display.They’ll see three DeBrazza's monkeys and three colobus monkeys in the tree canopy and red river hogs rooting around on the ground. Keepers will bury some of the hogs' food so they’ll have to work for their meals. Ehmke said it's always a challenge creating an environment in which different species of animals can co-exist, but nature provides plenty of direction. And it's never certain whether particular animals will get along with their exhibit mates. Trees constructed from steel rods covered with epoxy and paint were designed to be flexible, so they bend the way real trees do in nature. Exhibit designer Jim Biesinger jumped on the trees after they were constructed to make sure they'd hold the 20- to 25-pound monkeys, "but the monkeys will tell us for sure," said Ehmke. Adjacent to the monkey display is a beach that slopes into a large tank where dwarf crocodiles will swim with African cichlid fish. Above them, African bats will fly and hang from the ceilings of two caves, one of which has a cutout on the other side that serves as a preview for visitors walking through the hallway toward the Tropics Trail. The exhibit, which cost $650,000 to put together, continues the renovation of the zoo's Tropics Trail, which was originally built for Asian animals. Now different sections are dedicated to "bio-diversity hot spots". In 2004, a Madagascar section was added, which includes lemurs, geckos and tenrecs. In 2005, Creatures Beneath the Canopy focused on South America and included tamarins, armadillos and a two-toed sloth. In each area, a large part of the focus is on what humans can do to help save threatened species.

Zoo’s “Great Bear Wilderness”
April 9, 2010  www.thebusinessledger.com  By Sherri Dauskurdas

The Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934 and was innovatively designed as a largely “bar-less” zoo, with moats and natural barriers rather than cages. Within a few years of its opening, Brookfield exhibited the first giant pandas in the U.S. The zoo built the nation's first inland dolphinarium in 1960, and created Tropic World, the first indoor immersion rainforest in the world. In May, Brookfield’s $27.3 million “Great Bear Wilderness” will open. It is a natural park-like habitat for bison, bald eagles, ravens, Mexican gray wolves, polar bears and grizzly bears, with more than 7 acres of prairie, temperate forest and tundra landscapes. Exhibit highlights are three habitats for polar and grizzly bears. Each contains a water feature, vegetation and fallen trees, a sand-dig area and hidden pockets built into the rockwork in which keepers can put food items to encourage the bears to forage. Two of the pools can be viewed from the 3,600 square-foot underwater viewing area, which can also be rented for private evening functions. Additional amenities include an Education Center for classroom or meeting needs, Bear Crossing Gift Shop and Bison Grill. Stuart Strahl, president of the Chicago Zoological Society said, “The conservation message is that through timely action, people can restore nature and even bring species back from the brink of extinction. We want people to understand that success is possible in conservation and that each of us can make a difference for wildlife through daily actions. We want our guests to go away inspired and knowing they play a role in conserving the Earth and all of its creatures.” The non-profit zoo is doing its share to help the local economy, as well. Great Bear Wilderness, funded by individual donors and its corporate presenter, Dominick’s, resulted in an economic impact of $46 million, according to zoo officials. This created 350 full-time equivalent jobs, providing total wages of $21 million, and generating $6 million in local, state and federal tax revenues. Once it opens in May, the project is projected to increase the zoo’s attendance and revenues by 5 to 10 percent.

New Educational Programs at Houston Zoo

April 9, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com 

1. Doze with the Dinosaurs: Beginning Memorial Day weekend, you can explore the new Dinosaur exhibit in the dark after hours on your flashlight tour of the Zoo.
2. Snakes: the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful! See a live venomous snake presentation and learn to identify some local snakes.
3. Point, Click, Zoo! Improve your wildlife photography skills and receive a discount to our popular Photo Day. Take a mini photo safari through the Zoo
4. Backyard Wildlife Series! Join us as we build bat houses in celebration of Bat Awareness Day.
5. Senior Safari for Active Adults! Get exercise and experience the wonder of the natural world as if you were a kid again!
6. Explore the Dark Side of the Zoo! Take a Night Prowl and glimpse our nocturnal animals or spend the night at the Zoo for a wild overnight adventure
7. Creature Treks: A New Homeschool Adventure! Follow clever clues to exhibits for exciting fun facts and hands-on activities about the animals on exhibit at the Houston Zoo. Paint your face like a Mandrill, conduct a respiratory rate activity or learn training games for the sea lions!
8. Animal Medicine Home-school Series!
9. Earn a Scout Badge at the Zoo!
10. Early Childhood Classes: Take a stroller safari around the Zoo with your little one in Wild Wheels or get an in-depth look at some of the Zoo’s residents through interactive learning stations with Safari School. These programs for children ages 0-5 include a touchable animal experience.

Status Reviews for 15 Caribbean Species

April 9, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The USFWS is initiating 5-year status reviews of 15 species under the Endangered Species Act: Bariaco (Trichilia triacantha), Calyptranthes thomasiana (no common name), cap[aacute] rosa (Callicarpa ampla), Cook's holly (Ilex cookii), Chamaecrista glandulosa var. mirabilis (no common name), chupacallos (Pleodendron macranthum), Vahl's boxwood or
diablito de tres cuernos (Buxus vahlii), erubia (Solanum drymophilum), Myrcia paganii (no common name), nogal (Juglans jamaicensis), palo de nigua (Cornutia obovata), palo de Ram[oacute]n (Banara vanderbiltii), uvillo (Eugenia haematocarpa), Puerto Rican nightjar or guabairo (Caprimulgus noctitherus), and white-necked crow (Corvus leucognaphalus). Public comments or information must be received on or before June 8, 2010. Mail to Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 491, Boquer[oacute]n, Puerto Rico 00622.  For further information contact Marelisa Rivera, at address above or phone: 787/851-7297, ext. 231; e-mail: marelisa_rivera@fws.gov.

5-year Status Review for 10 Southeastern Species

April 9, 2010  www.webaccess.gov

The USFWS is initiating 5-year status reviews of 10 species under the Endangered Species Act. Information and comments must be received on or before June 8, 2010. The List is available on our Internet site. The 7 species are: Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla), Alabama cavefish (Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni), Alabama lampmussel (Lampsilis virescens), pale lilliput (Toxolasma cylindrellus), pondberry (Lindera melissifolia), green pitcher-plant (Sarracenia oreophila), and Louisiana quillwort (Isoetes louisianensis). This notice also announces our active review of three species that are currently listed as threatened: Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), yellow-blotched map turtle (Graptemys flavimaculata), and Mohr's Barbara button (Marshalli mohrii).

Acoustic Study of Fallow Deer Communication

April 9, 2010  www.physorg.com

A new study, published in the open access journal BMC Biology, describes how the acoustic qualities of a deer's call change year by year and reflect changes in status and age. Researchers from the U. of London and U. of Zurich studied fallow deer, during four consecutive breeding seasons. As males aged, their dominance ranks changed and rank was a good predictor of mating success. Their calls contained features that were honest signals, modified dynamically according to male quality, and showing a very robust example of 'truth in advertising' in animal communication". The researchers recorded all male-male competition and all matings between dawn and dusk every day during the rut. They also recorded the vocalizations of each male. Combining the results, they found that as well as containing accurate information about a male's competitive abilities, vocal cues of an individual's identity were partially conveyed in the same components of groans. The study showed that a  buck's 'vocal identity' changes substantially from one year to the next, while genetic identity of course remains exactly the same. Often, researchers do not consider that the vocalisations of animals change as they age.

A New Species of Australopithecus

April 9, 2010  www.sciencemag.org

On pages 195 and 205 of this week's issue of Science, researchers describe a group of fossils found since 2008 in Malapa cave north of Johannesburg and dated as early as 2 million years ago, which they say are those of a new species they've dubbed Australopithecus sediba. Sediba means "wellspring" in the Sesotho language, and the team argues that the fossils have a mix of primitive features typical of australopithecines and more advanced characteristics typical of later humans. Thus, the team says, the new species may be the best candidate yet for the immediate ancestor of our genus, Homo.

Ring-Tail Lemur Triplets Born at U.K. Children’s Zoo

April 9, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

READING, U.K. — Keepers at Beale Park announced that ring-tailed lemur triplets were born to parents Rosie and Sam last month. Curator Dave Coles said, "We would normally expect a lemur to give birth to a single baby in the wild and possibly twins in captivity, so triplets are really quite remarkable." Rosie, who has had twins for the last two years, gave birth to the triplets on 21 March, the same date she gave birth last year. "Rosie is a very attentive mum and is receiving a lot of support from her sister, Sophie and the babies' Dad, Sam, who is always on hand to help with the grooming," said Coles.

Amazing Migration of the Ruddy Turnstone

April 9, 2010  www.birdlife.org

A technological breakthrough has enabled researchers from the Australasian Wader Studies Group to study the amazing migratory routes of the Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres.) Researchers used a new 1 gram light-sensor geolocator—supplied by British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England—and fitted them to eight Ruddy Turnstone spending their non-breeding season in south-east Australia in April 2009. Four geolocators were eventually retrieved from birds between 20 October 2009 and 8 January 2010. "All four birds flew 7,600 km non-stop to Taiwan in just over six days, with three apparently travelling together," said Dr Clive Minton. They then flew on to northern Siberia, following separate paths and stopping over at different sites. "By early August, two had moved to Korea and south-eastern Siberia, respectively, but another bird returned to Australia via the Central Pacific!" The Pacific bird spent 26 July–15 October on the Aleutian Islands before flying 6,200 km across the Pacific in four days to Kiribati, and then it made another four-day, 5,000-km flight to eastern Australia. "Five days later it was back in south-east Australia having completed a 27,000-km round trip", added Ken Gosbell. On some of the longer flights it was possible for the team to calculate the flight speed achieved. For the flights from Australia to Taiwan and the flight back from the Kiribati to Australia the average speed was 50 to 55 km per hour. "A higher speed of 65 km per hour was achieved during the flight from Alaska to Kiribati, indicating possible assistance by tail winds," said Gosbell.

Startled Circus Elephant Kills Handler

April 10, 2010  www.cnn.com

A startled elephant stomped its trainer to death at a Pennsylvania circus Friday. The incident was classified as a workplace accident and the investigation has been turned over to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The police said the elephant came into contact with electrical wires, but it was unclear what exactly startled the animal. Circus members observed a moment of silence for the elephant handler who died, but made a decision almost immediately after the death that the performance would go on.

’s Banded Leaf Monkey Populations Healthy
April 10, 2010  www.straitstimes.com  By Victoria Vaughan

Once thought to be on the brink of extinction, data now suggests that Singapore's banded leaf monkey population is healthy and is, in fact, growing. A student from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Andie Ang spent 1 1/2 years tracking the monkeys, and found, among other things, that the newborns are white, not orange as previously reported. She concludes that the number of black monkeys in the Central Catchment Area is roughly three times larger than what was previously thought to exist. The last reliable census in the 1990s reported that there were 10 to 15 of the tree-dwelling monkeys left in Singapore.

Warning Over Unclean Bird Feeders

April 11, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

Experts warn that bird feeders and baths should be regularly cleaned to prevent the contagious parasite trichomoniasis which flourishes in wet conditions. The British Trust for Ornithology says the parasite causes throat swelling in birds, preventing them from eating. The Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) also says garden bird feeders could be putting birds at risk from salmonella infections that can build up on feeders and then spread among birds. Greenfinches and house sparrows appeared to be particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Bridge Unites Orangutan Populations in Sabah, Broneo
April 11, 2010  news.mongabay.com  By Jeremy Hance

Researchers have received confirmation that a young male orangutan used a rope bridge to cross a river, from the Pangi Forest Reserve into Lot 1 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. Due to logging and clearing forests for oil palm plantations, which cover 18 percent of land in Sabah, orangutans on the Kinabantangan River have been cut into fragmented populations. This is the first photographic evidence, and clearly shows a young male orangutan using the first rope bridge constructed in 2003 to cross over Resang river, said primatologist, Dr. Isabelle Lackman, Co-Director of the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation. Orangutans used to cross such rivers employing the canopies of old growth forests, which easily spanned small rivers. However since the trees have been logged, researchers decided artificial bridges were needed to allow fragmented populations to meet. Six bridges have been built by KOCP, a joint venture between the Sabah Wildlife Department and the French NGO, HUTAN. A recent survey by the Sabah Wildlife Department and KOCP found 1,000 orangutans in the Lower Kinabatangan river area, inhabiting both protected and non-protected areas. These populations are estimated to go extinct in our lifetime, if they are not re-connected. The Bornean orangutan is currently classified as Endangered by the IUCN, while the Sumatran orangutan is considered Critically Endangered. Sabah supports an estimated 11,000 Bornean orangutans.

Zoos Question Ineligibility for Stimulus Funds

April 11, 2010  www.star-telegram.com  By CHRIS VAUGHN

FORT WORTH — Seventy years ago, construction crews built zoo projects with Depression-era “stimulus money”. But this time, U.S. zoos and aquariums have been intentionally blocked from applying for any stimulus funding. Zoos and aquariums were singled out as ineligible in the original bill, along with casinos, golf courses and swimming pools. Fort Worth Zoo Director Michael Fouraker said, "We are a recreation destination, but we stand heavily on our education and conservation cornerstones too." The Fort Worth Zoo, along with a number of other institutions, have not given up trying to change the language for one reason: the same wording appeared in the second stimulus bill, passed in March. The concern, they said, is that any future stimulus bills would merely "cut and paste" the wording. As Congress moved early last year to authorize the first stimulus bill, the National Taxpayers Union and some members of Congress began criticizing the worthiness of skateboard parks, zoo renovations, horse paths and aquatic centers in a list of "ready to go" projects provided by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. To blunt the criticism, the House Appropriations Committee added the restrictions. Since then, zoo directors and a handful of lobbyists have been circulating among members of Congress to try to convince them that zoos are not politically risky and that they are more vital to their communities than is thought. "Zoos are economic engines," said Joan Galvin, a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., hired by some zoos to press their case. "They employ people. They have vendors. They attract visitors to the area. Zoos have a strong argument to make that an investment in zoos does stimulate the economy. It's hard to understand how there could be ill will about zoos not doing the right thing."

Zoo’s “Lego Zoo”
April 11, 2010  www.treehugger.com  By Stephen Messinger

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Zoo's Lego exhibit, called ''Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure," opened to the public. It took Lego artist Sean Kenney more than a year to create the 34 animals. Included in the exhibit are sculptures of endangered birds, frogs, tamarins, and a polar bear made with 95,000 Lego pieces. In addition to the Lego sculptures, each exhibit features a description of how the animals' habitat is under threat, and simple ways that everyone can help aid in its protection. Visitors are encouraged to recycle, avoid environmentally irresponsible products, and bicycle instead of drive when they can. Similar exhibits are scheduled throughout the year with five more Lego-certified professionals on board to present their creations. Pictures at www.treehugger.com.

Komodo Dragons at Phoenix Zoo

April 11, 2010  www.abc15.com

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Zoo's popular Komodo dragons, Ivan and his sister Gaia are 15-year old reptiles that were brought to the Zoo last year. The “Land of the Dragons” exhibit opened up in November. Ivan is 8 feet long and weighs in at 110 pounds. His sister Gaia is 7.5 feet long and 80 pounds. They are housed in two separate viewing areas.

PETA Escalates War With Ringling Bros Circus

April 11, 2010  www.nydailynews.com 

PETA is escalating its war against Ringling Bros. PETA’s general counsel, Jeff Kerr, will deliver a letter Monday to the Department of Agriculture asking them to revoke or block the April 28 renewal of the animal exhibitor license issued to Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros. Past attempts to prosecute the circus for the same or similar claims have not been successful. A lawsuit brought against Ringling Bros. by a former trainer alleging rampant elephant abuse was dismissed in December by a judge who ruled the trainer had no standing to sue the circus. PETA says it has amassed 700 pages of documents, videos and photos alleging a history of abuse at the circus ranging from "breaking" baby elephants with electric prods and sharp metal hooks to whipping a tiger until it collapsed and lost control of its bowels. "The only way you can get a several-ton elephant to stand on his head is from fear of pain," Kerr said. Last year, the Daily News was first to report on the group's undercover video showing elephants being beaten backstage at the Greatest Show on Earth. PETA also alleges a pattern of cover-ups, including lying to inspectors after animal injuries and hastily installing just the visible parts of a cage cooling system after a lion named Clyde died of heat stroke in a train crossing the sweltering Mojave desert in 2004.

Wind Farm Developer Launches Bird Study

April 12, 2010  www.brighterenergy.org

Developers of a massive wind project in Wyoming have begun a monitoring program for wild birds, to help guide conservation measures for the development. The Power Company of Wyoming is developing two sites south of Rawlins in Carbon County that it hopes will host up to 1,000 wind turbines. The largest site, at Chokecherry, is to comprise 675 turbines, while the other site at Sierra Madre is to host 325 turbines. The developers believe the project could generate 2,000-3,000 megawatts of power if successful – enough to supply around 600,000 homes. As part of the pre-development activity, the developers are implementing a wildlife conservation plan to help minimize the potential impact of the project. A multi-year study of the greater sage-grouse in the area was begun last week. 40 birds will be tagged with lightweight GPS devices to record their movements. The data will allow biologists to identify the areas used by the sage-grouse and determine locations for conservation measures. Once the wind farm is operational, the program will allow monitoring of the conservation areas and how the birds respond to the wind project development. The monitoring program has been designed by wildlife experts at SWCA Environmental Consultants and will use tiny solar photovoltaic panels to top up the internal batteries in the birds’ tags to make them last five years.

Tracking Pathogens to Curb Disease Outbreaks

April 12, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

Pathogens can now be easily tracked in time and space as they evolve. Developed by researchers that include scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Supramap is a new, powerful, web-based application that maps genetic mutations like those among the different strains of avian influenza onto the globe. The new application is published in the early online edition of Cladistics. "This tool also has a lot of predictive power," says lead author Ward Wheeler, curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. "If the movement of a pathogen is related to bird flyways, and those routes are shifting because of something like climate change, we can predict where the disease might logically emerge next." Operating on high-performance computing systems at Ohio State University and the Ohio Supercomputer Center, Supramap advances the use of genetic information in studying infectious outbreaks a step further. This application integrates genetic sequences of pathogens with geographic information so that researchers can track the spread of a disease among different hosts and follow the emergence of key mutations across time and space. With Supramap, users can submit raw genetic sequences and obtain a phylogenetic tree of strains of pathogens. The resulting tree is then projected onto the globe by Supramap and can be viewed with Google Earth. Each branch in the evolutionary tree is geo-located and time-stamped. Pop-up windows and color of branches show how pathogen strains mutate over space and time and infect new hosts.

Stingrays Return To St Louis Zoo’s Caribbean Cove

April 12, 2010  www.globe-democrat.com

“Stingrays at Caribbean Cove” will open April 24 and run through September 26 at the St. Louis Zoo. Cownose rays, southern stingrays, and horseshoe crabs will occupy a 17,000-gallon pool within a tropical setting. The 20-inch deep pool includes a waterfall and a state-of-the-art life support system. The pool also has solitary space and places for the animals to rest. Zoo interpreters and educators will be on hand to help visitors and share information about the animals, sustainable seafood and ocean conservation. “We’re pleased to bring back this popular exhibit for our visitors,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, president & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “Connecting people with wildlife is an important part of our mission. Not everyone in our part of the world has had the chance to get in touch with ocean life in such a close-up intimate way.” All Stingrays at Caribbean Cove have their stingers or barbs painlessly trimmed back just like fingernails are clipped. Admission to the special exhibit is $3 for the general public and $1.50 for Zoo Friends members. Children under two are free.

Bristol Zoo’s Fruit Bat Project Gets Funding

April 12, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

A Bristol Zoo-led project which helps save endangered fruit bats has been awarded more than £670,000 from the French Development Agency. The zoo will now be able to expand its work in the Comoros Islands. The Comoros is composed of three main islands between Madagascar and Mozambique in the Western Indian Ocean. Two animal species which are particularly in danger from extinction on the islands are the endangered Livingstone's fruit bat and the critically endangered Anjouan scops owl. Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (BCSF)—a part of Bristol Zoo Gardens—has been working to protect the forests on the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli since 2007. This work has been carried out in partnership with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the University of East Anglia, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Now, BCSF's new contract with the French Development Agency means the project team in the Comoros can continue their work with local communities for the next three years. This includes developing new ways of protecting the nearby forests and farming the land without encroaching on the forests. The team works with the local community of four to 12 villages, finding new sources of income for villagers, such as setting up allotments which allow them to grow and sell vegetables, reducing their reliance on the forests.

Saving Kenya’s Black Rhino

April 12, 2010  www.theeastafrican.co.ke

Historically, there were so many black rhino in Kenya that they were considered vermin. In the early 1950s, the colonial government dispatched J.A Hunter, a wildlife control officer, to shoot as many as he could to clear the land for farming in Ukambani, lower Eastern Province. Hunter recorded in his diary that he shot a thousand in a couple of months. But to see more than two at a time today is rare, and a family herd is almost unheard of. At the height of poaching — between 1970 and 1983 — Kenya lost almost 93 per cent of its rhinos, with almost four and a half being killed per day for their horns. In 1983, Kenya had only 280 black rhinos. For a person living on less than a dollar a day, a kilo of rhino horn can fetch Ksh120,000 ($1,600), says Ian Craig, a Kenya Wildlife Service board member, director of Lewa Downs Conservancy and Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and chief executive of  Northern Rangelands Trust. Today, the Kenya Wildlife Service goes to extraordinary lengths to protect the animals. “Kenya’s Vision 2030 is to see 2,000 black rhinos in the wild,” said Craig. With the current success rate of rhino breeding in the country — almost 48 newborns per year — the workload is increasing. There is a lot of translocation, as many as three to five every day from high density areas to suitable low density ones such as northern Kenya.  “Some 25 per cent of Kenya’s wildlife is found in northern Kenya,” Craig pointed out. Northern Kenya’s landscape is mostly arid rangeland, unsuitable for farming.

By December last year, Kenya had 612 black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and 325 white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum), including four of the extremely rare northern white, (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) brought from a zoo in Czechoslavakia to Ol-Pejeta Conservancy. There are now 2 remaining in Czechoslovakia and 2 in the US [at the San Diego Zoo]. The rhino is one of the most threatened species, and is listed on CITES as Appendix I, meaning no trade whatsoever in the animal or its products is allowed. But under the Kenyan Wildlife Act, the rhino is not a specially protected species. In South Africa, the Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) is under Appendix II, meaning limited trade in it is allowed. This is because the country has over 11,000 animals after they were brought back from the verge of extinction by the end of the 19th century under one of the most successful conservation programmes.

$66 Million in Grants from USFWS to Conserve Habitat

April 12, 2010  www.fws.gov  By Valerie Fellows

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced nearly $66 million in grants to enable 25 states to work with private landowners, conservation organizations and other partners to protect and conserve the habitat of threatened and endangered species. The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species ranging from the desert tortoise to the Indiana bat. The competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species: approximately $10 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $41 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $15 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help avoid potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use. For a complete list of the 2010 grant awards for these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615), see endangered.fws.gov.

Werribee Open Range Zoo’s Bachelor Gorilla Group

April 12, 2010  news.smh.com.au  By Sydney Holiday

VICTORIA, Australia—Werribee Open Range Zoo’s newest exhibit will be a bachelor pad for 3 adult male gorillas. “It will be located on an island close to the entrance and will be a major feature of the zoo," said Environment Minister Gavin Jennings. The state government will donate $1.5 million to house silverback Motaba and his two young sons, Yakini and Ganyeka. It will include more males once they are old enough. "Motaba has already sired five young, so the silverback Rigo has been introduced to the zoo's family group to breed with the four females. Gorilla family groups are polygamous in nature with only one silverback breeding male in the group at a time," he said.

‘Supramap’ Maps Genetic Mutations

April 12, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

Supramap is a new, powerful, web-based application that maps genetic mutations like those among the different strains of avian influenza. “It is tracking a pathogen's evolution," says Daniel A. Janies, first author of the paper in the journal Cladistics. "This tool also has a lot of predictive power," says lead author Ward Wheeler, curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. "If the movement of a pathogen is related to bird flyways, and those routes are shifting because of something like climate change, we can predict where the disease might logically emerge next." The initial jump of a pathogen into humans has become increasingly important to understand because of growing human-animal contact and global travel. Another recent use of genetics, geography, and the phylogenetic trees that map the evolutionary relationships among different strains of pathogens is to predict hotspots of disease reemergence. With Supramap, users can submit raw genetic sequences and obtain a phylogenetic tree of strains of pathogens. The resulting tree is then projected onto the globe by Supramap and can be viewed with Google Earth. Each branch in the evolutionary tree is geo-located and time-stamped. Pop-up windows and color of branches show how pathogen strains mutate over space and time and infect new hosts.

Horned Frog Tadpole Vocalization Study

April 13, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk  By Matt Walker

Tadpoles of the horned frog (Ceratophrys ornate) which lives in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, have been found to emit a series of brief, clear metallic sounds when in distress. Many adult amphibians use loud calls to advertise their presence, and attract sexual partners. But until now researchers did not realize that amphibian larva might also produce sounds underwater. Dr Guillermo Natale of the National University of La Plata in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and his colleagues, were studying the mating calls of adult frogs. Dr Natale caught a horned frog tadpole in a pond using a hand-held net and heard a brief, clear and very audible metallic-like sound. C. ornata tadpoles are difficult to find in the wild, so the researchers caught a wild pair of breeding adults, and began a program to rear the young amphibians in captivity. This enabled the scientists to better study the noise they had heard in the field. The tadpoles are naturally aggressive and carnivorous, often eating the tadpoles of other frog species that they encounter. However, "much to our astonishment, they do not eat each other," says Dr Natale. That may be because of the noises emitted by the tadpoles. Audio recording is at: news.bbc.co.uk.

Lightning Makes Mushrooms Multiply

April 13, 2010  www.physorg.com

Japanese farming folklore has it that lightning makes mushrooms multiply, and a four-year study carried out at Iwate University in northern Japan on ten species of mushroom (so far) has shown that for eight of the 10 mushroom species a bolt of lightning-strength electricity could double the crop yield. The best improvements were found in the popular nameko and shiitake mushrooms. The experiments were carried out by seeding logs with mushroom spores and then applying high-voltage electricity pulses to the logs. Takaki said the mushrooms initially decrease the enzyme and protein secretions from the hyphae (tiny filaments that spread under the surface, acting like roots and giving rise to the fruiting bodies such as mushrooms), but then suddenly increase production.The reason for the reaction is unknown and the subject of further investigations.

Endangered Quolls Taught to Avoid Toxic Cane Toad

April 13, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

Ecologists in Australia have successfully trained the critically endangered northern quoll – to avoid the toxic cane toad. Cane toads are highly toxic and have driven the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) to extinction in many parts of northern Australia. The toads are continuing to spread and will soon invade the Kimberley, one of the quoll's last strongholds. Rather than just becoming sick, quolls usually die after eating a toad, so they don’t learn to avoid them. Working with the Territory Wildlife Park captive breeding and reintroduction programme, the researchers from the University of Sydney took a group of 62 young quolls and taught half (the so-called "toad-smart" group) to associate eating a cane toad with feeling sick. A few days before the quolls were reintroduced to the wild, members of the toad-smart group were fed a small dead cane toad laced with nausea-inducing thiabendazole. The cane toad, which weighed less than 2 grams, was not large enough to kill the quoll but the chemical made them feel sick. To test whether the taste aversion process worked, both groups of quolls were given a small, live cane toad in plastic container to see whether or not they attacked it. Their behaviour was videoed using a hidden camera, and the quolls were then fitted with radiocollars and released. The toad-smart quolls that received "conditioned taste aversion" survived up to five times longer than "toad-naive" quolls. Their research results, including video footage, are published today in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology and could provide conservationists with a vital new weapon in the fight against invasive species.

Sage Grouse Habitat Will Be Protected

April 13, 2010  www.fws.gov 

WASHINGTON, DC—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced a far-reaching agreement to support the conservation of greater sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems in parts of 11 Western states. “By working cooperatively toward the same goal, we can build on the progress states have made protecting the sage-grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem it depends on. The greater sage-grouse has historically inhabited millions of acres in the West,” Salazar said. “This agreement gives us a framework to prevent further habitat fragmentation and undertake other conservation efforts in partnership with states, tribes, private landowners and other stakeholders.”  In recent years the greater sage-grouse has lost 44 percent of its habitat due to agriculture; urban development; energy extraction, generation and transmission; invasive weeds, pinion-juniper tree encroachment, and wildfire. The human footprint across the area where greater sage-grouse live is large and becoming larger as the country strives for energy independence, agriculture, development and other, often competing uses. Also in March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that, based on accumulated scientific data and new peer-reviewed information and analysis, the greater sage-grouse warrants the protection of the Endangered Species Act. However, the service determined that adding the species to the federal list of threatened and endangered species at this time is precluded by the need to address higher priority species first. As a result, the greater sage-grouse will be placed on the list of candidate species and will be proposed for protection under the Act as funding and priorities dictate. Greater sage-grouse currently occupy 258,000 square miles of the sagebrush ecosystem, and are found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, eastern California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. For more information on the NRCS and US Fish and Wildlife Service greater sage-grouse agreement or other conservation issues please visit: www.nrcs.usda.gov  or www.fws.gov.

Update on Great Barrier Reef Oil Spill

April 13, 2010  www.upi.com

BRISBANE, Australia—Australian authorities say environmental damage from the Chinese coal carrier that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef April 3 has hit an important island. North West Island is home to 500,000 sea birds and a major turtle nesting colony. Maritime Safety Queensland confirms that oil in the form of tar balls is covering more than half a mile of the island's pristine beach. North West Island is considered the most important bird rookery on the Great Barrier Reef. Aircraft have been sent to the island to conduct a detailed inspection before clean-up crews are deployed, maritime safety officials say.

Critical Habitat for 48 Species on Kauai

April 13, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The USFWS has given endangered status for 48 species on the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands and designates 26,582 acres of critical habitat for 47 of these species. The critical habitat is located in Kauai County, Hawaii. Critical habitat designation was determined to be not prudent for one species, Pritchardia hardyi (a palm), which is threatened by over collection and vandalism. This rule becomes effective on May 13, 2010. This final rule and economic impact analysis are available on the Internet. For further information contact Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.

On May 4, 2004, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list 225 species of plants and animals. We have listed 31 of these species. On October 11, 2007, we received a petition from Dr. Eric VanderWerf and the American Bird Conservancy to list the akikiki and the akekee (Loxops caeruleirostris) We plan to list the akekee, and the following 16 species of plants endemic to Kauai: Cyanea kolekoleensis, Cyanea dolichopoda, Cyrtandra paliku, Diellia mannii, Doryopteris angelica, Dryopteris crinalis var. podosorus, Dubautia kalalauensis, Dubautia kenwoodii, Lysimachia iniki, Lysimachia pendens, Lysimachia scopulensis, Lysimachia venosa, Myrsine knudsenii, Phyllostegia renovans, Tetraplasandra bisattenuata, and Tetraplasandra flynnii. These 16 Kauai plant species have been identified by the multiagency (Federal, State, and private) Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) program as being among the rarest of the rare Hawaiian plant species, and in need of immediate conservation. The goal of this program is to prevent the extinction of native plant species with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii by establishing a network of multi-island plant propagation sites and storage facilities, and conducting emergency monitoring and genetic sampling of all PEP species (Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife Since these species occur within the same 6 ecosystems and share common threats with the other 32 species, we have included them here in an effort to provide them with Federal protection in an expeditious manner.

On the island of Kauai, as on most of the Hawaiian Islands, native species that occur in the same habitat types (ecosystems) depend on many of the same biological features and on the successful functioning of that ecosystem to survive. We have therefore organized the species addressed in this final rule by common ecosystem. Although the listing determination for each species is analyzed separately, we have organized the specific analysis for each species within the context of the broader ecosystem in which it occurs to avoid redundancy. In addition, native species that share ecosystems often face a suite of common threat factors that require similar management actions to reduce or eliminate those threats. Effective management of these threat factors often requires implementation of conservation actions at the ecosystem scale to enhance or restore critical ecological processes and provide for long-term viability of those species in their native environment. Thus, by taking this approach, we hope to not only organize this final rule effectively, but also to more effectively focus conservation management efforts on the common threats that occur across these ecosystems, restore ecosystem function for the recovery of each species, and provide conservation benefits for associated native species, thereby potentially precluding the need to list other species under the Act that occur in these shared ecosystems.
These 48 species (45 plants, 2 birds, and 1 picture-wing fly) are found in 6 ecosystem types: lowland mesic, lowland wet, montane mesic, montane wet, dry cliff, and wet cliff. Although most of these species are restricted to a single ecosystem, some are found in multiple ecosystems. For each species, we identified and evaluated those factors that threaten the species and that may be common to all of the species at the ecosystem level. For example, the degradation of habitat by feral ungulates is considered a threat to each species within each ecosystem. As a result, this threat factor is considered to be a multiple ecosystem-level threat, as each individual species within each ecosystem faces a threat that is essentially identical in terms of the nature of the impact, its severity, its imminence, and its scope. We further identified and evaluated any threat factors that may be unique to certain species, and do not apply to all species under consideration within the same ecosystem. For example, the threat of avian malaria is unique to the two birds in this final rule, but is not applicable to any of the other species in this final rule. We have identified such threat factors, which apply only to certain species within the ecosystems addressed here as species-specific threats.

The island of Kauai is the northernmost and oldest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands. It was formed about 6 million years ago by a single shield volcano and is 553 square miles (sq mi) (1,430 sq kilometers (km)) in area. The island is characterized by deeply incised canyons and steep ridges. The large caldera, once the largest in the Hawaiian Islands, now extends about 10 mi in diameter and comprises the elevated tableland of the Alakai Swamp. To the west of the Alakai Swamp is the deeply incised Waimea Canyon, extending 10 mi in length and up to 1 mi in width. Later volcanic activity on the southeastern flank of the volcano formed the smaller Haupu caldera. Subsequent erosion and collapse of its flank formed Haupu Ridge

The amount of rainfall on the Hawaiian Islands depends greatly on topography, and the orographic (mountain-caused) effect is revealed by the wide range in the pattern of annual rainfall, from 10 inches to 450 in. Variations in the landscape can create microclimates, with large changes in rainfall and wind patterns over very short distances. Mount Waialeale, Kauai's second highest point at 5,148 feet in elevation is one of the wettest spots on earth, with annual rainfall measured at more than 450 in. One of the island's most famous features is
the Na Pali Coast, where stream and wave action have cut deep valleys and eroded the land to form precipitous cliffs as high as 3,000 ft.

Because of its age and relative isolation, levels of floristic diversity and endemism are higher on Kauai than on any other island in the Hawaiian archipelago. However, the vegetation of Kauai has undergone extreme alterations because of past and present land use. Land with rich soils was altered by the early Hawaiians and, more recently, converted to agricultural use or pasture. Intentional and inadvertent introduction of alien plant and animal species has also contributed to the reduction in range of the native vegetation on the island of Kauai. (Throughout this rule, the terms "alien,'' "feral,'' "nonnative,'' and "introduced'' all refer to species that are not native to the Hawaiian Islands.) Most of the taxa included in this rule persist on steep slopes, precipitous cliffs, valley headwalls, and other regions where unsuitable topography has prevented urbanization and agricultural development, or where inaccessibility has limited encroachment by nonnative plant and animal species.

20 Years After Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

April 14, 2010  www.wiley.com

The Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground on the Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, spilling 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the sea, covering 1,300 square miles. It is still regarded as one of the most devastating human-caused contamination events, and the effects on wildlife populations and communities have been debated by biologists, ecologists, and the oil industry ever since. Now, using the biomarker CYP1A, which is induced upon exposure to crude oil, an international team led by Daniel Esler, from the Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, has measured prolonged exposure to oil in local wildlife populations. “One of the more remarkable and unanticipated findings of recent research is the length of time over which animals were exposed to residual oil,” said Esler. “Our research has shown that oil remaining in the area, particularly in inter-tidal areas, was encountered and ingested by some near-shore animals.” Wildfowl continued to be exposed to residual oil from the spill through at least 2009, twenty years after the event,” concluded Esler. “We believe it is important to recognize that the duration of presence of residual oil and its associated effects are not limited to a few years after spills, but for some vulnerable species may occur over decades.” The research is published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Tokelou Adds Another Protected Area to the Pacific Ocean

April 14, 2010  www.nytimes.com 

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP)—The three-island territory of Tokelau declared itself a whale sanctuary today, adding a huge patch of sea to the total protected area of more than 7 million square miles that is off limits to hunting in the Pacific Ocean. The isolated group of coral atolls with a land area of just 5 square miles has outlawed whaling in its 116,000-square-mile exclusive economic ocean zone. Sanctuaries have only moral force, but are seen by supporters as helping support the recovery of decimated whale populations like the humpback and southern right whale. About 1,500 people live in Tokelau, a U.N. protectorate that remains a colony of New Zealand and lies about 300 miles north of Samoa. Tokelau's new whale sanctuary takes the number of protected areas in the Pacific to 11, and together they cover some 7.2 million square miles The 11 Pacific nations and territories that have established whale sanctuaries within their ocean economic zones are: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Niue, Papa New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, American Samoa and Vanuatu. Two nations, New Zealand and Tonga, and two territories, Guam and the Northern Marianas, have passed laws banning the taking of whales from their economic zones but have not declared sanctuary areas.

Conservation and “Social Ecology”

April 14, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

Sahotra Sarkar, at The University of Texas at Austin, is among a growing group of scholars and environmentalists promoting the "social ecology" model of conservation that puts local values at the center in any decisions. In an article on the ethics and politics of conservation published last month in the journal Biological Conservation he writes, "Local residents are privileged stakeholders. Given that not every biotic feature can reasonably be targeted for protection, what we decide to protect must be a cultural choice." Such cultural choices vary among regions. And Sarkar has created software that lets local stakeholders develop conservation plans based on their values and needs. In Central Texas, he has worked with landowners and state officials to help protect endangered warblers and salamanders. In Equatorial Guinea, he and colleagues have proposed a conservation plan that promotes biodiversity among plants, primates and birds in abandoned cocoa plantations. And in Indonesia, he worked with Conservation International, PT Medco Energi and government officials to develop strategies to protect much of the habitat in the remote Meruake district. The company owns the rights to plant tree crops for paper pulp and biofuel and build associated infrastructure there.

Migratory Birds and Spread of H5N1 Bird Flu

April 14, 2010  www.usgs.gov

For the first time, migratory birds marked with satellite transmitters were tracked during an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus (H5N1) in Asia, providing evidence that wild birds may be partly responsible for the spread of the virus to new areas. In the study, scientists from the USGS Alaska Science Center and the University of Tokyo attached satellite transmitters to 92 northern pintail ducks several months before the H5N1 virus was discovered in dead and dying whooper swans at wetlands in Japan. They found that 12 percent of marked pintails used the same wetlands as infected swans and that pintails were present at those sites on dates the virus was discovered in swans. During the first week after they become infected with H5N1, ducks such as pintails can shed the virus orally or in their feces, potentially contributing to the virus’ spread. The research, published in the journal Ibis, does not prove the marked pintails were actually infected with the H5N1 virus or that they definitively contributed to its spread. However, it does demonstrate that pintails satisfied two requirements necessary for migratory birds to spread the virus: they used outbreak sites at times when the virus was present and some birds migrated long distances within a week of using the sites. Jerry Hupp, Ph.D., a U. S. Geological Survey scientist and one of the lead authors of the study, noted that the H5N1 virus has been found in wild birds, including northern pintails, which show no visible signs of illness. The extent to which the virus has been spread via the wild bird trade, wild bird migration, and shipping of infected poultry or poultry products has been the focus of debate. Although the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus has not been discovered in North America, it continues to plague the poultry industry throughout Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa and is a serious health threat to humans.

Frog Parenting Style and Monogamy

April 14, 2010  ecounderstanding.wordpress.com

Frog species differ enormously in whether they care for their young and in the type of care given: parents may protect eggs by laying them in terrestrial burrows, or brood the young in pockets of tissue on their back or in the mother’s stomach. Researchers built a phylogeny depicting the evolutionary relationships among 404 of the 5,300 Anuran frog species that have been investigated for whether and how they provide parental care. They found a strong association between the use of small pools for breeding, and the evolution of parental care, including intensive parental care involving egg-feeding and the participation of both parents. The researchers then focused in on the mating and parenting habits of two similar frog species, the mimic poison frog and the R. variabilis, more commonly known as the variable poison frog, that differed mainly in the size of the breeding-pool. They theorized that the differences in parental care and mating system between these otherwise similar species stemmed from the relative availability of resources in the breeding pools. The tadpole of the mimic poison frog grows up in much smaller, less nutrient-dense water pools that form in the folds of tree leaves. They are ferried there after hatching by males, who monitor them in the months following birth. About once a week, the male calls for his female partner, who lays non-fertile eggs for the tadpoles to eat.

The variable poison frog, however, raises its tadpoles in larger pools. Here, as with most amphibians, rearing of the young is handled mostly by the male. To test their theory, scientists moved tadpoles from both species into differently sized pools. Tadpoles in larger pools thrived while tadpoles in smaller pools did not grow. This, the scientists said, means that tadpoles living in the larger, more nutrient-rich pools don’t need the work of two parents as much as their smaller-pond counterparts. Species that raised tadpoles in smaller ponds were more likely to require the skills of both parents. In turn, this likely favored parents who remained devoted only to the offspring that they had produced together. The researchers used genetic analyses based on techniques similar to the DNA-based forensic methods used for paternity cases to investigate the mating system of the mimic poison frog. Surprisingly, the all but one of the families investigated were completely genetically monogamous. Many animals thought to practice social monogamy have been found through genetic testing to be less faithful than previously believed. Monogamy “turns out to be relatively rare, eve in birds and mammals — particularly in mammals — and reptiles,” Summers said. “Finding a frog that has a monogamous mating system was pretty novel for us.”  The study appears in the April 14 issue of American Naturalist.

Mangalitza Pigs at Tropical Wings Zoo

April 14, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

ESSEX, U.K.—Three Mangalitza pigs, which bear a striking resemblance to sheep, recently arrived at the Tropical Wings zoo in South Woodham Ferrers. The breed is thought to be native to Austria and Hungary. Their woolly coat makes them very hardy, and helps them to survive during harsh cold winters. Education coordinator Denise Cox said the Mangalitza breed is very similar to the now extinct Lincolnshire curly coat breed. The new arrivals come from stock imported into the UK in 2006 and will form part of a captive breeding program. "Although there's a very small amount of genetic DNA in there, they are in a small way linked to the Lincolnshire curly coat," she said. See this unusual breed at news.bbc.co.uk.

Cheetah Cubs Born In UAE Nature Reserve

April 14, 2010  edition.cnn.com  By Mark Tutton

Four cheetah cubs have been born at a nature reserve in the UAE—the first cheetahs born in the wild in the region since the animal became extinct in the Arabian Peninsula in 1972. The cubs were born on Sir Bani Yas island, 8 km off the mainland and 255 km west of Abu Dhabi. A private wildlife reserve was established on the island in 1971 by the late founder and former president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is now being developed by Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which has allocated nearly half the island to its Arabian Wildlife Park, for breeding and conserving animals indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. Last year, two captive-bred male cheetahs and one adult female cheetah were brought to the island and released into the 4,100-hectare park, fitted with radio collars. Marius Prinsloo, TDIC's Conservation and Agricultural Services manager, told CNN, "The cheetahs are of the Northern sub species, which is probably closest living relative to the one that went extinct in the UAE." The births were part of a breeding program, with the TDIC working alongside the European Endangered Species Program and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The TDIC will share their information and the cheetahs' gene pool with breeding programs in Europe and the United States.

Bushmeat Dangers in NYC

April 14, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By JAMES BARRON

Scientists have begun testing bushmeat from Africa that is often carried through customs in luggage, or shipped by mail, and say they have discovered viruses related to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. William Karesh, a veterinarian in charge of Wildlife Conservation Society health programs, said the viruses showed up in spot checks of “hundreds of samples” that were only a fraction of the bushmeat that comes into New York. But Dr. Kristine Smith, another veterinarian from the society, said in a presentation at Rockefeller University on Wednesday that they were not known to cause disease. Since the study began in 2008, inspection officials and health experts have collected samples of bushmeat from at least 14 species, including apes, monkeys, rodents and bats. Dr. Karesh said that the research completed so far was “just a pilot project” with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Society said the researchers had found evidence of simian foamy viruses in wildlife brought in as food. The Society said tests showed two different strains, from three different species of monkeys. In 2007, the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, a nonprofit organization, estimated that 15,000 pounds of bushmeat come to market in this country every month. The authorities seize and destroy only a small amount. Paul Cerniglia, a supervisory wildlife inspector with USFWS said most is smoked. He said his agency has only 10 inspectors in New York, the largest port in the country.

Status Review for N.A. Wolverine

April 15, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the initiation of a status review of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) in the contiguous United States. We conduct status reviews to determine whether the entity should be listed as endangered or threatened under the Act. Through this notice, we encourage all interested parties to provide us information regarding North American wolverines throughout their range and in the contiguous United States. Information must be received on or before May 17, 2010. Submit via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Search for docket FWS-R6-ES-2008-0029 and then follow the instructions OR U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2008-0029; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For more information contact: Mark Wilson, Field Supervisor, Montana Ecological Services Field Office, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601; telephone (406) 449-5225.

National Zoo’s New Kiwi is a Girl

April 15, 2010  voices.washingtonpost.com

The kiwi that hatched at the National Zoo on March 31 is a girl. "This news is exciting because there are more than twice as many male brown kiwis outside New Zealand as females — 27 males, and 12 females, plus a chick whose sex is unknown at the Berlin Zoo," wrote keeper Kathy Brader on the zoo's kiwi page. Brader said the female kiwi has a great deal of personality and chatters like a squeaky toy. This female kiwi is also "genetically valuable because her father, Maori, is a wild-caught bird so his genes are not well represented in the captive population," Brader wrote. And the kiwi keeper had more good news: "We have another kiwi egg! Nessus laid her second egg of the season on April 7. Maori is incubating the egg nicely, and we will not pull it for at least 30 days. Hopefully we will have two kiwi chicks this year, which would be a first for the Zoo!".  A picture is at voices.washingtonpost.com.

Zoo Dolphin Moves to Chicago
April 15, 2010  www.startribune.com

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. – Eight-year-old Spree, the Minnesota Zoo's youngest Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, had trouble fitting in with the other Minnesota Zoo dolphins after her mother died 4 years ago. Spree lacked the maternal influence to teach her social etiquette. The pod’s two adult males treated her as an adult and the two adult females shunned her. Since the summer of 2009, three female dolphins from the Brookfield Zoo—Tapeko, Noelani and Allison—have spent some time with Spree, while waiting for their aquarium at Brookfield Zoo to be renovated. Minnesota Zoo’s Marine Mammal Supervisor Diane Fusco announced that the 2 zoos had arranged for Spree to move to Chicago with them. “This was an opportunity to integrate Spree into a new, solid group where she can experience positive interactions and learn from them.” The four dolphins flew to Chicago on a private flight chartered by FedEx. They have been closely monitored and are getting used to their home before going on exhibit.

New Baby Elephant at S.D. Wild Animal Park

April 15, 2010 www.examiner.com

SAN DIEGO, California – A 268 pound male African elephant was born about 8:30 pm on Monday, April 12th at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. This is the second elephant born at the Park in 2010 and one more is due in late spring. The baby elephant was born to first-time mom, “Swazi”.  Mom and baby are doing well. The newest arrival, which has yet to be named, was born to a herd of elephants that were brought to the Wild Animal Park in 2003 to keep them from being culled in Swaziland due to overpopulation. [This is the SDZWAP's 13th African elephant birth over all, and the 8th from the Swaziland import in 2003.]

Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation
April 15, 2010  www.prnewswire.com

VIENNA, VA – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is celebrating its 15th Anniversary with the birth of healthy female Asian elephant. This is the  twenty-third birth in the most successful Asian elephant breeding program in the Western Hemisphere. Born April 3rd at 9:30 p.m. and weighing 265 pounds, the calf has been named April. This is the fourth calf bred between 34-year old Alana and 37-year old Charlie, and April has three siblings, 4-year old Irvin, 6-year old Asha and 12-year old Doc. April's veterinary team is lead by Dennis Schmitt, D.V.M., Ph.D. Ringling Bros.Chair of Veterinary Services and Director of Research. The veterinary team also provides health care services for the three traveling Ringling Bros. circus units and oversees research at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation. With 54 elephants under its care including thirteen elephants over the age of 45 and three over 60, Ringling Bros. continues to be the trustee of the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, in 2007, Ringling Bros. was granted F2 status by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, which means that the elephants born under the care of Ringling Bros. are successfully reproducing and are thereby self-sustaining the herd.

Ringling Bros. also provides resources for scientific research into the reproduction and health care of the Asian elephant. In 2009, Ringling Bros. announced the birth of its first calf born as a result of artificial insemination (AI) Ringling Bros. initiatives have funded more than $300,000 toward the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo's research projects which included a study on the endotheliotropic herpes viruses (EEHV). EEHV is a serious health threat to the Asian elephant and in North America only nine known elephants have survived this disease, two of which are currently at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation. In 2007, the Center established an annual Int’l  Conference on Tuberculosis in Elephants. The Conference brings together experts in human and animal medicine to discuss the current state of tuberculosis research for elephants. The Center also collaborates with range countries such as partnering with the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka, by supporting several Masters degree students.  For several years Ringling Bros. has also worked with the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust and its grass roots conservation education program. The international program focuses on education in the primary schools and local villages in the elephant range areas of Sri Lanka.

In the U.S., Ringling Bros. supports zoos by providing suitable companion elephants to those facilities wishing to increase an elephant herd that is diminishing in population. More importantly, due to the scientific knowledge shared over the years by veterinarians and staff, Ringling Bros. is also able to support other reproductive programs at domestic stationary facilities by donating semen collections from its male herd in an effort to help others sustain the captive North American Asian elephant population which is just over 300.

Pocket Gopher Won’t Receive Federal Protection
April 15, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

After a 12-month review of all available scientific and commercial information on the Wyoming pocket gopher (Thomomys clusius) the USFWS has found that listing the species as either endangered or threatened is not warranted at this time. This finding is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R6-ES-2008-0127. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyoming Ecological Services Field Office, 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009. For further information contact: Brian Kelly, Field Supervisor, Wyoming Ecological Services Field Office by telephone at 307- 772-2374

Endangered Species Permit Applications

April 15, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species. We must receive requests for documents or comments on or before May 17, 2010.Send comments to Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; or e-mail to DMAFR@fws.gov. For further information contact: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104

Applicant: Jean Dubach, Ph.D., Wildlife Genetics Lab, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL; PRT-06638A. The applicant requests a permit to import biological specimens from up to 4 captive held Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) from the Toronto Zoo, Ontario, Canada, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: New England Wild Flower Society (NEWFS), Framingham, MA;  PRT-06998A. The applicant requests a permit to export leaf cuttings from Jesup's milk-vetch (Astragalus robbinsii var. jesupi) to the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for the purpose of enhancement of the species through scientific research. This notification covers activities conducted by the applicant for a 5-year period.

Applicant: Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT; PRT-234773. The applicant requests a permit to import blood samples from Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), obtained from six wild females for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.   

Applicant: Wilton Hardesty, Okmulgee, OK; PRT-07800A and Applicant: Roger Jarvis, Cypress, TX; PRT-07801A. The applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Center for Biological Diversity Offers Free iPhone App

April 15, 2010 www.redorbit.com

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity today announced the release of a free iPhone application, Wild Calls, designed to increase awareness of the plight of endangered species worldwide and to spur people to take action to protect wildlife. Users can receive a randomly selected endangered species sound each week (or more frequently if users choose) via push notification. Through the "Call of the Wild" feature, each week one of 30 endangered species sounds will be randomly selected from the Center's library and "pushed" to app users. Users can then download the sound as a ringtone or browse the app's gallery of additional "Rare Earthtones" to download additional ringtones, along with matching wallpapers, or learn more about endangered species. Another feature of the app, "Wake Up Wild," allows users to make their cell-phone alarm clock play an endangered species sound as their wake-up call. The app also allows users to subscribe to Endangered Earth Online, the acclaimed weekly electronic newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity; and to respond to action alerts from the Center by signing letters and petitions in support of protecting endangered species. The Center's free ringtones site, www.RareEarthtones.org, was launched in 2007 and now features almost 100 ringtones. Download the application at itunes.apple.com.

David Tilman Wins Heineken Prize for Environmental Science

April 15, 2010  www.minnpost.com   By Sharon Schmickle

David Tilman, a Regents professor of ecology at the University of Minnesota, has received the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences 2010 Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences. The Heineken Prizes of $150,000 each are awarded annually to five internationally acclaimed scientists and scholars. They are so prestigious that 10 previous winners of the Heinekens in medicine, chemistry and biophysics have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. Tilman’s findings, published in the journals Science and Nature during the 1980s and 1990s, showed that biodiversity is essential for stable and productive ecosystems. They also demonstrated the value of protecting endangered species. More recently, Tilman has applied his discoveries to sustainable farming practices for renewable energy. He took the brave step in one of the nation’s top corn-growing states of showing that biofuels made from diverse prairie grasses can offer environment benefits over those made from food crops. Tilman directs the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, a University of Minnesota field station, where he has conducted resource competition and biodiversity studies since the early 1980s. His grassland experiments, among the longest running in the world, provide a resource for ecology research. The Institute for Scientific Information named him the most cited ecologist in the world for two decades, 1990-2000 and 1996-2006. The Emperor of Japan awarded him the International Prize for Biology in 2008.

Realm of the Tiger Exhibit Opens in Louisiana Zoo

April 16, 2010  www.2theadvocate.com   By LISA TRAMONTANA

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo celebrates the grand opening of its new Realm of the Tiger exhibit on Saturday, April 17. The exhibit features a rock garden and a Koi pond amid Asian architecture. An open walk-through aviary features nine species of birds. Siamang gibbons will be on display, and there are three female Malayan tigers and two male Sumatrans. The Malayan tigers are sisters born in April 2008 at the Ft. Worth Zoo. The males were born at the Los Angeles Zoo in June 2007. “This ‘immersion experience’ is the Zoo’s most ambitious project to date, and will tell the story of endangered tigers and why it’s important to save these magnificent creatures,” said Phil Frost, Zoo director. The new Asian exhibit was made possible by a $3.25 million property tax that voters approved in 2004. And Exxon Mobil also donated $300,000 at the start of the project, according to the release.

Zoo Seeks £70M for Wildlife Park
April 16, 2010 www.thisisbristol.co.uk

BRISTOL, U.K. – A new wildlife park could open near Bristol by 2017 if £70 million can be raised in the next few years. The proposed National Wildlife Conservation Park is a 136-acre site which will be made up of different areas representing a number of threatened ecosystems. The money will be used for the "bricks and mortar" of the unique wildlife and conservation park, as well as covering the costs of design fees, capital costs, staff training, marketing, fundraising and transporting animals. "£70m is a lot of money," said Sallie Blanks, deputy project manager, at a breakfast meeting with members of the Institute of Directors yesterday. "I have tried saying it slowly. I have tried saying it fast. I have tried saying it backwards – it doesn't help. It is still a lot of money."

Injured Baby Gorilla Moved to Louisville Zoo Hospital

April 16, 2010  www.courier-journal.com
Louisville Zoo’s baby gorilla, born February 6, was injured April 1 during an encounter with the three adult gorillas of her family group that resulted in the loss of part of her left leg below the knee and a broken bone near her left hip. “The baby’s injury presented significant challenges to the baby, including anemia and trauma,” Louisville Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Roy Burns said. “We are very fortunate baby and mom have done as well as they have in the last two weeks. However, the physiologic demands of healing were just too much for the baby to handle on her own. The plan has been to closely monitor them and to intervene at the first indication that the baby needed additional help.” The zoo’s veterinary team has been consulting with local medical experts, including a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, a lactation specialist and a neo-natologist. While the baby was nursing, she wasn’t doing it frequently enough to stimulate the mother’s breast and maintain full milk production. “There were times when it would sort of look like it was falling asleep and letting its head fall back a little bit,” says Burns. “Also, when the baby was on the mom’s breast, there wasn’t the aggressive, active suckling motion in the baby’s mouth, the baby would just sort of hold on to the nipple and not be actively suckling. The healing of the baby’s wounds depletes her energy reserves. She needs adequate nutrition in order to heal. To aid and speed recovery, she needs aggressive nutritional support and antibiotic therapy,” Burns said. For now, the infant is being hand raised by staff, who hold and care for her 24 hours a day. Through tests, the Zoo’s veterinary team discovered that the infant is anemic and the staff is awaiting more test results to determine a treatment. Hopefully in a few weeks the baby gorilla will regain its strength and can be returned to her mother.

Santa Barbara
Zoo Receives 2 Masai Giraffes & Accreditation
April 16, 2010  www.newshawk.com  By John Conroy

Audrey and Betty Lou, two young female Masai giraffes, join Sulima, the zoo’s Baringo giraffe in Santa Barbara Zoo’s African Veldt exhibit. The zoo is making a transition from exhibiting Baringo giraffes to showcasing Masai giraffes as part of a regional giraffe management program with other West Coast zoos, including Los Angeles and San Diego. Audrey and Betty Lou arrived March 10 from the Los Angeles Zoo. Betty Lou was born Aug. 2, 2007, and Audrey on Feb. 6, 2008, both at the San Diego Zoo. Although Audrey is younger, she is taller than Betty Lou. Both giraffes are young and growing and could top 17 feet in height. Also on Thursday, the Santa Barbara Zoo received its accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Rich Block, Santa Barbara Zoo CEO, said, “This achievement is a testament to the dedicated work of our professional staff, the impassioned commitment of our volunteers, and the steadfast support of our members and donors. We are committed to building great experiences around animals that touch and enrich the lives of over 450,000 guests every year.”

USDA Cites Topeka Zoo Again

April 16, 2010  cjonline.com  By James Carlson

TOPEKA, Kansas – The Topeka Zoo underwent another USDA inspection this week and was cited for eight violations. Among them, the USDA says daily foot inspections of the elephants were sometimes skipped, as were regular baths. The report notes the Elephant Program Manual says the elephants should be bathed at least twice a week, but one elephant had just a single bath and the other only two baths the entire month of February. They were bathed twice during the month of March. The USDA inspection report also says the zoo does not have a written program of veterinary care, and noted the fishing cats' enclosure didn't have sufficient separation from the public and the lemur enclosure lacked climbs and perches. There also was an issue of a hippo locked indoors, unable to access its pool. The city was briefed on the report April 14. City spokesperson Dave Bevens says the lemur and cat issues were addressed immediately. He said the elephant care problems were a personnel issue, but declined to elaborate. The city begins interviews this week with candidates to become the zoo's new director. Previous director Mike Coker retired in December, amid criticism over animal care at the zoo.

Introduces Baby Panda
April 16, 2010  www.necn.com

CHIANG MAI, Thailand – The Chiang Mai Zoo introduced its baby giant panda Lin Ping and its mother Lin Hui, into their new living quarters yesterday. Earlier zoo staff had the 10 month-old baby panda and its mother take turns staying in the new enclosure separately to get familiar with the place. Prasertsak Boontrakulpoonthawee, the head of the Project for Panda Research and Display in Thailand at the Chiang Mai Zoo said that visitors to the zoo could see the pandas in the new living quarter all day long. The Thai minister of natural resources and environment is seeking Chinese approval for a longer stay of the baby panda than 2 years. When the baby panda enters its reproductive age, China may send a male giant panda to mate with Lin Ping in Thailand or bring Lin Ping back to China so that it can choose a mate itself. Mr Prasertsak said that the issue had yet to be concluded.

’s New Elephant Rescue Center
April 16, 2010  www.elephant.co.uk

The Indian Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has pledged 12.5 million Rupees (around £182,000) to build a 20 hectares elephant rehabilitation and rescue center in the region of Tamil Nadu. Apart from two animal shelters, the state's first elephant conservation facility will include a veterinary centre, feeding area, walking paths stretching two kilometres, and two ponds and bore-holes. It will be able to house 60 animals. Last year, India's Central Zoo Authority (CZA) ordered the relocation of the country's 140 zoo and circus elephants to national parks, sanctuaries and nature reserves. Dr B K Gupta, from the CZA said, "We found that circuses specially were not following standards set under the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992."

Candidates For Indianapolis Prize Announced

April 16, 2010  www.catchannel.com

Two leaders in saving big cats in the wild are among the six finalists for the $100,000 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. This year's candidates for the prize were selected from a pool of 29 nominees and the finalists are Rodney Jackson, Ph.D., Snow Leopard Conservancy founder, Laurie Marker, D.Phil., Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) founder/executive director, Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D., Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., Carl Safina, Ph.D. and Amanda Vincent, Ph.D. These conservationists were nominated by their peers and chosen for their achievements on behalf of endangered or at-risk species across the globe. In addition to receiving $100,000, the recipient is awarded the Lilly Medal, that signifies the winner’s contributions to conserving the world’s most threatened animals. The award will be presented Sept. 25 at the Indianapolis Prize Gala hosted by Cummins Inc., at The Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. George Schaller was the winner in 2008.

Fishers May Get Federal Protection

April 16, 2010  www.businessweek.com 

BILLINGS, Montana – Last year, four conservation groups—Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Clearwater, Friends of the Bitterroot and the Center for Biological Diversity—petitioned USFWS to list the fisher, a large member of the weasel family. This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the fisher's precarious status in the Rocky Mountains warrants its protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The "may be warranted" decision triggers a more thorough 12-month study of the fisher's status, which could lead to the species listing as threatened or endangered under the ESA. Fishers prefer low- to mid-elevation old-growth forests, where they prey on snowshoe hares and other small mammals and birds. They are also are the only known species to target porcupines. They repeatedly attack the spiny animal's unprotected face, wearing it down until the fisher can flip the porcupine over and tear into its soft underbelly. Fishers have been struggling to recover in Northern Rockies states since they were largely wiped out by over-trapping in the 1930s. Small groups of the animals have been reintroduced to the region four times since 1959, but the Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that logging, residential development and trapping remain significant threats. Conservation groups estimate only 500 of the animals survive in Montana and Idaho. There have been unconfirmed reports of fishers living in Wyoming and they may have once roamed as far south as Utah. A small West Coast population of the animals was deemed eligible for federal protection in 2004, although the government said other species had priority. They remain relatively abundant in parts of the Midwest and New England.

Possible Listing of a Distinct Population Segment of the Fisher in the
Northern Rocky Mountain Range as Endangered or Threatened
April 16, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

After a 90-day-review, the USFWS has found that a petition to list a distinct population segment (DPS) of the fisher (Martes pennanti) in its Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) range, including portions of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, as endangered or threatened and designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, USFWS is initiating a review of the status of the species requests scientific and commercial data and other information.  Information must be received on or before June 15, 2010. You may submit information via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Search for docket number FWS-R6-ES-2010-0017 and then follow the instructions for submitting comments OR U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2010-0017; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact: Mark Wilson, Field Supervisor, Montana Ecological Services Field Office, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT; telephone (406) 449-5225.

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Eggs Reintroduced
April 16, 2010  www.sdnn.com

Eggs from an endangered species of frog produced through a breeding program at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research have been released into their native Southern California mountain habitat. About 500 eggs from the mountain yellow-legged frog were reintroduced in a creek on the James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve through a collaborative program with the U.S.G.S., U.S. Forest Service and U.S.F.W.S. It is the first time scientists have tried to reintroduce eggs from the mountain yellow-legged frog back into their former habitat. The eggs were released into deep permanent pools on the creek, where they will be closely monitored by biologists from the USGS. It will take two years for the tadpoles to morph into adults, according to the zoo. Because they are not a migratory species, the frogs will stay in the creek within the bounds of the preserve, which is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. “This is a momentous day—the first reintroduction of these endangered frog eggs ever back onto their natural habitat and the San Diego Zoo is thrilled to be a part of it,” said Jeff Lemm, research coordinator. There is now only a small wild population of less than 200 mountain yellow-legged frogs in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, according to the zoo. In 2006, scientists collected mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles from the remaining wild populations in the San Jacinto Mountains and took them to the zoo where, for the first time, researchers were able to establish a captive breeding program for the species.

USFWS Will Consider Listing the Wolverine

April 16, 2010  www.wenatcheeworld.com

DENVER — Federal officials will try to determine how prevalent wolverines are across the West to decide whether they should be added to the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday the review will settle a lawsuit by environmental groups that challenged a 2008 decision saying there wasn’t enough information to decide that the animal needed federal protection. The wolverine’s current range includes California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.  At least some wolverines make their home in the mountains above the Methow Valley, where scientists have been studying them for five winters. At least five wolverines have been trapped and radio-collared in that study — now a collaborative effort with scientists in Canada, who are trapping some of the same animals. This winter, remote cameras were used to find out if some of the wolverines in their study area are avoiding the traps. The weasel-like animals, bigger than badgers and known for their ferocity, were once common in the Northern Rockies. But they were nearly wiped out by 1930 due to trapping and poisoning by farmers and ranchers. Colorado documented its first wild wolverine in 90 years when one roamed from northwest Wyoming into the state last summer. California’s Sierra Nevada, where it’s believed wolverines have been extinct since as early as the 1920s, has been visited the past three years by a wandering wolverine. The agency is seeking information about wolverines from other government agencies and the public, including industry and conservation groups, until May 17. The finding is expected by the end of the year.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

April 16, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov 

The following applicants have applied for scientific research permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Act requires that we invite public comment on these permit applications. To ensure consideration, written comments must be received on or before May 17, 2010. Written comments should be submitted to the Chief, Endangered Species Division, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, by appointment only, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Ave. SW., Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM. Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments. For further information contact: Susan Jacobsen, Chief, Endangered Species Division, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103; (505) 248-6920.

Permit TE-02368A. Applicant: Martin Schlaefer, Syracuse, New York. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for Sonoran tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigirium stebbinsi) within Arizona.

Permit TE-07059A. Applicant: Paul Marsh, Chandler, Arizona. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for the following species: Humpback chub (Gila cypha), bonytail chub (Gila elegans), Virgin River chub (Gila robusta seminuda), woundfin (Plagopterus argentissimus), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), Yaqui topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonorensis), Quitobaquito desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius eremus), Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis), and Gila chub (Gila intermedia) within Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Permit TE-07308A. Applicant: Debbie Buecher, Tucson, Arizona. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) within Arizona.

Permit TE-178778. Applicant: Marks Lab of Aquatic Ecology, Flagstaff, Arizona. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for bonytail chub (Gila elegans) within Texas.

Permit TE-07360A. Applicant: Nancy Nicolai, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax taillii extimus) within New Mexico.

Permit TE-819473. Applicant: National Park Service--Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon, Arizona. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for humpback chub (Gila cypha) and razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) within Arizona.

Permit TE-160521. Applicant: Tetra Tech, Salt Lake City, Utah. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax taillii extimus) within Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

April 16, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

The  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. We must receive any written comments on or before May 17, 2010. Send written comments by U.S. mail to the Regional Director, Attn: Peter Fasbender, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056; or by electronic mail to permitsR3ES@fws.gov  For further information contact: Peter Fasbender, (612) 713-5343.

Permit Application Number: TE06778A. Applicant: U.S. Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest, Rod McClanahan, P.I., Vienna, Illinois. The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture and release) Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) and gray bats (Myotis grisescens) in the States of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri to document presence/absence and distribution of the species and to conduct habitat use assessments. Proposed activities involve capture, radio-tracking, and non-lethal tissue sampling for scientific research aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06795A. Applicant: Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois. The applicant requests a permit renewal to salvage dead threatened and endangered species for scientific museum collections and public education/display. Salvage activities are proposed in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, in accordance with State regulations. Activities are proposed in the interest of conservation and recovery of the species through scientific study.

Permit Application Number: TE06797A. Applicant: Rod D. McClanahan, Anna, Illinois. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats, gray bats, Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus), Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens), and Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Proposed activities are to document presence/absence and distribution of the species and to conduct habitat use assessments. Activities involve capture, radio-tracking, tagging and non-lethal tissue sampling for scientific research aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06800A. Applicant: Land Conservancy of West Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The applicant requests a permit to take Karner blue butterflies (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) within the Maas Preserve, Kent County, Michigan. Proposed activities include presence/absence survey work and habitat management and restoration to increase habitat suitability for the butterfly. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE809227. Applicant: BHE Environmental, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio. The applicant requests a permit amendment to their permit related to authorized activities with Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka). The proposed amendment would authorize the applicant to temporarily relocate endangered Topeka shiners to protect them from impacts due to in-stream projects such as pipeline crossings. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06801A. Applicant: Pittsburgh Wildlife & Environmental, Inc., McDonald, Pennsylvania. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release; radio-track) Indiana bats and gray bats throughout the range of the species. Proposed activities include presence/absence surveys, hibernacula surveys, and radio-telemetry work to document habitat use. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06809A. Applicant: U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Columbia, Missouri.  The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats, gray bats, and Ozark big-eared bats throughout the State of Missouri. Proposed activities include presence/ absence surveys, radio-telemetry, tagging using passive integrated transponders, and collection of blood/tissue samples for scientific analysis. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06720A. Applicant: Russell A. Benedict, Pella, Iowa. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats and gray bats throughout the States of Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. Proposed activities include presence/ absence surveys and radio-telemetry to document habitat use and inform project planning. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06822A. Applicant: Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, Marquette, Michigan. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (harass) Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) within the Upper Peninsula, State of Michigan. Proposed activities include installing protective exclosures to preclude predation, nest monitoring, and salvage of abandoned chicks and/or eggs. Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06841A. Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Field Office, (Dr. Mary Knapp), Columbus, Ohio. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (handle and release) American burying beetles (Nicrophorus americanus) within Muskingum County, Ohio, under a cooperative agreement with The Wilds, New Cumberland, Ohio. Beetles have been raised in captivity at authorized propagation facilities. Proposed activities include the handling, release, and follow-up surveys to determine the success of the release. Activities are proposed in the interest of species recovery and enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06843A. Applicant: Andrew B. Kniowski, Columbus, Ohio. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release; radio-track) Indiana bats throughout the range of the species in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06844A. Applicant: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, Kansas City, Kansas. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release; salvage) the following unionid species: Curtis' pearlymussel (Epioblasma florentina curtisi), Pink mucket pearlymussel (Lampsilis orbiculata), Fat pocketbook (Potamilus capax), Scaleshell (Leptodea leptodon), Higgins' eye pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsi), and Winged mapleleaf (Quadrula fragosa) in the State of Missouri. Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06845A. Applicant: Bernardin, Lochmueller, & Associates, Inc., Evansville, Indiana. The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture and release) Indiana bats and gray bats throughout the State of Indiana to document presence/absence of the species and to conduct habitat use assessments. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE06846A. Applicant: Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Washington, DC. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (harass through capture and release, banding, collection of blood/tissue samples, and nest monitoring) Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) throughout the State of Michigan. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE07358A. Applicant: Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., Columbus, Ohio. The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture and release; radio-track) Indiana bats and gray bats throughout the range of the species in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE07361A. Applicant: Nicholas L. Owens, Chicago, Illinois. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release; capture and relocate) the following unionid species: Fanshell (Cyprogenia stegaria), Pink mucket pearlymussel, Higgins' eye pearlymussel, Orangefoot pimpleback pearlymussel (Plethobasus cooperianus), Clubshell (Pleurobema clava), Fat pocketbook, Rough pigtoe (Pleurobema plenum), and Northern riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana) in the States of Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa.
Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE07730A. Applicant: Redwing Ecological Services, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle and release) the following species of mussels and fish: Cumberland Elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea), Fanshell, Dromedary pearlymussel (Dromus dromas), Cumberlandian combshell (Epioblasma brevidens), Oyster Mussel (E. capsaeformis), Tan riffleshell (E. florentina walkeri), Catspaw (E. obliquata obliquata), White catspaw (E. obliquata perobliqua), Northern riffleshell, Tubercled Blossom (E. torulosa torulosa), Cracking pearlymussel (Hemistena lata), Pink mucket pearlymussel, Higgins' Eye pearlymussel, Scaleshell, Ring Pink (Obovaria retusa), Littlewing pearlymussel (Pegias fabula), White wartyback (Plethobasus cicatricosus), Orangefoot pimpleback, Clubshell, Rough pigtoe, Fat Pocketbook, Winged Mapleleaf, Cumberland Bean (Villosa trabalis), Palezone shiner (Notropis albizonatus), and Blackside dace (Phoxinus cumberlandensis). Proposed activities are requested within aquatic habitats in the States of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Proposed activities are to assess potential impacts to listed species and are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE08602A. Applicant: University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The applicant requests a permit to take (harass) Karner blue butterflies within the State of Wisconsin for scientific research. Proposed activities may disturb adult and larval butterflies through presence of researchers observing and studying the relationship between larvae and ants. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE08603A. Applicant: Michelle Malcosky, Hudson, Ohio. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release; radio-track) Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) throughout the States of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to document presence/absence of the species and to conduct habitat use assessments. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE08604A. Applicant: Stanley D. Gehrt, Columbus, Ohio. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release; radio-track) Indiana bats throughout Ohio to document presence/absence of the species and to conduct habitat use assessments. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Sierra Nevada
Yellow-Legged Frog Site Fidelity Study
April 16, 2010  www.sciencedaily.com 

USDA Forest Service researchers have found that site fidelity, the tendency to return to previously occupied habitats, is strong in the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. In a 10-year study using mark-recapture methods, Kathleen Matthews and Haiganoush Preisler quantified site fidelity of a population in Kings Canyon National Park and found that frogs were returning to breed in lakes that dry up after low snowpack years, killing all tadpoles, or to lakes where predation by introduced non-native trout reduced breeding success. Site fidelity is usually an effective life history strategy, allowing efficient relocation of important breeding, feeding and overwintering habitats. Because of their short active season (3-5 months) in high elevation streams and lakes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, site fidelity of the yellow-legged frog was probably historically advantageous. The frog requires perennial water for successful tadpole development, which can take up to 4 years; so when a lake dries, up to four years-worth of tadpoles are lost. Currently in the study area, the largest, deepest lake not susceptible to drawdown by snowpack variability is unfavorable for successful breeding because of predatory non-native trout. The study notes that restoration projects that removed non-native trout had increased adult frog and tadpole abundance. The article was published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences and is titled "Site fidelity of the declining amphibian Rana sierrae (Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog)"  [San Diego Zoo works with Rana muscosa].

US Forest Service Proposes Less Protection for Wildlife

April 16, 2010  www.enn.com 

TUCSON, Ariz.—The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a draft land and resource management plan for the Coronado National Forest that includes sweeping rollbacks for wildlife protection. The plan, which would govern management for up to 15 years, would eliminate current requirements to maintain viable populations of wildlife species and would curtail or eliminate forest-wide restrictions on logging, livestock grazing, mining, road construction, and other industrial uses. With the Coronado acting as one of the first of the southwestern region's 11 forests to begin updating its plan, this marks a first step in the Forest Service's efforts to roll back critical wildlife protections in all Arizona and New Mexico national forests. The Coronado National Forest is among the most biologically diverse American national forests. Some of the more than 576 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians that call the forest home are found on no other national forest. There are 175 threatened, endangered, or sensitive species in the Coronado. Of those, 28 are listed or proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, including jaguar, Mexican gray wolf, Mexican spotted owl, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, southwestern willow flycatcher, and desert pupfish. One hundred forty-seven species are designated as sensitive. Despite this diversity, the Coronado's draft plan eliminates enforceable wildlife standards or replaces them with unenforceable guidelines or goals.

£3M for Climate Model to Predict Disease Outbreak

April 16, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

Researchers across 13 European and African research institutes will work together to integrate data from climate modelling and disease forecasting systems to predict the likelihood of an epidemic up to six months in advance. The research, funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework programme, will focus on climate and disease in Senegal, Ghana and Malawi and aims to give decision makers the necessary time to deploy intervention methods to help prevent large scale spread of diseases such as Rift Valley Fever and malaria. It is thought that climate change will change global disease distributions, and although scientists have significant knowledge of the climate triggers for particular diseases, more research is needed to understand how far into the future these events can be predicted. They will look at historical and contemporary climate data and combine it with disease incidence information, as well as integrating monthly and seasonal forecasts into a single seamless forecast system. They will also look at data for vector-borne diseases and integrate them into the forecasting model. All this information will be fed into a decision support system to be developed with decision makers on national health issues.

