L.A. Unleashed

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Category: Big Cats

Your morning adorable: Black panther cubs mug for the camera at Berlin Zoo

Panther cubs

It's already been well-established that Germany's Berlin Zoo is a frontrunner in the field of adorableness.

After all, it's got two of the world's cutest wolf pups, a batch of jaguar cubs in a basket, a litter of alarmingly cute caracal kittens and a pair of moose calves so cute they'll make your teeth hurt. And that's just scratching the surface.

Add to that tally two new black panther cubs, females named Baturgai and Ormila, who were born at the zoo early last month. They're now old enough to explore their surroundings -- and if there's one thing cuter than a kitten exploring its home turf for the first time, it's surely a big cat cub exploring its home turf for the first time. Are we right, or are we right?

See more photos of the cubs after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Endangered Amur tiger cub debuts at Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania

Yuri the Amur tiger cub

An Amur tiger cub named Yuri made his public debut at Pennsylvania's Erie Zoo last week. Yuri, who just turned 3 months old, is the first tiger cub born at the zoo in over 20 years.

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are the largest tiger subspecies -- when little Yuri (who now weighs just 28 pounds) is grown up, he's likely to weigh between 400 and 600 pounds!

Amur tigers are considered endangered, but their population today is far more stable than it once was. By the 1930s, there were thought to be fewer 40 members of the subspecies left in the wild; there are now several hundred, and still more live in zoos around the world. In light of their endangered status, though, little Yuri's birth is a big deal!

Anna, Yuri's mother, has slightly injured him on a few occasions while carrying him by the scruff of the neck. ("I think she loved him too much," zoo president Scott Mitchell told the Erie Times-News.) After the second incident, keepers began caring for Yuri themselves to ensure that he wasn't seriously harmed.

Fun fact: Yuri's favorite food (in fact, the only meat he'll consent to eat) is hamburger.

See another photo of Yuri after the jump!

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Bears, big cats routinely suffer in Chinese zoos and wildlife parks, animal welfare group says

BEIJING — Performing animals in Chinese zoos and parks are often trained using abusive practices, including routine beatings, and are housed in inadequate shelters, according to a report by a Hong Kong-based animal welfare group released Monday.

Bears are regularly whipped and beaten with sticks, elephants are prodded with metal hooks, and tigers and lions are defanged and declawed, causing them chronic pain, said the Animals Asia Foundation in a 28-page report.

The group surveyed animal performances and living conditions at 13 zoos and safari parks in China over a yearlong period until this August.

"The combined aspects of performances, abusive training methods and inadequate housing conditions are causing severe animal suffering for many thousands of performing animals across China," the report said.

Earlier this year, the problem of animal mistreatment in China was highlighted with the reported deaths of 11 rare Siberian tigers at the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo in the frigid northeast over a three-month period. The tigers had reportedly starved to death after being fed nothing but chicken bones for weeks.

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July in animal news: Five questions with International Fund for Animal Welfare leader Fred O'Regan

We're asking experts in the animal-protection community to offer their insights on the latest animal news and fill us in on what their organizations are working on. Here, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) President and Chief Executive Fred O'Regan shares his take on protecting wild tigers, helping Haiti's companion animals and addressing the threats facing whales, wild cats and wolf species. O'Regan's responses represent his own views and not necessarily ours.

Fred-&-Zeke Unleashed: What do you view as the most important development in animal news to happen in July?

Fred O'Regan: During July, officials from 13 nations that are home to the world’s last wild tigers met in Bali, Indonesia, along with the World Bank's Global Tiger Initiative and partner organizations including IFAW, to develop a concrete plan to reinvigorate the tiger population, pledging to double it by 2022. The plan is expected to serve as a road map for tiger conservation to be adopted by world leaders at the first global summit on tigers this September in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In a global assessment of transnational organized crime, including wildlife trade, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime reported last month that tigers are on the verge of being poached into extinction in the wild. Fueled by an international black market in tiger body parts, poaching threatens to eliminate 5% of the remaining wild tiger population each year. Tigers have experienced a 97% decline in population since 1900, when 100,000 roamed the earth. As few as 3,000 wild tigers survive today. The pledge by these governments to crack down on poaching and wildlife trafficking will help us make strides in tiger conservation.

 

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India plans to import African cheetahs, reintroduce the species to its grasslands

Cheetah

NEW DELHI — The Indian government plans to import cheetahs from Africa and introduce them into the country's grasslands, six decades after the fleet-footed feline was hunted here until it disappeared, officials said Monday.

Two wildlife groups have already carried out a feasibility study on bringing the cats to three reserves that will total more than 4,500 square miles (about 12,000 square kilometers) in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states, India's ministry of environment and forests said Monday.

