L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

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.

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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Iowa agriculture committees approve bill that would limit animal groups' undercover investigations


DES MOINES, Iowa — Angered by repeated releases of secretly filmed videos claiming to show the mistreatment of farm animals, Iowa's agriculture industry is pushing legislation that would make it illegal for animal rights activists to produce and distribute such images.

Agriculture committees in the Iowa House and Senate have approved a bill that would prohibit such recordings and punish people who take agriculture jobs only to gain access to animals to record their treatment. Proposed penalties include fines of up to $7,500 and up to five years in prison. Votes by the full House and Senate have not yet been set.

Doug Farquhar, program director for environmental health at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Iowa would be the first state to approve such restrictions but Florida is considering similar legislation. The Iowa measure was introduced after a number of groups released videos showing cows being shocked, pigs beaten and chicks ground up alive.

"It's very transparent what agribusiness is attempting to do here," said Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Assn., a California-based group dedicated to protecting farm animals from abuse. "They're trying to intimidate whistleblowers and put a chill on legitimate anti-cruelty investigations. Clearly the industry feels that it has something to hide or it wouldn't be going to these extreme and absurd lengths."

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Tibetan mastiff is sold for record price in China

Tibetan mastiffs, a breed of dog whose original purpose was guarding livestock in the Himalayan mountains, have a new and seemingly unlikely occupation: status symbol.

Owning one of the large working dogs has become a way for the wealthiest residents of China to demonstrate their financial success, much like fancy cars and couture clothing are symbols of wealth in the U.S. Now, a red Tibetan mastiff named Hong Dong (translation: "Big Splash") has become the world's most expensive pet. Hong Dong's breeder sold the 11-month-old, 180-pound male dog to a Chinese businessman for the princely sum of $1.5 million, CBS News reports.

According to the breeder, Lu Liang, the astronomical cost for Hong Dong was not unreasonable. "We have spent a lot of money raising this dog, and we have the salaries of plenty of staff to pay," the U.K.'s Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

The Tibetan mastiff became part of the American Kennel Club's Working group in 2006, but even after receiving official AKC recognition, the breed remains relatively rare in the U.S. It ranked 124th out of 167 on the AKC's list of most popular breeds, determined by registration statistics, in 2010.

According to its national breed club, the Tibetan mastiff is "a highly intelligent breed [that] has the ability to adapt to a variety of functions, but it is a breed [that] has been making its own decisions for thousands of years" and can be difficult to train because of their natural independence.

Scottish deerhound: What the breed — best in show at Westminster — is all about
Westminster dog show 2011: The hair makes the dog

-- Lindsay Barnett

Around the animal kingdom: Unleashed photos of the day for March 14


From dogs to pigs, elephants to tortoises and lemurs to salamanders, members of the animal kingdom have been the subjects of their fair share of compelling photos over the past few days. Above, American search-and-rescue dogs sit on cots set up by U.S. and British rescue teams before spending the night in a gymnasium in Sumita, northern Japan, on Monday. Six of the dogs that have traveled to Japan to help in the wake of last week's massive earthquake and tsunami were trained at the Ojai-based National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. (See more photos of the earthquake's aftermath at The Times' photography and multimedia blog, Framework.)


Asian elephants sample delicacies from an "elephant buffet" in observance of the national Thai Elephant Day at an elephant camp in Thailand's Chiang Mai province on Sunday. Sixty Thai elephants participated in the camp's Elephant Day celebration.

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Woman causes a stir by carrying dress-clad marmoset into Virginia courthouse in her bra

Marmoset in a dress

AMHERST, Va. — A woman turned a few heads when she walked into a rural Virginia courthouse with a tiny monkey clad in a pink-and-white dress tucked in her bra.

The woman brought the palm-sized marmoset to Amherst County Courthouse on Thursday for a hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Officials apparently didn't notice the monkey until the woman went to an office to complete some paperwork.

In an interview with The News & Advance of Lynchburg, the woman says the marmoset is 7 weeks old and requires constant attention.