Researchers Save Grey-Shanked Douc Langur

April 17, 2010  vietnewsonline.vn

Eight young scientists have devoted themselves to rescuing the grey-shanked douc langur (Pygathrix cinerea) in Kon Ka Kinh National Park in Gia Lai Province. The species is native to the central provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh, and the Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum and Gia Lai. “When I went to the villages at the foot of Kon Ka Kinh Mountain, I saw animal skulls hanging in nearly every house as a symbol of bravery and hunting ability,” Ha Thang Long, a biologist at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Ninh Binh Province’s Cuc Phuong National Park, said. At that time, Long was studying the grey-shanked douc langur in central Vietnam to make recommendations for establishing species protection areas to promote connectivity between isolated populations. The same year Long decided to research the distribution of Vietnam's endemic primate in the 3,000-hectare Kon Ka Kinh National Park and its buffer zone as the subject of his master’s thesis. He found that the animal lived in both places and up to an elevation of 1,400 meters. DNA analysis showed that the langurs living in Kon Ka Kinh were genetically close to the populations found in Ba To in the central Quang Ngai Province. Long teamed up with seven other researchers, most of them students, persuading them to leave their cities and save the lives of the endangered langurs. The researchers took turns persuading villagers not to hunt the langurs. They struck up close friendships with former hunters, who even became their forest guides. The villagers gradually complied and the monkey’s population has recovered to 250. Tran Huu Vy, the chief researcher, says he has worked there for four years. A long-term study is currently under way in Gia Lai Province as a part of Germany’s Frankfurt Zoological Society's Vietnam Primate Conservation Program. The Society works with the Endangered Primate Rescue Center which has an ongoing Captive Breeding program.

Zoos & Conservation – Oregon Zoo Perspective

April 17, 2010  www.oregonlive.com  By Katy Muldoon

"In this day and age, I think you do have to justify having animals in captivity," says Michael Hutchins, director and chief executive officer of The Wildlife Society, a Maryland-based nonprofit. "The primary justification is conservation. Zoos can do that." They have staff experienced at caring for and moving animals, as well as relationships with state and federal wildlife managers, researchers and conservation operations worldwide. Plus, they have built-in audiences for teaching and for garnering financial support for wildlife and habitat work. About 25 years ago captive-animal experts determined they needed Species Survival Plans to create sustainable, genetically diverse collections of threatened and endangered species, especially so-called flagship species, that the public is most passionate about, such as elephants, giant pandas, lowland gorillas. Today, the AZA's 238 members participate in 117 Species Survival Plans representing about 170 species and subspecies; around 40 of those are bred and set free to boost struggling wild populations. Successes include reintroductions of black-footed ferrets and Puerto Rican crested toads. But a recent article in the International Zoo Yearbook criticized zoos for too often failing to follow through on survival-plan breeding recommendations. Authors C.M. Lees and J. Wilcken analyzed international zoo data for 31 carnivore, 37 primate, 12 ungulate and 7 rodent populations and found only 48 percent breeding enough to replace existing animals and just 55 percent retaining genetic diversity at or above the recommended threshold. Unlike some zoos, which resist for economic and other reasons, the Oregon Zoo always follows breeding recommendations. At the Oregon Zoo, examples are breeding programs that produce endangered California condors, some of which now fly free, and the effort that led to the 2008 birth of the zoo's most popular attraction, Samudra, the Asian elephant calf.

In 2005, Oregon Zoo restructured, combining employees who specialize in conservation and research with those who manage education and the zoo's vast volunteer network. They hired conservation manager Anne Warner, who had done zoological field work in Africa and New Guinea, and had worked in zoos. Warner's conservation department conducts research and collaborates with outside scientists on a wide variety of studies. Oregon silverspot butterfly foraging behavior and investigation of polar bear foot secretions to determine whether females and males communicate chemically the wild, are two examples. Oregon Zoo visitors see and hear the conservation message in signage, during keeper talks and from volunteers. Last year, the designers of the new Predators of the Serengeti exhibit included donation stations where visitors drop cash that's forwarded directly to three nonprofits, The Kilimanjaro Lion Conservation Project, Action for Cheetahs in Kenya, and Painted Dog Conservation. The Oregon Zoo Foundation's Future for Wildlife Conservation Fund, is paid for in part by 25 cents from each zoo admission. In fiscal 2009, the program awarded 54 grants totalling $158,813 for various projects. The Oregon zoo also increasingly brings conservation stakeholders together in such events as last week's Pacific Northwest Condor Summit for 130 wildlife biologists and managers. Next month, the zoo will host a similar workshop about conserving bees and other native pollinators.

The Wildlife Society’s Hutchins says, "Quality zoos are assets to the conservation community but they could be doing so much more. You have to push substance before image. If you have relationships with universities and build programs to support in situ conservation, the public relations and the good feelings about zoos will happen by themselves ... But if it's all P.R., people will wonder exactly are you doing" Robert Buchanan, president and CEO of Polar Bears International, agrees that it's action, not spin, that counts. "Zoos and aquariums," Buchanan says, "have the ability to create the greatest generation of conservationists the world has ever seen." Full article in honor of “Earth Day” is at www.oregonlive.com.

Panther Fact Sheet
April 18, 2010  www.tampabay.com

• Their scientific name is Puma concolor coryi, honors the first scientist to describe them, Charles Cory.
• They were on the original endangered species list, issued in 1967.
• When the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973, there were only 20 to 30 panthers left.
• The average lifespan of a Florida panther in the wild is 12 years.
• Males average 130 pounds and measure 6 to 8 feet with the tail, while females average 80 pounds and measure 5 to 7 feet including the tail.
• Since 1990, much of the state's research into the Florida panther is financed by sales of the Florida panther specialty license plate. The plate brought in more than $1.3 million in 2008, the year with the most recent figures.
• Inbreeding among the small population led to genetic defects that would have doomed the species. In 1995, in a desperate gamble, state officials brought in eight Texas cougars to refresh the gene pool. Now there are more than 100 panthers.
• Scientists first began capturing panthers and attaching radio collars to them in 1981. Currently 28 have them.
• Florida panthers do not roar. They do make sounds, though: chirps, peeps, whistles, purrs, moans, screams, growls and hisses.
• Their preferred diet consists of deer, wild hogs and some smaller animals, such as raccoons and armadillos.
• When kittens' eyes first open they are blue. Young cats' fur is spotted, and they have five rings on their tails. As they get older their eyes darken, and their fur and tail become more of a uniform tawny shade.

WCS Captures First Photos of Spotted Leopard in Malaysia

April 18, 2010  www.afp.com 

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Researchers said Sunday they have captured the first images of a spotted leopard in Malaysia, putting to rest a decades-old debate over the existence of the endangered cat in the country. The images were taken by camera traps set up in the Endau-Rompin national park as part of a 10-year project in southern Johor state, Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia programme according to director Melvin Gumal. "Out of the 11,500 images taken on the ground, only three were of the spotted leopard. It now gives the impetus for greater conservation in the Endau-Rompin area and greater collaboration to protect this extremely biodiverse site." The spotted leopard has a prominent rosette pattern on its skin, unlike the black leopards, which make up the majority of such cats in Malaysia. Gumal said the leopard was one of six species of big cats documented along with tigers and marbled cats from the 70 camera traps set up under the project.

Howler Monkey Census in Panama

April 19, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

The fifth Howler Monkey census at the Smithsonian's Barro Colorado Island research station in Panama, indicates that monkey numbers have not changed significantly since the first census 33 years ago. Researcher Katie Milton, from UC Berkeley, organized the volunteer effort that occurred March 19 and 20. They located 35 predetermined listening stations marked on their maps of the island. Just before sunrise, howler monkeys launch into a chorus of howls, roars and barks. From 5:15 am until 6:30 am, each volunteer recorded the time and direction of these vocalizations and estimated the distance to each group that they could hear from their stations. As they walked back to the lab in the early morning light they noted locations of any monkey groups they saw. Lines drawn on a map from each station toward the compass angle of the observed sounds intersect, marking the estimated location of each group. Based on this technique called triangulation Milton estimated that there are 60-70 groups on the island. By multiplying the number of groups by the average number of individuals in a group—between 17 and 18 monkeys— she concluded that there are roughly 1200 individuals in fairly evenly spaced groups. Milton organized the first island-wide count in March 1977. That census also revealed approximately 65 groups and thus, around 1200 monkeys.

Australian Woman Rescues Bears in Asia

April 19, 2010  www.csmonitor.com

PHNOM TAMAO, Cambodia—Thanks to the “Free the Bears Fund”, 106 rescued Asiatic black bears now live happily on 17 acres of woodland in Phnom Tamao, 25 miles south of Phnom Penh. Even bears missing a paw or forelimb have learned to climb again. In 1993, Australian housewife and grandmother Mary Hutton saw an Australian TV report showing an Asiatic black bear in a tiny cage with an iron catheter inserted into its gallbladder to drain its bile for traditional Chinese medicine. She drew up a petition and, standing outside a shopping mall in Perth, asked passersby to sign it. She then enlisted veterinarians across Australia for her campaign and within weeks collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. Her initiative even reached the country's parliament. Encouraged, she set up “Free the Bears”, which she still oversees from her home's garage, now converted into an office. She began soliciting donations. "Raffles, [bake sales], movie nights, collection [boxes]; you name it, we did it," Hutton says. "Still do." Although she's raised millions of dollars, Hutton doesn't take a salary. She and her husband live modestly on his military pension. In India, she has played a pivotal role in ending "bear dancing," a cruel practice in which sloth bears are forced to hop on their hind legs while itinerant beggars tug at a rope driven through their muzzles. “Save the Bears has rescued more than 600 dancing bears over the years in partnership with local wildlife officials. Through Free the Bears' microloan program, the animals' handlers, move into new jobs such as auto-rickshaw drivers, food vendors, handymen, bicycle repairmen, and carpet weavers. Asiatic black bears, sun bears, and sloth bears – all highly endangered species – are being rescued in India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia, See www.freethebears.org.au for more information.

Scottish Wildcat Captured On Camera

April 19, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

Dr David Hetherington of the Cairngorms National Park Authority is heading a new research project in the Scottish Highlands. Photo-traps have been attached to trees, and motion detectors and infra-red technology allow the devices to capture images of passing animals over long periods. The cameras have already provided images of the Scottish wildcat, popularly known as the Highland tiger. "These camera traps are an excellent way of us getting a much better insight into where wildcats live, when they're active, and what habitat they're using. We can also get an idea of where they don't live and, of course, that's also really important information." Experts believe the Scottish wildcat population has fallen to about 400, and work is under way to prevent the species becoming extinct. That involves encouraging cat owners in the Highlands to ensure their animals are neutered. "The major threat to wildcats these days is hybridization with domestic cats. Although they are quite different and have a completely different temperament, they are actually quite closely related genetically to domestic cats so they can produce fertile hybrids,” he explained. Douglas Richardson, of the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig near Aviemore, said, "We formerly had lynx and other big, dangerous and interesting animals. But this is our last feline predator and I think we are duty bound to protect it.”

Genetic Study of Chinese Pigs

April 19, 2010  www.physorg.com

Chinese pigs are direct descendants from ancient pigs which were the first to be domesticated in the region 10,000 years ago according to a new archaeological and genetic study. Researchers from Durham University (UK) and the China Agricultural University, in Beijing, analyzed DNA sequences of more than 1,500 modern and 18 ancient pigs. Lead author Dr Greger Larson, from Durham University, said, "Previous studies of European domestic pigs demonstrated that the first pigs in Europe were imported from the Near East. Those first populations were then completely replaced by pigs descended from European wild boar. However, despite the occurrence of genetically distinct populations of wild boar throughout modern China, these populations have not been incorporated into domestic stocks. The earliest known Chinese domestic pigs have a direct connection with modern Chinese breeds, suggesting a long, unbroken history of pigs and people in this part of East Asia." The finding is part of a wider research project into pig domestication and early human migration in East Asia. The study also uncovered multiple centers of pig domestication and a complex picture of human migration across East Asia. After pigs were incorporated into domestic stocks in Southeast Asia, the animals then migrated with people south and east to New Guinea, eventually reaching the remote Pacific, including Hawai'i, Tahiti, and Fiji. The DNA analysis also found that wild boar were probably domesticated in many places including India and peninsular Southeast Asia several thousand years ago. The study was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Technological Protection for Florida Panthers

April 19, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com By John Platt

Last year 17 Florida panthers (Felis concolor coryi) were killed by vehicles, an all-time high. Only about 100 panthers remain in Florida, and the species shows signs of heavy inbreeding due to its limited population. Panthers are already protected by law, and drivers face heavy fines for speeding, but that hasn't done much to stop these unnecessary deaths. So now the state will install the Roadside Animal Detection Systems (RADS), on the stretch of highway that runs through Big Cypress National Preserve this summer. RADS sets off flashing amber lights to warn drivers when an animal is approaching the road. The project originated with the Florida office of Defenders of Wildlife, which applied for governmental Transportation Enhancement funds on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "The funds were originally allocated so the Florida Department of Transportation could put in a wildlife crossing with fencing," explains Laurie Macdonald, Florida program director for Defenders. But the fencing project received resistance from hunters and local Indian tribes, so Defenders decided on the RADS solution. "RADS have been used out west for different animals," says Macdonald. "We're very hopeful that this will work under Florida climate conditions and for the Florida panther." There are several different types of RADS which use lasers, ground sensors or other systems to sense an animal that is moving toward a roadway. The final system might be a variety of different technologies. The site has many challenges. It's extremely wet, and there's a lot of vegetation where the animals are crossing. Temperature and high winds can also be a factor. Vendors working on the project will need to be innovative and apply new techniques. The federal government has kicked in $650,000 for this project, and the Florida Department of Transportation has committed to finding funds to monitor the system once it has been installed.

University Issues Habitat Conservation Plan
April 19, 2010  news.stanford.edu

Stanford University wants to create a Habitat Conservation Plan for its campus. The proposal was published on April 16 in the Federal Register. The species of concern to Stanford include the California tiger salamander, steelhead, the California red-legged frog, the Western pond turtle and the San Francisco garter snake. "Stanford's proposed plan will allow us to protect threatened species well in advance of any possible impacts from the university's ongoing operations," said Catherine Palter, associate director of Land Use and Environmental Planning and HCP project manager. The plan, if approved, would cover a 50-year period. An HCP ensures that the five covered species are protected in the face of activities that could harm them. In Stanford's case, that includes routine maintenance of roads and facilities, field research and teaching, water withdrawals from creeks, agriculture, recreation and construction. The plan divides the university's lands into four habitat zones, establishes a comprehensive conservation program and outlines efforts to monitor the status of protected species. If approved by the federal agencies, Stanford's HCP would cost an average of $500,000 to $600,000 per year, although not all of those funds would be newly budgeted, Palter said. The HCP would create permanent easements along 13 miles of the San Francisquito, Los Trancos, Matadero and Deer creeks, equaling about 360 acres of land. The easements are designed to enhance the habitats of species that rely on creeks and protect the riparian area between the land and stream. As a result of the easement, the university anticipates removing roads and structures to allow for the restoration of riparian vegetation. The HCP also would create a 315-acre California tiger salamander reserve in the lower foothills, where no development is permitted for at least 50 years. Eventually, the university hopes to encourage a flourishing salamander population in the foothills by building ponds and maintaining tunnels across Junipero Serra Boulevard. "We estimated a one to three acre loss of habitat a year over 50 years – or at most 4 percent of habitat land," Palter said. "We don't have any development plans in habitat areas." Palter said she is hopeful the plan will be approved. The complete draft report and additional information is available at hcp.stanford.edu.

2010 Goldman Prize Winners Are Announced

April 19, 2010  www.goldmanprize.org

It is perhaps the most prominent and prestigious annual award granted to recognize locally-focused, grassroots environmental activism. Since its inception in 1990, the Goldman Prize has offered recognition and support for dozens of passionate and committed individuals whose efforts in and around their communities have represented creative and effective approaches to environmental concerns. The Prize cash award has increased over the years and today each winner receives an award of $150,000 and a bronze statue of an Ourobouros. The symbol of a serpent devouring its own tail, common to cultures around the world, represents nature's regenerative capacity. The 2010 Winners are:
Thuli Brilliance Makama, Swaziland's only public interest attorney for environmental issues, for a court case win that established legal requirements to include environmental NGO participation;
Tuy Sereivathana of Cambodia for engaging local community support in elephant conservation;
Małgorzata Górska of Poland for putting the brakes on a proposed highway that would have impacted one of Europe's few remaining areas of wilderness;
Humberto Ríos Labrada, a Cuban scientist, for his work with local small farmers in successfully increasing crop yields by adopting practices that require less fertilizers and pesticides;
American Lynn Henning who helped bring attention to the animal welfare and pollution concerns associated with large industrial farm feeding lots;
Randall Arauz of Coast Rica, who helped illuminate and halt the practice of hunting sharks for their fins.

New Gorilla Rescue Center in Eastern Congo

April 19, 2010  www.enn.com 

Starting this month, a UN peacekeeping mission will airlift 10 orphaned gorillas to the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC), where they will learn to behave like wild gorillas in the first-ever rescue center for Grauer's (eastern lowland) gorillas. The new Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center is called GRACE and was initiated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International with advice on design and systems provided by experts from Disney's Animal Programs and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). "This facility provides a critical opportunity for us to help young gorillas that have been victimized by poaching, armed conflict, or habitat destruction, and also to strengthen our partnership with the people who are the true stewards of the land and the animals," says Fossey Fund President and CEO Clare Richardson. "The gorillas that have come to our care have been traumatized by violence and mistreatment. They need a great deal of attention to help them recover physically and psychologically and to teach them how to survive in the wild." It is estimated that as few as 5,000 Grauer's gorillas may remain in the wild but more data are necessary to determine the true numbers. The new facility will be large enough to serve up to 30 gorillas when fully completed and will include a center for conservation education and public information.

The GRACE center was built on land donated by the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB), with initial support from USFWS, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Disney's Animal Programs, and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. The center will be a joint initiative of the Congolese wildlife conservation authority (ICCN) and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, along with other groups. "Walt Disney World Resort's commitment to conservation and the environment extends well beyond our theme parks and into communities around the world," said Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney's Animal Programs. The GRACE center is located next to some 222,000 acres of forest in the fully protected, community-based Tayna Nature Reserve, which was established by local Congolese leaders and has obtained official protected reserve status from the Congolese national government. The center will offer educational and economic resources to the people of the region, and will make a priority of training and hiring local people. It will also provide opportunities for scientists and TCCB students to conduct research and for members of the public to participate in guided nature treks. James Desmond, D.V.M., is the Fossey's Fund's newly appointed director of the GRACE center.

Metro Zoo Is Accredited
April 20, 2010  www.miamiherald.com

Miami Metrozoo has been renamed Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, and is consistently rated one of America's top 10 zoos. At a special ceremony, AZA Executive Director Kris Vehrs said, "Your Miami Metrozoo now joins a world community of 221 other accredited zoos and aquariums, most of them in the United States but we also have members in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Bermuda, Bahamas and Hong Kong, which all meet the highest standards in zoos and aquariums in the world. Accreditation is what differentiates your Miami Metrozoo from some 2,500 other licensed exhibitors of wildlife in the United States and accreditation signifies excellence in and commitment to animal care, professionalism, ethics, conservation and education." More than 800,000 visitors enjoy the zoo every year and more than 15 million people have visited since the zoo opened at its current location in 1981. Miami Metrozoo was first accredited in 1984.

How Cobras Produce Hood Flares

April 20, 2010  jeb.biologists.org

Cobras and several other groups of unrelated snakes form hood flares by expanding the sides of their necks as part of a defensive display. Bruce Young from the University of Massachusetts and Kenneth Kardong from Washington State University have identified the groups of muscles the snakes use to produce the effect. They implanted tiny electrodes into the muscles in a cobra’s neck to allow them to measure the electrical activity in all the muscles as the snake flared its neck to form a hood. They found the process begins at the head and extends downwards through the actions of eight sets of muscles, with a set of axial muscles along the ribs being the primary erector muscles that lift the hood. Another set of muscles that connect the ribs to the skin keep the hood skin taut, and a third set of muscles between the ribs spread the load. The eight muscle sets are also found in non-hooding snakes. Keeping the hood erect requires constant muscle activity. It relaxes when the event prompting the display is ended, partly by passive recoil of the costovertebral ligaments, and partly due to active muscle contractions of a further set of axial muscles.The findings are reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Project Budburst

April 20, 2010  www.physorg.com 

"Project BudBurst empowers people living anywhere in the country to make a contribution that will lead to better understanding of our environment," says Project director Sandra Henderson of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research's Office of Education and Outreach. "This is needed data to help scientists who are studying the impacts of climate change." It is operated by UCAR and Chicago Botanic Garden, the USA National Phenology Network and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). Funding comes from the USFWS, USGS, US Forest Service, NEON, NASA, and National Geographic Education Foundation. BudBurst is also supported by the National Science Foundation. Participants across the country have made more than 10,000 observations since 2007, establishing a baseline for the timing of key plant events. "These findings are important as scientists analyze the impacts of global warming on our natural world," says Kayri Havens, a senior scientist with the Chicago Botanic Garden and co-manager of Project BudBurst. Each participant in Project BudBurst selects one or more plants to observe. The project website, www.budburst.org, encourages volunteers to focus on the 10 most wanted species, but it also welcomes observations of other plants. After budburst, participants continue to observe the tree or flower for later events, such as seed dispersal and autumn leaf drop. Participants submit their records of these phenophases online. Anyone can view the results as maps of the phenophases across the United States.

Repurposing St Louis Zoo’s 1917 Elephant House

April 20, 2010  www.stltoday.com

The St. Louis Zoo plans to reopen the historic 1917 Elephant House as a major exhibition hall. The first show will be Zootennial, a celebration of the park's 100-year history featuring artifacts, documents, videos and photos. Zootennial opens May 15 and is free. The Zoo's elephant herd moved in 1999 to the River's Edge, with rolling hills, shade trees, a meandering river and a pond.

Scientists Investigate Gray Whale Deaths in Pacific N.W.

April 20, 2010  www.komonews.com/

SEATTLE, WA—In the past 10 days, five dead gray whales have been found—four in Puget Sound waters and the fifth near Vancouver, B.C. Three of those have died just in the past week. Brian Gorman, spokesman for NOAA Fisheries in Seattle, said that is an unusually high number in such a short time span, and scientists aren't sure what is causing the high death rate. The most recent whale death happened on a beach just south of Fauntleroy. Residents said the gray whale was still alive when it beached itself, then quickly died within a half-hour. Scientists plan to tow the carcass to a secure location, for a full necropsy. Scientists will try to determine whether any kind of toxic chemical might be involved in the whales' deaths, or whether they simply died of starvation, parasites, disease or some other cause. It will be weeks or even months before results are available - and even then they might not point to a specific cause of death.

Another Possible Sumatran Rhino Pregnancy

April 20, 2010  www.bernama.com

KOTA KINABALU, Borneo—International rhino expert Dr Terri Roth said images of a female rhino, estimated to be less than 20-years-old were captured on February 25th by one of the 100 remote camera trap devices in Sabah's forest and wildlife reserves. "It would be wonderful if this female is pregnant...since there are so few Sumatran rhinos left in the world that each calf represents a lifeline for the species," she said in a statement here, adding there were less than 30 of the species in Borneo. Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu is currently working with WWF-Malaysia and the Borneo Rhino Alliance to finalize the Rhino Action Plan, expected to be ready by August. "Habitat protection and enforcement have been recognized as essential to ensure the survival of the viable rhino population in the forest reserves, while a rhino breeding programme, which is currently supported by Sime Darby Berhad, the Federal Government and WWF-Malaysia, has been identified as the key strategy to address the conservation plan for the isolated rhinos," he said. Picture is at www.telegraph.co.uk.

The Wildlife Society’s Leadership Institute

April 20, 2010  www.enn.com

BETHESDA, MD—The Wildlife Society (TWS) has announced their list individuals chosen to  attend the 2010 TWS Leadership Institute. "It is well known in the profession that nearly 70 percent of our leaders are projected to retire in the next decade," stated Michael Hutchins, Ph.D., executive director/CEO of TWS. "We established The Leadership Institute in 2006 to address the upcoming shortage because we feel we have a responsibility to prepare our members to meet this pressing need." This year the National Wildlife Refuge System, a part of the USFWS, is again providing funding for TWS to expand the number of Leadership Institute participants up to 15, allowing more of the wildlife professions' top young leaders to capitalize upon the training offered by this unique event. Participants based on the applicant's academic record, demonstrated leadership capability, and demonstrated level of excellence either in their current position, or in their position as a leader of a Chapter or Section of The Wildlife Society. From May through September, the participants will complete a wide variety of exercises, which include reading leadership materials, presenting to peer groups, leading seminars, and developing summary documents regarding professional leadership. During TWS' Annual Conference in Snowbird, the participants will meet for focused discussions, serve as mentors for students, and attend Council meetings.  The Leadership Institute is important because many young professionals entering leadership positions do not necessarily have the skills to successfully manage large groups or complicated programs; the Institute gives these exceptional young people the management, mentoring, and organizational skills they need to become exceptional leaders as well. For more info visit www.wildlife.org

California Condor Chick born at Oregon Zoo

April 20, 2010  www.oregonlive.com  By Katy Muldoon

PORTLAND, Oregon—The Oregon Zoo says an endangered California condor chick has hatched, and another is due this week.  The egg was cared for by foster parents Atishwin and Ojai, and hatched April 14 at the zoo's breeding facility in Clackamas County. The zoo has released 10 California condors since it joined the effort to breed the species in 2003. There are now 180 are in the wild and about 170 more are in zoos and captive breeding operations. About a month from now, a veterinarian and keepers will give the new chick its first medical exam and inoculate it against West Nile virus.

Emerging Pathogens Project

April 20, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

CHICAGO  – The Field Museum and the University of Chicago today announced the establishment of the Emerging Pathogens Project, a unique research program to study the evolution of species-switching parasites or pathogens that result in diseases such as bird flu, malaria, and AIDS. Many diseases have a long infection history in animals. The project's goal is to provide in-depth, baseline information on pathogens that appear in animals, eventually leading to important clues for how humans can combat emerging epidemics. The EPP melds the Field's extensive research into biodiversity studies and evolution with the University of Chicago's systems biology and genomics programs to create a cross-disciplinary collaboration. The Field Museum planned and conducted its first EPP field expedition last fall in Malawi (southeast Africa), one of the world's least developed and most densely populated countries. The expedition was the most comprehensive field collecting ever done by the museum (and perhaps by any natural history expedition). It yielded 1,100 mammal and bird specimens, including the parasites and pathogens that live in and on them.

The EPP's team of scientists will extract DNA not only from the animals themselves, but also from viruses, bacteria, parasites and other pathogens affecting the collected animals in order to create an extensive database of emerging animal and pathogen biodiversity. Through these DNA data, the scientists can begin to understand how diseases have evolved and what might happen, genomically, as infectious organisms jump between animal species, as well as monitor any changes in the distribution and virulence of diseases that may threaten humans. By collecting across ecological gradients, Field Museum scientists can conduct research on how climate change and ecosystem loss is affecting human interaction with wildlife and create models for monitoring and predicting the outbreak of new species-switching diseases. The University of Chicago's Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology will spearhead efforts in conjunction with the medical community to identify high-risk pathogens for advanced DNA studies.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

April 20, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov 

The USFWS, invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species.  Any written data or comments must be received on or before May 20, 2010. Send written comments by U.S. Mail to the Regional Director, Attn: Peter Fasbender, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056, or by electronic mail to permitsR3ES@fws.gov  For further information contact: Mr. Peter Fasbender, (612) 713-5343.

On February 8, 2007, we published a final rule that legally established the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupis) and removed Act protection for that DPS at the same time (72 FR 6052). This rule became effective March 12, 2007. However, three parties challenged this final rule by filing a lawsuit. On September 29, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the plaintiffs by vacating the final rule, rendering it no longer in effect and remanding it back to us to address the court's concerns. On April 2, 2009, we published a new final rule that responded to the issues raised in the court's decision and again removed Act protection for the Western Great Lakes DPS of the gray wolf effective May 4, 2009). In response to a second legal challenge, we withdrew our April 2, 2009, final rule. We agree with the plaintiffs that sufficient opportunity for public review and comment, as required by Federal law, was not provided before the April 2009 final decision was published. The effect of this withdrawal is reinstatement of Act protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area while we gather additional public comment. Therefore, gray wolves are now listed as threatened in Minnesota and endangered elsewhere in the western Great Lakes region.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Department of Natural Resources have each applied for a Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit, as described below, to allow their continued management and research of the wolf. In both States, the proposed take of wolves would involve both lethal and nonlethal control for individual wolves involved in depredating livestock, livestock guard animals, and pets. Both States request lethal take authority to abate damages to livestock and pets that result from wolves, and demonstrate the efficacy of control techniques through research since the applicants' ability to control them was negated by the recent relisting of wolves in the Great Lakes States. Under the terms of both permits, wolves captured at depredation sites would be euthanized or released unharmed rather than translocated elsewhere, because:
    (a) Virtually all suitable wolf habitat in Michigan and Wisconsin is currently occupied by packs;
    (b) Residents do not want problem wolves moved from one area to another; and
    (c) Research has shown that some relocated wolves--after being taken out of their element--often die, either slowly by starvation, brutally by being killed by another pack, or by being struck on a highway, while others resume depredation at the relocation site.

Permit Application Number: TE206840. Applicant: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin. The applicant requests a permit to take the gray wolf throughout Wisconsin for research, monitoring, and depredation abatement activities. The take would involve both lethal and non-lethal control for wolves involved in depredating livestock, livestock guard animals, and pets. Non-lethal control would involve harassing wolves by using rubber bullets, projectile bean bags, or other scare tactics. Research and monitoring efforts may involve unintentional injury or death to animals caught during the course of these activities, as well as euthanizing live-captured wolves severely affected by mange or other contagious diseases and those severely injured or in very poor condition. The taking is consistent with both the State Management Plan for wolves and our 1992 Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf. The scientific research and depredation abatement activities are aimed at the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE219624. Applicant: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, Michigan. The applicant requests a permit to take the gray wolf throughout Michigan. The take would include both lethal and non-lethal control for wolves involved in depredating livestock, livestock guard animals, and pets and is consistent with the 2008 Michigan Wolf Management Plan and the 1992 Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf. Non-lethal control would involve harassing wolves by using rubber bullets, projectile bean bags, or other scare tactics. The scientific research and depredation abatement activities are aimed at the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

To request copies of the permit applications and associated documents, contact Peter Fasbender (see above). The permit applications and the environmental assessments are also available for public inspection at www.fws.gov.

Re-Introduction of Wood Bison to Alaska

April 20, 2010  www.adn.com  By Mike Campbell

An effort to reintroduce wood bison, cousin of the plains bison, to Alaska has been under way here for nearly two decades and may culminate with animals roaming free on the Yukon Flats, Minto Flats or in the remote Innoko River area. Right now, Canada is the only place in North America with wild wood bison. An estimated 168,000 bison roamed Alaska and western Canada two centuries ago before the species began disappearing, perhaps victims of over-hunting or habitat destruction. Now a herd of nearly 100 that lives behind fences at Portage's Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center—nearly a dozen newborns are due any day—may be released into the Alaska wilderness if proponents led by Fish and Game biologist Bob Stephenson in Fairbanks can remove the few remaining hurdles. Those include:

• Efforts to classify wood bison as a "nonessential experimental population," which allows a reintroduced species to skirt some of the restrictions of the federal endangered species list.
• Worries by Doyon Ltd. that a bison reintroduction could harm the Native corporation's plans to drill for natural gas in the Nenana Basin.
• Broader concerns that the presence of nearby wood bison could hamper future resource development in other parts of the state.
The Portage wood bison come from 13 animals obtained in 2003 and 53 more that arrived five years later from Elk Island National Park in Canada -- plus their offspring. While no wood bison roam the Alaska wilds today, there are some 10,000 in Canada, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including 4,000 in seven free-ranging herds.

Rattlesnake Habitat Fragmentation Study

April 20, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell University used rattlesnakes as a model to investigate general processes underlying population-level responses to habitat fragmentation. The study, titled "Roads, Interrupted Dispersal and Genetic Diversity in Timber Rattlesnakes," is available online and will be published in the journal Conservation Biology (August 2010). They discovered that fragmentation of natural habitats by roads has had a significant effect over the past 80 years on genetic structure of timber rattlesnakes in four separate regions of upstate New York. Less genetic diversity means populations become more susceptible to illness or environmental changes that threaten their survival. Researchers used fine-scale molecular genetics as well as behavioral and ecological data to look at timber rattlesnakes from 19 different hibernacula – shared wintering quarters – in four regions in New York. Tissue samples were examined from more than 500 individual snakes. "Over all four regions and 19 hibernacula, none of the genetic clusters … spanned either major or minor roads; hibernacula belonging to the same genetic deme were always on the same side of the road," the paper states. "This fine-scaled analysis, repeated over four geographic regions, underscores the significance of roads as barrier to dispersal and natural population processes for timber rattlesnakes and perhaps other species."

New Caledonian Crows Complicated Tool Use

April 20, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk  By Rebecca Morelle

The island of New Caledonia is the home of Corvus moneduloides, the only birds known to craft and use tools in the wild. The Caledonian crow is able to whittle branches into hooks and tear leaves into barbed probes to extract food from hard-to-reach nooks. Earlier research in the laboratory and the field has revealed that they are also innovative problem solvers, often rivalling primates. Experiments have shown that the birds can craft new tools out of unfamiliar materials, as well as use a number of tools in succession. Scientists from New Zealand's University of Auckland recently completed a study that tested the crows abilities even further. Alex Taylor, the lead author of the paper, said, "Finding that the crows could solve a problem even when they had to innovate two behaviors was incredibly surprising." Using or creating a single tool can be a simple learning processes, but solving a set of linked problems, suggests that the basis for their innovation is much more complex. The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

April 20, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on applications for permits to conduct enhancement of survival activities with endangered species. Send your written comments by May 20, 2010 to: Program Manager, Endangered Species, Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE, 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181. For further information contact: Linda Belluomini, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the above address or by telephone (503-231-6131)

Permit No. TE-02997A. Applicant: University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii. The applicant requests a permit to take (collect live specimens) the hammerhead pomace fly (Drosophila heteroneura) in conjunction with scientific research including genetic, morphological and behavioral research on the island of Hawaii in the State of Hawaii for the purpose of enhancing its survival. The applicant also requests a permit to take (collect and voucher) no more than two each of the following unnamed pomace fly species: Drosophila musaphilia, D. aglaia, D. hemipeza, D. montgomeryi, D. obatai, D.supstenoptera, D. tarphytrichia, D. differens, D. neoclavisetae, and D. ochrobasis, incidental to the collection of non-listed Drosophila species in conjunction with genetic research on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii in the State of Hawaii for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-018078. Applicant: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii National Park, Hawaii. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing scientific research permit to take (harass) the Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvichensis) and the Hawaiian dark rumped petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia) in conjunction with predator control activities on the island of Hawaii in the State of Hawaii, and remove/reduce to possession Cyanea shipmanii (haha) and Haplostachys haplostachya (honohono) in conjunction with propagation and outplanting on the island of Hawaii in the State of Hawaii for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-141832. Applicant: Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing scientific research permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) in conjunction with research in the State of Oregon, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Zoo Atlanta Offers ‘Half-off’ Tickets

April 21, 2010  blogs.ajc.com  by Rana Cash

Zoo Atlanta tickets, regularly-priced at $25.50, are $10.75 on Halfoffdepot.com. You have until August 1 to use them, but the deal is available only as long as ticket supplies last. Also, remember that Fulton County residents can get free passes to the Zoo from the local library.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

April 21, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

The USFWS invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Comments on these permit applications must be received on or before May 21, 2010. Written data or comments should be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916-414-6464  Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments.  For further information contact: Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist; see ADDRESSES (telephone: 760-431-9440; fax: 760-431-9624).

Permit No. TE-237017. Applicant: Tetra Tech Incorporated, Santa Barbara, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, and release) the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) and the unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range
of the species in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-227263. Applicant: Daniel Edelstein, Novato, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (October 12, 2005, 70 FR 59363) to take (harass by survey) the California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring studies throughout the range of the species in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-237061. Applicant: Daniel A. Chase, San Francisco, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, and release) the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of the species in California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-237086. Applicant: Bruce K. Orr, Berkeley, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, and release) the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-049693. Applicant: Jody M. Gallaway, Chico, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, translocate, and release) the San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) in conjunction with surveys and habitat enhancement activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-837448. Applicant: Douglas W. Allen, San Diego, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (November 15, 2000, 65 FR 69043) to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-062125. Applicant: Bureau of Land Management, El Dorado Hills, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (December 2, 2003, 68 FR 67465) to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-02351A. Applicant: Timothy Searl, Santee, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, mark and release) the Stephens' kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) and San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of each species in California for the
purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-02343A. Applicant: Lori R. Bono, Visalia, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and to take (capture, collect, and kill) the onservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-039463. Applicant: John A. Gallo, Santa Cruz, California.  The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (March 28, 2001, 66 FR 16953) to take (harass by survey and monitor nests) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) and take (monitor nests) the least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California, for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-02496A. Applicant: Kevin K. Ghalambor, Sacramento, California.  The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-061625. Applicant: Stephanie M. Owens, Wheat Ridge, Colorado.  The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (October 7, 2002, 67 FR 62492) to take (harass by survey and monitor nests) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range
of this species in California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-795930. Applicant: Tansley Team, Lincoln, California.  The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (September 25, 2009, 74 FR 49008) to take (capture, collect, and kill) the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with genetic research and to remove/reduce to possession Tuctoria mucronata
(Solano grass) and Cordylanthus palmatus (palmate-bracted bird's-beak) from Federal lands in conjunction with botanical surveys, voucher/seed bank collection, and restoration activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

2010 Environmental Performance Index

April 21, 2010  www.livescience.com  By Remy Melina

The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries based on 10 indicators of environmental protection, such as levels of air pollution, marine protection laws, water quality, and their rate of planting new trees. The EPI is composed biannually by a team of environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University. The U.S. came in 61st place with a score of 63.5 out of 100, a significant drop from landing in 39th place with an EPI score of 81.0 in 2009. Iceland led in the ranking with an EPI score of 93.5. Switzerland came in second on the list with a score of 89.1, followed by Costa Rica with 86.4 and Sweden with 86.0. "We're the only country that has a significant amount of people that don't believe in climate change," said Marc Levy, deputy director of Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). "The central challenge of our time is to help people understand what's happening around them. Judging how well a country recycles is extremely complicated, it's not just about recycling but also about managing waste and limiting how much is produced to begin with," Levy said. "The countries that are really trying to reduce waste are working to change people's behavior so that they use fewer materials."

Elephant in African Conservation Project is Killed

April 22, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com

Botswana is home to about 150,000 elephants (about 30 percent of the total elephant population in Africa). Dr. Michael Chase, founder of Elephants Without Borders, is now a scientist with San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. He has been leading a study on elephant herd movements between the southern African countries of Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and had attached a GPS collar to Kachikau, a 30-year-old elephant with a 2-year-old calf who served as matriarch of her eight-member herd. The zoo was participating in a program called Elephant Conservation and Community Outreach Farming to help farmers improve security of their crops and reduce elephant kills. The herds commonly move in and out of national parks into areas where they are in danger of being killed for damaging crops and property. Chase and his researchers found Kachikau’s body four days after her GPS signal showed she had stopped moving after leading her herd out of Botswana. Chase was unable to find the rest of the herd or the calf.

Circus Elephant Comes to San Antonio Zoo

April 22, 2010  www.mysanantonio.com

An Asian elephant known as Boo, or Queenie, was shipped to San Antonio Zoo Wednesday by a private owner near Houston who has leased her to circuses. He was ordered by the USDA to sell or donate her to the zoo. The zoo, which paid him $35,000, had tried for six months to buy the 55-year-old elephant as a companion for Lucky, another Asian female who is about 50. The elephant appears healthy and has tested negative for tuberculosis, but she still must have blood work and medical tests. Lucky had been alone since Alport, a female African elephant who had been her companion for 45 years, was euthanized in 2007. Alport had a dislocated hip and couldn't stand up. The California group In Defense of Animals opposed moving Boo to San Antonio and has called on the zoo to give Lucky and Boo to a sanctuary. It did not oppose the USDA's orders last summer that forced Davenport to send two other elephants to the San Diego Zoo, where they joined seven elephants in a 2.4-acre exhibit. The zoo has had up to five elephants in its exhibit. Zoo executive director Steve McCusker says that it doesn't plan to have that many again, but hasn't ruled out the addition of a third Asian elephant. The zoo staff has about 150 years' combined experience in elephant care, with two full-time veterinarians and nutrition and husbandry experts. The AZA recommends outdoor elephant yards have at least 1,800 square feet for one adult, and an additional 900 for each additional animal. The zoo's exhibit has at least 20,000 square feet.

Primate Life History Database Now Available

April 22, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

DURHAM, N.C.—Karen Strier of UW-Madison and Susan Alberts, of Duke obtained support from the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), and persuaded other primatologists to contribute to a new venture: the Primate Life History Database. The collaborative and comprehensive database contains life history data collected from long-term field studies of seven species of lemurs, monkeys and apes. In addition to preserving and standardizing data from some of the longest-running field studies of their kind—from 24 to 45 years in duration—the database will facilitate comparative analyses of primate evolution and ecology. The design and development of the database, undertaken in partnership with NESCent, is described in a paper published April 22 in the new journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution. The database currently contains information for more than 3,300 individual monkeys and apes. The data were collected by researchers at UW-Madison, Duke, Princeton University, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Iowa State University, Columbia University, the University of Calgary, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the Atlanta Zoo, and the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museums of Kenya. The researchers are all members of the Primate Life History Database Working Group.

Multiple Species of Killer Whales

April 22, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

In a report published today in the journal Genome Research, scientists report finding strong genetic evidence supporting the theory that there are several species of killer whales (Orcinus orca, also known as orcas) throughout the world's oceans. Scientists have suspected for some time that there was more than one species of killer whales because of differences in behavior, feeding preferences and subtle physical features. But until now DNA analysis has been inconclusive because of the inability to map the entire genetic picture, or genome, of the whales' mitochondria, an organelle within the cell inherited from the mother. "The genetic makeup of mitochondria in killer whales, like other cetaceans, changes very little over time, which makes it difficult to detect any differentiation in recently evolved species without looking at the entire genome," said Phillip Morin, lead author and geneticist at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif. "But by using a relatively new method called, 'highly parallel sequencing' to map the entire genome of the cell's mitochondria from a worldwide sample of killer whales, we were able to see clear differences among the species."  

Crested Capuchin Born at Santa Ana Zoo

April 22, 2010  www.ocregister.com   By Doug Irving

SANTA ANA – A crested capuchin named Juliet has given birth at the Santa Ana Zoo to her second child with her mate named Romeo. Their first offspring, a son,  was born in 2008. Romeo and Juliet, arrived at the Santa Ana Zoo in 2006, on indefinite loan from the government of Brazil; their babies are also considered Brazilian. "She's being really protective – a good mom," said Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi.  The baby was born on April 6. There are only 12 other crested capuchins living in U.S. zoos, including its parents and brother. Crested capuchins come from Brazil where their habitat is disappearing. The Santa Ana Zoo is only the second zoo in the United States to successfully breed them.

Zoo Atlanta Gets a New Black Rhino

April 22, 2010 www.cbsatlanta.com

ATLANTA—Andazi, a 3-year-old female eastern black rhinoceros, has been moved by trailer from Miami Metrozoo to Zoo Atlanta. She will be quarantined for 30 days before going on view to the public. Andazi is a potential mate for Boma, a 23-year-old rhino who has been at Zoo Atlanta for more than 20 years without producing any offspring. Boma’s longtime companion, 19-year-old female Rosie, was sent to the Columbus Zoo in November 2009. Black rhinos are now found only in zoos and on wildlife preserves in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Africa.

Academy of Sciences Energy Information
April 22, 2010  needtoknow.nas.edu

As debates over energy resources continue, it is crucial that the American public have access to objective and authoritative information on such matters. A new website from The National Academies contains helpful interactive features, short quizzes, complete academic reports, and a glossary. You can educate yourself about the potential of different energy sources in the "Sources" area, which includes overviews of how the sun, electricity, fossil fuels, and nuclear power can be harnessed most efficiently. The "Uses" area includes summaries of how Americans currently use energy in the home, workplace, and industry. The "Understanding Efficiency" area provides two useful activities that illustrate how energy can be delivered efficiently to the home and on the road.

Magnetic-Field Perception in Animals

April 22, 2010  www.nature.com  Kenneth J. Lohmann

The ability to perceive Earth's magnetic field is now known to exist in diverse animals including the European robin, the loggerhead sea turtle, the brown bat, the Caribbean spiny lobster and the red-spotted newt. At least two underlying receptor mechanisms exist—sometimes in the same organism. Two types of information are potentially available. The simplest is directional information, which enables an animal to maintain a consistent heading, for example towards the north or south. Animals with this ability are said to have a 'magnetic compass'. By contrast, at least a few animals can also derive positional information from Earth's field; in other words, they can use magnetic cues to assess their approximate geographical location, or where they are located relative to a goal. Animals that derive positional information from the field are said to have a 'magnetic map'. This term is used as a convenient shorthand, and does not imply that the map is necessarily detailed or organized in the same way as a human map. Turtles, lobsters, and newts have magnetic maps. Although much magnetoreception research has focused on long-distance migrants, magnetic sensitivity is phylogenetically widespread; it exists in all major groups of vertebrate animals, as well as in some molluscs, crustaceans and insects. The list includes groups such as flies, chickens and mole rats, none of which migrate. Some evidence even suggests that cattle align themselves with Earth's field, although why is not known. But even though diverse animals evidently perceive magnetic fields, locating the receptors that underlie this ability has proven to be quite difficult.

Magnetic fields are unlike other sensory stimuli in that they pass freely through biological tissue. Whereas receptors for senses such as olfaction and vision must make contact with the external environment, magnetoreceptors might be located almost anywhere inside an animal's body. In addition, large accessory structures for focusing and manipulating the field—the analogues of eardrums and lenses—are unlikely to exist because few materials of biological origin affect magnetic fields. Magnetoreceptors might also be tiny and dispersed throughout a large volume of tissue, or the transduction process might occur as a set of chemical reactions, which means that no obvious organ or structure devoted to this sensory system necessarily exists. If you imagine trying to locate a small number of submicroscopic, possibly intracellular, structures scattered in unknown places throughout an animal's body, you can begin to appreciate the challenge.

Study of Congo River Biodiversity

April 22, 2010  www.physorg.com

At least 67 ornithologists, biologists, geologists, linguists and other experts plan to board a boat in Kisangani in the northern DR Congo's Orientale Province and arrive 47 days later with their findings at Kinshasa, the capital some 1,085 miles downstream. Organized by Belgium's Royal Museum for Central Africa, the University of Kisangani, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the National Botanical Gardens in Belgium, the expedition will study the fauna and flora biodiversity along central Africa's Congo river. A further goal of the exercise is to strengthen the DR Congo's capacity for scientific research and found a biodiversity centre in Kisangani, where all the animal and vegetable species collected by the mission will be stored. These collections will remain open for further research by Congolese and foreign scientists. According to the organizers, the DR Congo has no recent data on its biodiversity. In many domains, the details date back to the colonial era and sometimes the beginning of the 20th century.

Living Coasts Aquarium Breeds Bank Cormorant

April 23, 2010  www.zandavisitornews.com

TORQUAY, UK—Living Coasts Aquarium, the first zoo in the UK to breed the bank cormorant, will take over this species breeding programme. Senior head keeper Tony Durkin will oversee the program. There are 151 European Endangered species Programmes (EEPs). Studbooks for zoo animals started in 1923 with European bison – the idea came out of horse racing. Today things are largely computer-based. While the bank cormorant stud book – with just three individuals - is very simple, Tony also oversees the stud book for Inca terns, another Living Coasts species, and there are hundreds of them in European zoos. Tony said, “The collecting, inputting and analyzing of data is very time consuming and can seem dull, but it is the foundation of good conservation.” The bank cormorant is an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. There are thought to be only 3,800 left in the wild.

First YouTube Video – Elephants at San Diego Zoo

April 23, 2010  technorati.com

While the domain name Youtube.com, was registered on February 14, 2005, the video phenomenon kicked off five years ago today when Yakov Lapitsky posted footage of one of YouTube’s founders, Jawed Karim, at the San Diego Zoo, talking about elephants. The 19 second video was titled "Me at the zoo." Today, YouTube—arguably Google's greatest acquisition—now serves about 1 billion videos per day. Google paid $1.65 billion in an all-stock deal for YouTube the year after the video-delivery site launched.

Korean Zoos Move to Block Hoof and Mouth Disease

April 24, 2010  joongangdaily.joins.com

Zoos in Korea are facing an emergency during what is supposed to be their peak season and are canceling events that let visitors touch the animals. Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, has canceled all petting events since April 10, around the time when warnings against a new outbreak of foot-and-mouth surfaced. All cages which contain hoofed animals, including deer, giraffes and goats, have been roped off so visitors can’t get near the animals. The park currently holds around 60 types of hoofed animals, totaling around 570. In addition, the park has increased medical checkups of the animals from four times a week to two to three times a day. Special disinfectant carpets have been laid down at the zoo entrance and the cages, and security officials sanitize all cars that come to the zoo. “When hit with foot-and-mouth disease, it is nearly impossible to salvage the animals so the loss will be tremendous if they are infected,” said Mo Ui-won, head of the zoo inside Seoul Grand Park. “Prevention is the surest countermeasure.” The Seoul Children’s Grand Park in Gwangjin District has also canceled all petting events since April 10, and placed ropes around the cages of hoofed animals. Cheongju Zoo, near where foot-and-mouth broke out in Chungju, North Chungcheong, has restricted visitors from coming near 43 types of animals, including the guanaco camelids, and has increased medical checkups from once to twice a week. Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi, hasn’t canceled its giraffe feeding event, but the park said that if the disease is found within 50 kilometers of the park, it will stop the public feedings.

Pygmy Marmoset Raised by Mogo Zoo Keepers

April 24, 2010  www.smh.com.au  By NICKY PHILLIPS

Ebe, a pygmy marmoset, weighed less than 20 grams when he was born—less than a human thumb. When his mother died five days later, keepers at Mogo Zoo on the south coast weren't sure the pygmy marmoset would survive, but five weeks later he has almost doubled in size. In the past year five primates—Ebe, a silvery gibbon, a siamang and two golden lion tamarins, all endangered—have been born at Mogo Zoo.

International Whaling Commission Scheduled to Meet

April 24, 2010  www.telegraph.co.uk

The IWC will meet next month to update the law around the protection of whales, has suggested the only way forward is to set up a series of quotas. It is argued that this will limit the slaughter because the killing of whales is controlled under international law. However the details of the proposals reveal that the quotas will be in the thousands and include endangered species. Papers issued by the IWC suggest thousands of minke whales could be killed in the Southern Ocean over the next ten years. Even fin whales and sei whales, that are officially in danger of dying out, are included. Heather Sohl, species policy officer for WWF-UK, said it was "ridiculous" to allow hunting of whales in the Southern Ocean, which is a critical feeding ground for species including blue whales. Whaling nations like Japan back the IWC proposals and are arguing for even higher quotas. But critics, including the UK, US and Australia, are against any deal that could cause an increase in whale hunting.

Hawksbill Turtles Nest on Abu Dhabi Beach

April 25, 2010  sify.com

A group of Hawksbill sea turtles have begun nesting on Bu Tinah Island. Last week, 5 nests were seen and the number is expected to increase over the coming months, said the researchers of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD). They arrive onto the beach to nest as night falls on the island. They were seen to be digging a pit in the sand, laying their eggs, covering it with sand and then returning to the sea. Although a clutch of Hawksbill eggs consists of 80 to 125 eggs, the majority of hatchlings do not make it to adulthood as they are preyed upon by seabirds or crabs. Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered and the only sea turtles known to nest on Abu Dhabi's offshore islands. Bu Tinah Island is a core area of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve.

Meerkats Return to Woodland Park Zoo

April 26, 2010  www.nwnews.com

Woodland Park Zoo kicks off the summer season on May 1 with the return of the meerkats after a 10-year absence. Eight of these mongooses will occupy a newly renovated exhibit in the Adaptations Building. The meerkats were removed to make way for a Komodo dragon exhibit in 2000 but are now back by popular demand. "People enjoy watching meerkats because of their social dynamics," explains Anne Nichols, a lead keeper at the zoo. "They live together in a troupe with a strong hierarchy. There’s one alpha female and one alpha male and the rest are subordinates. But, they’re a cooperative species and have a clear division of labor within the troupe. The sentinel, for example, watches for predators while the others forage for food. And the babysitter watches over the young ones while mom gets food. They all have distinct personalities". The zoo received four female and four males from Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma. All are adolescents and the plan is to let breeding occur at least once. "The only ones to breed are the alphas," said Nichols. "We’ll see what happens after the first time." Children can also pretend to be meerkats in an all new play area located adjacent to the Adaptations Building. Opening day festivities will include live music, meerkat-themed giveaways, photo opportunities with a costumed meerkat mascot, a meerkat mask craft, a special meerkat keeper talk and other family activities.

How Chimps Deal with Death

April 26, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

Two studies in the April 27th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, offer glimpses into the ways that chimpanzees deal with the deaths of those closest to them. In one case, researchers describe the final hours and moment of death of an older female living in a small group at a UK safari park as captured on video. In the other, researchers observed as two chimpanzee mothers in the wild carried their infants' mummified remains for a period of weeks after they were lost to a respiratory epidemic. The findings indicate that their awareness of death is probably more highly developed than is often suggested. It may be related to their sense of self-awareness, shown through phenomena such as self-recognition and empathy towards others. In contrast to the frenzied, noisy responses to traumatic adult deaths, the chimpanzees witnessing the female's death in our case were mostly calm. In the days leading up to the chimp's death, the group was very quiet and paid close attention to her, the researchers report. Immediately before she died, she received much grooming and caressing from the others, who appeared to test her for signs of life as she died. They left her soon after, but her adult daughter returned and remained by her mother all night. When keepers removed the mother's body the next day, the chimpanzees remained calm and subdued. For several days they avoided sleeping on the platform where the female had died, even though it was normally a favored sleeping spot, and remained subdued for some time after the death.

Siberian Tiger Drowns At British Zoo

April 26, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

NORFOLK, UK—Malyshka, a Siberian or Amur tiger which was pregnant with three cubs, drowned in her enclosure at Banham Zoo. The five-year-old—mother to 17-month-old cubs Vasya and Kuzma—was found by keepers in shallow water. She liked playing in the pool and was used to water. Zoo director Martin Goymour said a post mortem exam had confirmed Malyshka had drowned, but the cause of the accident was a mystery. He said, “Malyshka was a strong and healthy tigress and showed no signs of external or internal injuries. The pool in the enclosure is not deep or considered hazardous.” Further tests are planned to see if she had some kind of seizure. "She was very important to the European breeding programme and was number three in the hierarchy of genetic diversity for captive tigers. We are also in contact with European stud book coordinators to find a suitable replacement female for our conservation programme." Very few zoos in Europe are able to handle tigers, which is why the loss of Malyshka is such a severe blow to the European breeding programme.

Brood Parasite Study

April 26, 2010  www.physorg.com 

Only seven groups of birds in the world have evolved as brood parasites, laying their eggs in other birds' nests. Claire Spottiswoode and Martin Stevens of the University of Cambridge studied two tropical African species, the parasitic Cuckoo Finch and one of its hosts, the Tawny-flanked Prinia to learn more about this breeding strategy. As parasites have evolved ever better manipulation of their hosts, hosts have responded with ever more refined defenses to evade parasitism. As a result, the Cuckoo Finch's mimicry of host eggs is extraordinary, as is the Prinias' ability to spot the parasite's eggs. Prinias lay probably the most diverse range of eggs of any bird in the world, and this is likely to be an outcome of the long co-evolutionary battle with the Cuckoo Finch. To find out exactly how Prinias detect the foreign eggs, the researchers set up more than 100 rejection experiments in southern Zambia, putting one Prinia egg into another's nest and waiting to see if the egg was rejected. Using a spectrophotometer they measured egg colors. A digital camera to analysed the eggs' complex patterns.  Birds can see ultraviolet light and because they have four types of cone in their eyes, compared with three in humans, they see a greater diversity of color and pattern. Spottiswoode and Stevens found that Prinias are amazingly good at rejecting foreign eggs, and that they use color and several aspects of pattern to spot the parasite's eggs. The study appears in PNAS on April 26, 2010.

Elephant Poisoned in Kiev Zoo

April 26, 2010  abcnews.go.com

KIEV, Russia—The only elephant in Kiev's zoo, 39-year-old Boy, died Monday in his enclosure, from acute heart and lung deficiency, apparently after being poisoned, according to zoo director Svitlana Berzina. Boy, a 6 1/2 metric ton Asian elephant, arrived in Kiev zoo in the mid-1970s. "It was a tragic and sudden death," she said. There had been an earlier attempt to poison Boy in the 1990s. "On that occasion, we managed to save him," she said. The circumstances of this previous attempt to poison Boy were not clear. The death will be investigated by veterinarians and law-enforcement bodies.

Gordy The Gorilla Dies At Como Zoo

April 26, 2010 www.twincities.com

ST PAUL, Minnesota—Gordy, 23, the most energetic and boisterous of Como Zoo’s three male gorillas died suddenly on April 19 after eating a full breakfast in his enclosure. He had shown no signs of physical or behavioral problems. Primate keeper Megan Elder, saw and interacted with Gordy at least five times between 6:30 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. At 9:55 a.m., she passed by and saw him lying on his chest, "clearly unconscious," she said. Finding no pulse or eyeball reaction to light, chest compressions were tried and a defibrillator deployed. All efforts failed to resuscitate Gordy. Heart failure, which might be confirmed through necropsy, is suspected. The most common single cause of death in adult gorillas related to the heart is fibrosing cardiomyopathy—with most cases occurring in gorillas between the ages of 25 and 35 years. It was the cause of death in eight adult males between 11 and 35 years of age in a study in 1995. Seven of the eight gorillas whose deaths were attributed to this died acutely with no preceding signs. Gordy was born prematurely and raised by humans. He was brought to Como in 1991 from San Diego Wild Animal Park to be part of Como's bachelor group. Gordy, then 5, came with Schroeder, now 24. Schroeder's mother essentially adopted Gordy, and the pair were like brothers. The third male gorilla at the zoo is 21-year-old Togo, with whom Gordy often wrestled.

Red Wolf Pups Born At Miller Park Zoo

April 26, 2010  www.wqad.com

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Four red wolf puppies have been born at Miller Park Zoo—one male and three females. Biologists say red wolves were extinct in the wild by 1980, but they have since been reintroduced with some success, particularly in remote parts of North Carolina.

Lion Pride Rejects Three Members

April 26, 2010  www.eadt.co.uk

A three-year-old male African lion named Bailey, and two females Malika and Naja, have been transferred from Woburn Safari Park to Colchester Zoo. They were slowly being rejected from their pride following the death of an elderly male lion, Subu, at the beginning of this month. Staff at Woburn needed to ensure the lions had a secure future and so Colchester Zoo stepped forward to offer a new environment for the three lions. Curator Clive Barwick, said, “As all three lions are closely related, it will not be possible for them to form a breeding group, but we are pleased to have been able to offer them a secure future at Colchester Zoo.”

Caltrans Plan to Save Steelhead

April 26, 2010  www.startribune.com  By NOAKI SCHWARTZ

MALIBU, Calif.—Steelhead were once teeming in Southern California waters, but development encroached and waterways were channelized, cutting off their pathways to spawning grounds. When the fish were listed as endangered in 1997, only an estimated 500 adults were left from Santa Barbara to Mexico. Many believe southern steelhead are worth saving because they are more adaptable than steelhead elsewhere and could be key to the survival of the species. Exasperation over getting the fish where they need to go has led to some imaginative proposals over the years, such as trucking the fish to spawning grounds or building fish elevators to get them over dams. About a dozen concrete fishways at a cost of more than $16.7 million have been built. The fish ladders—structures designed to allow fish to migrate upstream around a barrier—may cost $7.5 million in stimulus funds to rebuild. And now the California Department of Transportation wants to build a passage for steelhead across Dan Blocker State Beach. The artificial streambed, up to 60 feet wide and extending 102 feet onto the beach, would create pools allowing the fish to swim under the Pacific Coast Highway, then upstream. While there are no hard numbers to show steelhead are rebounding from these construction efforts, wildlife officials say anecdotal evidence suggests more adult fish are spawning. "Nobody really wants (construction) as a solution," said Mary Larson, who oversees steelhead recovery for Fish and Game in Southern California. But she believes the Caltrans proposal to build a fishway in Malibu could work. "Frogs just need good, quiet waters, birds need good tall trees to nest but my fish need to travel." Conservationists believe that federal and state agencies should push more for restoring the species' natural environment, such as projects that have successfully cleared waterways of debris and crossings from miles of waterways. National Marine Fisheries Service has created a recovery plan for the species that is expected to be finalized later this year. That plan would coordinate recovery efforts and would emphasize restoration of historic habitat.

Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Study

April 26, 2010  www.wbez.org

Scientists at Lincoln Park Zoo are gearing up for a massive study of urban wildlife in the Chicago region. Seth Magle, who studies urban wildlife at the zoo, says they can pose a problem. So Magle and other researchers are putting cameras at more than 100 sites all over the Chicago region. The idea is to track how and where animals move in urban areas. With that data, he says scientists can answer several questions. Where does a coyote or a deer decide where to cross a highway? How does it make that decision? What makes it decide that it's gonna move into a neighborhood and come out of a forest preserve, or something of that nature? Magle says, in the future that could influence city planning, which could mean fewer deer getting hit by cars, and fewer raccoons in your attic.

New Primate Babies at Bronx Zoo

April 26, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Max Pulsinelli

Bronx, NY–A new baby brown collared lemur can be seen in the Bronx zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit and a baby silver leaf langur in JungleWorld. There are less than 50 of each in captivity world wide. The brown collared lemur is a female and is the second born to her parents, Jean Luc and Vera. Brown collared lemurs remain active year round in both day and night and are native to the tropical forests of southeastern Madagascar where their range is being destroyed by charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture. The silver leaf langur baby is orange in unlike its  parents who have silver coats.  His fur will change color somewhere between three to five months of age. Its mother is Ruby. Native to Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia, nearly 80 percent of the langur’s diet consists of leaves. Silver leaf langurs are listed as “near threatened” by IUCN and are part of the Species Survival Program (SSP). WCS’s Bronx Zoo has the largest captive breeding population of silver leaf langurs in North America.

Attwater Prairie Chicken Recovery Plan

April 26, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of the Attwater's Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) Recovery Plan, Second Revision. A recovery plan was originally completed for the Attwater's prairie-chicken in 1983 and revised in 1993. An electronic copy is available at www.fws.gov. The Attwater's prairie-chicken represents the southernmost subspecies of Tympanuchus cupido and currently occurs in the wild at only three locations: The Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (Colorado County, Texas), the Texas City Prairie Preserve (Galveston County, Texas), and a private ranch in Goliad County, Texas. Annual counts are conducted every spring on the prairie-chicken's booming grounds, and approximately 90 birds remained in these 3 populations as of March 2009. Counts for 2010 will be conducted in April. In addition, approximately 157 individuals were held in captivity at the Abilene Zoo (Abilene, Texas), Caldwell Zoo (Tyler, Texas), Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (Glen Rose, Texas), Houston Zoo (Houston, Texas), San Antonio Zoo (San Antonio, Texas), Sea World of Texas (San Antonio, Texas), and Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) as of December 31, 2009. Attwater's prairie-chicken recovery is focused on three primary areas: (1) Habitat management, (2) captive and wild population management, and (3) public outreach.

Elephants Produce Alarm Call When Bees Threaten

April 26, 2010  www.physorg.com 

For the first time elephants have been found to produce an alarm call associated with the threat of bees, and have been shown to retreat when a recording of the call is played even when there are no bees around. A team of scientists from Oxford University, Save the Elephants, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, made the discovery as part of an ongoing study of elephants in Kenya. They report their results in the journal PLoS One. "In our experiments we played the sound of angry bees to elephant families and studied their reaction," said Lucy King of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, who led the research. "Importantly we discovered elephants not only flee from the buzzing sound but make a unique ‘rumbling’ call as well as shaking their heads." The team then looked to isolate the specific acoustic qualities associated with this rumbling call and played the sounds back to the elephants to confirm that the recorded call triggered the elephants’ decision to flee even when there was no buzzing and no sign of any bees. "The calls also indicate that elephants may produce different sounds in the same way that humans produce different vowels, by altering the position of their tongues and lips," said Dr Joseph Soltis of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. "It’s even possible that this enables them to give superficially similar-sounding calls very different meanings."  Despite their thick hides, adult elephants can be stung around their eyes or up their trunks, while calves could potentially be killed by a swarm of stinging bees as they have yet to develop this thick protective skin. The report entitled "Bee threat elicits alarm call in African elephants", is published in PLoS One.

New Monitor Lizard from Indonesia Is Described

April 26, 2010  www.eurekalert.org 

A new species and close relative of the Komodo dragon, was reported in the journal Zootaxa this week by Sam Sweet, a professor at UC Santa Barbara and Valter Weijola, a graduate student from Finland. The scientific name of this lizard is Varanus obor; its popular names are Torch monitor and Sago monitor. It's called Torch monitor because of its bright orange head with a glossy black body. Obor means torch in Indonesian. It is a close relative of the fruit-eating monitor lizard recently reported from the Philippines. The Torch monitor can grow to nearly four feet in length, and eats small animals and carrion. It exists only on the small island of Sanana in the western Moluccan islands and is most common in the coastal sago palm swamps. A unique aspect of this geographical region is the lack of mammalian predators, which may have given reptiles room to evolve as the top terrestrial predators and scavengers. Several million years ago, this island was situated near New Guinea, and it is possible that the lizard is a relic from that period. It is the only black monitor in its lineage, and the only monitor species anywhere that has evolved red pigmentation. Weijola discovered the lizard last spring, and returned with Sweet in late 2009 for five weeks to study and photograph the animal.

San Diego
’s Avian Diversity
April 26, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com 

Last year, San Diego placed second among Pacific coast counties with 260 bird species observed during the three-day competition period, trailing only Los Angeles County with 264 sighted species. The city of San Diego was also listed as the second ‘birdiest’ coastal metropolis with 198 species, behind only Corpus Christi, Texas, with 217 species. More than 500 bird species have been sighted and recorded here: natives, migrants and exotics. (Checklist is at www.sdnhm.org[PDF]). No county in the continental United States is home to more. The county attracts and houses myriad bird species because it is spatially and ecologically diverse, with wetlands, coastal scrub, riparian woodlands, oak forests and mountains. But the loss of much of this area to development and urbanization has been detrimental to the majority of local bird species, said Phil Unitt, curator of birds at the San Diego Natural History Museum and author of the San Diego Bird Atlas. Condors are gone and California least terns are on the federal endangered species list. Five other species that once nested in the region no longer do so: the fulvous whistling duck, Swainson’s hawk, black rail, yellow-billed cuckoo, and bank swallow. At least 70 species in the county—15% of the region’s bird list—have experienced decreased or contracted ranges. The burrowing owl and greater roadrunner are in sharp, local decline, in part because birds that live and nest near or on the ground are especially vulnerable to disturbance and destruction. Higher elevation species like the brown creeper may simply find no place to retreat. Some of these birds are on the verge of local extirpation. Additional problems include the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires and changes in climate. Winters are warmer. Since 1914, the average January minimum temperature at Lindbergh Field has increased at an average annual rate of 0.041 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.67 degrees total from 1914 to 2002. The change has been even more dramatic in the mountains, said Unitt, though historical records date back only to 1940. The region has experienced multiple years of below-average rainfall and repeated periods of drought. Birds like the Cactus wren and California thrasher require specific kinds of habitat to feed, breed and nest.

Last year’s first  “State of the Birds,” a collaboration of scientists and conservationists in the U.S. reported that global warming and habitat destruction were wreaking surprising havoc upon the nation’s 800 indigenous bird species. 67 species were listed as endangered or threatened; 184 more were of conservation concern. A 2007 paper published in the journal PLoS, by Walter Jetz and colleagues, predicted that climate change and habitat loss will cause significant bird declines and extinctions in this century: at least 400 species becoming endangered or extinct under the best scenarios; up to 1,800 species under the worst. Currently there are an estimated 8,750 bird species in the world. The full article is at www.signonsandiego.com. The San Diego County Bird Atlas managed by Phil Unitt at the San Diego Natural History Museum is at www.sdnhm.org.

USFWS Polar Bear Deterrence Guidelines

April 26, 2010  www.regulations.gov

These proposed guidelines set forth best practices that Fish and Wildlife Service deem appropriate for safely and nonlethally deterring polar bears from damaging private and public property and endangering the public. Comments must be received on or before May 26, 2010. Send via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0002 OR U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No.FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0002; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203; Attention: Polar Bear Deterrence Guidelines. For further information contact Charles S. Hamilton, Office of Marine Mammals Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503, telephone 907-786-3800 or 1-800-362-5148.

Proposed Guidelines:

  • Passive deterrence measures are those that prevent polar bears from gaining access to property or people. The proper use of these passive deterrence devices provides for human safety and does not increase the risk of serious injury or death of a polar bear. Such measures include rigid fencing and other fixed barriers such as gates and fence skirting to limit a bear's access, bear exclusion cages to provide a protective shelter for people in areas frequented by bears, and bear-proof garbage containers to exclude polar bear access and limit food-conditioning and habituation to humans.
  • Preventive deterrence measures are those that can dissuade a polar bear from initiating an interaction with property or people. The proper use of these preventive deterrence devices provides for safe human use and does not increase the risk of serious injury or death of a polar bear. Such measures include the use of acoustic devices to create an auditory disturbance causing polar bears to move away from the area and vehicles or boats to deter or block an approaching polar bear.
  • Acoustic deterrence is limited to devices that create no more than a reasonable level of noise, e.g., vehicle engines, or an air horn, where such auditory stimuli could startle a bear and disrupt its approach to property or people. Recent research on responses of captive polar bears to auditory stimuli has shown that polar bears are able to detect sounds down to 125 Hertz (Hz) (Bowles et al. 2008) and high-frequency sounds up to 22.5 kHz (Nachtigall et al. 2007).

    Polar bears possess an acute hearing ability with a wider frequency range than humans, which is less than 20 kHz. Data indicate that polar bears hear very well within the frequency rage of 11.2 to 22.5 kHz (Nachtigall et al. 2007). Sounds ("roars'') with frequency content between 100 and 600 Hz and broadcast directionally at over 120 dB SPL (sound pressure level) appeared to have the most success in deterring bears (Wooldridge 1978, Wooldridge and Belton 1980). However, there are no data available to indicate minimum received sound levels required to cause damage (e.g., a temporary threshold shift [TTS]) to polar bear hearing. While these upper limits are unknown, the Service believes that the use of sound deterrent devices will not harm polar bears and, therefore, is allowable as long as the sound level of the directed acoustic device used to deter bears has a sound strength of no greater than 150 dB SPL (the upper level that is painful to humans) (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2009). The use of commercially available air horns falls below this upper limit, is reasonable, and may be effective in deterring bears while causing no lasting or permanent harm to individual animals.

    Petition to List the Harlequin Butterfly as Endangered

    April 26, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov  

    After a 90-day review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, finds a petition to list the harlequin butterfly (Atlantea tulita), a butterfly endemic to Puerto Rico, as endangered under the and to designate critical habitat presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the harlequin butterfly may be warranted and is initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, the Service requests that any scientific, commercial data or other information regarding this species be received on or before June 25, 2010. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. "Enter Keyword or ID,'' enter the Docket number for this finding, which is FWS-R4-ES-2010-0026. Check the box that reads "Open for Comment/Submission,'' and then click the Search button. You should then see an icon that reads "Submit a Comment.''  You may also use U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2010-0026; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive,  Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact: Edwin Muniz, Field Supervisor, Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, P.O. Box 491, Boqueron, PR 00622; by telephone (787) 851-7297; or by facsimile (787) 851-7440. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

    Genetic Study: Formation of Ribs in Vertebrates

    April 27, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    All vertebrates—including snakes, mice and humans— have a skeleton made of segments, the vertebrae. But a snake has between 200-400 ribs extending from all vertebrae, from the neck to the tail-end, whereas mice have only 13 pairs of ribs, and humans have 12 pairs. In the latest issue of Developmental Cell, researchers from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, in Portugal, reveal that, contrary to what was thought, making ribs is not the default state for vertebrates, but is actually an active process of balancing the activities of a remarkable class of genes—the Hox genes. The two groups of Hox genes balance each other out: one actively promotes rib formation to produce the thoracic region, while the other blocks this activity in the lumbar region. The researchers went on to unpick the genes involved in this process, and came up with yet another surprising finding: that the whole process relies on first hitting so-called muscle genes in the embryo, which then provide signals to switch on the 'rib' genes to make both ribs and muscle, in a coordinated process.

    No Pregnancy for National Zoo’s Panda

    April 27, 2010  voices.washingtonpost.com  By Michael E. Ruane

    National Zoo’s female giant panda, Mei Xiang, is not pregnant. Based on her behavior, current hormone analyses, and not having seen a fetus during ultrasound exams, zoo researchers have determined that Mei Xiang experienced a pseudopregnancy. She was artificially inseminated twice in January. The chief clue was the level of the hormone progesterone, which rises during the bear’s pregnancy cycle then falls steeply back to “baseline.” Once it falls back to baseline and stays there, scientists expect to see the birth of a cub within a day or so. If there is no cub, the pregnancy is declared over. Mei’s hormone levels dropped to baseline late last week, and when no cub appeared, the zoo realized she was not pregnant. Pandas go through a pregnancy cycle whether or not they are actually pregnant. Tai Shan, who was born at the zoo in 2005 has joined a breeding program in China, and Mei Xiang and her mate, Tian Tian, may also soon leave for China when their 10-year lease from China that expires in December.

    Dealing With the Rise in Animal-Based Diseases

    April 27, 2010  www.newsweek.com  By Claudia Kalb

    As many as 75% of newly emerging infectious diseases in humans, including bird and swine flus, are "zoonoses," meaning they originate in animals. Other zoonotic killers include HIV/AIDS (transmitted to humans by wild African chimpanzees) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (bats). Even malaria now appears to be zoonotic. "This is a pattern we've seen for the origin of major diseases," says Nathan Wolfe, an infectious-disease expert at Stanford, "and it's a pattern we're seeing for new pandemics." Worldwide economic losses from species-crossing diseases total $200 billion over the past 10 years. There is no well-functioning zoonotic disease surveillance system in the U.S. Instead, public-health officials tend to respond to outbreaks as they occur. This is largely because we have failed to effectively connect the veterinary community with the human-health community. In 1999, when Tracey McNamara, then head pathologist at the Bronx Zoo called the CDC to report a potential West Nile virus link between sick birds and sick humans, a CDC official told her "there was no possible relationship between the two events."

    Now, a new report from the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases calls for a change including co-training between veterinarian and human-health experts. In November the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the launch of a $400 million, five-year Emerging Pandemic Threats program, with the goal of preempting or combating newly emerging animal diseases that pose a risk to human health. One major component is Predict, a project that focuses on improving wildlife surveillance. A host of wild animals, from chimps to bats, rodents, and birds, have transmitted viruses to humans, and yet wildlife has been largely understudied when compared with domesticated animals like pigs and cattle, says Predict director Stephen Morse. "We really don't understand the ecology of these diseases."  In 2008 Nathan Wolfe launched an aggressive surveillance program called the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative (GVFI), one of Predict's partners. GVFI operates in emerging infectious-disease hot spots, including Cameroon, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laos, Madagascar, and Malaysia, working hard to build local surveillance systems. Public-health officials in these locales teach hunters to collect blood from their prey, and they also screen hunters and other high-risk individuals, including those who work in live-animal markets, for viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Wolfe's hope is that if a new microorganism appears in both humans and animals, the public-health community and local governments can work together to stop a new disease before it spreads. Various groups, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, have launched programs under the banner of a movement broadly referred to as One Health, which is aimed at spotlighting the problem, fostering collaboration among disciplines.

