L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
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Category: Zoos & Aquariums

Happy Feet, wayward emperor penguin found in New Zealand, is released

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — He needed a little push before speeding backward down a makeshift slide. Once in the water, he popped his head up for one last look. And then he was gone. The wayward emperor penguin known as "Happy Feet" was back home in Antarctic waters after an extended sojourn spent capturing hearts in New Zealand.

Happy Feet was released Sunday into the ocean south of New Zealand, more than two months after he came ashore on a beach nearly 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) from home and became an instant celebrity.

Speaking from a satellite phone aboard the research vessel Tangaroa, Wellington Zoo veterinarian Lisa Argilla said Happy Feet's release went remarkably smoothly given that the boat was being tossed about in 25-foot (8-meter) swells in the unforgiving Antarctic ocean.

Argilla said crew members from the boat carried the penguin inside his custom-built crate to the stern of the ship for his final send-off about 50 nautical miles (90 kilometers) north of remote Campbell Island. The crew had already cut the engines and put in place a canvas slide that they soaked with water from a hose.

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Nesari, among the few northern white rhinos left, dies at Czech zoo

PRAGUE — A 39-year-old northern white rhinoceros has died at a Czech zoo, further reducing the world's dwindling population of the endangered animal, an official said Friday.

Nesari died in her sleep of old age on May 26, Dvur Kralove zoo spokeswoman Jana Mysliveckova said. She called the death "an irretrievable loss."

The rhino was brought to the zoo in 1975 from Sudan. Nesari's death leaves the zoo with one remaining northern white rhino, 30-year-old Nabire.

In an attempt to save the species from extinction, the Czech zoo moved four of its northern white rhinos to a game park in Kenya in December 2009, hoping it would be easier for them to breed there than in captivity.

Mysliveckova said few of these rhinos are now left: two at a zoo in San Diego; three or four believed to live in Sudan have not been seen since last year.

Zimbabwe's rhinos are the targets of poachers with advanced technology
Black rhinoceros who survived being shot by poachers is transported to South African zoo

-- Associated Press

Bronx Zoo peahen is found in garage after escape

Bronx Zoo peacock

NEW YORK — A green peahen is back in the fold at the Bronx Zoo.

Weeks after a cobra escaped from her glass tank at the zoo's reptile house, the peahen made a break for it Monday and was spotted roaming the streets of the borough.

Zoo director Jim Breheny said the AWOL fowl was found Wednesday morning in the garage of a local business and safely captured.

The peahen, a female version of a peacock, had been examined by veterinarians and seemed to be fine, Breheny said.

The Bronx Zoo's peacocks and peahens wander freely but usually stay inside the zoo.

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African wild dogs make themselves at home at England's Chester Zoo


A pack of seven African wild dogs who recently moved from a zoo in Sweden are already settling into their new habitat -- a specially designed enclosure intended to mimic the conditions in their native sub-Saharan African plains -- at the Chester Zoo in northern England.

African wild dogs -- also known as painted dogs or Cape hunting dogs -- are endangered, in part because of the spread of disease from domestic animals. The wild dogs also fall victim to farmers who kill them in an effort to protect their livestock from predators.

The Chester Zoo's African wild dog pack isn't yet on display; their exhibit is expected to open soon and includes a theater, a bridge offering an impressive view of the enclosure and public viewing windows to allow visitors to get a closer look.

See video of the Chester Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands, talking about the zoo's newest residents and the troubles their species faces in the wild after the jump.

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Bronx Zoo shuts its Reptile House to search for missing Egyptian cobra

NEW YORK — A poisonous cobra has vanished from an enclosure outside public view at the Bronx Zoo, and its Reptile House remained closed Sunday as a precaution while zoo workers searched for the reptile.

Though the roughly 20-inch-long Egyptian cobra -- a highly venomous species of snake -- has been unaccounted for since Friday afternoon, zoo officials say they're confident it hasn't gone far and isn't in a public area. Its enclosure was in an isolation area not open to visitors.

"To understand the situation, you have to understand snakes," zoo Director Jim Breheny said in an email Sunday.

The animals seek out confined spaces, so this one has doubtless hidden in a place it feels safe, he said.

Once the snake gets hungry or thirsty enough to leave its hiding place, workers will have their best opportunity to recover it, Breheny said.

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Knut the polar bear: Necropsy shows 'changes to the brain' likely to blame for his death

KnutSitting BERLIN — Brain problems apparently caused the shockingly early death of Knut, Germany's 4-year-old celebrity polar bear, the Berlin Zoo said Tuesday.

Initial findings from a necropsy performed Monday by an institute in the German capital showed "significant changes to the brain, which can be viewed as a reason for the polar bear's sudden death," the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo didn't elaborate on the changes to the animal's brain, and officials could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Pathologists found no changes to any other organs, the zoo said, adding that it will take several days to produce a final result. Further planned tests include bacteriological and histological, or tissue, examinations.

