Latest Zoo & Conservation News
Week ending September 10, 2011

Compiled by:
Library Staff
San Diego Zoo Global



Captive chimps could be declared endangered species
September 1, 2011 By Brandon Keim

U.S. Fish and Wildlife have accounced a decision to reconsider the status of captive chimps under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are classified as endangered while captive chimps are classified as threatened, meaning that they can be kept as pets, used in entertainment, and act as subjects of medical testing. According to the article, there are approximately 1,000 chimpanzees in private and government labs in the United States, "which outside of Gabon is the only country to permit invasive chimp research." Chimpanzees are the only animal subject to a split classification based upon wild/captive status under the Endangered Species Act.

USFWS decided to reconsider the classification of the species after being petitioned by a coalition of groups concerned about the welfare of captive chimpanzees, including the AZA and the Jane Goodall Institute. In 1990, captive chimps were classified as threatened as medical researchers "argued that [doing so] was necessary for progress on disease like AIDS." More recently, however, researchers are using "medically superior and less-controversial techniques," with the NIH recommending that the animals should only be used as a "last resort." Primatologists argue against using chimpanzees as medical test subjects, saying that the animals exhibit "intelligence and thoughtfulness" and that they "should be given the ethical consideration accorded to children who cannot speak for themselves." Jane Goodall told a committee evaluating the use of chimpanzees in medical research, "From their point of view, it's like torture. They are in prison and have done nothing wrong."

The Fish and Wildlife Service will accept public comments until Oct. 31.

Full article: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/09/chimp-status/

Teacher incorporates San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research frog experiment into curriculum
September 1, 2011 By Mary-Justine Lanyon

After attending a teacher workshop at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR), 7th-grade science teacher Randy Schuster at Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School in Lake Arrowhead, California, was inspired to incorporate more hands-on experiments in his own classroom. Taking a cue from the ICR’s successful breeding program of the endangered California mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), in which frogs are hibernated in coolers to simulate their ideal breeding conditions in the wild, Schuster will be performing a similar experiment with his students. Instead of using the endangered California mountain yellow-legged frog, his students will be trying to breed Pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla) which are much more common in the area.

From the article:

The teacher filed the necessary paperwork with California Fish and Game to collect frogs for the classroom. "I now have 30 frogs in my room," he said. The students got to work during the first week of school, weighing and measuring the frogs that now reside in their classroom so they can monitor their growth and health.

The San Diego Zoo, Schuster said, "is interested in any new information we find out."

Depending on the ages of the frogs the students start working with, they may have to wait a year before beginning the breeding process. If, however, there are enough adult frogs, they could hibernate the frogs and then breed them in the spring.

Schuster is looking forward to collaborating with other classrooms to show his students “that science is a collaborative field.” He also hopes that his students will learn that “endangered animals are not always ‘some exotic animal that lives far away [but] can be as close as our local creek’”.

Full article: http://www.mountain-news.com/mountain_living/article_daf7998c-d4b4-11e0-87c5-001cc4c03286.html

Survey shows only slight decline in population numbers of Southern Rocky Mountain pikas
September 1, 2011

A new survey led by University of Colorado, Boulder doctoral student Liesl Erb has shown that the Southern Rocky Mountain population of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) is relatively stable. Compared to a survey of pikas in Nevada's Great Basin earlier this year that "showed local extinction rates of pika populations there have increased nearly five-fold in the last decade," pikas in the Southern Rocky Mountains were still present in 65 of the 69 sites where pikas have been found in the past. Additionally, the pikas in the Great Basin survey had "moved up in elevation nearly 500 feet in the past 10 years," most likely due to increased temperatures in the area.

From the article:

Despite the low number of extirpations, or local population extinctions, in the Southern Rockies, the CU-Boulder team found that the pattern of pika disappearance at particular sites was not random, said Erb of the ecology and evolutionary biology department and lead study author. "The sites that had been abandoned by pikas in our study area all were drier on average than the occupied sites," she said.

...One likely reason for the relative success of pikas in the Southern Rocky Mountains study is that available habitats are higher in elevation and are more contiguous than habitats in Nevada's Great Basin, said Erb. But some climate models are predicting drier conditions in parts of the Southern Rockies in the coming decades as the climate warms, she said.