    Green Corridor Connects Chimpanzee Populations

    April 27, 2010  content.usatoday.com By Elizabeth Weise

    Dora Biro, an Oxford University zoologist, does field work watching chimpanzees in the Bossou community of Guinea. This group of 13 is so small that it will eventually die out. "The core range of this community consists of three hills and everywhere around it is savanna," she said. “Chimps don't like to cross open savanna, so they're effectively penned in on their little 'island' of trees.” But three and a half miles away is a huge mountain range full of chimpanzees. Chimps naturally move out of their birth group and into others as they mature, so it would be normal for the Bossou group to continually get an influx of new members from other troupes. But the distance, and the danger, is too great. The team of Japanese biologists who originally established the observation site have now begun to plant a corridor of trees across the savanna to try to connect the Bossou 'island' of hills to the nearby Nimba mountain range where the other chimpanzees live but it will take some time for the trees to mature. It's called The Green Corridor Project and it's being spearheaded by Tetsuro Matsuzawa, who helped establish the site.

    Petition to List the Mojave Ground Squirrel

    April 27, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov
    After a 90-day review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announces that a petition to list the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis) as an endangered species presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the listing may be warranted. Scientific, commercial data and other information regarding this species must be received on or before June 28, 2010. Submit information via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Search for docket FWS-R8-ES-2010-0006 and then follow the instructions for submitting comments OR U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0006; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact: Michael McCrary, Listing and Recovery Coordinator, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2593 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone (805) 644-1766; facsimile (805) 644-3958 (800) 877-8339.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    April 27, 2010 www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Requests for documents or comments must be received on or before May 27, 2010.  Send comments to: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov

    Applicant: Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden, Los Angeles, CA; PRT-06373A. The applicant requests a permit to export one male captive-born yellow-footed rock wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) to the Museum de Besancon, Besancon, France for the purpose of enhancement of the survival or the species in cooperation with the Government of Australia.

    Applicant: Bryce Carlson/Emory University, Atlanta, GA; PRT-00568A. The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples from common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and Tana river red colobus (Piliocolobus rufomitratus) from Makerere University Biological Field Station, Fort Portal, Uganda, for the purpose of enhancement of the species through scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 1-year period.

    Applicant: Frank Verlin Callahan, Bastrop, TX; PRT-03117A. Applicant: Luis Federico Carlos Mendoza, Mayaguez, PR; PRT-09009A. Applicant: Rodney Peterson, Parkers Prairie, MN; PRT-09558A. Applicant: Robert Lange, Glenwood, MN; PRT-09584A. The  applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

    Endangered Species Permit Issued

    April 27, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    The NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center, 3333 North Torrey Pines Court, La Jolla, CA 92037-1023, has been issued a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research. The permit and related documents are available for review upon written request to Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213; phone (562)980-4001; fax (562)980-4018. For further information contact Kate Swails or Amy Hapeman (301)713-2289.

    The purpose of the proposed research project is to initiate a baseline study of the status of sea turtles in the San Gabriel River and Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, California. Researchers would also opportunistically take samples and potentially track sea turtles incidentally taken in coastal power plants off California and that strand live in the marine environment. Researchers may annually capture, measure, weigh, photograph/video, flipper tag, passive integrated transponder tag (PIT), tissue biopsy, blood sample, scute scrape, lavage, ultrasound, oral swab, cloacal swab, inject tetracycline, and release up to: ten green, one olive ridley, and three loggerhead sea turtles taken in power plant entrainments; four green, one olive ridley, one loggerhead, and two leatherback sea turtles that strand in the marine environment; and 35 green, six loggerhead, and six olive ridley sea turtles during captures as part of the San Gabriel and Los Alamitos Bay California project. Some turtles may have satellite transmitters, sonic tags, or camera attached. Researchers would also have authority to authority to salvage, necropsy, and sample animals that die as a result of entrainments or strandings. The permit is issued for five years.

    USGS Grizzly Tracking Techniques in Yellowstone

    April 27, 2010  www.usgs.gov

    Two new studies released by the USGS in the Journal of Wildlife Management highlight dynamic tools to assist in conservation and management of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems, the two largest strongholds for grizzly populations in the contiguous United States. While previous studies identified roads and developed areas as primary hazards, the new findings also indicate that rural home development and areas open to fall hunting can negatively affect bear survival in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Scientists used 21 years of grizzly bear tracking information to develop a model that predicts areas hazardous to grizzlies. The study indicates that survival of bears over the age of two depends on the level of human development within their home ranges—factors often driven by elevation and road access. Another study in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem evaluated a method that uses rub tree surveys to monitor threatened grizzly bear populations in northwestern Montana. These surveys may improve insights into bear population dynamics such as growth, decline, distribution, and bear density. Bear rubs are anything a bear likes to rub on:  trees, posts, power poles, and cabins. Scientists mapped bear rubs, collected hair samples, and then used DNA fingerprinting to develop a new way to estimate regional population growth rates.
    Both articles are published in the May issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management.

    Fennec Fox Triplets Born At Drusillas Park Zoo

    April 28, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

    ALFRISTON, UK – The three fennec foxes cubs were born at Drusillas Park Zoo, last month are believed to be the first litter to be bred in Europe in 2010. Fennec foxes have a high mortality rate and the triplets, born to parents, Mali and Tabari, are the only surviving cubs in the UK since 2008. Zoo manager Sue Woodgate said, "Mali and Tabari have proved themselves to be natural parents. This, combined with the care and dedication of our keepers, has meant the triplets are healthy and growing stronger by the day." Mali and Tabari came to Drusillas in November 2009 as part of a European breeding programme.

    Virtual Zoo Visit Helps Kids Read

    April 28, 2010  www.cnylink.com  by Kelly Cary

    READ 180 is a reading program that provides intensive intervention for students who are reading below their grade level. Students at Ray Middle School recently participated in a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo that included a video conference with a zoo educator. The field trip and conference were part of a large research project, “To the Zoo and Beyond,” that students have been engaged in to improve their comprehension skills and to build on their academic strengths as they use written resources, visual media and databases, and perform Internet-based research to produce a written report. Students prepared and sent questions to the zoo educator prior to the video conference. Each student generated questions by examining the information he or she had gathered on a particular animal to determine if the research lacked essential facts still needed to write a thorough report on the animal. During the video conference, students were able to directly ask the zoo educator questions and receive a live, immediate answer.

    Three Species of Rockfish Now Protected

    April 28, 2010  seattletimes.nwsource.com  By Craig Welch

    Three species of rockfish are so close to extinction that the government is protecting them under the Endangered Species Act. The listings are another blow to the troubled waters of Puget Sound, already home to threatened orcas, chinook salmon, chum salmon and bull trout. And while no one disputes that overfishing caused the declines, pollution, excessive shoreline development and other environmental factors appear to be helping prevent a strong rebound. Beginning next month, fishing is banned for all rockfish from southern Puget Sound to the Canadian border. And anglers seeking other species will no longer be allowed to fish in waters deeper than 120 feet. Rockfish have such large swim bladders that the fish essentially implode when hooked and brought up too fast from the deep. In future years, biologists say, fishing of chinook, lingcod and halibut could also be restricted. Rockfish can live 100 years and take 17 or more to reach sexual maturity. They also get tangled in derelict fishing nets and old crab pots that have been abandoned over decades on Puget Sound's seafloor. A recent survey has already found at least 32 decaying nets in waters below 100 feet. The same salmon-intensive eelgrass beds that are often disrupted by shoreline development also are important for the small fish rockfish eat. In addition, because rockfish live so long, they're susceptible to pollutants that work their way up the food chain and ultimately change their body chemistry. Biologists have even found male rockfish in Elliott Bay and Commencement Bay that produce female hormones and, sometimes, eggs.

    Threatened Status for Puget Sound Rockfish

    April 28, 2010 www.gpoaccess.gov 

    The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is listing the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin Distinct Population Segments (DPSs) of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) and canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) as threatened, and bocaccio rockfish (Sebastes paucispinis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We intend to propose protective regulations for yelloweye and canary rockfish under ESA section 4(d) and critical habitat for all three species in separate rulemakings, and will solicit public comments for these rulemakings separately. This final rule is effective on July 27, 2010. For further information contact Dan Tonnes at (206) 526-4643, or Dwayne Meadows, Office of Protected Resources, Silver Spring, MD (301) 713-1401. The final rule, references and other materials relating to this determination can be found on our Web site at www.nwr.noaa.gov.

    Snail Farming to Protect African Apes

    April 28, 2010  www.usatoday.com  By Dan Vergano

    In 2008, Cameroon created Takamanda National Park, which protects about a third of the Cross River gorillas, says field biologist Andrew Dunn of the Wildlife Conservation Society. On the Nigerian side of the border, people live close to that nation's park, making it more likely they will hunt the gorillas. Only about 300 apes survive in Nigeria's Cross River National Park on the Cameroon border. Poaching from nearby poor villagers has reduced the rare apes' numbers to about one-tenth of their population a century ago. James Deutsch of the Wildlife Conservation Society said "The people are poor and protein is hard to find, so they will eat gorillas."  Over the past six months, a pilot effort has trained and equipped eight poacher families to farm African giant snails, a local delicacy about 5 inches across, with funding from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Mich., a great-ape conservation group. "Hunters will eat anything they find," Deutsch says, but the likely profit from snail farming, about $413 a year, exceeds the profits from bushmeat trade, for which one gorilla's meat earns poachers about $70. Conservation groups have increasingly sought to involve locals in efforts to preserve African wildlife, after steps to create national parks alone failed to save declining species. Past efforts in Africa have turned poachers into beekeepers and mango farmers.

    No Single Cause for Honeybee Die-off

    April 28, 2010  www.physorg.com 

    The huge die off of bees worldwide is not due to any one single factor, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Parasites, viral and bacterial infections, pesticides, and poor nutrition resulting from the impact of human activities on the environment have all played a role in the decline. At normal times, bee communities naturally lose around five percent of their numbers. But with the syndrome known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), a third, half—sometimes even 90 percent—of the insects can be wiped out. In the U.S., government figures released last month showed a 29% drop in beehives in 2009, coming on the heels of declines of 36% and 32% in 2008 and 2007. The decimation threatens world agricultural production worth tens of billions. By some estimates, around a third of the food on our plates gets there thanks to Apis mellifera. Earlier research has shown that different bee parasites are active in different parts of the world. Culprits already identified include a blood-sucking mite called Varroa and a single-celled fungal parasite called Nosema cerenae that causes bee dystentery. The Asian hornet Vespa velutina lurks near hives and captures honey bees in mid-flight, devouring them. Another suspect is poor nutrition. Mega-farms stripped of hedgerows and wild flowers, along with spreading suburbs, are thought to be depriving bees of a decent diet. More recently a new pathogen, Varroa jacobsoni, has attacked Apis mellifera in Oceania, and now presents a new threat to beekeeping globally.

    Brendon Wiley, New Topeka Zoo Director

    April 28, 2010  cjonline.com  BY JAMES CARLSON

    Brendan Wiley, Topeka Zoo's new director, worked 11 years at KC Zoo as a curator, leaving in 2005 to serve as executive director of Animal Haven, the Kansas City area's largest no-kill animal shelter. He will step into the top spot at a crossroads for the zoo's future. Beginning this past August, the zoo was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for numerous animal deaths, its professional organization tabled its accreditation, and the majority of its management left or were terminated. He hopes to hire a new veterinarian within six to eight weeks and restore communication channels with staff. He must also decide on whether to retain the zoo's two elephants or to retire them to a sanctuary. Animal advocates and City Councilman John Alcala had proposed retirement, but the council voted earlier this year against that proposal, largely in anticipation of a new director who could help decide. "Through relationships with AZA and the experts, the true elephant experts, we will come to the right decision," Wiley. He will make $78,000 and begin work on May 24th.

    Seismic Map Includes Newly Found Fault Lines
    April 28, 2010  www.nytimes.com
    SAN JOSE, Calif. — California geology officials have released an updated seismic map that includes more than 50 new fault lines discovered over the last two decades. The maps could help guide decisions about where to build schools and hospitals, and where construction standards need to be higher. There are an estimated 15,000 faults in the state, but many of the lines are small and are not expected to generate major earthquakes. The new maps are more detailed and have interactive digital versions that are linked to Google maps, state officials say. The map can be seen at quake.ca.gov.

    Zoo Gorilla Baby Improves
    April 28, 2010  www.wlky.com

    LOUISVILLE, Ky.—A nearly three-month-old western lowland gorilla who was injured in a skirmish with older members of her family group at the Louisville Zoo is getting better as keepers hand-raise her outside the exhibit. She is receiving a bottle every three hours and gaining weight. Candy McMahan, Louisville Zoo Assistant Mammal Curator, said, “She is developing like any normal gorilla infant. She is bright and curious and even has four teeth coming in – two on top and two on bottom.” The baby also gets visual interaction time with the other gorillas when the staff walks her around behind the scenes of Gorilla Forest. Mom Mia Moja and adult female Kweli are currently being housed together and father Mshindi is currently housed separately. The zoo's veterinary team says she has a good prognosis despite losing part of her leg and suffering other injuries in the April 1 squabble. She is receiving antibiotic therapy and iron supplements to help with anemia.

    Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico Threatens Wildlife

    April 28, 2010  www.nytimes.com

    An explosion and fire on a drilling rig on April 20 has left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Wind patterns may push the spill (estimated at 5,000 barrels or 210,000 gallons/day) into the coast of Louisiana as soon as Friday night. Urgent measures are being employed to protect coastal wildlife. Among them were using cannons to scare off birds and employing local shrimpers’ boats as makeshift oil skimmers in the shallows. Part of the oil slick was only 16 miles offshore and closing in on the Mississippi River Delta, the marshlands where the river empties into the ocean. Already 100,000 feet of protective booms have been laid down to protect the shoreline, with 500,000 feet more standing by, according to Charlie Henry, an oil spill expert for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On Wednesday evening, cleanup crews began conducting what is called an in-situ burn, a process that consists of corralling concentrated parts of the spill in a 500-foot-long fireproof boom, moving it to another location and burning it. It has been tested effectively on other spills, but weather and ecological concerns can complicate the procedure. Such burning also works only when oil is corralled to a certain thickness. Burns may not be effective for most of this spill, of which 97 percent is estimated to be an oil-water mixture. Other control tactics include: using remote-controlled vehicles to shut off the well at its source on the sea floor, an operation that has so far been unsuccessful; dropping domes over the leaks at the sea floor and routing the oil to the surface to be collected, an operation untested at such depths that would take at least two to four more weeks; and drilling relief wells to stop up the gushing cavity with concrete, mud or other heavy liquid, a solution that is months away. Pipelines have ruptured and tankers have leaked before, but a well 5,000 feet below the water’s surface poses new challenges, officials said. Map and species affected at www.nytimes.com.

    Plans to Stop Tiger Tourism
    April 28, 2010  www.timesonline.co.uk

    The Indian Government plans to phase out tourism in the core regions of 37 tiger reserves. Rajesh Gopal, the head of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, said, “We should not forget that tiger reserves are primarily for conserving the endangered tiger and tourism is just a secondary outcome. Our reserves are small and prone to disturbance caused by tourism. They cannot compete with large African savanna parks, which can stand large number of tourists.” A census in February 2008 showed that India’s tiger population had plummeted to 1,411 animals, down from 3,642 in 2002. The latest figure is disputed, however. Some experts say that there may be only 800 wild tigers in India today and that the species could be rendered extinct in five years. According to government officials, the species has already disappeared or is in danger of becoming extinct in 16 reserves. A century ago, when tiger hunting was popular, there were an estimated 40,000 in India.

    Additional tiger facts:
    — 832 tigers known to have been killed in India from 1994 to 2007
    — 21 tiger deaths so far in 2010, 10 from natural causes, 11 from poaching
    — $5,000: Price paid by traders to poachers for a complete dead tiger
    — $50,000: Price paid for a complete tiger at market
    — $35,000: Price paid for a tiger skin at market

    23-Year-Old Polar Bear Dies at Denver Zoo

    April 29, 2010  www.denverpost.com  By Kieran Nicholson

    Voda, a popular polar bear at the Denver Zoo, died Tuesday. The 23-year-old bear's death was caused by chronic kidney disease. Craig Piper, the Denver Zoo president, said Voda had been under close veterinary observation because of the disease, and over the last few days she began refusing food, the zoo said. "Unfortunately, she was getting progressively worse, and during an emergency veterinary evaluation, we found that her health was declining rapidly," Dr. Felicia Knightly, the zoo's senior veterinarian, said in the release. "We knew she was not going to get better." On Tuesday zoo staff euthanized the bear. Voda had been at the Denver Zoo for 21 years. While here Voda gave birth to several litters of cubs with her exhibit mate, Kavek, including Boris and Natasha born in 1985, Cranbeary born in 2001, and twin bears Koda and Nuka born in 2004.

    Zoo Gets Three New Bears
    April 29, 2010  www.kgw.com  by Teresa Blackman

    PORTLAND––Three young bears (Dale, Cubby and Tuff ) will be released into Oregon Zoo’s Black Bear Ridge exhibit for brief periods over the next couple weeks, as they slowly become acclimated to their new home. They previously lived at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. Dale, the lone female, was found orphaned as a cub in Minnesota in April 2001. She was raised at a rehabilitation center and because of her close interactions with humans, could not safely be released back into the wild. Tuff was born on a private breeder’s property in Missouri and sold illegally (without permits). Officials confiscated the young bear, transferring him first to a licensed facility and then to the Hogle Zoo in 2004. Cubby, was born at Chahinkapa Zoo in North Dakota and moved to the Hogle Zoo in 2003. The bears that originally inhabited the Black Bear Ridge exhibit were euthanized after developing geriatric problems. Black bears are the smallest bears native to North America. They are found throughout Alaska and Canada and in sparsely populated forested regions of the contiguous United States.

    Pseudo-Pregnancy in Pandas

    April 29, 2010  www.csmonitor.com  By Clara Moskowitz

    Female giant pandas regularly undergo pseudo-pregnancies, which mimic the real thing to a tee, except for the developing infant. Mei Xiang (May Shee-ahng), who lives at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., just went through her 5th false pregnancy. She gave birth to one panda cub, the male Tai Shan, in 2005. Panda females can ovulate once a year, and are fertile for about two days. After that, the resulting pregnancy – or pseudo-pregnancy – generally lasts between three to six months. Scientists don't know why pseudo-pregnancies happen, or if they have evolved for an evolutionary purpose. "In a sense there's no answer, but there is speculation that perhaps pandas' bodies just rehearse pregnancy all the time," Lisa Stevens, curator of primates and pandas at the zoo. In the case of pandas, she said, some researchers think the phenomenon could be related to the fact that the bears have evolved to survive on a very low-energy diet. They eat almost nothing but bamboo, which contains barely more energy than it takes to consume it. But giant pandas aren't the only ones that experience false pregnancies. Many animals, especially carnivores and other bears, can go through the same thing. Even humans can have symptoms associated with a pregnancy, without carrying an actual baby. It's just that in most species, especially humans, it's easier to tell for sure with an ultrasound. A panda fetus is extremely difficult to detect through an ultrasound.

    Latest Statistics On Honeybee Losses

    April 29, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Losses of managed honey bee colonies nationwide totaled 33.8 percent from all causes from October 2009 to April 2010, according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Beekeepers identified starvation, poor weather, and weak colonies going into winter as the top reasons for mortality in their operations. This is an increase from overall losses of 29 percent reported from a similar survey covering the winter of 2008-2009, and similar to the 35.8 percent losses for the winter of 2007-2008. The 28 percent of beekeeping operations that reported some of their colonies perished without dead bees present—a sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)—lost 44 percent of their colonies. This compares to 26 percent of beekeepers reporting such dead colonies in the 2008-2009 winter and 32 percent in the 2007-2008 winter. Beekeepers that did not report their colonies having CCD lost 25 percent of their colonies. The cause of CCD is still unknown. The survey checked on about 22.4 percent of the country's estimated 2.46 million colonies. The survey reports only winter losses and does not capture colony losses that occur throughout the summer when queens or entire colonies fail and need to be replaced. Those summer losses can be significant. A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this year. More information about CCD can be found at www.ars.usda.gov

    African Clawed Frog Genome Sequenced

    April 29, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    More than 175 organisms have had their genetic information nearly completely sequenced including the spotted green puffer fish, the honeybee, and the human, as well as at least one species each of mosquito, fruit fly, flower, worm, dog, rat and chicken. Now the genome of the first frog: The African clawed frog, Xenopus tropicalis, has joined the list and could help scientists better understand the factors causing the global die-off of amphibians. The findings are based on the DNA of a single frog whose DNA was broken down into small pieces that were replicated many, many times, and then sent to laboratories around the world for analysis. Researchers discovered between 20,000 and 21,000 genes on 10 chromosomes, including more than 1,700 genes that are very similar to genes in people that are related to conditions like cancer, asthma, and heart disease. Frogs and humans share many features in the earliest stages of their development, dating back to a time before they went their separate ways 360 million years ago. Many of a frog’s systems, such as its nervous, skeletal and immune systems, develop much like a person’s do, and so frogs are frequently used by scientists trying to understand people at their most basic level. The genome is published in a paper in the April 30 issue of Science.

    Global Biodiversity: Indicators of  Recent Declines

    April 29, 2010  www.sciencemag.org

    In 2002, world leaders committed through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. We compiled 31 indicators to report on progress toward this target. Most indicators of the state of biodiversity (covering species’ population trends, extinction risk, habitat extent/condition, and community composition) showed declines, with no significant recent reductions in rate, whereas indicators of pressures on biodiversity (including resource consumption, invasive alien species, nitrogen pollution, overexploitation, and climate change impacts) showed increases. Despite some local successes and increasing responses (including extent and biodiversity coverage of protected areas, sustainable forest management, policy responses to invasive alien species, and biodiversity-related aid), the rate of biodiversity loss does not appear to be slowing.

    Gulf Coast Wildlife at Risk
    April 30, 2010  wild.enature.com

    Over 269 species of birds live in the part of Louisiana that is threatened by the recent oil spill. The region is also an essential stopping point for millions of migratory birds heading north—and we’re at one of the peaks of the spring migration. It’s also home to over 51 species of mammals, including the bobcat and the otter. More than 120 species of reptiles and amphibians including alligators and over a dozen species each of turtles, frogs and toads, and snakes are native to the region as well. And that’s just the vertebrates. There are are two sizable National Wildlife Refuges right at the mouth of the Mississippi that will initially bear the brunt of the impact—Delta National Wildlife Refuge and Breton National Wildlife Refuge. But the porous wetland geography of the Delta region means that the oil will probably travel inland to the swamps and bayous of the lower Delta. And depending on the prevailing winds and currents— it could easily travel down the coast and affect the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge at the mouth of Alabama’s Mobile Bay.

    Lion Pride Increases at Bronx Zoo

    April 30, 2010  wcbstv.com

    NEW YORK—Three African lion cubs made their debut at the Bronx Zoo on April 30, 2010. The cubs, 2 girls and one boy, were born in January, weighing just five pounds each. They're already up to 25 pounds, and will be full grown in about five years. Right now they're still nursing and starting to eat ground meat. The population of lions in Africa has gone from an estimated 200,000 to about 29,000.

    Satellites, DNA and the La Plata Dolphin

    April 30, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    The franciscana, or La Plata dolphin, is found along the Atlantic coastal waters of South America. Although a member of the river dolphin family, the franciscana actually lives in coastal waters and estuaries. The species is listed as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN. Using DNA samples and images from satellites, conservationists from Columbia University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and Fundación AquaMarina, recently completed a study of the franciscana. The research appears in the most recent edition of Molecular Ecology, and combines molecular data with range-wide environmental information. The researchers compared 275 genetic samples from dolphins that had been stranded, entangled in fishing gear, or captured and released in six locations along coastal Argentina. Using genetic markers to statistically gauge the gene flow between dolphin groups at different sites, the scientists discovered that there are two—and possibly three—distinct populations of franciscanas in Argentina's coastal waters. The use of region-wide satellite data showed that environmental differences—temperature, turbidity, and chlorophyll levels—were probably involved in creating those genetically distinct populations. Other correlations hint at the possible role of behavioral patterns in population structure. An examination of both mitochondrial DNA (inherited through maternal lines) and nuclear DNA seems to reinforce current knowledge of cetacean behavior, with females remaining faithful to their natal location and males ranging more widely (except when oceanographic barriers impede their movement).

    Red Wolf Recovery Program

    April 30, 2010  www.examiner.com

    CHICAGO, IL—A litter of six endangered red wolf pups were born at Lincoln Park Zoo on April 17. Two will be sent to North Carolina today where they will be released into the wild through the Red Wolf Recovery Program. The newborn pups will be fostered by a pair of adults who are currently nursing their own small litter which is close in age. The red wolf strategy has been successfully performed with multiple litters over the past ten years, including four pups from Lincoln Park Zoo last year. Arthur Beyer is the red wolf field coordinator for the USFWS. Bill Waddell is the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan coordinator. The Red Wolf Recovery Program is a cooperative conservation effort between the AZA, the Red Wolf's Species Survival Plan (SSP), and the USFWS. This is the second litter of wolf pups born in Chicago's zoo to be released into the wild according to Lincoln Park Zoo curator, Diane Mulkerin. Red wolves were once common throughout the southeastern United States, but populations were decimated by the 1960s due to intensive predator control programs and the loss of their habitat. Subsequent to being declared an endangered species in 1973, efforts were made to round up as many wild red wolves as possible. Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became founders of a successfully managed-breeding program. Consequently, the USFWS declared Red wolves extinct in the wild in 1980. Seven years later in 1987, enough red wolves were bred in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan to begin a restoration program on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Northeastern North Carolina. Since then the experimental population area has expanded to include three national wildlife refuges, Department of Defense and state-owned lands and private property, totaling 1.7 million acres.

    AZA Communicates the Economic Value of Zoos

    May 1, 2010  www.aza.org

    Stuart Stahl, CEO of the Brookfield Zoo writes in “Connect” that AZA has updated its nation-wide economic impact study for public and non-for-profit zoos and aquaria, finding that they collectively support 126,000 jobs, generate $8.4 billion in economic activity (including $2.65 billion in personal earnings/taxable income), and spend $3.262 billion in operating and capital outlays. The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) commissioned a thorough economic and community impact study for Brookfield Zoo in 2007. The study was disseminated to the media, local government, county commissioners, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, and state and federal politicians and agencies. In 2009, the report and two years of tireless government relations efforts allowed CZS to secure $17 million in the state's capital budget, funded from the sale of bonds. To draw further attention to the impact of capital improvements from new exhibits, Brookfield also included a section in the study on the economic impact of the new Great Bear Wilderness exhibit. As the full impact of the recession took hold the $27 million project generated over $46 million in economic activity and created 350 well-paid construction jobs representing $21 million in wages. These new economic data have built support for investing in capital improvements to the Zoo as decision makers now understand that such projects deliver an immediate economic benefit to the community and will contribute to the quality of life for decades. Stahl advocates that all zoos attempt to compile an "economic biography" that lists basic information similar to what AZA's member survey requests and appears in the annual directory.

    Severe Pneumonia Outbreak Killing Bighorn Sheep

    May 1, 2010  www.javma.com

    Wildlife officials say an outbreak of bacterial pneumonia killing bighorn sheep herds in five Western states (Montana, Washington, Utah, Wyoming, and Nevada) is without precedent. The outbreak's toll is difficult to determine, since bighorn sheep roam remote locations, but officials estimate 1,000 sheep in nine wild herds had died as of early April. Some 300 of those deaths represented sick animals that were culled. The outbreak is expected to abate in the spring when herds migrate from their winter grazing lands, yet concerns about the long-term impact of the die-offs are mounting. Dr. Peregrine L. Wolff, the Nevada state wildlife veterinarian, says after pneumonia sweeps through an adult sheep population, it then kills off the lambs, and the cycle can repeat itself for several years, leading to herd stagnation. Each state is handling the outbreak differently. In Nevada, government biologists and veterinarians have been tagging herds and using radio collars to monitor them and track die-off. Additionally, more than 60 ill sheep have been darted with doses of tulathromycin, which is more commonly used to treat pneumonia in cattle.

    Developing a Conservation Policy for Hybrids

    May 1, 2010  www.biosciencemag.org

    Hybridization in the wild between closely related species is not unusual, and can, in fact, be beneficial for a rare taxon. Under certain conditions, however, a rare taxon can be driven rapidly to extinction by hybridizing with a more common taxon. This problem should be addressed quickly because human activities are increasingly bringing together cross-compatible species that were previously geographically isolated. US conservation policy has yet to address how to deal with hybrid-derived individuals whose ancestry includes an endangered species. A multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional group of scientists, including Ollie Ryder of the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research discuss developing such a policy in their article entitled: “Got Hybridization? A Multidisciplinary Approach for Informing Science Policy “ They suggest that the policy consider how human actions increase opportunities for hybridization and the spectrum of values that society places on different kinds of hybrids. They advocate consideration of environmental ethics, history, political science, economics, geography, anthropology, genetics, ecology, systematics, and evolutionary biology.

    Sensory Ecology and Wildlife Reintroductions

    May 1, 2010  www.ingentaconnect.com

    Behavioral theory is important to the development of wildlife reintroductions. In addition to modifying captive environments to prepare animals for release to the wild, it is possible to modify the animals’ experience in the post-release environment. For releases to be more successful, they need to better accommodate the ecological and psychological needs of individuals. Ron Swaisgood, a scientist with the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, advocates for a better understanding of sensory ecology — how animals acquire and respond to information in their environment. Sensory ecology integrates ecological and psychological processes, calling for better synergy among researchers with divergent backgrounds in conservation and animal welfare science. Reintroductions are essentially exercises in ‘forced’ dispersal; thus, an especially promising avenue of research is the role of proximate mechanisms governing dispersal and habitat selection decisions. Unlike function or adaptive value, such mechanisms can be manipulated to enhance conservation and welfare goals. The article appears in the journal Animal Welfare, Volume 19, Number 2, May 2010

    USFWS Response to Oil Spill

    May 1, 2010  www.fws.gov

    Booms to capture and deflect anticipated oil are being deployed at Breton National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), where thousands of brown pelicans and shorebirds are currently nesting. The Service also is initiating Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration activities to assess and address the long-term damage to impacted resources. Employees from national wildlife refuges will continue to work with federal, state, and local counterparts and conservation organizations led by the Coast Guard. Primary concerns include potential impacts to 20 coastal National Wildlife Refuges within the possible trajectory of the spill. In addition, this is the avian nesting season and sea turtle nesting season is approaching. Gulf sturgeon are congregating in coastal waters for upstream migration and manatees are migrating back into summer areas.

    Additional Responses:

  • British Petroleum has contracted for bird and wildlife rehabilitation experts from around the country to treat oiled wildlife.
  • A toll free number to report oiled or injured wildlife call 866-557-1401.
  • National wildlife refuges along the coast are on alert and assessing potential threats.
  • Breton National Wildlife Refuge appears to be most endangered. Booms to catch and deflect oil are being placed now.
  • Staffing will be increasing to support response operations. A team is being organized now in the Atlanta Regional Office.
  • A Web site has been established where photos, press releases and fact sheets are available at www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
    Volunteers wishing to help protect wildlife from the oil spill may sign up by calling 1-866-448-5816. For people who need to file claims regarding the spill, call 1-800-440-0858.

    S.F. ZooFest Raises $1.85 million

    May 2, 2010  www.sfgate.com

    A total of $1.85 million was raised in support of the San Francisco Zoo’s conservation and education programs at ZooFest, Wild About Parrots. $1 million was donated by Tad & Dianne Taube and Jeff Farber of the Koret Foundation and will go toward the reconstruction of the Zoo's South American Aviary, which houses parrots, amphibians and primates and was originally built during the Great Depression. $250,000 from Anthony Cernak and the Hugh and Eila Korpi Family Trust of Sonoma will go to house rescued Squirrel monkeys.

    Fleece Fest at WCS Prospect Park Zoo

    May 3, 2010  www.broadwayworld.com

    On Saturday, the sheep and alpacas at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Prospect Park Zoo will lose their wool coats at the zoo's annual Fleece Festival so they can stay cool all summer. There will be sheep-themed crafts, live music, and the chance to watch shearers in action. Expert shearer Don Kading will guide visitors through the process while local artists discuss the many uses of wool. Prospect Park will also debut two eleven-month-old baby doll sheep, and visitors can vote on what the new sheep should be named.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    May 3, 2010 www.gpoaccess.gov 

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Comments must be received on or before June 2, 2010. Written data or comments should be submitted to the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916-414-6464; Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments. For further information contact Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist; telephone: 760-431-9440  

    Permit No. TE-825573. Applicant: Brian L. Cypher, Bakersfield, California. The applicant requests a permit to remove/reduce to possession Opuntia treleasei (Bakersfield cactus) from Federal lands in conjunction with botanical surveys, voucher, and genetic research throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-097516. Applicant: Thomas P. Ryan, Pasadena, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (March 20, 2007, 72 FR 13121) to take (collect and remove from the wild dead and abandoned eggs, color band; and capture, attach/remove geolocators, monitor, recapture) the California least tern (Sterna Antillarum browni) in conjunction with population monitoring and research throughout the range of the species in Los Angeles County, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-007907. Applicant: United States Geological Survey, Klamath Falls, Oregon. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (March 25, 1999, 64 FR 14458) to take (capture, transport, and release) the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) and the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostrum) in conjunction with surveys, population monitoring and life history studies throughout the range of the species in Klamath and Lake Counties, Oregon, for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-054011. Applicant: John F. Green, Riverside, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (December 16, 2008, 73 FR 76375) to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-07064A. Applicant: Wesley K. Savage, Allentown, Pennsylvania. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, measure, photograph, collect tissue, and release) the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum) and California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense); and take (survey, capture, handle, collect tissue, and release) the callippe silverspot butterfly (Speyeria callippe callippe) in conjunction with surveys, population monitoring, and genetic research throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-004939. Applicant: Gordon F. Pratt, Riverside, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (January 31, 2003, 68 FR 5037) to take (collect voucher specimens of newly discovered populations) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), Palos Verdes blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis), lotis blue butterfly (Lycaeides argyrognomon lotis), El Segundo blue (Euphilotes battoides allyni), and the Laguna Mountains skipper (Pyrgus ruralis lagunae) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-07981A. Applicant: Bruce J. Turner, Eggleston, Virginia. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, release, collect, and sacrifice) the Ash meadows pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis mionectes) and Warm springs pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis pectoralis) in conjunction with scientific research in Nye County, Nevada, for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-166383. Applicant: Michael Westphal, Hollister, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (November 6, 2007, 72 FR 62669) to take (survey, capture, handle, tail clip, and release) the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gamelia silus) in conjunction with surveys and genetic research throughout the range of the species in San Benito and Fresno Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-097845. Applicant: ManTech SRS Technologies Incorporated, Lompoc, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (June 27, 2008, 73 FR 36552), to extend the currently authorized geographic area and take (harass by survey, capture, handle, release, collect, and sacrifice) the unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) in conjunction with surveys and genetic research within Santa Barbara County, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-213726. Applicant: Joelle J. Fournier, San Diego, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (July 7, 2009, 74 FR 32179) to take (handle, band, and remove from the wild dead eggs, chicks, adults, feathers and hatched membranes) the California least tern (Sterna Antillarum browni) in conjunction with population
    monitoring and research at Camp Pendleton Marine Base, San Diego County, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-09371A. Applicant: Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas, Nevada. The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in Clark, Lincoln and Nye Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-09389A. Applicant: Michelle E. Giolli, Berkeley, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-09381A. Applicant: Billy G. Williams, Santa Barbara, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring studies throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-09375A. Applicant: Laura Ann Eliassen, Bradley, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.   

    International Migratory Bird Day

    May 3, 2010  www.naplesnews.com

    Nearly 350 species of birds annually migrate between summer and winter habitats. The Naples Zoo is celebrating the day with live hawks and owls in its shows, free materials about the world of migratory birds and lots of information on birding. The Zoo also features a National Wildlife Federation certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat where guests can learn how to host migrating species. The 2010 International Migrating Bird Day theme is “The Power of Partnerships in Bird Conservation” and 20 inspiring stories of successful bird-protecting collaborations are being showcased. Two of the success stories are 1. The Whooping Crane (There were 15 birds in the1940s and now there are nearly 400), and 2. The Peregrine Falcon (There were only 50 pairs in 1975 and now there  are 3,300 adults). The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center International Migratory Bird Day was launched in 1993 and is now coordinated by Environment for the Americas, based in Boulder, Colorado. IMBD is the largest-known bird conservation and education event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

    New iPad App—Alphabets in the Zoo

    May 3, 2010  www.ipadmodo.com
    OAKVILLE, ON, Canada – Just  a week after hitting the top of the iPhone’s education charts, Googly’s “Alphabets in the Zoo” is featured on the front page of the iPad’s App Store. The Children’s mobile application “Alphabets in the Zoo” features a charming new animated alphabet song and story to help children learn their letters as they look, listen, and sing-a-long.

    Lucknow Zoo Elephants Sent to Wildlife Parks

    May 3, 2010  timesofindia.indiatimes.com

    LUCKNOW, India—The two Lucknow Zoo elephants, Sumit and Jaimala are leaving the city. 40-year-old male Sumit will go to Dudhwa National Park, and 24-year-old female Jaimala will be taken to Katarniaghat. The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has asked all zoos to send their elephants to national parks, sanctuaries, rehabilitation camps, tiger reserves and forest areas. The authority says the animals need 30 km to 40 km area to move around. Many zoos do not have the space or financial means to adequately care for their elephants and the CZA also believes the elephants can contribute a lot in forest areas in patrolling, lifting wooden logs and other works. The two elephants had been together for eight years at Lucknow. Sumit was 7-years-old when he arrived in 1977 from Chilla Rajaji National Park, Haridwar. Jaimala came in 2002 from Sonepur when she was sixteen.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    May 3, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species We must receive requests for documents or comments on or before June 2, 2010. Send to: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov

    Applicant: Denver Zoological Gardens, Denver, CO; PRT-213136. The applicant requests a permit to import eight captive born northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) from Zoologisch-Botanischer Garten Wilhelma in Stuttgart, Germany, for the purpose of enhancement of the species through captive breeding and conservation education.

    Applicant: Wildlife Discovery Center - City of Lake Forest, Lake Forest, IL; PRT-02010A. The applicant requests a permit to import a male American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) from Cherot-Rose American Crocodile Education Sanctuary, Toledo, Belize that was rescued from the wild for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 1-year period.

    Applicant: Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles, CA; PRT-08939A. The applicant requests a permit to export one male yellow-footed rock wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) born in captivity to Tierpark Berlin, Berlin, Germany for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 1-year period.

    Applicant: Tarzan Zerbini Circus, Webb City, MO; PRT-065145, 065146, 065149. The applicant request permits to re-issue for re-export and re-import Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) to worldwide locations for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education. The permit numbers and animals are 065145, Marie; 065146, Roxy; and
    065149, Schell. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 3-year period and the import of any potential progeny born while overseas.

    Applicant: Steve Martin's Working Wildlife, Frazier Park, CA; PRT069429 and 069443. The applicant request permits to re-issue for re-export and re-import African leopards (Panthera pardus) to worldwide locations for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education. The permit numbers and animals are 069429, Ivory and 069443,
    Crystal. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 3-year period and the import of any potential progeny born while overseas.

    Applicant: James Selman, Gonzales, TX; PRT-03116A. Applicant: Gerhard Meier, Highland Park, IL; PRT-03158A.  The applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

    Seizure Led to Death of Siberian Tiger Malyshka

    May 3, 2010  www.mirror.co.uk   By Matt Roper

    NORFOLK, UK -- According to a post-mortem exam, five-year-old Siberian tiger Malyshka probably suffered a brain seizure or fit before drowning last month, even though she was a strong swimmer and the pool was just two-and-a-half feet deep. Martin Goymour, director at Banham Zoo near Diss, Norfolk, said Malyshka, who arrived in Banham from Russia in 2006, was one of the top five breeders in Europe. There are only 450 Siberian tigers left in the wild.

    Oregon Zoo Promotes Bee Conservation

    May 3, 2010 www.oregonlive.com  By Katy Muldoon

    North America has 4,000 native bee species; the Willamette Valley in Oregon is home to 250 bee species, and the deserts east of the Cascade Range hold 600 to 800 species. Most native bees are solitary and gentle. They pollinate almost 70 percent of the world's flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world's crop species that require insect pollination to reproduce. The Xerces Society, a Portland-based nonprofit that works to protect invertebrates, puts the economic value of native pollinators at an estimated $3 billion a year in the U.S. In January, the Xerces Society and other conservationists submitted a petition to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, asking for new regulations to protect wild bumble bees from threats posed by commercial bumble bees. In February, a coalition of more than 60 scientists submitted a similar request based on research that shows steep declines in populations of at least four species of formerly common North American bumble bees. Disease spread from commercially produced bees transported throughout the country is believed to be a major threat. These actions led the Oregon Zoo's conservation department to team with the Xerces Society to spread the word about native bees, the threats they face, and the value they offer to Oregonians. Lectures at next week's workshop will cover habitat, bee biology, identification, challenges and ways humans can make life better for those hard-working native bees.

    Ecologists Brace for Oil Spill Damage

    May 3, 2010  www.nature.com  by Amanda Mascarelli

    Ecologists and coastal residents are preparing for the environmental catastrophe that could unfold in the Gulf of Mexico over the coming months. The pipeline from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded 80 kilometres offshore on 20 April and sank two days later has been spewing out a plume of crude oil at a rate of at least 5,000 barrels of oil (800,000 litres) each day. Some estimates put that rate much higher: based on analyses of satellite data, the nonprofit organization SkyTruth, said that as much as 26,000 barrels (4.1 million litres) a day could be escaping from the wellhead. Efforts to plug the leak with remotely operated vehicles have been unsuccessful, and a relief well that BP plans to drill to stop the flow could take three months to complete. Late last week, high winds pushed the 5,000-square-kilometre oil slick northward toward the fragile marshlands of the Louisiana coast. Though the main body of oil is yet to hit land, oily sheen from the western edge of the slick has been lapping at the marshlands of the Mississippi Delta since 30 April.

    The spill could be devastating to breeding bird colonies, and to the tens of thousands of migratory birds that will be arriving over the next several weeks. The marshland is also a critical nursery habitat for larvae and young fish, blue crabs, shrimps and oysters, the base of the food chain for marine fisheries in the northern Gulf of Mexico. If the bulk of the oil has been weathered and degraded and the grasses are only lightly oiled, only the leaves and the stems will die off this year, says Irving Mendelssohn, a wetland ecologist at Louisiana State University. Structures below ground would remain intact and could regenerate within a year. But if tarry, sticky oil repeatedly washes ashore, coating the plants to the point that they cannot photosynthesize, the smothering effect will kill the plants above and below ground. If the grasses die off, "you can get ponds forming and coalescing into large lakes, and really the complete loss of wetland areas. And the cleanup process itself can be devastating to marshlands," says Mendelssohn. With the economy of the Gulf states dependent on clean coastal water, seafood and tourism, estimates of the cost of the spill have already been put at $14 billion. It is also shifting politics on President Obama's hopes of ending a moratorium on new offshore drilling; late last week, Obama put those plans on temporary hold.

    Officials have the additional concern that the oil slick could get picked up by a warm ocean current called the Loop Current, which shuttles warm water northward from the Yucatán Peninsula up the Gulf of Mexico before veering up the eastern tip of Florida. If the oil slick became entrained in the Loop Current, oil could get dispersed to the shorelines of Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Keys and the east coast of Florida.

    Asiatic Lion Population Increases

    May 3, 2010  www.redorbit.com 

    Fewer than 200 Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) were believed to be in existence in the late 1960s. However, that number has now more than doubled, as 411 Asiatic Lions are now believed to live in India's Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, according to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The survey of lions revealed that there were 162 mature females, 97 mature males, and 152 cubs in the Gir forest region. The population increase and the male-to-female ratio was, in the words of Chief Conservator of Forests Pradeep Khanna, a "very good indicator" that the species was making a comeback. In 2000, the IUCN declared the Asiatic Lion as being a critically endangered species. Its status was upgraded to endangered two years ago. According to the official website of the Asiatic Lion Information Centre "Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than their African cousins, although the largest Asiatic lion on record was 2.9 m in length. Though they have a less well developed mane, Asiatic lions have thicker elbow tufts and a longer tail tuft."

    Dolphins on Four Continents are Endangered

    May 4, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com  By John Platt

    In Asia, the Taiwan Matsu's Fish Conservation Union says that only 60 to 90 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis chinensis) remain off the Taiwanese coast. The species could become extinct in that region in 10 years. Industrial development and pollution near the estuary of Taiwan's longest river, the Jhuoshuei River, is blamed for the decline. The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins exist throughout Asia, Africa and Australia, but this particular population is isolated. The species have a very low birth rate and take 10 to 12 years to reach sexual maturity. Farther south, scientists are working on a rescue plan to protect the Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni), a rare species believed to number around 200 individuals. The snubfin was only recognized as its own species in 2005; until then, scientists considered them to be Irrawaddy dolphins (O. brevirostris). The WWF is helping to develop the rescue plan for the species. On the other side of the world, 20 rare pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) have been found dead in Peru, the victims of poisoning. Scientists are investigating the source of the poison, which they theorize could have come from toxins in the waterways or from fishermen who feared the dolphins would interfere with their nets. The pink river dolphins are legally protected in Peru. And finally, there's the U.S., where the growing Gulf Coast oil spill could threaten 3,000 to 5,000 dolphins that are already in area.

    Bald Eagle Diet Could Shift

    May 4, 2010  www.eurekalert.org By Louis Sahagun

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—  An ongoing National Park Service restoration effort has successfully reestablished six or seven pairs of bald eagles on the islands off the Ventura County coast. The population could reach a historic high of about 25 pairs within 10 years. But researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the growing population of American bald eagles in Channel Islands National Park could eventually start feasting on rare seabirds and endangered island foxes. The warning was based on an extensive analysis of the shifting diets of these opportunistic foragers from the Pleistocene, about 20,000 years ago, to the late 1960s, when they were decimated by DDT. As it stands, the bald eagles prefer fish — including carcasses tossed back into the water by sport fishermen — and common seabirds such as cormorants and Western gulls. But that could change, and they could possibly decimate the 1,000 endangered Island foxes that inhabit the islands. The data raises warning flags because the maximum number of bald eagles the islands can support is currently unknown. Although the study determined that some ancient bald eagle nests contained the remains of foxes, it isn’t known if those foxes were killed by bald eagles or found dead. Currently, "our island foxes and bald eagles are doing well," said Peter Sharpe, a biologist with the Institute for Wildlife Studies, which has a National Park Service contract to oversee the restoration. "They've coexisted here for thousands of years."

    Bird Park Breeds Hyacinth Macaws
    May 4, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com By Rani Ramaya

    SINGAPORE—The Jurong Bird Park, which is a part of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, recently hatched two hyacinth macaws on February 21 and 24, adding to its population, which now number 13. Mr Biswajit Guha, Director, Zoology, said recent estimates of wild populations in the wild range between 2,500 to 5,000. Dwindling numbers are also caused by habitat loss due to grass fires, deforestation, and urban redevelopment. Hyacinth macaws are the largest macaws in the world and are native to central and eastern South America. They nest in holes in tree cavities, with each clutch consisting of one to two eggs. Juveniles stay with their parents for up to three months and begin breeding at the age of seven.

    Fragmented Forests: More Snakes & Fewer Birds

    May 4, 2010  www.aces.uiuc.edu  by Patrick J Weatherhead

    About half of all bird nests don't survive due to predators, particularly in fragmented forest areas. In eastern North America, rat snakes are the number one predator to nesting birds. They are common in eastern North America from Texas in the west to the Florida Keys in the east and all the way up to southern Ontario. The snakes go into the forest to feed, then return to the edges to regulate their body temperature, breed, and shed their skin. University of Illinois researcher Patrick Weatherhead says this knowledge of habitat preferences of rat snakes is starting to explain why forest fragmentation usually results in increased nest predation for forest birds. Fragmented forested areas provide more perimeters, which are beneficial to the snakes. His recent study, conducted in southern Illinois, used data from radio transmitters implanted in rat snakes combined with information from over 300 bird nests. Independently, a number of nests that weren't actually a part of the study were monitored with video cameras to document the nest predators. Weatherhead says the evidence is circumstantial. "Snake predation is much higher on nests where the young are being fed than when the eggs are being incubated. The limited evidence points to the snakes observing the parents flying back and forth to the same place. Rat snakes are primarily predators of small mammals. But rat snakes are very opportunistic. They'll take whatever birds they encounter, and they can climb just about any kind of tree. They eat bird eggs, fledglings and sometimes they'll even get the mom if she's sitting on the eggs." Animals such as hawks, raccoons, badgers, foxes and coyotes prey on rat snakes. "Linking snake behavior to nest predation in a Midwestern bird community” was published in a 2010 issue of Ecological Applications.

    Bee Nest Made of Flower Petals

    May 4, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Nearly 75% of bee species (There are ~20,000 species described) are solitary. For the majority of bees, a single female constructs a nest for herself and provisions each chamber in the nest with food for the larval stage of her brood. Females in the solitary species Osima avosetta build a nest in one or two vertical chambers close to the surface, or between 1.5 and 5 cm below ground. Entering from the top, the adult female lines each chamber with overlapping pink, yellow, blue and purple flower petals, starting at the bottom. The female then ferries claylike mud to the nest, plasters a thin layer (about 0.5 mm thick) on the petals, and finishes the lining with another layer of petals. She then gathers provisions of a sticky mix of nectar and pollen and places it on the chamber's floor. An egg is deposited on its surface, and the chamber is closed by carefully folding the petals at the top. The nest is capped with a plug of mud, sealing the young bee in a humid chamber that becomes rigid and protects the larvae as it eats its rations, spins a cocoon, and falls into a 10-month sleep until spring. Researchers working in both Turkey and Iran describe the reproductive cycle of Osima (Ozbekosima) avoseta in the February issue of American Museum Novitates. See www.eurekalert.org.

    Strategy to Limit Global Warming

    May 4, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    In the December 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, major greenhouse gas-emitting countries agreed that the global average temperature increase should be kept below 2 °C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).  In a paper appearing May 3 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Yangyang Xu, climate researchers at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, identify three avenues by which these countries can avoid reaching the warming threshold that could trigger irreversible phenomena such as widespread release of methane from melting permafrost and large-scale glacial melt and exacerbate problems such as sea-level rise and accelerated global warming. They stress that carbon dioxide control alone is not enough. The first and second steps include stabilizing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere; and fashioning warming-neutral pollution laws. These laws would balance the removal of aerosols that have an atmospheric cooling effect with the removal of warming agents such as soot and ozone. Thirdly, immediate cooling can be achieved through reductions in methane, hydrofluorocarbons and other greenhouse gases that last in the atmosphere for short periods of time. The simultaneous pursuit of these strategies could reduce the probability of reaching the temperature threshold to less than 10 percent before the year 2050. Some of these actions will require development of new technologies. "A massive decarbonization of the energy sector is necessary to accomplish this Herculean task," the authors write. But strategies not focused on carbon dioxide reduction can largely take advantage of existing technologies and enforcement of existing regulations, say the authors. Actions that can be taken immediately include replacement of biomass-fueled stoves with cleaner alternatives in developing countries, and retrofitting of diesel filters on vehicles throughout the world.

    El Paso Zoo Purchases Animals for African Savannah

    May 4, 2010  www.kfoxtv.com

    EL PASO, Texas – Steve Marshall, director of the El Paso Zoo has announced the purchase of a “herd of zebra” for the new African savannah exhibit. "There are actually only six accredited zoos in the United States that have six or more zebras," he said. The purchase also includes giraffes, gazelles, ostriches and African crown cranes. The new animals come with a price tag less than $70,000 and should be on the zoo grounds by June.

    Status Review for Hermes Copper Butterfly

    May 4, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that a petition to list Hermes copper butterfly (Hermelycaena [Lycaena] hermes) as a threatened or endangered presents substantial
    scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Hermescopper butterfly may be warranted. Therefore, we are initiating a status review and are soliciting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Information must be received on or before July 6, 2010. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Search for docket FWS-R8-ES-2010-0031 and then follow the instructions OR U.S. mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0031; Division of Policy and Directives
    Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

    Oregon’s Jonsson Center Breeds Condors

    May 4, 2010  www.clackamasreview.com  By Raymond Rendleman

    Oregon Zoo’s condor recovery efforts take place at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation which is currently home to 41 condors. The Center has produced 22 eggs since 2003, and 20 of these have hatched chicks. The first condor chick to be born at the breeding facility this season hatched April 14 to foster parents Atishwin and Ojai. An additional eight eggs were laid this year, of which six were fertile, so the program is well ahead of its yearly average. The zoo has released 10 California condors since 2003, when it joined the effort to breed the species. There are now 180 in the wild. About 170 more are in zoos and captive breeding operations.

    Oil Spill Concerns Up and Down the Food Chain

    May 4, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By LESLIE KAUFMAN

    BRETON ISLAND, La. — As the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon spreads across the Gulf of Mexico, biologists are increasingly alarmed for wildlife offshore, where the damage from a spill can be invisible but still deadly. And they caution that because of the fluidity between onshore and offshore marine communities, the harm taking place deep at sea will come back to haunt the shallows, whether or not they are directly hit by the slick. The gulf’s deeper water harbors 10 species of threatened sharks, 6 species of endangered turtles, manatees, whales and innumerable fish. It is also a temporary home for the eggs of dozens of species of fish and shellfish, whose offspring spend their earliest days floating along currents at the surface of the water — the very layer where most of the oil settles. Christopher Mann, with the marine program of the nonprofit Pew Environment Group says, “The iconic images of oiled seabirds are just the tip of the iceberg, because oil spills affect life up and down the food chain.” Full article with graphic at www.nytimes.com.

    World Health Organization Creates Snake Venom Web Site

    May 4, 2010  www.sacbee.com 

    GENEVA—The World Health Organization has launched a website to help reduce the estimated 100,000 deaths caused annually by snake venom. The site contains a database of approved antivenoms to treat the 2.5 million people who suffer venomous bites each year. "The regions that are most in need are Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia," said Ana Padilla, a snake venom expert at WHO. Apart from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, most Sub-Saharan African countries lack the necessary labs to identify snake poisons and to produce sufficient amounts of antivenom, she said. In Asia, the greatest needs are in Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Laos. "The Americas are in a much better situation," she said, noting that even poorer countries in Latin America have their own labs. Out of more than 3000 species of snakes in the world, some 600 are venomous.

    Scimitar Horned Oryx Born in Front Royal

    May 5, 2010  voices.washingtonpost.com

    FRONT ROYAL, VA — A scimitar-horned oryx was born April 9 at the National Zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute. Director Steve Monfort said, “This is the first time in more than a decade that there has been an oryx birth at the Front Royal campus. The oryx, a female, weighed 20 pounds at birth. Last October, two oryx—a 16-year-old female at the Rock Creek campus and a 17-year-old male at the Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal—died after health exams. The mother of the calf is 3-year-old Jena and her father is 13-year-old Dr. Bob. With the calf's recent birth, there are now 16 scimitar-horned oryx at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and one at the zoo in Washington. Oryx are extinct in the wild, according to the IUCN.

    Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment

    May 5, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announces the availability of the Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment. The assessment provides scientific information relevant to the conservation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in Arizona and New Mexico as a component of the Service's gray wolf (Canis lupus) recovery efforts. An electronic copy is available at www.fws.gov. The Mexican wolf was listed as an endangered subspecies of gray wolf in 1976 . In 1978, the USFWS listed the gray wolf species in North America south of Canada as endangered, except in Minnesota where it was listed as threatened. The 1978 rangewide listing of the gray wolf species subsumed the subspecies listing; however, we stated in the preamble to the rule that the Service would continue to recognize the Mexican wolf as a valid biological subspecies for purposes of research and conservation. Due to the Mexican wolf's previous listed status as a subspecies, we have continued to refer to the gray wolf in the southwestern United States as the "Mexican wolf.'' Today, the gray wolf has been delisted in Idaho and Montana and portions of Oregon, Washington, and Utah. It is listed as threatened in Minnesota and remains endangered throughout the remaining coterminous United States and Mexico, except where designated as nonessential experimental populations.

    The Mexican wolf historically inhabited the southwestern United States and portions of Mexico until it was virtually eliminated in the wild by private and governmental predator eradication efforts in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. Conservation and recovery efforts to ensure the survival of the Mexican wolf were initially guided by the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan which recommended the establishment of a captive breeding program and the reintroduction of Mexican wolves to the wild. Both of these recommendations have been implemented. Today an international captive breeding program houses more than 300 wolves, and a wild population of approximately 42 wolves (as of the official 2009 end-of-year count) inhabits Arizona and New Mexico. Although the 1982 recovery plan was instrumental in guiding the inception of the Mexican wolf program in the southwest, the plan requires updating to provide current guidance for the reintroduction and recovery effort. We have initiated revisions to the 1982 recovery plan, but have been unable to finalize a revision due to various constraints.

    Smithsonian Needs Larger Home for Clouded Leopards

    May 5, 2010  www.dailypress.com

    The two clouded leopard cubs born February 14 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal are both male. This is the third time leopard mother Jao Chu and father Hannibal have produced offspring. Last year, Jao Chu gave birth to two other male cubs—the zoo's first leopard births in 16 years. She gave birth to a female cub last July. The zoo is trying to raise $2 million to build new homes for its growing leopard population.

    Countries Ranked on Environment Impact

    May 5, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    A new study led by the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute in Australia has ranked most of the world's countries for their environmental impact. The research uses seven indicators of environmental degradation to form two rankings – a proportional environmental impact index, where impact is measured against total resource availability, and an absolute environmental impact index measuring total environmental degradation at a global scale. The study has been published in the online journal PLoS ONE. The world's 10 worst environmental performers according to the proportional environmental impact index (relative to resource availability) are: Singapore, Korea, Qatar, Kuwait, Japan, Thailand, Bahrain, Malaysia, Philippines and Netherlands. In absolute global terms, the 10 countries with the worst environmental impact are (in order, worst first): Brazil, USA, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, India, Russia, Australia and Peru. The indicators used were natural forest loss, habitat conversion, fisheries and other marine captures, fertilizer use, water pollution, carbon emissions from land use and species threat. The study, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and Princeton University, found that the total wealth of a country (measured by gross national income) was the most important driver of environmental impact.

    Designation of Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear

    May 5, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the reopening of the public comment period on the proposed designation of critical habitat for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus). We also announce the availability of a draft economic analysis (DEA), corrections to our proposed boundaries for sea-ice critical habitat, our intention to hold two public hearings to provide the public with an opportunity to submit testimony on the proposed designation of critical habitat for the polar bear and on the DEA, and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to provide additional comment on the proposed rule, the associated DEA, corrections to our proposed boundaries for sea-ice critical habitat, and the amended required determinations section. If you submitted comments previously, you do not need to resubmit them because we have already incorporated them into the public record and will fully consider them in preparation of the final rule. Written Comments: We will consider comments we receive on or before July 6, 2010. Submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Please follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No.FWS-R7-ES-2009-0042 OR U.S. mail to:  Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R7-ES-2009-0042; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For more information contact Thomas Evans, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503; by telephone (907-786-3800); or by facsimile (907-786-3816).

    The Blank Park Zoo’s 15-Year Plan

    May 6, 2020  www.desmoinesregister.com

    DES MOINES, Iowa—The Blank Park Zoo's president, Mark Vukovich announced a 15-year plan last week that launches this summer with the new "Gateway to Africa" exhibit. It's the first of four planned expansions that extend to 2025. The first phase is expected to cost $15 million and includes: The new African exhibit with meerkats, rhinoceros, giraffes and lions; an update to the existing Australian exhibit; a new entrance to the park from Southeast 14th Street; and more classroom and meeting space in the zoo's Discovery Center.
    - 2015 - An oceans exhibit that could have sea lions, otters, penguins, tortoises and others. Its expected price tag is $9 million.
    - 2020 - An African forest with gorillas and others. It could cost $10 million.
    - 2025 - An Asia exhibit with tigers and camels for $8.5 million.
    Eventually, the zoo hopes to have a picnic area to its north that's free for families to use all year and would be bordered by zoo animals, Vukovich said. He said the zoo had 400,000 visitors last year from all of Iowa's 99 counties. It hosted about 50,000 students on field trips. The "Gateway to Africa" exhibit will be open to the public by 2012.

    Zoo’s $40 Million Master Plan
    May 6, 2010  www.duluthnewstribune.com  By John Lundy

    DULUTH, Minnesota – By 2030, the Lake Superior Zoo will have an area where children will be able to mimic the activities of wild animals; trout swimming the waters of Kingsbury Creek; a peninsula where penguins will play; and more natural and more spacious areas for lions and tigers and grizzly bears. It won’t have polar bears. These are some of the elements of a $40 million master plan for the zoo’s future. Sam Maida, the zoo’s director said the master plan and a new business plan cost $89,000 to develop. The lead consultant was Studio Hanson Roberts of Seattle. In 2006 the zoo lost its accreditation and responsibility for the zoo shifted from the city of Duluth to the zoological society last year. A master plan is one of the elements needed to regain accreditation. Maida said the zoo plans to apply for accreditation in March of next year and would learn in the fall of 2011 whether it achieved that goal. Achieving the goals will require the zoo to add to its staff, Maida said.

    Columbus Zoo’s New “Polar Frontier”

    May 6, 2010  www.examiner.com

    The Columbus Zoo’s newest exhibit, The Polar Frontier is now open. Representing a long-abandoned mining town, the Polar Frontier features the return of polar bears to the Columbus Zoo after a decades-long absence. The Zoo's two Alaskan brown bears, Brutus and Buckeye, and four new arctic foxes are also on display. This region also features the Ice Bear Outpost, a new interpretive center featuring interactive learning displays of information on how visitors can make a difference in small ways. There is also a new Polar Playground with slides, an observation outpost, a tour bus, a zipline and more.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    May 6, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. We must receive any written comments on or before June 7, 2010. Send written comments by U.S. mail to the Regional Director, Attn: Peter Fasbender, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056; or by e-mail to permitsR3ES@fws.gov.

    Permit Application Number: TE09357A. Applicant: Ecological Specialties LLC, Symsonia, Kentucky. The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture, radio-tag, and release) Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis), gray bats (Myotis grisescens), Ozark big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens), Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus), Mexican long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris nivalis), and Sanborn's long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris sanborni (=yerbabuenae)) throughout the States of Arkansas, Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia to document presence/absence and distribution of the species and to conduct habitat use assessments. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

    Permit Application Number: TE010887A. Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, Porter, Indiana. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, rear and release) Karner blue butterflies (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) throughout the range of the species in New York, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Proposed activities involve capture of adult butterflies for captive rearing, experimental treatments on captive-reared larvae, and nonlethal tissue sampling in the wild. Population studies are designed to answer questions posed in the Karner blue butterfly recovery plan and are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

    Permit Application Number: TE10891A. Applicant: Illinois State Museum, Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release, collect) Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) throughout the range of the species in the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Proposed activities are for the recovery and enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

    Permit Application Number: TE212427. Applicant: Ecology & Environment, Inc., Lancaster, New York.  The applicant requests an amendment to permit number TE212427 for the Indiana bat, Ozark big-eared bat, and gray bat. The applicant's request includes addition of qualified personnel and addition of the States of Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to their area of jurisdiction for conducting survey and assessment work. Activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

    Permit Application Number: TE11035A. Applicant: Robert J. Vande Kopple, University of Michigan, Pellston, Michigan. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release, collect) Hungerford's crawling water beetle (Brychius hungerfordi) throughout the States of Michigan and Wisconsin. Proposed activities include surveys to document presence of the species, habitat use, and scientific study related to recovery and enhancement of the survival of the species in the wild.

    Asian Elephant Born at Houston Zoo

    May 6, 2010  www.chron.com

    An endangered Asian elephant gave birth to a calf at the Houston Zoo earlier this week, marking the latest effort in a controversial breeding program that has resulted in early deaths for all 14 calves born there in the last 25 years. Six of the calves succumbed to a disease caused by a herpes virus. Most recently Max died at age 2 in November 2008. The new calf was born Tuesday to Shanti, who carries the deadly virus.

    Rhino Escape at Jacksonville Zoo

    May 6, 2010  www.firstcoastnews.com

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Archie, a 5,000 pound white rhino managed to get out of his barn around 6 a.m. and it took 30 workers at the Jacksonville Zoo to get him back. He was found wandering down a zoo service road by a zookeeper. "He was actually calmly eating alfalfa," said Delfi Messinger, Director of Animal Programs at Jacksonville Zoo. Under the supervision of three veterinarians, Archie was hit on the shoulder with a tranquilizer dart gun. A rope was then tied around his horn and It took about six hours to coax him back to the barn. "He was in the Twilight Zone,” Messenger said, and “wasn't aware of his surroundings."

    Free Cincinnati Zoo Navigation App

    May 6, 2010  www.wcpo.com

    CINCINNATI, Ohio—The Cincinnati Zoo is the first zoo in Ohio to launch an iPhone application. The app gives you a GPS map to help you navigate the zoo grounds as well as a friend finder to help locate your friends during your visit. The free app also has podcasts, zoo videos and a daily schedule of events. Only five zoos in the country have apps for visitors. They are available at the iTunes App Store.

    Baby Bonobo Born at Fort Worth Zoo

    May 6, 2010  www.nbcdfw.com

    A female baby bonobo is the third successful offspring for 20-year-old Lucy and 34-year-old Kevin. She was born April 12 at the Fort Worth Zoo's "World of Primates" exhibit. The Fort Worth Zoo is the only zoo in Texas that houses bonobos and only zoo in the nation to exhibit all four Great Ape species—gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos.

    WCS Study of Wildlife Populations in the Congo

    May 6, 2010  www.eurekalert.org 

    NEW YORK—The Wildlife Conservation Society has completed a study of wildlife populations in northern Republic of Congo over a mosaic of land types, including a national park, a community-managed reserve, and various logging concessions. The study found that core protected areas – coupled with strong anti-poaching efforts – are critical for maintaining populations of forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzees. Known as the Ndoki-Likouala Conservation Landscape, it is considered one of the most important sites in Central Africa for all three species. The Wildlife Conservation Society has been working in the area since 1991 and helped establish Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in 1993. The study also found that logging concessions that have wildlife management in place, including protection of key habitats and anti-poaching patrols, can support important populations of elephants and gorillas. Without any anti-poaching measures or wildlife management, the numbers of all three species was very low. Commercial logging is prevalent throughout much of the Congo Basin, with over 30 percent of native forest allocated to logging concessions compared to only 12 percent under protection. More than 50 percent of the current range of western gorillas and chimpanzees is estimated to lie in active logging concessions. The authors estimated elephant and great ape density using distance sampling surveys of elephant dung piles and great ape nests. The study appears in the April 23rd edition of the journal PLoS One.The surveys were made possible through funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) and USFWS Great Ape Conservation Fund.

    New Species of Frog Found in India

    May 6, 2010  www.allheadlinenews.com  By Yamini Kaul

    MUNNAR, India—A new species of frog, bright reddish-orange in color, has been discovered in a national park in southern India’s Western Ghats mountain range. Named Raorchestes resplendens, the frogs are physically unlike any known member of the frog family. They are distinguishable not only by their bright-colored bodies but also their multiple glands and extremely short limbs. This new species is restricted to less than 3 square kilometers of the highest mountain peak of the Western Ghats, Anaimudi, in Eravikulam National Park. The team of scientists that discovered this species called for “immediate conservation” of the Raorchestes frogs. S.D. Biju of the University of Delhi, first discovered the frog in 2001 and devoted the next seven years studying the species’ reproductive behavior.

    Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness Opens

    May 6, 2010  www.chicagotribune.com  by Heidi Stevens

    The Brookfield Zoo's Great Bear Wilderness opens Saturday, and devotes 7.5 acres to polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, bald eagles and bison. The donor-funded $27.3 million project is the largest exhibit undertaken by the zoo and aims to re-create the North American wilderness. Stuart Strahl, CEO and president of the Chicago Zoological Society, said, "We feel these animals spiritually." And displays throughout the exhibit ("Polar bears and climate change: Our behavior affects their survival") reinforce his words. The first animals the visitor encounters are the bison, wandering on 1.5 acres of prairie, followed by two rescued bald eagles that live in a 1,200-square-foot, 24-foot-high meshed aviary. Next comes Regenstein Wolf Woods. The zoo's pre-existing wolf habitat (opened in 2004), has been incorporated into the new Wilderness exhibit. Visitors can view the three Mexican gray wolves from a distance outdoors, or enter the viewing building and watch through an 8-foot-high one-way window. Finally come the three bear habitats. Two grizzly brothers, 15-year-olds, Jim and Axhi, forage for food, chew on maple leaves and go for an occasional dip in the 80,000-gallon pool. Three polar bears live in two separate habitats nearby — male Aussie and female Arki in one and their 3-year-old son, Hudson, in another. Animal keepers can rotate the grizzlies and polars among all three spaces.

    Cactus Purifies Water Cheaply

    May 6, 2010  www.scidev.net

    The prickly pear cactus is native to the U.S. and grown widely on the African continent, Mexico and other developing countries. It could now become a sustainable and affordable water purification method in rural communities of developing countries. Scientists from the University of Florida tested two types of mucilage — a gelatinous substance produced by the cactus — in contaminated water. The cactus removed 98 per cent of bacteria within 15 minutes by clumping sediment and bacteria into small 'flocs' — clumps of particles floating in water — that could easily be filtered out. "We envision that communities would be able to use the cactus to feed themselves, and at the same time to clean their water," said Norma Alcantar, lead author of the study that appears in Environmental Science & Technology. But Alejandra Martín, head of the Water Potabilization Program at The Mexican Institute of Water Technology, believes the greatest challenge is educating people about importance of purifying water. It's a necessity from our point of view, but not from theirs. "Stomach and intestinal infections are considered a way of cleansing the body, and are not conceived as diseases." Alcantar's team is now working on educational programs with non-profit organizations and universities in Mexico. Guidelines already exist for the moringa seed, another natural water purifier.

    Checkerspot Butterfly Breeding at Oregon Zoo

    May 6, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Bill LaMarche

    PORTLAND, OR—The Oregon Zoo’s butterfly conservation lab has successfully bred and reared adult checkerspot butterflies for release in the wild; previously, the program had only reared larvae for release. Butterfly conservationist Melissa Arnold said, “ We’re currently caring for checkerspots in seven different phases of the species’ life cycle.”  Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released more than 80 of the zoo’s adult butterflies at two sites near Olympia, Wash., where some of the region’s best habitat remains. In March, WDFW released more than 2,000 zoo-reared checkerspot caterpillars at these same sites. “Being able to release caterpillars as well as adult butterflies allows us to hedge our bets against the climatic variation we’ve been seeing,” added Mary Linders, a WDFW species recovery biologist. The adult checkerspots released by WDFW have been marked, which will allow scientists to distinguish them from butterflies that reached maturity in the wild. Biologists track all checkerspots at the release sites to monitor the species’ health and the impact of conservation efforts.  Arnold said, “Without our gardeners growing completely organic, chemical-free vegetation, the caterpillars would have no chance of survival.” They are able to feed on one of the host plants their species eats in the wild, narrow-leaf plantago (Plantago lanceolata). For the past seven years, the zoo has collaborated with WDFW and other agencies to develop husbandry protocols and raise checkerspots. Parks Canada has served as an international partner. This conservation effort is funded by the Fort Lewis Army Compatible Use Buffer program through WDFW. AZA’s Butterfly Conservation Initiative includes nearly 50 zoos and aquariums.

    Kansas Gardeners Help Monarch Butterflies

    May 6, 2010  www.news.ku.edu  By Brendan Lynch

    LAWRENCE, Kansas—Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, says that low temperatures, storms and habitat destruction have all threatened the monarch butterflies’ overwintering population in Mexico. As the butterflies migrate through Texas and continue northward across the Great Plains this spring, Taylor has pored over data from a network of monarch observers. “This returning population has been most unique,” Taylor said. “The data clearly shows that monarchs were limited to Texas this spring more than in any of the previous ten years. “The temperatures have been moderate and due to adequate soil moisture, the milkweeds and nectar sources have been abundant. In addition, the fire ants have been scarce having not recovered from the prolonged drought of last year. So, small population or not, the monarchs should be off to a good start.” He said the health of butterfly population would be determined by the number of first-generation monarchs that come north out of Texas over the next six weeks and weather conditions throughout the northern breeding range over the summer. “We need the public to pitch in to save the monarch migration,” said Taylor. “Without an effort to protect monarch habitats and restore milkweeds, this incredible migration will slowly fade away.” From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 8, Monarch Watch will host a free open house on KU’s west campus, where nearly 4,000 butterfly plants will be available, along with activities for children. The open house will feature an exhibit of the actual monarchs that recently traveled 40 million miles to the International Space Station and were returned to Earth aboard the space shuttle.

    Walk-Through Lemur Exhibit Opens at Henry Doorly Zoo

    May 7, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Steph Husman

    OMAHA, Nebraska—The Henry Doorly Zoo’s “ Expedition Madagascar” – an indoor-outdoor exhibit featuring 44 lemurs from nine different species – opens today. A 56-foot-by-4-foot photo mural along one interior wall shows all 21 new species of lemurs discovered and named by the zoo’s Dr. Ed Louis and his staff. The outdoor area includes an island and the only walk-through lemur exhibit in the country, zoo director Dennis Pate said. Other wildlife from Madagascar include: two fossas, giant jumping rats,(with a new baby), bats, geckos, tortoises, chameleons, boas and frogs. There will also be birds indigenous to Madagascar, and an aquarium will hold endangered fish. A greenhouse display area will house 128 of the island’s 1,000 species of orchids. They will be on view on a rotating basis. The Zoo has been working in Madagascar since 1998 through the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP). As visitors wander through the exhibit, they will see a link between to the work Omaha’s Zoo has been doing on the island.

    Polar Bear International’s Teen Leadership Camp

    May 7, 2010  www.missiontimescourier.com  By Jeff Barnes

    In September 2009, Daniel Straub, a high school junior traveled to Churchill, Manitoba Canada as the San Diego Zoo's Teen Arctic Ambassador. Straub was one of 16 high school students from around the world selected to participate in last year's Polar Bears International Teen Leadership Camp. The program is designed to inform, inspire and empower students to motivate change within their communities, especially with regard to the effects of climate change on polar bears. Straub's love for animals started early in his life. He has been going to San Diego Zoo camps since he was just 7 years old and has volunteered for the Zoo Corps since he was 12. The Polar Bear Teen Leadership Camp is made possible through a partnership between Polar Bears International and the Arctic Ambassador Center network of zoos, which is headquartered at the San Diego Zoo.

    Six Elephants at Dallas Zoo’s “Giants of Savannah” Exhibit

    May 7, 2010  www.pegasusnews.com

    DALLAS, Texas—Jenny, 34, is a retired circus elephant. Gypsy, 28, is from the circus and movie life. Momma is 40, Stumpy is 43, and Congo, another circus retiree, is 32. Kamba, from the circus and TV is 30. Gregg Hudson, executive director of the Dallas Zoo and The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park says, “They have strong personalities, they’re older elephants, but very active. That’s why we call them our ‘Golden Girls'." Lynn Kramer, DVM, deputy director for Animal Conservation and Science, said, “The design is based on field research. In the wild, elephants move around a lot because they are looking for food, water, and entertainment. We created an activity-based, multi-species habitat with the same incentives to encourage them to travel throughout the entire space. The Giants of the Savanna habitat is one of the largest zoological elephant habitats in the world. We’ll observe how they use their space and how an active lifestyle impacts their health and then share that information with our fellow zoos and researchers studying elephants in the wild.”

    Elephant Water Hole: Guests can interact with African elephants at the Elephant Waterhole, featuring a river for the elephants to splash and swim, and play stations where they can pull one rope to soak themselves or pull another rope to shower guests. During snack time, the elephants can push against a custom-built African fig tree, using their weight to make it wobble and release nuts and fruit, just as they do in the wild. A shaded animal enrichment and viewing area allows keepers to talk to guests about elephant behavior and answer questions.

