Zoo's penguin dive is 'UK first'
LIVING Coasts is offering the first chance anywhere in the UK to dive with penguins.
Torquay's coastal zoo is launching a dive experience where people can come face-to-face with the charity's penguins and other diving birds.
The dive experience takes place first thing in the morning, when the penguins are at their most active. Guests will spend up to 45 minutes in the water with a qualified dive supervisor. The diver will have the chance to try cleaning windows, conduct a crab survey and take part in fun exercises.
The experience ends with a full English breakfast.
Dive supervisor Derek Youd said: "The penguin pool has easy access. People will be able to swim with the African and macaroni penguins and any other species which may be in the water at the time, such as bank cormorants, eider ducks and Inca terns.
"We can't guarantee that penguins will be in the pool during the dive but, if they aren't, then people can repeat the dive another time or help with the afternoon penguin feed free of charge."
Living Coasts' Stuart Wright said: "We are pretty sure no one else in the country is offering this experience. It's the ideal gift, but we provide vouchers so people don't have
Blues reported in Czech zoo
Officials from the Cayman Islands Blue Iguana Recovery Programme are investigating reports that a zoo in the Czech capital, Prague, is claiming to have acquired pair of the critically endangered rare Grand Cayman iguanas. According to reports on the internet, the zoo has had the blues on show since January and got them from a Hungarian dealer. The zoo’s director, Miroslav Bobek, reportedly spoke with local journalists earlier this year and revealed that it was the only zoo in Europe to have the rare iguanas. "From our point of view, the acquisition is a treasure comparable with finding a pot with ancient coins," said Petr Velenský, who is in charge of reptiles in the Prague zoo.
According to local news reports, the two iguanas were christened at the ceremonial opening of the 80th season of the Prague Zoo in March. The city’s mayor, Bohuslav Svoboda, is said to have named the blues Faust and Margarita. Reports also revealed that the zoo had been seeking to acquire the Grand Cayman iguanas for more than ten years and the director said he hoped they would multiply.
Fred Burton, the director of the recovery programme, confirmed on Monday that contact has been made with the zoo in Prague and he is now awaiting a response from the local iguana specialist.
“We hope to find out who the Hungarian breeder is
New Conservation Hall, Glover’s Reef Open at Coney’s Aquarium
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium last week renovated its Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef — a spectacular 4,000-square-foot building now home to more than 100 species of aquatic animals, from colorful corals to exotic eels.
The new Conservation Hall holds species that have never before been on display at the aquarium. It is divided into three habitats: the Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle, Africa’s Great Lakes, and Brazil’s Flooded Forest.
Adjacent to these exhibits is Glover’s Reef, an impressive 167,000-gallon exhibit. The spacious viewing areas offers visitors an up-close look at some of the most beautiful fish native to these regions of the world, including piranhas, stingrays, angelfish, black pacus and many more.
The renovation of Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef is a major part of “A Sea Change” at the New York Aquarium, a 10-year $150 million-plus public-private initiative.
The exhibits at Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef are designed to educate visitors about the importance of underwater habitats. Graphics and a new interactive coral kiosk provide information about environmental threats facing reef systems, such as global
Zoo honour for Mercedes as polar bear put to sleep
MERCEDES the polar bear could be honoured at Edinburgh Zoo, it emerged today.
The 29-year-old bear, who suffered from crippling arthritis, was put to sleep at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie yesterday morning.
The half-ton bear moved to the park, which is situated in the Cairngorms National Park, in October 2009 after concerns were raised over the size of her enclosure at the city's zoo.
Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at the Highland Wildlife Park, described her as the "nicest" polar bear he has ever worked with.
Mr Richardson said it was likely that there would be some sort of honour, such as a plaque, at Edinburgh Zoo in her memory.
"That's something that I'm sure we will discuss in the coming couple of weeks," he said.
"She spent a long time at the zoo and her arrival at the time was the biggest story in the history of the RZSS - as far as the amount of coverage and interest - and so she certainly did her bit to help the park move forward.