Erb thinks that the pikas in the Southern Rocky Mountains are faring better than some populations in other areas because of the unique geographic traits of alpine regions. However, climate models predict that these areas may become warmer and drier in the future, which could have negative implications for pika populations living there.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-southern-rocky-mountain-pikas.html

CITATION: Erb LP, Ray C, Guralnick R. 2011. On the generality of a climate-mediated shift in the distribution of the American pika (Ochotona princeps). Ecology 92(9):1730-1735. doi:10.1890/11-0175.1

Bonn Challenge plans to restore 150 million hectares of forest
September 2, 2011

A group of politicians and conservationists met last week to launch the Bonn Challenge, which aims "to restore 150 million hectares (580,000 square miles) of deforested and degraded forests."

From the article:

"Restoring 150 million hectares of degraded lands represents an exciting and largely untapped opportunity to create more jobs and economic growth, while also protecting our climate," said Göran Persson, a former Prime Minister of Sweden who will lead the New Global Restoration Council.

"Forest restoration is a big idea that carries many benefits. It will improve food security, enhance biodiversity, protect our climate, and generate jobs,” added Manish Bapna, interim President for WRI, in a statement. "With this new 150 million hectare target... we have a great opportunity to take action that will enhance the resilience of people and nature."

WRI says the Bonn Challenge would help meet 2020 targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the U.N. REDD+ program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

There is currently about "2 billion hectares of land worldwide that are suitable for restoration"; the goal of 150 million hectares represents a little over 7 percent of this total. The supporters of the Bonn Challenge "hope it will be adopted as an official targe by the U.N., governments, and other institutions."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0902-forest_restoration_challenge.html

Firewood movement leading cause of oak infestation in San Diego County
September 2, 2011

A group of researchers from the University of California are working together "to assess and control the unprecedented infestation" by the goldspotted oak borer (Agrilus auroguttatus) of oak trees in San Diego County. Over the last 10 years, the pest has killed more than 80,000 oak trees in the region and, according to natural resource specialist Tom Scott, the infestation may be causing "...the biggest oak mortality event since the Pleistocene." The researchers believe that by controlling the export of firewood from infested areas, they may be able to prevent the further spread of the goldspotted oak borer.

From the article:

The goldspotted oak borer (Agrilus auroguttatus), which is native to Arizona but not California, likely traveled across the desert in a load of infested firewood, possibly as early as the mid-1990s, Scott said. Researchers have confirmed the presence of the beetle as early as 2000 near the towns of Descanso and Guatay, where nearly every oak tree is infested.

The half-inch-long beetle attacks mature coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia), California black oaks (Quercus kelloggii) and canyon live oaks (Quercus chrysolepis). Female beetles lay eggs in cracks and crevices of oak bark, and the larvae burrow into the cambium of the tree to feed, irreparably damaging the water- and food-conducting tissues and ultimately killing the tree. Adult beetles bore out through the bark, leaving a D-shaped hole when they exit.

The infestation causes "loss of recreation areas and wildlife habitat, lower property values and greater risk of wildfires." The cost of removing the dead trees, which often measure 5-6 feet in diameter and can be between 150-250 years old, ranges between $700 to $10,000. The researchers estimate that the "cost of removing dead and dying trees in San Diego County alone could run into the tens of millions of dollars." Additionally, the three oak species that are targeted by the oak borer "may be the single most important trees used by wildlife for food and cover in California forests and rangelands." The researchers think that the best way to prevent the spread of the pest is to educate those in the firewood industry, noting that "relatively small [changes] in firewood-handling methods" could have a large impact on saving the oak trees.

Read more about the Goldspotted oak borer at the UC Cooperative Extension's website: http://ucanr.org/sites/gsobinfo/

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-firewood-movement-oak-infestation-san.html

Warming streams could end spring-run of Chinook salmon in California
September 2, 2011

A new study conducted by scientists at UC Davis, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the National Center for Atmospheric Researhc projects that "warming streams could spell the end of spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in California by the end of the century." By making a model of the Butte Creek watershed, the researchers tested "the effect of different water management strategies on the fish [and] fed in scenarios for climate change out to 2099...." The models showed that maintaining current water management strategies would result in a die-out of the fish in almost all scenarios, because "streams became too warm for adults to survive the summer to spawn in the fall."

From the article:

The only option that preserved salmon populations, at least for a few decades, was to reduce diversions for hydropower generation at the warmest time of the year.

"If we leave the water in the stream at key times of the year, the stream stays cooler and fish can make it through to the fall," Thompson said.