    The Elephant Savanna: The south habitat has wallows, watering holes, trees to push and rub against, and several enrichment and activity stations strategically placed throughout the savanna. The south and north habitats can be opened to one another, allowing the elephants and other hoofed animals mingle as they might in the wild. The Elephant Savanna is an active elephant study facility, with experts collecting data to be shared with scientists at other zoos and those working in the field. We study communication among elephants, longevity, foot care (10,000 pounds is a lot to support), staying healthy and active, and ways to improve their quality of life.

    Simmons Safari Base Camp & Observation Deck: Giants of the Savanna guests can stop in at the Simmons Safari Base Camp to play the Dallas Zoo’s own touch-screen elephant video game, enjoy a demonstration on the insects of the savanna, and watch the elephant tracker to learn how elephants spend their day. While you’re here, have your Dallas Zoo passport stamped!

    The Elephant Barn: The $2 million, technologically advanced elephant barn offers numerous amenities. Climate controlled, the barn is equipped with radiant floor heating that warms the sealed but soft, padded floor in the winter. Movable walls and transoms provide cross-ventilation in the summer. A community room with seven-foot-deep sand floors is the perfect place for elephant interaction. To stimulate these accomplished diggers, zookeepers can bury food and toys in the sand for the elephants to find, or they can create hills for them to cross as they enter and leave the barn. The building has a seven-and-a-half-ton winch spanning the length of the barn, so if an elephant needs help, caregivers have the much-needed muscle to help move the animals to any point in the barn. The winch serves double-duty as an enrichment tool since it can be used to hang food high in ropes or fire hose baskets, allowing the elephants to reach up and collect food with their trunks, an activity they would do in the wild.

    Houston Zoo’s Elephant Program

    May 7, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Brian Hill

    HOUSTON, TX – After approximately 11 hours of labor, 19-year-old Asian elephant Shanti, delivered a healthy 348-pound male calf Tuesday morning at the Houston Zoo’s McNair Asian Elephant Habitat. The calf has been named Baylor in recognition of the unprecedented and ongoing advances made by Baylor College of Medicine’s research team to significantly reduce the threat of a potentially lethal elephant herpes virus. "Baylor was standing on his own within about two hours after his birth,” said Large Mammal Curator Daryl Hoffman. "He started nursing at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday,” said Hoffman. “This little elephant has a very good appetite. In the first 90 minutes after his first meal we saw him nurse more than 10 times,”  “The Houston Zoo is committed to the care of Asian elephants wherever they live, in the Zoo and in the wild. Over the past 10 years, the Houston Zoo has dedicated more than $8 million to elephant care, research, and conservation,” said Rick Barongi, Director, Houston Zoo.Currently the Zoo houses five Asian elephants – Thailand, Methai, Shanti, Tess, and Tucker. The adult bull, Thailand, known as Thai, was born in Thailand in 1965 making him 44 years old. He came to the Houston Zoo in 1980.

    Approximately 150 Asian elephants currently live in AZA accredited zoos; however, a number of factors are jeopardizing their sustainability: an aging population, low birth rates, and an insufficient number—less than 30—of breeding bulls (male elephants). Also, if cows (female elephants), are not bred by age 25, their reproductive ability is immensely diminished. In the wild, average lifespan for Asian elephants is approximately 45 years of age. At the turn of the 20th century, more than 100,000 Asian elephants roamed their native habitat. Today, only 35,000 remain in the wild—scattered among pockets of Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, Indonesia and Vietnam. In 2009, the Houston Zoo and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) established an unprecedented research collaboration. The focus of the partnership is to develop improved diagnostic tools and treatment protocols for the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) which affects both elephants in zoos and in the wild. In less than a year after the two institutions began working together, a new test was developed that specifically diagnoses EEHV and produces faster results. The ultimate goal of the collaboration is creation of an EEHV vaccine. To that end, the Human Genome Sequencing Center at BCM is sequencing DNA to identify the herpesvirus genome.

    In 2008, the Houston Zoo completed the first phase of the most significant improvement to our elephant exhibit in the 85-year history of the Zoo—The McNair Asian Elephant Habitat. The barn and exhibit features a six camera state-of-the-art high definition closed circuit camera system allowing the elephant care team to monitor the herd 24 hours a day.
    Total elephant living space: 5,600 square feet
    Total keeper and mechanical equipment space: 1,400 square feet
    Total barn area: 7,000 square feet
    Glass public viewing doors
    Sliding glass doors 8 feet X 8 feet
    Concrete poured for barn slab - 435 cubic yards
    In 2011 the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat will be expanded by more than an acre and will feature an 80,000 gallon elephant sized swimming pool.

    Permit Request: Harassment of Marine Mammals Incidental to an Exploratory Drilling

    May 7, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The NMFS has received an application from Shell Offshore Inc. (Shell) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leases in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Shell to take, by Level B harassment only, 12 species of marine mammals during the specified activity. Comments and information must be received no later than June 7, 2010. Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. OR e-mail to PR1.0648-XW14@noaa.gov. A copy of the application may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, or visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov. For further information contact Candace Nachman, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 713-2289, ext 156.

    Recovery Plan for the Central California Coast

    May 7, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    On March 18, 2010, we, NMFS, announced the release of the Draft Recovery Plan for Central California Coast coho salmon Plan for public review and comment. The Draft Plan addresses the Central California Coast coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU). NMFS is soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the Draft Plan. As part of that proposal, we provided a 60-day comment period, ending on May 17, 2010. We have received requests for an extension of the public comment period. In response to these requests, we are extending the comment period for the proposed action an additional 60 days. Information and comments on the subject action must be received by July 6, 2010. Please send written comments to Charlotte Ambrose, National Marine Fisheries Service, 777 Sonoma Avenue, Room 325, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to CohoRecovery.SWR@noaa.gov  Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following identifier: Comments on Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Draft Plan. Persons wishing to review the Draft Plan can obtain an electronic copy (i.e., CD-ROM) from Andrea Berry by calling (866) 300-2948 or by e-mailing a request to Andrea.Berry@noaa.gov with the subject line "CD-ROM Request for CCC coho salmon Recovery Draft Plan.'' Electronic copies of the Draft Plan are also available on-line on the NMFS website.

    California Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Update

    May 7, 2010  www.nctimes.com  By Deborah Sullivan Brennan

  • With fewer than 300 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California, it is the most endangered amphibian in the state and one of the most endangered in the country. In 2002, the species was listed as endangered by the USFWS. In 2006, scientists with the USGS rescued about 80 tadpoles from a dry creek bed in the San Jacinto Mountains, according to Adam Backlin, an ecologist with the agency. They placed them with scientists at the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research where they were raised in tanks until they were ready to breed. Researchers Jeff Lemm and Frank Santana tried breeding the amphibians last year, but produced only one adult frog. This year, they tried simulating natural winter conditions by putting the frogs in tubs of mud placed in beverage coolers chilled to 40 degrees. They wound up with more than 1,200 eggs. About half of those eggs remain in the lab, to be released as tadpoles. The others are now incubating in underwater cages in a creek running through the James Reserve in Idyllwild, a research area in the University of California's Natural Reserve System. Reserve staffers observe them through an improvised monitoring system of video cameras designed to inspect boat hulls, and point-and-shoot underwater cameras purchased online for $100 each. As more tadpoles hatch in the lab, scientists will reintroduce them to the creek in batches, marking them with fluorescent dots under their skin to record their release dates. They'll measure survival rates of the different groups and schedule future reintroductions accordingly, studying elements of their environment that help or hinder recovery.

    Yellow-legged frogs are a relatively long-lived species that can survive 10 to 15 years, but require two years to metamorphose from tadpoles to frogs and another two years to reproduce, Backlin said. Their long maturation period leaves them vulnerable to predators in the wild, and makes them tricky to breed in captivity. In addition, the high-altitude frogs need cold, pristine water and constant care from their handlers.

    Devra Kleiman Dead at 67

    May 8, 2010  www.nytimes.com
    Devra Gail Kleiman was born in the Bronx on Nov. 15, 1942, and as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, worked at the Brookfield Zoo. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from Chicago in 1964, Dr. Kleiman earned a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of London in 1969. In 1972 she joined the staff of the National Zoo, part of the Smithsonian Institution; she led the zoo’s department of zoological research from 1978 to 1995 and retired from the zoo in 2001. She died from cancer on April 29 in Washington, D.C. Early in her career, Dr. Kleiman became involved in the plight of the golden lion tamarin, a Brazilian monkey then in imminent danger of extinction. To the few zoos owning the tamarins, she proposed something radical: renounce title to the animal and consider it a long-term loan from Brazil. The agreement, which took years of negotiation, made it easier to shuffle tamarins around the world for optimal breeding. With the aid of a computer, Dr. Kleiman then began a breeding project that took into account all known family relationships among zoo tamarins. Tamarins born of the project were later reintroduced into Brazil. Dr. Kleiman’s work became the model for more than 100 breeding programs in North America today — including the California condor and the black-footed ferret. When she began her work with golden lion tamarins, there were fewer than 200 alive anywhere; today, according to the National Zoo, about 1,500 live in the Brazilian wild.

    Dr. Kleiman’s association with giant pandas began in 1972, after the Chinese government presented Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing to the United States. Dr. Kleiman recruited volunteers to record the pandas’ movements around the clock. (“Sleeping,” the log entries quite often read.) For years, her social life was arranged around the panda estrus cycle. Despite her efforts, the couple seemed disinclined to mate. Nor was there a happy outcome when they did: over the years, Ling-Ling bore five cubs, none of which survived more than a few days. But Dr. Kleiman’s long study of panda reproductive biology paid dividends later on. In 2005 a cub, the product of artificial insemination, was born to the Washington Zoo’s new pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. By prearrangement, the young panda, a male known as Tai Shan, was later sent to China. Tai Shan, now almost 5, has lived since February at the Bifengxia Panda Base in China’s Sichuan Province.

    Vietnam Primate Refuge

    May 9, 2010  vietnewsonline.vn  By Thuy Hang

    NINH BINH PROVINCE, Vietnam—A rescue center for Vietnam’s endangered primates is located on the edge of the Cuc Phuong National Park, about 120 kilometers from Hanoi. It is a cooperative project between the park and Germany’s Frankfurt World Animal Organization. Over the past 15 years, it has been the only place in the world to successfully breed several species of douc langurs in captivity. The station director is Tilo Nadler, and staff includes 25 veterinarians and biological experts. Experts from the Frankfurt World Animal Organization and Leipzig Zoo travel to Vietnam frequently to help station officers with technical and professional matters. Nguyen Duc Vinh, is chief of the rescue team. Of the150 rescued primates at the station there are only 10 grey-shanked duocs in residence. “When they are first brought here, they are all panicked, just like humans,” says Vinh, “So they all enjoy special treatment for their first six months.” Each new resident is offered several meals a day made up of many kinds of leaves. Vietnam is the only country where grey-shanked douc are found. Some 500 animals are estimated to live in forests scattered from central Quang Nam Province to the Central Highlands provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum.

    Texas Prepares for Oil-soaked Sea Turtles

    May 9, 2010  www.brownsvilleherald.com  By STEVE SINCLAIR

    BROWNSVILLE, Texas—Donna Shaver, chief of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore, says there is a possibility that sea turtles contaminated with oil from BP’s destroyed Deepwater Horizon project could wind up on Texas beaches. Gladys Porter Zoo and Sea Turtle Science & Recovery are preparing to house and rehab soiled turtles. For sea turtles covered with oil, detergents are a solution. "Mayonnaise is given to help sea turtles that have swallowed oil to pass it through their system." "We can handle a couple of dozen turtles and any overflow we can send to the zoo," said curator Jeff George. The two facilities have a long history of cooperation and zoo veterinarian, Thomas W. DeMaar, regularly volunteers to help injured sea turtles. Shaver is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on sea turtles. She said taking an accurate reading of the spill is difficult. "Currently, the projections are that it’s not heading in our direction. "Perhaps our nesters may be OK.” Shaver said other Gulf Coast states are also prepared to take care of oil-soaked sea turtles and "there is no consideration at this time of moving turtles from other states to Texas." In any case, George said, "Sea turtles are extremely hardy and it’s difficult to kill them."

    L.A. Zoo’s Alligator “Reggie” Gets a Mate

    May 10, 2010  www.latimes.com

    Reggie, the alligator that eluded capture for almost two years while living in a Los Angeles city park, now gained a girlfriend named Cajun Kate. The couple will be introduced to the public at a special unveiling Monday morning. Zoo officials estimate that Reggie is about 20 years old, while Kate is 40. (Insert cougar joke here.) Reggie has been the subject of paparazzi treatment since he was first spotted in Lake Machado in 2005. His owners, one of whom was a former Los Angeles Police Department officer, decided he had grown too large to keep as a pet, so they dropped him in the lake. After many failed attempts he was finally snared with a dog-catcher's pole in May 2007 and taken to the L.A. Zoo. In August 2007 he busted out of his enclosure for a couple of hours. Apparently he climbed over a chain-link fence at the back of his enclosure, then over a series of brick ridges and covered about 500 yards to a loading-dock area. After he was recaptured, his pen was modified to make it harder for the gator to escape. Although the city ran up a $200,000 tab pursuing him, the chase has spawned children's books, T-shirts and other merchandise.

    Recovery Plan for Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

    May 10, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    On March 16, 2010, we, NMFS and USFWS, announced the availability for public review of the draft Bi-National Recovery Plan for the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). The Kemp's Ridley Recovery Plan is a bi-national plan developed by the NMFS and USFWS and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico. We are extending the comment period until July 1, 2010. Send comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or mail to: NMFS Deputy Chief, Endangered Species Division, Attn: Draft Bi-National Kemp's Ridley Recovery Plan, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13535, Silver Spring, MD 20910.  For further information contact: Therese Conant (ph. 301-713-1401, or Tom Shearer (ph. 361-994-9005. The recovery plan is available on the Internet at www.fws.gov.

    Francois Langur Born at Taronga Zoo

    May 10, 2010  www.smh.com.au

    SYDNEY, Australia—Gan Ju, a male francois langur (Trachypithecus francoisi ) is being raised by his mother, Saigon, at the Taronga Zoo. Saigon gave birth to his sister in March last year, but zoo staff had to raise her. Unless francois langur first-time mothers have been exposed to other females giving birth, they often don't have the social skills needed to rear their babies, according to Taronga's Asian Primates manager Melissa Shipway. "With this arrival, it was such a relief to discover the little orange bundle cradled in Saigon's arms. The baby had been licked clean by its mother, was warm, dry and very alert.”  [Populations are highly fragmented and isolated. There is no reliable population estimate for Viet Nam, but they are not likely to number more than 500 individuals there; no subpopulation contains more than 50 mature individuals (Nadler et al. 2003). In China, in the southern part of the range (Guangxi Province), the largest population is estimated at 75 individuals in Nonggang Nature Reserve (Li et al. 2007). In the northern part of the range, the largest population is in Mayanghe Nature Reserve, where the population is estimated at roughly 700 individuals. The population estimate for 2003 in China was 1,400-1,650 individuals –IUCN]

    Meller Chameleon Breeding Program in U.K.

    May 10, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Philip Knowling

    PAIGNTON, UK—Meller’s chameleon (Chamaeleo melleri) or the giant one-horned chameleon, is the biggest chameleon on the African mainland. A large male can typically reach 24 inches in length and weigh around 500 grams. Bristol Zoo has three of the chameleons, but they are all males. Paignton Zoo has two unsexed animals. Mike Bungard, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Paignton, said, “Meller’s chameleons are sexually monomorphic – males and females look the same and sexing them to establish a breeding program is difficult. If there are eggs inside the animal then x-rays can pick these up and we can see that it’s a female. No eggs can mean either a female who is not pregnant or a male.” So , Paignton Zoo vets carried out endoscopies to find out once and for all what sex the reptiles are. The endoscopy procedure involves making an incision between the last rib and the hind leg and inserting the endoscope. It takes about two hours in all. All procedures involving a general anesthetic have their risks. Reptiles must be kept warm and as – unlike mammals – they don’t breathe by themselves when anesthetized, a ventilator is used. Fortunately one of the 2 is a female which means a breeding program can be established. Meller’s chameleons have been bred in captivity, but the zoo populations are not large. Chameleons reach maturity at around six months old and can live for around 12 years.

    Watertown Zoo Has 9 Gray Wolf Pups

    May 10, 2010  www.watertowndailytimes.com  By SARAH HAASE

    Nine gray wolf pups were born April 27 at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park to Kenai and Kaja. Executive Director John Scott Foster said zoo directors nationwide have expressed interest in the pups. "Four of the pups will go to Woodlands Park Zoo in Seattle and the other five to Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana, where they will be part of a socializing research program." The zoo's general curator, Susan M. Sabik said the pups going to Wolf Park will continue to be reared by humans. When those five pups get a little older, two will stay at Wolf Park, and the others will go to other zoos to be integrated as part of their collections. Mr. Foster said socializing the pups will make them better exhibit animals because they are taught not to fear humans. At Wolf Park, Kathryn A. Lord will study how hand-reared wolves react to humans and why. She plans to test the wolves' cognitive abilities. "Can they understand social cues like looking and pointing?" Ms. Lord said.

    Ban Keu Zoo Breeds Lao Crocodile

    May 10, 2010  www.earthtimes.org

    VIENTIANE, Laos—Vientiane's Ban Keu Zoo is experimenting with a "natural incubation" technique this year to hatch the eggs of their endangered Lao crocodiles. Last year the zoo used artificial incubation—keeping the eggs wet and warm in lighted tanks, and had a successful 70% hatch rate. This year the eggs will be put in a sawdust-filled box where they stay for a couple months. "Zookeepers will compare the two methods of incubation and select the most suitable to use next year.” The zoo is home to more than 300 crocodiles from Southeast Asia – only a small number are Lao or Siamese crocodiles, indigenous to Thailand. The zoo will keep only Lao crocodile eggs for "natural incubation." The remaining eggs will be sold to pay for food for the crocodiles. [The Vientiane Zoo, the only official zoo in Laos, was established in 1994].

    Javan Rhino Shot by Poachers in Vietnam Park

    May 10, 2010  www.straitstimes.com  By Tran Van Minh

    HANOI, Vietnam—A team of rangers found a Javan rhino's carcass April 29 inside Cat Tien National Park in Dong Nai province, said park official Bach Thanh Hai. It had been shot one time through the front leg and its horn had been removed. It was fully decayed, and authorities believe it could have died more than three months ago, he said. Authorities suspect that there are only three to five Javan rhinos left in Vietnam, Hai said. The animal was first caught on camera at the park in 1999. The only other population is found in Java, Indonesia, where some 40 to 60 of the rhinos survive, according to WWF. Nicole Frisina, a spokeswoman for WWF's Greater Mekong region program said a population survey was recently completed using sniffer dogs
    from the U.S. to locate rhino dung. Samples were sent to labs in London and Canada for DNA and hormonal analysis to try to determine the number and gender of the remaining animals. Results are expected later this year. The full article is at www.straitstimes.com.

    IUCN: Ecosystems at Tipping Point

    May 10, 2010  edition.cnn.com  By Matthew Moore

    The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warns that several eco-systems including the Amazon rainforest, freshwater lakes and rivers and coral reefs are approaching a "tipping point" which, if reached, may never recover. The report says that no government has completely met biodiversity targets that were first set out in 2002—the year of the first GBO report. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the U.N. Environmental Program said, "Many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other life-forms and their role in healthy and functioning eco-systems. Although many countries are beginning to factor in "natural capital, this needs rapid and sustained scaling-up." Vertebrate species fell by nearly one third between 1970 and 2006, natural habitats are in decline, genetic diversity of crops is falling and sixty breeds of livestock have become extinct since 2000.

    Nick Nuttall, a U.N. Environmental Program spokesman, said, "In terms of land-use change, it's thought that the annual financial loss of services eco-systems provide—water, storing carbon and soil stabilization—is about €50 billion ($64 billion) a year…If this continues we may well see by 2050 a cumulative loss of what you might call land-based natural capital of around €95 trillion ($121 trillion)," he said. The GBO-3 is a landmark study in what is the U.N.'s International Year of Biodiversity and will play a key role in guiding the negotiations between world governments at the U.N. Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010.

    Chytrid Fungus Disease Study

    May 10, 2010  www.pnas.com 

    The chytrid fungus has already wiped out more than 200 frog species and poses the greatest threat to vertebrate biodiversity of any known disease. New findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that infection intensity—the severity of the disease among individuals—determines whether frog populations will survive or succumb to an amphibian fungal disease called Chytridiomycosis. The research identifies a dangerous tipping point in infection intensity, beyond which Chytrid causes mass mortalities and extinctions, and finds that continual re-infection causes the disease to reach this threshold. "We found that mass frog die-offs only occur when the severity of the Chytrid infection reaches a critical threshold among the individual frogs," said Vance Vredenburg, assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University. "Now that we know this limit, which is a specific number of fungal spores per frog, conservation efforts may be able to save susceptible frog species by preventing the disease from reaching this point." 

    In the first of two separate studies, Vredenburg and colleagues tracked the invasion and spread of Chytrid among frogs in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains during a 13-year period, focusing on two species of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa and Rana sierrae). The study found that Chytrid is particularly destructive when it invades a previously unexposed population, similar to the smallpox epidemics that devastated human populations in the 17th and 18th centuries. "When Chytrid hits naïve host populations, it grows so quickly that the usual checks and balances, which prevent a pathogen from causing extinction, don't have a chance to kick in. We are living in a time when the global movement of people and goods is likely spreading this disease to areas where it wasn't present before, interrupting the natural equilibrium between the pathogen and its hosts." The authors observed no evidence of Chytrid prior to the die-offs, a finding that stands in contrast to previous studies, which have suggested that Chytrid may be ubiquitous in the environment and that frog hosts were simply becoming more susceptible to a common microbe that lodges into frogs' skin. Vredenburg is the co-founder of AmphibiaWeb.org, an online bioinformatics project promoting science and conservation of the world's amphibians.

    Japanese Crested Ibis Reintroduction Program

    May 11, 2010  mdn.mainichi.jp

    The Japanese government's national strategy for biodiversity calls for the reintroduction of the Japanese crested ibises into the wild. The Japanese ibis became extinct in Japan when the last bird died in 2003. Since then, the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture was set up by the Environment Ministry. Using ibises borrowed from China, they have artificially bred the birds and established a nurturing environment for them. On Sado Island, many rice paddies are filled with water even in winter and a wide variety of creatures live there, serving as a food source. To assist in the effort, a growing number of farmers are reducing their use of agricultural chemicals and as a by-product, organic ibis-brand rice is being produced. Recently a pair of released Japanese crested ibises that had mated and laid eggs dumped all 3 of the eggs from their nest. This would have been the first time in 34 years that an ibis chick hatched in the wild. Experts say ibises can dump their eggs if they are infertile or if they are fertile but not growing steadily. Fortunately there are a few other pairs of Japanese crested ibises on Sado Island that have laid eggs.

    Corpse Flower Bloom at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

    May 11, 2010  www.wkyc.com

    CLEVELAND, Ohio—The Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum) is native to the rainforests of Sumatra. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo expects its 16-year-old titan arum plant, located in the  RainForest, to bloom within the next seven days. The event lasts only about 24 hours and is accompanied by a rotting-corpse smell. The plant bloomed for the first time in 2007. The Zoo is one of just 20 institutions in North America to successfully bloom the titan arum.

    Cleveland Metroparks Zoo 10-Year Masterplan

    May 11, 2010  www.blog.cleveland.com  By James Ewinger

    CLEVELAND, Ohio – An expanded Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is about to formulate a strategic 10-year masterplan. The 183-acre zoo's first plan came together in 1993 after the RainForest exhibit opened. Several years later, another plan was created for Elephant Crossing, which will be completed next year. Scott Schultz, from the Philadelphia-based consulting firm Schultz & Williams, says that the Greater Cleveland's zoo enjoys a lot of return visits from the public and some of the highest per-capita use of any zoo in the country. He said low admission costs were another plus. He and Jon Stefansson, an architect specializing in zoo planning and design, feel the zoo is already nearly too large to see in a single day and encouraged discussion about new ways of moving people, especially via trains. The Metroparks acquired the adjacent 145-acre Brookside Reservation from the city of Cleveland about two decades ago to provide growth space for the zoo campus, said Jane Christyson, Metroparks' marketing director. Stefansson and the CLR Design architectural firm said zoos today are looking at ways to create expanded habitats that present a mix of compatible species—creating a primate forest or an arctic-themed area are two of their ideas. Stefansson said polar bears, elephants and great apes are among a handful of species that bring people to zoos. But the formulation of a new strategic plan is more about charting a direction for the zoo than about setting specific destinations and goals. Schultz said he expected the plan to be completed by next March.

    Ramona Bass Receives BRIT Award

    May 11, 2010  www.enn.com 

    FORT WORTH, Texas—The Botanical Research Institute of Texas will present its 2010 International Award of Excellence in Conservation to Ramona S. Bass for her accomplishments in wildlife conservation as the transformational leader of the Fort Worth Zoo and for her work to save the critically endangered black rhinoceros. Mrs. Bass has served as co-chair of the board of directors of the Fort Worth Zoological Association for the past 19 years. She and her husband, Lee M. Bass, have been active in the AZA’s Species Survival Plan to save the critically endangered black rhinoceros, which they breed and raise on their South Texas ranch. Mrs. Bass has also been closely involved with the Peregrine Fund for Birds of Prey, which Mr. Bass now chairs. BRIT created the award in 1995 to honor individuals and organizations that exemplify the ideals expressed in its mission: to conserve our natural heritage by deepening our knowledge of the plant world and achieving public understanding of the value that plants bring to life. Previous recipients have included Edward O. Wilson, Peter H. Raven, Russell E. Train, John Graves, Jane Goodall, Sir Ghillean Tolmie Prance, and Mrs. Lyndon Baines (Lady Bird) Johnson.

    SeaWorld Florida Changes its Whale Show

    May 11, 2010  www.chicagotribune.com  By Donald Liebenson

    SeaWorld’s signature killer whale show, "Believe," in Orlando, Florida has changed dramatically since the tragic death in February of trainer Dawn Brancheau. Those who sit in the "soak zone," the seats closest to the pool, still get drenched, and the whale leaps are as spectacular as ever. But trainers, for now, do not get into the water with the orcas as they did before. Instead they interact with the whales from the pool's edge. Judging by a recent capacity-crowd performance, this has not dampened enthusiasm for the 20-minute show. Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training said, "The audience notices (that we're not in the water with the whales), but they're very understanding. There's no question that people know what happened here. They are responding very well to the adjustments, and so are the killer whales." Clark said "Believe," with its "follow your dream" message, is a fitting tribute to Brancheau and part of her legacy. The 12,000-pound Tilikum has been removed from the show. "We hope to get to the point where we can put him back," Clark said. "He's an amazing animal. He was the best at getting people wet. We have taken a huge step back to re-examine every single thing we do with every animal before we take the next step of moving back into the water."

    WCS Fights Proposed Budget Cuts with Web Site Petition

    May 11, 2010  www.crainsnewyork.com

    Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society launched a petition campaign to fight against a proposed 42% cut in city funding for the zoo and aquarium, the biggest reduction in 10 years. If enacted, the cuts would reduce city support for the nonprofit to $5.4 million from $9.3 million for FY2010, starting July 1. WCS is also battling a proposed 50% cut from the state, which would reduce its funding to around $1.6 million. If the cuts are enacted, the WCS would be forced to lay off staffers, and may have to close down exhibitions. John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president for public affairs said, “everything is on the table if these cuts are approved.” The WCS, which has a $200 million budget and runs the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo, says it pumps more than $416 million into the local economy each year and more than four million guests visit the parks each year.

    Amur Leopard Dies at Seneca Park Zoo

    May 11, 2010  rocnow.com

    Seneca Park Zoo has announced the death of the last Amur leopard in their collection. Nikita was born in July 1992 at the St. Louis Zoo, and came to the Seneca Park Zoo from the Audubon Zoo in May 2002. At 17, she was one of the oldest Amur leopards in captivity. The oldest on record is 20. Dr. Jessica Keen, a veterinary resident at the Seneca Park Zoo, said Nikita suffered from chronic age-related kidney failure. The official cause of death will not be confirmed until pathology results are available in about four to six weeks. The Amur leopard is the most endangered big cat in the world. There are only 25 to 35 Amur leopards left in their natural habitat.

    Creating Corridors for Jaguars

    May 11, 2010  www.nytimes.com 

    LAS LOMAS, Costa Rica—In the past few years, wildlife corridors have become an important conservation strategy in Africa, Asia and the Americas to help animals cope with 21st-century threats such as highways, farms, dams, malls, subdivisions and climate change (Animals will need to shift habitats as temperatures rise). Like many other nations, Costa Rica has traditionally tried to protect large mammal species like jaguars by creating sanctuaries—buying up land where they can eat and breed safely. But in the past decade or so, scientists have realized that connecting corridors are needed because many species rely for survival on the migration of a few animals from one region to another to intermix gene pools and repopulate areas devastated by natural disasters or disease. To correct this oversight, Costa Rica and other countries have begun identifying and protecting corridors for jaguars and other large mammals, like tigers, snow leopards and pandas. Most of the corridors are not demarcated, but virtual trails, “protected” in the sense that builders and planners are not permitted to introduce obstacles to the animals’ movements through the area. Norman Christensen, a professor of ecology at Duke University, is working to define corridors in Central America, India and Africa. And the World Bank is financing corridor projects in Brazil and Peru. The bank’s transportation planners are working with conservationists to ensure that building highways and laying train tracks does not destroy movement for animals. Part of the reason that conservationists had in the past focused exclusively on preserves was that there was a lack of good data on the travel and breeding patterns of large animals like jaguars. So when new techniques allowed scientists to take a first look at the jaguar genome a decade ago, they were shocked to discover that jaguars from northern Mexico had exactly the same genetic makeup as those from the southern tip of South America. That meant that some jaguars were moving up and down the Americas to breed. At least some males from Colombia were traveling to Panama to mate, and others were moving from Mexico to Belize. Scientists were convinced that jaguars would never cross a water barrier as wide as the Panama Canal, but when they set up cameras they discovered that, every so often it happened, ensuring the continuity of genes in the north and south. In Costa Rica, Panthera, headed by Alan Rabinowitz, is conducting research to better define the routes taken by jaguars and lobbying politicians and developers to respect them. The organization also sponsors community outreach programs to resolve what the researchers term “jaguar conflict issues.”

    Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute

    May 11, 2010 www.chicagotribune.com  By William Mullen

    With the goal of preventing conflicts between wildlife and humans, the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute's biologists will install 112 cameras in the next couple of weeks along three known wildlife routes into the city and the suburbs. Next year, more are planned. Over they next five years they will use the motion-activated, infrared cameras, to record what wildlife is entering the urban area so they can devise effective, nonlethal ways of managing it. The camera traps were tested for three weeks last fall. Thirty of them were set up in "green" areas — forest preserves, parks, cemeteries and golf courses. They produced thousands of photos that offered a glimpse of which wildlife species are most prevalent: 88 percent of the cameras captured raccoons; 75 percent coyotes, 67 percent opossum, 58 percent deer, 29 percent skunks, and 17 percent red fox. Until recently, surprisingly little large-scale research has been done on the urban wildlife phenomenon. Much of what is known comes from Ohio State University wildlife biologist Stan Gehrt. He has been radio-tracking coyotes since 2000. Gehrt estimates there are now 2,000 or more coyotes in the Chicago region. They are among a number of wild species that were seldom if ever seen in urban areas during most of the 20th century but began showing up in the late 1980s.

    Eric Lonsdorf, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute, says that Gehrt’s research helped to inspire the zoo to create the Institute 1 1/2 years ago with the aim of using Chicago as a model for other urban areas dealing with the problem. The Institute is funded with a $1.5 million Davee Foundation grant for six years. Among the institute's tasks is monitoring diseases that can be passed from animals to humans, such as West Nile virus, rabies and avian influenza. The big concern, however, is to figure out more effective ways of controlling and coexisting with wildlife. Cities and suburbs across the country have tried capturing, relocating and killing raccoons, skunks and coyote, but those methods simply don't work. "We'll be interacting with policymakers and urban planners," said Lonsdorf, "and working with the zoo's education department with ideas that could help homeowners faced with wildlife problems."

    New Exhibit: Zootennial Celebrates St. Louis Zoo Birthday

    May 12, 2010  www.westendword.com  By Kara Krekeler

    Zootennial is a new exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo that is being designed to celebrate the Zoo’s 100th birthday. The exhibit will highlight the Zoo’s history from its roots in the 1904 World’s Fair Flight Cage to the current conservation efforts. The Zoo partnered with the Missouri History Museum, enlisting oral historian Jody Sowell to curate the exhibit. For the past 18 months, Sowell and assistant general curator Bill Houston, a 28-year veteran of the Zoo, have been pulling the exhibit together. They enlisted the help of Zoo visitors by hosting a few days last summer in which Zoo visitors could submit their photos and memories for the exhibit. As a result, a display at the center of the exhibit will feature a slideshow of nearly 1,000 images gathered from Zoo visitors running alongside the memories of Zoo staff members and visitors alike. Zootennial opens May 15 in the 1917 Elephant House at the St. Louis Zoo. Admission to the exhibit is free. The Zoo’s colorful history can be found at www.westendword.com.

    Opinion Polls Underestimate Americans Concern for Environment

    May 12, 2010 

    When pollsters ask Americans to name the most important problem facing the country, the environment is rarely mentioned. But this time-honored polling question masks the public's true concern about environmental issues, according to Stanford University researchers. In a recent internet study, Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and of political science at Stanford, says that when the question was reframed, the environment and global warming rose to the top. The research team analyzed the results of two national surveys. The first was a September 2009 Internet poll of 906 adults, conducted by the polling firm Abt SRBI. Respondents were randomly asked one of the following open-ended questions:

    1. "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?" About 49 percent answered the economy or unemployment, while only 1 percent mentioned the environment or global warming.
    2. "What do you think is the most important problem facing the world today?" Substituting the word "country" with "world" produced a significant change: 7 percent mentioned environmental issues, while 32 percent named the economy or unemployment.
    3. "What do you think will be the most important problem facing the world in the future?" When asked to consider the future of the planet, 14 percent chose the environment or global warming, while economic issues slipped to 21 percent.
    4. "What do you think will be the most serious problem facing the world in the future if nothing is done to stop it?" This time, 25 percent said the environment or global warming, and only 10 percent picked the economy or unemployment.

    "In fact, environmental issues were cited more often in response to question 4 than any other category, including terrorism, which was only mentioned by 10 percent of respondents.
    Contrary to what traditional surveys suggest, we found strong evidence that Americans attach a great deal of significance to global warming and the environment," Krosnick said. "Therefore, to accurately measure the American public's issue priorities, it may be useful for national surveys to include alternative questions that emphasize future problems and their solutions."

    Amarillo Zoo Competes in Pepsi’s Click for a Cause

    May 12, 2010  www.amarillo.com  By Karen Smith Welch

    The city of Amarillo and Amarillo Zoological Society hope people will vote to boost the Zoo's chances for a $50,000 grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project. The grant would help pay the estimated $400,000 cost of a wildlife education center at the zoo in Thompson Park. The city hopes to build the center to the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Design—known as LEED. Some features include a water catchment system, water-efficient landscaping and building materials that optimize energy performance. About half the cost has already been raised through other grants, the society and private donations. Each month, Pepsi accepts as many as 1,000 ideas for grants to post on its grant program Web site, www.refresheverything.com. Each month, Pepsi awards 10 grants at the $50,000 level. The Amarillo Zoo grant needs enough votes to move from its rank of around 170 late Tuesday to the top 10 to have a shot at funding. Voting for the zoo project will end May 31. To find the Amarillo Zoo project's grant site, visit www.refresheverything.com/amarillozoo. Voters must sign in with an e-mail address and password before voting. The site will accept as many as 10 votes per day from each account, but each vote must be for different projects, according to the Web site.

    BinderPark Zoo Raises Exhibit Funds on YouTube

    May 12, 2010  www.battlecreekenquirer.com

    BATTLECREEK, Michigan—BinderPark Zoo Staff has created a 3-minute video spoof of a popular TV show “Extreme Makeover” to raise funds for a new exhibit for its two red river hogs.  “Extreme Makeover: Hog Edition” can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2ZidfB5KbU.

    World’s Strongest Animal Is the Copepod

    May 12, 2010  www.physorg.com 

    The world’s strongest animal, the copepod, is barely 1 mm long. It is also the world’s fastest animal and the most abundant multicellular animal on the planet. Its evolutionary success should be seen in relation to its ability to flee from predators. "Their escape jump is hugely powerful and effective,” says Professor Thomas Kiørboe from the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark. “They jump at a rate of half a meter per second, and that’s within a few thousandths of a second. It shows that in relation to their size, copepods are more than 10 times as strong as has been previously documented for any other animal or even man-made motors." The study appears in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

    Tuatara Eggs Laid at Wellington Zoo

    May 13, 2010  www.stuff.co.nz  By KIRAN CHUG

    Wellington Zoo's tuatara species co-ordinator, Barbara Blanchard, said eight tuatara eggs have been recovered from first-time father Tuatahi and mother Matamuri. The pair were introduced to each other at Christmas time, and as breeding pairs usually take five years to conceive, their success in producing eggs was "remarkable". Neither Matamuri or Tuatahi have relatives or descendants in captivity so this batch of eggs is genetically significant. Although zoo staff were unsure whether to disturb the eggs, they decided the best chance for success would be to transfer them to Victoria University for incubation. University senior technical officer Susan Keall said the eggs seemed dehydrated when they arrived, but since then they have picked up weight and plumped out again. In the wild, tuatara eggs are laid between October and January and can take a year to hatch. "We've got no idea when they were laid so we have no idea when they will hatch." She said “But it could happen at any time.” Eggs kept in incubation containers often hatch in a shorter time than those in the wild. As eggs raised in warmer temperatures produce male tuatara and those incubated at cooler temperatures produced females, four of the eggs are being kept at 23 degrees celsius and the others are at 20C. The last time tuatara were successfully raised at the zoo was in 1988. Eight tuatara are now living there.

    New CEO for Zoo Atlanta

    May 13, 2010  www.ajc.com  By Jamie Gumbrecht

    Raymond King, 44, will start at Zoo Atlanta on June 1 after a 22-year career at SunTrust, where he worked most recently as the senior vice president of community affairs. The lifelong Atlanta resident will try to keep the visitor and research momentum at the zoo while increasing attendance and raising more money locally for the nonprofit institution. Former zoo president and CEO Dennis Kelly left earlier this year for the top job at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington. Kelly's years at Zoo Atlanta built on the work of his predecessor, Terry Maple, who helped reshape what was thought to be among one of the worst zoos in the country. Kelly brought the zoo to international prominence, erased its debt and began to implement a 25-year master plan. Zoo Atlanta now attracts more than 700,000 visitors per year and maintains a collection of more than 1,000 animals. It has an annual budget about $15 million and a staff of 215. King will be paid $250,000 per year and can earn yearly incentives for reaching performance goals.

    Pinnacles Condor Chick and Father Treated for Lead Poisoning

    May 13, 2010  hollisterfreelance.com

    A 50-day-old chick and male parent have been transferred from Pinnacles National Monument to the Los Angeles Zoo because of extremely high levels of lead in their blood. The adult condor was immediately was taken to the zoo for chelation—a treatment to remove lead from the body—while veterinarians and condor biologists initially treated the chick in the nest during early morning climbs into the rocky cliff cavern, according to Pinnacles. The younger condor's health degraded further, though, forcing a transfer for that bird as well. National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society biologists are trying to trap the adult female of this pair to determine if she too has been exposed to lead. The condor nest was the first inside Pinnacles National Monument since the re-establishment efforts for the species began there in 2003. Last year marked the first in which a Pinnacles-released condor nested. Condor 313 paired with Condor 303 who laid an egg in a rocky outcrop at the RS Bar Guest Ranch in southern San Benito County. Although Condor 303 died before her nestling took his first flight, the juvenile survived and continues to fly over San Benito County.

    Zimbabwe Dictator Will Send Animals to North Korea

    May 13, 2010  www.guardian.co.uk

    Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, plans to send pairs of giraffes, zebras, baby elephants and other wild animals taken from Hwange National Park, to a zoo in North Korea, as a gift to fellow dictator, Kim Jong-il. Experts have warned that not every animal will survive the journey and there are particular fears that one or both of the 18-month-old elephants could die during the long airlift. Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said all the animals were captured on Mugabe's orders and are now being kept in quarantine in holding pens at Umtshibi camp in the park. "We fear a pair of endangered rhino in Hwange will also be included," he said. Zoo conditions in North Korea, which is isolated from most world nations, do not meet international standards, said Rodriques. Two rhinos, a male called Zimbo and a female called Zimba, given to North Korea by Mugabe in the 80s, died only a few months after their arrival. Conservation groups are trying to find out from civil aviation authorities when the airlift will begin, and are lobbying for support from international animal welfare groups to stop it.

    Louisville Zoo Elephant Dies from Colic

    May 13, 2010  www.courier-journal.com  By Sheldon Shafer

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville Zoo’s 3-year-old African elephant named Scotty died Wednesday night after experiencing severe gastrointestinal and digestive issues. Veterinarians are still trying to determine what caused the displacement and gas distention in Scotty's large bowel. Although he had been making progress after his infection, over the past couple of days, he became extremely weak. Unable to support his own body weight, he collapsed at least twice and was not eating normally. Zoo veterinarians placed Scotty under 24-hour care and called on elephant experts from around the country to try to nurse him back to health. After exhausting all hope for recovery, it was decided to humanely euthanize Scotty at about 8:30 p.m. Necropsy results will be released at a later time. Scotty was born March 18, 2007, at the Louisville Zoo and was the first elephant born in Kentucky and the zoo's 40-year history. Scotty was an offspring of Mikki, an African elephant now 24 years old. She had been impregnated through artificial insemination. Zoo director John Walczak said it’s too early to say if the zoo will renew efforts to breed an elephant, but he said Mikki is still fertile. The zoo’s other elephant, Punch, 40, is too old to breed. Walczak also said that, long term, the zoo will try to acquire at least one additional elephant.

    Colorado & New Mexico Support Wildlife Corridors

    May 13, 2010  www.denverpost.com  By Bruce Finley

    The governors of Colorado and New Mexico have teamed up to tout a report that warns of climate change and development threats to wildlife—to build on their initiative to establish animal migration corridors. The pro-wildlife politics reflect a push by the Denver-based Freedom to Roam coalition. Corporate, government and conservation leaders behind the effort propose a network of corridors for elk, mountain goats and sheep, pronghorn, bears, wolverines—seen as essential for wildlife survival amid population growth, climate change and energy development. "Wildlife migration routes do change based on the intensity of drilling. From our point of view, it's important that those two things coexist," Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said after he and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed the report Wednesday at a gathering in the Denver Zoo's hyena and lion pavilion. Richardson called for "a national movement," with states cooperating to map and protect routes animals may need to survive. Colorado and New Mexico became the first states to team up to create interstate wildlife corridors. State biologists are to inform land-use planning and development.

    “Himalaya” Building Opens at Twycross Zoo

    May 13, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Kim Riley

    ATHERSTONE, UK—“Himalaya”, a new Visitor Center at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, opens today. The single story, grass-roofed building will be the central feature of the Zoo and blends with the natural surroundings. It is an ideal venue for visitors who wish to enjoy lunch with the snow leopards but do not have time to visit the Zoo. The new entrance will speed up access to the zoo for visitors and the Tourist Information Center within the building is a gateway to the National Forest and will highlight the various attractions within Leicestershire and the surrounding counties. Incorporated within the building is a 300 seat all-day restaurant with views overlooking a Himalayan landscape themed Snow Leopard enclosure. Also in the building there will also be a new corporate event and private function room available for rental. Known as “Windows on the Wild”, the conference area will encompass a “New England” themed naturalistic wetland wader bird enclosure with exclusive viewing only guests renting the facility. The Bazaar and Gallery is a 4,000 sq ft state of the art themed zoo shopping experience. This includes fair trade items which have been ethically sourced and are also ecologically sustainable products.

    In September 2008 Twycross Zoo’s Conservation Welfare Fund granted £2840 to the Snow Leopard Trust towards their ‘monitoring snow leopards to evaluate and refine conservation actions’ project. The snow leopard is one of the most endangered big cats in the world with as few as 3,500 remaining in the wild. As part of a larger snow leopard ecology study based in South Gobi, Mongolia, this project aimed to set up a robust monitoring program using a number of state of the art methods including camera trapping and genetic testing, to improve conservation efforts and help secure the future of the snow leopard. The funds from Twycross Zoo purchased 5 digital trap cameras and the necessary batteries and helped towards the faecal sample analysis work costs.

    Vomeronasal Organ Detects Predator’s Chemical Signal

    May 13, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    LA JOLLA, CA—Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have found a specific chemical compound secreted by many predators that makes mice behave fearfully. The research was published in the journal Cell on May 14, 2010. The triggers for fear are related but species-specific urinary proteins known as Mups, which are secreted by almost every land-dwelling vertebrate including cats, rats, snakes, ferrets, weasels, and foxes. Those chemicals are picked up by sensory neurons found in the mouse vomeronasal organ. Notably, Mups sensed by this organ were already known to act as chemical pheromones, which serve to communicate within a species. For instance, pheromones emitted by male mice motivate aggressive behavior in other males. The new findings show that Mups also act as kairomones, a word used to describe chemicals used in communication between two species – and specifically those that offer a benefit to the recipient without benefiting the animals that produced them. Kairomones had mainly been identified in insect communication and, until now, their identity and detection was mostly unknown in mammals, according to the researchers. "We're interested in how the brain can be hardwired to respond to chemical signals and how this can lead to complex behaviors," said Scripps Research Associate Professor Lisa Stowers. Mice—even those that have never before encountered other species—will act fearfully when exposed to the odor of many different kinds of predators.

    Global Warming Causes Widespread Lizard Extinction

    May 13, 2010  www.sciencemag.org

    After decades of surveying Sceloporus lizard populations in Mexico, an international research team has found that rising temperatures have driven 12 percent of the country's lizard populations to extinction. An extinction model based on this discovery also forecasts a grim future for these ecologically important animals, predicting that a full 20 percent of all lizard species could be extinct by the year 2080. The detailed surveys of lizard populations in Mexico, collected from 200 different sites, indicate that the temperatures in those regions have changed too rapidly for the lizards to keep pace. It seems that all types of lizards are far more susceptible to climate-warming extinction than previously thought because many species are already living right at the edge of their thermal limits, especially at low elevation and low latitude range limits. The detailed study notes specifically that lizards that bear live young are particularly at risk of extinction, compared to those that lay eggs. Live-bearers experience almost twice the risk of egg-layers largely because live-bearers have evolved lower body temperatures that heighten extinction risk, Sinervo said. Although the researchers' prediction for 2080 could change if humans are able to slow global climate warming, it does appear that lizards have crossed a threshold for extinctions—and that their sharp decline will continue for decades at least.

    Whale Freed from Fishnet Returns to Dana Point Harbor

    May 13, 2010  abclocal.go.com

    DANA POINT, Calif—A wayward California gray whale believed to have left Dana Point Harbor has returned today. The whale, nicknamed Lily, is apparently hanging around the mouth of the harbor. She was spotted just before 8 a.m. by some paddle-boarders. Experts are saying this is very disappointing news. Everyone thought she had returned to sea after crews from SeaWorld cut away about 20 pounds of netting and fishing line that were wrapped around the whale's tail to its mouth area. The 30-foot whale, believed to be an adult, turned up in the harbor on Monday showing signs of distress. It looked skinny and weak and was traveling slower than a normal whale. Experts believed the whale, which should be migrating north to Alaska, was sick and was resting in the calmer waters of Dana Point Harbor. Once the whale was freed from the netting, it headed north in the right direction for migration to Alaska, but the whale may have returned because it may be too weak to travel in deeper waters. In the Dana Point area alone, three whales were caught in fishnets in the past few years.

    Time Limits Not Quotas May Help Wildlife Sustainability

    May 13, 2010  www.umn.edu

    MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL—Hunting and fishing quotas limit the number of game animals or fish an individual may take based on harvests from the previous year. But according to a new study co-authored by University of Minnesota ecologist Craig Packer, this strategy may jeopardize wildlife populations. The authors recommend that setting limits on the number of days allowed for hunting and fishing rather than the number of trophies would be a more effective way to ensure continued supply and to prevent extinction. “Quotas don’t consider population fluctuations caused by disease outbreaks, harsh weather and other variables that affect animal abundance from year to year,” Packer explains. “Hunters and fishermen can work harder to make their quotas when desirable species are scarce. The extra pressure can cause populations to collapse.” Setting limits on the amount of time spent hunting could better protect fragile populations. Results of the study are published in the May 13 issue of Science.

    Breeding the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

    May 13, 2010  www.abc.net.au

    The Environment Department says two critically-endangered yellow-tailed black cockatoos have been reared this year—one on a farming property, the other at a wildlife park. Ecologist Jason Van Weenen says with only nine birds left on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and 14 in captivity, the program is vital to the species' survival. "The little cockatoo that's fledged this year in the wild is very significant because it's the first chick that's actually been raised on Eyre Peninsula since the Black Tuesday bushfires in 2005.

    Protected Corals Increase Fishing Profits

    May 13, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    NAIROBI, KENYA—The Wildlife Conservation Society has announced findings from a study showing that closures and gear restrictions implemented in fishing areas can increase fishery revenue and net profits. The findings were presented at the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Nairobi, Kenya. The extensive 12-year study recorded information on 27,000 fish caught within three fishery locations on Kenya's coast: one abutting an area closed to fishing; a second located far from the closure area and with restrictions on seine nets in place; and a third open to fishing without restrictions and located far from closure areas. The study, by Wildlife Conservation Society Senior Conservationist Tim McClanahan, will appear in the May online edition of the journal Conservation Biology.

    Breeding Endangered Species at the Wild Animal Park

    May 14, 2010  www.latimes.com

    Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at the Wild Animal Park, which opened in 1972, says captive breeding has helped several endangered species. Among the species and the progeny from the Wild Animal Park:

  • Arabian oryx: 324 babies since 1973. In the late 1960s, the world population of these antelope cousins was fewer than 20. Oryx from this program have been returned to a preserve in Senegal and introduced to the deserts of Oman and to reserves in Amman, Jordan.
  • Simitar horned oryx: 500-plus babies in the zoo and Wild Animal Park. They are no longer found in the wild, but some offspring have been returned to a preserve in Senegal and sent to zoos in Cape Horn, South Africa.
  • Przewalski's wild horses: 142 babies to date. They have been reintroduced into native habitats in Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia.
  • Addax: 474 babies. The park is helping reintroduce these large, whitish antelope into their native homelands in Tunisia.
  • Chinese dholes: eight babies in the last year. Few institutions will work with these Asiatic wild dogs (nicknamed "Whistling Hunters") because they are difficult to manage and can take down prey much larger than they. The dholes are not currently on display. (The Wild Animal Park also funds conservation efforts in Asia.)
  • Rhinos: 163 babies (92 Southern white rhinos, 59 Indian rhinos and 12 East African black rhinos). The Wild Animal Park has become the world's leading breeding authority on rhinos, Rieches said. "The Southern white rhino population was down to 100 animals in the world in the 1960s. Now there are about 18,000 in the wild." Indian rhinos in the wild number about 2,400 in India and about 300 in Nepal. The black rhino population has been hit hard by poaching throughout Africa, Rieches said. About 3,000 black rhinos remain in the wild.
  • Condors: About 300 condors have been hatched at the Wild Animal Park, and 180 have been released into the wild. By the early '80s, only 20 California condors remained in the wild. By '91, they were being reintroduced into the wild, about half of those hatched at the animal park.
  • Elephants: 14 babies, one Asian, 13 African elephants and two more babies on the way—one in June and other next year.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    May 14, 2010

    USFWS announces the receipt of applications to conduct certain activities pertaining to enhancement of survival of endangered species, and invite public comment on these permit applications. Written comments on this request for a permit must be received by June 14, 2010. Submit written data or comments to the Assistant Regional Director-Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0486;

        Applicant: Holly Cooper, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colorado, TE-10550A. The applicant requests a permit to take Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly (Boloria acrocnema) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

        Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Bismarck, North Dakota, TE-105455. The applicant requests a renewed permit to take pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

        Applicant: Jeffrey Coleman, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, TE-07858A. The applicant requests a permit to take Schoenocrambe suffrutescens (Shrubby reed-mustard) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

        Applicant: Scott Kamber, TRC Environmental Corporation, Laramie, Wyoming, TE-052582. The applicant requests a permit amendment to add surveys for Southwestern willow flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus) and Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) in Arizona in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Koalas Come to Palm Beach Zoo

    May 14, 2010  www.palmbeachpost.com  By ELIOT KLEINBERG

    Keith Lovett, director of living collections at Palm Beach Zoo recently announced that Oz, a 3-year-old koala from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C will be bred with 4-year-old Nettie, from the Los Angeles Zoo, who's already produced an offspring  The two will be on display around June 25.

    Spitting Cobra Spray Analysis

    May 14, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Some cobras defend themselves by spraying debilitating venom into the eyes of an aggressor. Working with spitting cobras in South Africa,  Bruce Young, from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, has been able to explain how the venom spray tracks aimed at his eyes always hit their mark. The cobras begin by tracking an aggressor's movements. At the instant that an attacker triggers the cobra into spitting, (by moving their head) the reptile switches to predicting where the attacker's eyes will be 200 ms in the future and aims there to be sure the spray hits its target. The study appears in the Journal of Experimental Biology on 14 May 2010.

    Endangered Species Permit Requests

    May 14, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The USFWS announces receipt of the following applications to conduct certain ctivities pertaining to enhancement of survival of endangered species. Written comments on this request for a permit must be received by June 14, 2010. Submit written data or comments to the Assistant Regional Director-Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0486; facsimile 303-236-0027.

        Applicant: Holly Cooper, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colorado, TE-10550A. The applicant requests a permit to take Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly (Boloria acrocnema) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

        Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Bismarck, North Dakota, TE-105455. The applicant requests a renewed permit to take pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

        Applicant: Jeffrey Coleman, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, TE-07858A. The applicant requests a permit to take Schoenocrambe suffrutescens (Shrubby reed-mustard) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

        Applicant: Scott Kamber, TRC Environmental Corporation, Laramie, Wyoming, TE-052582. The applicant requests a permit amendment to add surveys for Southwestern willow flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus) and Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) in Arizona in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    New Restaurant for Hogle Zoo

    May 15, 2010  www.sltrib.com  By Matthew D. LaPlante

    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah—When legislative auditors looked at Hogle Zoo's new $7.7 million entryway in 2002, they concluded it was a “poor business decision” considering the deteriorating animal exhibits. Six years later, as Hogle supporters campaigned to convince Salt Lake County voters to pay for $33 million in improvements to the zoo, they stressed bond funds would be used to enhance the well-being of their animals. But when construction workers tear down the zoo's 15-year-old Butterfly Gardens building, this fall, it won't be to make space for a new animal exhibit. Instead, the area will be home to "Tembo Terrace," a food service facility and dining area. And the restaurant will be operated by the donor that last year pledged $2.5 million to Hogle as part of a deal to become the zoo's official concessionaire. The donation, from Denver-based Service Systems Associates, pushed the zoo's private fundraising total over $11 million—the amount it needed to collect in order to unlock the $33 million in public funds, under terms of the voter-approved proposition. Accused of  “pay-for-play deal making” in order to access the public money, zoo director Craig Dinsmore says he's comfortable with the way Hogle has chosen to spend the $44 million in combined public and private money. He notes that the language on the ballot—which asked whether money should be granted for "acquiring, improving and renovating facilities"—was "very general". The "Frequently Asked Questions" page devoted to the bond proposition on the zoo's website listed three projects: an Arctic exhibit with polar bears, seals and wolves; an animal health center; and the "first phase" of an African savannah, for animals such as giraffes, rhinos and zebras. According to planning maps created by the Philadelphia-based company CLR Design, Tembo Terrace has been a part of the zoo's master plan since at least 2008, but the first time it was publicly identified as part of the zoo's plan to spend its bond monies more than a year after the bond was passed by voters.

    Reid Park Zoo Lion Suffers Stroke

    May 16, 2010  www.kgun9.com

    TUCSON, Ariz.—Kitabu is 18, which is old for a lion. Zookeepers noticed a pronounced weakness on his right side as he tried to move in February. Kitabu was treated by the zoo's vet, Dr. Alexis Moreno of Valley Animal Hospital and Dr. Peter Gordon, a neurological veterinary specialist at Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, consulted. He underwent a CT scan, extensive blood work and cerebral spinal fluid evaluation, and was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke. Off exhibit, Kitabu has been given physical therapy and his condition closely monitored. He was moved back to his normal holding area last week and slowly reacquainted with his companion, a young female lion named Kaya. On Friday, the two went back on public exhibit together for the first time since late February. Kitabu will remain on medication for hypertension and zookeepers will monitor him closely.

    Eco-Tourism’s Negative Effect on Gorillas

    May 16, 2010 www.guardian.co.uk  By Robin McKie 

    Gorilla eco-tourism has boomed, providing jobs and business opportunities in several African countries. In Uganda, gorilla tourism brings in an estimated £345,000 a month from the sale of permit fees alone. But now scientists warn that greater care is needed. Not only do tourists disturb the animals, but so do research teams studying the animals' behavior and their interaction with tourists. A year-long study of the great apes at Bai Hokou in the Central African Republic has found that the apes are being dangerously stressed by tourists whose attentions are disrupting the animals' feeding routines and making them aggressive. The study recommends  that the minimum distance between humans and gorillas be increased from seven to 18 meters. "We got a lot of warning barks from the male silverback if we went too close," said Michelle Klailova of Stirling University. "And you ignore a male gorilla's barking at your peril. They can kill very easily. They know exactly where to bite a person." Great apes are also known to be vulnerable to human diseases. A common cold has the potential to kill an entire family group. Research at the Tai chimpanzee project in Ivory Coast found that 15 young chimpanzees who died in three disease outbreaks there had been infected with viral strains that were very similar to those found in humans. Klailova’s study – written with Chloe Hodgkinson and Phyllis Lee – is published in the American Journal of Primatology.

    Asian Ivory Trade Endangers African Elephants

    May 16, 2010  www.washingtonpost.com  By Michael Casey, William Foreman & Jason Straziuso

    PUTIAN, China—A surge in demand for ivory in Asia is fuelling an illicit trade in elephant tusks, especially from Africa. Over the past eight years, the price of ivory has gone up from about $100 per kilogram ($100 per 2.2 pounds) to $1,800, creating a lucrative black market. Experts warn that if the trade is not stopped, elephant populations could dramatically plummet. The elephants could be nearly extinct by 2020. Sierra Leone lost its last elephants in December, and Senegal has fewer than 10 left. Samuel K. Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington says, "The impact that loss of this keystone species would have on African ecosystems is difficult to even imagine." Wasser estimated that the illegal trade is about 100 times the legal trade, with a value of $264 million over the past decade. In Kenya alone, poaching deaths spiked seven-fold in the last three years, culminating in 271 elephant killings last year. The Tsavo National Park area had 50,000 elephants in the 1960s; today, it has 11,000. The total number of elephants in Africa has dropped by more than 600,000 in the last 40 years, mostly due to poaching. A global ban on the ivory trade in 1989 briefly halted their demise. But the initial success has been undermined by a booming demand by Asian consumers, a decline in law enforcement budgets and rampant corruption in many African countries. Poaching now leads to the loss of as many as 60,000 elephants each year.
    Organized crime is now involved. Tusks are hidden in containers of mundane consumer products like cell phone parts, and transported through as many as a half dozen countries between Africa and Asia to avoid detection. Shipping documents are forged, and the Asian gangs who control the trade often bribe customs officials. Less than 1 percent of all containers are even searched. Prosecutions are extremely low and fines even lower, creating a high-profit, low-risk enterprise. Peter Younger, who manages a project that targets sub-Saharan Africa for the international law enforcement agency Interpol, said gangs also benefit from the fact that elephants are often living in countries like Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where law enforcement is nonexistent or preoccupied with keeping civil order. The primary destinations for illegal ivory have traditionally been Thailand, Japan and China, which have thriving black markets and some of the world's best ivory carvers. But these countries are not alone. Over the past decade, half of the largest ivory seizures took place in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, indicating these countries are also becoming key transit points, according to an October 2009 report by the Elephant Trade Information System.

    Cincinnati Renovates Children’s Zoo

    May 17, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com   By Tiffany Barnes

    CINCINNATI, OH—In 1937, the Cincinnati Zoo opened one of the world’s first children’s zoos. The first renovation occurred in 1947, for a new generation of post-war “baby boomers.”  It was greatly improved in another renovation in 1964. And, then in 1985 it was completely rebuilt by Mrs. Ruth Spaulding in memory of her son and husband. Now, twenty five years later, the Joseph H. Spaulding Children’s Zoo opens with a new animal nursery, a new and improved “Be the Animal” playscape, expanded contact yard and little penguins viewing area, and lots of new animals. Children can channel their inner animals in the play area that features a slide, crawl tunnel, monkey bars, balance beam, a spider web and turtle shells. The expanded petting yard will allow interaction with baby pygmy goats, Nigerian dwarf goats and new baby doll sheep. In addition, baby miniature cows, llamas and alpacas have been added to the barnyard. 

    Elephants in London

    May 17, 2010  news.mongabay.com 

    250 fiberglass statues by different artists are being displayed all over London. At the end of the summer the elephants will be auctioned off. All the proceeds from the art parade will go to Elephant Family, a conservation organization whose mission is to save the Asian Elephant from extinction. While some of the elephants are purely decorative, many have conservation-messages mixed in. For example, conservation organization Fauna and Flora International (FFI)'s elephant, known as Nanook, has the image of a polar bear on it, linking deforestation in Southeast Asia to the survival of both the Asian elephant and the polar bear since rainforest destruction produces significant carbon emissions.

    Elephant Conservationist Wins Goldman Environmental Prize

    May 17, 2010  news.mongabay.com  By Jeremy Hance

    In Cambodia, Tuy Sereivathana is known as 'Uncle Elephant'. A lifelong advocate for elephants in the Southeast Asian country, Sereivathana's work has allowed villagers and elephants to live side-by-side. Working with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) he has successfully brought elephant-killing in Cambodia to an end. He has also helped curb the destruction of forests in his native country and built four schools for children who didn't previously have formal education opportunities. This year he won the prestigious 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize in Asia.

    $4.9 Million for Neotropical Migratory Birds and Habitat Conservation

    May 17, 2010  www.infozine.com

    WASHNINGTON, D.C.—More than 340 species of neotropical migratory birds breed in the United States and Canada and winter in Latin America. The USFWS announced more than $4.9 million in grants for 37 projects that support neotropical migratory bird conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere. Matched by more than $14.8 million in additional funds from partners, the projects will support habitat restoration, environmental education, population monitoring and other priority activities within the ranges of neotropical birds in the United States, Canada, Mexico and 27 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The grants are funded under the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which supports public-private partnerships carrying out projects in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Projects receiving grants include:

  • Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay: Birdlife International will receive a $247,250 grant, which will be matched with over $741,750 from partners, to strengthen and expand the Southern Cone Grasslands Alliance
  • Colorado: The Nature Conservancy of Colorado will match $250,000 in grant funds with $810,000 to acquire approximately 8,000 acres of grassland and riparian habitat for neotropical migratory birds on Colorado’s Central Shortgrass Prairie.
  • Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua: Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, along with graduate students of York University via a $26,000 grant matched with $81,400, will use miniature geolocators to link wintering and breeding populations of wood thrush in part as a tool to develop international conservation partnerships for the species.
  • Dominican Republic, Haiti: Nature Canada, in close coordination with local in country partners, will receive a $143,925 grant matched with over $500,000 to promote reduced degradation of bird habitat in two protected areas of wintering habitat for vulnerable species such as the Bicknell’s thrush.
  • Nicaragua: The American Bird Conservancy will match a $34,775 grant with $104,220 to increase shade coffee plantings on coffee farms in northern Nicaragua to protect the remaining forest fragments that are important habitat for species such as the golden-winged warbler and cerulean warbler.
  • North Carolina: Using a grant of $95,000 and matching funds of $287,500, Southern Appalachians Highland Conservancy will acquire and manage neotropical migratory bird habitat to benefit the golden-winged warbler in the Roan Mountain Natural Heritage Area.
  • Wisconsin: The Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, Inc. will use a $250,000 grant and $750,000 in matching funds to acquire habitat to benefit grassland-dependent breeding neotropical migratory birds.
  • Washington, Oregon: The American Bird Conservancy will use a grant of $250,000, matched by $750,000 in partner funds, to acquire and restore oak habitats and conserve associated priority bird species in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Colorado, Mexico: The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory will use $240,026 in grant funds and $720,249 in matching funds to continue work to conserve high-priority and declining grassland bird species of western North America through researchand monitoring; education and outreach; law enforcement; and protection of shortgrass prairie habitat.
  • Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Saskatchewan: Using a grant of $54,600 and matching funds of $164,189, the Wildlife Conservation Society will survey and monitor the responses of grassland birds to restorative plantings of native grasses and prescriptive grazing management in the northern Great Plains. More information is at: www.fws.gov.

    3 New Monitor Lizard Species from Philippines
    May 17, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Andre Koch and Dr. Wolfgang Boehme from the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Germany have described two new monitor lizard species and one new subspecies from the Philippines in a recent article in the journal Zootaxa. Co-author Dr Maren Gaulke (GeoBio-Center LMU, Munich), an expert for Philippine reptiles, particularly monitor lizards, has been studying the biology of these impressive giant reptiles for 25 years. "Monitor lizards are fantastic creatures. They are agile, powerful, and the most intelligent lizards of the world." The three new Philippine monitors were identified based on examination of numerous preserved voucher specimens in various major European natural history museums, in combination with long-term studies in the field, demonstrating the importance of such museum collections as the archives of the global biodiversity. Unfortunately, in times of limited public funding, the necessary curatorial positions are often not reoccupied when a scientist is retired. This disastrously affects not only the corresponding collections but also the related field of knowledge! The Philippines comprise more than 7,000 tropical islands, and is one of the biodiversity hotspots of our planet. An earlier study on the systematics and diversity of Southeast Asian water monitor lizards (Varanus salvator, see Koch et al. 2007) showed that the three Philippine members, which were originally treated as subspecies, actually represent distinct species because they are separated by significant differences. Thus, the three newly discovered monitor lizards double at once the number of known Philippine water monitors. “Unravelling the underestimated diversity of Philippine water monitor lizards (Squamata: Varanus salvator complex), with the description of two new species and a new subspecies [PDF].” Zootaxa 2446: 1-54.

    Decline of California Delta Smelt Due to Nutrient Pollution

    May 17, 2010  www.physorg.com

    A new study to be published in the academic journal Reviews in Fisheries Science recommends that efforts to restore the endangered California delta smelt and other declining pelagic fish focus more on reducing nutrient pollution to the species' native waters. The research indicates these fish populations would greatly benefit from reductions in the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta from wastewater treatment plants and balancing the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus contained in the discharged water. Dr. Patricia Glibert of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science authored the report.

    iPhone App Helps Congo Gorillas

    May 17, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk 

    A mobile phone application called iGorilla allows users of iPhones and iPads to follow the lives of gorilla families in the remote forests of the Virunga National Park. Each app costs $4 (£3), with most of the money going to the park and the estimated 211 great apes living there. The new app, launched by the Virunga National Park, allows users to choose a gorilla family, find out about individual members and follow their lives through reports, photographs and videos.

    Possible Partnership for San Diego Zoo – Natural History Museum

    May 18, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com   

    The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Natural History Museum are looking at partnership possibilities and could even merge. The boards of the two institutions passed resolutions last month to explore all possibilities. The original idea came up during an informal conversation between former board members of each group. “From our standpoint, this is a natural. It completes the story that we tell,” said Doug Myers, the Zoological Society’s chief executive since 1985. “If you don’t understand natural history, then you don’t understand nature.” At the minimum, the zoo and museum could launch joint marketing and ticket deals and co-write grant proposals. At most, it could mean consolidated staffs and lower overhead. The Natural History Museum employs six executives who each earn more than $100,000, and the zoo has 12 top staffers with base salaries in the six figures. In 2003 the park’s institutions began to work together when they started the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. The Natural History Museum, founded in 1874, is the eighth-oldest American museum of its kind and houses more than 9 million specimens of animals and plants. In 2001, the museum opened a 90,000-square-foot modern wing on the historic, city-owned building. But the recession that took hold in late 2001 hit the institution hard, causing layoffs and delaying exhibits. The most recent recession has led to reduced salaries and job cuts that affected about 10 percent of the staff in the past two years. Founded in 1916, the zoo has largely been immune to the latest economic downturn because of its 275,000 dues-paying member households and $245 million in net assets, zoo officials said. Despite a paper loss in 2009, Myers said he has banked a surplus each year in recent memory and the zoo has not cut jobs or pay. Ticket prices were raised last year, the first increase in four years.
    2009 revenue: $188 million
    2009 expenses: $194 million
    Net assets: $245 million
    Tax money: $8 million annually from special San Diego property tax assessment.
    Employees: 2,000
    Members: 275,000 households
    2009 revenue: $12.7 million
    2009 expenses: $16 million
    Net assets: $23.7 million
    Tax money: $433,000 from San Diego tourism taxes this year
    Employees: 140
    Members: 7,000

    Lowry Park Zoo’s Chief Vet Leaves
    May 18, 2010 www.tbo.com  

    TAMPA – Chief veterinarian, David Murphy, has left his job at Lowry Park Zoo for personal reasons. He has worked at Lowry Park Zoo for about 20 years and was instrumental in establishing and maintaining the zoo as one of three manatee hospitals in Florida. His salary was $106,213, according to the zoo's most recent tax filing. Murphy was credited with helping solve the epidemic in 1996 that killed 158 Florida manatees. Other scientists blamed pneumonia, but Murphy, who treated the animals at the zoo's manatee hospital, discovered the culprit was the toxic algae known as red tide. The infected manatees had become paralyzed by red tide and eventually drowned. In February, Murphy was interviewed by CNN about the record number of manatees – about 280, or 5 percent of the population – that had died this year from cold stress-related illnesses. His departure comes as the zoo works to make $2 million in improvements to its veterinary clinic, manatee hospital and boardwalks or risk its accreditation from the AZA. The departure also comes as 15 staff members at the zoo are undergoing training to help treat animals suffering from the effects of the gulf oil spill. In March, the AZA suspended the zoo’s accreditation for four months, and told the zoo to bring its aging veterinary clinic, manatee hospital and boardwalk up to industry standards. Applications for Murphy's job as well as the new position of associate veterinarian are being solicited on the zoo's website and the website of the AZA. Lowry Park Zoo has four veterinary staff members who are authorized to give medication and other medical care and Busch Garden’s vet Ray Ball has helped out at the zoo for years as a “standby relief vet”

    Two Sulawesi Black Crested Macagues Born at Drusillas Park
    May 18, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

    EAST SUSSEX, U.K.—Two Sulawesi black crested macaque sisters have given birth within two weeks of each other at Drusillas Park, in Afriston. The new arrivals were born to sisters Kendari and Jude on April 26 and May 10 respectively and are doing well. The species is critically endangered because their habitat in Indonesia is under threat and their numbers in the wild have fallen by 80% in 40 years. Kendari and Jude moved to the East Sussex zoo earlier this year from Chester Zoo, where male macaque Murgo now lives. He was at Drusillas for 10 years. Zoo manager Sue Woodgate says, "The group at Drusillas is part of a European breeding program and we are thrilled to play our role in the conservation of this beautiful and protected species."

    New USDA Regulations for Zoo Butterfly Exhibits
    May 18, 2010  www.watertowndailytimes.com  By SARAH HAASE

    THOMPSON PARK, New York—New federal regulations have been imposed on butterfly houses at zoos in order to prevent exotic butterfly species from escaping their habitat and invading local ecosystems. The USDA has established specifications and regulations that zoos must follow in order to get a three-year permit for a butterfly house. "It's a Catch 22 for us," said Susan M. Sabik, general curator at the New York State Zoo. "We need to follow protocol even though most of the federal regulations don't apply to us." The zoo has only native New York species on display but must adhere to the safeguards. Some of those conditions include constant supervision, a double door atrium to prevent butterfly escape and appropriate signs listing emergency phone numbers to call if one does. John Scott Foster, zoo director, said the new regulations will be a challenge, not a problem. "We never had to do things like this before and now we need to find someone to take care of the butterfly house seven hours a day seven days a week," he said.

    Link Between ‘Climate Footprints’ and Mass Mammal Extinction
    May 18, 2010  www.wiley.com

    An international team of scientists has discovered that climate change played a major role in causing mass extinction of mammals in the late quaternary era, 50,000 years ago. Their study, published in the journal Evolution, takes a new approach to the debate by using global data modeling to build continental ‘climate footprints'. During the last 50,000 years the global climate became colder and drier, reaching full glacial conditions 21,000 years before present time. 65% of mammal species weighing over 44kg went extinct, as well as a lower proportion of small mammals. Since then the climate has become warmer, and this changing climate created new opportunities for colonization of new regions by humans. While both of these global change events played significant roles in species extinction this study reveals that changing climate was a significant force driving this mass extinction. Lead author, Dr David Nogues-Bravo of the University of Copenhagen said, “By dealing with the issue at a global scale we show that the impact of climate change was not equal across all regions, and we quantify this to reveal each continent’s “footprint of climate change.” When comparing continents it can then be seen that in Africa, where the climate changed less, there were fewer extinctions. And in North America, more species suffered extinction because of a greater degree of climate change.

    May 21 – Endangered Species Day

    May 18, 2010  www.carrollconews.com

    On May 21, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several conservation organizations will observe Endangered Species Day to recognize the conservation programs underway nationwide aimed at protecting America's threatened and endangered species. The Endangered Species Act has helped to prevent the extinction of hundreds of species. Co-administered by the Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the purpose of the act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. "The Endangered Species Act is the nation's premier law protecting biodiversity today," said Acting Service Director Rowan Gould. "The bald eagle, American alligator and gray wolf are all species which once found themselves on the list, facing the brink of extinction, but have successfully rebounded. The wood stork, Kirtland's warbler, Louisiana black bear and Kemp's Ridley sea turtle are still listed species that are showing good progress towards achieving recovery." Endangered Species Day honors this national commitment to recovering endangered species and their habitats and provides an opportunity to learn about what efforts are being made to conserve them. There are currently 1,324 endangered species listed in the U.S.—750 plants and 574 animals.

    Tapir Conservation Program

    May 18, 2010  thestar.com.my  By TAN CHENG LI

    The Sungai Dusun Wildlife Conservation Centre in Selangor once housed a population of five Sumatran rhinoceros until all of them died over an 18-day span from septicaemia in late 2003. It is now a wildlife rescue and breeding centre of sorts. Six Malayan tapirs (Tapirus indicus)have been born there, bringing the population to 12–4 males and 8 females. The centre has a collection of false gharial, slow loris and Malayan porcupine for captive breeding and hopes to reintroduce them to the forests of Sungai Dusun or other natural areas where the species have become depleted. Since 2002, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has collaborated with Copenhagen Zoo on a tapir conservation program where wildlife experts study the protected species in Krau Wildlife Reserve and Taman Negara in Pahang, and in Sungai Dusun with camera traps and radio telemetry. The tapir has been found to eat the leaves and fruits of over 100 species of plants. Programme co-ordinator  Dr Carl Traeholt says, “The breeding programme in Sungai Dusun is to see how to breed tapirs and this appears to be fairly straightforward.” In Thailand, only about 200 tapirs are left. Tapirs are no longer found in northern Sumatra. Historical documents show tapir to exist in Borneo but the species has died out there. Peninsular Malaysia is the last stronghold of the Malayan tapir, but only between 1,500 and 2,000 tapirs remain. Unlike other large animals such as the tiger or elephant, tapirs face less hunting pressure as they are not usually eaten or used in folk cures. But they are threatened by the loss of habitat as forests are exploited and fragmented into isolated parcels.