"I think we owe her some sort of formal commemoration."
Mr Richardson, who has worked with around 20-30 polar bears, added: "She had a very gentle attitude about her. She holds a bit of a special place because she was such a character and was so high profile. She's definitely been the sweetest-natured polar bear I've worked with."
Mercedes was on a cocktail of drugs to deal with her advanced osteoarthritis, for which there is no cure.
A basic post-mortem examination on Mercedes, who had exceeded the average 20-year wild polar bear lifespan, revealed very significant signs of arthritis in some of her joints, as well as signs of hardening of the arteries in her brain.
Further tests will be carried out on her body.
Mr Richardson said: "She just wasn't doing well at all and took a very bad turn for the worse over the last week or so. We had no other option. It goes without saying that Mercedes will be greatly missed."
A statement from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park, said: "We noted a marked and rapid downturn in Mercedes' behaviour and demeanour, and she appeared to be ageing very rapidly and possibly showing signs of senility.
"All of the individuals responsible for
Zoo to highlight local species with new aquatic center
Brownsville’s Gladys Porter Zoo is well known for its collection of exotic creatures from around the world, but species from this neck of the woods, so to speak, haven’t quite gotten their due.
That’s about to change now that construction crews have broken ground on the $2.6 million, 8,000-square-foot Russell Aquatic Ecology Center, going up adjacent to the zoo’s reptile house on the site of the old aquatic exhibit. The new exhibit will feature different sections representing the major aquatic ecosystems of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, featuring finny denizens of rivers, lakes and ponds
Is your next egg pushing tigers to extinction?
Auckland Zoo goers were given a hard hitting message today when they went to check out the tigers.
Every Easter egg they eat could be pushing them toward extinction.
That is because the palm oil used in chocolate is sourced from areas where endangered species once thrived.
Six-year-old Oz, a Sumatran tiger, was enjoying his giant Easter egg today.
But if he knew what was in the real thing he may have stopped licking.
“By us going out every year and buying chocolates for Easter we are contributing to the destruction of these guys habitat,” says Peter Fraser, Conservation Officer for the Auckland Zoo.
Indonesian rainforests are being stripped so rapidly by illegal logging and palm oil plantations
Financing problems force Margaret Island Zoo to close
Preparations are under way to close a small zoo on Margaret Island in Budapest which has been home to around 200 animals representing 26 species, a spokesman of the Metropolitan Zoo and Botanical Garden said on Monday.
Zoltan Hanga said the decision to close the zoo had been made in agreement with the City Council due to lack of financing. No final date has yet been specified but it is likely to happen "in the first half of the year," he added.
The deer have already been taken away from Margaret Island and a new home is being organised for the rest of the animals, he said.
Metropolitan Zoo, which also runs the main zoo in Budapest, has operated the Margaret Island facility since 2002 and received dedicated financing for this purpose until 2007. Since the City Council reduced funding for
Eagle Heights owner Alan Ames to get new zoo licence
A ZOO keeper is hoping a revised zoo licence will allow him to keep his cheetahs and camel on site.
Eagle Heights owner Alan Ames, 55, is to be issued with a draft of a revised zoo licence after Sevenoaks District Council found he had category one animals on his reserve last March.
The draft will outline conditions Mr Ames has to meet in order for the Eynsford-based park to remain open with the animals, which includes three cheetahs and a camel.
The zoo also houses 130 birds of prey and 26 rescued husky dogs.
If Mr Ames, who used to be in the army, does not accept the new conditions, he can appeal them at
April is National Frog Month, but don’t kiss one: It can be unhealthy for both you and frog
In the world of make-believe, kissing a frog could turn him into a prince. In real life, touching them can kill the creatures and cause serious problems for humans too.
April is National Frog Month, and while most people probably know that touching frogs and toads won’t give you warts, frogs can transmit diseases. They can give humans tapeworm cysts and salmonella poisoning, said Jeremy Goodman, director of the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J. Both can cause serious complications if not treated immediately, he said.