Summer, of course, is also peak season for energy demand in California. But Thompson noted that it might be possible to generate more power upstream while holding water for salmon at other locations.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/09/02/warming_streams_could_be_the_end_for_salmon.html

CITATION: Thompson LC, et al. 2011. Water management adaptations to prevent loss of spring-run Chinook salmon in California under climate change. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000194

Sri Lanka survey finds more elephants than expected
September 2, 2011

A three-day survey where volunteers counted elephants at water sources has found 5,879 elephants living in Sri Lanka, of which 1,100 were baby elephants. The previous estimate was 5,350 elephants living in the country.

From the article:

This was the first count since Sri Lanka's military defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009.  The end of the nearly three decade-long conflict made wildlife sanctuaries and jungles in former war zones more accessible to officials.

Some 12,000 elephants roamed Sri Lanka in 1900, but their numbers have dwindled due to poaching and loss of habitat.

For more information about the survey: http://www.dwc.gov.lk/

Full article: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Sri-Lanka-Survey-Finds-More-Elephants-Than-Expected-129086673.html

Denver Botanic Garden celebrates Día de los Muertos
September 4, 2011

The Denver Botanic Garden will be celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on Saturday, October 29, from 5-8 pm. There will be “live entertainment, artists, dancers, a sugar skull-making area and a papel picado-making are.” Guests can also get their faces painted for free and have their photos taken. The cost of admission is: $8 Adults, $7 Members/Students/Seniors, $6 Children, $5 Member Children. Visitors will receive $1 off the price of admission if they come in costume and with a painted skeleton face.

Full announcement: http://gardennews.biz/?id=7593

Proposed policy targets nearly 90 invasive plants in Encinitas
September 4, 2011 By Barbara Henry

A citizen-sponsored committee in Encinitas has put forth a draft invasive plant list that targets nearly 90 non-native plant species. The proposed policy is currently being reviewed by new City Manager Gus Vina before it is presented to the City Council. While proponents of the measure state that such a policy is necessary to protect the local habitat, some area growers think that the list is too inclusive and want commonly used landscape plants such as oleander, echium, and the Canary Island date palm removed from the list.

From the article:

The proposed city policy would require Encinitas to actively combat unwanted non-native invaders in its open-space areas, gradually remove them from city parkland, and ban developers from planting them around new housing projects.

Homeowners who have some of these species of ill repute wouldn't have to yank them out unless they seek city permission for a large structural addition to their home or other major changes to their property, the draft policy states.

The proposed policy also mentions that the state spends $85 million a year to fight unwanted, non-native plants, particularly ones that invade waterways and the riparian areas that surround them.

Efforts to control non-native plants in north coastal San Diego County have totaled $4.5 million over a five-year period, the report states.

Some of the plants that both sides agree should not be banned from use in Encinitas are pampas grass and Arundo, both of which spread quickly and are highly flammable.

The proposed list can be viewed in full at the city’s website: http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=677744&&&dbid=0

Full article: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/encinitas/article_a2a5b86c-dcbd-5c5d-8f2a-fa7baf2c3712.html#ixzz1XJr0UKby

Cincinnati Zoo’s Plant Trials Day shows off its horticulture
September 4, 2011 By Matt Cunningham

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens held its first Plant Trials Day on Thursday, showcasing the organization’s horticulture department and Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife Plant Researchers.

From the article:

The event included lectures and seminars on rare plants and plant propagation, and Steve Foltz, the zoo’s director of horticulture, said the event showcased a very active, but little known, side of the zoo’s mission.

“We probably have one of the best horticulture crews in the region,” Foltz said.

He explained that his team, which maintains the zoo’s lush gardens and planters, does much more than grab convenient plants off garden center shelves for decoration. The team uses planters to test — or ‘trial’ — various plant strains to see how they grow and perform in the Cincinnati climate.

CREW plant scientists also highlighted their work with reintroducing rare plants into their native habitats.

Full article: http://www.journal-news.com/news/hamilton-news/zoos-plant-trials-day-will-show-off-its-horticulture-1245665.html

First stem cells from endangered species
September 5, 2011

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have used normal skin cells to produce "the first stem cells from endangered species." Working with the genetics division at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and using cell lines stored in the Frozen Zoo, the researchers were able to turn skin cells from endangered species into pluripotent stem cells.