    Nestle Will Review Palm Oil Supply

    May 18, 2010  www.telegraph.co.uk

    Nestle announced on Monday it was linking up with non-profit organization The Forest Trust (TFT) to review its palm oil supply chain and audit suppliers for evidence of illegal activity. The partnership has drawn up responsible sourcing guidelines which aim to ensure the palm oil Nestle purchases comes from plantations that operate within local laws, protect wildlife-rich forest areas, peatlands and carbon sinks and support the rights of indigenous communities. The company said it was also working to make sure the pulp and paper it used was responsibly sourced. Nestle said it had already set a goal to ensure that by 2015 all of the palm oil it uses comes from sustainable sources. It said it had made ''strong progress'' towards the target, with almost a fifth (18%) sustainably sourced this year, and 50% expected to come from sustainable sources by the end of 2011. Greenpeace had claimed Nestle was buying palm oil, a vegetable oil widely used in processed foods, produced by the Sinar Mas group in Indonesia—which it says is involved in illegal logging. Other companies, including Unilever, have stopped buying palm oil from Sinar Mas.

    Possible Bighorn Sheep Delisting in New Mexico

    May 18, 2010  www.alamagordonews.com

    SANTA FE—New Mexico wildlife officials are considering removing desert bighorn sheep from the state's endangered species list. Once one of New Mexico's most imperiled native species, the desert bighorn population has grown from fewer than 70 in 1980 to more than 550 in six mountain ranges. Transplanting efforts and cougar control have helped the numbers increase. The threshold for delisting is a statewide population of 500, with at least three separate herds of 100 or more. The Game and Fish Department has started an investigation into delisting the species and is accepting public comments before a proposal is submitted to the state Game Commission. The department will present its recommendation on July 8. Public meetings will be held before the commission makes a final decision.

    Surprise Eland Birth at Oakland Zoo

    May 18, 2010  news.discovery.com  By Jennifer Viegas

    Keepers at the Oakland Zoo in California were surprised when a female eland, Etana, gave birth to a baby daughter named Bali a few weeks ago because the zoo only has female elands. But elands have a 9 month gestation period, similar to that of humans and shortly before Etana was brought to the Oakland Zoo from her previous home at the San Diego Zoo she must have become pregnant. At 6 days old, Bali started to eat solid food. At 13 days old, she was introduced to her aunties, Bella and Kashka, along with other animals in the African Veldt exhibit. She's now galloping and leaping. Adult elands have been clocked at speeds up to 42 miles per hour and can jump over 5 feet high.

    New Species Found in New Guinea

    May 18, 2010  www.time.com  By JEFFREY KLUGER

    The results of a 2008 expedition to the Foja Mountains in New Guinea have been released. The expedition lasted four weeks, and ranged from the foothills to 7,200 ft.high mountain peaks and was led by Conservation International as part of its Rapid Assessment Program (RAP). Developed in 1990, RAP is the unlikely brainchild of Nobel Prize–winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who, along with the late ornithologist Ted Parker, realized that what conservationists really needed was a sort of biological SWAT team that could sweep into a wilderness area and take a fast, thorough census of its wildlife so that policymakers could have the information they need to protect new and endangered species. The tree frog discovered by the expedition measures just under 2 in and has a short, faintly trunklike nose. When the male is calling, its nose inflates. The dwarf wallaby is no bigger than a small cat. The woolly rat—which weighs about 3.5 lb and measures 18 in. is quite tame. The pigeons, common animals by most measures, have an elegant plumage that is a mix of pearl gray, rust and white. Other species the team discovered included a new black-and-white butterfly related to the monarch, a new flowering shrub and a bent-toed gecko with a face like a gargoyle.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    May 18, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. We must receive requests for documents or comments on or before June 17, 2010. Send to Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail to DMAFR@fws.gov  For further information contact  Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104.

    Applicant: Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, CA; PRT-09145A. The applicant requests a permit to export one female captive bred giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) born at the zoo in 2005 and owned by the Government of China, to the Wolong Nature Reserve, China under the terms of their loan agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. This export is part of the approved loan program for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through scientific research as outlined in the Zoological Society of San Diego's original permit.

    Applicant: George Carden Circus International, Inc., Springfield, MO; PRT -070854, 079868, 079870, 079871, and 079872. The applicant requests the re-issuance of their permits to re-export and re-import five female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) to worldwide locations for the purposes of enhancement of the species through conservation education. The permit numbers and animals are: 070854, Bimbo Jr.; 079868, Vickie; 079870, Jenny; 079871, Judy and 079872, Cyd. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a three-year period and the import of any potential progeny born while overseas.

    Applicant: University of California, San Diego, CA; PRT-236267. On March 1, 2010, we published a Federal Register notice inviting the public to comment on an application for permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species (75 FR 9251). We made an error and neglected to report one species from which specimens would be obtained. In addition to the three species listed, DNA and/or cell lines from the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) would be obtained for the purpose of scientific research.

    Applicant: John Turner, Fresco, CA; PRT-02299A. Applicant: Robert Andersen, La Salle, CO; PRT-10431A. Applicant: James Cordock, Indiantown, FL; PRT-11227A. The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

    Detroit Zoo Launches iPhone App

    May 18, 2010  www.freep.com  BY MARK W. SMITH

    The Detroit Zoo launched an iPhone app last week that allows patrons to use their smartphone to find nearby attractions, see animal descriptions and see the day's schedule of events. The app costs $1.99 and proceeds go toward conservation, the zoo says. The app also allows you to see the location of another iPhone-toting friend when you both have the app open in the park. (For safety reasons, the phones must first be paired by exchanging a four-digit number that allows your friend to see your location.) The zoo is able to push instant notifications to those in the park with alerts to feedings and other activities. The app was designed by Texas-based AVAI Mobile Solutions.

    Racine Zoo Rescues Confiscated Reptiles

    May 18, 2010  www.journaltimes.com  By JANINE ANDERSON

    RACINE, Wisconsin—Last week police and other agencies removed hundreds of animals from a Milwaukee warehouse. Most of the animals—which included turtles, snakes, alligators and crocodiles - were in containers, though some of the largest were roaming freely throughout the building. The animals were discovered during an unrelated investigation. Racine Zoo staff helped to identify and collect about 250 reptiles, and will be housing a number of them:  Three crocodiles (an 8-foot-long African slender-snouted crocodile, a 5 1/2-foot-long West African dwarf crocodile and a 5 1/2-foot-long crocodile of undeterminable species.)  A 175-pound alligator snapping turtle is expected to arrive Wednesday.

    Critical Habitat for Ambrosia pumila (San Diego ambrosia)
    May 18, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov 

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the reopening of the comment period on our August 27, 2009, proposed rule to designate critical habitat for Ambrosia pumila (San Diego ambrosia). We also announce the availability of the draft economic analysis (DEA), revisions to proposed critical habitat, and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed critical habitat, the associated DEA, the proposed addition of three subunits based on new information, and the amended required determinations section. The comment period for the proposed rule published August 27, 2009, at 74 FR 44238, is reopened. We will consider comments from all interested parties received or postmarked on or before June 17, 2010. Submit comments via the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on docket number FWS-R8-ES-2009-0054. Or mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2009-0054; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone (760) 431-9440.

    Recovery Plan for Central California Coast Coho Salmon

    May 18, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    On May 7, 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), extended the public comment period for the Draft Recovery Plan for Central California Coast coho salmon. We incorrectly requested that the subject line of e-mail comments use the following identifier: Comments on Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Draft Plan. We should have requested that the subject line of e-mail comments use the following identifier: Comments on CCC Coho Draft Plan. Information and comments on the subject action must be received by July 6, 2010. Please send written comments to Charlotte Ambrose, National Marine Fisheries Service, 777 Sonoma Avenue, Room 325, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. or by e-mail to CohoRecovery.SWR@noaa.gov. The Draft Plan is available at swr.nmfs.noaa.gov or for further information contact Charlotte Ambrose, NCCC Domain Recovery Coordinator at (707) 575-6068.

    Scientists Map Extent of Oil Spill and Disaster for Wildlife
    May 18, 2010  www.nature.com  By Mark Schrope

    The first oceanographic research expedition into the Deepwater Horizon April 20 oil spill has uncovered evidence that a deep-sea plume probably made of oil and not visible on the surface seems to be spreading with potentially dire consequences for marine organisms. A team of scientists from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST), funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has taken samples of sediment cores throughout the region. They have mapped the boundaries of a plume that extends about 28 miles southwest from the wellhead and roughly 6 miles wide at depths of 3300 – 4600 feet, remaining at least 330 feet above the sea floor. Thomas Shirley, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University, says that although little oil has washed ashore, toxic compounds from the floating oil could threaten species living near the surface, including commercially important fish and their prey. Meanwhile, toxins from the under water plume could affect deep corals and other species, a problem that could be exacerbated by dispersant use, which breaks up the oil into smaller particles and makes it easier for animals to take in. Shirley suggests that deep-dwelling organisms such as zooplankton might be hit by the low oxygen levels in the plume, which could take months or years to recover because oxygen is slow to diffuse into the deep. The plume could form a barrier that blocks the normal up-and-down daily migration of numerous organisms, and could block the flow of particles of organic debris from the surface to the deep where they live.

    Controlling the Prion Epidemic in US Deer

    May 19, 2010  www.basqueresearch.com

    Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects pet and wild ungulates. Deer prions infect several types of different deer species, the most common being the mule deer and the Canadian deer. The first signs diagnosed date back to 1967 and were found in a mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus) held in captivity in Colorado. Epidemiological data suggest that CWD is a self-sustaining disease and it seems that it can be transmitted horizontally in captive populations. Recent studies indicate that the transmission of prions in wild populations may occur through contaminated urine, faeces and saliva. An international team coordinated by the University of Kentucky, studied the role of the various properties of the prion strains in the transmission and spreading of disease and have found a new way to control the stability of certain types of prions responsible for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or TSEs. The research appeared last week in the journal Science.

    Mating Strategy of Male Topi Antelopes

    May 19, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    A four-year study of male topi antelopes in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve Park has revealed that that male topi antelopes deceive their female counterparts in order to increase their chances of mating. The males were observed to snort and look intently ahead if an ovulating female begins to stray from their territory. This type of behavior suggests to the female that there is predator danger ahead. Typical predators of the topi include lions, cheetahs, leopards and humans. Rather than risk any danger of a predator the female responds to the false call and stays within the male antelope's territory, which increases his chances of mating with her. This type of intentional deception of a sexual partner has not been documented before in animals. Previous studies have shown that animals do deceive each other but mainly in hostile situations or to protect themselves. For example, the plover bird feigns injury in a 'broken wing display' to stop a predator finding their nest; certain bird species use false alarm calls to distract competitors away from food sources; male vervet monkeys use false alarms to dissolve conflicts between groups, and chimpanzees make false alarm calls to fool rivals and thereby gain access to mates. The research was carried out by carried out by Dr Jakob Bro-Jorgensen at the University of Liverpool [A former CRES employee] and Wiline Pangle at Michigan State University. The study appears in the journal The American Naturalist.

    Nocturnal Animals Featured at Prospect Park Zoo

    May 19, 2010  www.broadwayworld.com

    BROOKLYN, New York—A group of nocturnal animals is now featured in the Amazing Animals section of the Prospect Park Zoo—an area that focuses on animal adaptations. Two species of porcupines, African brush tailed and South American prehensile tailed dwell here, each paired with another interesting nocturnal animal. A small group of Rodrigues fruit bats, one of the larger bats from the Mauritius Islands, can be seen so close, you'll understand why they're nicknamed "flying foxes". Rounding out the exhibit are a family of Malagasy jumping rats, a pair of pygmy loris and a pair of brush tailed bettongs. The bettongs pictured here are marsupials, or pouched mammals, and are the smallest of the kangaroo family. They are a critically endangered species due to introduced predators. Since fewer animals are nocturnal, being awake at night allows for less competition for resources like food and water. Nocturnal flowers often rely on scents to attract pollinators like fruit bats. Nocturnal primates like the pygmy loris use this adaptation to help them hide from predators.

    Saving a Baby Orangutan at Zoo Atlanta

    May 19, 2010  www.11alive.com  by Marc Pickard

    ATLANTA—Since San-dar, a male orangutan, was born at Zoo Atlanta in March, he has needed constant care because his mother was physically unable to raise him. One of the zoo's board members is married to a doctor at Children's Healthcare in Atlanta, and she had him ask if anyone at Children's could offer advice on the care of a baby orangutan. He got more than advice—Dr. Usama Kanaan, a pediatric cardiologist and sixteen neo-natal intensive care nurses volunteered their help dealing with oxygen and giving tube feedings. "We don't have a lot of experience with neo-natal care," said director of Zoo Atlanta's veterinary services, Dr. Hayley Murphy. "So we've learned a lot from the human community. And they've learned a lot from the veterinary community." The nurses who worked round the clock on their own time knew the importance of him being held all the time and being able to grasp and use his hands to climb, because he's going to need to be able to do that once he goes back to his mom. Right now they are trying to teach him to take his bottle. San-dar had pneumonia and couldn't breathe and take a bottle at the same time.

    Buffalo Zoo’s New Erie Canal-themed Farm

    May 19, 2010  www.buffalonews.com  By Mark Sommer

    BUFFALO, New York – This coming Sunday, the $1.75 million Delta Sonic Heritage Farm will open to the public celebrating the zoo’s 135th Birthday. It includes a 19th century barn with mules, cows and Berkshire pigs. The barn was donated by David Stapleton of David's Homes and dismantled from its Wheatfield location, then reassembled at the zoo. "The interior that has contact with animals is mostly new, as well as the flooring and the roof. All the farm animals will be breeds found in the local area in the 19th century. Zoo President Donna Fernandes said, "Parents from the City of Buffalo say their family never gets to see all these farm animals. The Erie Canal influence defines the exhibit, beginning with a shallow moat that in years past was a barrier to keep animals from people and is now used to represent the canal. At one end is a representation of a packet boat once seen on the canal, with a tiller children can move back and forth. There is a hands-on simulated lock exhibit, children's water well and fake chicken coop where children can pretend to gather eggs and muck a stall. It offers fun experiences while teaching about local history, farming and water conservation. The exhibit was designed by architect Gwen Howard of Foit-Albert & Associates, and replaces the former Children's Zoo, $1 million of the cost came from Erie County. The state Environmental Protection Fund gave $400,000; Delta Sonic and the Benderson Family provided $500,000, with half to endow an education position; East Hill Foundation's NxtGen Program gave $100,000, and Mentholatum donated $20,000 for the farm's owl exhibit.

    National Research Council Urges Action on Climate
    May 19, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By JOHN M. BRODER

    WASHINGTON—In its most comprehensive study so far, the nation’s leading scientific body has declared that climate change is a reality and is driven mostly by human activity, chiefly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. The National Research Council is an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, and has issued three reports as requested by Congress in 2008.  They recommend strong immediate action to limit emissions of climate-altering gases in the United States and around the world— including the creation of a carbon pricing system. Legislation pending in Congress calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The academy recommends that an interagency group be given the authority and the resources to coordinate national research and response. They note that previous efforts have fallen short of providing the kind of action-oriented research that policy makers need.

    “Vulture Restaurants” for Endangered Birds

    May 19, 2010  www.reuters.com

    SIEM PANG, Cambodia – Birdlife International says the population of the main three Gyps vulture species in parts of south Asia fell by more than 95 percent in just three years in the 1990s, and are classified as critically endangered. The main threat to three species of vultures in Cambodia was determined to be limited food availability. Uncontrolled hunting of wild animals, and tighter controls by farmers over livestock that used to roam freely are also factors. In India, the same vulture species have been decimated by the drug diclofenac which is used to keep livestock healthy but is toxic to the birds feeding on the carcasses. Now the vultures are making a comeback thanks to an innovative “restaurant chain” established across Cambodia in 2004. The vulture restaurants were set up by three conservation groups—Birdlife International, World Wildlife Fund, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Animal carcasses are left at certain sites for the vultures to feed on. Each site is supervised by rangers who monitor the vultures' progress each month. And the rangers say they've seen an increase in the number of vultures since the project began six years ago, with 286 birds in June 2009, up from 140 in 2004. The vultures' nesting colonies are also protected, with local community members receiving a payment at the end of each month if vultures' nests remain active. Fortunately the drug diclofenac, used in mammals as an analgesic and antipyretic is not used in Cambodia, which conservationists believe will give them a boost in their attempts to preserve the three main species—the White-rumped vulture, the Slender-billed vulture and the Red-headed vulture.

    KC Zoo Celebrates a Huge Victory
    May 19, 2020  voices.kansascity.com  By Yael T. Abouhalkah

    Last Friday in the General Assembly, lawmakers approved a bill allowing formation of the Kansas City Zoological District that could include Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass counties. And the district will be able to ask voters to approve a sales tax of up to one-quarter cent to build a better zoo. Director Randy Wisthoff said the public vote probably won’t happen before 2011. The zoo has to develop a very detailed list for how it wants to spend any money from a sales tax—big capital projects as well as routine maintenance. And the zoo has to decide how much of a tax it wants to request. Then the counties will have to decide when to place the issue on the ballot.

    First Sea Turtle Rescued from Oil Slick

    May 19, 2010  latimesblogs.latimes.com

    The first sea turtle to be rescued from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is being washed and cared for in New Orleans. Audubon Aquarium spokeswoman Meghan Calhoun says the endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle was found by a biologist in a boat looking for oiled animals in the slick about 35 miles from shore. The turtle, which probably is less than a year old, arrived in New Orleans Tuesday night. Its shell is a bit less than 7 inches long and about 6 1/2  inches across. Calhoun says the turtle has been bathed from the inside of its mouth to the tips of its flippers and stubby tail. It will get several baths over the next several days. More than 150 dead sea turtles—most of them young Kemp's Ridley turtles—have washed ashore since a blown well began gushing on the sea floor late April 20. This is four times higher than the five-year average, scientists said.

    Beijing Zoo Restaurant Serves Exotic Animals

    May 20, 2010  www.csmonitor.com  By Peter Ford

    Crocodile, kangaroo, antelope, and hippopotamus are among the species on the menu at the Bin Feng Tang restaurant at the Beijing Zoo. The zoo restaurant has a license from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry to serve animals that aren’t endangered. Recently criticized by bloggers on the Chinese Internet, the restaurant manager says the practice is long-standing and none of the animals come from the zoo’s own enclosures.

    Giant Anteater Mom Dies at Roger Williams Park Zoo

    May 20, 2010  www.projo.com

    PROVIDENCE—Talara, the 8-year-old giant anteater that gave birth on March 23 at Roger Williams Park Zoo, has died. An initial necropsy revealed a partial intestinal blockage, a lesion in the uterus, and a stomach lesion. “None of these issues alone would likely have caused her death though all could have contributed to her refusal to eat,” said Tim French, the zoo’s deputy director for animal programs. Talara had a reduced appetite after birth, which is normal in anteaters following birth. But keepers became concerned when her appetite did not return as expected. A variety of foods were offered and multiple medications administered. Two weeks ago, zoo staff became increasingly concerned with Talara’s weight loss and the infant appeared to be growing slower than expected. Talara was anesthetized, examined and given a round of tests. It was determined she was no longer producing sufficient milk. And there was also evidence of ulceration of her digestive system. The staff began formula feedings for her baby. Talara was treated medically several times a day but she failed to respond. She was awake Tuesday when her keeper checked in on her in the morning but when the keeper returned a short time later, she had died. Zoo officials are optimistic about the baby’s future as she learns to nurse from a bottle. The zoo expects that the baby’s father, Johei, will be put back on exhibit, perhaps by this weekend.

    New Paint Mimics Sharkskin

    May 20, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    The scales of fast-swimming sharks have evolved in a manner that significantly diminishes drag. Now German scientists have been able to apply this knowledge to create a paint that can withstand the extreme demands of aviation, reducing aerodynamic drag. It is applied as the outermost coating on the plane, so that no other layer of material is required and adds no additional weight. When applied to every airplane every year throughout the world, the paint could save a volume of 4.48 million tons of fuel. This also applies to ships. Extrapolated over one year, that means a potential savings of 2,000 tons of fuel for a large container ship. And there are even more interesting applications – for instance, with wind energy farms. Air resistance has a negative effect on the rotor blades so the new paint would improve the degree of efficiency of the systems – and thus the energy gain.

    Male Treefrogs Generate Aggressive Vibrations

    May 20, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Male red-eyed treefrogs communicate with one another in aggressive contests by using vibrations sent through their plant perches. “The frogs shake their entire bodies to convey information about their status and aggressive intent," says Michael Caldwell of Boston University. "They also appear to carry information about their size. In a series of playback experiments conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the researchers found that plant-borne vibrations generated by the shaking display of male red-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas) act as a signal and are both necessary and sufficient to elicit tremulations by other treefrogs in response. The frogs also tend to become more aggressive during visual playbacks, the researchers say, suggesting that both components of the signal may be important. In male-male contests, tremulations were the most frequent aggressive display, and their use and vibrational characteristics varied with male size and depending on the context. The researchers say it now appears that most of the treefrogs' other signaling behaviors, including their acoustic calls, also generate strong and stereotyped vibrations that travel through plants and might carry information. The study appears in the journal Current Biology.

    Biomimicry and Security

    May 20, 2010  uanews.org  By Daniel Stolte

    In the May 20 issue of the journal Nature, University of Arizona researchers suggest that security organizations could be more effective if they applied lessons learned from nature. The security issues of modern human societies are analogous to those of many organisms, according to Rafe Sagarin and his co-authors. In nature, risks are frequent, variable and uncertain. Over billions of years, organisms have evolved an enormous variety of methods to survive, grow and proliferate on a continually changing planet. The key to their success is their ability to adapt to rapidly changing threats, and change their structures, behaviors and interactions accordingly. Unlike many security agencies or entities in the human world, they distribute tasks among decentralized, specialized groups of cells or individuals. Sagarin points to the octopus' camouflaging strategy to illustrate this principle: Its networks of pigment cells, distributed all over its body, react to and match the colors of the surroundings. "The individual soldiers in the war zone are the most adaptable unit out there," he said. "They are in a better position to recognize and address an emerging threat in time than a centralized bureaucracy." Sagarin and co-authors point out that terrorist networks such as Al Qaida have recognized the advantages of this approach and operate a loose network of largely independent subgroups.

    Another lesson can be learned by how organisms deal with the constant threat of predators. Hunting prey uses a lot of energy, which is why predators seek to ambush their prey. As soon as the prey is aware of their presence and ready to engage in defense, a pursuit might no longer be worth it. Ground squirrels, for example, use alarm signals when a predator is nearby, not only to warn their peers, but also to let the attacker know its cover is blown. Suddenly, things have become a lot harder—if you're a hawk, you want to swoop down on a squirrel and not get scratched in the face. Remarkably, ground squirrels use alarm signals that are very specific to the threat. If the predator is a mammal (which can hear), they utter alarm calls. If it is a snake (which cannot) they use tail-flagging to signal its presence. The less specific an alarm call is, the less efficient it is in eliciting an appropriate response, the authors argue and point to the U.S. Homeland Security's threat advisory for national and international flights, which has remained at level orange (high) since August 2006. This static, ambiguous and nonspecific system creates uncertainty or indifference.

    Another principle often observed in nature is symbiosis, the formation of allies. "Symbiosis is not always between friends," Sagarin said, pointing to the example of cleaner wrasses, small fish specializing in picking parasites off other marine animals, sometimes entering their mouths. The clients could easily swallow the cleaner wrasse. "But they don't," Sagarin said. "It's a mutual beneficial relationship in which the larger fish provides the cleaner fish with a food source and protection, and the cleaner keeps it free from parasites in return." A lesson of how symbioses can successfully be applied in the human realm was demonstrated in Iraq in 2007, when Gen. David Petraeus's strategy to form alliances with local leaders—including those who had been hostile—resulted in more tip-offs about IEDs and fewer American casualties.

    Despite decentralization, it is important to still have an overarching structure to provide guidance and encourage the development of new ideas. "One of the main lessons we learned is that issuing challenges is more effective than giving orders when there is a need to develop security measures," Sagarin said. He pointed to the DARPA Grand Challenge as an example, in which the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense put on a prize competition for the development of a driver-less vehicle capable of navigating difficult terrain on its own. "Anytime you pose a challenge, not only do you get a diverse population of problem solvers, but you get them to learn from each another."

    Sifaka Born at Besancon Zoo

    May 20, 2010  www.mysinchew.com

    A Hapalemur simus lemur called Sorja carries her one-month-old baby at the Besancon Zoo in eastern France. Hapalemur simus lemur, a species endemic to Madagascar, is one of the world's most endangered primates, with only 20 in captivity all over the world.

    Endangered Species Days in May

    May 20, 2010  www.bayweekly.com

    Endangered Species Day – May 21
    International Day for Biological Diversity – May 22
    World Turtle Day Are Coming – May 23
    Since European colonists made this land their own in the 1600s, more than 500 species and subspecies of native animals and plants have become extinct in North America, reports Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Some of this extinguished life lived here in Chesapeake Country. Passenger pigeons blackened the sky during migration, Carolina parakeets roosted in coastal swamp forests and heath hens boomed on rolling grassland hilltops. The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 put the brakes on the rush to extinction. “The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s premier law protecting biodiversity today,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould. The law is credited with helping prevent the extinction of hundreds of species nationwide. Many more remain at risk: 1,324 species are listed in the U.S., including 750 plants and 574 animals.

    Florida Panther Experts Honored by USFWS

    May 20, 2010  chipleybugle.com

    Three Florida panther experts recently received a conservation award from the USFWS for their work in managing the endangered species. Darrell Land, panther team leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC), wrote the original Panther Response Plan approved in 2007. Deborah Jansen’s input into the plan development was crucial. She received the award because of her experience in dealing effectively with human-panther interactions. She heads up the panther capture team for Big Cypress National Preserve. Mark Lotz’s interest with panthers began as a seasonal firefighter with the USFWS at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. He has been on the state’s panther team since 1994. Lotz received the award because of his work on the ground actually carrying out the plan by responding to all human-panther calls on both private and state lands. The records of these reports aid in the updates needed each year to the plan to assist in addressing public safety issues and protection of Florida panthers. The panther’s numbers declined to approximately 30 cats by the early 1980s, but efforts to conserve its dwindling population began as early as 1958, when the state listed it as endangered. The low population resulted in severe inbreeding, and created many health and physical problems. A genetic-restoration project in 1995 successfully improved the genetic health and vigor of the population. Today, biologists estimate there are approximately 100 panthers in South Florida. For more information on Florida’s state animal, visit PantherNet at www.floridapanthernet.org.

    Mystery Disease Kills Female Saigas  in Kazakhstan

    May 20, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Kazakh authorities have launched an inquiry to find the cause of the deaths of  more than 200 female saiga antelopes. No other animal species in the area appears to have been affected. The steppes of western Kazakhstan are home to the biggest herds of saiga, but their numbers have plummeted during the 1990s from around one million to 50,000, according to the WWF. Saigas are known for their distinctive bulbous noses, and for their spectacular migrations which involve tens of thousands of animals. The antlers of the males are prized in Chinese traditional medicine, fuelling an increase in poaching after the fall of the Soviet Union.

    China Will Train Pandas To Survive in Wild

    May 20, 2010  www.physorg.com

    At the end of the month, China will break ground on a $8.8 million center in Sichuan province's Dujiangyan city. Zhang Zhihe, the head of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, says the facility will house 3-5 giant pandas when it is completed within five years. It will include a 21.5-acre experimental zone, and 2,800 acres of woodlands, where giant pandas born in captivity will be trained to survive in the wild. Zookeepers hope to slowly train pandas to be less dependent on humans. During the initial 5-10 years, they will live in cages in the experimental zone. After that, the pandas that adapt well will switch to living in caves and be trained to forage for food, but they will still receive frequent checkups and participate in artificial breeding. Then they will transition to living in a largely "natural" zone with little human contact before they are released into the nearby natural reserve. The entire process would require a minimum of 15 years, Zhang said. China had started a giant panda training project in 2003, but that project suffered a big setback. Xiang Xiang, a male panda who had been trained for three years, was found dead in a remote part of the Wolong Nature Reserve in 2007, a year after he had been released into the wild.

    Musk Turtle’s “Super Tongue”

    May 20, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

    The common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), is a freshwater species that inhabits lakes and rivers in southern Canada and the eastern U.S. Adults spend most of their lives underwater, but juveniles occasionally come onto land to search for food. While filming these juveniles trying to feed, Egon Heiss and colleagues from the University of Vienna, Austria noticed they could only eat after dragging the food back into the water. This is because this turtle has a weak and tiny tongue covered with and surrounded by specialized bud-like cells called papillae. Further tests revealed that the turtle uses these cells around its tongue to breathe, by drawing in oxygen from water that passes over them. "We knew that an organ for aquatic respiration must be present somewhere but finally discovered it accidentally," says Heiss. Some turtles cannot breathe underwater at all. All marine turtles, for example, must come to the surface at least every few hours to gulp air. Some freshwater turtles breathe via their skin. Other species, such as the side-necked turtles of Australia, use specialized cavities in their rear, known as cloacal bursae, to draw in water and remove the oxygen. "Musk turtles, however, lack cloacal bursae and their skin is relatively thick, without a well developed capillary network." They also found large papillae in the musk turtle’s throat. Details of the study are published in journal The Anatomical Record.

    Honolulu Zoo Prepares for Furloughs

    May 20, 2010  www.kitv.com

    HONOLULU—Starting July 1, 5,200 city employees in the Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers unions are expected to be furloughed up to two days a month to save the city $19 million to deal with the city's projected $140 million budget shortfall. The $6.7 million project to build the zoo's elephants, Mari and Vaigai, a new home is being scaled back due to a funding shortage. "We have to do with what we need, versus what we want," said Tommy Higashino, Honolulu Zoo assistant director. "We need to come in seven days a week to feed our animals. So we're going to try to be creative as far as manpower is concerned," said Higashino. The 74 full-time employees will keep their jobs, although some vacant positions will not be filled, zoo officials said. The bulk of the zoo's budget goes to feeding the animals. The zoo spends about $340,000 a year on food alone, officials said. There are no plans to cut back on the food, and officials vow to keep the zoo open despite the budget crisis. The search is ongoing for a new zoo director. The last director resigned on March 31.

    Great Plains Zoo Plans for Japanese Snow Monkeys

    May 20, 2010  www.argusleader.com  By Jon Walker

    SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota—The Great Plains Zoo plans to bring in up to 10 Japanese snow monkeys by 2013 and give them top billing inside a new entryway to the grounds. The plans come as officials hope to build on other gains that have helped the zoo almost double its attendance the past four years. Elizabeth Whealy, the zoo's president and chief executive officer explained that the monkeys won’t arrive until after the funding is in place to cover the full $5 million cost of the project. Money for the new exhibit will come from three sources. Planners hope $1.5 million will come from the businesses in a fund drive the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed. Officials first set that target at $2.3 million but lowered the goal because of the soft economy. Another $1.5 million will come from the city capital improvements budget and $2 million from additional donations, Whealy said. The animals will be acquired them from other U.S. zoos. "We'll have limited shipping costs to move the animals, but no money will change hands," Whealy said. The money goes to the capital improvements and a new design to improve features on the grounds, some of which date to the 1960s. Visitors now enter the zoo by passing through the building that includes the Delbridge Museum of Natural History. The new format will have them enter a gate next to the building to an area with a flamingo exhibit, a water plaza and the Japanese monkeys.

    Chronic Wasting Disease Vaccine

    May 20, 2010  www.thestarphoenix.com  By Jeremy Warren

    The University of Saskatchewan is commercializing a vaccine that targets chronic wasting disease in domesticated and wild deer and elk populations. The vaccine, developed by the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization and International Vaccine Centre (VIDO) at the U of Saskatchewan, is in the last stages of development and will be tested in domesticated elk and deer within the year. The fatal and incurable chronic wasting disease (CWD) has spread across deer and elk populations in Canada and the United States, but herds in Saskatchewan have suffered the most. Researchers won't know how successful the new vaccine will be for several years, but if tests are successful, an oral vaccine will then be tested in wild herds.

    Biomaterials: Intelligent Glue in Spider Webs

    May 20, 2010  www.nature.com

    Man-made glues are mono-functional—their material properties are designed to stick one thing to another. But adhesive materials in nature do much more. The 'glue' droplets that coat spiders' webs are multi-functional. Depending on the rate at which they are extended, the droplets act either as a viscous adhesive or as a rubber-like elastic solid. V. Sahni and colleagues studied the glue droplets on spiders' webs and suggest that the coupling of adhesion with extension is a common design principle of natural adhesives. The droplets consist of a complex mixture of glycoproteins along with a variety of viscous small molecules and salts. Through experimentation they found that rapid extensions of the glue caused it to become highly viscous, whereas slow extensions turned the glue into an elastic-solid-like material. When prey—typically a flying insect—is captured in a web, the silk rapidly extends on impact. The glue droplets become highly viscous under these conditions, providing maximum adhesion to effectively capture the spider's meal. But after the prey has been captured, the movement produced by its attempts to escape causes a slow extension of the web.

    5-Year Reviews for of 34 Species in California and Nevada

    May 21, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is initiating 5-year reviews for 33 species (15 Animal Species and 18 Plant Species) in California and Nevada. Any new information on these species that may have a bearing on their classification as endangered or threatened should be received no later than July 20, 2010.
    Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew Sorex ornatus relictus Endangered CA
    California clapper rail Rallus longirostris obsoletus Endangered CA
    California least tern Sternula antillarum browni Endangered CA
    California tiger salamander Ambystoma  californiense Endangered CA--Sonoma County
    Island night lizard Xantusia  riversiana Threatened CA
    Least Bell's vireo Vireo bellii pusillus Endangered CA
    Little Kern golden trout Oncorhynchus aquabonita whitei Threatened CA
    Morro Bay kangaroo rat Dipodomys heemanni morroensis Endangered CA
    Mountain yellow-legged frog Rana muscosa Endangered CA
    Riparian woodrat Neotoma fuscipes riparia Endangered CA
    Santa Catalina Island fox Urocyon littoralis catalinae Endangered CA
    Santa Cruz Island fox Urocyon littoralis santacruzae Endangered CA
    San Miguel Island fox Urocyon littoralis littoralis Endangered CA
    Santa Rosa Island fox Urocyon littoralis santarosae Endangered CA

    Ash Meadows sunray Enceliopsis nudicaulis var. corrugata Threatened NV
    Baker's larkspur Delphinium bakeri Endangered CA
    Hidden Lake bluecurls Trichostema austromontanum ssp. compactum Endangered CA
    Gaviota tarplant Deinandra increscens ssp villosa Endangered CA
    Island malacothrix Malacothrix squalida Endangered CA
    La Graciosa thistle Cirsium loncholepis Endangered CA
    Lompoc yerba santa Eriodictyon capitatum Endangered CA
    Presidio manzanita Arctostaphylos hookeri var ravenii Endangered CA
    San Clemente Island bush mallow Malacothamnus clementinus Endangered CA
    San Clemente Island Indian Castilleja grisea.paintbrush Endangered CA
    San Clemente Island larkspur Delphinium variegatum ssp kinkiense Endangered CA
    San Clemente Island lotus Lotus dendroideus var. traskiae Endangered CA
    San Clemente Island woodland star Lithophragma maximum Endangered CA
    Santa Cruz Island malacothrix Malacothrix indecora Endangered CA
    Santa Cruz Island rockcress Sibara filifola Endangered CA
    Santa Cruz tarplant Holocarpha macradenia Threatened CA
    San Francisco lessingia Lessingia germanorum var germanorum Endangered CA
    Yellow larkspur Delphinium luteum Endangered CA

    For the California least tern, Island night lizard, Least Bell's vireo, Mountain yellow-legged frog, Santa Catalina Island fox, Hidden Lake bluecurls, San Clemente Island bush mallow, San Clemente Island Indian paintbrush, San Clemente Island larkspur, San Clemente Island lotus (broom), San Clemente Island woodland star, and Santa Cruz Island rock-cress, send information to Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011. Information may also be submitted electronically at fw8cfwocomments@fws.gov. To obtain further information, contact Scott Sobiech at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office at (760) 431-9440.

    For the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew, California clapper rail, California tiger salamander, Little Kern golden trout, Riparian brush rabbit, Riparian woodrat (San Joaquin Valley), Baker's larkspur, Presidio manzanita, San Francisco lessingia, and Yellow larkspur, send information to Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. Information may also be submitted electronically at fw1sfo5year@fws.gov. To obtain further information, contact Kirsten Tarp at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at (916) 414-6600.

    For the Morro Bay Kangaroo rat, Santa Cruz Island fox, San Miguel Island fox, Santa Rosa Island fox, Gaviota tarplant, Island malacothrix, La Graciosa thistle, Lompoc Yerba Santa, Santa Cruz Island malacothrix, and Santa Cruz tarplant, send information to Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003. Information may also be submitted electronically at fw1vfwo5year@fws.gov. To obtain further information on the animal species, contact Mike McCrary at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at (805) 644-1766. To obtain further information on the plant species, contact Connie Rutherford at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at (805) 644-1766. 5-year reviews have been completed, 96 species and can be found at www.fws.gov.

    Arroyo toad Downlist Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Amargosa vole No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Bay checkerspot butterfly Uplist Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Blunt-nosed leopard lizard No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Callippe silverspot butterfly No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Delta green ground beetle No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Desert slender salamander No status change Carlsbad Jane Hendron (760) 431-9440
    Fresno kangaroo rat No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Giant kangaroo rat No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Lahontan cutthroat trout No status change Nevada Jeannie Stafford (775) 861-6300
    Light-footed clapper rail No status change Carlsbad Jane Hendron (760) 431-9440
    Mission blue butterfly No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Modoc sucker Downlist Klamath Matt Baun (530) 842-5763
    Mohave tui chub No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Mount Hermon June beetle No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Myrtle's silverspot butterfly No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Ohlone tiger beetle No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Owens pupfish No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Owens tui chub No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Point Arena mountain beaver No status change Arcata Matt Baun (530) 842-5763
    Quino checkerspot butterfly No status change Carlsbad Jane Hendron (760) 431-9440
    Salt marsh harvest mouse No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    San Bernardino Merriam's No status change Carlsbad Jane Hendron (760) 431-9440
    San Bruno elfin butterfly No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    San Clemente sage sparrow No status change Carlsbad Jane Hendron (760) 431-9440
    San Joaquin kit fox No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    California tiger salamander No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Santa Cruz long-toed salamander No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Shasta crayfish No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Tipton kangaroo rat No status change Sacramento Al Donner (916) 414-6600
    Unarmored threespine stickleback No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766
    Zayante band-winged grasshopper No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald (805) 644-1766

    Applegate's milk-vetch No status change Klamath  
    Braunton's milk-vetch No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald
    California sea-blite No status change Ventura Lois Grunwald
    Calistoga allocaraya No status change Sacramento Al Donner
    Clara Hunt's milk-vetch No status change Sacramento Al Donner
    Clover lupine No status change Sacramento  
    Coachella Valley milk-vetch No status change Carlsbad  
    Coastal dunes milk-vetch No status change Ventura  
    Conejo dudleya No status change Ventura  
    Cushenbury buckwheat No status change Carlsbad  
    Cushenbury milk-vetch No status change Carlsbad  
    Cushenbury oxytheca No status change Carlsbad  
    Fish slough milk-vetch No status change Ventura  
    Hairy orcutt grass No status change Sacramento  
    Hickman's potentilla No status change Ventura  
    Hoffmann's slender-flowered No status change Ventura  
    Hoover's spurge No status change Sacramento  
    Indian Knob mountainbalm Downlist Ventura  
    Island bedstraw No status change Ventura  
    Kenwood Marsh checkermallow No status change Sacramento  
    Lake County stonecrop No status change Sacramento  
    Large-flowered fiddleneck No status change Sacramento  
    Loch Lomond coyote thistle No status change Sacramento  
    Many-flowered navarretia No status change Sacramento  
    Marcescent dudleya No status change Ventura  
    Mexican flannelbush No status change Carlsbad  
    Monterey clover No status change Ventura  
    Monterey spineflower No status change Ventura  
    Napa bluegrass No status change Sacramento  
    Nevin's barberry No status change Carlsbad  
    Nipomo lupine No status change Ventura  
    Palmate-bracted bird's-beak No status change Sacramento  
    Parish's daisy No status change Carlsbad  
    Pismo clarkia No status change Ventura  
    Pitkin Marsh lily No status change Sacramento  
    Robust spineflower No status change Ventura  
    Salt marsh bird's-beak No status change Carlsbad  
    San Benito evening-primrose No status change Ventura  
    San Bernadino Mountains bladderpos No status change Ventura  
    San Diego thornmint No status change Carlsbad  
    Santa Cruz cypress Downlist Ventura  
    Santa Cruz Island dudleya No status change Ventura  
    Santa Cruz Island fringepod No status change Ventura  
    Santa Monica Mountains dudleya No status change Ventura  
    Scotts Valley polygonum No status change Ventura  
    Scotts Valley spineflower No status change Ventura  
    Slender orcutt grass No status change Sacramento  
    Spreading navarretia No status change Carlsbad  
    Springville clarkia No status change Sacramento  
    Soft bird's-beak No status change Sacramento  
    Solano grass No status change Sacramento  
    Suisun thistle No status change Sacramento  
    Thread-leaved brodiaea No status change Carlsbad  
    Triple-ribbed milk-vetch No status change Carlsbad  
    Verity's dudleya No status change Ventura  
    Western lily No status change Arcata  
    White sedge No status change Sacramento  
    Yadon's piperia No status change Ventura  

    Permit Request: Marine Geophysical Survey in the Northwest Pacific Ocean
    May 21, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The NMFS has received an application from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DEO), a part of Columbia University, for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a marine geophysical survey at the Shatsky Rise in the northwest Pacific Ocean, July through September, 2010. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to L-DEO to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, 34 species of marine mammals during the specified activity. Comments and information must be received no later than June 21, 2010.

    Endangered Species Permit Requests

    May 21, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species, marine mammals, or both. Documents  or comments must be received on or before June 21, 2010. We must receive requests for marine mammal permit public hearings, in writing, by June 21, 2010. Send to: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov  For further information contact:  Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104

    Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, George Jordan, Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Coordinator, Billings, MT; PRT-03492A. The applicant requests a permit to export 50 otoliths (structures of the inner ear system in fishes) from 25 Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhyncus albus), obtained from the pallid sturgeon repository, for the purpose of enhancement of the species. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Applicant: George Carden Circus Intl., Inc., Springfield, MO; PRT-128999 and 12311A. The applicant requests permits to re-export (12311A) and re-import (128999) one male captive-born Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) to worldwide locations for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 3-year period.

    Applicant: Brooks Puckett, Plano, TX; PRT-11231A.  The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

    Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK; PRT-067925.. The applicant requests an amendment to the permit to increase in the number of takes of northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) in Alaska, to allow takes of northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris lutris) in Washington, and to increase the number of samples of northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris lutris) to be imported from for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over the remainder of the 5-year period for which the permit would be valid.

    National Zoo Lion Cub Dies in Freak Accident

    May 21, 2010  www.nbcwashington.com  By JIM IOVINO

    A lion cub born Tuesday morning at the National Zoo died Thursday night. The cause of death was pneumonia, caused by a tiny piece of straw getting into the cub's lungs. The zoo said the use of straw bedding is common, and only organic material is used in the lions' den. This was Nababiep's first birth. Zoo officials hope to reunite her and her sister, Shera, with male lion Luke soon in order to try again. Director Dennis Kelly said, “I believe this was a one-in-a-million fluke. Unfortunately, this is the downside to the ‘cycle of life.’ But, the animal care team and zoo staff are consummate professionals, and I know they’ve learned a tremendous amount from creating the pride, breeding the lions and getting (the cub’s mother) Nababiep through her first birth. We mourn this loss yet keep our focus on the best care for the lion pride.”

    Injured Gorilla Baby Gets a Surrogate Mom at Columbus Zoo

    May 21, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Patty Peters

    POWELL, OH—The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will be the new home of female gorilla Misha (MEE-sha), born at the Louisville Zoo on February 6. On April 1, there was a skirmish in her family group consisting of her mother, father and another adult female that resulted in Misha losing part of her left leg and breaking a bone near her left hip. Medically, Misha is making excellent progress. A recent physical examination and radiographs showed the fracture in her leg has healed, and she has recovered from anemia. She is gaining weight and is no longer on any medication. Misha will be paired with an adult female gorilla that will be a surrogate mother to the infant. The program includes providing 24/7 care by the Columbus Zoo’s hand rearing team and raising the infant next to other gorillas until she is introduced to her new gorilla mom. Living Collection Director Dusty Lombardi said, “In addition to determining the surrogate mother, it is equally important for the infant to be introduced into an age and sex diversified group that includes several aunts and a silverback male.” Surrogates are taught to not only care for their baby like their own but also to bring the baby over to staff when prompted for bottle feedings, medication and regular check-ups. Eight of Columbus Zoo’s gorillas have been raised in their surrogacy program and an additional five have been sent from other zoos. “Our team has been leaders in gorilla surrogacy for more than 25 years,” said Columbus Zoo Executive Director Dale Schmidt. There are about 850 gorillas in zoos worldwide including 359 in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. There are currently 15 gorillas at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

    No Panda Cub for Taipei Zoo This Year

    May 21, 2010  www.google.com

    TAIPEI, Taiwan—Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, giant pandas who arrived in Taiwan in 2008, failed to mate between March and May, normally the time pandas go into heat. The zoo tried various measures to encourage them, such as playing tapes of panda mating sounds and switching their enclosures so they can be stimulated by each other's scent. Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh said the zoo might consider artificial insemination if the natural way fails again next year. Taiwan has an extra incentive to encourage the furry couple to do what so often fails to come naturally for pandas because the island will be allowed to keep any cubs that they produce. Beijing usually only loans its pandas and any progeny must be sent to China.

    Macaws Stolen from Sydney Zoo
    May 21, 2010  www.smh.com.au

    Two female "green-winged" or "red and green" macaws, aged seven and nine, were reported missing from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo at about 9am yesterday. There was no sign of forced entry into their enclosure but the padlock to the aviary was gone. One of the macaws was hatched at the zoo in October 2000 and the other was bought from breeders in September 2002, a zoo spokeswoman said. Jackson and Coco were believed to be worth up to $8000 each and had just hatched a chick when they were taken.

    London Zoo Tries to Save New Zealand Frog

    May 21, 2010  www.stuff.co.nz  By Kiran Chug

    The Zoological Society of London is calling on the British public to protest the New Zealand Government's proposals to permit mining on more than 7000 hectares of the Archey’s frog habitat. The endangered frog is found only on the Coromandel Peninsula and in the Whareorino Forest west of Te Kuiti. The campaign was launched on the homepage of the London Zoo website. The frog is at the top of the Society's list of endangered amphibians. It is described as the "most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibian on the planet." The Society's conservation project co-ordinator, Helen Meredith, said Archey's frogs were like living fossils, as they were almost indistinguishable from 150 million-year-old fossilized remains. "In the year when reducing biodiversity loss is high on the political agenda, it is inconceivable to think that we'd put the nail in the coffin of some of our rarest and most extraordinary frog species."

    Tanzanian Rhino Re-Introduction

    May 21, 2010  www.physorg.com

    A group of Tanzanian rhinos, now extinct in their natural habitat, was airlifted home Friday more than two decades after some of the species were brought to South Africa. The Tanzanian government asked South Africa to return some of the black rhinos, of the east African Diceros bicornis michaeli subspecies, after they went extinct in their original home range. South Africa had imported five of the michaeli rhinos more than 20 years ago. While the species is not native to South Africa, the rhinos thrived there, multiplying to 61. South Africa's environment minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, handed five of the rhinos back to Tanzania on Friday, the first of 32 that will eventually be sent. The rhinos were transported in a Lockheed Hercules C-130 cargo plane. David Mabunda, the head of South Africa's national parks, called the relocation of the animals a "fairy tale" ending.

    Hawksbill Sea Turtle Conservation

    May 21, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Thirteen endangered hawksbill sea turtles bred in captivity at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium in Japan are being prepared for release into a natural habitat later this year. The five one-year-old turtles and eight three-year-olds were turned over on Thursday to the Underwater World Singapore Aquarium, in a collaborative conservation project. They are the offspring of hawksbill turtles donated by the Underwater World Singapore to the Nagoya aquarium in 1997 and 2002. As part of the preparations, staff from the Singapore aquarium will monitor and conduct checks on the turtles to determine their fitness for the release scheduled in September. "With the success of their breeding... we would want to have some of these captive-bred turtles return to the wild," said Anthony Chang, curator of the Underwater World Singapore. Prior to their release, the turtles will be fitted with satellite devices attached to the back of their shells, allowing the scientists to learn about their migratory behavior and survivability. Their findings will be reported at an international convention on biological diversity in Nagoya in October.

    Houbara Bustards: Diseases and Medical Management

    May 21, 2010  www.exoticdvm.com

    The Zoological Education Network has just announced the released of “Diseases and Medical Management of Houbara Bustards and Other Otididae” as a digital Adobe Acrobat PDF instant download file. Topics include: Diets fed to bustards and bustard chicks in captivity; Clinical observations of changes in biochemistry values in bustards regarding: Fatty liver disease and myopathy; Effects of management; Angular limb deformities; Principles of cytology and cytodiagnosis of common bustard diseases; Administration of medications to individual bustards and bustard flocks; Quarantine protocols; Rehabilitation techniques and Preventive medicine programs for breeding projects.

    New Baby Elephant for Disney

    May 21, 2010 www.chipandco.com

    A 288 pound female African elephant arrived late last night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Twenty-two-year-old Donna gave birth to the herd’s fifth offspring after being artificially inseminated in July 2008. This is the second calf for Donna, who gave birth to a female calf, Nadirah, in 2005 and brings the number of elephants in the Disney herd to thirteen—five males and eight females. “Elephant births are among the most amazing and complicated processes in the animal kingdom,” according to Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney’s Animal Programs. Tufani, a male, was born in 2003; Kianga, a female, was born in 2004; and Tsavo, the youngest male, joined the herd in 2008. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America. AZA’s Elephant Species Survival Plan has called for a five-fold increase in African elephant reproduction efforts – using both natural and artificial breeding methods – in order to create a self-sustaining elephant population among North American zoos and wildlife centers.

    5 Questions About the Oil Spill

    May 21, 2010  www.sciencemag.org By Richard A. Kerr, Eli Kintisch, Lauren Schenkman, Erik Stokstad

    1. What's happening to the oil? Reports of large subsurface plumes of oil—perhaps enhanced by dispersants—are beginning to come in as sampling from boats and ships is extended to the subsurface. Two different autonomous underwater vehicles are scheduled to start mapping subsurface oil using optical sensors; one of them can return water samples for detailed analysis. The as-yet-loosely-coordinated effort to characterize the evolving spill is being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey, while the National Science Foundation is supporting fieldwork through rapid-response grants.

    2. What’s happening to life on the sea floor? Two types of communities exist on the deep sea floor of the gulf. Where hydrocarbons seep out of the sediment, clams and mussels live with symbiotic bacteria that tap sulfide or methane for energy. In the same areas, polychaete tubeworms grow up to several meters long and can live for centuries. Elsewhere, corals capture prey that floats by or detritus that sinks from above. In mid-May, a research vessel operated by the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST), a university consortium, began taking sediment and water samples from areas under and near the oil spill. NOAA is supporting the NIUST mission, which detected oil below the surface. The crew returned to port late last week and will begin analyzing samples. Meanwhile, they are beginning to plan another trip for follow-up sampling.

    3. What’s happening to coastal ecosystems? Coastal wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico have been under siege for decades. Chronic exposure to large amounts of oil could worsen their plight, killing marsh grasses and the creatures that live in the coastal sediment. In the shallow waters of Louisiana's Breton Sound, where oil has already intruded, effects on marine life may already be visible. Academic researchers will collect live mollusks for tissue analysis, examine their shells for changes in growth rates, and look for deformities in the husks of foraminifera, an amoebalike bottom-dweller, and for large numbers of hibernating dinoflagellates in the soil.

    4. What’s happening to marine life? Just after the spill, researchers at the state-funded Dauphin Island Sea Lab off the Alabama coast stepped up their existing research to trawl for plankton along a 56-kilometer stretch south of the island; they will repeat the survey every 2 weeks. Another ongoing study based on rigs near the spill uses underwater, company-owned robots to monitor the squid, crustaceans, and fish that dwell 200 to 2400 meters below the surface. Besides tallying deaths, scientists will look for changes in the animals' daily feeding movements. An ambitious new study is about to start thanks to a rapid-response grant from the NSF. Working from two or three university research vessels, scientists from several institutions will trace oil over the next 3 to 6 months as it moves through the food chain from single-celled algae to large fish such as tuna. NOAA is monitoring the spill's effects on the more than 20 species of marine mammals, notably bottlenose dolphins and endangered sperm whales, and five species of endangered sea turtles that call the gulf home. Besides checking for oil in and on the bodies of six dolphins and more than 100 sea turtles collected so far, the agency is conducting aerial surveys to count the gulf's dolphins and whales, and taking biopsies of one bottle-nosed dolphin population to determine baseline levels of the animals' exposure to oil and other contaminants. Scientists will also monitor mammals acoustically with an underwater device.

    5. What’s happening to fisheries? On 18 May, NOAA shut down fisheries in a 118,000-square-kilometer area in the gulf. The move has threatened the lucrative shellfish industry. But the government says it is crucial to protect people from dangers of eating shellfish contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, elements of oil that are carcinogenic. Scientists are scouring the area for tainted catch—so far, with the oil still offshore, none has been found—a tricky task in itself. Current analytical methods take days. So scientists at AOAC International, a nonprofit analytical chemistry group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, are working with testing companies to try to develop faster methods for preparing and analyzing samples with mass spectroscopy. A far more difficult task will be determining when it is safe to reopen the fisheries.

    Animal Communication Reveals Roots of Human Language

    May 21, 2010  www.sciencemag.org  By Michael Balter

    UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS—In the 1990s, linguists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, primatologists, and other scientists teamed up to test new hypotheses about how human language arose. Since 1996, this interdisciplinary group has met every two years at Evolang, to discuss the evolutionary origins of language. During the 1950s, two psychologists raised Viki, a chimpanzee in their own home like a human child and tried to teach her to speak. Viki managed a rough approximation of only four words: mama, papa, cup, and (maybe) up. The following decade, researchers had much better luck with a chimp named Washoe when they tried to teach him American Sign Language. But few scientists think Washoe's impressive efforts represent true language. Such evidence that apes are poor at vocalizing, but fairly good at gesturing, has bolstered the so-called gestural theory for language origins. According to this model, the first human language consisted of signing, and articulate speech came later. In recent years, the gestural theory has gained the upper hand in many scientific journals and meetings. "Apes are much better at controlling their hands" than at vocalizing, says Fitch. "Their gestures are more intentional and more under control." A summary of the meeting proceedings is at www.sciencemag.org.

    N.C. Zoo’s “Lemur Island” Opens

    May 22, 2010  www.charlotteobserver.com  By Martha Quillin

    ASHEBORO N.C.—For the first time in the N.C. Zoo's history, lemurs are on exhibit. ”Lemur Island” has been under construction since September and opened today. Terry Webb, the zoo's curator for mammals, said it will feature six ring-tailed and two red-ruffed lemurs. Finding the $100,000 needed to renovate the space and bring in new animals required some outside help. "We try to do a little something new each year," said David Jones, director of the park, in part because so many of the 750,000 people who come to the zoo each year are repeat visitors. Some of the money came from zoo revenues, the rest from the N.C. Zoo Society and private donors. Two of the zoo's lemurs came from the Duke Lemur Center, which does research, conservation and education work with the animals. The center has a breeding program, which it has used to return some animals to the wild. Webb said, "They have some really unique behaviors. They do a lot of scent marking for communication with their wrist, with their armpits, with their groin and with their tail." They're female-dominant, they're social, they're acrobatic. Exhibit slideshow is at www.charlotteobserver.com.

    Bidding for Zoo Atlanta License Plate Tops $1,200
    May 23, 2010 www.wsbtv.com

    ATLANTA, Ga.—Zoo Atlanta is auctioning a new Georgia specialty license plate with an icon of the beloved pandas and inscribed ZA 1. The auction ends Sunday night just before midnight. Bidding for the plate currently tops $1,200. The state of Georgia is offering the specialty plate and it is available for licensed Georgia drivers. In addition to the auction for this license plate, the specialty tag is available via the Zoo Atlanta Trading Company gift shop or any Georgia motor vehicle office. A portion of all tags issued will benefit Zoo Atlanta. Auction proceeds and funds from the Silverback Gorilla Gala that coincided with this auction benefit Zoo Atlanta. The Zoo boasts the second largest collection of western lowland gorillas in the U.S., ranging in age from toddlers to 50 years old. Since 1989, 17 gorillas have been born in The Ford African Rain Forest.

  • Endangered Plant Threatened by Mining in Big Bear Area

    May 23, 2010  www.pe.com

    A Swiss company wants to more than double the size of a pit mine north of Big Bear, destroying terrain that is home to an endangered plant found only in that part of the San Bernardino Mountains. Officials with Omya California Inc. say they would make up for habitat losses by giving up mining rights on a much larger patch of land suitable for the plant. The Cushenbury oxytheca is one of four rare plants that live only in a swath of calcium carbonate-rich earth among the ridges between Lucerne Valley and San Gorgonio Peak. "Over the eons, these plants developed a tolerance to carbonate soils, making it their niche," said Ileene Anderson, a botanist with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. The USFWS listed the "carbonate plants" as endangered or threatened with extinction in 1994 after four decades of strip mining for limestone and other calcium carbonate-based minerals by several companies cut into the plants' already limited range. Limestone, now mined by Mitsubishi Cement Corp., is used in making cement. The purer calcium carbonate is mined by Omya and Specialty Mineral Inc. When ground to a powder, it is a key "extender" or filler used in plastic and latex products. An even purer material, mined by Omya at a quarry near Amboy, is used to make antacids and the filler in prescription tablets and capsules. All of it originated from shellfish and calcium deposits left on an ancient ocean floor at a time when the West Coast was as far east as Utah. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages the public land where the mine operates, and Omya is operating the mine under the authority of a claim made in the 1950s. Calcium carbonate is a type of mineral, like gold and silver ore, that can be mined from public land without paying royalties to the government. Although a full-scale environmental review is not required, the Forest Service is taking public comments through June 3 about what should be included in a more limited environmental assessment of the mine expansion. Send mail to Raj Daniel, c/o San Bernardino National Forest, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92408. Note on envelope: Re: Butterfield 3 Omya. Send e-mail to: comments-pacificsouthwest-san-bernardino@fs.fed.us

    9 New Species of Tasmanian Handfish Discovered

    May 23, 2010  www.sciencedaily.com

    TASMANIA, Australia—Nine new species are described in a review of the handfish family by Hobart-based fish taxonomists from the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, Daniel Gledhill and Peter Last. The review of brings the family to 14 known species—six found only in Tasmania and one known from only one specimen possibly collected in Tasmania by early European explorers, yet not recorded since. It also deepens concerns about declining populations of some handfishes. "Handfishes are small, often strikingly patterned or colourful, sedentary fish that tend to 'walk' on the seabed on hand-like fins, rather than swim. Now  they exist only off eastern and southern Australia," Mr Gledhill says.

    San Diego Donor Funds Aquarium at Jerusalem Zoo

    May 23, 2010  www.haaretz.com  By Jonathan Lis

    A new aquatic exhibit opened recently at Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, commonly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. The aquarium compound, "Wet Side Story," cost $1.5 million to build and is situated at the foot of a waterfall. It was one of the zoo's major donors, Robert Price of San Diego, who proposed the construction of a water-based exhibit to zoo director Shai Doron. Additional donors came on board after Doron led them through a presentation that included fantasy illustrations of children dreaming about gefilte fish against the backdrop of the Western Wall. In the end, several 16-cubic-meter tanks were installed and filled with a variety of strange and exotic species of fish, the likes of which most Israelis—and certainly most residents of the capital—have never seen. "This exhibition is just a teaser, to show how we are going into the big project," says Doron, who is also responsible for the divers who clean the tanks a few times a week. The zoo's plans call for expanding the aquarium complex. Within several years, it is hoped, it will exceed 8,000 square meters in size and it will rival the world's leading aquatic exhibits. The exhibit is the first in the country to display fish from Israel, some of them quite rare. Another part of the exhibit contains endangered species of fish from around the world," Werner explains. "Everyone knows about the need to preserve the Red Sea reefs," Doron says, "but few people give any consideration to the terrible destruction of the Mediterranean Sea and the loss of freshwater habitats. The streams are polluted, the lower Jordan River has become a sewage canal. The drop in the level of the Dead Sea is destroying the springs along its shores, and the pumping of water from Lake Kinneret causes damage to the springs in that area, as well," Doron notes. "Wet Side Story" is conceived as the story of a drop of water that falls in the north of Israel and continues its journey. Fish include: Tilapia, Electric eel, Pollimyrus isidori and African knifefish, Piranha, Alligator gar, Lungfish, and Aphanius dispar.

    Giants of the Savannah at Dallas Zoo

    May 24, 2010  www.dallasnews.com  By David Flick

    More evolutionary than revolutionary, the Dallas Zoo’s new elephant habitat builds on a 30-year trend in naturalistic zoo landscaping and on recent attempts nationwide to connect visitors with animals. “Pushing the envelope”, Dallas hired Gary Lee of the Philadelphia-based CLR exhibit design firm. "We wanted to create interactions between animals and people that were planned and at the same time spontaneous," Lee said. "We want people to come back several times and see different things. It won't be the same experience twice." A few years ago, Lee studied the habits of both zoo visitors and animals. Animals were most active in the morning and evening, he found, while humans liked to visit zoos in the afternoon. Lee brainstormed with zoo planners about how to replicate behavior they noticed in the animals' natural settings. Elephants will run in the wild out of a sense of urgency and competition, re-created at the Dallas Zoo by giving the most food to the first of the herd to arrive at, say, a watering hole, the second with a slightly smaller amount of food, and so on. Lee's collaborators include Steve Martin, president of Florida-based Natural Encounters Inc., who is introducing exotic birds to the habitat – and trying to ensure they put on a good show. "People can stand here and watch a fish eagle fly over the elephants, swoop down to the pool, catch a fish and stand next to a waterfall, just as you would in the wild," said Martin. "We're training the fish eagles to do that." Trained grouse will waddle across visitors' paths. Heated flagstones will draw lions into a bay window at the Serengeti Grill. Giraffes will wander through a habitat several feet below a visitors' platform, so that both species encounter each other at head-level. Shade will draw the giraffes close to the visitors – and visitors close to the giraffes – but well-placed fallen trees will keep the two species just far enough apart. Visitors, meanwhile, can purchase rye crisps to feed the giraffes. A zoo employee will hover nearby to make sure the giraffes aren't fed junk. Zoo executive director Gregg Hudson said, "It's a kind of habitat theater." Hudson came up with the idea of placing drums at the elephant activity stations across the savanna from the base camp. When the drums are pounded – the number of beats will indicate the station – both elephants and visitors will know something interesting is about to happen there. Animal activities will be strategically scheduled throughout the day, keeping the animals active and drawing people through the habitat. There will be chairs at the base camp to allow visitors to rest in midafternoon, while nearby employees explain animal behavior. Visitors can communicate by radio with employees at feeding stations at the other side of the habitat. If animal behavior can be maneuvered by food, humans can be motivated by photo opportunities. A glass wall in the predators exhibit is angled so that parents can take a picture of their child seeming to drive a vintage Land Rover with a cheetah riding in the truck bed."We've really tried hard not to make a lot of broad brags about it," he said of Giants of the Savanna. "I think there's a danger in proclaiming that this is going to be world-class. The term world-class is something the world gives you. You don't give it to yourself."

    New High-Tech Genetics Lab at National Zoo

    May 24, 2010  www.nbcwashington.com

    A new eco-friendly high tech genetics lab is opening at the National Zoo. It was built with recycled materials and has energy efficient heat and lighting systems. Researchers will study saliva, hair, feathers and shed skin to identify gender, diagnose disease and monitor wildlife populations in nature. The lab will be located on the zoo’s research hill and will house pathologists, veterinarians, ecologists and behaviorists. The focus will be on conservation and evolutionary genetics. Some researchers will study ancient DNA pulled from subfossil bones and mummies. Rob Fleischer, head of the Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, says work done at the lab will range from determine gender and the relationship between animals, to disease diagnosis and monitoring wild populations.

    Henry Doorly Zoo’s Economic Impact on Omaha

    May 24, 2010  www.action3news.com

    OMAHA, NE—Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo Economic Impact Study results reveal the Zoo's economic impact to the City of Omaha to be $101.2 million. This includes $36.3 million in labor paid to nearly 1,418 workers employed at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo or businesses throughout the Omaha economy. The additional economic activity in Omaha due to Omaha's Zoo generates an additional $1.65 million in local sales, use and lodging tax revenues for Omaha. Study results reveal Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo's economic impact to the State of Nebraska to be $83.14 million which includes $27.35 million in labor income. In 2009, 1.56 million people visited Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. Of those visitors, 35.7% were from the City of Omaha, 42% were from other parts of the Omaha MSA and nearby counties and 17.6% were from outside of state. Each new exhibit increases the city's ability to attract new visitors who in turn bring new money into the local economy.

    Gorilla Born at Zoo Atlanta

    May 24, 2010  www.ajc.com

    Zoo Atlanta's 25-year-old western lowland gorilla gave birth in the early morning hours Sunday, according to zoo officials. It's the third baby gorilla born to Kuchi and Taz, a 20-year-old silverback. Kuchi and Taz are also parents of fraternal twins Kali and Kazi, born in November 2005. Kuchi’s infant is already on exhibit, and is the 18th western lowland gorilla born at the zoo since the opening of the Ford African Rain Forest in 1988. Kuchi also has two adult offspring, Stadi, 19, and Lulu, 10.

    Twycross Zookeepers Hatch Quail Chicks

    May 24, 2010  www.dailymail.co.uk

    Tthe female quail at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire has abandoned her first clutch. "It's only the first clutch,” said a spokesperson, “ the next clutch she will sit until they hatch. We don't know why she does it, she just does. So instead of leaving them this year, we put them in an incubator and now we've got eight healthy baby quail. They're beautiful, they look like bumble bees and none of them are bigger than a two pence piece." The chicks are being kept in the Pets at Twycross section of the zoo, where children can touch and learn about pets from around the world.

    13 Lions Rescued from Romanian Zoo

    May 24, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

    DONCASTER, U.K.—Last February a pride of 13 lions was rescued from dilapidated and cramped conditions at the Oradea Zoo in Romania. After three months in quarantine they have taken their first steps in a new outdoor enclosure at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. For many of them it is their first time on grass. Daiana Ghender, the director of Oradea Zoo, said she was "very, very happy" to see the lions in their new nine-acre enclosure. “I was very emotional to see their first steps on the ground—they lived all their lives on concrete," she said."Staff did the best they could but obviously in such a poor country the facilities were poor. It just wasn't great for them." In summer 2009 the Yorkshire Wildlife Park launched an appeal to raise £150,000 to get the lions to the UK. They flew over in a specially modified Boeing 737 which was usually used to transport holidaymakers. Their enclosure has been built in three sections so the three pride families do not mix.

    California Academy of Sciences Study of Gulf Oil Spill

    May 24, 2010 www.calacademy.org

    SAN FRANCISCO – Scientists currently know very little about how long it takes for the hydrocarbons and heavy metals in crude oil to work their way through marine food webs. To address this issue, Academy scientist Peter Roopnarine is working with Laurie Anderson from Louisiana State University and David Goodwin from Denison University to collect and analyze three different types of mollusks from the Gulf Coast. These animals are continually building their shells, and if contaminants are present in their environment, they can incorporate those compounds into their shells. By studying oysters, tellinid clams, and periwinkles in the Gulf, the scientists will be able to monitor three different pathways for hydrocarbons into the food web, since oysters are stationary filter feeders that eat mostly plankton, tellinid clams are stationary bottom feeders that eat mostly detritus, and periwinkles are mobile grazers that eat mostly algae. As primary consumers in the food chain, oysters, clams, and periwinkles will likely be among the first animals to begin accumulating hydrocarbons and heavy metals, but they will not be the last. In much the same way that mercury becomes concentrated in large, predatory fish, the harmful compounds released during an oil spill may get passed on to the marine organisms that feed on shellfish. While hydrocarbons are organic compounds that will eventually break down over time, the staying power and long-term impacts of heavy metals like vanadium and nickel in the food web are unknown. Additionally, many hydrocarbons are known to be carcinogenic, and they could cause any number of physiological problems for animals that ingest them in high quantities.

    Scientific Study of San Diego Seal Population

    May 24, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com

    Although it’s been estimated that about 200 harbor seals visit the Children’s Pool beach in La Jolla, thousands of digital photos and a specialized software program have allowed UCSD anthropology professor Jim Moore and graduate student Traci Linder to identify about 500 distinct seals visiting between January and October 2008. Linder suggests that the cove is a “transition site” for seals moving between the Channel and Coronado islands, near the U.S.– Mexico border. The identification software was developed by a  British company called Conservation Research Ltd. It scans pelts and creates a database of spot patterns that it can compare using an algorithm. It is being used to study aspects of wildlife populations such as local abundance, movement and survival and is now finding a forensic application in tracing the origins of poached tiger and leopard skins. Linder and her fellow students spent dozens of hours taking pictures of the Children’s Pool seals. The software created 3-D models from the photos and assessed the chest and abdomen areas of each seal. The patterns from those isolated patches were then compared to other images to weed out duplicates. “I will only confidently state the minimum number that I’ve identified,” Linder said. “It’s very likely that there are many more than 500 seals using this beach, most likely within the low thousands.” She hopes to have a final tally in June.

    Harbor seals range from Alaska to Baja California. The National Marine Fisheries Service pegs the population along California to be stable—about 33,000. The creatures pull onto beaches at roughly 1,000 spots along the mainland and islands to rest, give birth and nurse their young. Haul-out spots for these seals are common in Central California. La Jolla is the only major mainland beachhead for them south of Point Mugu, said Mark Lowry, a research biologist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla. Children’s Pool—also called Casa Beach—is a slice of sand protected by a sea wall. It was set aside in 1931 as a place for people to practice swimming in the ocean. The cove also proved popular with pregnant seals and their pups because it’s protected from big waves and sits close to some rich feeding areas. Harbor seals were widely hunted for their pelts until passage of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. Once the law took effect “the seal population began to increase in California and along the West Coast. Seals used Children’s Pool beach only sporadically before 1990, according to an assessment done for San Diego city last year. Then the numbers started climbing, and in 1997, the county Health Department made swimming off-limits there because of pollution from seal fecal matter.

    New Topeka Zoo Director

    May 24, 2010  www.ktka.com  By Daniel Winn

    New Zoo Director Brendan Wiley’s first priority is as simple as “getting to know the staff." He wants to get lost credibility back to the Topeka Zoo, "To have one vision, one mission, strong strategic goals, strategic objectives so that everyday we're all on the same page." He said decisions are either in line with the zoo's mission, or they aren't. The Director said he'll have a better idea about security issues later this week, and also talked about making the zoo less dependent on city taxpayers. "Many zoos are finding more success by responsibly fund-raising on their own, I think that has definitely got to be a goal." He thinks fund-raising will play a big role in the future because of the struggling economy.

    Another Polar-Grizzly Hybrid Identified

    May 24, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com

    Global warming has reportedly been driving grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) farther north in search of food, bringing them into polar bear (U. maritimus) territory. Polar bears, meanwhile, are finding themselves stranded on land instead of their usual sea ice, bringing them into contact with the grizzlies. Last month an Inuit hunter in Canada’s Northwest Territories shot and killed a polar-grizzly bear hybrid (known as a grolar bear)  This is only the second time that a grolar bear has been encountered in the wild and confirmed, but even with its rarity, it is more distinctive than expected. DNA tests released by the N.W.T. Environment and Natural Resources Department reveal that this was actually a second-generation grolar bear—meaning one of its parents (its mother) was already a polar-grizzly hybrid. The father was a purebred grizzly. The bear had the polar bear's white fur but a bigger head, brown paws and longer claws more typical of a grizzly bear. The first grolar bear confirmed in the wild was killed by a hunter in 2006. A few others have been born in zoos.

    Saiga Suffering from Outbreak of Pasteurellosis

    May 25, 2010  www.medpie.com   By Barbara Lock, MD

    The Kazakhstan population of the Eurasian antelope known as the Saiga, is suffering from an outbreak of Pasteurellosis, according to Romandie.com. In the past week, more than 3,000 Saiga bodies have been found, with evidence of "distended bellies, a greenish foam at the mouth and a very severe diarrhea," according to the Kazakh Minister of Agriculture. The local population of Saiga from which the bodies were found numbered about 26,600 in 2009. The Saiga, which is an endangered species, is also found in Kalmykia (Russia) and in Western Mongolia. The Saiga horn was substituted in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the Rhinoceros horn, and now the Saiga is endangered itself. The Pasteurella family of bacteria that typically lives on the upper respiratory tract of certain animals and birds; Pasteurella multocida is a relatively common cause of infectious disease associated with human contact with animals, and can result in pneumonia, bacteremia, meningitis (infection surrounding the brain), endocarditis (infection of the heart) and osteomyelitis (infection of the bone). It is readily treated with common antibiotics. Pasteurella haemolytica can also infect livestock, specifically ruminants such as sheep, goats and cattle, and is found in chickens, and other livestock. A livestock vaccine against P. haemolytica (also called Mannheimia haemolytica) exists.

    Zoos and Aquariums on Oil Spill Alert

    May 25, 2010  green.blogs.nytimes.com  By SINDYA BHANOO

    Thirty-two national wildlife refuges are at risk because of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They span five states – Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Texas – and threaten dozens of species that are already endangered, including sea turtles, manatees and whooping cranes. Although BP is paying for the rescue efforts, which are being supervised by USFWS, zoos and aquariums around the country are mobilizing to help with rehabilitation efforts as needed. “What we have that is unique is trained and expert animal handlers that have many years of experience,” said Diane Olson, a curator at Moody Gardens an zoo and aquarium in Galveston, Texas, who is helping coordinate the efforts. Last week three oiled sea turtles that were rescued were placed at the Audubon Aquatic Center for care and cleaning. The Minnesota Zoo is sending the center toothbrushes, towels and cleaning brushes to help remove the oil caked on the turtles, one of which weighs over 100 pounds. In addition, 50 organizations from the AZA are offering help from their experts – veterinarians, zookeepers and animal technicians – as well as other resources like animal food and vehicles.

    Naples Zoo Wants to Expand

    May 25, 2010  www.naplesnews.com  By Laura Layden

    NAPLES, Florida—Collier County taxpayers may soon be asked to help the Naples Zoo add 22 acres. Zoo leaders may push for a referendum on the November ballot that would raise property taxes to pay for the additional land. The land purchase would cost taxpayers only a few dollars a year if it’s paid off over 20 years, said David Tetzlaff, the zoo’s executive director. One model puts the annual cost for taxpayers at $2 to $3 a year for every $100,000 of property value. This would be the second time taxpayers would be asked to help the more than 40-year-old zoo. In November 2004, voters approved a referendum to save the zoo, agreeing to tax themselves to pay for the land it sits on today. At the time, the attraction faced the threat of redevelopment. The property involved in the first referendum—which was supported by 73 percent of voters—was paid off early. The vacant acreage the zoo now wants is north and east of the zoo and would increase the attraction’s size by about 50 percent to about 65 acres, Tetzlaff said. “This could add about 30 jobs to the zoo if we have the expansion.” With the expansion, the zoo could add to its animal collection, give animals more room to roam and create a “legacy for the future,” he said. Over the past five years, the zoo has made more than $1 million in improvements and memberships and attendance continues to grow. The zoo continues to expand on the 43 acres that it now leases from Collier County. There are plans to add a “mac daddy” giraffe exhibit soon once the money is raised and a new master plan has been unveiled.