Human hands have natural salts and oils that can irritate a frog’s skin, so handling the animals with dry hands can cause severe problems for them, even death, said Devin Edmonds of Madison, Wis. Edmonds is the author of “Frogs and Toads
A new home: Your £200,000 generosity for Anne
The Daily Mail would like to thank its generous readers who have now raised the remarkable figure of almost £200,000 for Europe’s first elephant sanctuary and permanent home for Anne.
In just two weeks, donations have poured in to the Daily Mail Elephant Sanctuary appeal to create a purpose-built haven at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.
The astonishing response follows an outcry over photographs taken by Animal Defenders International which showed Anne, 59, being beaten by a groom in her former circus home.
Thanks to the Mail, Anne, who has arthritis, is enjoying a happy retirement at Longleat.
Red and Arctic foxes clash in Russia
Russia's Arctic foxes are under threat from an expanding population of red foxes, according to scientists.
For the first time, a red fox has been observed intruding on an Arctic fox breeding den in Russia's far north.
The Arctic fox abandoned its den to the dominant intruder, leaving pups to fend for themselves.
Researchers say this is evidence that red foxes are expelling Arctic foxes as a warming climate allows them to survive much further north.
Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) live in mountainous tundra habitats around the
Opening Of Legoland Octopus Exhibit Postponed
Exhibit Will Be Featured At SeaLife Aquarium At Legloand In Carlsbad
The opening of a new octopus exhibit scheduled for Friday at the SeaLife Aquarium at Legoland in Carlsbad was postponed for a few days because the finicky octopi didn't like their new digs, according to aquarium officials.
Octopus Garden, named after the Beatles song, will be an interactive exhibit featuring cephalopods, cuttlefish and nautilus.
The squishy creatures are sensitive to water and
Richard Branson's lemur plan raises alarm
Sir Richard Branson is to import lemurs to the Caribbean, where they will live wild in the forest on his islands.
The project has alarmed conservation scientists, who point out that many previous species introductions have proved disastrous to native wildlife.
But Sir Richard's team maintains that both the lemurs, which will come from zoos, and native animals will be fine.
Introducing species found on one continent into another for conservation purposes is virtually unprecedented.
Lemurs are found only on the African island of Madagascar and many species are threatened, largely because of deforestation.
The threat has grown worse since the toppling of President Marc Ravalomanana's government two
First elephant born at Oklahoma City zoo
After years of considered planning and waiting, the first elephant born at the Oklahoma City Zoo was delivered, the zoo's elephant supervisor said.
Elephant supervisor Nick Newby said the mother Asha and the 304-pound Asian elephant calf, born Friday and as yet unnamed, are both doing well, The Oklahoman reported Sunday.
"We all think of them as our family," Newby said. "When she has a calf, it's like having a child of your own."
Zoo veterinarians noticed a rise in Asha's hormone last Sunday and expected a birth within a few days so they began their preparations.
Asha went into labor about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. The delivery took a little longer than expected with the elephant in hard labor for 24 hours, the zoo's Director of Veterinary Services, Jennifer D'Agostino, said on The Oklahoman's video link.
After about a half an hour of examinations, vets and zookeepers slipped a harness under the calf to help her feet so she could walk in a stable manner.
"She's actually a very, very strong, very
It’s official: Pair of sightless sea lions coming to San Francisco Zoo in May
Silent Knight, the blind sea lion that was found shot in Sausalito, and Henry, a pinniped from Crescent City that nearly starved because it cannot see, will be entertaining the masses at the San Francisco Zoo in May.
Zoo officials have announced they refurbished the vacant sea lion pool near the South American Tropical Forest in anticipation of their arrival since they cannot be released back into the wild.
The sea-lion pool, which has been part of the zoo since its construction in
'Devil' otter attacks farmer (includes Photos)
A PSYCHO otter attacked a farmer in a rampage across an Irish village yesterday.
The furry beast pounced on farmer Joe Burke and bit his hand before he managed to trap him in a canvas sack in Tulla, County Clare.