From the article:

[Dr. Oliver Ryder, director of genetics at ICR,] suggested two species for initial work. The first was a highly endangered primate called a drill that he chose because of its close genetic connection to humans, and because in captivity the animals often suffer from diabetes, which researchers are working to treat in humans using stem cell-based therapies.

The northern white rhinoceros was the second candidate. Ryder chose this animal because it is genetically far removed from primates, and because it is one of the most endangered species on the planet. There are only seven animals still in existence, two of which reside at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The researchers were surprised to find that they were able to induce pluripotency for the drill and rhino by using "the same genes that induce pluripotency in humans," rather than having to isolate "genes from animals closely related to the endangered species." While the new stem cell technology may be used to help treat diseases in endangered animals such as diabetes, there is also the potential for increasing the genetic diversity of animals of which there are very low numbers of individuals. If scientists are able to create sperm or egg cells from stem cells, "scientists could take skin cells in the Frozen Zoo from long dead animals, induce pluripotency, trigger differentiation into sperm cells, and then combine these with a living animal's eggs through in vitro fertilization," thereby increasing the genetic diversity of the breeding population.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110904140411.htm

CITATION: Ben-Nun IF, et al. 2011. Induced pluripotent stem cells from highly endangered species. Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.1706

North Carolina Zoo leads effort to raise funds for Tripoli Zoo
September 5, 2011

The North Carolina Zoo, in collaboration with AZA, WAZA, and others, “is leading an effort to provide funds to assist animals in the Tripoli Zoo in the capital city of war-torn Libya.” The zoo is hoping to raise up to $100,000 that would go towards feeding the animals. Reports last week showed that the Tripoli Zoo’s animals were severely lacking food and water, although water has now been supplied to the animals. However, there is only enough food to feed the animals for a week without additional outside funding. Dr. David Jones, the director of the North Carolina Zoo, has previously helped with efforts to assist the Kabul and Baghdad Zoos in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the article:

Coverage has indicated that the zoo’s buildings and infrastructure remain in fairly good condition, unlike the war damage to zoos in Kabul and Baghdad. Electricity is also reportedly available at the zoo, although service has been lost intermittently. But there are no immediate plans to send personnel into Tripoli due to the remaining concern over security, Jones said.

To help the fund-raising effort, send contributions marked for the “Tripoli Zoo” to: N.C. Zoo Society, 4403 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, N.C. 27205. In addition, donations via credit card can be made beginning Thursday, September 8, on the Zoo Society’s website at www.nczoo.com.

Full announcement: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=20907

Illegal sales of diclofenac threaten vultures in India
September 5, 2011 By Natasha Gilbert

Although the Indian government banned sales of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac for veterinary use in 2006, a new study shows that pharmacies are circumventing the ban and selling the drug illegally. The drug was first banned after it was found that vultures who fed on carcasses of cattle that were treated with the drug were being poisoned, leading to a steep decline in vulture population numbers. However, the drug can still be manufactured for use in humans, and some pharmacies are selling this version to people for use in livestock.

From the article:

The team undertook surveys of more than 250 veterinary and general pharmacies in 11 Indian states between 2007 and 2010. Diclofenac was sold in 36% of pharmacies, with up to 45% of investigated pharmacies selling the drug in western and central Indian states.

And although a previous study found that "cattle carcasses in India contaminated with the drug declined by over 40% between 2006 and 2008," there is still enough in use that could drive vultures to extinction.

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/09/illegal_drug_sales_threaten_vu.html

CITATION: Cuthbert RJ, et al. 2011. Assessing the ongoing threat from veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to Critically Endangered Gyps vultures in India. Oryx 45(3):420-426. doi:10.1017/S0030605311000135

Encyclopedia of Life catalogues more than one-third of Earth’s species
September 5, 2011 By Damian Carrington

The Encyclopedia of Live (EoL), which aims to provide a "webpage for every species," has now created pages for 750,000 species, or more than one-third of the planet's 1.9 million known species. It includes multimedia content and scientific information from 180 content partners and also pages created by members.

From the article:

The EoL's directors say they want it to become a microscope in reverse, or "macroscope", helping users discern large-scale patterns. By aggregating information for analysis, they say the EoL could, for example, help map vectors of human disease, reveal mysteries behind longevity, suggest substitute plant pollinators for a growing list of places where honeybees no longer provide that service, and foster strategies to slow the spread of invasive species.