    New Cheetah Exhibit at Indianapolis Zoo

    May 25, 2010  www.wthr.com

    INDIANAPOLIS – Two male and three female cheetahs are part of the new "Race for Survival Exhibit" at the Indianapolis Zoo. Dr. Lori Marker, the world's leading cheetah expert, helped design the exhibit. Marker is the founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund based in Namibia. She said with just 10,000 cheetahs left worldwide, exhibits like Indianapolis are critically important. "The conservation message that's coming through the exhibit is very strong. And I think it links to your community with my community in Africa and how together we can save the species," said Marker. Marker said humans pose one of the greatest threats to the cheetah population. She said farmers often kill the big cats, fearing they'll prey on their livestock. That's why two dogs are part of the zoo's exhibit. They're Kangals or guardian dogs. Marker began a program in Namibia where the dogs are given to farmers to keep the cats at bay. While the zoo's canines are very friendly, senior zookeeper Susanne Wyatt said, "They do have a loud commanding bark and they're big enough in stature to scare away cheetahs." The $2 million exhibit was paid for by a private donor. NASCAR's Tony Stewart has also been a big contributor. The zoo is already planning next year's special exhibit, which will feature warthogs, bats and "reinventing" the tiger exhibit.

    Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden at Naples Zoo

    May 25, 2010  www.naplesnews.com

    Ted Geisel entertained generations of children with his zany stories and drawings in 44 books written between 1937 and 1990. This summer, The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Sam I Am from Green Eggs and Ham, Yertle the Turtle and The Lorax will be visiting the Naples Zoo. The four-foot to six-foot tall bronze sculptures will be available for public viewing in Naples Zoo’s Caribbean Gardens from May 29 to August 1, 2010. There will also be Seuss stories, and a Fun Facts Illustrated Tour featuring Seuss artwork. See www.napleszoo.org for details. The tour is organized by Chase Art Companies and curator, William W. Dreyer.

    Russian Scientists Raise Asiatic Black Bear Orphans

    May 25, 2010  news.nationalgeographic.com

    Asiatic black bears, also known as ‘moon bears’ because of the distinctive crescent-shape across their chests are a vulnerable species. Though protected in most parts of its range, hunting is still legal in both Japan and Russia. During traditional Russian bear hunts, hibernating bears are dragged from their dens and shot. If it’s a mother with cubs, the babies are often left to die. The National Geographic Society is helping to fund an ongoing project to protect these orphaned cubs. Currently Russian scientists Sergey Pizyuk and Liya Sagatelova, are raising 3 cubs. They hope they’ll be able to rejoin life in the wild—helping to ensure that another generation survives. They provide supplemental feeding and protection from predators, just as a mother bear would. But otherwise, the scientists teach the cubs nothing. Inborn behaviors like foraging, social skills, and defensive behaviors are developed entirely on their own. The scientists purposely minimize their contact with the cubs—they never play or talk with them—to preserve the bears’ natural wariness of humans. Ear tags mark these bears as part of the project, reducing the risk they’d be killed by hunters. By late fall, the cubs are sluggish, fat and ready to hibernate. By the time they awaken in spring, they’ll hopefully be ready to survive on their own.

    Migrating Birds – 7,000 Miles Non-Stop

    May 25, 2010  www.nytimes.com

    In 1976, the biologist Robert E. Gill Jr. came to the southern coast of Alaska to survey the birds preparing for their migrations for the winter. One species in particular, wading birds called bar-tailed godwits, puzzled him because they were too fat. At the time, scientists knew that bar-tailed godwits spend their winters in places like New Zealand and Australia. To get there, most researchers assumed, the birds took a series of flights down through Asia, stopping along the way to rest and eat. Gill wondered if they actually stayed in the air for a much longer time than scientists believed, but it was difficult to test. Over 30 years he built a network of bird-watchers who looked for migrating godwits over the Pacific Ocean. Finally, in 2006, technology caught up with his ideas and he and his colleagues were able to implant satellite transmitters in bar-tailed godwits and track their flight. The transmitters sent their location to Mr. Gill’s computer. He discovered they traveled up to 7,100 miles in nine days—the longest nonstop flight ever recorded. Since then, scientists have tracked a number of other migrating birds. Other species of birds can fly several thousand miles nonstop on their migrations, and scientists anticipate that as they gather more data in the years to come, more birds will join these elite ranks.

    Polar Bears Face Tipping Point

    May 25, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

    A new study from Canada is the first to directly model how changing climate will affect polar bear reproduction and survival. Details of the research by Peter Molnar and Andrew Derocher of the University of Alberta are published in the journal Biological Conservation. The researchers focused on the physiology, behavior, and ecology of polar bears, and how these might change as temperatures increase. Male polar bears find females by wandering the ice, sniffing bear tracks and following a female if she is in mating condition. The researchers modeled how this behavior would change as warming temperatures fragment sea ice and estimated how many females in a population will be able to find a mate during the mating season, and thus get impregnated. Southern populations of polar bears fast in summer, forced ashore as the sea ice melts. As these ice-free seasons lengthen, fewer bears are expected to have enough fat and protein stores to survive the fast. By developing a physiological model that estimates how fast a bear uses up its fat and protein stores, the researchers could estimate how long it takes a bear to die of starvation. "In both cases, the expected changes in reproduction and survival were non-linear," explains Dr Molnar. "That is, as the climate warms, we may not see any substantial effect on polar bear reproduction and survival for a while, up until some threshold is passed, at which point reproduction and survival will decline dramatically and very rapidly." These changes will happen suddenly as bears pass a 'tipping point'.

    Termites Most Important Species on African Savanna

    May 26, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Lions, elephants, and giraffes may be relatively minor players when it comes to shaping the savanna ecosystem in Kenya. Robert M. Pringle of Harvard and Todd M. Palmer, of the University of Florida and Kenya, show that termite mounds greatly enhance plant and animal activity at a local level, while their even distribution over a larger area maximizes ecosystem-wide productivity (biomass). Their study appears in the journal PLoS Biology. In Kenya termite mounds are some 10 meters in diameter and spaced some 60 to 100 meters apart, and are built over the course of centuries. After observing unexpectedly high numbers of the Kenya dwarf gecko in the vicinity of mounds, they began to quantify ecological productivity relative to mound density. They found that each mound supported dense aggregations of flora and fauna: plants grew more rapidly the closer they were to mounds, and animal populations and reproductive rates fell off appreciably with greater distance. Satellite imagery clearly showed that each mound – relatively inconspicuous on the Kenyan grassland – stood at the center of a burst of floral productivity. More importantly, these bursts were highly organized in relation to one another, evenly dispersed as if squares on a checkerboard. The result, says Pringle, is an optimized network of plant and animal output closely tied to the ordered distribution of termite mounds. The mechanism through which termite activity transforms the ecosystem is a complex one. The researchers suspect termites import coarse particles into the otherwise fine soil in the vicinity of their mounds. These coarser particles promote water infiltration of the soil, even as they discourage disruptive shrinking and swelling of topsoil in response to precipitation or drought. The mounds also show elevated levels of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. All this beneficial soil alteration appears to directly and indirectly mold ecosystem services far beyond the immediate vicinity of the mound. "Termites are typically viewed as pests, and as threats to agricultural and livestock production," Pringle says. "But productivity – of both wild and human-dominated landscapes – may be more intricately tied to these organisms  than is commonly understood." The findings also have important implications for conservation. "We might want to think about doing our coral restoration or plant restoration in a way that takes advantage of this ecosystem productivity enhancing phenomenon."

    154 Endangered Bird Species in India

    May 26, 2010  www.hindustantimes.com

    MUMBAI, India—A joint study by BirdLife International and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has found the number of endangered bird species in India has risen from 149 in 2008 to 154. The rise has been attributed to the rapid decline in the bird population to habitat destruction. Great Slaty Woodpecker has deteriorated from 'Least Concern' to 'Vulnerable' while that of Rufous-backed Bunting has fallen from 'Vulnerable' to 'Endangered',"  BNHS director Asad Rahmani said. BNHS has identified 466 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across India, which are crucial for bird habitats. "At present 200 among them are not officially protected. All such areas should be protected and local communities involved in conservation measures," he said. Rahmani, who is also a member of the Global Council of BirdLife and Chairman of BirdLife Asia Council, said that supposedly common species in India like Nilgiri Blue Robin and White-bellied Blue Robin have been included in the endangered category. He added that Himalayan Quail and Pink-headed Duck are considered extinct in India since they have not been seen for nearly 100 years.

    Como Zoo’s Polar Bear Odyssey

    May 26, 2010  www.kare11.com  By Jeff Olsen

    ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Como Zoo is counting down to the June 3rd, 2010 opening of a bigger, better polar bear environment. The new Polar Bear Odyssey is a world-class space featuring more than 13,000 square feet of outdoor living and a more than 3,200 square foot holding building with large bedrooms and a training area. "This exhibit is seven times the exhibit we used to have," senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim said. "One of the goals of the exhibit is to really get a behind-the-scenes feel." Visitors will get up-close views of the world's largest land predator. A climate-controlled building offers glimpses of the management and training of the bears. The indoor portion of the Polar Bear Odyssey offers both underwater views and expansive looks at land habitat. The outdoor facilities give more unobstructed looks at Buzz and Neil, that at times get guests within 20 feet of the bears. The new exhibit emulates a Hudson Bay ecosystem complete with a river-washed stream, rocky cliffs and evergreen vegetation. There are two pools. The deeper pool will be stocked with live trout for the bears. The shallow pool's depth can be lowered if the zoo ever becomes home to polar bear cubs. Other features include a digging pit filled with bark chips, gravel and sand and two designated stations for the public to watch training sessions between zookeepers and polar bears. Como Zoo has managed polar bears as a part of its animal collection for over forty years. See www.comozooconservatory.org.

    Sumatran Tiger Cubs Born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

    May 26, 2010  www.nwcn.com

    TACOMA, Wash. – Jaya, a 6-year-old Sumatran tiger gave birth on Tuesday to three tiger cubs at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Staff have only seen the cubs on video surveillance from inside the tigers’ behind-the-scenes nest box, but Jaya and two cubs appear healthy. A third cub died during birth. Staff biologist Andy Goldfarb said, “We’ll keep a close eye on them as Jaya learns her role as a first-time mom. But right now, we believe the remaining cubs will thrive.” Tiger cubs, generally about 2 pounds at birth, rely entirely on their mother for the first three months. The cubs at Point Defiance Zoo will live behind the scenes for several weeks, and visitors will have the chance to see them through a video monitor set up in the zoo’s Asian Forest Sanctuary. At about eight weeks old, tiger cubs are generally ready to leave the den with their mother, and staff will attempt to get the cubs into their exhibit around that time. The two new cubs bring the total number of Sumatran tigers in North American zoos to 74. There are fewer than 500 left worldwide.

    San Diego Zoo Offers Hopeful Message

    May 26, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com  By Allison Alberts

    Allison Alberts, Ph.D., San Diego Zoo chief conservation officer says, "The San Diego Zoo sees new reasons for hope every day":

    1. This year, the 300th puaiohi hatched at Zoo's Keauhou Bird Conservation Center in Hawaii.  And the 200th of these tiny forest thrushes will be released into its native habitat.
    2. Zoo scientists rediscovered gorilla and chimpanzee populations in Cameroon. This forest haven is home to eleven species of primates, including gorilla and chimpanzee populations once thought to be extinct.
    3. The first dedicated screening lab for chytrid fungus was established by the Zoo. The lab will assist in the creation of healthy colonies for the most critically endangered amphibians.
    4. The Chinese government banned logging in giant panda habitat and added 50 new reserves to protect wild pandas. The Zoo welcomed its fifth cub, little Yun Zi, contributing to a global baby boom that will reach 300 pandas worldwide this year.
    5. San Diego County's unique flora, one of the most endangered in the continental United States, is being conserved for the future. The Zoo achieved a milestone this year, safeguarding seeds from 500, or a third, of our 1,500 native plant species.
    6. In collaboration with Elephants Without Borders, the Zoo documented African elephants moving across the war-torn landscape, instinctively avoiding land mines to find their way home from Botswana to repopulate Angola for the first time in years.
    7. The national movement to reconnect kids to nature continued to grow. The Zoo welcomed the 10,000th student visitor to the hands-on Conservation Education Lab, and made the decision to theme October as Children and Nature Month.
    8. An ambitious effort to sequence the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species was launched. Utilizing the resources of the Zoo's unique Frozen Zoo®, this endeavor will lead to innovative genetic approaches to diagnosing and treating animal diseases.
    9. Zoo scientists worked with developers and local governments to successfully relocate more than 190 critically endangered Stephen's kangaroo rats from sites slated for housing projects onto protected reserves, where they are thriving.
    10. California condors continue soaring toward recovery. The global population of California condors surpassed 350, with more than half now flying free in the wild.

    Oak-Killing Beetle in San Diego County

    May 26, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com By Mike Lee

    SAN DIEGO—A new report by the U.S. Forest Service confirms that gold-spotted oak borer beetles have been found at Marian Bear Memorial Park in Clairemont, 45 miles west of where the agency first confirmed an infestation in 2008. The insect also has been reported in Crest and the western edge of Ramona. It has already killed more than 20,000 oaks in the backcountry. The trees it kills could feed wildfires, lower property values and change the natural landscape of the metropolitan area. Oak mortality in areas infested by the beetle averages 65 percent and is close to 100 percent in some spots. More than a dozen varieties of the tree dot San Diego County, and at least three are targeted by the gold-spotted beetle. Coast live oaks, canyon live oaks and California black oaks range from the mountains of East County to the coastal lowlands. Such species are prominent in grasslands near Ramona and open spaces such as Live Oak Park in Fallbrook and the Marian Bear greenbelt along state Route 52. The UC system and its partners are preparing to ask master gardners and other residents to systematically look for signs of the beetle. The Forest Service’s plans for this year include placing traps in the southern Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley.

    FDA, NIH Launch Web Site to Report Adverse Effects from Pet Foods / Drugs

    May 26, 2010  veterinarynews.dvm360.com

    A new FDA/NIH sponsored web site called “Safety Reporting Portal” (SRP) is designed to improve surveillance of public health by making it easier for individuals to file safety reports online. Currently, individuals can access the site to report safety issues related to foods (including animal feed, pet food, and pet treats) and animal drugs, as well as adverse events occurring on human gene transfer trials. However, this is only the first step in what FDA officials are hoping will be a one-stop shop for safety reporting. Eventually, users will be able to file one report via the site that will be sent to multiple agencies.

    Alligator Snapping Turtle Found Near Phoenix Zoo

    May 26, 2010  www.azcentral.com  by Ian Sullivan

    A 62-pound alligator snapping turtle was found in a pond just outside the Phoenix Zoo after crews noticed one of their nets was missing after a routine turtle-trapping. "Every year we team up with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Phoenix Herpetological Society to control the population of the pond," said Linda Hardwick, a staff member at the Phoenix Zoo. "It is not an exhibit, but we want to make sure the turtles are safe and can find a new home." Russ Johnson, President of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, said the turtle was so large it pulled the net down and broke the tree limb attached to the net. The shell is 17 inches long and 24 inches wide and it appears to have been there for a few years. Nearly all of turtles found in the pond are non-native to Arizona, dumped by people who no longer want to care for them. Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtle in North America and are most commonly found U.S. states along the gulf, Johnson said. The turtles have the second-strongest bite force of any animal after the crocodile, Johnson said. At nearly 1,500-pounds of force, the alligator snapping turtle is capable of severing off a human hand.

    White-Naped Cranes Hatch at Front Royal

    May 26, 2010 voices.washingtonpost.com  By Lori Artani

    Two white-naped crane chicks have hatched at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. The chicks, whose gender is not yet known, were born on May 12 and May 14. The biological mother of both chicks was artificially inseminated after she laid her first eggs at the end of March. The eggs that successfully hatched were laid April 10 and 13. The incubation period ranges from 28 to 32 days. The first chick is being raised by an experienced pair of white-naped cranes, and the second chick is being raised by first-time parents that include its biological mother. The wild population has decline because of destruction of its native wetland habitats in China, Russia and Korea. Currently, scientists estimate there are about 5,000 in the wild. There are 12 cranes at the Smithsonian's institute.

    Nebraska Zoo’s Land Sold at Auction

    May 26, 2010  www.action3news.com

    ROYAL, Nebraska—Most of the northeast Nebraska land that used to house Zoo Nebraska is going up for sale as part of a plan to liquidate the assets of the closed zoo. The seven-acre zoo in Royal once housed a number of exotic animals such as tigers, monkeys and parrots. It made headlines in 2005 because three escaped chimpanzees were shot and killed on zoo grounds. The zoo has been closed to the public since May 2007. Zoo Nebraska's animals were rescued by wildlife refuges and sanctuaries in other states.

    Gordy the Gorilla Died of Heart Disease at Como Zoo

    May 26, 2010  www.startribune.com  By CHRIS HAVENS

    Gordy the gorilla was fine when zookeepers looked in on him at 9:40 a.m. on April 19,  but when they returned 15 minutes later, he was dead. According to an autopsy completed by the University of Minnesota, he died of heart disease. His death is part of a disturbing trend among captive gorillas in North America who have developed progressive cardiovascular problems. Often, the deaths are sudden. Experts say 40 percent of captive gorilla deaths since 1980 were caused by heart disease. The majority were males, especially those older than 30. Dr. Tom Meehan, vice president of veterinary services at the Chicago Zoological Society was a lead researcher on a landmark study in the mid-1990s that brought the number of heart disease-related deaths to light. The Gorilla Health Project, based in Cleveland, is a collaboration of experts who are trying to figure out why the disease is increasing and are working toward prevention. Gorillas have been given cardiac tests and zoos have submitted the results to a database to see if patterns can be determined. Researchers have yet to come up with an answer. Is it diet? Stress? Genetics? Infection?  Zoo veterinarians use medications, surgeries—even implantable devices—to treat gorillas diagnosed with heart problems.

    Alaotra Grebe of Madagascar Declared Extinct

    May 26, 2010  www.birdlife.org

    BirdLife International has announced in the 2010 IUCN Red List update for birds, the extinction of Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Restricted to a tiny area of east Madagascar, this species declined rapidly after carnivorous fish were introduced to the lakes in which it lived. This, along with the use of nylon gill-nets by fisherman which caught and drowned birds, has driven them to extinction. Another wetland species suffering from the impacts of introduced aliens is Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai from Cuba. It has been uplisted to Critically Endangered and is under threat from introduced mongooses and exotic catfish. In Asia and Australia, numbers of once common wader species such as Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris and Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis are dropping rapidly as a result of drainage and pollution of coastal wetlands. The destruction of inter-tidal mudflats at Saemangeum in South Korea, an important migratory stop-over site, correlated to a 20% decline in the world population of Great Knot. Huge flocks of these birds once visited northern Australia, but annual monitoring by scientists have found corresponding declines in numbers.

    2 New Frog Species Found in Panama
    May 26, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    In 1989 researchers realized that frogs were dying around the world from a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis. Since then it has wiped out more than 100 species. Now scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have discovered 2 new frog species in Panama where the disease is rampant: Pristimantis educatoris, from Omar Torrijos National Park, and P. adnus from Darien Province near the Colombian border. "We are working as hard as we can to find and identify frogs before the disease reaches them, and to learn about a disease that has the power to ravage an entire group of organisms," said Roberto Ibanez, research scientist at STRI and local director of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. Since 2005 research institutions and zoos from Panama and the U.S. have scrambled to collect healthy frogs east of the infected area—to save them from extinction. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project unites eight institutions including STRI and the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, along with Panama's environmental authority, ANAM, in a new effort to raise captive frogs in Panama at Summit Nature Park with support from the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center. The total number of frog species described in Panama and Costa Rica is 197. Nearly 15 percent of these new frogs have been described in the past seven years.

    Zoopolitics – Animal Statecraft

    May 26, 2010  www.foreignpolicy.com  By CHARLES HOMANS

    Earlier this month Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, announced that he would give two of every animal found in Hwange National Park to his ally Kim Jong Il for North Korea’s Central Zoo in Pyongyang. While this may seem like a bizarre move, zoos and geopolitics have long been closely linked. In 1861, Arab traders captured a 2-year-old African elephant in what is now Ethiopia, and sold him to a European animal collector. The elephant's name was Jumbo ( the adjective originates with him) and he became one of the most famous London Zoo attractions in history. In 1880, showman P.T. Barnum convinced the Zoological Society of London to part with the animal for $10,000 and a huge uproar ensued in London. The ability of an American upstart entrepreneur to wrest loose one of Britain's most prized treasures was considered a "disgrace to English lovers of animals," and a betrayal of the public. The American zoos of the early and mid-20th century may not have been as explicitly imperial as their Victorian predecessors, but their animals were caught in the wild, mostly in Africa, and the traders from whom they bought the animals enjoyed cozy relationships with colonial administrators. This became a problem in the 1950s and '60s, when Europe's great colonial powers began relinquishing their imperial holdings in Africa and Asia. The wave of independence that swept over the continents terrified zoo officials in the U.S. Zoos required hundreds of new animals a year—now their suppliers were out of power, and the future of the game refuges was in doubt. "[Zoo] officials urged protection of the African wilds not as an ecosystem of interconnected species but as a warehouse of future zoo residents," writes Jeffrey Hyson, a zoo historian and professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

    Zoos began establishing "survival centers" on vast acreages in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, coastal North Carolina, and elsewhere, and stocking them with African fauna. Zoo officials were portrayed, by the media and in their own writing, as 20th-century Noahs, saving the world's great animals from a continent doomed to ruin under the rule of its native residents. History has proved them at least partially right: Many species have fared badly over Africa's half-century of self-rule. Civil war, deforestation, and poaching have all but obliterated the gorilla population of the Congo Basin, for instance, and the U.N. Environment Program predicts the great ape may be extinct within 10 to 15 years. The zoos' survival centers were also the first serious stab at the captive breeding efforts that now supply virtually all the animals on display in American zoos, and have enabled the reintroduction of species such as the California condor and the Asian wild horse. "In America now, far from being consumers of wildlife, we're going the other way," says Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

    Richard Nixon's landmark visit to China in 1972 produced several important results: U.S. adoption of the "one China" policy, and the gift from China to the National Zoo of two pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing. The pandas' arrival in Washington in April of that year—the zookeepers who traveled with them were the first sanctioned mainland Chinese visitors to the U.S. since the 1949 revolution—marked the beginning of communist China's so-called panda diplomacy: the distribution of pandas to foreign zoos as diplomatic gifts. It was a great PR ploy. Chinese rulers had been handing out pandas to their international friends well before Mao—Madame Chiang Kai-shek bestowed a pair on the Bronx Zoo in 1941, but they were long dead. The Chinese received an Alaskan musk ox named Milton, which they may or may not have eventually shot.

    By the 1980s, panda diplomacy had evolved into a sort of "rent-a-panda" business, in which zoos in the U.S. and elsewhere leased pandas from the Chinese government for limited periods of time. In 2006, Beijing tried to solve its half-century-old standoff with Taiwan by offering to ship a couple of pandas as a goodwill gesture. It was a shrewd move intended to undercut Taiwan's pro-independence president Chen Shui-bian—taken together, the pandas' names meant "reunion"—but Chen's government found a loophole in the deal: Taiwan wasn't a party to the international endangered species treaty under which China's panda exchanges were conducted, and therefore it legally couldn't take the animals. The decision was reversed by Chen's successor, a member of the Chinese-nationalist Kuomintang party, and there are now pandas at the Taipei Zoo. But the issue remains a sensitive one. China, meanwhile, has been busy handing out slightly less impressive animals. Beijing has given Hong Kong five rare Chinese sturgeons in honor of the 2008 Olympics and Afghanistan has received a shipment of lions, wolves, and other animals to replenish Kabul's war-battered zoo. Among them was a pig—the only one in Afghanistan, where the un-halal animal is otherwise illegal.

    When the first coalition troops arrived in Baghdad on April 3, 2003, the city's zoo had upwards of 650 animals. Eight days later, only 35 were left. Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen fighters had shooed the zookeepers away in the early days of the war and set up anti-aircraft guns around the zoo; after the fighters fled, animals were stolen and in some cases eaten by looters, or died for lack of food and water. When Lawrence Anthony, a South African conservationist, arrived in Baghdad to save what was left of the zoo two weeks after the invasion, he found the surviving animals—including a rare Siberian tiger that had been a personal pet of Uday Hussein—at death's door. “These two First World countries"—the United States and Britain—"with comprehensive animal rights laws – had no contingency plan for the biggest zoo in the Middle East." Zoos have always fared disastrously in wars. Animals are often killed in anticipation of an invasion, out of concern for public safety—big cats and bears escaping their battle-damaged enclosures tend to complicate the defense of a city. Even if they're spared extermination, beasts lucky enough to survive the shelling and gun battles begin dying within a day or two from lack of water, then from lack of food. Hardier creatures soon face another threat: people who eat them. Few animals in the national zoos of Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan survived the countries' respective invasions. The most celebrated lion in the Kabul Zoo managed to weather a quarter-century of upheaval in Afghanistan, though not without injury. When mujahideen fighters sacked the zoo and ate many of its animals in the civil conflict of the mid-1990s, a guerrilla made the mistake of climbing into Marjan's enclosure. The lion grabbed him by the neck and killed him. Seeking revenge, the man's brother returned to the zoo to attack the animal with a hand grenade, blinding him and knocking out his teeth. But Marjan survived his wounds, finally dying of natural causes in January 2002, shortly after the fall of the Taliban. He had lived to the ripe old age of 26—long enough to have watched two civil wars and two invasions from his cage.

    BP Oil Spill: How Endangered Species are Fairing

    May 26, 2010  www.csmonitor.com  By Bill Sasser

    NEW ORLEANS—While relatively few numbers of Gulf wildlife have been counted as oil fatalities to date, the BP spill could produce mass casualties and steep declines of populations in the future. Of particular concern: bluefin tuna, Kemp’s ridley turtles, and Florida manatees. Up to 400 Florida manatees migrate to Louisiana waters each summer according to John Hewitt, senior vice president and directory of husbandry for the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. They’re herbivores, and have finely tuned digestive tracts. No one knows how this oil could affect the manatees. 417 died in Gulf waters last year. Habitat destruction, strikes by boats, cold temperatures, and red tide are cited for most premature deaths of manatees. Currently, the Gulf has 3,000 nesting pairs of ridley turtles. To date 200 sea turtles of all species have been found dead in the northern Gulf of Mexico since the rig disaster began in April, according to Doug Zimmer of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Fifteen distressed turtles have been rescued, three with obvious signs of oiling. However, the causes of the turtle deaths aren’t entirely clear. “Dead turtles are often found in the spring in the Gulf, but marine biologists say this seems to be an uptick in the normal numbers. Necropsies have been done on 70 of the turtles, but no signs of oil have been found.” Among deepwater species, the western Atlantic bluefin is the most threatened by the Gulf oil spill, according to marine biologists. Weighing close to a ton and reaching 13 feet in length, it is among the fastest of fish and at the top of the ocean’s food chain. The area of the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster is one of a handful in the Gulf where western Atlantic bluefins breed, accounting for one-quarter of the species’ spawn each spring, says marine biologist Barbara Block of Stanford University in California. The oil spill, she says, will have serious effects on bluefin eggs and larvae, which free float in Gulf waters. The spill’s effects on shorebirds, such as the once-endangered pelican, are still pending, says Zimmer of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ve never dealt with this type of oil release, with oil doing stuff we’ve never seen before.”

    Revised Critical Habitat for the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse

    May 27, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the reopening of the public comment period on the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei). A draft economic analysis, and a draft environmental assessment is available. The comment period for the proposal is being reopened to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the revised proposed rule. Please submit comments on or before June 28, 2010 via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (search for docket FWS-R6-ES-2009-0013 and then follow the instructions for submitting comments) OR U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2009-0013; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.For further information contact: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Ecological Services Office, P.O. Box 25486, DFC (MS 65412), Denver, CO 80225; by telephone (303-236-4773);

    Young Sea Lions' Long Term Memory of Mother’s Call
    May 27, 2010  www.physorg.com

    PhD student Benjamin Pitcher from Macquarie University originally recorded the pup-attraction calls of six female Australian sea lions to test the pups' ability to discriminate between the calls of their mother and another adult female during their first year while they were still dependent on their mother. However, around two years later, they played back the recordings to pups that were now three and a half years old. Despite having been weaned at around one and half years old, the pups identified more strongly when hearing the sound of their mothers’ voices rather than the voices of other unknown females. Moreover, the researchers found that the pups not only looked at and called to the speaker, but in some cases, even approached it when they heard their mothers’ voices. The study appears in the journal Animal Cognition this month.

    Akron Zoo’s New Zoolympics Animal Show

    May 27, 2010  www.akron.com

    WEST AKRON—The Akron Zoo’s live animal show, “It’s a Wild World Animal Show,” has an all new show theme. Zoolympics will debut June 1 with more than 10 animals showing off their athletic abilities in Zoolympics. Parts of the show will be interactive, with a member of the audience able to light the Zoolympic torch, slither like a snake and more. The zoo also is offering an opportunity for people 12 years of age and older to become part of the show. The Trainer-for-a-Day program allows guests to meet some of the animals that appear in the show up-close, take a behind-the-scenes tour and help the education staff get ready for the show and appear in the show. The cost for this program, which is one day from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is $175 for Akron Zoo members and $200 for nonmembers. The fee also includes admission to the zoo, a Trainer-for-a-Day T-shirt and lunch.

    3 Przewalski Horses Born at Calgary Breeding Facility

    May 27, 2010  www.cbc.ca

    Three Asian wild foals have been successfully bred at the Calgary Zoo's endangered breeding facility south of Calgary. The two fillies and one colt bring the Calgary herd to 11 horses. "While these foals will not likely be reintroduced to the wild, they represent the next generation for an aging captive population," said Bob Peel, curator for the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre. Asian wild horses, or Przewalski's horses, are considered critically endangered by the IUCN. The last count in 2008 showed 1,872 Prezwalski's horses in the world.

    Lorises Increasingly at Risk From Trade

    May 27, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com

    Researchers report in the American Journal of Primatology that thousands of lorises are caught each year for use in traditional medicine. In countries like Cambodia it is believed that eating loris flesh can treat leprosy. Tonics made from lorises are marketed as a treatment to heal wounds and broken bones or to help women regain strength after childbirth. In Sri Lanka loris body parts are used to ward off the "evil eye" or to cast curses. Loris tears are also an ingredient in love potions. The animals are caught despite their toxic bites, which can lead to anaphylactic shock and even death in humans. Many are sold as pets after having had their teeth removed. Of the nine loris species, two are endangered. Trade in eight of the loris species is restricted by CITES which limits the sale of all six species of slender lorises and bans trade in two of the three loris species from the genus Nycticebus (the Bengal slow loris, N. bengalensis, and the pygmy slow loris, N. pygmaeus). Lorises are also protected by law in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Indonesia and other countries, although punishments are rare and lax. Lead author Anna Nekaris of the Nocturnal Primate Research Group at Oxford Brookes University says they are easy to catch and trade because they to freeze when spotted by humans.

    2010 State of Observed Species

    May 27, 2010  species.asu.edu

    The 2010 State of Observed Species released by Arizona State University researchers reports that 18,225 living species were discovered in 2008. In addition, 2,140 new extinct species were discovered as fossils. Over 48 percent of the new species were insects (a third of that total were beetles). Only 41 new species of mammal were discovered in 2008, and nearly a third were rodents. To date, insects represent a majority of the world's species with just over a million described. Plants come in second with just over a quarter-million. As of 2008, researchers have described 9,997 birds, 8,863 reptiles, 6,644 amphibians, and 5,528 mammals. In all, scientists have described almost 2 million species (1,922,710) since taxonomic work began in the 18th century. However, most of the world's species remain unknown to researchers. According to the report, scientists believe that there are at least 10 million species in the world, as well as tens of millions of microbes.

    Extinction of Rosewood Trees Predicted for Madagascar

    May 27, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    DURHAM, N.C.—Illegal logging is threatening several species of rosewood trees in Madagascar. "Forty-seven of Madagascar's 48 species of rosewood (Dalbergia) are found nowhere else in the world," said Duke University grad student Meredith Barrett, the lead author of a May 27 article in the journal Science. Duke researchers performed a mapping and modeling study with the help of a French botanist to estimate historical and current distributions of tree. Barrett, whose dissertation research concerns the effects of human development on lemur health, said, "When we went there in October, it had become obvious that Madagascar's tourism had collapsed and that unrestricted logging was accelerating." The market for lemur "bush meat" also has increased dramatically, particularly in the country's northeastern rainforests. Brazilian rosewood gained CITES protection in 1992, which is believed to have put more pressure on the forests in Madagascar. The slow-growing rosewood trees are found in relative isolation from each other. They are too dense to float very well, so loggers will fell several trees along river banks to make skids and rafts for bringing the logs to market. Once the logs are floated and trucked to Malagasy ports, they are loaded onto container ships and hauled to China to make highly prized furniture and musical instruments. There are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 metric tons of felled rosewood trees awaiting shipment from Madagascar's ports. The Malagasy logger who fells the tree is paid about 50 cents for "backbreaking work." A Chinese rosewood armoire retails for about $20,000.

    Monitoring for H5N1 Yields New Info on Rare Bird Species

    May 27, 2010  www.prnewswire.com

    NEW YORK—For the past several years, health experts with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have caught, banded, and released thousands of wild birds around Southeast Asia in an effort to monitor bird populations for avian influenza viruses. These activities have also produced another benefit: new information on rare bird species. In Indonesia, WCS field teams recently gathered new data on the Nordmann's greenshank—an endangered shorebird species with a total global population of only 500-1,000—on the beaches of Jambi Province on the island of Sumatra. The findings are published in the most recent edition of BirdingASIA. WCS's monitoring efforts in Indonesia and Vietnam are currently being funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from Cargill, an international company. Between 2007-2010, WCS's monitoring team in Indonesia caught and released five Nordmann's greenshanks—taking biological samples and marking the birds with leg bands and flags—on the island of Sumatra. The team also observed two sizable groups of birds, made up of 7 and 21 individuals respectively. The brightly colored leg flags enable bird enthusiasts along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, covering 22 countries, to report sightings of flagged migratory birds that can then be traced back to their wintering site on Sumatra. Of the 578 migratory shorebirds tested in Indonesia to date, some 15 percent have been found to carry low-pathogenic forms of avian influenza viruses (many avian influenza viruses that do not adversely affect the birds that carry them). The Nordmann's greenshank samples tested negative for avian influenza viruses. These are the first data that confirm that shorebirds in Indonesia are natural reservoirs of avian influenza viruses, a finding that contributes to our global understanding of the virus.

    15 Bald Eagles Born on Channel Islands This Year

    May 28, 2010  www.catalinaconservancy.org  By SUE MANNING

    LOS ANGELES—Fifteen chicks have hatched this year on three of the eight islands—Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and Santa Catalina—bringing to 36 the number of chicks that have survived since recovery efforts started in 2002, according to Yvonne Menard of the National Park Service. Bald eagles disappeared from the Channel Islands by the early 1960s due to human impacts, primarily pollution. Millions of pounds of the deadly pesticide DDT and other chemicals were dumped in the ocean off the Palos Verdes Peninsula between the 1940s and 1970s. The chemicals caused bald eagles to lay thin-shelled eggs that either dehydrate or break in the nest. The recovery project is being funded by the chemical companies and cities that dumped the pesticide. So far, the biggest problem for the young birds from the Channel Islands has been trying to fly the 18 miles from the islands to the mainland, said Annie Little, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist. The young birds, which haven't developed their flying skills yet, get tired, land in the water and can't get back up. Eagles start reproducing when they are 4 or 5 years old, so it won't be long before biologists know if the eagles hatched on the island since 2002 will rebound for future generations. Until now, all the chicks have been offspring of birds brought to the islands as adults from Alaska and Northern California.

    Protecting Monkeys From Lethal Ebola

    May 28, 2010  www.npr.org

    Scientists using tiny particles of genetic material to interfere in the replication process of the deadly Ebola virus have successfully prevented monkeys exposed to that virus from hemorrhagic fever. The proof-of-concept study was published in this week's issue of The Lancet. "Over the past decade, we have evaluated numerous therapeutic approaches for the treatment of lethal viruses, such as Ebola," said co-author Dr. Lisa E. Hensley of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). "None of them have conferred complete protection to Ebola virus-infected primates—until now."  The study represents the first demonstration of complete protection against a lethal human infectious disease in nonhuman primates using RNAi, according to lead author Dr. Thomas W. Geisbert of the Boston University School of Medicine.

    Indonesia Announces Moratorium on Deforestation

    May 28, 2010  news.mongabay.com

    Indonesia today announced a two year moratorium on granting new concessions of rainforest and peat forest for clearing beginning in January 2011. Concessions already granted to companies will not be stopped. The announcement came as Indonesia received 1 billion US dollars from Norway to help the country stop deforestation. A statement from Indonesia as reported by Reuters says, "Sufficient non-forest lands exist for Indonesia to accommodate the growth of its vitally important plantation industries, a major source of livelihoods in Indonesia." Plantation expansion, including palm oil and pulp-and-paper, will focus on lands that are already degraded. The donation of 1 billion US dollars from Norway is seen as the beginning of a REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) program in Indonesia. In fact a portion of the monies will go toward setting up a monitoring system for REDD+ and beginning REDD+ projects. Indonesia is second in deforestation loss after Brazil. Between 1990 and 2005, Indonesia lost more than 28 million hectares of forest, including 21.7 hectares of virgin forest. The country's forest cover has declined from 82 percent in the 1960s to less than fifty percent today.

    3 European White Storks Hatch at Lincoln Park Zoo

    May 28, 2010  www.chicagobreakingnews.com

    CHICAGO—The Lincoln Park Zoo has a new flock of European white storks after three hatched there in the last week. It's the first time the species has reproduced at the 142-year-old zoo. A mated pair of storks hatched the eggs last Saturday, Sunday and Monday in the Regenstein Birds of Prey habitat south of the McCormick Bird House. Also on Monday, two rare Cinerous vultures hatched a chick, according to Colleen Lynch, the zoo's bird curator.

    Whale Evolution
    May 28, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Whales range in size from the blue whale (100 feet long – the largest animal known to have existed) to small species about the size of a dog. Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain the rapid appearance and diversification of modern whales, which coincided with the extinction of the primitive whales about 35 million years ago. Primitive whales (several feet to 65 feet long) first went into the oceans some 55 million years ago. They all fed on fish and looked similar to land animals. There are now 84 living species of dramatically different size whale species and more than 400 other species that have gone extinct. UCLA evolutionary biologists Michael Alfaro and Graham Slater used molecular and computational techniques to look at whale evolution, integrating information from the fossil record with novel computational methods of analysis. "The shape of variation that we see in modern whales today is the result of partitioning of body sizes early on in their history," Alfaro said. "Whatever conditions allowed modern whales to persist allowed them to evolve into unique, disparate modes of life, and those niches largely have been maintained throughout most of their history. Once these forms became established, they remained." Large whales, small whales and medium-sized whales all appeared early in the history of whales, with the large whales eating mostly plankton, small whales eating fish and medium-sized whales eating squid. The distribution of whale body size and diet still corresponds to these early splits." Killer whales are an exception, having become larger over the last 10 million years. Killer whales are unusual in that they eat mammals, including other whales. The study appears in the online edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B and will appear at a later date in the journal's print edition.

    New Animal Database Trial in Australia

    May 29, 2010  www.theaustralian.com.au

    Zoos South Australia’s chief logistics curator Gert Skipper, from Monarto Zoo, is participating in a global trial of a database that tracks animals in captivity in 74 countries. Once fully operational the online database will link more than 800 institutions allowing each to access the health details, disease history, mating habits and genealogy of 2.4 million animals. Adelaide and Monarto zoos are among 18 international zoos selected for the pilot program. Mr Skipper says the system will share information about animals not previously available, such as sound files of mating calls.Once the system is running Monarto staff expect to share share information about their successful cheetah breeding program. Zoos SA chief executive Chris West described the project as "revolutionary" in how endangered species like the cheetah are managed. "It's the first animal health and management database of its time," Dr West said. "I could argue it's the first in health management, including humans, of this size."

    Dallas Zoo Slogan Contested by Joyce Poole

    May 29, 2010  www.wfaa.com  by SHON GABLES

    DALLAS—The new Giants of the Savanna exhibit at Dallas Zoo has drawn criticism from a world-renowned elephant expert. Dr. Joyce Poole, based in Norway, says the zoo took her self-made slogan, 'let elephants be elephants,' and made it its own, along with a new interpretation. "That's the phrase I always use when I talk about what's wrong with elephants in zoos, that they're not allowed to be elephants and we have to let them be," she added. “We don't know if it there's a patent or copyright, but if there is, we'll address that," said Sean Greene, Dallas Zoo deputy director of education. Greene says the slogan is used to increase awareness of its new Giants of Savannah exhibit, where 5 acres of land is dedicated solely to its six elephants. "Yes of course 4, 5 or 6 acres is much better than a quarter of an acre but it's not the same as letting elephants be elephants. You need more space than that," Poole said.  Dallas Zoo elephant expert Alan Roocroft said, "Is it the wild? No, we're not saying it's the wild. We're creating an environment for… the people of Dallas, who have given millions of dollars to recreate this… and to throw that in their face, is actually an insult."

    Biomimicry: Butterfly Wings and Currency Security

    May 30, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Scientists have discovered a way of mimicking the iridescent colors found on the wings of tropical butterflies. Rather than relying on pigments, the colors are produced by light bouncing off microscopic structures on the insects' wings. Cambridge University researchers, Mathias Kolle, Ullrich Steiner and Jeremy Baumberg, studied the Indonesian Peacock or Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio blumei), whose wing scales are composed of intricate, microscopic structures that resemble the inside of an egg carton. Because of their shape and the fact that they are made up of alternate layers of cuticle and air, these structures produce intense colors. Using a combination of nanofabrication procedures – including self-assembly and atomic layer deposition – the researchers were able to create structurally identical copies of the butterfly scales. "These artificial structures could be used to encrypt information in optical signatures on banknotes or passports to protect them against forgery” said Kolle. Interestingly, the butterfly may also be using its colors to encrypt itself – appearing one color to potential mates but another color to predators. The research is published today in Nature Nanotechnology.

    Lehigh Valley Zoo Oryx Will Move to San Diego

    May 30, 2010  articles.mcall.com

    “Arizona,” a male scimitar-horned oryx at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, will be sent to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park to mate with a herd of about 20 females. Hopefully, Arizona's offspring could eventually be sent to Africa to help reintroduce the species to the wild. This is the first time a Lehigh Valley Zoo animal has been chosen to participate in such a repopulation effort. Scimitar-horned oryx are considered ''extinct in the wild.'' There's been no definitive evidence for about 20 years that any still exist in their native habitats. As of 2005, there were 1,500 or so held captive in breeding programs around the world, and there could be a few thousand others kept on game ranches or in private collections. Because of repopulation efforts, some scimitar-horned oryx have been sent to Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal, but they remain in fenced-off areas for protection. Richard Rosevear, the zoo's acting curator, said it's exciting to help the oryx population recover. Randy Rieches, the Henshaw Curator of Mammals at the Wild Animal Park in California, said Arizona is ''the best genetic fit'' for the female oryx he oversees. Analyses of Lehigh’s 2 other oryx indicates they could be distant relations of one or more of San Diego's female oryx. Lehigh Valley Zoo is located on the Trexler Nature Preserve near Schnecksville, and although subsidized through 2013, has had financial difficulties.

    Great Plains Zoo Tiger Breeding Program

    May 31, 2010  www.keloland.com  By Molly Miles

    SIOUX FALLS, SD— The Great Plains Zoo currently breeds 17 animals that are on the endangered species list. Amur tiger Callie, who is almost a year old, is the lone survivor of a litter six cubs that was part of the zoo's breeding program. Today, she's nearly full grown and has helped the zoo learn more about the species and become a key player in the breeding of Amur tigers nationwide. "We have nine tigers including three tiger cubs from this year and a cub from last year. We have really worked hard to put more good tigers into the population," said president Elizabeth Whealy. The Great Plains Zoo collaborates with zoos across the nation to find the very best genetics for each species.

    National Zoo’s AnimalCams
    May 31, 2010  www.wusa9.com

    WASHINGTON DC (WUSA)—The National Zoo has pioneered the use of web cameras to show off its many animals – cheetahs, naked mole rats, octopus, and of course, pandas. The complete list and links are at nationalzoo.si.edu.

    Goats That Produce Milk With Spider Silk Protein

    May 31, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Researchers from the University of Wyoming have developed a way to incorporate spiders' silk-spinning genes into goats, allowing the researchers to harvest the silk protein from the goats’ milk for a variety of applications. For instance, due to its strength and elasticity, spider silk fiber could have several medical uses, such as making artificial ligaments and tendons, eye sutures, and jaw repair. The silk could also have applications in bulletproof vests and improved car airbags. Normally, getting enough spider silk for these applications requires large numbers of spiders, but when researchers tried to set up spider farms, the spiders, who are territorial, killed each other. So researchers decided to put the spiders’ dragline silk gene into goats in such a way that the goats would only make the protein in their milk. Of seven goat kids born in February 2010, three have tested positive for having the silk protein gene. When these transgenic goats have kids and start lactating, the researchers will collect the milk and purify the spider silk protein into much higher quantities. Other than their ability to produce the spider silk protein, the goats do not seem to have any other differences in health, appearance, or behavior compared to goats without the gene. In the future, the scientists plan to incorporate the silk genes into alfalfa plants, which they say could produce even larger quantities of silk.

    St. Lucie Sanctuary for Chimpanzees
    May 31, 2010  www.tcpalm.com

    FORT PIERCE, Florida — The 150-acre ”Save the Chimps” sanctuary in western St. Lucie County recently acquired a mobile veterinary clinic, which took 1 1/2 years to build, and was paid for through a $100,000 grant from an anonymous donor. Save the Chimps veterinarian Jocelyn Bezner said that sanctuary founder, the late Dr. Carole Noon, noticed that when sedating chimps, they were a lot more stressed if taken away from their family unit. Having a mobile facility to treat the chimps at the sanctuary was her dream. The 187 chimps come from the now-closed Coulston Foundation animal testing lab in Alamogordo, N.M., which Save the Chimps renovated and took over in 2002 after the lab went bankrupt. The chimps are living out their lives on three-acre islands surrounded by water. The facility is not open to the public. There are 89 chimpanzees left at the Save the Chimps location in Alamogordo, N.M., and 10 of them are scheduled to be transferred to St. Lucie County at the end of June. It will cost $25,000 to relocate 10 chimps and next month’s group is fully sponsored. Save the Chimps’ goal is to relocate three more groups of 10 chimps from New Mexico to Florida in late summer and is now seeking donors to help sponsor the transfers. To help see www.SaveTheChimps.org.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications
    June 1, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species, marine mammals, or both. We must receive requests for documents or comments on or before July 1, 2010. For further information contact: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104.

    Applicant: Museum of Zoology—University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; PRT-10640A. The applicant requests a permit to import dried skin samples from museum specimens of mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) and Yellow-tail woolly monkey (Oreonax flavicauda) from Peru for the purpose of enhancement of the species through scientific research. This notification covers activities conducted by the applicant for a 5-year period.

    Applicant: Charles T. Ellis, Senoia, GA; PRT-10973A. The applicant requests a permit to import a sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.B. Endangered Marine Mammals and Marine Mammals.

    Applicant: National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Seattle, WA; PRT-212570. The applicant requests an amendment to the permit for incidental harassment for the purpose of scientific research. During cetacean and pinniped aerial and boat surveys, biopsy collection, and tagging activities, populations of polar bear (Ursus maritimus), walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) and southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) may be harassed in the waters of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. This notification covers activities to be conducted under the remainder of the 5-year period of the permit.

    Applicant: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA; PRT-717015. The applicant requests renewal of the permit to acquire, import, and export unlimited number of specimens of sea otters (Enhydra lutris), marine otters (Lontra feline), manatees (Trichechus spp.), dugongs (Dugong dugon), polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) for the purpose of archiving, scientific exchange, and scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Southwestern Pond Turtle
    Seen in Jamul Refuge
    June 1, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com  BY KAREN KUCHER

    JAMUL—In a tributary of the Sweetwater River in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge near Jamul, Jill Terp spotted an 8-inch-long, 5-inch-wide Southwestern pond turtle with a plain-looking, brownish-grayish shell. Terp, whomanages the refuge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said "it is a species in decline that has been designated 'of special concern' by the state of California and 'sensitive' by the Federal Bureau of Land Management." The species is found in small scattered locations in coastal Southern California but had never been found in the area before. Biologists with U.S. Geological Service in San Diego County are in the midst of a long-term study of the species and the discovery may prompt a future trapping survey so researchers can determine how many others might be in the creek and whether they are reproducing. The species will be added to the list of plants and animals in the refuge, a 9,000-acre patchwork of properties between Jamul and Chula Vista that was created in 1996 to help protect the region’s biodiversity. Habitats include coastal sage scrub, chaparral, oak woodland and freshwater marsh. It is home to endangered birds such as the least Bell’s vireo and California gnatcatcher and the rare Quino checkerspot butterfly. Southwestern pond turtles can be easy prey for predators such as bass and bullfrogs and they are susceptible to diseases introduced by pet turtles that people sometimes dump in rural streams. They also are at risk of being run over, particularly females that have to leave the creeks and ponds to find places to burrow and lay their eggs.

    Sierra Leone Chimpanzee Survey is Encouraging

    June 1, 2010  www.google.com

    FREETOWN—Sierra Leone has 4,000 endangered West African chimpanzees, according to results of a recently released national survey. Terry Brncic, who led the field research carried out by the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, said the last survey conducted in 1980 had estimated the chimp population to be half that number—between 1,500 and 2,500. "The current survey has determined that almost half of these chimps are surviving in highly threatened and marginal habitats outside of the country's protected forest reserves," she said. "Sierra Leone is the second country after Guinea" in terms of chimp populations. The survey cost $230,000 and was carried out between January 2009 and May 2010. It is the first nationwide study ever taken in the west African nation concerning the most endangered of Africa's four chimpanzee subspecies.

    Music and the Animal Brain

    June 1, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By Claudia Dreifus

    Aniruddh D. Patel, senior fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego is the author of the book, “Music, Language, and the Brain.” [He was also a recent speaker at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute]. He discusses his research on a cockatoo named Snowball who was discovered dancing to the beat of “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys on YouTube. He likens the experience to seeing a video of a dog reading a newspaper out loud. “This was supposed to be a uniquely human behavior! If this was real,” he said, “it meant that the bird might have circuits in its brain for processing beat similar to ours.” He phoned up the bird shelter in Indiana where Snowball lived and talked to the director who said the owner had dropped the bird off with a CD and the comment, “Snowball likes to dance to this.” One day, Irena Schulz, proprietor of the shelter, played the song to amuse Snowball and he began to move. So she made the video and posted it on YouTube.

    Patel decided to design an experiment to see if Showball was really moving to the beat. He took the Backstreet Boys song, sped it up and slowed it down at 11 different tempos, then videoed what Snowball did to each. For 9 out of the 11 variations, the bird moved to the beat, which meant that he’d processed the music in his brain and his muscles had responded—the first documented case of a nonhuman animal who, without training, could sense a beat out of music and move to it. The Snowball research was published in Current Biology, along with another paper by a group at Harvard in which thousands of YouTube videos were surveyed to see if there were other animals spontaneously moving to a beat. They found about 12 or 13 parrots. No dogs. No cats. No horses. What do humans have in common with parrots? Both species are vocal learners, with the ability to imitate sounds. We share that rare skill with parrots. In that one respect, our brains are more like those of parrots than chimpanzees. Since vocal learning creates links between the hearing and movement centers of the brain, I hypothesized that this is what you need to be able to move to beat of music. Since working with Snowball, Patel has come to think he could learn more music neuroscience by studying the behaviors of not just parrots, but perhaps dolphins, seals, songbird —also vocal learners.

    Carnivorous Plant on Top 10 List of Newly Discovered Species

    June 1, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Each year The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University names the Top 10 new species described in the previous calendar year. The list for 2009 was published to coincide with the birthday of Carl Linnaeus on May 23rd. There are only 2 plants on the list, and the carnivorous pitcher plant, Nepenthes attenboroughii, has been ranked number 1. It is found only on the summit region of one mountain in the Philippines, and was described in the Botanical Journal 159 in February 2009 in a paper by Alastair Robinson and co-authors. It was named in honor of the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Among the largest of the pitcher plants, its pitchers can be up to 30 cm high and 16 cm across. The only other plant, a Madagascan yam (Dioscorea orangeana), was published by a Fellow of the Linnean Society, Kew botanist Paul Wilkin, and co-authors in Kew Bulletin.

    NY City Plans to Lead Fight Against Global Warming

    June 1, 2010  www3.interscience.wiley.com

    Cities are at the forefront of the battle against climate change – they are the source of approximately 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the future, densely populated urban areas—particularly coastal cities—will disproportionately feel the impacts of climate change. Under PlaNYC, New York City's comprehensive sustainability plan, efforts have focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Initiatives including the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which will increase energy efficiency of existing buildings, and retrofitting ferries to use cleaner fuel, will help meet the goal of reducing the city's emissions by 30% by 2030. In February 2009, the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) released the most detailed climate risk information for any major city in the world, and it has been published in the May 24 issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. In the coming months, the New York City Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, another PlaNYC initiative, will release a plan detailing how Task Force members will prepare the city's critical infrastructure for warmer temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and rising sea levels. Planning for climate change today is less expensive than rebuilding an entire network after a catastrophe.

    Red Squirrels May Adopt Related Orphans

    June 1, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Researchers at the University of Guelph, the University of Alberta, and McGill University, have established that red squirrels will adopt pups that have lost their mother. It's a significant finding because while such adoptions are typical among species that live in extended family groups, it's much less common among asocial animals, such as squirrels. "Social animals, including lions and chimpanzees, are often surrounded by relatives, so it's not surprising that a female would adopt an orphaned family member because they have already spent a lot of time together," said Andrew McAdam, an evolutionary biologist. "But red squirrels live in complete isolation and are very territorial. The only time they will allow another squirrel on their territory is the one day a year when the females are ready to mate or when they are nursing their pups." The study, published in Nature Communications, also found that squirrels will adopt only if the orphans are related, and even then it's a rare occurrence. Over two decades, the research team has come across only five cases of adoption. "From an evolutionary perspective, the phenomenon of adoption raises the question of why an animal would adopt in the first place given that it jeopardizes the survival of their own offspring." By examining the breeding records of thousands of squirrels over the past 20 years, McAdam was able to calculate the costs of adoption. "What we found was that squirrels will only adopt an orphaned pup when the costs of adoption are low and when the orphans carry a large percentage of the same genes such as siblings, nieces or nephews rather than more distant relatives." What's also remarkable is that squirrels are able to assess which pups are related or not, he added. As squirrels rarely interact, they learn who their nearby relatives are by hearing their unique calls, he said. If they fail to hear a relative's calls for a few days, they may investigate.

    Oil Spill – June 1, 2010

    June 1, 2010  www.nytimes.com

    WASHINGTON, DC—Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has announced that federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the worst oil spill in U.S. history. BP is now trying to use a dome to funnel some of the leaking crude to a tanker on the surface. A similar attempt failed three weeks ago, but officials said they had resolved some of the technical problems that forced them to abort that operation last time. If successful, the containment dome might be able to capture most of the oil, but it would not plug the leak. If it is not successful, there will be continued environmental and economic damage to the gulf region, which could stretch into August, when two relief wells are expected to finally be completed, which would allow BP to plug the leaking oil well with cement. Adm. Thad W. Allen, the incident commander, said the United States was seeking help from abroad, from Netherlands, Canada and Mexico. On Monday, engineers positioned submarine robots that will try to shear off a collapsed 21-inch riser pipe with a razor-like wire studded with bits of industrial diamonds. If that is achieved a domelike cap will be fitted over the blowout preventer (which failed to prevent the April 20 explosion). But, like all of BP’s efforts so far, this method had never been tried at such depths before this spill. Moreover, if kinks in the riser are now reducing the amount of oil escaping, cutting the riser could unleash a greater flow. The current worry is the potential arrival of hurricanes in the gulf; hurricane season officially began on Tuesday. Engineers and technicians working on the response said that an active hurricane season, which is predicted by meteorologists, could not only push more oil ashore, but also cause weeks of delays in efforts to contain the spill. Once a hurricane appears to be heading for the gulf, officials will have to disconnect the hose from the container on top of the well and retreat to port, leaving an unabated flow of oil into the water.

    Lasers Predict Bird Habitat Preference

    June 1, 2010  www.sciencedaily.com

    A team of NASA-funded researchers led by Scott Goetz of the Woods Hole Research Center has completed an experiment to remotely sense and predict where certain birds are most likely to live and breed. The researchers combined satellite data, a ground-based bird census, light detection and ranging (lidar), and a new modeling technique to correctly predict the presence of songbirds in a forest. Their results were published in the journal Ecology. "We've known for many years that the composition of trees and shrubs determines habitat quality, which in turn influences a species' presence and population density. But this study uses remote sensing to accurately predict which habitats birds prefer to use year after year, over many square miles of complex terrain." According to Goetz, NASA's Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS, pronounced Elvis), was key to the team's success. The instrument sends pulses of laser light down from an airplane toward the forest canopy and records the points at which signals bounce back from leaves, branches, and land surfaces. Goetz and colleagues analyzed the data to confirm things like canopy height—the difference between the top of a tree and the ground—and the top-to-bottom density of tree canopies. When combined with data from the NASA-built Landsat satellite—which can indicate seasonal changes in the amount of vegetation—the LVIS data indicated not only the height of the trees but whether they have mostly high branches or lots of canopy layers beneath tree tops.

    For the study published this month, the team made field observations of the Black-throated Blue Warbler, a small songbird that prefers lower-lying vegetation. Using four years of LVIS data, the researchers ranked various forest habitats as good, fair, or poor based on canopy structure. Their "good" rankings for the warbler matched actual ground data—showing the actual presence of the species in each habitat—90 percent of the time. "For predicting species across broad landscapes over time, this lidar technology is incredibly valuable," said Betts, a co-author of Goetz's study. "We can now conduct higher-quality estimates of the relative importance of climate versus habitat structure in affecting animal populations." And this technique should transfer to predictions of other animals whose habitats are associated with canopy structure, like flying squirrels or martens. If we can track downed logs on the forest floor, we could even model habitats for salamanders."

    Oregon Zoo Hatches Three California Condors This Season

    June 1, 2010  www.oregonlive.com  By Katy Muldoon

    The three endangered California condor chicks hatched this spring in the Oregon Zoo's captive breeding program will spend the next five months inside nest boxes demanding food. They'll fledge into the pens their parents occupy. Late this year, as juveniles, they will move into a large pen with a mentor bird. The mentor, a female, usually is stricter than the chicks' parents. Kelli Walker, lead condor keeper says, "She keeps the kids on a pretty tight leash; hammering home rules of the condor hierarchy that the young birds will need to know once they're set free.”  Six Oregon-bred juvenile condors are now on their way to pre-release pens in California and Arizona. (They’ve had veterinary exams, West Nile Virus vaccinations, and will be fitted with transponders for future tracking purposes). Since 2003, when it opened the remote Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation in Clackamas County, the Oregon Zoo has hatched about two dozen chicks, and 10 Oregon-bred birds are among the approximately 185 California condors that soar the southwestern skies. About 160 condors live in captive breeding operations such as Oregon's. Keepers at the Jonsson compound, which is off-limits to the public, care for 37 birds, including the three newcomers. This weekend the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, plans to open one of the few exhibits displaying the birds. The Oregon Zoo hopes to build a similar exhibit sometime soon.

    New Gecko Species in West Africa
    June 1, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    The West African forest gecko, a widely distributed species in forest patches from Ghana to Congo, is actually four distinct species that appear to have evolved over the past 100,000 years due to the fragmentation of a belt of tropical rain forest, according to a report in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Former University of California, Berkeley, students Adam D. Leaché and Matthew K. Fujita collected numerous specimens of the six-inch gecko, Hemidactylus fasciatus, from the rain forest belt that stretches nearly 3,000 miles from the coast of Sierra Leone through the Guinean rain forest in Ghana, through Nigeria and Cameroon, to the Congolian rain forest. Over millions of years, the forest has expanded and shrunk with climate change, and an aridification trend over the past several hundred thousand years has caused the forest to contract to mountainous areas. Using new DNA analysis techniques they found sufficient genetic differences among the 50 geckos collected from 10 different forest patches to identify four distinct species. They retained the name Hemidactylus fasciatus for the westernmost species, which ranges from Sierra Leone to the wide Dahomey Gap, but identified an isolated species, Hemidactylus kyaboboensis, in the Togo Hills, which they named after Kyabobo National Park in the Volta Region of Ghana.

    Golden Lion Tamarin Born at Santa Barbara Zoo

    June 1, 2010  www.edhat.com

    The Santa Barbara Zoo has 5 golden lion tamarins (GLTs) in a family exhibit. On Friday, May 15, staff observed that an infant had been born on exhibit the night before, and was clinging to its mother's back. This is the first viable birth at the Santa Barbara Zoo of this endangered species. The infant is currently about the size of a C-battery and has not yet been examined by the Zoo veterinarian so sex, weight and other details are not available. The Zoo has exhibited GLTs since 1983. The mother arrived earlier this year from the Potowatami Zoo (Indiana), The Zoo's other resident female had never successfully reproduced and is now too old to breed. She, and a new elderly male golden lion tamarin from the Los Angeles Zoo, were recently moved in with the toco toucans for their senior years.

    Delisting of the Lake Erie Watersnake
    June 1, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove the Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) from the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife due to recovery. This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the subspecies is no longer endangered or threatened with extinctiont. We seek information, data, and comments from the public regarding the Lake Erie Watersnake on or before August 2, 2010. You may submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or  U.S. mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2010-0039; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact:  Mary Knapp, Field Office Supervisor, or Megan Seymour, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ohio Field Office, 4625 Morse Road, Suite 104, Columbus, OH 43230 (telephone: 614-416-8993).

    Finding on Petition to List the White-tailed Prairie Dog
    June 1, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces that after a 12-month review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the white-tailed prairie dog is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to the white-tailed prairie dog or its habitat at any time. This finding is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R6-ES-2008-0053.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications
    June 1, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    The following applicants have applied for scientific research permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The public is invited to comment on these applications on or before July 1, 2010.

    Permit TE-02368A. Applicant: Andrea Chavez, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax taillii extimus) within New Mexico.

    Permit TE-172278. Applicant: John Abbott, Austin, Texas. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys and genetic sampling for American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) within Oklahoma.

    Permit TE-10794A. Applicant: Robert Steidl, Tucson, Arizona. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) within Arizona.

    Permit TE-10808A. Applicant: Sorola Natural Resources Consulting, LLC, Del Rio, Texas. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia), black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihaatus tobuschii), and Texas snowbells (Styrax platanifolius) within Texas.

    Permit TE-021340. Applicant: HDR Engineering, Phoenix, Arizona. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax taillii extimus) within Texas.

    Permit TE-11152A. Applicant: Fort Defiance Branch of Natural Resources, Fort Defiance, Arizona. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax taillii extimus) within Arizona and New Mexico.

    Permit TE-212896. Applicant: University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit to allow lethal take of a limited number of humpback chub (Gila cypha) within Arizona.

    Permit TE-001623. Applicant: American Southwest Ichthyological Researchers, LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applicant requests an amendment to their current permit to conduct population monitoring, spawning activities, and downstream transport studies for Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychochelius lucius) and razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) in the San Juan River Basin, New Mexico.

    Permit TE-13192A. Applicant: AMEC Earth and Environmental, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to monitor the Alamosa springsnail (Tryonia alamosae) in Socorro County, New Mexico.

    Fun Website : The Medieval Beastiary
    June 2010 http://bestiary.ca/index.html  

    A bestiary is a book of animal information which originated in the Middle Ages. The book was a compilation of descriptions of beasts, and then the descriptions were used as bases for allegorical teachings.  They were often illustrated, as most of the public was unable to read. The following is a typical entry: The lion has three natures: when a lion walking in the mountains sees that it is being hunted, it erases its tracks with its tail; it always sleeps with its eyes open; and its cubs are born dead and are brought to life on the third day when the mother breathes in their faces or the father roars over them. Some sources add more natures: a lion only kills out of great hunger; it will not attack a prostrate man; it allows captive men to depart; it is not easily angered; the lioness first has five cubs, then one less each year.There are two kinds of lion: one is timid, has a short body and curly hair; the other has straight hair and a long body and is fierce. A lion's strength is seen in its chest, its firmness in its head, and its courage in its forehead and tail.

    Giant Anteater Born in U.K.

    June 2, 2010  news.bbc.co.uk

    ISLE OF WIGHT, UK – A 3.3lb baby giant anteater has been born at Amazon World, Sandown, and is believed to be the first in the UK and only the sixth to be born in Europe this year. There are only 104 giant anteaters in captivity in the whole continent and the species is classified as near threatened on the IUCN Red List. For the first four months the baby will cling to its mother.

    Topeka Zoo Cited by USDA for 2 Incidents
    June 2, 2010  cjonline.com  BY JAMES CARLSON

    The Topeka Zoo has been cited again by federal regulators for two recent incidents, one of which involved school children being allowed into the grounds while a bobcat was loose. The zoo "failed to provide a barrier between the general viewing public and the bobcat," a report by the USDA stated. On the morning of May 6, zoo workers discovered the perimeter fence had been cut and a bobcat let loose. Without finding the animal after three hours of searching, the zoo allowed into the grounds the public, including a school group that was touring the facility. Minutes later, the cat was found. At the time of the incident, city officials described the bobcat as "domesticated, docile and declawed" and said the children were herded out of the zoo after finding the cat again. On Tuesday, city spokesman David Bevens said the decision to reopen the zoo had to be made at some point. After three hours of searching, he said it was just as likely the bobcat was outside the zoo grounds.The USDA, however, disagreed and cited the zoo. Again on May 17, the fence was cut in a different location and a golf cart was stolen. The cart was found a few days later. To that, the USDA wrote, "The facility must construct the perimeter fencing so that it protects the animals in the facility by restricting animals and unauthorized persons from going through it or under it." The zoo's new director, meanwhile, said his facility is developing improved security measures.

    Proposed Listing Loggerhead Sea Turtle Populatons
    June 2, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The  NMFS and USFWS hereby extend the comment period on the proposed listing of nine distinct population segments of loggerhead sea  turtles (Caretta caretta) as endangered or threatened, which was published on March 16, 2010, until September 13, 2010. In addition, NMFS and USFWS will hold a public hearing in Berlin, MD, on June 16, 2010 to answer questions and receive public comments. Comments and information regarding this proposed rule must be received by September 13, 2010. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-AY49, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or Mail: NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, Attn: Loggerhead Proposed Listing Rule, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256.

    African Elephants on a Diet at Chafee Zoo
    June 3, 2010  www.fresnobee.com   By Marc Benjamin

    FRESNO, California—Chaffee Zoo has put their 2 female elephants on diets. Shaunzi, the larger of the two, started the weight-loss program in January 2009 at 10,245 pounds and now weighs 9,135 pounds—down more than 10%. Kara's results have been similar. Tipping the scales at 9,800 pounds in January 2009, she was down to 8,735 pounds at a weigh-in last week. Zookeepers around the world are cutting calories and increasing exercise for animals who can suffer from too much food and too little room to roam. The Fresno zoo embarked on the elephant slimming campaign purchasing a special scale for $5,000 from Measure Z money. Previously, they borrowed a truck scale periodically from the California Highway Patrol. In addition to changes in their diet, the elephants must work to find food. Several times a day keepers bury fruits and vegetables under the sand and hang bags of hay and food pellets in barrels on towers inside the enclosure. To get their food, the elephants must stretch, dig, push or prod with their trunks or legs. They slam barrels with their trunks to release a few food pellets or reach for hay bags, and must correctly position the barrels and bags to release the food. They also have a separate exercise regimen, not unlike deep knee bends and stretching for humans, that also improves their mobility.

    Polar Bear Odyssey Opens at Como Park Zoo in St. Paul
    June 3, 2010  minnesota.publicradio.org  By Laura Yuen

    ST PAUL, Minnesota—On June 1st , tech-savvy zoo fans who paid attention to Facebook and Twitter got a password for a sneak peek at Polar Bear Odyssey. The password was "Ursus Maritimus," the scientific name for polar bears. The new exhibit is 7 times larger than the old one and mimics the Hudson Bay ecosystem, with pools, rocky outcroppings and grassy areas. Native plantings, felled trees and a pit for digging also give the bears a sense of the wild. Live trout swim in the pools. The exhibit includes two outdoor areas and a building in which visitors can watch keepers train the bears. Senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim says so far, twin polar bears Neil and Buzz have enjoyed soaking in the more shallow of two saltwater pools and using the 16-feet diving pool. The new space cost more than $15 million, and took two years to build. Zoo officials say they hope a new polar bear exhibit will help them tell the story of climate change and conservation.and encourage visitors to do their part to help polar bears in the wild by reducing their carbon footprints. Education is another goal of the new exhibit, and there are signs, computer touch screens and other interactive teaching tools. One lets you hold a button while you hold your breath and time how long you can go without breathing. Polar bears can hold their breath for up to two minutes under water.

    Giraffe Euthanized After Breaking Neck in Move

    June 3, 2010  www.news-leader.com

    Asante, a 10-year-old giraffe being moved from Disney World in Florida to take part in the breeding program at Dickerson Park Zoo was euthanized Wednesday after the zoo’s veterinarian determined it suffered a broken neck. Asante stumbled while leaving its transport trailer and fell to the ground, and the zoo veterinarian and zoo staffers tried to calm and cool the animal. Because the long-necked animals are susceptible to neck injuries, zoo staffers were watching for any problems. Asante was owned by the San Diego Zoo and was on loan to Disney World before being transferred to Dickerson Park. A news release issued on the Dickerson Park Zoo Web site noted that the giraffe was taken to the exhibition yard, where the animal stood on his own. But the veterinarian determined the animal had a broken neck, and decided the giraffe should be euthanized. The veterinarian is planning to do a necroscopy to determine a precise cause of death.

    Komodo Dragon Exhibit Opens at Cincinnati Zoo

    June 3, 2010  news.cincinnati.com

    CINCINNATI—It has been three years since 24-year-old “Naga,” a komodo dragon given to the zoo as a gift from former President George H.W. Bush, died. Now, there is 7-year-old “Hudo,” a komodo dragon given to Cincinnati by the Indianapolis Zoo. He is also Naga’s grandson. Only about 4,000 Komodo dragons remain in Indonesia. The newly renovated “Dragons!” exhibit will also feature several of the world’s longest and smallest monitor lizards, ranging from half a foot to 10-feet long.

    Iain Douglas-Hamilton Wins Indianapolis Prize

    June 3, 2010  www.indystar.com

    Iain Douglas-Hamilton has been fighting to save elephants for five-decades. Twenty-one years after a worldwide ban on ivory trade helped stop the slaughter of African elephants, the demand for ivory seems to be making a comeback—prompting some African countries to propose the sale of tons of stockpiled ivory, while giving poachers a new incentive to slaughter elephants for their valuable tusks. Douglas-Hamilton, who founded “ Save the Elephants” in 1993 will be named the winner of the 2010 Indianapolis Prize for conservation today. The $100,000 award is the largest gift of its kind in the world. He has written books and made films and will collect his prize and the Lilly Medal at a ceremony Sept. 25. He was chosen from a group of 29 conservationists nominated worldwide. The number of elephants in Africa and Asia dropped from about 3 million to 250,000 today. Ivory has become so rare that its value has skyrocketed. Currently, if ivory can be proved to have originated during the pre-ban years, it is legal to purchase. But at $500 per kilo (about 2 pounds) on the Asian black market, the cost for ivory is too high for almost everyone except the extreme collectors. The average ivory tusk weighs 3 to 4 kilos. The record is about 50 kilos."But we don't get big ivory in Africa anymore. Those elephants are gone," Douglas-Hamilton said.

    Mongoose Culture Passed to Young

    June 3, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    A new report published online on June 3rd in Current Biology shows that banded mongooses in the wild carry out traditions that are passed down from one generation to the next. Corsin Müller, now at the University of Vienna, said, "Notably, our work did not investigate a close relative of humans, or a particularly large-brained animal such as great apes or dolphins." When banded mongoose pups emerge from the den, most of them form exclusive one-to-one associations with a particular adult, usually an older brother, cousin, or uncle, who becomes their primary caretaker and "escort." That exclusive chaperone system made it possible for the researchers to control the information about foraging techniques that individual young mongooses experienced. Banded mongooses feed on a wide range of prey species, including prey items with hard shells, such as bird eggs or rhinoceros beetles. They crack these encased food items open in one of two ways, either holding them in place with their front paws and biting them open or hurling them against a hard surface such as a stone or tree trunk to smash them open. Müller's team took advantage of that natural behavior by designing a novel food item, a modified "Kinder Egg" plastic container containing a mix of rice and fish, that could be opened using either the biting or the smashing method. Some used one method almost exclusively, while several others bit and smashed the eggs about equally.  Independent juvenile mongooses, when tested with the novel food item for the first time, tended to copy what they had observed their escort do with the plastic eggs when they were younger. They continued to hold those preferences into adulthood. The findings show that multiple traditions can coexist in animals, in cases where young acquire their behavior by copying specific role models rather than copying the simple majority.

    More Fishing Restrictions in the Gulf

    June 3, 2010  www.nytimes.com

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expanded the boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico, notably including an area off southwest Florida that covers waters just to the west of the Dry Tortugas. The area represents 88,502 square miles, about 37 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters.

    Species Endangered by Oil Spill

    June 3, 2010  www.csmonitor.com

    The largetooth sawfish was proposed as a federally endangered species on May 7, less than three weeks after oil started gushing into Gulf waters, said George Burgess, an ichthylogist and sawfish expert at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The fish's already endangered relative, the smalltooth sawfish, is also likely to be impacted by the oil leak. While the smalltooth sawfish used to range from New York to Texas, what's left of its population is now confined to the lower peninsula of Florida, and may be exposed to the oil by the effects of the Loop Current, a strong flow of warm water in the Gulf that could funnel some of the oil into the Florida Straits, threatening many species there, including sensitive coral reefs. Many coral reefs in the Gulf and Caribbean are already under stress from warming oceans and diseases. The entrance of oil into their habitat could exacerbate their already tough situation. Oil can particularly affect coral reefs as they are spawning, because the egg and sperm are released by the corals at very precise times, and stay at shallow water depths until settling down to mature—oil can compromise the reproductive success of the corals if it interferes with this cycle, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico spawn in late summer or fall. The brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird, listed as an endangered species after it was largely wiped out from the use of the pesticide DDT in the 1960s, is another species of concern. The deaths of three sperm whales have also been attributed to the oil spill, threatening the small population of the species that is native to the Gulf, said Celine Godard-Codding, an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University. Godard-Codding also warned that already threatened Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles could face major population decimation as they breathe in toxic fumes and ingest crude oil.

    Using Dogs for Ecological Research

    June 3, 2010  wireeagle.auburn.edu

    AUBURN, Alabama—Todd Steury, assistant professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, has started a program, EcoDogs: Detection Dogs for Ecological Research, to study "greatest conservation need" species. "Alabama is home to 117 endangered species, which is third in the United States behind Hawaii and California, and numerous other species are at risk," Steury said. "But little is known about these species, including where they are located, the habitats they occupy, and how many individuals of a species exist." He has trained Sophie, a 15-month-old black Labrador retriever, to find scat from eastern spotted skunks, and Bishop, a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever, to find scat from striped skunks. Both can also detect scat from black bears. The program recently added five new dogs as well. The goal, he says, is to find populations large enough to study with additional techniques such as trapping and attaching radio transmitter collars. EcoDogs, which began one year ago, is the only program of its kind in the Southeast and is one of four such efforts in the United States. Two are located in Washington state and one in Montana. EcoDogs is a collaborative project between Auburn's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine's Animal Health Performance Program, which includes the Canine Detection and Research Institute and the Sports Medicine Program. Dogs usually detect the scat within 15 meters, sometimes up to 100 meters, and will sit down when they find the appropriate scent. A GPS collar allows trainers to keep up with the dog's location and it records the dog's path which can be viewed later on a computer. Steury says training time takes three to six weeks for the first scent and then a few days for additional scents. Samples of scat are collected from zoos and other wildlife organizations.