But the deranged creature then chewed through the bag and started munching on Joe's VAN.
Joe,52, had to run full PELT to escape the
Stuttering and the Big Cats
A new film titled Stuttering and the Big Cats featuring renowned American zoologist, conservationist, and field biologist Dr. Alan Rabinowitz is now available on DVD from the Stuttering Foundation.
In Stuttering and the Big Cats, Dr. Rabinowitz, president and CEO of New York-based Panthera, shares his life-long struggle to overcome stuttering through his work protecting the world's largest and most imperiled cats. The film captures his address to young people who stutter at the annual convention of Friends, a national support group for kids.
Rabinowitz was honored at a gala event in New York City today to introduce the film internationally.
"Alan's courage is particularly inspiring to young people whose career paths have yet to be decided and for whom stuttering often seems an insurmountable obstacle. Through hard work, perseverance and dedication to his true passions, Alan never let stuttering hold him back from his quest to help endangered animals," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. "We are proud to make this video available and hope that every young person who stutters has an opportunity to hear Alan's story."
"I recall vividly as a child, staring at a jaguar as he paced in his cage at the zoo," said Alan Rabinowitz, president and CEO of Panthera. "He was trapped, seeking a way out of a dark world, something I related to strongly at the time. And I knew then that when I found my voice, that I would use it for him, for saving big cats
Game officers arrest woman found with three cheetahs her house
Arusha In a rare ambush against animal traffickers, game officers have stumbled upon three live cheetahs in a residential house here. The house owner, Ms Rahma Miraj Hasan, had kept them in one of her living rooms at the Sombetini suburb. Upon being interrogated, she claimed that the animals were brought to her by a person whose name has not been disclosed.
According to the zonal head of the Wildlife Division's anti poaching unit, Mr Charles Mvungi, the animals were to be transported outside the country. He told reporters in Arusha on Friday that investigators were still trying to establish if there was a syndicate involved in illegal exports of cheetahs.
The rare animals have been classified under Part I by the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES).Although Tanzania has a substantial population of the cat-family animals, wildlife experts contend that they are in danger of extinction. According to Mr Mvungi
New land crab discovered
Following field research at Kenting National Park last year, a team led by land crab specialist Liu Hung-chang (劉烘昌) said it had discovered a new genus and species of crab known as Lithoselatium pulchrum.
The conservation division at Kenting National Park Headquarters said Liu found the new species at the coral shores of Banana Bay (香蕉灣) in Pingtung
Taiwan gives China rare deer and goats
Taiwan has given China a pair of endangered deer and one of indigenous goats, zoo officials said Sunday, in the latest piece of animal diplomacy after China gave its former arch-enemy two pandas.
The two sika deer and two Formosan serows -- both seldom seen in the wild -- were transported Saturday to Liugong Island off China's Shandong province and were welcomed by over 500 people, the Taipei City Zoo said in a statement.
The animals will be quarantined for a month before they are allowed to meet zoo visitors. They were donated as a gesture
Radio collar 'chokes' big cat
Controversy has again struck the Sunderbans. This time, a ten-year-old male tiger caught from Dobanki seven days back is bearing the brunt.
The radio collar fitted to the tiger stopped functioning about three months back, but it is yet to be removed. Experts said the collar had badly choked the tiger`s neck and it could not eat properly. The tiger is now at Alipore Zoo.
But two principal chief conservators of forests are speaking in conflicting voices. While S B Mondal, PCCF (wildlife) said that he had given instruction to remove the collar, PCCF and head of forest force Atanu Raha said it won`t be removed unless the tiger comes to a state when it can
Dead animals on display
The Cologne zoo has a special animal exhibition on display: a collection of 20 animals including an elephant, a giraffe, and an ostrich, preserved through a process called plastination.
German anatomist Gunther von Hagens became famous for his controversial exhibition displaying plastinated human bodies.