Founded in 2007, the EoL had 30,000 species pages by the beginning of 2008, making the new version a huge expansion. Renowned the Harvard University biologist Edward O Wilson, one of the driving forces behind the EoL, said the new site "opens EoL's vast and growing storehouse of knowledge to a much larger range of users, including medicine, biotechnology, ecology, and now increasingly the general public".

Although the EoL has pages in place for more than 1 million additional species, a recent estimate published in last month's PLoS Biology estimated that there are 8.7 million species on Earth, meaning that the EoL will need to expand as more and more species are discovered.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/05/encyclopedia-life-earth-species

Giant saltwater crocodile captured in Philippines
September 6, 2011

After a three-week search, villagers and hunters have captured a one-tonne (approx. 2,240 pounds) saltwater crocodile measuring 20 feet in length. The crocodile is thought to have attacked and killed two people. Phillipine officials think that it may be the largest crocodile ever captured alive in the country, although they are still searching for an even larger crocodile. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest saltwater crocodile ever caught was in Australia, measuring 5.48 meters (approx. 18 feet).

From the article:

The wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who has hunted "nuisance crocodiles" for 20 years and led the team behind the capture in Bunawan, said a search was under way for a larger crocodile he and villagers have seen roaming in the farming town's marshy outskirts.

"There is a bigger one and it could be the one creating problems," Sumiller told the Associated Press. "The villagers were saying 10% of their fear was gone because of the first capture," Sumiller said. "But there is still the other 90% to take care of."

Crocodiles are protected under Philippine laws, with poachers facing jail time and fines if they are caught. The captured crocodile will now be moved to an ecotourism park in order to "increase villagers' and tourists' awareness of the vital role the dreaded reptiles play in the ecosystem."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/06/giant-crocodile-captured-philippines-bigger

Proposed safe harbor agreement for California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, Smith's blue butterfly, and Yadon's piperia
September 7, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 173
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N163; 81440-1113-0000-F3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received, from the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (Applicant), an application for an enhancement of survival permit for the federally threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and federally endangered Smith's blue butterfly (Euphilotes enoptes smithi) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This permit application includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) between the Applicant and the Service. The Agreement and permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: To ensure we are able to consider your comments, please send them to us by OCTOBER 7, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The documents are available on our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/ventura. A limited number of printed copies are available by request. You may request documents or submit comments by any of the following methods.
E-mail: fw8SHA_palocorona@fws.gov. Include "Palo Corona SHA'' in the subject line of the message.
U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office; 2493 Portola Road, Suite B; Ventura, CA 93003.
Fax: Attn: Field Supervisor, (805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Morrissette, Safe Harbor Coordinator, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at the address above or by telephone at (805) 644-1766.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-07/pdf/2011-22793.pdf

Przewalski's horse has ancient origins and high genetic diversity, new study finds
September 7, 2011

Abstract from the article:

An endangered species of horse -- known as Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) -- is much more distantly related to the domestic horse than researchers had previously hypothesized, reports a team of investigators led by Kateryna Makova, a Penn State University associate professor of biology. The scientists tested the portion of the genome passed exclusively from mother to offspring -- the mitochondrial DNA -- of four Przewalski's horse lineages and compared the data to DNA from the domestic horse (Equus caballus). They concluded that, although previous scientists had assumed that Przewalski's horse and the domestic horse had diverged around the time that horses were domesticated -- about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago -- the real time of the two species' divergence from one another is much more ancient. The data gleaned from the study also suggest that present-day Przewalski's horses have a much more diverse gene pool than previously hypothesized. The new study's findings could be used to inform conservation efforts to save the endangered horse species, of which only 2,000 individuals remain in parts of China and Mongolia, and in wildlife reserves in California and the Ukraine. The paper will be published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-endangered-horse-ancient-high-genetic.html

CITATION: Goto H, Ryder OA, Fisher AR, Schultz B, Pond SK, Nekrutenko A, Makova KD. 2011. A massively parallel sequencing approach uncovers ancient origins and high genetic variability of endangered Przewalski’s horses. Genome Biology and Evolution. doi:10.1093/gbe/evr067

South African game farm applies chemical to rhino horns to stop poachers
September 7, 2011

The Rhino and Lion game reserve in South Africa "has developed a treatment for rhino horns that is safe for the animals but causes convulsions and headaches to people who consume them...."

From the article:

The potion is a mixture of drugs used to kill parasites on the rhinos, and includes a dye that turns even finely ground horns neon pink when seen by airport scanners, Rhino and Lion Reserve spokeswoman Lorinda Hern told national news agency SAPA.