    Blue Bull in Nepal is Endangered

    June 3, 2010  www.bernama.com

    KATHMANDU—The blue bull inhabiting the "sacred" forest of Lumbini in southern Nepal is on the verge of extinction due to poaching and poisoning. "There were more than 200 blue bulls during the first census in 2007. Now, only 35 are left," said Conservation Officer Sunil Dahal at the Lumbini Development Trust. Blue bulls, the largest of Asian antelopes, prefer living in groups. "Now there are only three groups whereas there were 18 in 2007," Dahal said. The Lumbini forest, Bardiya National Park and Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve are the three areas where blue bulls live.

    Mouse “Sex Appeal” Pheromone Identified

    June 3, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Previous studies have shown that many mammals, from mice to elephants, use urine to communicate sexual attractiveness. In mice, females learn attraction to a male's scent through contact with urine and recall their attraction when the scent is detected at a distance. Liverpool University researchers investigated major urinary proteins (MUPs) in mouse urine, which act like a chemical 'barcode' of individual identity and kin recognition. They have demonstrated that one of these MUPs – darcin – is essential for female attraction to male mice. Researchers named the pheromone 'darcin', after Jane Austen's hero in Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy. Darcin stimulates females to 'learn' an individual male's scent, reinforcing their memory of sexual attraction to that same male. Darcin has the ability to stimulate the female's brain to remember the attraction towards a particular male, and favor this mouse above all others. Although darcin is not present in humans, it is possible that there are other chemicals that perform similar functions. The research is published in BMC Biology.

    Critical Habitat for Mississippi Gopher Frog

    June 3, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to designate critical habitat for the Mississippi gopher frog (Rana sevosa) [= Rana capito sevosa] under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed critical habitat is located within Forrest, Harrison, Jackson, and Perry Counties, Mississippi. We will consider comments from all interested parties until August 2, 2010.

    USDA Cites and Fines Tulsa Zoo

    June 4, 2010  www.tulsaworld.com  By Sara Plummer

    TULSA, Ok. – The USDA has fined the Tulsa Zoo $5,000 after 9-year-old giraffe Amira died from hypothermia on January 10. The USDA said the giraffe barn was not structurally sound enough to adequately maintain temperatures necessary for giraffes. In addition, zoo employees allegedly failed to follow the veterinarian's order to supply more heat in the giraffe barn. Tulsa Zoo Director Terrie Correll said, "Improved heating systems, new insulation and improved doors to seal the barn and that's what we're working on now."  Correll said some workers were initially afraid that a larger heater in the barn would scare the giraffe, and the heater was replaced. Correll said personnel actions also were taken. Officials also cited the zoo after observing two holes in the floor of the arctic fox exhibit, which have been repaired, as well as a service entrance to the cheetah exhibit being unlocked with employees present, which was immediately addressed on site, Correll said. The zoo received three citations, two dealing with structure issues and one in relation to personnel. The USDA can fine facilities up to $10,000 per citation, so the Tulsa Zoo's fine could have been as much as $30,000. Amira, who came from the Santa Barbara, Calif., Zoo, was the second giraffe to die at the Tulsa Zoo last winter. Amali, a 5-year-old female giraffe, died Dec. 3 after she suffered a neck injury while being transported from The Wilds zoo near Cumberland, Ohio. The city auditor is investigating that incident.

    Omaha Zoo Master Plan Released

    June 4, 2010  www.omaha.com  By Carol Bicak

    Omaha Zoo’s new 10-year, $174 million master plan were unveiled today by Dennis Pate, executive director and CEO. The 162-acre campus will be divided into sections—African Grasslands, Asian Highlands, Andean Foothills, Equatorial Africa or Coastal Shores—larger and more natural exhibit spaces. No more Cat Complex or Bear Canyon or petting zoo. The new plan also calls for acquiring many more animals for the new exhibit areas, including pandas. Not the black and white giant species, but the much smaller raccoon-like red panda. Among the other animals to be added: camels, hippos, wolves, a Chilean flamingo and an anteater. Also new would be a Komodo dragon exhibit, to be built between the Wild Kingdom Pavilion and the Desert Dome. In place of the current petting zoo, an Adventure Education area would include spaces—dubbed “contact yards” —for interacting with domesticated animals from around the world. That area also is to have a Splash Zone where kids can run through jets of water, a climbing tower and a play zone with ziplines. While some elements of the master plan may take 10 years or more years to complete, some projects already are underway. All of the changes take place within the zoo’s current borders, except for a slight push across a closed 10th Street into the area currently adjacent to Rosenblatt Stadium for parking. The zoo currently has 1,058 spaces and Rosenblatt about 1,260. The new plan calls for more than 3,000 spaces.

    St. Louis Zoo’s New “Living Promise” Exhibits

    June 4, 2010  www.stltoday.com  By Diane Toroian Keaggy

    The Saint Louis Zoo announced its $120 million, seven-year campaign – “The Living Promise” – to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The zoo has already raised some $74 million. Sea Lion Sound is set to open in 2012 and will feature an underwater viewing tunnel, expanded saltwater pools and a new, 850-seat sea lion arena. Money will also go toward new bathrooms, sewer and water lines, a maintenance facility and other infrastructure improvements as well as the zoo's growing endowment. Sea Lion Sound will provide a 1.5-acre complex for the zoo's California sea lions. Currently the zoo must drain the 90-year-old sea lion pool every other week for cleaning. At the new Sea Lion Landing; divers will clean the new pool. Steve Bircher, zoo curator of mammals and carnivores, said the new exhibit will allow the addition of harbor and gray seals to the zoo’s collection. "The underwater viewing tube is a first," Bircher said. "Sea lions are curious about humans, and it will be exciting to be just inches away." The zoo plans to reconfigure its many bear exhibits, doubling the size of the grizzly and polar bear pits. The zoo no longer will house black bears, which have increased their numbers in the wild. The bear pits are the second-oldest exhibit at the zoo. At the new Grizzly Ridge, natural grass and vegetation will replace the concrete floor, but the bluffs, modeled after rock formations in Herculaneum, will remain. The new polar bear pit, named Polar Bear Point, will feature a chilly "ice cave" where visitors can watch polar bears swim underwater. Hopefully the exhibits will be finished in five years, when polar bears will return to St. Louis. Bircher would like to obtain a breeding pair, but other zoos already have new exhibits that need to be populated. Polar bears come from zoo breeding programs and, in some cases, the wild. However, the government has restricted the relocation of wild bears to zoos. The zoo lost its last polar bear in 2009 to cancer. In 2005, two polar bears died—one after surgery to remove cloth and plastic that somehow got into pit; the other suffered an infection. The USDA fined the zoo in those cases. The Andean Bear Ridge will open near the capybaras and giant anteaters in River's Edge while the popular Malayan sun bears will move to Sun Bear Forest near the Asian elephants. A pair of red pandas, which resemble raccoons, will move to the current sun bear habitat. The zoo also plans to add a fourth elephant yard, which will double the elephants' outdoor enclosure. Only viewable from the Zooline Railroad, Elephant Woods will accommodate the zoo's growing herd. Two elephants at the zoo are expecting calves next summer. Animal rights activists have protested that the zoo's 1.25-acre habitat is far too small for animals that roam for miles and miles in the wild. Bonner insists the current yard is adequate but says the addition will allow keepers to better manage the herd.

    River Safari Planned for 2012 in Singapore

    June 4, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Rani Ramaya

    SINGAPORE—Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, and Singapore Zoo  is breaking ground on a new attraction called River Safari, the world’s largest repository of fresh water animals and many critically endangered animals like the giant panda. Budgeted at a cost of S$180 million, River Safari is expected to draw at least 820,000 visitors annually. The 12-hectare park, located between the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari in Mandai, is scheduled to open in the first half of 2012, and will house more than 300 plant species, 500 animal species and over 5,000 individual animal specimens. The Park will feature boat rides through the freshwater habitats of the famous rivers of the world like the Mississippi, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Murray, Mekong and Yangtze, and  provide a close-up, multi-sensory experience for visitors. Giant pandas will live in a specially designed, climate-controlled exhibit along the “Yangtze River”. Different species of bamboo, which is the panda’s staple diet, will be planted throughout this 1,600 sqm landscaped enclosure. Sheba and Inuka, the Singapore Zoo’s pair of mother-and-son polar bears, will also have a new home at River Safari’s Frozen Tundra, which comprises over 1,400 sqm of living space that will mirror conditions in the Arctic. Other animals like the tanuki, a raccoon dog native to Japan, will join the polar bears at this new exhibit, which will feature permafrost, frozen caves, and icy pools of water. More information can be found at www.riversafari.com.sg

    Salt Water Crocodile Movement Studied

    June 4, 2010  www.uq.edu.au

    Dr Hamish Campbell, from University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences, together with colleagues from Australia Zoo and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, has found that despite being poor swimmers, crocodiles ride ocean currents to cross large areas of open sea. It is not a marine reptile in the same class as a turtle, as it relies upon the terrestrial environment for food and water, said Dr Campbell. “Many anecdotal accounts exist of large crocodiles being sighted far out to sea, but this is the first study to use underwater acoustic tags and satellite tracking to show that estuarine crocodiles ride surface currents enabling them to travel between one oceanic island and another.” The study, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, involved tagging 27 adult crocodiles in the remote Kennedy River in North Queensland with sonar transmitters and used underwater receivers to track them over 12 months. Both male and female adult crocodiles undertook long-distance journeys, regularly travelling more than 50 km from a home area to the river mouth and beyond into open sea. He said one satellite-tagged crocodile—a 3.84 meter-long male—travelled 590 km over 25 days down the west coast of Cape York Peninsula timing its journey to coincide with a seasonal current system. Dr Campbell said the study explains why, despite occupying such a large range, species diversification has not occurred. “The estuarine crocodile exists as island populations throughout the Indian and Pacific ocean, and only a single species exists across this vast area, because regular mixing between the island populations probably occurs,” he said.

    How Many Species Are There?
    June 4, 2010  www.unimelb.edu.au

    Dr Andrew Hamilton from The University of Melbourne’s School of Land and Environment, has used a new method of estimating tropical insect species (the largest and one of the most difficult groups on the planet to study) to calculate the number of species on Earth. He found that there is a 90% chance that there is somewhere between 2 and 7 million tropical arthropod species, with a best estimate of 3.7 million. (Previous estimates range from a few million up to 100 million). With the addition of approximately 50,000 vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles), 400,000 plants and possibly 1.3 million other organisms (mostly microorganisms, but excluding the bacteria for which we know very little about), this leaves us with a best estimate of around 5.5 million species with whom we share planet Earth. The study will be published in the current edition of the international journal The American Naturalist.

    OIE Working Group on Wildlife Diseases

    June 4, 2010  www.oie.int

    The Working Group on Wildlife Diseases informs and advise the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on all health problems relating to wild animals, whether in the wild or in captivity. The Working Group, comprised of the world’s leading scientific experts, prepares recommendations and oversee numerous scientific publications on the surveillance and control of the most important wildlife diseases. This group convenes yearly, and summary reports of their meetings, dating back to 2001, are available to download at www.oie.int.

    Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan for Bald Eagle

    June 4, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability of the final post-delisting monitoring plan (PDM Plan) for the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that we implement a system, in cooperation with the States, to monitor effectively for at least 5 years the status of all species that have been recovered and no longer need ESA protection. In 2007, we removed the bald eagle in the contiguous 48 States from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Plants (delisted) due to recovery. Over a 20-year period, we will monitor the status of the bald eagle, at 5-year intervals.  The final PDM Plan may be downloaded from our regional Web site or our bald eagle Web site.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    June 4, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. We must receive written data or comments on the applications at the address given below, by July 6, 2010. Documents and other information submitted with the applications are available for review by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents to the following office within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice: Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Cameron Shaw, Permit Coordinator). For further information contact Cameron Shaw, telephone 904/731-3191.

    Applicant: William Waddell, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington, TE834070. The applicant requests renewed authorization to receive, retain, transfer, and harass the red wolf (Canis rufus) as required to conduct captive breeding and recovery programs for the species.

    Applicant: Appalachian Technical Services, Wise, Kentucky, TE009638. The applicant requests authorization to capture, handle, radio-tag, and release Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis), gray bats (Myotis grisescens), and Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus), for presence/absence surveys and scientific research.

    Applicant: Benjamin Laester, Whittier, North Carolina, TE121142. The applicant requests renewed authorization to capture and handle the Indiana bat throughout its range in western North Carolina.

    Applicant: Neil Turner, Turner Technology, Inc., Prestonsburg, Kentucky, TE210424. The applicant requests authorization to capture, handle, release, and use acoustical monitoring procedures to determine the presence of the Indiana bat in Kentucky.

    Applicant: Susan Loeb, U.S. Forest Service, Clemson, South Carolina, TE119937. The applicant requests renewed authorization to capture, handle, release, and radio-tag Indiana bat in the following locations: Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee; Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests and Gold Mountain Gamelands, North Carolina.

    Applicant: Roy S. DeLotelle, DeLotelle and Guthrie, Inc., Gainesville, Florida, TE825431. The applicant requests renewed authorization to capture, band, translocate, and monitor red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) throughout the range of the species in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Louisiana.

    Applicant: North Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Farmerville, Louisiana, TE9297A. The applicant requests authorization to trap, band, relocate and create artificial nesting cavities for red-cockaded woodpeckers throughout Louisiana and Arkansas.

    Applicant: Audubon Nature Institute, New Orleans, Louisiana, TE077865. The permittee requests renewed authorization to harass and release to the wild Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla) and whooping crane (Grus americana).

    Applicant: Barbara Allen, Gulf Shores, Alabama, TE125557. The applicant requests renewed authorization to take, for scientific purposes and to enhance recovery efforts, Alabama beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus ammobates), and three species of sea turtles: Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), green (Chelonia mydas), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta).

    Applicant: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami, Florida TE676379. The applicant requests renewed authorization to take (harass, capture, tag, track, salvage, collect biological samples, and euthanize) Kemp's ridley, hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbracata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green, loggerhead, and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles for scientific purposes, enhancement of propagation or survival, recovery activities, and veterinary treatment in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean.

    Applicant: Carol Johnston, Auburn, Alabama, TE178666. The applicant requests authorization to survey Coldwater Spring, Calhoun County, Alabama, to determine presence, habitat use, and diet of banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae) and pygmy sculpin (Cottus paulus) via snorkeling and stomach content analysis.

    Applicant: Register-Nelson, Inc., Stockbridge, Georgia, TE114088. The applicant requests renewed authorization to capture, identify, and release blue shiner (Cyprinella caerulea), Etowah darter (Etheostoma etowahae), Cherokee darter (Etheostoma scotti), amber darter (Percina antesella), goldline darter (Percina aurolineata), snail darter (Percina tanasi), and Conasauga logperch (Percina jenkinsi) in Georgia. The applicant requests to amend the permit to include the capture, identification, and release of eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi), and frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) in Georgia.

    Applicant: Jess Jones, Blacksburg Virginia, TE108813.  The applicant requests authorization to conduct restoration activities and translocate the oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis) from the Clinch River in Tennessee upstream into Virginia.

    Applicant: Campbellsville University, Campbellsville, Kentucky, TE12106.  The applicant requests authorization to survey for the following freshwater mussels: ringpink (Obovaria retusa), fanshell (Cyprogenia stegaria), pocketbook (Lampsilis ovata), clubshell (Pleurobema clava), rough pigtoe (Pleurobema plenum), snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), and rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica).

    Applicant: Ecological Resource Consultants, Inc., Panama City Beach, Florida, TE08988A. The applicant requests authorization to capture and release the following freshwater mussels while conducting presence/absence surveys in the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, Flint, Chipola, Econfina, and Ochlockonee River Watersheds in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida: oval pigtoe (Pleurobema pyriforme), Gulf moccasinshell (Medionidus penicillatus), Chipola slabshell (Elliptio chipolaensis), purple bankclimber (Elliptoideus solatianus), shiny-rayed pocketbook (Hamiota [=Lampsilis] subangulata), fat threeridge (Amblema neislerii), and the Ochlockonee moccasinshell (Medionidus simpsonianus).

    Applicant: Mark Hughes, Biological Integrity, LLC., Bainbridge, Georgia, TE12315A. The applicant requests authorization to capture and release the following freshwater mussels while conducting presence/absence surveys in the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, Flint, Chipola, Econfina, and Ochlockonee River Watersheds in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida: oval pigtoe (Pleurobema pyriforme), Gulf moccasinshell (Medionidus penicillatus), Chipola slabshell (Elliptio chipolaensis), purple bankclimber (Elliptoideus solatianus), shiny-rayed pocketbook (Hamiota [=Lampsilis] subangulata), fat threeridge (Amblema neislerii), the Ochlockonee moccasinshell (Medionidus simpsonianus), and the Alabama moccasinshell (Medionidus acutissimus).

    Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Athens, Georgia, TE10239A. The applicant requests authorization to capture freshwater mussels from the lower Flint River basin, Georgia, and temporarily hold them to collect hemolymph and tissue samples, evaluate fish hosts and develop propagation techniques for the oval pigtoe, Gulf moccasinshell, purple bankclimber, shiny-rayed pocketbook, and fat threeridge.

    Applicant: Monte McGregor, Center for Mollusk Conservation, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Frankfort, Kentucky, TE178815. The applicant requests authorization to capture, propagate, and release multiple species of freshwater mussels (Family Unionidae) throughout their respective ranges (as collected opportunistically and based upon recovery needs).

    Applicant: Dr. Kevin J. Roe, Iowa State University, TE040423.  The applicant requests renewed authorization to collect tissue samples from Kentucky cave shrimp (Palaemonias ganteri) within Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, for genetic evaluation.

    Applicant: Stanley Rudzinski, Law Engineering and Environmental Services, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, TE021030.  The applicant requests authorization to capture and release Nashville crayfish, (Orconectes shoupi) during presence/absence surveys in the Mill Creek drainage, Davidson and Williamson counties, Tennessee.

    Applicant: Norman Wagoner, Ouachita National Forest, Hot Springs, Arkansas, TE125605.  The applicant requests renewed authorization to capture and release the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) while conducting inventory and monitoring surveys within the boundaries of Ouachita National Forest and Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

    Applicant: Burns and McDonnell Engineering Company, Kansas City, Missouri, TE125620. The applicant requests renewed authorization to take the American burying beetle while conducting presence/absence surveys in Crawford, Sebastian, Franklin, Logan, and Scott counties, Arkansas.

    Applicant: Archbold Expeditions, Venus, Florida, TE088035. The applicant requests renewed authorization to take or harass the following species during prescribed burn activities in Highlands County, Florida: Scrub mint (Dicerandra frutescens), snakeroot (Eryngium cuneifolium), Highland's scrub hypernicum (Hypericum cumulicola), scrub blazing star (Liatria ohlingerae), Britton's beargrass (Nolina brittoniana), wireweed (Polygonella basiramia), sandlace (Polygonella myriophylla), scrub plum (Prunus geniculata), Carter's mustard (Warea carteri) and Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi).

    Applicant: Fort Jackson Military Reservation, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, TE183402. The applicant requests authorization to collect and sow seeds of smooth coneflower, (Echinacea laevigata) on Fort Jackson Military Reservation.

    Applicant: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, TE114069. The applicant requests renewed authorization to conduct presence/absence and mapping surveys, collect seeds and/or cuttings, and test the impact of canopy reduction on growth and reproduction of the endangered Key tree cactus (Pilosocereus robinii) in Monroe County, Florida.

    Applicant: Florida Gas Transmission Company, LLC, Houston, Texas, TE139464. The applicant requests authorization to: Capture and release eastern indigo snake, frosted flatwood salamander, reticulated flatwoods salamander, gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), bluetail mole skink (Eumeces egregius lividus), and sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) and collect plants or plant parts of Highlands scrub Hypericum, Britton's beargrass, papery whitlow-wort (Paronychia chartacea), wireweed, and Carter's mustard. Activities may occur within the following counties: Alabama--Mobile, Baldwin, and Escambia; and Florida--Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Washington, Jackson, Bay, Calhoun, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Taylor, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee, De Soto, Highlands, Okeechobee, Martin, and Miami-Dade counties.

    Grevy’s Zebra Born at Lincoln Park Zoo

    June 4, 2010  www.suntimes.com  BY KARA SPAK

    Adia, a three-year-old Grevy's zebra, delivered an 80-pound male colt at the Lincoln Park Zoo on May 28. The sire is 4-year-old Clayton. “We always prepare for any scenario and with a young mom we prepare for the worst case scenario,” said Laszlo Szilagyi, zoological manager. But Adia delivered overnight on her own outside, then nursed and cleaned Enzi in a natural way. The baby zebra stood up on its own shortly after his birth. Enzi’s stripes are brown and white, which is typical of a newborn, but will darken as he ages. He is the zoo’s fifth Grevy’s zebra, the largest species of zebra, which is found in Somalia and Kenya in east Africa. The last time a zebra was born at the zoo was 2001. [The species (Equus grevyi )is classified as endangered by the IUCN.]

    66 Oiled Pelicans Brought to Rescue Center

    June 4, 2010  www.wapt.com

    FORT JACKSON, La.— After six weeks of receiving 1–4 birds a day at Louisiana's rescue center for oiled birds, 53 arrived Thursday and another 13 Friday morning. Center spokesman Jay Holcomb said more are on their way from the rookery on Queen Bess Island, near Grand Isle. He said the Tri-State Bird Rescue team and the International Bird Rescue Research Center always knew this would happen. About 20 people are working at the center, and Holcomb said so far, that's plenty. He and veterinarians Heather Nevill, of Tri-State, and Sharon Taylor, of the USFWS, said the birds were not yet ready for cleaning. They're being kept in wooden pens with mesh covers, white cloths over those and heat lamps to keep them warm so they won't preen themselves until they can be washed. There's another center for animal cleaning in Alabama. This week, the Jackson Zoo's director of animals has been there helping with the clean up. Officials with UC Davis are heading up the government's drive to find, transport, clean and release any animals affected by the oil spill. "If the oil comes into more sensitive areas like it is starting to right now, then our numbers are going to increase," said Dr. Mike Ziccardi, of UC Davis. "Our hope is the oil can be contained and kept out of sensitive areas." After the birds are cleaned, officials have to decide where to return them back to the wild.

    Seven Penguin Species Will Be Protected

    June 4, 2010  www.ktvu.com

    SAN FRANCISCO – Seven species of penguins in the Southern Hemisphere will receive protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as a result of a settlement reached in federal court between the U.S. Interior Department and two conservation groups. The groups are the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson, Ariz., and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, based in Olema. Center scientists say that warming oceans, melting sea ice and commercial fishing have wreaked havoc on penguins' food supply. The settlement provides that the USFWS will publish final listing determinations for five of the species by July 30, and for the other two in September and January. The seven species are African, Humboldt, yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested and erect-crested penguins and a population of the southern rockhopper penguins. The two groups said they plan to file another lawsuit against the Interior Department for denying listing protection to two other species, the emperor and northern rockhopper penguins.

    New Elephant at San Antonio Zoo

    June 5, 2010  www.mysanantonio.com  By Scott Huddleston

    The San Antonio Zoo’s new elephant, Boo, previously worked in a traveling circus and was known as Queenie, and is a bit overweight at about 9,500 pounds. Zookeepers want to help her shed up to 800 pounds by cutting back proteins and fat in her nearly constant diet of grains, hay, fruits and vegetables. In the next 2 weeks she’ll be introduced to Lucky, another mature female Asian elephant who's been at the zoo since 1962. Boo, believed to be about 55, and Lucky, 50, have seen and smelled each other and touched trunks in their barn. They’ll be introduced with a railing between them before having full contact in their half-acre enclosure. They've made rumbling noises and reared their heads, and may kick each other to establish supremacy, zoo officials said. “One of them will be dominant, and it will likely be Boo,” who is larger than the 8,000-pound Lucky. A California advocacy group, In Defense of Animals, protested a judge's decision last month that forced a private owner to sell or donate Boo to the zoo rather than letting her go to a sanctuary. According to USDA records, Boo fell and hurt her left front leg while giving rides as a circus animal last year in Indianapolis. Federal inspectors found her exposed to the cold in Queens, N.Y., in 2008, and reported “urine scalds” and “abusive use of the ankus,” or elephant hook, in Pueblo, Colo. So far Boo hasn't shown any behavioral signs of abuse and is learning to respond to verbal cues to lift her feet or trunk for hygiene maintenance. She's been calm but more animated than Lucky, and has splashed around in her pond, zoo officials said. The zoo is studying the idea of adding a second elephant exhibit but has no plans on paper and no development timeline.

    Terri Irwin Plans Australian Crocodile Park in Las Vegas

    June 6, 2010  www.haroldsun.com.au By Glenis Green

    Australia Zoo, the wildlife park owned by the family of late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, is pushing ahead with a US$250 million plan to replicate the Australian tourist attraction in Las Vegas. Terri Irwin says she hoped to buy the land this year and was looking for investors. The new facility will be "spectacularly Vegas" while respectful of the animals, she said. "Instead of the Crocoseum (Australia Zoo's crocodile display), you'll be in a rainforest, with waterfalls and the water levels will change height so the crocs rise out of the water. Steve Irwin raised the idea of building an Australia Zoo in Las Vegas in 2004. Terri said the Vegas project would employ almost 900 people and many of them would be Australians working in tandem with projects being planned for the Steve Irwin wildlife reserve on Cape York, Australia's northeastern tip. "Once we have the reserve protected then we'll maintain our presence in the Cape with opportunities in Las Vegas," she said. The reserve is the subject of a bitter battle between the zoo and Cape Alumina Pty Ltd, which wants to strip mine bauxite from a section of the park called Pisolite Hills.

    European Bison Reintroduced to Spain

    June 6, 2010  www.physorg.com

    A unique herd of some 800 European bison live in the Bialowieza forest, a rare primeval forest and protected national park that spans part of Poland's border with Belarus. Some 450 bison live on the Polish side. A herd of about 700 bison that lived in the forest prior to World War I was essentially wiped out by German troops and local poachers. The existing herd was bred from only seven surviving animals. Now seven of these bison, (two males and five females) are scheduled to be reintroduced into Spain in a controlled area in mountainous Palencia. The reintroduction comes after eight years of work by the Spanish association for the conservation of European bison. European bison lived on the Iberian peninsula until the 11th century.

    UN Plans Another Gorilla Rescue Airlift

    June 6, 2010  www.scoop.co.nz

    Next month the United Nations will carry out a second helicopter airlift of six orphaned baby gorillas from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to a sanctuary in Kasughu in North Kivu province where they will cared for before being released into the wild. It is hoped that they will form a new family group of 10, with four eastern lowland baby gorillas, seized from poachers, and flown to the sanctuary on May 27. The UN Environment Programme and INTERPOL have recommended the airlift as part of a wider effort to combat the illegal cross-border trade in baby gorillas, which has intensified in recent years with the proliferation of armed groups in the region. According to a report by UNEP entitled "The Last Stand for the Gorilla", unless urgent action is taken to strengthen the enforcement of environmental law and counter poaching, endangered gorillas may largely disappear from the Greater Congo Basin, in the next 15 years. Pressures include illegal logging, mining, charcoal production and increased demand for bushmeat, of which an increasing proportion is ape meat.

    Wind Farm Risks to Birds

    June 6, 2010  seattletimes.nwsource.com  By Hal Bernton

    GOLDENDALE, Klickitat County—Surveys financed by the wind industry indicate that wind power is a relatively minor hazard to birds. But some scientists say it is still too soon to discount the risks posed by the rush to develop Northwest wind power. They are particularly concerned with the plight of hawks, eagles and other raptors, which are large, long-lived birds at the top of the food chain. One survey at Big Horn Wind Farm in Klickitat County estimated that more than 30 raptors were killed during an initial year of operation—more than seven times the number forecast in a pre-construction study. The dead raptors included kestrels, red-tailed hawks, short-eared owls and a ferruginous hawk, which Washington state lists as a threatened species. "It's just too early to say what this all means," said K. Shawn Smallwood, a California ecologist who has published numerous scientific articles on wind farms and raptor deaths. "The science is just not there yet." There is also uncertainty about how raptors react to wind-power development, which often carves up foraging grounds with miles of new roads. Some say more studies are needed to determine if some species shy away from these areas or eventually abandon nests near the wind farms. "Some of these projects are going up in undeveloped areas that were kind of havens for these species," said James Watson, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who has spent 40 years studying raptors. "These turbines are occupying some of the flight space that is their bread and butter." It is estimated that the wind-power turbines currently operating in Oregon and Washington kill more than 6,500 birds and more than 3,000 bats annually. In an era of climate change and a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, wind-power advocates say these deaths are an acceptable trade-off for development of a renewable energy source.

    Exterminating Cane Toads in Australia

    June 6, 2010  www.stuff.co.nz

    SYDNEY, Australia—Filmmaker Mark Lewis is screening his move “Cane Toads: The Conquest” as part of the Sydney film festival. Lewis has been involved with the cane toad story for more than 25 years. Australia's war on cane toads brings out the worst in people, he says. Lee Scott-Virtue is the founder of Cane Toad Busters, a West Australian organization that encourages tourists to participate in cane toad eradication. "We have had quite large groups of Vietnam Vets coming up specifically to spend their holiday helping us fight cane toads ... the field approach to it is very attractive to people like the Vietnam Vets. We have a little over 5500 registered Toad Busters now and we have now removed a little over 600,000 adult toads." But she stresses it must be done humanely. "(We use CO2 and) that puts them to sleep in a few seconds, we can deal with hundreds and hundreds at a time." Tony Peacock, the CEO of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, believes the impact of cane toads has been over-estimated. "To our knowledge they have not driven any species into extinction and the number of species that they actually highly affect is not that many." Rabbits, foxes, pigs and some varieties of imported birds and fish are all bigger pests than cane toads, he says. Estimates put the cane toad population in the territory at about 92 million. The species was introduced from Hawaii in the 1930s to help control beetles infesting the sugar cane crops.

    Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk

    June 7, 2010  www.suntimes.com  BY KARA SPAK

    The Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo is a 14-acre outdoor classroom designed to connect city dwellers with the original natural prairie that existed hundreds of years before. Located  just east of the Farm-in-the-Zoo, it will open to the public June 24. It's a habitat for urban wildlife like painted turtles, barn swallows and largemouth bass. "I think one of the things that is going to be eye-opening is to understand just how many species are here," said Kevin Bell, Lincoln Park Zoo's president and CEO. "It's the animals' space as much as our space. We're understanding what's here and how we can coexist." Dug in 1865, the pre-rehabilitated South Pond was shallow and smelly. Beginning in 2008, the pond was drained, the concrete and metal sides removed and the shoreline sloped to allow waterfowl and water-seeking animals easy access. More than 100 trees were planted and the turf grass surrounding the pond was replaced with prairie plants. There's a 0.56-mile walking trail around the pond, which includes a small island that has become the center of a nesting habitat for about 100 endangered black-crowned night herons. The Chicago Park District contributed $2.5 million and private donors provided the rest of the funding for the $12 million project. Steven Thompson, the zoo's senior vice president of conservation programs, said, "This is representative of the natural aquatic habitat you find in this part of the country." Different animals and fish will be introduced gradually. The zoo is planning programming and interactive displays to explain to visitors what they are looking at and should keep an eye out for. The swan-shaped paddle boats that previously sailed the South Pond may return next year but zoo staff want to see how the plants around the water's edge grows.

    Hornbill & Tragopan Hatch at National Zoo

    June 7, 2010  www.zandavisitor.com  By Karin Korpowski-Gallo

    WASHINGTON, DC—One, possibly two, red-billed hornbill chicks hatched in early May at the National Zoo’s Bird House. Kathy Brader, bird keeper said, “Using mud, droppings and food, the male helps the female wall herself into the nest, leaving a narrow vertical slit as her only opening to the outside world. Due to the nature of the way she is sealed in, we could only verify one chick, but there is a good possibility there may be another.” This hen is the same female that last had a chick at the Zoo 16 years ago. After laying the eggs, and over the course of eight weeks, the hen will molt her flight feathers and lose the ability to fly. She will depend entirely on her mate to deliver food to her through the slit while she lays and incubates their eggs. When the chicks are a third to half grown, the female chips a hole in the nest wall and emerges with new flight feathers, never to return to the inside of the nest. The chicks reseal the hole she has made but leave another narrow opening through which the parents can feed them. Once they are grown and ready to leave, the chicks make their own opening and emerge as fully feathered juveniles. Red-billed hornbills are found in savanna and woodland areas of sub-Saharan Africa. They are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Three Temminck’s Tragopan Pheasant chicks hatched May 24. With the veterinary and animal care staff’s assistance and supportive care afterward, one survived. The bird spent its first few days in an intensive care brooder unit receiving frequent feedings. Currently it is being hand-reared off exhibit. Temminck’s Tragopans live in the evergreens and mixed forests of Vietnam, India, Tibet and China. They live alone or in pairs and unlike other pheasants, nest in trees. Remarkably, within 24 hours of hatching the chicks can run, and after three days they are capable of flying. The species is not listed as endangered, but there is a fear of habitat loss due to deforestation.

    New Polar Bear Rescue Center at Assiniboine Park Zoo
    June 7, 2010  www.winnipegfreepress.com   By Bartley Kives

    MANITOBA, Canada—Construction of The International Polar Bear Conservation Centre for orphaned, injured or problem polar bears will begin this week. The $4.5 million project is being funded by the Selinger government, Polar Bears International and the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. The first phase of the facility will be a 5,000-square-foot research and education centre behind Assiniboine's old sub-standard polar bear enclosure. Polar Bears International will oversee the research and conservation programs at the centre. The old polar bear enclosure will be retrofitted to serve as a "transition facility" for orphaned polar bears rescued from the wild, problem polar bears that face destruction and perhaps injured animals or bears fouled by oil spills.  The cubs will be conditioned to life in captivity and placed in accredited zoos. The rescued bears will not be on display to the public except via closed-circuit camera, said Robert Buchanan, president and CEO of Polar Bears International. "Polar bears are not for entertainment. They're for environmental stewardship and education," he said. Buchanan's organization does not support capturing wild bears for the purposes of breeding them. But it has no issue with zoos that breed polar bears born in captivity and exchange bears with other zoos. Buchanan said, “Observing bears and learning about them can increase public awareness of the Arctic ecosystem and encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint.” Buchanan believes Winnipeg is the perfect place to house the conservation centre because Manitoba Conservation created the world standards for housing the animals. The Selinger government has committed $1 million toward the centre, while the Assiniboine Park Conservancy must raise the remaining $3.5 million from private sources. The conservancy is also working on a zoo revitalization plan that includes a new Arctic exhibit with a state-of-the-art polar bear enclosure. The plans call for an underwater viewing area, large grounds for the animals and a tundra buggy that will serve as a viewing platform. Construction on the Arctic exhibit may begin in 2012.

    U.S. Zoo Directors Try To Modernize China Zoos

    June 7, 2010  elpasoinc.com  By Robert Gray

    As chief operating officer of Zoo Atlanta in 1998, Steve Marshall (now director of the El Paso Zoo) began building a giant panda exhibit and creating a panda program. His many trips to China gave him an opportunity to make friends and cultivate contacts. “That’s really the way you do business in China. You make friends, then you do business,” he said. While in China, Marshall said he discovered that zoos there did not have educational programs. So he joined with other zoo workers to help zoos in China develop education programs. They couldn’t just adopt U.S. zoo education courses but needed programs that fit the Chinese culture. So his goal was to train a new generation of Chinese zoo workers that could implement education programs tailored for their country. The first graduates have had trouble convincing their superiors to implement their ideas, so Marshall decided a zoo management school was needed.  This week he will speak at a director’s conference on “management training courses”. Bob Ramin, Director of the National Aquarium will speak on “marketing” and a Humane Society International representative from London and a zoo designer from Australia will also speak. AZA has also chosen Marshall to start a conversation with zoos in China about bringing more red pandas to U.S. zoos. It is believed that the gene pool of the red panda population in the United States may need a new bloodline and it is possible that the animals might come to the El Paso Zoo.

    Baby Pygmy Elephants Rescued

    June 7,  2010  www.boston.com

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Malaysian wildlife authorities have rescued two starving pygmy elephant calves on the island of Borneo. Plantation workers discovered a 2-year-old female elephant stuck in a moat Friday, two weeks after a 6-month-old female was found wandering in another plantation in Malaysia's eastern Sabah state, said Laurentius Ambu, director of the state wildlife department. "We have never had this experience before where the mothers abandon their babies," Ambu said, adding that officials were investigating what caused this to happen. It was not immediately clear how long the elephants had been alone. Both elephants will be kept at a wildlife park in Sabah. Ambu estimated there are about 1,400 to 2,000 pygmy elephants in Sabah. They are genetically distinct from other subspecies. Although they remain endangered, their number has stabilized in recent years amid conservation efforts to protect their jungle habitats from being torn down to create plantations and development projects.

    Giant Pandas for Canada Zoos

    June 7, 2010  www.ottawacitizen.com  BY JAMIE KOMARNICKI

    Discussions have been underway among zoos in Calgary, Toronto and Granby, Que., for roughly six months about the possibility of acquiring giant pandas on loan from China. The political process is still in its early stages and will take months, possibly years, to bring to fruition—if at all. The bid took a major step forward last month during a trade mission to China, when Treasury Board President Stockwell Day presented a panda proposal to a high-ranking Chinese politician. The Chinese government has asked for more information on the proposal. Ideally the three zoos can come up with a shared agreement to house the pandas for a set amount of time in each location to give visitors across Canada the chance to see the animals. The last time giant pandas were in Calgary was in 1988. Pandas last visited Toronto's zoo in 1985.

    Zoo Experts Meet to Discuss Gulf Crisis

    June 7, 2010  www.washingtonexaminer.com  By Liz Essley

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—Personnel from more than 50 zoos and aquariums belonging to the AZA are responding in the Gulf with resources and hands-on expertise. Dan Boritt, acting curator of the Bird House at the National Zoo, will attend Tuesday’s briefing. He says no one from the National Zoo has been sent to the Gulf coast—yet. Boritt said the Smithsonian staff members have completed BP online training modules and are gearing up for more hazardous materials training to learn how to handle the toxic oil and animals. “They’ve been inundated with volunteers,” Borritt said. “I hope we don’t get called because that means the situation doesn’t warrant it.”

    Wildlife Toll Mounts as Oil Inundates Gulf Coast Marshes
    June 7, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By APRIL REESE

    VENICE, La.—So far, workers have retrieved 584 animals—78 alive and 506 dead—from the oil-stained coast. The count is lower than many biologists expected. Among the dead and injured so far are dolphins and sea turtles, which have washed ashore in several areas. But the death tally is dominated by birds. About 340 FWS employees from all over the country are on guard at the agency's two oil spill response centers in Houma, La. and Mobile, Ala. Other federal and state agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, are also participating in the oil spill response effort. In all, 17 federal staging areas stand ready to protect sensitive shorelines. USFWS response efforts are at www.fws.gov.

    San Diego Zoo’s Baby Elephant Improves

    June 8, 2010  travel.latimes.com

    A male elephant calf born May 12 was healthy and nursing after his birth but his mother, Umoya retained her placenta after the birth which made her sluggish and was affecting the newborn calf’s weight gain. On May 21, veterinarians removed the placenta to prevent possible infection. Moya is recovering very well, and the calf is now gaining weight. On June 3, he weighed 229 pounds. The calf was the second born to Umoya, nicknamed Moya, and the third born this year at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. Moya’s first, a female named Phakamile, or Kami, arrived in 2007. Kami has already been caught sneaking in to drink her newborn brother’s milk. There are now eight youngsters in the 16-member African elephant herd, ranging from 3 weeks to 6 years old. At 11 a.m. each day, visitors can watch the elephants search the 3-acre habitat seeking goodies hidden in the grass, trees or rocks.

    ‘Obsession’ Cologne and Cat Conservation

    June 8, 2010  online.wsj.com  By ELLEN BYRON

    Zoos have long spritzed perfumes and colognes on rocks, trees and toys to keep confined animals entertained. In 2003, Pat Thomas, general curator for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo in New York, decided to analyze the attraction using 24 fragrances and two cheetahs. He recorded how long it took the big cats to notice a scent and how much time they spent interacting with it: Estée Lauder's Beautiful occupied the cheetahs for 2 seconds. Revlon's Charlie managed 15.5 seconds. Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps took it up to 10.4 minutes. But Calvin Kline’s Obsession for Men lasted 11.1 minutes. (Longer than most cats spend eating a meal.) Now, Obsession is widely used not only in zoos, but in the field. Roan Balas McNab, a WCS program director in Guatemala, has been using Obsession for Men since 2007 to help study jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, 8,100 sq. mile protected tropical forest. Pre-Obsession, some 30% to 40% of the photos were inconclusive. After researchers squirted the cologne onto a rag tied to a stake in the ground three times as many of the cats walked by camera stands and researchers were able to get clear, full shots of the jaguars and their spot patterns. Jaguars can detect smells from up to a kilometer. Beyond mere counting, the jaguar survey project has begun to capture rarely seen jaguar mating rituals, including a male's coy nipping and days-long pursuit of a potential partner. According to program coordinator John Polisar, WCS plans to expand the use of Obsession to more of its population studies next year in sections of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

    Moth Pollinates Cycads on Guam and Rota

    June 8, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Cycads produce their seeds in cones rather than within fruits. Cycads on the islands of Guam and Rota have a special relationship with a tiny moth that is known to exist only on these two islands. The insect's primary role is to ensure seed production occurs by pollinating the plants. But the behavior of the moth also triggers the plants into increased frequency of reproduction, according to University of Guam Professor Thomas Marler. His research findings reverse how biologists have viewed one component of the plant-insect partnership, and the results appear in the May issue of the American Journal of Botany. "When each organism in a relationship obtains benefits from the other member of the relationship, the partnership is called a mutualism," said Marler. In mutualisms where an insect provides the service of transporting pollen from plant to plant to facilitate seed production, the plant gives back something that benefits the insect. With many cycad species, the plant offers their male cones as an insect nursery where eggs are laid and larvae eat the cone tissue. "This service has been portrayed for many cycad species as something the plant sacrifices in order to receive the pollination services from the insect," said Marler. The Guam-based research followed many years of plant behavior showing that when the insects were allowed to use the male cones as nursery facilities, those particular plants produced new cones more quickly in the subsequent months or years. So what was once believed to be a sacrifice by the plant to ensure receipt of a separate benefit from the insect turns out to be a second direct benefit received from the insect. This is the first documented moth or butterfly pollinator for any of the roughly 300 described cycad species.

    Opinion Poll: More Concern Over Climate Change

    June 8, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    FAIRFAX, VA—Public concern about global warming is once again on the rise, according to a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities. Since January, public belief that global warming is happening rose four points to 61 percent, while belief that it is caused mostly by human activities rose three points, to 50 percent. The number of Americans who worry about global warming rose three points, to 53 percent. And the number of Americans who said that the issue is personally important to them rose five points, to 63 percent. Americans who said President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a high priority increased 11 points, to 71 percent, while those who said that global warming should be a high priority rose six points, to 44 percent. In a seven-point increase since January, 69 percent of Americans said that the United States should make a large or medium effort to reduce global warming even if it incurs large or moderate economic costs. Copies of the reports can be downloaded from www.climatechangecommunication.org.

    250 Vaquita Porpoises Left

    June 8, 2010  www.nature.com

    The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is a rare porpoise found only at the northern end of the Gulf of California, where the Baja peninsula joins the rest of Mexico. Data gathered in 2008 during an acoustic survey indicates that only 250 individuals of the species remain, a drop of 56% in just over a decade. The finding was presented this week at a scientific meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco. First discovered in 1958, genetic analyses suggest that the vaquita’s ancestors were Southern Hemisphere porpoises that migrated north during the last ice age. Individuals travel in small groups and rarely attract attention by leaping or splashing. In 1997, Tim Gerrodette, a marine biologist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, led the first comprehensive survey of the vaquita, estimating the population to be 567 individuals. A decade later another analysis, based on porpoise population rates and numbers of vaquita caught by fishermen, suggested that the number had dropped to 150. Fearing that the porpoise's population might become too small to survive, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a marine biologist at the National Institute of Ecology office in Ensenada, Mexico, teamed up with Gerrodette and others in 2008 to undertake a new abundance analysis. The team combined the occurrence of vaquita clicks with the total area covered to estimate population size. In 2005, Mexico created a reserve and later followed this with a ban on gill nets in the area, which covers nearly 2,000 square km in waters near San Felipe off the northern Baja peninsula. Vaquita easily become entangled in the nets and drown. In China, the Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) was last seen in 2007 and is now considered extinct.

    PETA Will Protest Ringling Circus in Tulsa

    June 8, 2010  www.tulsaworld.com

    TULSA, Oklahoma—Although The Greatest Show on Earth successfully defended itself in 2007 against a lawsuit that targeted its care of animals, Ringling is still feeling the heat of aggressive activist campaigns, and videos of alleged cruelty can easily be found on the Internet. PETA is planning a demonstration for opening night of the Circus in Tulsa, and The Humane Society of the United States says circus animals suffer and calls their quality of life "the big lie behind the big top." Groups urge the public to boycott circuses that feature animals and to write letters to newspapers protesting their presence. Ringling Bros. asserts that its animals receive the best possible care, and its website devotes a lot of space to the subject. Ringling say government agencies closely monitor the circus animals' condition, and veterinarians are on call 24 hours a day. Ringling doesn't just look after the Asian elephants that are part of the Circus; 53 elephants now make their home at another of Ringling's showcases: its Center for Elephant Conservation, established in 1995. "Located in central Florida," Ringling's website states, "this 200-acre, $5 million, state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing animals." The website says the center is a host to researchers, experts and conservationists who work to save the species. It touts its successful breeding program, including the recent birth of April, the 23rd elephant born at the center. Only those elephants that demonstrate an aptitude for performing and comfort with traveling are trained to join the circus. Although a few towns have banned shows with performing animals because of mishaps or public outcry, attendance at Ringling shows climbs every year. The circus is 140 years old; that's one year older than baseball.

    Snake Populations Crashing

    June 8, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Distinct populations of snake species on three continents have crashed over the last decade, raising fears that the reptiles may be in global decline, according to a study published in the journal Biology Letters. The study showed that 11 of 17 snake populations in Britain, France, Italy, Nigeria and Australia dropped off sharply over a four-year period starting in the late 1990s. The pattern across the eight species monitored was alarmingly similar despite their geographical isolation, which points to a common cause such as climate change, the researchers said. Other factors known to play a role include habitat loss, pollution, disease, lack of prey and over-exploitation, either for food or trade. Depending on the continent, population declines varied depending on sex, with females disappearing significantly more rapidly than males in most cases. So-called 'sit-and-wait' foragers—snakes that lie motionless, waiting for prey to come within striking distance—are also more severely depleted in numbers than counterparts which are active hunters.

    Emergency Endangered Species Permits Issued

    June 9, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The USFWS has waived the 30-day public notice period and have issued endangered species permits to address emergency situations resulting from the Mississippi Canyon 252 oil spill. Documents and other information submitted with the permits are available for review, by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents to the following: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30345 (Attn: Cameron Shaw, Permit Coordinator). telephone 904/731-3191. The following permittees have been authorized to receive and retain, for greater than 45 days, Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles for veterinary treatment or euthanasia under certain conditions.
    TE014234, The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida
    TE12123A, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Boca Raton, Florida
    TE12392A, Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Gulfport, Mississippi
    TE12399A, Audubon Nature Institute, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana
    TE017853, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida
    TE017849, Gulf World, Panama City Beach, Florida
    TE12549A, Gulf Exhibition Corp., Florida's Gulfarium, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida

    Establishing a Nonessential Sonoran Pronghorn Population

    June 9, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the reopening of the public comment period on our February 4, 2010, proposed rule to reestablish the Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis) in southwestern Arizona. We proposed to reestablish the Sonoran pronghorn and to classify that reestablished population as a nonessential experimental population (NEP). The proposed rule provided a plan for establishing the NEP and provided for allowable legal incidental taking of Sonoran pronghorn within the defined NEP area. A draft environmental assessment (EA) on this proposed action was also made available for comment. To allow us adequate time to consider and incorporate submitted information into our review, comments and information must be submitted on or before July 9, 2010. You may use the Federal eRulemaking Portal or U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2009-0077; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information contact: Curtis McCasland, Refuge Manager, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, 1611 North Second Avenue, Ajo, AZ 85321; by telephone (520-387-6483).

    Possible Listing of van Rossem's Gull-billed Tern

    June 9, 2010   www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is initiating a review of the status of the van Rossem's Gull-billed Tern subspecies to determine if listing is warranted. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before August 9, 2010. If you are using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, in the box that reads "Enter Keyword or ID,'' enter the Docket number for this finding, which is FWS-R8-ES-2010-0035. Check the box that reads "Open for Comment/ Submission,'' and then click the Search button. You should then see an icon that reads "Submit a Comment.'' Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment. Mail comments to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0035; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.  For further information contact: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, California 92011; by telephone at 760-431-9440.

    New Australian Seed Bank

    June 9, 2010  www.smh.com.au

    NSW, Australia—Thirty percent of native plant species in NSW are endangered and the state government is spending almost $20 million to protect them. It's setting up a huge seedbank where hundreds of thousands of frozen seeds can be stored for centuries. The Plantbank centre at the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens near Camden, south-west of Sydney, will also conduct research on how the seeds germinate. Brett Summerell is acting executive director of the Botanic Gardens Trust. The Plantbank centre, including a lecture theatre and other educational facilities, is set to be finished in 2013.

    Grey Whales Face Prey Crisis

    June 9, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Scientists from the University of Bath have reported a dramatic fall in the number of grey whale sightings in their summer feeding grounds off the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of British Columbia. In 2004, the scientists spotted almost 100 whales on the southern central coast. This number fell dramatically to a low of just three in 2009. The story is similar off the west coast of Vancouver Island, where the numbers of whales have shown an oscillating, but decreasing trend in the last six years. Colleagues in Mexico, where the whales breed, are continuing to see large numbers of thin and hungry whales. Indications are that the whales’ requirements are exceeding the available prey resources in their feeding grounds off Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. In 2009, Dr Megill and his team found that the tiny crustaceans they feed on, known as ‘mysids’, had disappeared from Clayoquot Sound, forcing the whales to feed offshore, sifting through sand and mud for other prey such as amphipods (small shrimp) and worms.

    Fighting Chytrid Fungus in Spain

    June 9, 2010  www.nature.com  By Naomi Lubick

    "Midwife toads are a sentinel species because they are so susceptible to chytrid," says Matthew Fisher, an epidemiologist who heads a consortium called RACE (Risk Assessment of Chytridiomycosis to European amphibian biodiversity). RACE is working with Jaime Bosch of Spain's National Museum of Natural History to rid a particular pond in northern Mallorca where midwife toads live of the chytrid fungus. Funded by the European Union's Biodiversa research project, RACE brings together specialists such as mycologists and herpetologists to find ways to control the spread of chytrid fungus across Europe. The local government in Mallorca also pitched in, donating employees' time and funding. Some of that money covers the tests to detect fungal DNA on the tadpoles. More funding comes from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIS) and from the regional government of Madrid — which has also spent about €75,000 (US$90,000) on a small breeding centre for two endangered frog populations in Spain's Peñalara Nature Reserve, the site of the first European outbreak of chytridiomycosis in 1997.
    Last year, Bosche and researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and others affiliated with RACE — evacuated more than 2,000 tadpoles from the Mallorcan pond. In four trips between late March and early August, the team carried hundreds of tadpoles at a time in well-cleaned, 2-litre bottles, filled with pond water and rigged with aquaria air pumps to get oxygen to the tadpoles during the three-hour hike out to the nearest road. The researchers then drove for several hours to a lab facility at Marineland, a dolphin tourist attraction across the island. There, the tadpoles completed a week-long regimen of daily 5-minute baths in itraconazole, an antifungal medicine, and were placed in glass aquaria for up to seven months. The pond was emptied and left it to dry in the hot Mallorcan summer. When the pond refilled with rain in the autumn, Bosch's team airlifted the tadpoles across the island to their home, with the hope that they would survive in the now-clean pond.

    Bosch chose Mallorca as a test site partly because the dry environment and the widely separated amphibian populations slow the spread of the fungus. That provides researchers with a chance to wipe out the pathogen, says Bosch. By contrast, it would be out of the question to eliminate the fungus from rainforest communities, such as in Central America, where water is plentiful and the fungus is widespread. In places where complete eradication is impractical, researchers are hoping to take a modified approach, which relies on the fact that some populations of frogs survive chytrid attack. Vance Vredenburg, a biologist at San Francisco State University in California, is searching for such populations in the Sierra Nevada. The mountain yellow-legged frog in this range is one of the most endangered amphibians in the United States and has been hit by many chytridiomycosis outbreaks over the past decade. By analysing how the frogs responded to those infections, Vredenburg and his colleagues have developed a model that can help to identify the populations that are most at risk and which might benefit from limited intervention. Vredenburg is now adapting Bosch's technique to try to protect communities by treating some individuals. This spring, his group started capturing frogs in cages in the field, washing them in a five-minute antifungal bath each day for a week and then releasing them.

    Although the frogs looked good, in late April, Bosch received the results from colleagues at the ZSL who had completed the analyses on the tadpole swabs taken in Mallorca. Every sample came back positive for B. dendrobatidis, which means that all the tadpoles in the pond probably carry the fungus, says Bosch. But the number of spores detected on each swab was far smaller than the number seen in tests the previous year, suggesting a lower level of infection. Even so, the news stunned Bosch and his colleagues, who are struggling to understand how the pathogen survived in the pond at all. Benedikt Schmidt, coordinator for amphibian and reptile conservation with the Swiss frog-protection group KARCH, based in Neuchâtel. "It means that we should focus on reducing prevalence rather than trying to eradicate Bd from our ponds," he says. Although disappointed by his first test in Mallorca, Bosch says the reduced severity of infection may help the frogs survive in the pond. And his team may try another round of antifungal baths this summer, perhaps treating the difficult-to-locate adult frogs as well as the tadpoles. Bosch also started up fieldwork in Portugal and Hungary earlier this spring, searching for more amphibian populations infected with chytrid fungus. He is hoping to modify the Mallorcan method to treat midwife toad populations first in Peñalara, and then elsewhere in Spain as well as in Eastern Europe.

    Camel Genome is Decoded

    June 9, 2010  www.physorg.com

    20 scientists from Riyadh's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and China's Shenzhen-based BGI—formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute—have decoded the entire genome of the single-humped camel, Camelus dromedarius, the omnipresent native of the Arabian peninsula. Sequencing and analysing the entire camel genome, which has "remarkable similarities" to cattle, could lead to a better understanding of the camel's ability to survive in the harsh desert environment, they said. Scientists are also interested in understanding how the mammal produces its highly nutritious and medically valuable milk.

    Malaysian Rhino Will Be Trapped for Breeding
    June 9, 2010  www.physorg.com

    MALASIA—Laurentius Ambu, wildlife director for Malaysia's Sabah state, announced a plan to trap a female Borneo rhino to mate with a lone male named Tam who was rescued in August 2008. The wild female rhino was spotted by remotely-set camera traps in eastern Sabah a few weeks ago. On April 21 a different, possibly pregnant female, was photographed in another part of the state. "Sabah now represents the last hope of saving the species in Malaysia and in Borneo," said John Payne, chief executive officer of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA). BORA is assisting Sabah in the development of the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and providing security against poaching. Sen Nathan, rhino conservation programme coordinator said, "We have reached the stage where actively concentrating the last few remaining individuals of the species in managed facilities might be the only way to avoid total extinction." Just 30 rhinos are known to remain in the wild on Borneo island, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and researchers are only able to monitor the population through images captured by remote camera traps. The Borneo sub-species is the rarest of all rhinos, distinguished from other Sumatran rhinos by its relatively small size, small teeth and distinctively shaped head.

    New “Atlas of Biodiversity Risk”

    June 9, 2010  www.physorg.com

    A new publication, the "Atlas of Biodiversity Risk", combines the key results of the major European research project ALARM (68 partner organizations in 35 countries in Europe and other continents) with some core outputs of numerous research networks. In total, 366 authors from more than 180 institutions in 43 countries contributed to the 280-page atlas. Political decisions are among the main driving forces that influence the survival of biodiversity and have a direct impact on decisions in key areas of man's interaction with nature, e.g. through agriculture, traffic or infrastructure policies. The Atlas summarizes the major factors leading to the loss of biodiversity on a European and global level. The main risks are caused by global climate and land use change and environmental pollution. The loss of pollinators and the impact of biological invasions are particularly relevant factors which are given special attention. The "Atlas of Biodiversity Risk" makes use of three different scenarios to forecast effects and review potential mitigation options: a) the growth applied strategy (GRAS), b) a Business-As-Might-Be-Usual scenario (BAMBU) and c) a Sustainable European Development Goal (SEDG). "Scenarios are not predictions," says Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg of SERI (Sustainable Europe Research Institute) Germany. "Scenarios provide a set of reasonable assumptions to help one's thinking about possible futures and the impact of current decisions on future development."

    Collecting Gorilla DNA from Saliva

    June 10, 2010  www.bioone.org

    A study of collection techniques for recovering DNA from mountain and Grauer's gorillas was published this month in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. Directly swabbing saliva from plant bite marks was found to be the most effective non-invasive method. Wild celery (Peucedanum linderi) provided the most consistent saliva recovery and is eaten year round by mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Researchers collected pieces of wild celery discarded as the gorillas foraged and from captive gorillas by offering them juice-soaked dental ropes inside mesh bags. Both methods can be used to recover gorilla DNA for genetic studies.

    San Diego’s Frozen Zoo and Cloning Research

    June 10, 2010  www.businessweek.com  By Rob Waters

    Two northern white rhinos, Angalifu, a male, and Nola, an elderly female are two of only eight northern white rhinos believed to be left on the planet. Oliver Ryder, chief geneticist at the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, said, "It's not clear if any are capable of reproducing." Ryder oversees the Frozen Zoo, a lab where skin cells and DNA from 12 white rhinos and 8,400 other animals—a total of some 800 species—are stored at -280F. Scientists may be able to use the cells to create cloned animals and replenish endangered species. The lab was founded in 1972, but the technology needed to make use of the cells is just now being developed. This winter researchers at the Scripps Research Institute used tissue from the Frozen Zoo to create stem cells from the silver-maned drill, Africa's most endangered monkey. On June 1 the stem cells morphed into brain cells. Jeanne Loring, who led the research said "It gives me hope we can help save species from extinction." The next step will be to use the stem cells in some variation of the method used to clone Dolly the sheep. Loring would use the stem cells she developed from the drill's skin and might also try mixing the drill cells with a three- to four-day-old embryo for a similar but more common animal like a baboon. Offspring from this mix could be selectively mated to breed out the nondrill genes, in theory leaving a pure drill. The cell-transformation technique, developed three years ago by Shinya Yamanaka of Japan's Kyoto University, uses a harmless virus to carry genes into skin cells—and change them into stem cells. Although the technique worked for the drill, it failed with white rhino cells, so Loring is hoping to map the rhino's genome to get clues about which of its genes may reprogram cells.

    In 2000, cells from the Frozen Zoo were used to clone two endangered types of cattle—a gaur and a banteng—using the Dolly method. Two of the three calves died shortly after birth. The surviving banteng lived at the San Diego Zoo for seven years, less than half its normal life span, and died in April. Some scientists say those examples show the moral complexity of cloning. The benefit may be limited if only a handful of animals are created and live in zoos, says Autumn M. Fiester, a senior fellow at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Ryder acknowledges the problems. "We would only engage in these efforts if there were no other way to prevent extinction," he says. For Ryder, the only rationale for cloning is to create new animals that could mate with existing ones, boosting their population and genetic diversity. With the white rhino, though, he and Loring are up against a deadline: Angalifu is almost 40, and rhinos generally don't live past 50. Video is at www.businessweek.com.

    Nighttime at San Diego Zoo

    June 10, 2010  www.inlandsocal.com  By JENNIFER DEAN

    San Diego Zoo's Nighttime Zoo begins June 26. Acrobats dressed as frogs, lizards, lions, cheetahs and monkeys will roam the zoo, engaging visitors. At the Front Plaza, watch as artist Stephen Fishwick splashes paint at a blank canvas to the sound of music until suddenly an animal's face appears. At the Children's Zoo, hourly from 2 to 6 p.m., Dr. Zoolittle showcases some of the animals' unique adaptations that allow them to do things that seem quite magical. At the Hunte Amphitheater, the bird show called "Soar: A Symphony in Flight" is set to lights and music. Dance to the tropical, calypso sounds of the group Three Hour Tour at Front Street.

    4-D Adventure at the Bronx Zoo

    June 10, 2010

    A new family friendly theatrical film and attraction based on Nickelodeon’s hit animated preschool series will entertain visitors to the Bronx Zoo this summer. Audience members will join Dora, Diego, and Boots as they travel from the tropical rainforest to the icy Arctic in a high-speed chase to protect the world’s animals from Swiper’s newest invention—a robot butterfly. The zoo’s 4-D theater combines the visual drama of a 3-D film with a variety of sensory effects that are built into the seats and theater environment, bringing on-screen images to life with added effects such as water mist, a neck air blast, snow, bubbles, leg ticklers, scents, enhanced floor lighting and seat vibrations. The 4-D theater is included in the price of a Total Experience admission, or single tickets are available for $5 per person.

    How Sharks Find Their Prey

    June 10, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Jayne Gardiner of the University of South Florida studied the species Mustelus canis or the smooth dogfish and reports in the June 10th issue of Current Biology how sharks manage to keep themselves on course. They are able to detect small delays, no more than half a second long, in the time that odors reach one nostril versus the other. When the animals experience such a lag, they will turn toward whichever side picked up the scent first. If a shark experiences no delay in scent detection or a delay that lasts too long—a full second or more—they are just as likely to make a left-hand turn as they are to make a right. These results refute the popular notion that sharks and other animals follow scent trails based on differences in the concentration of odor molecules hitting one nostril versus the other. "Most creatures come equipped with two odor sensors—nostrils or antennae, for example—and it has long been believed that they compare the concentration at each sensor and then turn towards the side receiving the strongest signal. But when odors are dispersed by flowing air or water, this dispersal is incredibly chaotic." Gardiner's team suggests that the findings in the small shark species they studied may help to explain the evolution of the wide and flat heads that make hammerhead sharks so recognizable. One idea has held that the characteristic hammerhead may lend the animals a better sense of smell. But studies hadn't shown their noses to be all that remarkable. The new findings suggest that the distance between their nostrils could be the key.

    Is Washing Oily Birds Wasteful?

    June 10, 2010  www.cbsnews.com

    FORT JACKSON, Louisiana—In the seven weeks since the Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster, more than 150 pelicans, gulls, sandwich terns and other birds have been treated at a rehabilitation center 70 miles south of New Orleans. A total of 442 birds in the Gulf region have been collected alive with visible oil; 109 oiled birds have been found dead. More arrive each day. The victims are scrubbed clean and held a week or more to recover. Then a Coast Guard plane flies them to Tampa Bay in Florida for release – hopefully far enough away that the birds won't return to oiled waters and get soaked again. Birds treated from this disaster have been tagged, and none has been spotted so far. It's all part of a broader animal care initiative overseen by federal agencies and operated largely by nonprofit groups, with funding from BP PLC. Other centers focus on turtles and marine mammals.

    But Ron Kendall, director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University says that many, if not most, oiled creatures probably won't live long after being cleansed and freed. "Once they've gone through that much stress, particularly with all the human handling and confinement, it's very difficult," Kendall said. "Some species might tolerate it better than others, but when you compare the benefits to the costs ... I am skeptical. Studies are indicating that rescue and cleaning of oiled birds makes no effective contribution to conservation, except conceivably for species with a small world population." In a 2002 environmental analysis of proposed Gulf oil drilling projects, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said, "A growing number of studies indicate that current rehabilitation techniques are not effective in returning healthy birds to the wild." Fewer than 10 percent of brown pelicans that were cleaned and marked for tracing after a 1990 spill in Southern California were accounted for two years later, while more than half the pelicans in a control group could be found, according to a 1996 study by UC Davis scientists in 1996. The formerly oiled birds also showed no signs of breeding. Author Dan Anderson said he still questions how well the rescue missions succeed but doesn't oppose them. "If nothing else, we're morally obligated to save birds that seem to be saveable, and besides, bird rehabilitation groups have improved their methods the past couple of decades.” A 2002 study by Humboldt State University scientists found that gulls treated after a California spill survived just as well as gulls that were not oiled. Rescue supporters also point to data showing high survival rates for penguins receiving care from a South African foundation that has handled more than 50,000 oiled seabirds since 1968.

    Most birds arrive at rescue centers hungry, dehydrated and exhausted, having neglected eating in the frantic struggle to clean themselves. Once a bird is strong enough, two workers cover it in warm vegetable oil to remove the sticky oil, then apply dish soap and scrub parts of its head with a toothbrush. It's time-consuming and expensive. Cleaning a single pelican can require 300 gallons of water. After the Exxon Valdez, some studies estimated that $15,000 had been spent for each marine bird treated, a figure others said was exaggerated. Scientists with the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in California said it costs them $600 to $750 to clean a bird. James Harris, a senior wildlife biologist with the USFWS, said critics also forget that many rescued animals will produce offspring—especially brown pelicans, which were taken off the federal endangered list only last year. Extensive information at www.cbsnews.com.

    Endangered Crocodiles Hatched in Cambodia

    June 10, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Thirteen baby Siamese crocodiles have hatched in a remote part of the Caradamon Mountains in Cambodia. Researchers found them in the jungle and have been waiting several weeks for the hatch. Experts believe as few as 250 Siamese crocodiles are left in the wild, almost all of them in Cambodia but with a few spread between Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and possibly Thailand. The operation to protect and hatch the eggs was mounted by United Kingdom-based Fauna and Flora International, for whom conservation of this once-abundant species is a key program. The nest, with 22 eggs inside, was discovered in the isolated Areng Valley. Fauna and Flora International volunteers removed 15 of them to a safe site and incubated them in a compost heap to replicate the original nest. They left seven behind because they appeared to be unfertilized. A round-the-clock guard was mounted to keep away predators like monitor lizards. Last weekend the crocodiles began calling from inside the shells, and emerged within 10 hours. Three of the eggs left behind at the original nest also hatched. A camera-trap yielded two infrared shots of the mother crocodile returning to the nest. But this part of the Areng Valley has been earmarked for a major hydropower project. The conservation group is looking for other areas of similar habitat to release the juveniles when the time comes. The Siamese crocodile has suffered a massive decline over the last century, because of a high demand for its soft skin. Commercial breeders also brought them to stock farms where they crossed them with larger types of crocodile, producing hybrids which further reduced numbers of the pure Siamese. In 1992 it was declared "effectively extinct in the wild" before being rediscovered in the remote Cardamoms in Cambodia eight years later. Siamese crocodiles take 15 years to reach sexual maturity.

    Sharks & Rays of Borneo Identified

    June 10, 2010  www.physorg.com

    A new book, The Sharks and Rays of Borneo, is the first comprehensive guide to Borneo’s sharks and rays and the culmination of a decade of collaborative research by Australian, United States, Indonesian and Malaysian scientists. The book describes the features, distribution, local names, habitat, biology and conservation status of 118 shark and ray species. It includes nine new species, including the Borneo River Shark and the Narrowtail Stingray, and three others not formally recorded for more than a century. One of these 'resurrected' species, the Borneo Shark, is listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, a second was thought to be extinct. The field research, species classification and related publications were funded by the US National Science Foundation and CSIRO. DNA sequencing conducted during the project will contribute to a global database against which new shark and ray records can be compared.

    Toughening Malaysia’s Wildlife Laws
    June 10, 2010  www.mmail.com.my

    KUALA LUMPUR—The International Trade in Endangered Species, Act 686 will become effective June 30. Owners of endangered animals must hand over their protected wildlife to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks before June 29 to avoid getting jailed and fined. Individuals must apply for a special letter from the department for permission to keep the animal as a pet. However, the application is conditional. The letter will not be given to traders and commercial companies, who'd usually keep the species for commercial purposes. Over 175 countries, including Malaysia, are members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which follows the Act 686.

    Harbor Seals’ Whiskers Detect Fish

    June 10, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    Harbor seals’ whiskers can detect hydrodynamic trails in water with their sensitive whiskers. Wolf Hanke from the University of Rostock, Germany, explains that blindfolded seals can track passing mini-submarines for a distance of 40m before the wake peters out. However, the hydrodynamic trails left by subs are different from those produced by fish fins, so how long could a seal track a trail generated by a moving fin before the turbulence became too faint to follow? Hanke and his colleagues publish their discovery that the seals can pick up fin trails as long as 35s after the fin passed by on 11 June 2010 in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

    North America’s Marine Ecosystems

    June 10, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    There are nearly 2,000 marine protected areas in North America. The latest map from the North American Environmental Atlas brings together information about all types of marine protected areas in Canada, Mexico and the United States, offering details about protection status and those responsible to manage the sites. A functional network of marine protected areas is crucial for maintaining ecological integrity and protecting migratory species and transboundary habitats. They are also important to help ecosystems recover from or adapt to a wide variety of threats, including pollution from oil spills, overexploitation and rapidly changing environmental conditions. Although some ecoregions have limited number of protected areas, the Northern Gulf of Mexico ecoregion has more than 250 protected areas. See the Commission for Environmental Cooperation website for more information.

    Endangered Species Act Needs Overhall to Prevent Oil Disasters

    June 10, 2010  www.wired.com

    The U.S. Minerals Management Service essentially operated in collusion with the oil industry to evade the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to evaluate environmental impacts when making decisions. MMS allowed drilling to proceed without NEPA review. Oil companies never considered the impacts of a massive spill on the Gulf’s sperm whales or five sea turtle species. They didn’t have to, because the law doesn’t require it. One of the flaws of the Endangered Species Act is it doesn’t include disaster planning. The Act only requires consideration of events that are “reasonably certain to occur.” That a wellhead would blow—as happened 36 times in the Gulf between 1992 and 2006—and release a steady stream of oil was not so far-fetched as the industry insisted, but it wasn’t reasonably certain. In addition to considering catastrophes, the Endangered Species Act also needs to restrict what’s called segmented consultation, in which impacts are evaluated only in incremental blocks—over, say, the first few years of a project, rather than its expected lifetime. That makes it easy to avoid thinking about long-term problems. But amendments are only a first step. Endangered Species Act enforcement is woefully underfunded. Total federal spending on endangered species amounts to about $562 million, including what’s given to NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service, who are responsible for protecting the animals and evaluating plans submitted by other federal agencies. Both NOAA and FWS are barely able to handle what’s already asked of them.

    California Upholds Ban on Importation of Nonnative Frogs and Turtles for Food

    June 10, 2010  www.reptilechannel.com

    California Fish and Game Commission plans to uphold their recently instated ban on the importation of nonnative frogs and turtles for use as food. The ban drew criticism from the San Francisco Chinese community, one of the largest consumers of frog legs and turtles in the United States. This in turn prompted a reconsideration hearing in a Sacramento, Calif., room that was filled to capacity with  legislators, businesspeople, nonprofit representatives and other members of the public. Up to 200 amphibian species have completely disappeared in recent years and California is home to 16 threatened amphibian species, according to The Center for North American Herpetology (CNAH). Several million bullfrogs from North America that are farmed overseas are imported into California for food each year. A recent study showed that over 60 percent of these frogs are infected with a deadly chytrid fungus that has decimated frog populations in the Sierra Nevada range. Americans consume 20 percent of the world's frog legs, and scientists estimate that more than a hundred million frogs are taken out of the wild each year for food.

    UC Librarians Urge Boycott of Nature Journals
    June 11, 2010  www.physorg.com  By Matt Krupnick

    University of California librarians are urging professors not to submit research to Nature or 66 related journals to protest a 400 percent increase in the publisher's prices. A new contract with Nature Publishing Group (NPG) would raise the university's subscription costs by more than $1 million. Boycotting the Nature group would be a huge step for a university that, according to UC estimates, has provided 5,300 articles to the 67 journals in the past six years. Nearly 640 of those articles went to Nature itself, one of the world's premier scientific journals. Journal publishers have long been criticized for charging thousands of dollars for annual subscriptions to some publications. Many titles have been consolidated under a handful of major publishers, including NPG, making it more difficult for universities to negotiate lower prices. Michael Eisen, a UC Berkeley biology professor who refuses to publish his research group's work in NPG's journals said, "The university is forced to give away information for free and then to buy it back at a huge markup. The whole thing is just completely screwed up. The only alternative the university has is to strike back at what Nature really values." UC spends  $24.3 million annually for online journals. The current average UC cost for NPG journals is $4,465  The proposed average 2011 cost is $17,479.

    Micke Grove Zoo Will Likely Remain Unaccredited

    June 11, 2010  www.lodinews.com  By Ross Farrow

    LODI, California—Micke Grove Zoo will continue to lack the national accreditation it needs to acquire more grants to bring more animals and attract more visitors. While facing the need to trim the San Joaquin County budget by $56.2 million, the Board of Supervisors will determine during the week of June 21 whether to discontinue the county's Zoo Education Program. County Administrator Manuel Lopez said discontinuing the Zoo Education Program would eliminate the chance to restore its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, based in Maryland. Zoo director Ken Nieland said the 53-year-old zoo stands to suffer in an even more significant way—the proposed county budget eliminates one full-time and two part-time animal care specialists, which drops the level of animal care by 26 percent. The AZA evaluates zoos for animal management and care, including living environment, social groupings, health, nutrition and veterinary care, according to the association's website. Nieland said that the county-owned zoo lost its accreditation four years ago because there wasn't enough evidence that the county was making sufficient upgrades. Micke Grove Zoo received a five-year accreditation in 1990, 1995, and 2000. But five years later, the association didn't renew it.

    Dingoes Are Smarter Than Pet Dogs

    June 11, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Studies in the past have shown that wolves are smarter than domesticated dogs when it comes to solving spatial problems, and now new research has shown that dingoes also solve the problems well. The dingo is considered a “pure” prehistoric dog, which was brought to Australia tens of thousands of years ago by the Aborigines. While they have in the past been associated with humans, they have adapted to surviving “wild” in the Australian outback. The dingo lies somewhere between the wolf, its ancient ancestor, and the domestic or pet dog, and has cognitive differences between the two. Researchers in South Australia have now subjected the Australian dingo (Canis dingo) to the classic “detour task,” which has been used by previous researchers to assess the abilities of wolves (Canis lupus) and domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to solve non-social, spatial problems. The detour task involves placing a treat behind a transparent or wire mesh fence. The dog can see the food but cannot get to it directly and has to find its way along the fence and through a door and then double back to get the food. Previous research has shown wolves are adept at solving the problem quickly, while domesticated dogs generally perform poorly and fail to improve significantly even after repeated trials. The wolves were also able to adapt easily when conditions were reversed, but pet dogs also generally fared poorly at this task. The dingoes completed the detour tasks successfully, and they achieved fewer errors and solved the problems more quickly (in around 20 seconds) than domestic dogs. Unlike domesticated dogs in previous studies, the dingoes did not look to humans for help. The findings were published in the journal Animal Behaviour. All tests were carried out at the Dingo Discovery Centre in Victoria.

    Social Media for Wildlife Professionals

    June 11, 2010  www.usgs.gov

    Many groups are exploring the social media world of Facebook and Twitter to communicate with wider audiences and disseminate information in new ways. Here are a few examples from USFWS, Wildlife Disease Information, USGS, National Biological Information Infrastructure, and Wildlife Society. A complete list is at www.usgs.gov/socialmedia.
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/usfws
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/USFWSHQ   http://twitter.com/NBII_WDIN
    YouTube http://www.youtube.com/usfws
    Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usgeologicalsurvey
    Blog: http://nbii-info.blogspot.com/
    Podcast: http://www.usgs.gov/corecast

    Bill Gersonde New Director of Abilene Zoo
    June 11, 2010 www.reporternews.com

    Bill Gersonde will become the director of the Abilene Zoo on July 19. He has served as superintendent at the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho since July 1991. During his tenure at the Tautphaus Park Zoo, Gersonde’s major accomplishments included leading the facility to becoming an AZA accredited institution for three consecutive five-year periods. In Idaho Falls, he oversaw the renovations of existing facilities and construction of new ones, established a nonprofit support organization, volunteer educators and a volunteer group to assist in animal care and grounds maintenance and construction, and completed a 10-year zoo master plan. Gersonde also has more than five combined years of experience as a keeper and supervisor at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Park in Colorado Springs. He was an elephant and camel trainer and handler for Elephantastics Inc. in Denver and a keeper at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas.