Knut died Saturday afternoon in front of visitors at the zoo, turning around several times and then falling into the water in his enclosure. Polar bears usually live 15 to 20 years in the wild and even longer in captivity.

Knut, who was born in December 2006 at the Berlin zoo, rose to celebrity status as an irresistibly cute, fluffy cub.

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R.I.P. Knut: Remembering the famous Berlin Zoo polar bear's life in photos

Knut the polar bear

Knut, the polar bear whose famously cute visage landed him a Vanity Fair cover and earned him legions of fans back when he was a cub in 2006 and 2007, died over the weekend of unknown causes. The celebrity bear, who was 4, died in his outdoor enclosure at the Berlin Zoo.

Zoo staffers are anxious to determine the cause of Knut's early death, considered extremely unusual for a species that can live up to 20 years in the wild and even longer in captivity. Knut had not appeared sick before his death and he was visible to 600 or 700 people gathered around the zoo's polar bear enclosure at the time of his death on Saturday.

Although it's hard to believe this beloved bear -- frozen in so many fans' memories as an energetic, full-of-life cub -- is gone, we had to smile when looking back over some of his earliest photos. Beginning in early 2007, not long after his birth, they showcase his first months in the spotlight and the special relationship he shared with his late keeper, Thomas Doerflein, who died in 2008.

We've assembled some of our favorite photos of Knut, ranging from his first year all the way to his fourth birthday last December, concluding with images of the makeshift memorial that sprang up at the Berlin Zoo over the weekend as Knut's many fans arrived to pay their respects. (For fans who live a long way from Berlin, the zoo has also set up an online memorial book for Knut.)

Above, Knut is shown at 2 months of age on Feb. 11, 2007. See more photos after the jump! (Photo credit: Peter Griesback / European Pressphoto Agency)

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Necropsy performed to try to determine cause of death for Knut, Berlin Zoo's famous polar bear

A makeshift shrine for Knut the polar bear at the Berlin Zoo

BERLIN — Veterinary experts performed a necropsy Monday on Berlin zoo's celebrity polar bear Knut to try to determine why he died suddenly over the weekend.

The 4-year-old polar bear died Saturday afternoon in front of visitors, turning around several times and then dropping to the ground, and falling into the water in his enclosure.

Polar bears usually live 15 to 20 years in the wild and longer in captivity, and the zoo is hoping the investigation may help clarify what happened.

Results were expected later Monday or on Tuesday, the zoo said.

In the meantime, people continued to flock to the zoo to sign their names in a condolence book in tribute to Knut.

"Every visit to the Zoo brought happiness, because he was such a warmhearted animal and he brought us all so much fun," visitor Eveline Plat told AP Television News.

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Knut, Berlin Zoo's famous polar bear, dies at age 4

Baby Knut

Knut, the polar bear who charmed millions as an adorable cub when a Berlin zookeeper hand-raised him after he was rejected by his mother, died Saturday. He was 4 years old.

Knut was reportedly alone in an outdoor enclosure -- he shared the space with three other bears, including his mother Tosca, all of whom were inside at the time -- when he "strolled around the enclosure, went into the water, had a short spasm and died," Heiner Kloes, a bear keeper at the Berlin Zoo, told the Associated Press.

Zoogoers watched in horror until zoo staff fenced off the enclosure from view. "Everybody was asking, 'What's going on, why is Knut not moving?' " visitor Camilla Verde recalled to the AP. "All the zookeepers who put up the fences were so very sad. One of them said, 'He was our baby.' "

Baby Knut His exact cause of death is unknown, and a necropsy -- an animal autopsy -- is expected to be performed Monday. His death is especially troubling because of his young age. At 4, he was still essentially a teenager in human terms and hadn't even reached his adult weight or sexual maturity yet. 

For a seemingly healthy polar bear to die at age 4 is "a little bit surprising," Peter Ewins, an arctic species specialist for the World Wildlife Fund, told ABC News. "In captivity, polar bears can live longer than in the wild; to 25 or 30. Even more than 30 years old because they're not exposed to the elements and hard realities of life in the wild."

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Your morning adorable: What's cuter than a north China leopard cub in a basket? Not much

North China leopard cub

The battle for the title of cutest animal baby at the Berlin Zoo is a hotly contested one — think wolf pups, a guanaco calf, caracal kittens, African lion cubs and moose calves, all stunningly adorable in their own way — but we think this north China leopard cub gives them all a run for their money.

The cub, a female named Nekama, was born at the zoo in early January but made her official debut before media photographers on Tuesday.

The north China leopard is one of nine recognized leopard subspecies, rather closely resembling its relative the Amur leopard. As an adult, Nekama is likely to weigh around 70 pounds.

See more photos of Nekama after the jump!

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