L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
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Category: Conservation

Jane Goodall's primatology archives to be moved to Duke University

Jane Goodall

DURHAM, N.C. -- Chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall is moving her vast collection of field data to Duke University.

Duke spokesman Karl Bates said Thursday the archives on chimpanzees that Goodall gathered during decades of work in Tanzania is being moved to the Durham campus from the University of Minnesota.

The collection will be under the direction of Anne E. Pusey, chairwoman of the university's department of evolutionary anthropology. Pusey had collaborated with Goodall in Tanzania and previously managed the archives from her post at Minnesota. She was hired by Duke about a year ago.

Goodall is to speak March 28 at Duke about the archives move.

Goodall is considered the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. She also is known for her work on conservation and animal-welfare issues.

MORE ABOUT GOODALL'S WORK:
Patt Morrison Asks: Chimp change (2009 Q&A)
Loving chimps to death (2009 opinion article)

-- Associated Press

Photo: Jane Goodall visits Australia's Taronga Zoo to observe the resident extended family of 19 chimpanzees in 2006. Credit: Greg Wood: AFP/Getty Images

Your morning adorable: Baby Francois' langur monkey makes his debut at Australia's Taronga Zoo

Baby Francois' langur monkey at the Taronga Zoo

At the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, a great deal of excitement surrounds the latest addition to the resident family of Francois' langur monkeys. A male Francois' langur named Keo-co was born Jan. 30 and ventured into an outdoor enclosure for the first time on Wednesday.

Keo-co's older sister, Elke, was born in 2009 and was the first offspring for mother Saigon. Unfortunately, Saigon didn't immediately take to motherhood and zoo staff elected to raise Elke themselves in order to ensure that she was healthy and well cared for. (Elke is now fully grown and still lives at Taronga, but she occupies a different enclosure than Saigon.)

This time around, Saigon seems to have gotten the hang of parenting and the zoo reports that Keo-co is extremely bonded to her. He is being raised both by Saigon and another resident female Francois' langur monkey, Meili. "The two mothers take care of him -- Saigon is the primary caregiver but when she needs a break Meili takes over; they take it in turns," Taronga primate keeper Roxanne Pellat told Australia's AAP news service.

Francois' langur monkeys are native to parts of Vietnam and China. They're endangered in large part due to hunting as a result of their use in some traditional medicines; they're also the victims of habitat loss and other common causes of wildlife population decline. Though members of the species are born with vivid orange coloring, their fur darkens as they age; adult Francois' langurs are primarily black with white markings.

See more photos and a video of Keo-co after the jump!

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U.N. agency warns of further decline in world's bee population without big changes in human behavior

Bees

NAIROBI, Kenya — The U.N.'s environmental agency warned in a new report Thursday that the world's bee population is likely to keep declining unless humans change the way they manage the planet.

North America, Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia have been affected by losses in bee numbers, the report said. It called for farmers and landowners to be offered incentives to restore bee habitats, including key flowering plants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the U.S. honey-producing colonies dropped from a population of 5.5 million in 1950 to 2.5 million in 2007.

The bees are needed to pollinate crops that feed the world's growing population. Of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of the world's food, more than 70 are pollinated by bees, the U.N. report said.

"Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N.'s environmental program. "Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature's services in a world of close to 7 billion people."

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Federal judge hears arguments about Yellowstone grizzly bears' threatened status

Grizzly Bear

PORTLAND, Ore. — Dueling attorneys for a conservation group and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered starkly different opinions Monday about the future of the grizzly bear population in and around Yellowstone National Park if the bear is taken off the threatened species list.

Three 9th Circuit Court of Appeals justices heard half-hour arguments and rebuttals from each side more than a year after the grizzlies were returned to the list by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy.

The federal government is bullish on the bear's prospects, and state wildlife agencies from Montana and Wyoming have argued in briefs filed to the appellate court that officials are confident the bears won't go extinct if states are left to manage them.

Environmental groups say the bear's future is murky, and lifting protections now poses too great a risk to their survival.

Molloy's ruling, which resolved a lawsuit brought by the Montana-based Greater Yellowstone Coalition, highlighted the deaths of hundreds of thousands of whitebark pine trees over the last two decades.

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Your morning adorable: Rare pygmy hippopotamus born in Swedish zoo

PygmyHippoBaby1

At the Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna, Sweden, the birth of a rare pygmy hippopotamus is a big deal. The baby, a male named Oliver, was born Feb. 15 to mother Krakunia.

As a newborn, Oliver had a bit of a close call because Krakunia, a first-time mother, didn't allow him to nurse. Parken Zoo staff found an interesting way around this problem, as the Telegraph explains:

So desperate were the zookeepers to keep Oliver alive that eventually one of them managed to milk Krakunia, thus allowing them to feed the youngster by hand.

According to the zookeepers, milking a hippopotamus was a world first. Since hippos are large, potentially dangerous animals -- even when pygmy-sized -- they have until now been considered far too dangerous to milk.

Now that's a dedicated zookeeper. Since then, Oliver has been sticking close to Krakunia, and the zoo says he's now thriving.

Pygmy hippos, which were classified as endangered in 2006, are native to parts of western Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Fewer than 3,000 members of the species are thought to remain in the wild.

See more photos and video of Oliver after the jump!

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What do artistic Asian elephants and late metal musician Ronnie James Dio have in common? Guitars

Elephant painting a guitar

Metal singer Ronnie James Dio, who died last year at age 67 after a battle with stomach cancer, is helping animals posthumously through a partnership between the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout cancer fund set up in his memory and the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project.