    Island Fox Recovers on Channel Islands

    June 11, 2010  www.independent.com

    CHANNEL ISLANDS, Santa Barbara—The island fox was listed in 2004 as a federally endangered species. Four of the six subspecies of island fox declined by over 90% in the late 1990s. The cause of the decline on the northern Channel Islands was predation by golden eagles. Since 1999 a total of 44 golden eagles have been live-captured and relocated to the mainland. Today, with over 1,700 foxes in the wild, the island fox population is approaching biological recovery on Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands within Channel Islands National Park.  The fox population of about 320 animals on San Miguel Island has increased from only 15 animals in 1999 when all animals were brought into captivity as a measure to save the species. Today survivorship of island foxes on San Miguel Island is 94%, an above-normal level. Santa Cruz Island, the largest and most diverse Channel Island, boasts of a fox population of over 1,000 with an annual survival rate of about 96%. On nearby Santa Rosa Island, recovery is slower with the population of 390 animals still exposed to golden eagle predation. This past spring 11 radio-collared foxes died from eagle predation. Golden eagle feathers were found at two fox mortality sites and several sightings of golden eagles occurred in the same time period. Russell Galipeau, Superintendent of Channel Islands National Park said, “The continued predation by golden eagles is unfortunate and is being monitored closely.” An unusual incident occurred in late May when bald eagle webcam viewers observed one of the adults bringing an island fox carcass into a bald eagle nest. It is not known whether the adult bald eagles preyed upon this fox or whether they recovered a dead fox carcass. Bald eagles are known to primarily feed on fish, seabirds, and marine mammal carcasses. Next week a group of approximately 60 biologists and managers from various agencies and organizations will convene for an annual meeting in Ventura to discuss island fox recovery. They will present the current status of island fox populations on each of the six Channel Islands that supports this endemic species and will identify measures for continued island fox monitoring, research, and protection.

    Zoos Ready to Help with Oil Spill

    June 11, 2010  www.cbsnews.com

    Dan Boritt, the National Zoo’s acting curator of birds, has been involved in oil rescue operations since 2002. This week he met with fellow AZA members to plan how zoos across the country can help the Gulf Coast. Right now, the animal rescue duties are being handled by residents of the Gulf, but with a spill this large it's likely the region will need backup.

    Wildlife Conservation Society Spring Bird Count

    June 11, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By COREY KILGANNON

    Nancy Clum, curator of ornithology, John Delaney, Manager of Science and Wildlife Health Communications, and other officials at the Wildlife Conservation Society are conducting a bird count, not of the 200 different species of birds on exhibit, but of the species nesting and breeding on the 265-acres of zoo property outside the exhibits. This is the first count of breeding bird species since the zoo’s first curator of ornithology, William Beebe, conducted one in 1904, five years after the zoo first opened. Mr. Beebe found 62 species, and wrote an article (“A Variety of Feathered Folk in the Zoological Park”) for The New York Tribune in July 1904. Much has changed over the past century. The zoo property has become an isolated island of green in what is now densely urban sprawl. Yet there is an astonishing variety of species, and the society’s officials hope to compare their findings with Mr. Beebe’s. For example, Mr. Beebe observed Eastern meadowlarks, loggerhead shrikes, and Eastern bluebirds, which have not been seen around here recently, possibly because they favor grasslands, which have become rare. And officials have noted the presence of mourning doves, Northern mockingbirds and mallards, which Mr. Beebe did not mention. Also rock doves, which we know as pigeons. The count, which officials would like to expand in the future to other large green spaces in the city, takes place in June and July, during breeding season when many species have migrated from as far as the Caribbean and South America. Officials hope to monitor how well various species reproduce here, and how this may be affected by development or restoration of certain areas.

    New United Nations Biodiversity Monitoring Organization (IPBES)

    June 12, 2010  www.nature.org

    BUSAN, Korea—Representatives from nearly 90 countries (including the U.S. E.U., and Brazil) have approved the formation of a new organization to monitor the ecological state of the planet and its natural resources. Named the Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the organization will meet for the first time in 2011 and operate much like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Like the IPCC, it will not recommend particular courses of action, but will conduct periodic assessments of the diversity of life on earth and its 'ecosystem services'—those outputs of ecosystems, such as clean fresh water, fish, game, timber and a stable climate, that benefit humankind. These assessments will answer questions about how much biodiversity is declining and what the implications of extinctions and ecosystem change are for humanity. Assessments will take place on global, regional and sub-regional scales. IPBES will also be involved in training environmental scientists in the developing world, both with a to-be-determined budget of its own and by alerting funders about gaps in global expertise. The organization will also identify research that needs to be done and useful tools—such as models—for policymakers looking to apply a scientific approach to such decisions as land management. More information is at ipbes.net.

    Animal Poetry Exhibited at Milwaukee Zoo
    June 12, 2010  www.jsonline.com  By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett

    More than 50 poems and the wildlife they celebrate are part of a permanent poetry installation at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The project, the largest of only five others like it in the country, will be formally unveiled at 10 a.m. June 19. Called "The Language of Conservation," the exhibit hopes to inspire zoo visitors to think of the importance of conservation by offering poetry about the animals they will see here. Authors range from Walt Whitman to American Indian writers, with international poetry translated from the original Spanish and Hebrew. "The idea is to change people's impressions about conservation through poetry," says Charles Wikenhauser, Milwaukee County Zoo director. The poems were chosen by Pattiann Rogers, poet, essayist, college professor and the zoo's poet-in-residence. The locations of the installations are as unexpected as the poetry. Visitors happen upon them like a chance encounter. The poem "Elk," for instance, appears printed on barn wood, casually leaning against a rock in a corner of the elk yard. Visitors will have to search to find all the poems. The verses are blasted into rocks and imprinted in clay in a garden area. They lie in the woods behind a split rail fence and posted in a frame in Happy the Hippo's holding area. The materials used in the installations mirror the spirit of the animals and their homes. The jellyfish installation perfectly evokes the transparent creatures. The poem is projected onto the darkened wall above the jellyfish tank, and the words float in space like the jellies in the water beneath them. "The Language of Conservation" was an initiative of Poets House in New York, and partial funding came from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Other poetry projects are installed at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, and zoos in New Orleans, Little Rock, Ark., and Jacksonville, Fla., all modeled on a New York City Central Park Zoo installation.

    Hogle Zoo Helps with Oil Spill in Utah

    June 12, 2010  www.deseretnews.com  By Amy Joi O'Donoghue

    SALT LAKE CIT —A break in the Chevron pipeline has sent ~20,000 gallons of oil into the Red Butte Creek riparian corridor as multiple agencies work to mitigate impacts to the stream and wildlife. Jane Larson, an animal care supervisor at Hogle Zoo, said between 150 and 200 birds—mostly Canada geese—were herded into temporary corrals and taken to the zoo for the cleansing process. The birds were cleaned up to three times in "kiddie pools" with water and Dawn dish soap, said Nancy Carpenter, director of the zoo's animal health services. The birds will be released at a new location by state wildlife workers. The all-day effort tapped specialists with the state Division of Wildlife Resources and the state agriculture department. "It's going to be a concerted effort on the part of many groups," Larson said.

    Chimpanzee Undergoes Surgery for Ear Infection

    June 13, 2010  tvnz.co.nz

    Cara, a chimpanzee, suffered from an infection for about six years. "She was always putting sticks in her ear and it got to the point where the vets and the keepers at the time decided we should check that out," says Cara's keeper Vimal Patel. The surgeons had to take out her whole inner ear. "If we don't remove the ear, then there's a risk of a brain abscess forming and her life being terminated that way," says Zoo vet Francois Lampen. Many pieces of the sticks Cara put into her ear were also pulled out by the surgeons. The operation was performed at Wellington Zoo's operating theatre for the surgery. The team of doctors included a human ear nose and throat surgeon. It is believed to be the first time this type of surgery was done on a chimpanzee. The ear nose and throat surgeon Rebecca Garland said after the four-hour surgery that they found "a lot of inflamed, really angry tissue, but no other nasty disease." The ear is now closed up, so there is no room for any more sticks but staff will be keeping an extra close eye on Cara over the next few days just to make sure.

    40-foot Iguana Moves to Fort Worth Zoo

    June 13, 2010  cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com  By Michael Brick

    AUSTIN, TX – Thirty-two years ago in New York, Bob Wade created a 40’ iguana named Iggy, from polyurethane and steel. (His other works include outsize cowboy boots in San Antonio and an outsize football helmet in Austin.) In 1978 the proprietor of a honky-tonk on Fifth Avenue and 13th street bought the sculpture for $10,000 (half in bar privileges), to decorate the roof of his legendary establishment. "Too Much Ain’t Enough.”  When neighbors complained, a court pronounced the sculpture a work of art, not a sign subject to regulation. After the bar closed in 1989, Iggy rarely appeared in public and was finally acquired by Fort Worth oilman Lee M. Bass, whose wife is co-chair of the Fortworth Zoo Board. In 2007, the Zoo, broke ground on a new herpetarium. And after a thorough refurbishment, 2,600-pound Iggy has landed on the roof of the zoo hospital building, where he will remain indefinitely.

    NY State Wildlife Pathologist Under Investigation

    June 13, 2010  www.timesunion.com  By JAMES M. ODATO

    ALBANY—Crows began turning up dead in New York City in the summer of 1999. State wildlife pathologist Wade Stone misdiagnosed what killed them, blaming fungus and pesticides. "He blew it," said Tracey McNamara, now a professor of pathology at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif. She was the wildlife pathologist for the Bronx Zoo at the time. McNamara thinks that Stone's early misdiagnosis was a major mistake because spraying might have killed disease-carrying mosquitoes sooner if Stone had seen what she saw in birds dying at the Bronx Zoo in August 1999 - heart and brain lesions suggesting viral infection. She said she believes he was unable or unwilling to do the work necessary. "He had essentially misdiagnosed 400 crows," she said. "We lost bald eagles and flamingos at the Bronx Zoo that had lesions similar to those with the crows." She said she was so angry with Stone that she sought to have the American College of Veterinary Pathologists object to his use of the title wildlife pathologist; the college rejected her appeal, although it did give her an award for her role in discovery of the West Nile virus outbreak. But she said Stone's title is a problem because other scientists assume he is a trained pathologist. Stone has a master's degree in zoology from Syracuse University and has served as wildlife pathologist for the DEC since 1969. Stone is currently under investigation for alleged employee misconduct, such as living at his state office, using staff and equipment for his private activities and spending taxpayer dollars on personal expenses; but several critics say his scientific work should also be scrutinized.

    Oiled-Bird Survival Study
    June 13, 2010  www.news.ucdavis.edu

    Michael Ziccardi, a UC Davis associate professor of veterinary medicine and oiled-wildlife expert has responded to more than 45 spills and treated more than 6,500 oiled birds. He and Nils Warnock, executive director of Audubon Alaska, recently submitted the first scientific review of all oiled-bird survival studies to the journal Biology Letters. They argue that more birds survive and reproduce than previously thought. Certainly, some individual oiled birds are so sick that euthanasia is the right choice, medically, ethically and ecologically, but those cases typically account for a small percentage of birds brought alive to spill rescue centers. The new scientific review is titled “Efficacy of rehabilitating oiled birds - vain attempt or positive action?” It sets three benchmarks for successful rehabilitation of oiled wildlife: animals surviving to be released back into the wild; long-term survival after being released; and having offspring. It is currently undergoing peer review.

    New Video Game: Zoo Hospital

    June 14, 2010  www.zergwatch.com

    Aunt Lucy, a veterinarian at a world-famous zoo, invites you to intern for the summer. With her help, you’ll treat a variety of exotic animals from around the world as you learn how to read body language, soothe animals, perform thorough examinations and treat them so they can return to their zoo habitats healthy.

    Concerns Remain About Chester Zoo’s Biodome

    June 14, 2010  www.chesterfirst.co.uk  by Laura Jones

    Chester Zoo has cancelled two major parts of its ‘Heart of Africa’ Biodome development which will be situated on Green Belt land. Also cancelled: a second hotel and a garden centre. But despite the fact that plans for the £225 million ‘Eden Project of the North’ have been scaled down, there are increasing pressures from local residents, councillors and environmentalists to block the project. Members of the “Campaign to Protect Rural England” (CPRE) say they are still seriously concerned about the impact that the proposals will have on the integrity of the Green Belt in the vulnerable narrow space between the built up area of Chester and the built up area of Ellesmere Port. The group strongly opposes the revised plans for the zoo’s Natural Vision project which will feature a Biodome a third larger than the size of Cornwall’s Eden Project—180 metres long by 90 metres wide and 34 metres tall—and a 150-bed themed hotel. The dome will be home to an African rainforest sanctuary for a band of gorillas, a large troop of chimpanzees, okapi and other rare and threatened species. Among their objections, CPRE claim that the development is “inappropriate” for the area. They believe that there would be a substantial loss of grade three agricultural land and they feel that it “would not contribute to the regeneration” of Chester City Centre.

    Oil Spill Could Threaten Whooping Cranes

    June 14, 2010  www.calgaryherald.com

    CALGARY, Canada—Experts have spent 65 years trying to rebuild the whooping crane population from the 21 birds left at the end of the Second World War to the 550 wild and captive birds alive today. The cranes, which lay only two eggs per year and typically raise one chick, can't recover quickly from a dip in the population. The only wild flock left in the world spends its summers in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada and migrates south to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Birds raised through breeding programs—including those at the Calgary Zoo’s Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre—migrate between central Wisconsin and the northwest coast of Florida. Dwight Knapik, zookeeper at the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre said, "There is growing concern that what has already been spilled will wash up on crane habitat…and contaminate the shellfish, frogs and fish the birds feast on after migrating south for the winter. Aransas in Texas is at less risk for contamination because the prevailing water currents appear to be pushing the water east to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, which will take the brunt of it.” But that could have an effect on the wintering grounds of the flock that has been trained to follow ultralight aircraft from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to the northwest coast of Florida. Hundreds of oiled birds have been picked up by wildlife rescue workers in five states, including Texas. One of the reasons experts are trying to establish more than one population of cranes by spreading out their summer and winter habitats is so one catastrophic event, won't devastate the entire population.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    June 14, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Comments on these permit applications must be received on or before July 14, 2010. Submit to the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916-414-6464; Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments. For further information contact  Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist; (telephone: 760-431-9440).

    Permit No. TE-053736-1. Applicant: Barbara A Garrison, Tucson, Arizona.  The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (March 29, 2002, 67 FR 15222) to take (harass by survey) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-118641. Applicant: Jodi McGraw Consulting, Corralitos, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (April 19, 2006, 71 FR 20121) to take (capture and release) the Zayante band-winged grasshopper (Trimerotropis infantilis) and Mount Hermon June beetle (Polyphylla barbata) in conjunction with habitat maintenance and restoration activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-107075. Applicant: Steven Powell, San Pablo, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (August 9, 2005, 70 FR 46185) to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris) and take (survey, capture, handle, kill and remove from the wild) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys, population monitoring, and habitat enhancement activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-12537A. Applicant: Daniella J. Dekelaita, Monte Rio, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of the species in Sonoma and Santa Barbara Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-12511A. Applicant: Kathryn M. Allan, San Francisco, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle,and release) the salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-14231A. Applicant: Caesara W. Brungraber, San Diego, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni) and the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

    Permit No. TE-045994. Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Western Ecological Research Center, San Diego Field Station, San Diego, California. The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (July 7, 2009, 74 FR 32179) to take, (transport and release) the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) in conjunction with a captive breeding and translocation program in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Permit No. TE-14237A. Applicant: Wildlife Science Center, Livermore, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

    Carnivorous Mammals Track Fruit Abundance

    June 14, 2010 www.eurekalert.org

    Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) have shown that carnivorous animals such as foxes and martens play an important role in helping fruiting plants to reproduce and disperse their seeds. They studied how foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and the European pine marten (Martes martes) ate the fruit of the rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) in the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range, and found that both species were capable of tracking yearly differences in the abundance of rowan fruit in Cantabrian forests, and in addition showed a marked preference for the most productive trees. "The probability of a tree being visited by a carnivore seemed to depend directly on the number of fruits that had fallen below it. The carnivores went off with a considerable proportion of the fallen fruit (much more than the amount destroyed by rodents during the same period)", according to authors José Guitián and Ignacio Munilla. The carnivores also help the rowan to thrive by dispersing the seeds contained inside the fruits that fall from the tree. According to the researchers, the rowan-fox-marten system could be important in mountain ecosystems on the Iberian Peninsula. The study appears in the journal Acta Oecologica.

    Malaysian Authorities Seize Spider & Radiated Tortoises
    June 14, 2010  www.physorg.com

    300 spider and radiated tortoises from Madagascar were discovered at Kuala Lumpur's international airport last week, according to Malaysia's wildlife and national parks department deputy chief Misliah Mohamad Basir. The reptiles were packed among shredded paper in two suitcases and were found by customs officials who spotted movement in one of the bags. "The luggage was destined for Kuala Lumpur," she said, adding she believed the tortoises were to be sold to pet shops. No one has been arrested so far. The Madagascan spider and radiated tortoises are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. Both are hunted for their meat and for the exotic pet trade.

    Nepal Government Investigates Rhino Poaching

    June 14, 2010  www.physorg.com

    NEPAL, India—Nepal's government is investigating the poaching deaths of 28 rhinos over the past 11 months. The rhinos are protected by the government in conservation areas, and security forces are tasked with guarding them. Increased political turmoil in Nepal, however, has meant lax security and increased poaching. Indian rhinos are native to northern India and southern Nepal. Only about 200 remained before tough preservation laws began to be stringently enforced in the 20th century. Now there are an estimated 2,500 in the wild, though rhino poaching remains a serious problem. (The last count done in 2008 put the rhino population in Nepal at 435.)

    Cloning in Dubai

    June 14, 2010  www.khaleejtimes.com  By Martin Croucher

    DUBAI—The UAE’s most endangered species could be saved from extinction by a revolutionary new cloning technique being developed at a fertility lab in Dubai. Dr Nisar Wani, the scientist behind the world’s first cloned camel, believes the technology exists to ensure the survival of threatened species such as the Arabian Oryx or the Arabian Leopard. The technique, known as interspecies nuclear transfer, would involve the cells of an Oryx being inserted into the womb of a goat for incubation. In April, 2010, the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai where he works attracted international attention for being the first lab in the world to have cloned a camel. It was named ‘Injaz’, or ‘achievement’ in Arabic. Buoyed by the initial success, the centre announced in February this year the birth of a second cloned camel, this time one cloned from a prized bull worth several million dirhams. Both animals are healthier than their peers, Dr Wani said, and over 10 more cloned animals are expected to be born early next year. The centre is funded by the office of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. In the near future, private camel breeders would be able to clone their most prized animals for a fraction of the cost they bought the animal for, he said. “Some of the most valued animals are worth up to Dh20 million."

    Rebound of Least Terns Along Arkansas River

    June 14, 2010  www.tulsaworld.com

    Listed as "endangered" since 1985, officials have counted a growing number of least terns along the Arkansas River this season, raising hopes that the species is on its way to recovery. Five years ago, in a report called a "Biological Opinion," the USFWS set a five-year goal of averaging 500 adult terns along a stretch of the river from Kaw Lake east of Ponca City to near Sallisaw. A recent survey counted 619 adult terns. For fledglings, the goal was to average 125 terns and the survey found 211, according to a report from the Army Corps of Engineers. The report partly credits the corps for adjusting the release of water from hydropower stations to protect nesting areas downstream. Terns like to nest on sandbars in several rivers across eastern Oklahoma. They spend winters along the Gulf Coast but return inland to breed during the summer, and officials count them every year by taking air boats to known nesting areas.

    New Tool to Monitor Migrating Waterbirds

    June 14, 2010  www.birdlife.org

    Migratory waterbirds (waders, terns and geese) need an unbroken chain of wetlands to complete their annual life-cycles. Wetlands are among the world's most vulnerable ecosystems and, consequently, an alarming 42% of the migratory waterbird species across Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia are in decline. A new 'Critical Site Network (CSN)' Tool provides comprehensive information on 294 waterbird species from 3,020 sites. It is designed to make information easily available on the most important sites for migratory waterbirds, both at the national and international level.

    Atlanta Gorilla Charges / Breaks Exhibit Window

    June 14, 2010  www.cnn.com

    ATLANTA, Georgia—Zoo Atlanta closed its gorilla exhibit and ordered visitors to evacuate the area after a silverback gorilla charged a viewing window, cracking the window. The incident occurred about 2:15 p.m. Sunday as zookeepers were tossing pieces of orange to the gorillas. 20-year-old Taz fixed his gaze on a point inside the viewing area where there was a woman dressed in blue scrubs, with a stethoscope. From about 15 yards away, he began walking and then running toward the window while keeping focused on a spot inside the viewers' area. A few feet from a floor-to-ceiling glass window, Taz hurled himself into the glass, cracking it in various places. "Taz exhibited this behavior most likely because he had undergone a routine medical exam the previous day and was concerned about the presence of veterinarians in the viewing area," the zoo said. All the gorillas—including Taz—were immediately ushered into their overnight holding area. The center will reopen once repairs have been completed. Such an incident is "very unusual," said Elizabeth Lonsdorf, director of the Lester Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois. "We've never had any incident remotely like that," Still, she added, "It's kind of standard gospel that you should not look a male silverback gorilla in the eye…"

    New Zoo Atlanta Exhibit: “Trader’s Alley: Wildlife’s Fading Footprints”

    June 14, 2010  www.accessatlanta.com  By Lynn Peisner

    Zoo Atlanta’s newest exhibit includes a series of shanties that look like traditional Asian market stalls. At Friday’s opening, President and CEO Raymond King said he hoped the educational displays would drive home a strong conservation message about wildlife trafficking. “There’s a story being told along the path, and it’s critical because wildlife used for clothing, medicines, food and pets affects a lot of different and rare species,” he said. Most of the animals on display in the exhibit are examples of illegal trade and trafficking. For instance, the Sumatran tigers are prized for the medicinal properties of their bones. Xander and Sabah, a pair of Malayan sun bears new to Zoo Atlanta, are the heart of the exhibit. During their quarantine period, they were observed mating. Rebecca Snyder, curator of mammals said, “These animals do not breed well in captivity, and we’re really excited that we have a breeding recommendation from AZA for this pair. We’re hoping to be successful and have a cub here.” Tigers Chelsea and Kavi will be back on exhibit as well as a clouded leopard, three Asian tortoise species and a pair of wreathed hornbills that haven’t been on display in 10 years. New vantage points include a large treehouse-like lookout with panoramic views of the sun bears and tigers. Dwight Lawson, Zoo Atlanta’s senior vice president of collections, said the project’s first phase cost $1 million. Construction for the second phase of the project will begin in the fall, with exhibits devoted to small carnivores, such as bush dogs, opening in the spring. “The timing is great,” King said. “The aquarium’s going to be a while before their new dolphin exhibit goes up, and it’s been a while since the Atlanta Botanical Garden had their new unveiling, so there’s not a lot of competition right now in new things to do while the kids are out of school.” This is the first exhibit opened under King’s leadership. He started work June 1.

    Brookfield Zoo Will Assess Florida Dolphins' Health as Oil Nears

    June 14, 2010  www.chicagobreakingnews.com  By William Mullen

    With oil from BP's April 20th well explosion threatening Florida's west coast, Brookfield Zoo's 40-year study of 160 bottlenose dolphins that live in Sarasota Bay has received an emergency grant to assess the dolphins' health before the oil has a chance to enter the bay. Scientists at the zoo's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program will get $54,000 from the Morris Animal Foundation's Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund. "The assessment will provide baseline data of the dolphin population now, in case the oil gets into the bay," said zoo spokeswoman Sondra Katzen on Monday. The fear is that the oil spill could have a profound effect on dolphin health, behavior and reproductive success. The Denver-based Morris foundation has teamed with actress Betty White to provide funding for research in response to unexpected events like the oil spill disaster. The Sarasota dolphin project is the longest-running study of a wild dolphin population in the world, a collaborative effort with the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

    Chimpanzees Console Victims of Aggression

    June 14, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com  By Charles Choi

    To better understand how empathy might have evolved in our lineage, animal behaviorist Teresa Romero of Emory University and her colleagues studied roughly 30 chimpanzees housed outdoors at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Over a span of eight years they documented cases where uninvolved bystanders offered comfort to recent victims of aggression. Whereas most studies on animal consolation typically involve looking into a few hundred cases of conflicts and their aftermaths, "ours is based on an analysis of about 3,000 cases," Romero says. The large amount of data that she and her colleagues collected helped them detect various trends by observing when consolation was offered in the forms of grooming, embraces, gentle touches and kisses. For instance, females were significantly more consolatory than males. Primatologist and sociobiologist Elisabetta Palagi of the University of Pisa in Italy, who did not take part in this study said, "This is an adaptive behavior that is probably based on the strong emotional links between the mother and her infant till the first stages of life. The capacity to understand, foresee and respond promptly to the necessities of a baby is extremely important for the fitness of the mother, so females' empathic behavior has probably been favored by natural selection." A similar pattern was seen in the highest-ranking males, who frequently offered consolation. This likely reflected the general pacifying function of these males in chimpanzee life, the researchers say. Another effect of social roles in consolation: low-ranking chimpanzees received solace roughly half as often as higher-ranked victims.
    Similarly to humans, chimpanzees were more likely to console kin and those socially close to them than others—about two to three times more so—and they were significantly more supportive with those who had comforted them in the past. Also, consolation occurred roughly 50 percent more when aggressors ignored victims and no reconciliation had occurred between them. The researchers suggest that means bystanders offering solace were sensitive to the neglected victims' need for comfort. The consolation observed in chimps goes beyond merely basic empathy, Romero notes—if the apes only understood how others felt, they would be expected "to selfishly seek alleviation of their own distress, probably turning away from the victim." Rather, the distressed chimpanzees seem to experience concern born from sympathy, leading them to seek out and help others. "The underlying mechanism of consolation in chimpanzees may be similar to humans," Romero says. She and her colleagues Miguel Castellanos and Frans de Waal detailed their findings online June 14 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    China Considers Animal Cruelty Laws

    June 14, 2010  www.google.com  By Marianne Barriaux

    Peter Li, a China specialist for Humane Society International, a US-based animal group recently took part in the first zoo directors' workshop in Beijing aimed at addressing problems in China. In recent months, 11 endangered Siberian tigers starved to death at a cash-strapped park in the northeastern province of Liaoning where they were fed chicken bones, and two others were shot after they mauled a worker. Allegations that the zoo had harvested parts of the dead animals to make lucrative virility tonics caused an outcry. In nearby Heilongjiang province, authorities also uncovered a mass grave of animals—including lions, tigers and leopards—that died of illness and malnutrition at a wildlife park, state media reported in March. "That hit the headlines and shocked a lot of Chinese but it's the tip of an iceberg," said Paul Littlefair, who oversees the international programmes of UK-based Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), with a focus on East Asia, said that zoos in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have improved conditions over the past decade, but most zoos are still "stagnating." Xie Zhong, vice secretary general of the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, said that private ownership of wildlife parks was partly to blame. A draft animal protection law is currently being discussed, but is not expected to come into force for several years. The draft includes a clause prohibiting the feeding of live prey and another stipulating that an establishment where animals are suffering due to lack of funds will be fined if it does not report its situation to the government. Li says increased public awareness is key to the fight for animal rights. "When I was back in China in the 1980s, 'animal protection', 'animal welfare' and 'compassion for non-human individuals' were never phrases in China. Today, all these terms are known to many over there," he added."The younger generation shall be a mighty force against animal cruelty in China."

    USGS Gap Analysis Program

    June 14, 2010  www.wired.com  By Alexis Madrigal

    The U. S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program has generated data from ground and satellite surveys of land cover that may be useful to conservationists in creating or sustaining habitat for wildlife. “These data are critical for establishing baseline data for assessing climate change impacts, and for predicting the availability of habitat for wildlife,” said John Mosesso, the USGS manager of GAP. “The large datasets allow for analysis and planning across extensive geographic areas.” The Endangered Species Act, signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1973, grants extraordinary protections to plants and animals on the verge of extinction, but it does little for other creatures in an ecosystem. The Gap Analysis Program figures out which common species’ habitats may not be well represented by existing parks and conservation areas. The only way to do that is to mash up a bunch of data about species and land use. A searchable, zoomable mapping system is also available, and the data behind the visualizations can also be downloaded. See www.gap.uidaho.edu. Other maps of interest include a map of U.S. Carbon footprint.

    Top 7 North American Species Affected by Climate Change
    June 14, 2010  magblog.audubon.org

    The National Audubon Society's May-June magazine features an article entitled  "Feeling the Heat". It identifies 7 species that are extremely vulnerable to climate change:
    American Pika - Biologists predict that heat will creep up mountainsides, eventually driving peak-dwelling species into extinction.
    Atlantic Salmon - Hatchery salmon, which are living in water that’s almost too warm for them to survive, are taking cues from warmer oceans and returning to the Maine hatchery earlier in the year to spawn.
    Canada Lynx - The lynx and its preferred prey—the snowshoe hare—both thrive in deep, fluffy snow.
    Mosquito - Future warming might cause mosquitoes’ range to shift north-the southern limit might become too hot.
    Narwhal - Occupy extremely dense sea ice seaching for Greenland halibut. A warming ocean could  disrupt their finely tuned ecosystems and, thus, their food source.
    Tufted Puffin - Warmer waters could displace the sand lances and anchovies that tufted puffins feed their chicks
    Vampire Bat - As North America warms, the bat's range is expected to increase by at least a third, pushing north into parts of Texas and possibly other southern states, including Arizona and Louisiana.

    MetroZoo Changes Name to Zoo Miami

    June 15, 2010  www.miamiherald.com  BY MELISSA MONTOYA

    Next month, Metrozoo will become Zoo Miami. The logo and entrance for the zoo in South Miami-Dade will be unveiled during the July 3-5 holiday, with discounted admission prices. The zoo is part of the county parks department and technically not in Miami, but the change ditches the outdated "Metro'' brand and replaces it with a name that will also be easier to translate into Spanish, which many zoo patrons speak. Zoo Miami translates to Zoológico de Miami in Spanish. So people are naturally saying Zoo of Miami. The new logo and entrance will cost $810,000. However, park employees will not receive uniforms with the new name nor will any materials with the old name be eliminated. It's taxpayer money, so officials needed to be frugal. Paul George, a historian with Miami Dade College, agrees. "More and more institutions are going to embrace this whole idea of Miami as a brand,'' he said. "Miami has had a certain cachet.''

    Vienna Zoo Breeds Bagatur Turtle

    June 15, 2010  www.google.com

    VIENNA, Austria—The Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna said on Tuesday it has successfully bred one of the most endangered species of turtle, the Batagur baska, for the first time in captivity. Two baby Batagur turtles were hatched in the zoo's reptile house at the beginning of May. The Batagur baska can grow up to 24 inches and is listed as "critically endangered" by the IUCN. The river terrapin was found in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, India and Bangaldesh but its meat and eggs were long considered a delicacy. Only 20 of them are now known to exist, including six in the Schoenbrunn zoo. With the help of Reiner and Peter Praschag, a father-and-son team of turtle experts from Graz, the zoo was able to create exactly the perfect conditions for the females to lay eggs.

    Wildebeest Migration Threatened

    June 15, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By Olivia Judson

    Every year more than a million wildebeest, along with hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya, following the rains. In the course of a year, an individual wildebeest may cover more than 1,300 miles—which is further than the distance between New York and New Orleans. It is the last great migration on Earth. A large part of the migration takes place within the vast Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and there are reports that the Tanzanian government is preparing to build a major road through the northern part of the park: through a designated wilderness area, through the migration route. Among the problems: roads allow the easy spread of invasive plant species, as car tires often carry their seeds. Roads also allow the rapid spread of animal diseases, and lead to an increase in poaching, building and other human activities. But by far the biggest problem is that roads fragment habitats and disrupt animal movements. Many animals are reluctant to cross roads, even those with little traffic. And when there is a lot of traffic, the lives of people and animals are both at risk. The usual solution is to fence the road to protect the cars. Doing this here would likely end the migration, cause the collapse of the wildebeest population—and destroy the Serengeti as we know it. The reason is that the lands to the north of the proposed road remain wet when the lands to the south have become dry. Unable to reach the water, tens of thousands of animals would die of hunger and thirst; many would become tangled in the fence. Building the road with animal tunnels or overpasses, as has been done in Canada and other countries, would be expensive and impractical; moreover, it probably would not work, as wildebeest are sensitive to disturbance. They already avoid areas frequented by poachers, and are alarmed by cars.

    Yellow-Eared Parrot Rebounds from Near-Extinction

    June 15, 2010  www.tonic.com  by Jake Richardson

    The yellow-eared parrot of Colombia was thought to be extinct until 1998 when a tiny population of 81 birds was discovered in the Andes mountains. That population has now grown to 1,000 and the IUCN has downgraded its status from critically endangered to endangered. 47 organizations around the world and 180 individuals participated in the recovery. Over the last eleven years they have collaborated to protect the few remaining yellow-eared parrots, to conserve their natural habitat and increase their numbers in the wild. In Colombia, the leading conservation organization Fundación ProAves played a key role. They designated a Parrot Conservation Corridor to protect the land where they live, and acquired 10,000 acres critical to their survival. They assisted with reforestation of their habitat. For the last seven years they managed a Next Box program which created additional nesting sites. A program to reduce consumption of the wax palm tree, important parrot  habitat, was also initiated. Other major participants include: ProAves Fundacion,  American Bird Conservancy and Loro Parque.

    Paternal Primate Bonds

    June 15, 2010  www.nytimes.com  By Julia Angier

    Reporting in the current issue of the journal Animal Behaviour, Dr. Julia Fischer of the German Primate Center in Göttingen and her co-workers describe how male Barbary macaques use infants as “costly social tools” for the express purpose of bonding with other males and strengthening their social clout. In 90 percent of mammalian species, promiscuity is common and paternity uncertain; females gestate the young internally and then provision them with breast milk, and males rarely have any evolutionary incentive to parent. The world’s primates are found in the remaining 10 percent. Male cotton-top tamarins and common marmosets both react to a mate’s pregnancy. Their hormones change, the dendritic connections in their brains begin to change, and they put on weight—all in preparation for the heavy lifting to come. Female marmosets and tamarins generally give birth to twins, which together weigh about 20 percent of what the father does, and from the moment the babies are born until they reach independence, the male will be expected to carry them most of the time. Marmosets and tamarins become such good dads because a mother monkey can’t possibly handle the energetics of lugging around a pair of growing twins. Not when she is expected both to produce a double dose of milk and to become pregnant again roughly two weeks after giving birth.

    Barbary macaques live in troops of some 30 animals, a mix of related adult females and unrelated adult males. Females give birth in the spring, and within days of being born, every infant is fair game for male pawings. “A male will approach a mother slowly,” Dr. Fischer said, “seize the moment, and take the infant.” He will carry the infant under his belly, or in his arms, and he’ll advance toward one or two other males. “If they don’t have an infant, they can’t interact,” Dr. Fischer said. “There would be too much tension between them.” A male may hold on to an infant for hours at a stretch. If the baby starts to cry, he may take it back to the mother for a feeding, all the while hanging on to the ankle of his precious networking tool. The researchers initially assumed that baby handling might have a tranquilizing effect on the males, but on measuring the macaques’ hormone levels, they found the opposite: carrying an infant caused a male’s stress hormones to spike. The scientists now propose that the males use the infants as “battle symbols,” as Dr. Fischer put it, “to show other males that they can bear the stress.”
    In a study that appeared in the American Journal of Primatology, Sofia Refetoff Zahed and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin compared the responses of experienced fathers and inexperienced males when confronted with the sound of a fussy infant monkey coming from a distant cage. Without exception, the experienced fathers would quickly cross a bridge to reach the source of the distress cry, arriving within 45 seconds. Inexperienced males, by contrast, took their time. In half the cases, the inexperienced males never made it to the stimulus cage before the experiment was up.

    White-nose Syndrome Infects 9th Bat Species
    June 15, 2010  www.scientificamerican.com  By John Platt

    The deadly fungal infection that afflicts bats (WNS) has now been found on the ninth bat species in the U.S. since the infection was first observed four years ago. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, this is 20 percent of North America's bat species. The latest victim is the southeastern myotis (Myotis austroriparius), which lives in the Gulf Coastal Plain and the lower Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The infected bat was found in Virginia's Pocahontas State Park in May and died soon after it was captured. In caves where it has been observed bats have suffered morality rates ranging from 75 to 100 percent. It has killed at least one million bats and spread throughout the eastern U.S. since the fungus was first observed in New York State in 2006. WNS was also recently discovered in Ontario and Quebec. Caves in many states have been closed to prevent humans from possibly further spreading the fungus. The cause and cure of the disease is unknown.

    Legoland Wants to Become Resort Destination
    June 15, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com  By Michael Burge

    According to Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainment Group, owner of four Legoland parks, Legoland California won’t build a hotel in Carlsbad until at least 2013, but the local attraction will continue its development and expansion. Pirate Shores opened in 2006, the Sea Life center opened in 2008, and a $12 million water park opened May 28. Construction of a beautiful Legoland-themed hotel is likely to open in 2013 or 2014. He said the company has the permits to build a 250-room hotel, but it also has approvals for a hotel in Windsor, England that will open in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Varney said the company is also converting the defunct Cypress Gardens theme park in Winter Haven, Fla., into North America’s second Legoland park. Other Legoland parks are in Windsor, England; Billund, Denmark; and Gunzburg, Germany. Merlin also plans to develop Legolands in Malaysia and Dubai. Varney said the company has seen its ninth consecutive year of double-digit growth in profits, despite the global recession, but scaled back its expansion plans when saw the economy heading for a dive in 2008-09. "We have got a balance that’s about 60/40 split between profit from outdoor attractions like theme parks, and profit from indoor ones like Sea Life centers and Madame Tussauds,” he said. “Our model is not like Disney’s, which is big, mega-international resorts (where you) stay a week, and lots of  theme parks.”

    Second Javan Rhino Found Dead in Indonesia

    June 16, 2010  en.vivanews.com

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Authorities have recovered the carcass of a Javan Rhinoceros in Ujung Kulon National Park on Java. It is the second found dead in less than a month. The exact cause of the death will be investigated, but like the first carcass retrieved May 20, there were no indications that poachers were involved, according to Widodo Ramono, head of the Indonesian Rhino Foundation. "It seems that it died naturally, because there were no signs of it being poisoned or killed. Its horn is still intact," he said. The animal was believed to be around 30 years old. The life span of the mammals, of which there are an estimated 45 to 60 left in the world, is 30–45 years. "This is 4 percent of the estimated rhino population, whereas the government has set a growth (rate of) 3 percent," Ramono said. Workers will be collecting footage from 58 camera-traps in the park, which is 90 miles southwest of Jakarta, to try to get a better estimate of the number of rhinos remaining, Ramono said.

    Beaks and Feet Boulevard” at Kansas City Zoo

    June 16, 2010  www.kansascity.com  By Matt Campbell

    The Kansas City Zoo has a new display showing the variety of ways animals use their beaks, claws or feet. Using staff labor and about $40,000 in city sales-tax dollars for materials, the zoo removed wooden structures that were about 60 years old and had become termite-infested. Plumbing and electrical systems were replaced and the off-view animal holding areas were improved. The new enclosures house more than a dozen small animals, most of which are from Central or South America: a tamandua, iguana, toucan, owl and agouti. Some will be switched with other animals inside the tropics building as the seasons change.

    Birders Contribute Data on Invasive Plant Species
    June 16, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    In an effort to assess ties between birds' feeding habits and the spread of nonnative invasive plants, Clare Aslan and Marcel Rejmánek of UC Davis mailed questionnaires to more than 1,000 members of the Ornithological Societies of North America in the states of California, Florida, New York and Washington requesting information on daily bird-plant encounters. From the 179 birders who responded, the researchers gathered 1,143 interactions—of those interactions, 539 (47 percent) involved birds feeding on fruits or seeds of nonnative plants. As birds feed on seed-bearing fruit or the seeds of plants themselves, they inadvertently drop leftovers in nearby soil or carry them greater distances in their plumage. The birders' reports suggest that—through their feeding and habitat preferences—specific birds are contributing to the spread of certain nonnative invasive plant species. The survey analyses also identified 17 under-researched plant species of particular concern for invasion as they were observed to be frequented by birds; these reports provided scientists with research ideas. "Avian use of introduced plants: Ornithologist records illuminate interspecific associations and research needs" is an open access article available at www.esajournals.org.

    Foal Cloned Using Oocytes from a Live Mare

    June 16, 2010  www.physorg.com

    Researchers at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences have produced the first successful foal using oocytes from a live mare. The owner is Kit Knotts, and the foal “Mouse” was cloned from her prized Lippizan stallion, Marc. Equine reproduction expert Dr. Katrin Hinrichs’ lab has produced twelve cloned foals. Currently there are only three labs in the world that have reported the successful birth of cloned horses—Texas A&M University, Viagen (a commercial venture based in Texas), and the lab of Dr. Cesare Galli, in Italy. “We recovered the oocytes from our herd of research mares using the same method used to recover eggs from women for in vitro fertilization. During the cloning process, we tested a new technique that has been reported in mice to decrease birthing problems." The process began with a biopsy of skin cells from Marc, the horse to be cloned. Viable embryos were developed and sent to Hartman Equine Reproduction Center, in North Texas which transferred them  into surrogate mares. Minnie, the mare carrying Mouse, stayed in North Texas for approximately 200 days, then was sent to her new home in Florida. Minnie began to show signs of an early delivery, and was taken to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for observation and intervention. That's where Mouse arrived and was cared for by a team of neonatal experts to ensure he would make it through this critical time. Hinrichs noted that while Mouse is truly an identical twin to the original horse, Marc, that there will be differences as the foal grows due to environmental influences.

    New Frog Species Found in South Australia

    June 16, 2010  www.abc.net.au

    The owner of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary says discovery of a new frog species is yet another reason to be wary of mining in the Flinders Ranges region of outback South Australia. Marathon Resources is involved in a uranium exploration project at Mount Gee. Scientists say it is the first new species to be identified in SA in 45 years. Picture is at www.abc.net.au.

    Facebook Pics Show Nighttime Break-In at Rio Grande Zoo
    June 16,  2010  www.krqe.com  By Alex Tomlin

    ALBUQUERQUE, NM—A group of college kids posted pictures of themselves with animals at the Rio Grande Zoo after hours. The zoo didn't know anyone had broken in until a tipster sent pictures to the media.  Zoo Director Rick Janser said, "It appears that they were in the giraffe area, the sea lion area, and potentially the rhinoceros area.” Janser says this stunt could have been deadly, “A giraffe can kick the head off a lion so they are very lucky that they weren't injured by these animals.” He added, “We've got a 500 lb male sea lion in there who is very territorial.” As far as why the flashing of pictures or noises from a half dozen people went un-noticed? Janser says there is security patrolling the zoo 24-7, But that it's easy to hide in the 63 acre complex. The zoo is making sure security made its rounds while police try to hunt down the people in the pictures. There are surveillance cameras inside the zoo but none around the outside fences. The zoo is beefing up security while they determine what needs to be done to keep this from happening again.

    New 19-Foot Bronze Elephant at St. Louis Zoo Entrance
    June 16, 2010  www.foxnow.com   By Chris Regnier

    ST. LOUIS, MO—The south entrance to the St. Louis Zoo will soon have a new centerpiece—5,000-pound, 19 ft, bronze African elephant. "It's been a long process. It took about two years to create this piece," said Kent Ullberg, the sculptor. Ullberg made the piece at his Colorado studio. He has done wildlife sculptures all over the world and was brought in by a private donor to do this iconic piece. He tells us he started with a small scale model of the elephant, then worked his way through a complex process of building and wound up with the finished product. The sculpture has a tremendous amount of detail. The eyes are Kent's favorite part. "I wanted to express with the eye of an elephant the wisdom, the years of memory," explained Kent. The sculpture is called "Reaching Elephant" because it will be reaching for a tree that's going to be planted next to it. Ullberg says he's going to do several other sculptures that will also be part of the new south entrance.

    Zoo Atlanta Panda is Artificially Inseminated

    June 16, 2010  www.wtvm.com

    ATLANTA – Zoo Atlanta officials confirmed today that Lun Lun, a 12-year-old female giant panda, was artificially inseminated on June 13, 2010. Animal management teams monitored Lun Lun's behavior for signs that her estrous cycle was approaching. Hormone analyses to pinpoint ovulation were also conducted by Dr. Dave Kersey, an expert in giant panda endocrinology from Western University of Health Sciences with the assistance of Mary Karom from Georgia State University's Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Liu, a reproductive physiologist from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Dr. Aitken Palmer, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida and the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team performed two AI procedures on Lun Lun using semen from Yang Yang. Over the next few months, staff will continue to monitor Lun Lun's hormones and behavior for signs of a possible pregnancy. The veterinary and animal management teams opted to employ artificial insemination (AI) after the world-famous panda 12-year-old Yang Yang, failed to mate during Lun Lun's critically brief window of fertility. 

    NEW Online Journal: Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management!

    June 16, 2010 www.fwspubs.org

    The USFWS has launched a new online journal focusing on the practical application of science to the conservation and management of North American fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems. The Journal will publish peer-reviewed papers for which there are currently few publication outlets. All scientists are welcome to submit manuscripts regardless of professional or personal affiliation. The journal will include Articles (full research papers, including comprehensive reviews), Notes (shorter research papers of more limited scope and inference), Surveys (papers on inventory and monitoring studies, field surveys, and survey methodology), and Issues and Perspectives (essays examining questions of concern to conservation professionals and comments on papers published in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management). Invited topic papers and reviews will also be common entries and are currently being solicited. The editorial team consists of more than 80 experts across more than 20 major subject areas and come from government agencies, academia, and non-governmental organizations.

    Landmark Brazilian Jaguar Study

    June 16, 2010 www.livescience.com   By Zoe Macintosh

    BRAZIL -- A major jaguar stronghold outside of the Amazonian rainforest, the Pantanal wetlands covers an area the size of Iowa. It is frequently flooded in 3-7 feet of water from rainfall but that doesn’t stop jaguars from hunting native species, and often cows. A recent study found that when they do kill cattle, they do so at rates exceeding rancher estimates. Ten jaguars were outfitted with collars that sent GPS signals of their whereabouts every two hours, providing data on their hunting paths and areas of concentrated use (kill sites, dens and bed sites) in the Pantanel. Every 21 days of data collection, a team of researchers visited a few of these areas in order to identify prey remains. Prey remains were found and logged at more than 400 kill sites. Just over a third of the animals killed by jaguars were cattle, while the remaining 68 percent were native species, including caiman, peccaries, wild hogs, marsh deer and giant anteaters. While ranchers estimated losing about 70 head of cattle annually out of 6,000 head, the study's results for kill rates showed that during a dry year they usually lost about 390 head, and during a wet year, around 118 head. Other results: the jaguars were densely populated, with about 10 to 11 cats per 100 square kilometers (39 square miles), and "surprisingly social." The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Mammalogy.

    Endangered Huku Cow is Cloned

    June 17, 2010  www.thehindu.com

    South Korean researchers said recently they have successfully cloned a rare local species of cow in a government-funded project. The team, led by Jeju National University and Mirae Biotech, said in a statement the cloned Huku or black-fur cow is healthy following its birth in September 2009. Researchers took somatic cells from the ear of a bull before it was butchered in 2008. They kept the cells in cold storage before using them to fertilize eggs which were implanted into a cow. The project was funded by Seoul's agriculture ministry and the provincial government of Jeju island, which has campaigned for years to prevent the Huku from becoming extinct. The Huku breed is indigenous to the southern island, where there are about 600 of them. The ministry and the Jeju provincial government provided $1.85 million to finance the five-year endangered cow cloning project.

    German Zoo Culls Hybrid Tigers

    June 17, 2010  www.monstersandcritics.com

    MAGDEBURG, Germany—The head of a German zoo and three others were convicted of cruelty in the city of Magdeburg for killing three newborn tiger cubs. As part of a program to protect the world stock of Siberian tigers, the zoo mated two adults, only to discover later that the male was not purebred and that the offspring would be hybrids. German pro-animal campaigners  called in police. A court in Magdeburg, west of Berlin, put the director of the zoo, a vet and two senior keepers on probation, meaning a fine will be due if they commit any crime in the next two years. Judges said pedigree was not an acceptable reason to kill an animal. The 'mongrels' were put down with an injection as soon as the female gave birth in May 2008. The prosecution triggered controversy, with the World Zoo Federation in Berne, Switzerland saying it was normal to cull surplus animals. German hunters have said they also routinely cull mixed- breed animals in the wild.

    Komodo Dragon Has V.A.C. for Skin Abrasion
    June 17, 2010  www.zandavisior.com

    SINGAPORE—Yoko, one of the Singapore Zoo’s three komodo dragons, hatched her second batch of eggs last November. While laying the eggs she wedged herself in a crevice of the cave and sustained a 16cm injury to her spinal region. The damaged tissue started to degenerate and slough off leaving an open wound.  A team of vets from the Zoo’s Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre, surgeons from National University Hospital, and zookeepers, mobilized to treat Yoko. The infection was controlled with  daily manuka honey dressings and antibiotics, but because the Komodo dragon’s skin does not have a subcutaneous layer of tissue immediately below the top layer of skin to allow a flap of skin to cover the wound, the team decided to use the Vacuum Assisted Closure® system to generate tissue growth quickly and reduce the risk of infection. The negative pressure created by V.A.C. provides a unique wound healing environment that has been shown to promote the wound healing process, reduce edema, prepare the wound bed for closure, promote the formation of granulation tissue and remove infectious materials. Dr Lee Shu Jin, Consultant, Division of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery at NUH said, “Reptiles normally heal very slowly but we are very happy to report that Yoko made great progress in her recovery." As part of an on-going tripartite collaboration between the Singapore Zoo, Lisbon Zoo in Portugal and Ueno Zoo in Japan, the Singapore Zoo is expecting yet another successful Komodo dragon hatching. On 11 November last year, the Zoo collected another viable egg that was laid by Yoko. The incubation period of Komodo dragons is usually nine months. The recent viable egg collected is likely to hatch sometime in August this year. The first young Komodo dragon, which hatched on 15 November 2009, is now close to seven months old. It is approximately 50cm in length, which is five times its size at birth. Weaned on a diet of pinkies (young mice), the little dragon’s diet is gradually changing to include small furred mice and strips of beef dusted with calcium.

    PETA says Polar Bear Knut is Displaying Behavior Problems

    June 17, 2010  www.google.com

    BERLIN—After a a two-year study of Berlin's star polar bear Knut, PETA researcher Frank Albrecht said, "He and his companion Gianna are definitely displaying behavioural problems."  He suffers from panic attacks and "sways to and fro" in an abnormal manner, Albrecht said. PETA claims that between 75 and 90 percent of the 34 polar bears in captivity in 11 German zoos show signs of being disturbed—particularly those in newer, slightly larger enclosures. PETA maintains that birth rates are falling and the mortality rates of those cubs that are born are "extremely high". Once adult, 75 percent die before their 15th birthday, compared with life expectancy in the wild of between 15 and 18. "Our organisation therefore calls for an immediate halt to breeding (of polar bears in captivity), and in the long term, an end to keeping polar bars in Germany," Heiner Kloes from Berlin Zoo slammed the claims as "ridiculous," telling the Bild daily: "Knut is fine." In March PETA controversially called for Knut to be castrated to avert incest with Gianna because they share a bloodline.

    10 Baby Pandas in Shanghai

    June 17, 2010  english.people.com.cn

    More than 800,000 visitors from the Yangtze River Delta have visited the Shanghai Zoo since 10 pandas arrived 5 months ago. The 10 baby giant pandas, sent by the China’s Wolong Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center, now weigh more than 70 kilograms. According to sources, experts will adjust the diet for the giant pandas as they grow. For example, the steamed bread they are fed is made from 10 kinds of ingredients including bamboo powder, rice flour, soybean powder and corn powder, and fresh bamboo is also essential to ensure adequate nutrition. In order to allow domestic and overseas visitors to conveniently watch the giant pandas at the Shanghai World Expo, they will be sent to the Shanghai Wild Animal Park which recently built an ecological giant panda museum in anticipation of their arrival.

    Sand Dredging Threatens Pygmy Elephants & Monkeys

    June 17, 2010  news.yahoo.com

    KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Sand dredging in the Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary in Sabah state on Borneo is threatening the habitats of endangered pygmy elephants and a rare species of monkey. Harjinder Kler from the Hutan environmental group, said the erosion caused by the dredging would affect about 200 pygmy elephants and a few hundred proboscis monkeys living in the sanctuary. As the Kinabatangan river feeds into the Sulu Sea, she said the silt from the dredging would also pollute the Coral Triangle—a global centre of marine biodiversity spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guniea, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. Most sand dredging works were halted following the creation of the Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary in 2005, a 26,000 hectare (64,000 acre) area in the north of the state. Sabah state tourism, culture and environment minister Masidi Manjun said he was surprised that new permits were issued to sand dredging companies and promised a full probe.There are around 1,500-2,000 pygmy elephants left on Borneo island. The Proboscis monkey lives in the island's mangrove forests, swamps and jungles but habitat loss and poaching have seen its numbers in the wild dwindle to around 1,000.

    Man Killed By Bees in Encinitas
    June 17, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com

    SAN DIEGO—The county Medical Examiner’s Office has identified a 54-year-old man who died Wednesday after he was stung more than 500 times by swarming bees in Encinitas. Marco Tulio Lazaro, who was an Encinitas resident, was running a backhoe and clearing brush with his nephew on property off Manchester Avenue near Pacific Ranch Road when he hit a nest of honeybees. Neighbors described the victim as a longtime gardener, landscaper and maintenance man who lived on the property, called Wiegand Ranch. Lazaro was allergic to bee stings, said David Kellum, county entomologist. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. “He noticed a couple bees come back and sting him. He stopped, got off the tractor and there was a large swarm of bees all around. He started running and the bees pursued him,” said Encinitas Deputy Fire Chief Scott Henry. Lazaro ran about 200 yards to an outhouse and went inside to seek shelter from the attack, where he went into full cardiac arrest. His nephew, who was renting a house on the property, was in a dump truck when the bees attacked. Henry said the younger man was stung a couple of times. The hive contained between 60,000 and 80,000 bees inside an abandoned vehicle. “This is one of the larger hybrid hives I’ve run into,” said Bill Tanksley, of Pinpoint Pest Control, who exterminated the bees with pesticides. Kellum said it was not immediately clear what type of bees were involved. He said about 80 percent of wild bees in San Diego County are Africanized honeybees. Sometimes called killer bees, they attack quickly and sting in larger numbers than their European honeybee cousins.

    Topeka Zoo Weighs Further TB Testing

    June 17, 2010  cjonline.com  By James Carlson

    A chevrotain, a 6-pound deer housed in the rain forest exhibit, died Friday during pre-shipment screening for transfer to the Bronx Zoo. The animal was first immobilized June 1 to administer the TB test and a second time June 4 to read the results. The chevrotain was put under anesthesia a third time June 8 to administer avian and mammalian tuberculosis tests and a fourth time Friday so a veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, designated as the state's tuberculosis epidemiologist, could read the results. It was while recovering from that fourth test that the animal died. Subsequent necropsy results showed the animal had only one functioning lung and determined the cause of death "appears to be lung disease secondary to anesthesia and capture myopathy." Zoo director Brendan Wiley said zoo staff would await results of the histiopathology report to see if the dead chevrotain did in fact have the disease. At the zoo will then decide whether to test the other chevrotain and pronghorn, both of whom have to be immobilized to conduct the procedure. Anesthetizing animals carries health complications.

    The avian strain of TB is considered zoonotic, meaning it can transmit from animal to human, but Wiley called the risk to zoo workers' "extremely minimal. The soil would have to be disturbed enough to aerosolize the microbacterium," he said. "Then the person would have to inhale and ingest enough to cause infection." Wiley said all staff members are tested for tuberculosis each year. Their annual tests, he said, were completed in late May. The philosophy behind the yearly tests is to ensure staff members don't introduce the disease to the animal population. Zoo animal disease prevention and identification have improved markedly in the past 20 years, Wiley said."This preshipment test probably wouldn't have been required then," he said.

    Tracking the Oil Spill in the Gulf

    June 17, 2010  www.nytimes.com

    The New York Times offers an updated, interactive graphic map that allows tracking the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including the extent of the spill in the ocean, where oil has made landfall, and the effects on wildlife. Estimates of the oil spill have been revised: A government panel estimates as much as 60,000 barrels a day could be spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. That is roughly 2.5 million gallons of oil a day, and it means an amount equal to the Exxon Valdez spill could be gushing from the well about every four days. The flow was already categorized as the largest offshore oil spill in the nation’s history, but the new figures sharply increases previous estimates. With BP capturing roughly 15,000 barrels a day, the new estimate suggests that as much as 45,000 barrels a day is escaping into the gulf. The largest accidental spill of all time was also in the Gulf of Mexico. “Ixtoc I”, a 2 mile deep exploratory well blew out on June 3, 1979, and leaked at an estimated rate of 10,000 to 30,000 barrels per day for almost ten months until it was capped in March 1980. The total amount spilled was estimated to be 140 million gallons of crude oil.

    Orangutan Gestures Carry Specific Meaning
    June 17, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    New study shows orangutan gestures carry specific intentional meanings and are made with the expectation of specific behavioral responses, according to Erica Cartmill and Richard Byrne from the  University of St. Andrews in the UK. The study of meaning in animal communication takes a significant step forward with the authors’ new systematic approach applied  to a group of orangutan gestures. The researchers observed 28 orangutans in three European zoos – Twycross Zoo in the UK, Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands and Durrell Wildlife  Conservation Trust in Jersey – for nine months. They identified 64 gesture types, 40 used frequently enough to be analyzed for meaning. These 40 gestures were used predictably to achieve one of six social  goals: to initiate an interaction (contact, grooming or play), request objects, share objects, instigate joint movement (co-locomotion), cause a partner to move back, or stop an action. The study entitled “Semantics of primate gestures: intentional meanings of orangutan gestures" was published in the journal Animal Cognition.

    Study of European Bushmeat Trade
    June 17, 2010  www.eurekalert.org

    More than five tons of illegal bushmeat are being smuggled into Europe in personal luggage each week. Working with customs officials at France's Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and The National Veterinary School and the Natural History Museum of Toulouse identified eleven bushmeat species from  confiscated luggage, including species of primate, crocodiles and pangolins. This study quantifies for the first time the illegal trade of bushmeat through a European airport. The Central African Republic, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo were identified as the main sources of bushmeat. The researchers conducted conversations with three traders in Paris revealing that, as well as street trading, traders take orders in advance and arrange delivery of the goods to the customer. Co-author Dr Marcus Rowcliffe from ZSL says, "Importing bushmeat is relatively easy as customs officials are given no financial incentives to uncover illegal meat imports, compared with the bonuses they're awarded for drug and counterfeit seizures. Also, penalties are very low for people caught carrying illegal meat." 39% of the confiscated bushmeat was identified as being listed under CITES, highlighting the unsustainable nature of  the trade and its potential impact on species of concern. The illegal trade also raises serious questions about the importation of pathogens into Europe. The study is in Conservation Letters online May 18.

    Applying Game Theory to Conservation Programs

    June 17, 2010  www.plosone.org 

    Conservation projects usually affect many different interest groups including indigenous people.  The  conventional approach to such projects is to use incentives (usually economic) to encourage people to behave in certain ways.  But this approach is narrow and in some situations economic incentives discourage people from cooperating.  Game theory is a mathematical approach to investigating people's behavior when the success of their choices depends on the choices of others.  It compares the outcomes for both individuals and the group as a whole.  Researchers from the University of Texas in Austin examined published studies of the conservation of wild dogs in South Africa, and fish and corals in the Philippines.  They found that game theory could identify the situations in which stakeholder motivation could be more powerful if it appeals to moral or religious impulses. Some conservation projects could even use less money and achieve better results.  Authors Sahorta Sarkar and David Frank are now developing software decision-support tools, based on game theory, to help practitioners in developing countries identify the best ways of making these group decisions.  The article in PLoS One is available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0010688

    Chytrid Fungus Studies Indicate Critical Threshold

    June 17, 2010  www.nature.com     By Andrew R. Blaustein & Pieter T. J. Johnson

    Two related papers have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by research teams led by Vredenburg and Briggs. These papers describe long-term, large-scale monitoring and sampling of amphibian populations in the Sierra Nevada in California, focusing on yellow-legged frogs — Rana muscosa and Rana sierrae.  Instead of simply cataloguing the presence or absence of B. dendrobatidis and its spread among host populations, these investigators  identify a 'lethal threshold' of pathogen infection intensity, which may be the key to understanding how B. dendrobatidis epidemics can be controlled.  Vredenburg’s group sampled 88 frog populations over 9–13 years.  Among the lakes they studied, they found that within three years of its arrival, B. dendrobatidis had spread in a wave-like pattern until nearly all of the frog populations at the lake were infected. The amphibian populations did not, however, collapse until a lethal threshold of about 10,000 zoospores of the fungus per frog was reached. The existence of such an intensity threshold may help to explain how B. dendrobatidis causes almost complete losses of amphibian hosts. Because of this threshold, there is a time lag between exposure and mortality, so the pathogen can spread through much of the amphibian population before disease-driven reductions in host density negatively affect the transmission. Consequently, the pathogen can cause the loss and extinction of its host population, unlike the many other pathogens that disappear as their hosts decline in numbers.  Briggs combined long-term field data with modelling analysis and shows that, in populations that survive, infected yellow-legged frogs have fungal loads well below the lethal intensity threshold, and that these frogs have cleared fungal infection and become reinfected over the course of years, with no effect on their survival.

    It is still not clear precisely which vectors spread the infection, in which systems it is endemic and in which ones it is epidemic, and whether environmental changes can trigger the emergence of this pathogen.  But both researchers feel that interventions designed to prevent B. dendrobatidis infection from reaching the lethal-intensity threshold could reduce extinction events. Because it is unlikely that the pathogen will be completely eradicated, the only realistic option may be to manage sensitive amphibian populations in such a way as to create an endemic state of infection. Reducing the density of susceptible frogs by capturing them before the infection wave, or by treating a subset of individuals with an antifungal agent, could reduce transmission of B. dendrobatidis and prevent infection intensities from becoming lethal.

    3-Year-Old Attacked by Peacock at Denver Zoo

    June 18, 2010  www.9news.com

    DENVER—A 3-year-old boy was injured by one of the 10 peacocks that roam the grounds of the Denver Zoo. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance on Wednesday after the incident and received a total of 10 stitches—six stitches across his nose and four stitches across his forehead. No Zoo employees witnessed the incident, but witnesses from the boy's daycare told his parents he was not provoking the peacock. Witnesses say it is not clear if he was bitten or scratched. The Denver Zoo says there has never been an incident like this in past years. The Denver Zoo also says it is looking into its policies to determine if peacocks should no longer roam freely or if this is just an isolated incident. The Denver Zoo says they are working with family to see how they can help with their out of pocket medical expenses. Security guards collected the peacock after the incident and placed in bird housing for observation.

    Calgary Zoo Adopts 36-Point Improvement Action Plan

    June 18, 2010  travel.canoe.ca  By Jenna McMurray

    CALGARY—The growing number of animal deaths caused by human error at the Calgary Zoo is one of several major concerns outlined in a report released Thursday. Zoo president and CEO Clement Lanthier commissioned a team of animal health and zoo accreditation experts to review the facility's practices. The findings show staffing—including training, experience, communication and structure—is a key concern, as well as animal care procedures, security and infrastructure maintenance. This has prompted the zoo to implement a 36-point action plan. "We are now focused on fixing what's wrong and doing things better," said Lanthier. The zoo will re-organize staff and look at changing the qualification requirements for employees, and a number of facility and security upgrades will be made under the 2010 maintenance budget of $2 million. The report shows five of the 214 animal deaths in 2009 were the result of human error, considerably more than at other institutions. Julie Woodyer, campaigns director for animal advocacy group Zoocheck, said the issues indicate problems stemming from the zoo's management and called on the Lanthier's resignation. Lanthier said it will likely be a year before all of the changes are implemented, but quarterly updates will be provided.

    Sun Bear Comes to Oakland Zoo

    June 18, 2010  www.kcbs.com

    OAKLAND, Calif.—A female sun bear is making her debut at the Oakland Zoo. Pagi, who is one year old, was born at the San Diego Zoo and was living there before being transferred north to Oakland to join her sister Bulan and another female bear, Ting Ting. Zoo officials will be slowly introducing her to the group. When she is available for regular viewing by the public will depend on how she adapts to her new surroundings. Pagi's favorite foods include avocados, dried cranberries, and mealworms. Sun bears are the smallest members of the bear family and are primarily found in the forest areas of Southeast Asia. They have tongues up to 10 inches long that are used to forage for food in tight spaces.

    Palo Alto Zoo Renovates Bobcat Exhibit

    June 18, 2010  www.mercurynews.com  By Jesse Dungan

    PALO ALTO, California—The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo has finished creating a "natural landscape" habitat for its bobcats—16-year-old Rufus and 8-year-old Tule. The $450,000 project was funded mostly through community and individual donations. The 1,000-square-foot habitat includes a simulated rocky ridge. Visitors can peer into the enclosure through a mesh fence or a few feet closer through an angled piece of "non-glare" glass that extends into the habitat. "It is designed to create a more intimate experience between the visitor and the bobcat," said Alex Hamilton, director of education for the museum and zoo. "It has places to hide and climb," he said. "It's a much more interesting place to live." The enclosure also ensures that the typically shy bobcats are more visible to visitors. The previous habitat was deep, and Rufus and Tule would hang out in the back where they were difficult to spot. The new exhibit is wider and shallower. It faces north, allowing the simulated ridge to provide shade for the cats during summer. During winter, a Fiberglas heating pad will be placed under the dirt on the enclosure side of the glass viewing area, encouraging the cats to spend more time within feet of visitors. Now  the zoo is raising funds to renovate the old bobcat habitat to accommodate raccoons.

    Zoo Vets Establish Oil Spill Database for Volunteers

    June 18, 2010  www.avma.org

    The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians has established a database of volunteers willing to support relief efforts mitigating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The database contains information about each registrant and will enable agencies involved in the cleanup to recruit people according to their expertise, and availability. Registrants are encouraged to provide as much information as possible to make the database useful. Registrants do not need to be veterinarians to register, and there is no fee for signing up. Information contained in the database is made available only to agencies involved in the cleanup and only when requested by them. Not every registrant will be called on to volunteer. For more information, visit the AAZV website, e-mail questions to aazvorg@aol.com or call (904) 225-3275.

    USFWS Considers Listing Hawaiian Bees

    June 18, 2010 www.staradvertiser.com by Travis Kaya

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing seven Hawaiian yellow-faced bee species for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. For the next year, the Fish and Wildlife Service will review the status of the bees to decide whether they warrant the endangered listing. The agency will also be conducting a comprehensive analysis on Oahu, Hawaii island and across Maui County to determine whether reserves need to be set up to protect the species from habitat degradation. The ruling could affect land use in the state wherever the endangered species are found. For the native bees, that area could include stretches of the Waianae and Koolau mountains on Oahu and along sand dunes in Wailuku. The service called for the review in response to petitions from the Xerces Society, an Oregon-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats worldwide. The bees are critical pollinators of native Hawaiian plant species, and their loss threatens the entire native ecosystem. There are more than 60 known species of native yellow-faced bees in Hawaii, with more than 20 species endemic to single islands. The yellow-face or masked bees have yellow or white facial markings and are also known as plasterer bees because of they line their nests with saliva.

    Wild Animal Park Celebrates Successful Elephant Herd
    June 18, 2010  www.signonsandiego.com  By Mike Lee

    On Saturday, the Wild Animal Park will launch the African Summer Festival to highlight its success in doubling the size of the 7 elephant herd acquired from Swaziland in 2003. Three calves have been born this year, bringing the total to nine births since 2003, and a pregnant female is due to deliver early next year. A baby elephant was euthanized in 2008 after it suffered a drug-resistant staph infection. “We currently have the most successful African-elephant breeding program in the world outside of Africa,” said Jeff Andrews, associate curator of mammals for the zoo. But Joyce Poole, co-founder of the advocacy group Elephant Voices was among those who protested the Swaziland relocation project in 2003 and is still critical. “The San Diego Zoo is congratulating itself and yes, they have done a great job at breeding—if you consider that a good thing. I don’t know. Do we want more elephants stuck in zoos?” Swaziland wildlife officials had said they had too many elephants and would shoot some of them if new homes weren’t found. The San Diego Zoo and the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Fla., agreed to take 11 between them. The move was delayed for a few months while animal-rights groups fought it in court. Those opponents said Swaziland’s government was essentially holding the animals for ransom and that there were other options for keeping the pachyderms in Africa. In 2004, the San Diego Zoo committed to paying $300,000 over a decade to Swaziland’s parks program to pay for poaching patrols, land purchases and related activities.

    Roughly 210 African elephants are in North American collections, said Mike Keele, an elephant expert at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. He said it costs about $100,000 a year to keep an adult elephant, including food and medicine. Keele said the U.S. population of African elephants is growing slowly and several zoos are expanding their containment areas in hopes of adding more. “When we look five years from now, we wouldn’t be able to provide enough animals to fill all the spaces” at the current birthrate, he said. That’s partly because captive female elephants commonly have unusual estrogen cycles that make it difficult for them to reproduce—something researchers are studying. Keele says the Wild Animal Park’s results are “a huge contribution to our efforts to keep elephants at our zoos and help ensure our visitors care about wildlife.” But Zoo critics such as Catherine Doyle at the Los Angeles-based nonprofit group In Defense of Animals said the Wild Animal Park’s elephants have bred well because they were plucked from the wild, where they learned mating behavior and experienced family life. She is concerned about the number of males born—six of the eight living youngsters—and said zoos prefer to have females so their elephant programs can produce more calves, which keep the admission turnstiles spinning. Doyle also said the animal park’s 3-acre enclosure isn’t large enough. Elephants have home ranges that measure hundreds of square miles, But Keele said it far exceeds industry standards and Andrews says the overall size isn’t as important as how the space is arranged and how the animals are handled. He says the zoo’s strategy is to let the creatures live together as they would in the wild. “Every one of these calves has been born outside in the presence of other elephants. The whole herd is together,” Andrews says the Animal Park is connecting its enclosure to another one of similar size that used to house Asian elephants that have been moved to an exhibit at the zoo in Balboa Park. The merged exhibit space could allow the park to double the size of its African elephant herd, though Andrews says there’s no specific plan for growth.

    Permit to Import Endangered Imperial Parrot

    June 18, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    On May 28, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an emergency permit (PRT-14281A) to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, Loxahatchee, Florida, to import one captive-hatched imperial parrot (Amazona imperialis). The Service determined that an emergency affecting the health and life of the imperial parrot existed, and that no reasonable alternative was available to the applicant for the following reasons: The Rare Species Conservatory Foundation requested a permit to import the above-mentioned imperial parrot chick captive-hatched on May 6, 2010, at the Dominican Government Aviary (Parrot Conservation and Research Centre), Botanical Gardens, in Roseau, Dominica, for emergency and ongoing health valuation purposes. This juvenile is the first of its species hatched in captivity anywhere in the world and was being parent-reared at the aviary until it was abandoned by its parents and subsequently rescued by the Centre. This import is necessary to save the bird's life and provide intensive veterinary and husbandry care not available in Dominica.

    Endangered Species Permit Applications

    June 18, 2010  www.gpoaccess.gov

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before July 19, 2010. Send to Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov or telephone  (703) 358-2104.

    Applicant: St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO; PRT-171410.  The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples from several wild lemur populations within the Daubentoniidae, Lemuridae and Lepilemuridae families for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Applicant: Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, CA; PRT-727416. The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples from multiple species including wild, captive-held, and captive-born endangered species for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Applicant: Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, CA; PRT-13802A. The applicant requests a permit to export one female captive bred giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) born at the zoo in 2007and owned by the Government of China, to the Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China, under the terms of Zoological Society of San Diego loan agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. This export is part of the approved loan program for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through scientific research as outlined in the Zoological Society of San Diego's original permit.

    Applicant: United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service/ National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, CO; PRT-12152A. The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples collected from wild African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Zambia for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

    Multiple Applicants:  Applicant: Frank Pohl, Rowlett, TX; PRT-00588A, Applicant: Katherine Lavie Fraser, Santa Barbara, CA; PRT-14520A, Applicant: Patrick B. Carrier, Kingsland, TX; PRT-14522A, Applicant: Alvin T. Filpula, Rancho Cordova, CA; PRT-14519A. The applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

    Sea Lions Critically Endangered in New Zealand

    June 19, 2010 www.stuff.co.nz

    New Zealand sea lions are now critically endangered. The Department of Conservation’s highest endangered rating is shared with kakapo and Maui's dolphins. The threat rating for bottlenose dolphins was also lifted from not threatened to nationally endangered. Commercial squid fishermen kill sea lions as bycatch and the Fisheries Minister has been called upon to reduce the allowable sea lion kill in the annual squid fishery from 76 sea lions to zero. The Auckland Islands squid fishery operates between February and May each year. It is worth about $80 million. The department's assessment found there had been a sharp decline in sea lion pups born in recent summers, with the total sea lion population dropping to an estimated 9800.

    New Guinea Singing Dogs Coming to Cohanzick Zoo

    June 19, 2010 www.thedailyjournal.com 

    BRIDGETON, New Jersey --  Breeder Thomas Wendt, co-founder of the organization New Guinea Singing Dogs International, is transporting two 18-month-old sisters, Lexie and Marlie, from his Chicago home to the Cohanzick Zoo.  (Lexie and Marlie were recently featured on Animal Planet's "Dogs 101." ) The Cohanzick Zoo had wanted to reopen its New Guinea singing dog exhibit since its 12-year-old dog Digger died last winter, but couldn't find any of the rare dogs. Wendt and other experts say there are only about 200 of the dogs in captivity. Lexie and Marlie were rescued from a woman in Pennsylvania after she traded two purebred Yorkshire Terriers for the puppies, but realized they were too much for her to handle. A member of an Internet user group for fans of the dogs suggested the zoo as a possible home, noting the 12-year-old Digger recently died.

    Elmwood Park Zoo’s New Canopy Gardens
    June 20, 2010 www.timesherald.com  by Melissa Brooks

    NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania -- The Elmwood Park Zoo’s new pavilion is called Canopy Gardens for its green roof and will be used to host special events, meetings and conferences.  Keller & Company and  C.M. Jones were the specialized landscape-construction firms the zoo used for this project. The sloped pavilion roof has several benefits.  In terms of stormwater management, it will “capture 60 to 70 percent of a one-inch rain, significantly reducing the runoff that would flow into Stony Creek."  Zoo CEO Bill Konstant said “about 3,200 square feet of soil will also be restored … a positive contribution to the local ecology.” This roof’s particular brand of green is classified as “extensive,” meaning it’s covered in a light layer of vegetation and is designed to be virtually self-sustaining, with minimal maintenance. There are about 3” of engineered growing medium – a patchwork of different species comprising the ecosystem similar to Arctic tundra. Seven different varieties of sedum and 6,000 individual plants grow on the roof, which is multi-layered with drainage, irrigation and cellular confinement systems.

    Phase two calls for window enclosure by winter.  The project architect, Seiler & Drury of Norristown, designed a four-season structure that will provide the zoo with off-season opportunities to rent the space or hold their own special events. The inside will have a fireplace, heating and uplighting.  When the zoo encloses the pavilion, heating and cooling costs will be reduced by 30 percent — compared to what it would cost without the environmentally friendly roof — because all the layers keep it warm in winter and cool in hot weather.  The green roof also helps lower surrounding air temperatures and combat the heat island effect outside. Having soil and plants on the roof will hold the temperature to abou