Plastination refers to a process that creates specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay and retain most of their original properties. Plastination is achieved by replacing water and fat
Zoo manages "geriatric" animal collection
Old age is creeping up on animals at the Honolulu Zoo.
"I think what we have here overall is a fairly geriatric animal collection," said Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo.
Zoo animals are getting better care than ever, so they are living longer, and the longer they live the more age related problems they experience. Those health problems create challenges for zoo keepers.
"Come on Scar," said a keeper as she tried to coax the 17 and a half year old cheetah into a covered enclosure. Zoo veterinarian Ben Okimoto said he believes Scar is the oldest cheetah in the United States.
"He's doing real well considering the problems he has which include kidney disease. He's got arthritis. He has cataracts. He's getting hard of hearing. He can't see very well. But he's still getting by," Okimoto said.
Scar has been taken out of the cheetah exhibit and is now housed behind the scenes in a kind of hospice setting.
"What we're seeing here is, I think, similar to what private practitioners are starting to see with pet animals. The better care that they get, the better diets are
Zoo operations manager balances maintenance with mingling with the animals
Zoo operations manager balances maintenance with animal mingling
The homes that Jay Gregston builds are not as famous as David Weekley, Perry or Pulte Homes.
They are not praised in Better Homes and Gardens magazine or featured on the Victoria Parade of Homes tour.
But they do, however, provide shelter to some of the most loveable and exotic four-legged, two legged and no-legged residents of Victoria - the animals of the Texas Zoo.
"It's the first job that I've ever had that I love to come to work," said Gregston, who is the operations manager at the Texas Zoo. "I'm 51 years old and this is the first job that I know I'm doing something good and worthwhile."
Since joining the zoo in 2008, Gregston has been responsible for a multitude of tasks, including maintaining all the zoo buildings and signs, maintaining the zoo grounds, doing blueprints
Phuket Aquarium Plan 'Will Have Performing Seals'
AN EXPAT entrepreneur is winning support on Phuket for his plan to establish a 900-million baht aquarium and marine zoo with performing animals in the southern Phuket district of Rawai.
Canadian Daniel McDaniel took his proposal to Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha at Provincial Hall in Phuket City today, accompanied by the Mayor of Rawai, Aroon Soroj.
Mr McDaniel, a six-year expat resident on Phuket who has investments in Vancouver, told the governor that he had a long-term lease on 60 rai of land near the shooting gallery in Patak Road, Rawai, between Chalong Circle and Karon Hill.
The 900 million baht investment would cover two phases, the first including the aquarium and marine zoo. Visitors would be able to feed marine animals, including sea lions, dolphins and seals, he said.
The plan also was for tourists to be able to swim with the creatures, he said. About five rai of the property had been set aside for pools.
Although environmental permission had yet to be granted, Mr McDaniel said his estimate was that the project could be completed in 120 to 160 days after approval and could be open in time for Phuket's next high season this year.
Phuket needed wet-weather entertainment
No to a new aquarium in Phuket
I urge Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha to halt plans to build an aquarium and marine zoo in Rawai.
Life in an aquarium is like life in prison for dolphins, seals, scallions and other animals whose natural ocean habitats are vast, fascinating and complex. In aquariums, these animals - who would normally swim for miles - can only circle endlessly in small, barren, chlorinated concrete tanks, which to them are the size of a bathtub.
Separated from their families and deprived of their natural instincts to forage for food, explore, raise families and communicate with other members of their
A new leap
Lankan scientists introduce Taruga, a new endemic genus of foam-nesting tree frogs.
Boosting Sri Lanka’s image as an amphibian hotspot, a group of Sri Lankan scientists have introduced a new genus of frogs that is endemic to the island. The new group is named Taruga meaning ‘tree climber’ in ancient Sinhala and Sanskrit.
This name is appropriate as the adults of these are tree-inhabiting frogs, rarely come to the ground, even laying their eggs on trees on overhanging foam nests.
Taruga is currently the only genus of endemic frogs among the tree-frogs (Rhacophoridae). Definition of a new genus is a rare occurrence, and for a vertebrate group, even rarer. The task of separating these species into a new genus is indeed complex and demanding.