The woman tells the newspaper she bought the animal on an online auction site and had its clothes specially made in West Virginia.

Charo says she had to give up her pet bull after Beverly Hills neighbors complained
Horseback riding while intoxicated: Legal in Montana (but probably not as safe as taking a taxi)

— Associated Press

Photo: Cara, a 7-week-old marmoset, sits on a desk at the Amhert County Courthouse in Amherst, Va., on March 10. Credit: Scott Marshall / Associated Press

Nonhuman primates and humans have similar aging patterns, study shows


When it comes to getting older, humans aren't so special after all.

It turns out their pattern of aging isn't too different from most other primates, such as chimpanzees, monkeys and baboons, new research shows.

A team led by Anne Bronikowski of Iowa State University studied data on primate aging collected over decades around the world and compared it with statistics on modern Americans. Aging was defined as the increased risk of dying from natural causes while getting older. Some experts have thought that because people have relatively long life spans, humans aged differently from other mammals.

The research team believed that any major difference between humans and primates was most likely to show up with modern people, rather than a hunter-gatherer culture, Bronikowski said in a telephone interview. "And the fact that we don't find a difference there is more compelling."

The basic pattern they found is a relatively high risk of dying in infancy, a low risk of death during the juvenile years and then an increased risk of dying as aging progressed. Also, they found that in most cases males don't live as long as females.

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Your morning adorable: Tamandua takes a drink

So what if your snout is specially designed to eat ants and other insects? That doesn't mean you can't enjoy a nice beverage, right?

That's the position of this tamandua -- a member of the anteater family -- who lives with YouTube user and devoted life-with-tamanduas video chronicler TamanduaGirl. (For the record, although the title of the video above says the tamandua is drinking wine, it is actually drinking juice, according to the owner's written description accompanying the video on YouTube.)

Tamanduas -- which are native to parts of Mexico, Central and South America -- survive primarily on a diet of insects in the wild. But TamanduaGirl supplements her pets' insect-heavy diets with raw ground beef, flax meal, beans, spinach, cottage cheese and shrimp.

If you, like us, find the idea of exotic pet ownership a little troubling, let us note that the cute fellow above was a rescue whose original owners had to find a new home for him due to illness. He was not a candidate for release into the wild.

Plus, in the wild there's no ready access to one of his favorite snacks: cheese.

Your morning adorable: Baby southern tamandua takes a ride on mom's back
Your morning adorable: Ticklish baby anteater masters the fine art of jazz hands, blows our minds

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: TamanduaGirl via YouTube

Nico, Facebook-famous rescue dog from L.A. shelter, faces another adversity: cancer

Guest blogger Janet Kinosian first shared the story of Nico, a deaf shelter dog who was saved through the efforts of California rescuers and a community of animal-loving Facebook users, in 2009. Since then, Nico has found a home with devoted owners in the Midwest and lived in the lap of luxury, but has weathered more than his share of health problems. Now, Kinosian offers an update:

When we last left Nico SwanGarris — the deaf, abused Dogo Argentino whose hopeless and forlorn shelter photograph sparked a far-and-wide effort to get him safely into a loving home — he had made the transition into a wonderful family and was thriving. He managed to beat the cancer that was found on his ear before he arrived at his new home in Indiana and that part of his life seemed to be firmly in the past. He was loving life with his new sister Brisby, another deaf, white dog, and being spoiled by international attention from Facebook and local television.

I'm sad to report that Nico is facing yet another large and unfair hurdle. He has an aggressive cancer — in fact, four different types — and is currently taking chemotherapy medication by pill until his two moms can afford the highly expensive IV chemotherapy treatments at the Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital. His prognosis is guarded.

"We all know life is unfair, but this is the so utterly unfair," says Bridget Swan, one of his owners. "Having been forced to live the life of a fighting dog, and then to finally get to live so contentedly — well, it breaks my heart." Swan says she gets words of comfort daily from Nico's global community of Facebook friends, from as far away as Turkey, Iceland and Australia.

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


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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