Dio's wife and manager, Wendy Dio, arranged to have elephants decorate several guitars as a fundraiser for both organizations. The Times' music blog Pop & Hiss reports:

Plans call for three elephant-painted guitars to be auctioned this fall, according to a spokeswoman for Dio. Details on the time and manner of the auction are to be announced. SUAS also plans to auction off a total of 100 other instruments being donated and/or signed by celebrity players to raise money for its prevention, research and education efforts.

The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project sells elephants' art (you might have seen an amazing video in which one of the animals paints what appears to be a self-portrait), using the money to provide food, shelter and veterinary care for captive elephants and provide education on humane elephant treatment for their mahouts, or handlers.

You can see examples of the elephants' paintings at the charity's website. Our favorite elephant artist is a 7-year-old female named Khamtool, a resident of the Maetaman elephant camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, whose favorite painting subject is colorful flowers.

RELATED ELEPHANT NEWS:
Tennessee's Elephant Sanctuary looks to make a fresh start after co-founder's firing
Indian official orders probe into wild elephant deaths near wildlife refuge

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: An elephant named Jaab painting an electric guitar. Credit: Mark Weiss

Captive orangutans in Indonesian sanctuary may be released thanks to development company

Captive orangutans in Indonesia

TANJUNG PUTING NATIONAL PARK, Indonesia — Their black eyes peer from the slats of wooden cages, hundreds of orangutans orphaned after their mothers were shot or hacked to death for straying out of Indonesia's rapidly disappearing forests in search of food.

No one wants to get them back into the wild as much as Birute Mary Galdikas, who has devoted a lifetime to studying the great red apes, now on the verge of extinction. And for the first time in years, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, thanks to a Hong Kong-based development company's plans to protect a 91,000-hectare (224,866-acre) peatland forest along Tanjung Puting National Park's eastern edge.

"The problem has been finding a safe place to release them," said the 64-year-old scientist. "Many are ready to go right now."

A half-century ago, more than three-quarters of Indonesia, a sprawling archipelagic nation spanning an area the width of the United States, was blanketed in plush tropical rainforest. But in the rush to supply the world with pulp, paper and, more recently, palm oil -- used in lipstick, soap and "clean-burning" fuel -- half those trees have been cleared.

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Conservationists work to save Hanoi's famous Hoan Kiem turtle

Hoan Kiem turtle

HANOI, Vietnam — Hundreds of people are working around the clock to clean up a lake in the heart of Vietnam's capital in hopes of saving a rare, ailing giant turtle that is considered a sacred symbol of Hanoi.

Some experts fear pollution at Hoan Kiem Lake is killing the giant freshwater turtle, which has a soft shell and is the size of a desk. It is one of the world's most-endangered species, with only four known to be alive worldwide.

Teams of people are cleaning debris, pumping fresh water into the lake and using sandbags to expand a tiny island to serve as a "turtle hospital." The rescuers may even try to net the animal for the first time as part of the effort.

The Hoan Kiem turtle is rooted in Vietnamese folklore, and some even believe the animal that lives in the lake today is the same mythical creature that helped a Vietnamese king fend off Chinese invaders nearly six centuries ago.

It swims alone in the lake and in the past has been glimpsed only rarely sticking its wrinkled neck out of the water. But it has recently surfaced much more frequently, alarming the public with visible raw open sores on its head, legs and shell.

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Your morning adorable: Giant river otter pups at Zoo Miami

Two Giant River Otter pups

The birth of two giant river otter pups in Florida earlier this year is big news both for their endangered species and the zoo where they were born.

The pups -- one male and one female who haven't yet been named -- were born at Zoo Miami on Jan. 31 to mother Kara and father Witoto. They are the first offspring for both parents and the first members of their species to be born at Zoo Miami.

The babies and their parents were kept in seclusion until recently and made a rare appearance last week during a veterinary checkup. (Both pups are reportedly in good health.)

Giant river otters are native to South America, where their population has been adversely impacted by hunting. Though these little guys only weigh about 2 to 3 pounds now, as adults they'll weigh as much as 75 pounds and measure up to 6 feet in length!

See another photo after the jump; if you're itching to see more photos, Zoo Miami has an extensive photo gallery at its Facebook fan page.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declares Eastern cougar extinct

the taxidermy of the Eastern Cougar said to have been the last cougar killed in Pennsylvania in 1874 by Thomas Anson

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The "ghost cat" is just that.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday declared the Eastern cougar to be extinct, confirming a widely held belief among wildlife biologists that native populations of the big cat were wiped out by man a century ago.

After a lengthy review, federal officials concluded there are no breeding populations of cougars -- also known as pumas, panthers, mountain lions and catamounts -- in the Eastern United States. Researchers believe the Eastern cougar subspecies has probably been extinct since the 1930s.

Wednesday's declaration paves the way for the Eastern cougar to be removed from the endangered species list, where it was placed in 1973. The agency's decision to declare the Eastern cougar extinct does not affect the status of the Florida panther, another endangered wildcat.

Some hunters and outdoors enthusiasts have long insisted there's a small breeding population of Eastern cougars, saying the secretive cats have simply eluded detection -- hence the "ghost cat" moniker. The wildlife service said Wednesday that it confirmed 108 sightings between 1900 and 2010, but that these animals either escaped or were released from captivity, or migrated from Western states to the Midwest.

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