The researchers have to analyse molecular DNA and morphological data such as the outward appearance as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and organs of both adult frogs as well as tadpoles to distinguish this ancestry unique to Sri Lanka.
Dr.Madhava Meegaskumbura, the principal scientist behind this task, said, the research outcome published recently has been already updated in reputed amphibian journals further strengthening Sri Lanka as one of the world’s most important amphibian hotspots.
In science, a Genus is a classification used to group one or more species that has common characteristics which is the taxonomic rank just above that of the species name. For example, the four big cats – lion, tiger, jaguar and leopard are classified under the genus Panthera because of the common characteristics they share. Three of the endemic tree frogs that were previously called Polypedates (Whipping tree frogs) were re-classified under this new genus and have been given new scientific names -- Taruga eques, Taruga fastigo and Taruga longinasus.
The first part of a scientific name represents the genus, whereas the second part denotes the individual species name. However, a set of cone-like projections around the vent, a curved fold above the ear and a more pointed snout helped scientists to pull out three frogs to new genus Taruga. During a certain tadpole stage, the vent of Polypedates forms a tube between the left leg and tail, and in Taruga, there is only an opening between the leg and tail.
There are also several more features of the mouth cavity, such as the number of projections on the tongue and shape of the tongue that distinguishes Taruga from Polypedates.
These frogs also show some interesting characteristics with all frogs in this new genus building foam nests. The female is much larger than the male and carries him during amplexus. The female first selects a site usually a branch that hangs over water to make a bubble nest. Fluids secreted from the egg-carrying channel (termed the oviduct) are beaten up into a foamy mass by the female using her hind limbs.
The size of a foam nests can range from a ping-pong ball in some species, to a cricket ball in others. The eggs are laid within this foamy mass and the males fertilize
Tilly's willy: Sea World employees routinely have sex with an abused serial killer whale
Happy endings with a whale must stop! Free willy
For years I've been writing about various aspects of animal behavior, focussing more recently on their emotional and moral lives, conservation strategies, and the horrific ways in which animals in captivity are treated. In February 2010 I wrote about Tilikum (AKA TIlly), a wild-caught killer whale who attacked and killed a trainer at Sea World. This wasn't the first time Tilly had killed a human. Tilly had been taken from his pod at about 2 years of age in 1983. Now, 28 years later, Tilly is back on display and continues to be a very successful stud, used in the same way that puppies in a puppy mill are used to make more dogs. In effect, Tilly is part of a profit-motivated "whale mill" the result of which is to produce more whales who will languish and be abused in captivity, for entertaining humans by performing stupid tricks. While the confinement of Tilly and other Orcas (and many other animals) in and of itself is as regrettable, demeaning, and disrespectful as can be, I just learned that humans go into the water to play with Tilly's willy so that he produces semen (see also). I was shocked. How could I not know this, as I've been studying and writing about animals for decades? While some people from Sea World deny that this is done, former Sea World scientist, John Hall, disagrees as do others who have worked at this
New zoo proposed near Ettimadai
The Coimbatore corporation will soon come up with a master plan for creating a new zoo on 73 acres of land at Ettimadai close to the Kerala border.
The city will get a new zoo on its outskirts and a team of experts from the Central Zoo Authority have already identified 73 acres of land for this at Ettimadai on the foothills of the Western Ghats. "There is no big zoo for the animals of the Western Ghats, some of which are unique to the region. The Ettimadai zoo will take care of this," says corporation commissioner Anshul Mishra.
"The contour mapping for the zoo has been done. The survey was slightly delayed because of the elections. However, we will resume it now. We are in the process of identifying a consultant for the master plan. We also have to get government approval to acquire a few more acres of land in the region," Mishra said.
The expert team visited the corporation-run VOC Zoological Park and has proposed that the animals and birds be shifted to the upcoming zoo. "We spend about Rs 40-45 lakh per year on maintaining the old zoo. But since we are ultimately going to shift it, we have not spent much on infrastructure," said Mishra, explaining why the present zoo is in a bad state.
