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All things animal in Southern
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Category: Endangered Species

Your morning adorable: African wild dog puppies get a checkup at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo

10 African wild dog puppies, six males and four females, huddling together

The birth of a big litter of African wild dog puppies at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo late last year is great news for their endangered species. The litter, born to 6-year-old mother Kim and 4-year-old father Digger on Thanksgiving, contains a whopping 10 healthy puppies who were examined by a zoo veterinarian on Thursday.

The puppies, much like their domestic cousins, needed to be vaccinated against canine diseases -- the spread of distemper from domestic dogs is one cause for their steep population decline in the wild -- and have microchips implanted for identification purposes.

Brookfield is a participant in the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program to ensure the survival of African wild dogs. Kim and Digger's puppies are the third and largest African wild dog litter to be born at the zoo so far.

African wild dogs have an "it takes a village" approach to parenting: Not only do Kim and Digger care for the puppies, but Digger's brother Duke also plays a big role in their lives. In wild packs of African wild dogs, all adults pitch in to care for the young, regardless of their biological parentage.

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

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Giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian to stay five more years at National Zoo in Washington

Tian Tian the giant panda

Washington's beloved pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, will be allowed to stay at the Smithsonian National Zoo for five more years, Chinese officials announced Wednesday amid a lavish state visit by China's president.

The panda pair will remain in Washington until December 2015 for cooperative research under a five-year, $2.5-million extension of the 10-year, $10-million agreement that expired last month, said China Wildlife Conservation Assn. Secretary Gen. Zang Chunlin.

The announcement came as Chinese President Hu Jintao was in Washington, where he met President Barack Obama at the White House.

Pandas have a long history intertwined with U.S.-China politics. The first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, arrived in 1972 as a gift to the American people and lived more than 20 years at the zoo after President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing produced five cubs, but none of them survived.

"This is a great opportunity for the American people to know more about Chinese culture and this is also an opportunity to advance our friendship and to deepen understanding," Zang said through an interpreter.

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Rare western Pacific gray whale is tracked by scientists on his migration from Russia to Alaska

Gray Whale

ANCHORAGE — A highly endangered whale is making good time as it continues its journey east from Russian waters toward Alaska.

U.S. and Russia researchers have tracked the 13-year-old male western Pacific gray whale to a location about 80 miles north of St. Paul Island, part of Alaska's Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.

Bruce Mate, director of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, said the whale was detected there Thursday. Foul weather has hampered updates from the satellite-monitored radio tag affixed to the whale by researchers in September.

"The weather out there is really crummy," he said.

Researchers have been tracking the whale since they tagged it off Russia's Sakhalin Island. They had hoped to tag 12 western Pacific gray whales but were limited to one, on the last day of field work, by typhoons and gales.

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Kazakhstan extends ban on hunting endangered antelope


ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Authorities have extended a ban on hunting the endangered saiga antelope in hopes of boosting the animal's dwindling numbers.

A government decree published Tuesday says the ban will remain in effect through 2020.

Conservation experts say the saiga population has plummeted from around 1 million in the mid-1990s to about 80,000.

Despite a 2001 ban, the distinctive bulbous-nosed animal continues to be poached for its horns, used as a component in traditional Chinese medicines.

Around 12,000 saiga, which are found mainly in western Kazakhstan, died last year of a mysterious disease.

Wildlife advocates object to proposed auction of tiger paste seized from traffickers in Vietnam
Black rhinoceros who survived being shot by poachers is transported to South African zoo

-- Associated Press

Photo: Saiga drink from a lake outside Almaty, Kazakhstan, in an undated photo. Credit: Anatoly Ustinenko / AFP/Getty Images

Edinburgh Zoo to receive two giant pandas through loan program with China

PandaEdinburgh LONDON — Call it panda politics.

China is sending a pair of giant pandas to the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland as the Asian nation's deputy leader visits the U.K. to boost relations.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang, in London for trade talks with senior British officials, led the signing of the agreement Monday to send the animals to Edinburgh.

A zoo spokeswoman says the male and female pandas are about 7 years old. They will be on a 10-year loan to the zoo and are expected to arrive in the next year from China's Wolong Panda Research Institute.

Li, who is widely expected to succeed Wen Jiabao as China's next premier, is on a four-day visit to Britain to cement trade deals after trips to Spain and Germany.


-- Associated Press

Photo: Yangguang, a giant panda at the Wolong Panda Research Institute in China's Sichuan province in an undated photo. Credit: Edinburgh Zoo / Associated Press

National Zoo's giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to have an extended stay in U.S.

giant pandas WASHINGTON — Washington's pandas will stay at the National Zoo at least a little while longer.

Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) are on a 10-year, $10-million loan from China that expires at the end this year. The Smithsonian's National Zoo continues to negotiate a new agreement for panda breeding and research.

Zoo spokeswoman Karin Korpowski-Gallo said Wednesday that China has granted a temporary extension for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to remain until a new agreement is signed. Officials expect one in January.

Pandas have a long history in Washington. The first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing (sing-sing), arrived in 1972 after President Nixon's historic visit to China, and lived more than 20 years at the zoo.


-- Brett Zongker, Associated Press

Photo: Tian Tian, left, and Mei Ziang play in their enclosure at the National Zoo in 2007. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Alaska sues over planned fishing restrictions aimed at protecting sea lions

Steller Sea Lions

ANCHORAGE — The state of Alaska filed a lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to stop a federal agency's plan to protect endangered sea lions by restricting fishing in the western Aleutian Islands.

Gov. Sean Parnell said the National Marine Fisheries Service failed to make a rational connection between what it found and the conclusion it reached that fishing needs to be curtailed in the far western Aleutians because sea lions aren't getting enough to eat.

"The agency's conclusion that additional fishing restrictions are necessary is not supported by the best available scientific information," Parnell said.

The state asked the court to issue a ruling to prevent NMFS' plan from being implemented Jan. 1.

Last week, the federal agency announced that commercial mackerel and cod fisheries in the western Aleutians would be restricted. The state argues that restricted fishing isn't necessary when the population of western Steller sea lions is growing between 1% and 1.5% a year.

"This decision will have immediate and significant impacts on local communities and fishermen in the area," the governor said.

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Your morning adorable: Vienna zoo's giant panda cub gets a name


The giant panda born at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo in August reached a milestone -- his 100th day -- and received his name in a ceremony held at the zoo on Monday.

His name, chosen by the panda-loving public in an online poll, is Fu Hu, which means "Happy Tiger" in Mandarin. Fu Hu's older brother, who was sent to a panda breeding center in China's Sichuan Province last year, is named Fu Long -- "Happy Dragon."

Fu Hu's parents, mother Yang Yang and father Long Hui, arrived in Vienna in 2003 through a loan program with China. They're scheduled to return to their home country in a few years when that loan expires. Fu Hu will also move to China one day, since the conditions of his parents' loan require any offspring they produce in a foreign zoo to be sent to China when they're old enough.

See more photos of Fu Hu after the jump!

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Agency attempts to remove Great Lakes gray wolf from endangered species list

Gray wolf TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The federal government is planning another attempt to remove gray wolves in the Great Lakes region from the endangered-species list.

An assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Thomas Strickland, says the department will release a proposal by April and hopes to make a final decision by the end of 2011.

Biologists say the wolf has made a strong comeback from near-extinction in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The government has tried three times in the last seven years to remove federal protections and return management of the region's wolves to the states -- most recently in 2009. But federal courts have overruled the decisions in response to lawsuits by environmentalists and animal-rights groups.

Officials say they believe the new plan will withstand court challenges.

Montana governor says negotiations over gray wolf's endangered status have hit impasse
Wolf-hunting proponents consider a new tactic: Killing gray wolves in the name of research

-- Associated Press

Photo: William Campbell / Associated Press

Your morning adorable: Zoo Atlanta's giant panda cub has a checkup


The giant panda cub born last month at Zoo Atlanta continues to grow at a healthy rate, weighing 2.2 pounds and measuring almost 14 inches from nose tip to tail tip during a veterinary examination last week. The cub, a male, is the third offspring for mother Lun Lun and father Yang Yang and the only giant panda born in an American zoo this year. He hasn't yet been given a name.

The cub recently began to crawl, moving around "like a little worm," Joseph T. Svoke, a carnivore keeper at Zoo Atlanta, noted earlier this week. (Keepers post short updates about the cub's progress on the zoo's website just about every day, and panda fans can also tune in to the zoo's online panda cam on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.)

Mostly, of course, the little guy spends his time eating and sleeping, as all babies should. "His abdomen's really round and full and that's what we really like in a baby," Dr. Hayley Murphy, director of veterinary services at the zoo, told the Associated Press last week. "That just tells us he's eating well and his abdomen's full of milk."

Zoo staffers expect the cub to begin opening his eyes soon. He won't be on display to the public until he's walking on his own, a milestone giant pandas typically reach when they're about 4 months old.

After the jump, see more photos of the cub during his exam last week!

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