"The chemicals have the dual threat of keeping away both natural and human parasites... and last for three to four years," she said. The treatment has been tested on rhinos at the park outside Johannesburg, she said.

Since the start of 2011, 279 rhinos have been poached at parks across South Africa, compared to just 13 cases in 2007. The increase in poaching is driven by the demand for the horns in use in Asian traditional medicines.

Full article: http://news.yahoo.com/africa-poaching-fight-chemical-makes-rhino-horns-toxic-165323715.html

Toledo Zoo's Senior Discovery Days
September 7, 2011

The Toledo Zoo will be hosting Senior Discovery Days on Tuesdays throughout September and October. Guests 60 and older can attend guided tours of the zoo's Works Progress Administration-era buildings, play games of bingo, listen to big band music and enjoy games of mini golf. On the weekdays, the zoo will offer senior guests "free parking in the Anthony Wayne Trail lot, free fresh-brewed coffee and a mini-muffin in the zoo's North Star Trading Post and more." On Septemer 20, the zoo and the Area Office of Aging are hosting Senior Safari, an event that includes health screenings, exercise and safety tips and free lunch at the zoo's Nairobi Pavilion.

Full article: http://www.thenews-messenger.com/article/20110907/NEWS01/109070319/Toledo-Zoo-having-Senior-Discovery-Days-starting-Tuesday

Basketball legend Bill Walton joins Plaza de Panama team
September 7, 2011 By Gene Cubbison

Bill Walton, a San Diego native and ex-basketball player, has joined the list of supporters for the plan that would remove automobile traffic from Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. Walton grew up playing basketball in the Park's Muni Gym and still bikes and walks there "virtually every day." He is now one of the tour guides from the Plaza de Panama Committee who will be giving "late-morning walking tours of the area on the third Saturday of every month." The proposed plan from the committee seeks $25 million to restore the Plaza in time for the centennial celebration of 1915's Panama-California Exposition; the committee is led by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. A memo of understanding was recently signed between the Panama Committee and the City of San Diego, although local group Save Our Heritage Foundation has filed suit against the City to "set aside" the MOU.

Full article: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Basketball-Star-Bill-Walton-Joins-Plaza-de-Panama-Team-129418458.html

Texas wildfire destroys structures, habitat of endangered Houston toad at state park
September 7, 2011 By Jim Forsyth

The Bastrop County Complex fire which has been burning east of Austin, Texas, has caused major damage at the Bastrop State Park. Over 90 percent of the park's 5,900 acres have been damaged, with "two Depression-era scenic overlook structures and a 1930s rain shelter" being destroyed.

From the article:

In addition, the park was the "final stronghold" of the endangered Houston Toad (Bufo houstonensis) -- the first amphibian to be granted protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, said Mike Cox of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"We have great concern about it," Cox said. "It will be a while before our biologists can actually get in there and do an assessment to see if our worst fears were realized."

Park officials are not sure when the park will reopen.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/07/us-wildfires-historic-texas-idUSTRE7867BW20110907

La Niña climate event returning, forecasters say
September 8, 2011

Forecasters from the federal Climate Prediction Center are saying that La Niña climate patterns will be re-emerging and continuing into the winter. The climate phenomenon, in which "cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean...often results in drier-than-usual conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley," contributed to extreme weather in the first half of 2011. If the forecasts turn out to be true, this would mean continued dry weather for already "drought-ravaged south central states" like Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/08/la-nina-climate-event-returning-forecasters-say/

USFWS proposes to list Franciscan manzanita as endangered
September 8, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 174
FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049; MO 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list Arctostaphylos franciscana (Franciscan manzanita), as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate critical habitat. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing A. franciscana as an endangered species under the Act is warranted. Accordingly, we herein propose to list A. franciscana as an endangered species pursuant to the Act. This proposed rule, if made final, would extend the Act's protections to this species. We believe that critical habitat is not determinable at this time due to lack of knowledge of what physical and biological features are essential to the conservation of the species, or what other areas outside the site that is currently occupied, may be essential for the conservation of the species. The Service seeks data and comments from the public on this proposed listing rule and whether the designation of critical habitat for the species is prudent and determinable.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 7, 2011. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Keyword box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on "Send a Comment or Submission.'' (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Leyse, Listing Coordinator, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; by telephone at 916-414-6600; or by facsimile at 916-414-6712.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-08/pdf/2011-22990.pdf