"The land in Ettimadai is suitable for a zoo since it is flat and has no undulations. We are also consulting with the forest department in this regard," he said.
The shifting of the zoo to the outskirts of the city has been a long pending issue. Some activists had accused the zoo management of neglecting the animals. Denying this
West and Central African Lions Are Genetically Different from Those in East and Southern Africa
Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Leiden Institute of Biology in the Netherlands have recently published the findings of their genetic research on lions, which reveals a remarkable difference between lions in West and Central Africa and lions in East and southern Africa.
The study, from which the results were published in the Journal of Biogeography, was conducted by a consortium of researchers from a number of different universities.
The outcome of their research suggests that lions from West and Central Africa are genetically different from lions in East and southern Africa. The researchers analysed a region on the mitochondrial DNA of lions from all over Africa and from India, including sequences from extinct lions such as the Atlas lions in Morocco. Surprisingly, lions from West and Central Africa seemed to be more related to lions from the Asiatic subspecies than to their counterparts in East and southern Africa.
Previous research has already suggested that lions in West and Central Africa are smaller in size and weight, have smaller manes, live in smaller groups, eat smaller prey and may also differ in the shape of their skull, compared to their counterparts in East and southern Africa. However, this research was not backed by conclusive scientific evidence. The present research findings show that the difference is also reflected in the genetic makeup of the lions.
Barriers for dispersal
The distinction between lions from West and Central Africa and individuals from East and southern Africa can partially be explained by the location of natural structures that may form barriers for lion dispersal. These structures include the Central African rain forest and the Rift Valley, which stretches from Ethiopia to Tanzania and from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique. Another aspect explaining the unique genetic position of the West and Central African lion is the climatological history of this part of the continent.
It is hypothesised that a local extinction occurred, following periods of severe drought 40,000 to 8,000 years ago. During this period, lions continuously ranged deep into Asia and it is likely that conditions in the Middle East were still sufficiently favourable to sustain lion populations. The data published in the Journal of Biogeography suggest that West and Central Africa was recolonised by lions from areas close to India, which explains the close genetic relationship between lions from these two areas.
There are thought to be some 1,700 lions left in West and Central Africa, which is less than 10% of the total estimated lion population in Africa. Lions in West and Central Africa are declining and are under severe threat due to the fragmentation or even destruction of their natural savannah habitat, the depletion of prey and retaliatory killing by livestock owners. The West and Central African lion is currently categorised as 'Regionally Endangered', according to IUCN criteria. Recent surveys in a large number of Lion
Saharan dust feeds Atlantic Ocean plankton
A storm in Africa's Sahara Desert brought a sandy fertilizer to the Atlantic Ocean on April 8, triggering plankton blooms that show up as blue-green swirls in this photo from the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite. The storm's plume covered parts of Ireland [top left], England [top right], France [below England] and the Iberian Peninsula [bottom right].
Saharan sand carries nitrogen, phosphorus and iron—delicious and essential treats for phytoplankton, which are microscopic ocean plants. The sand frequently hitches a ride on atmospheric convection currents and travels as far south as the tropical Atlantic and west to the Caribbean Sea.
Saharan dust in the ocean is a "mixed blessing," according to NASA's Earth Observatory. The plankton that feed on the dust's minerals can bloom significantly, providing food for other ocean creatures, but an overgrown bloom can consume much of the dissolved oxygen in an area and create
Europe's first killer whale born after artificial insemination - and she weighs 23 STONE
A killer whale born in France is thought to be Europe's first to have been conceived via artificial insemination.
Following a pregnancy lasting more than 18 months, 11-year-old Wikie - herself born in the water park - gave birth last month to her 6.5ft baby at Marineland in Antibes.
The calf, a girl, weighed just over 23 stone when she was born in mid-March.
The birth followed a decade of work by the French park and American researcher Todd Robeck, from SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas, according to The Riviera Times.