The cheetah, the world's fastest land animal, roamed the wilds of central and western India until, in the face of relentless hunting by trophy-seekers and poachers, it vanished from India about 60 years ago.

The Asiatic cheetah -- the sub-species that once lived in India -- no longer exists in the wild, though some survive in zoos.

So scientists will import 18 wild cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa, said a ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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Your morning adorable: Let's have a party! Critically endangered Amur leopard cub is born in Germany

Amur leopard cub

The birth of an Amur leopard cub at Germany's Leipzig Zoo is huge news for her species, which is critically endangered. The cub, a female who hasn't yet been named, was born at the zoo in late June.

Amur leopards, native to eastern Russia, parts of China and the Korean Peninsula, have been driven nearly to extinction, primarily as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation. In a period of less than 15 years during the 1970s and '80s, about 80% of its Russian habitat was lost. Another issue facing the species is poaching, since their impressively patterned coats fetch high prices on the black market.

Today, it's estimated that fewer than 40 Amur leopards remain in the wild in Russia, and an even smaller number are thought to remain in China. So the birth of an Amur leopard cub is cause for celebration.

See more photos of the Leipzig Zoo's cub after the jump.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service excluded possible Canada lynx habitat in 2009 designation, judge rules

MISSOULA, Mont. — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service arbitrarily excluded "critical habitat" that could be occupied by the elusive Canada lynx.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Wednesday that the agency excluded large swaths of Western habitat from protection when it recommended in 2009 that 39,000 square miles in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington be designated as critical habitat.

The agency had argued it excluded some habitat in the West because there was no evidence lynx were reproducing there. But Molloy says the absence of that evidence isn't necessarily cause for exclusion, especially if the area hasn't been surveyed for breeding animals.

Several environmental groups filed suit in U.S. District Court in 2009, saying more designated habitat is needed in Colorado, Montana and Idaho.

RELATED BIG CAT CONSERVATION NEWS:
Environmental group calls for protected habitat to be set aside for jaguars in the American Southwest
Your morning adorable: German shepherd foster mom raises cougar cubs in Russian zoo

-- Associated Press

Video: hersheyentertainment via YouTube

Your morning adorable: Clouded leopard cubs make their debut at Paris zoo

Clouded leopard cubs

Two rare clouded leopard cubs recently made their debut at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and their birth is big news as some zoos work hard to conserve the species, considered vulnerable to extinction, through captive breeding programs.

The cubs, both female, are named Pati and Jaya. They were born May 14, but the Jardin des Plantes didn't officially announce their birth to the world until recently. Why now? "After two months, we believe the situation is stable," zoo spokesman Mathieu Dorval told Agence France-Presse. "The little panthers are behaving normally and are putting on weight as expected." They have two older full siblings who were born at the zoo last year.

Clouded leopards are native to southeastern Asia, where they're faced with habitat loss, deforestation and poaching for their impressive pelts. Exactly how many remain in the wild is unknown, though, because the species has a tendency to be reclusive and difficult to find for census-taking purposes. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, an increased number of camera traps placed in recent years through the clouded leopard's range should help to determine just how many members of the species continue to exist in the wild.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo captured headlines last year when a pair of clouded leopard cubs were born there, the first at the zoo in 16 years and the first at any North American zoo in six years.

See more photos and video of the cubs after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Lion cubs get a checkup at Israeli zoo

Lion cub on a scale

A pair of African lion cubs born at Israel's Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan (also known as the Ramat Gan Safari) in May had their media debut Sunday when they received a checkup and their vaccinations.

We just can't get over how adorable a lion cub looks on a scale. But really, if we're being honest, any big cat cub looks darn cute on a scale. (Someone start a tumblr blog, quick!)

The cubs join an older set of triplet lions born at the zoo late last year. Those cubs made zoo staff heave a sigh of relief, because they were the first female cubs born there after a male-cub-heavy few years.

See more photos of the cubs after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: German shepherd foster mom raises cougar cubs in Russian zoo

German shepherd dog Cholli raises puma cubs

Staff at the zoo in Samara, Russia, were excited about the birth of three cougar cubs on July 15 -- but they were afraid to leave the cubs with their parents for fear that they could react aggressively and harm the infants.

The cubs were given instead to Cholli, a German shepherd dog with five young puppies of her own and a maternal instinct that just wouldn't quit. Since then, Cholli and her foster "kids" have gotten along swimmingly, and she's fed them and cared for them as if they were her own puppies.

We're always impressed by animals who overlook the differences between species to make sure that youngsters are okay -- whether it's a duck caring for kittens, a dog raising an orphaned monkey or a house cat nursing a litter of bobcats. Oh, animals, we'll never grow tired of marveling at you!

See more photos of Cholli and the cougar cubs after the jump!

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