She was fathered by Ulysses, a male from San Diego's SeaWorld, and is Wikie's first offspring.
Jon Kershaw, Marineland's wildlife director, told the paper: 'The baby orca has survived its first month after birth. This time is very dangerous for most offspring, but fortunately she has pulled through it and we are ecstatic to have her as part of the family.
'It takes months to train the killer whales to calmly accept insemination and a dose of two million sperms are usually injected into the female whales to get them pregnant.
'In Wikie’s case,
Twycross Zoo mourns death of young elephant
The first Asian elephant to be conceived via artificial insemination in the UK has died of a heart condition.
The Asian bull elephant, named Ganesh Vijay, was raised at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire by his mother Noorjahan.
Ganesh Vijay has suffered from epileptic fits from birth, and required intensive nursing for the first five weeks
Rhino head, snow leopard sold in U.S. auction
The mounted head of an endangered white rhinoceros and the stuffed remains of a highly endangered snow leopard, remnants of the fortune amassed and lost by an Alaska real-estate titan, have been auctioned off to pay some of his debts, officials said on Monday.
The wildlife trophies were part of the estate auctioned off in Anchorage to settle the bankruptcy case of Robert Kubick, a once-wealthy businessman and big-game hunter who was imprisoned after being convicted of defrauding his creditors.
Buyers of the endangered animal trophies had to be Alaska residents and were required to keep the items in
Tigers Need More Space, Experts Say
Indonesia’s few remaining Sumatran tigers need to be placed in more conducive breeding environments if the species is to be saved, conservationists say.
Satyawan Pudyatmoko, an expert on wild animals from Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, said the fragmented tiger habitats in the forests of Sumatra should be connected to allow the tigers to roam and mate outside of their original habitats and prevent inbreeding.
“This will ensure strong genes to help them survive,” he said. Four tigers, he added, would need roughly 100 square kilometers where they could roam.
Chairul Saleh, from WWF Indonesia, said the fragmented habitats were the results of massive deforestation, which also resulted in the loss of prey for the tigers. As a consequence, he
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We have worked for your enjoyment!
NEW EXHIBIT PRESENTATION
The Children's Zoo at Leningrad Zoo offers visitors the opportunity to get in touch with domestic animals. Visitors can pet and feed animals that choose to come close. Animals can always retreat into areas without visitor access:
Thanks to Harry Schram, an international bibliography on visitor experience studies and exhibit evaluation in zoos and aquariums is now available. You can search a 250 page pdf document for topics and authors or just browse the chapters to find how many documents actually are available online:
A link is also available from ZooLex Research:
SCHRAM, H. (2011): Looking at People Looking at Animals - an international bibliography on visitor experience studies and exhibit evaluation in zoos and aquariums. European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
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Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
What is the ecological impact of one species? April's links at www.zooplantman.com(NEWS/Botanical News) consider the roles of some mammals, a bird and some fish:
· The damage caused by the disappearance of a species depends on what roles and functions are lost to the ecosystem. Relationships are more important than specific species say some scientists.
· The New Zealand pigeon is an example of a species that fills an important role: it is the last remaining bird in the Kiwi rainforest that can disperse large fruit seeds.
· Large Amazonian fish species disperse seeds up to 3 miles inland during flood periods. As only 10% of their population now survives, what will be the consequences of their disappearance?
· Zombie ants! That speaks for itself, doesn't it? Thank a predatory fungus for doing its part to make Nature creepy.
· Lack of safe potable water is the approaching crisis throughout much of the world. Detecting contaminants can be tricky, especially in impoverished areas. Now scientists find that bananas can help identify certain pollutants.
Leave this whirling planet and take a cosmic view. This new website is great fun (a terrific time waster?) taking you throughout the universe to contemplate the great choreography of the cosmos (i.e., you can see stars and planets in motion): http://www.solarsystemscope.com (an interactive 3-d model of the universe at your fingertips)
Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and -- most importantly -- visitors! Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PlantWorldNews -- a new story every day!