A Litoria frog, which uses a loud ringing song to call for a mate, was discovered in a rainforest during a Conservation International (CI) led Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition of Papua New Guinea's highlands wilderness in 2008 is pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Steve Richards/Conservation International/Handout


"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Nanjing expands monitoring of animal behavior for signs of earthquakes

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-07-04

An animal farm set up as a monitoring point for signs of earthquakes
in Hainan province, July 28, 2006. (Photo/CFP)

The Chinese city of Nanjing began observing animals as a way to monitor earthquakes and is planning to expand the program this year, according to Chinese news site The Paper.

Nanjing set up seven observation points last year, mostly for animal farms, and will add another seven this year, including one at Hongshan Forest Zoo, the website said.

The zoo's director Shen Zhijun said he first thought about the earthquake monitoring program in 2010 after visiting zoos in Guangzhou and Shenzhen that had already adopted the program, but he did not proceed with the idea at that time.

The monitoring program relies on zookeepers' observations of the animals in their care, and their reporting of any unusual behavior, he said.

The animals used in the programs are mainly those that are sensitive to low sound waves generated during earthquakes, such as birds, the zoo director said.

Shen said the observation will be limited to animals that are not on display, since those on display may show unusual behavior in the presence of visitors.

Another location that has become a monitoring point is the Banqiao ecological park, which is 40 minutes away from the city center and has over 200 pigs, more than 2,000 chickens and a 14.6-hectare fish pond.

Zhou Hongbing, an animal observer at the park, said he participated in a training course at the city's seismological bureau, which explained animal behavior in relation to earthquakes.

The bureau will send experts to the site where unusual animal behavior is reported, to determine whether it can be interpreted as a sign of an impending earthquake.

Jiangsu province, where Nanjing is located, already has hundreds of locations monitoring animal behavior for signs of earthquakes, The Paper said.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rare case of wallaby fostering tree kangaroo in pouch

Yahoo – AFP, 30 June 2015

A Zoos South Australia photo shows a pair of yellow-foot rock wallabies with a 
female (foreground) carrying a baby Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo in their 
enclosure at Adelaide Zoo (AFP Photo/Kate Fielder)

Sydney (AFP) - Australian zookeepers Tuesday said they had successfully fostered an orphaned tree kangaroo with a surrogate wallaby in a rare case after its mother was crushed by a branch.

The Goodfellow's tree kangaroo, named Makaia by its carers at Adelaide Zoo in South Australia, was just five weeks old and at risk of dying after its three-year-old mother was killed by a falling tree branch in November.

In a bid to save the joey, which was too young to be hand-reared, zookeepers placed the baby marsupial in the pouch of a female yellow-foot rock wallaby in a "cross-fostering" technique they hoped would help it stay alive.

A Zoos South Australia photo of a 
baby Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo known 
as a joey on a blanket at Adelaide Zoo
 (AFP Photo/Kate Fielder)
"We were so excited when we confirmed the joey had made it past the first critical 24-hour period," said Adelaide Zoo's team leader of natives, Gayl Males.

"We were uncertain as to whether the joey was going to be accepted. The joey... first popped its head out of the pouch around the end of January.

"It was certainly a sight to see a tree kangaroo joey, with its reddish-tan fur, bright blue eyes and long claws riding around in a wallaby."

Goodfellow's tree kangaroos, named after British zoological collector Walter Goodfellow, are found in the rainforests of New Guinea.

They are classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with the species under threat from habitat loss and overhunting.

The zoo's veterinarian David McLelland said, as far as he knew, cross-fostering had not been attempted with a tree kangaroo before.

"We've had great success over the years' cross-fostering between wallaby species, but the specialised breeding technique has never been used on a tree kangaroo," McLelland said.

"Not only are tree kangaroos distant relatives of wallabies, they also have many behavioural and physical differences. We had no idea if the yellow-foot rock wallaby would accept the tree kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck."

Makaia lived with his surrogate mother for three-and-a-half months before Males took over caring for him.

Gestation takes about 45 days for Goodfellow's tree kangaroos. The babies spend their first few months in their mother's pouch, suckling, and then leave for progressively longer periods of time until fully independent.

"He's certainly a cheeky little fellow and loves running amok," Males said.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pets doing their bit for the economy

Every third German household is home to a pet. Dogs and cats, as expected, are the most popular. But what you might not know is how much money Germans spend every year for their beloved animals. DW takes a look.

Deutsche Welle, 27 June 2015


For German pet owners, their loved ones don't come without a price.

Nine billion euros, to be exact.

When it comes to producing food for pets, we're talking about 3.5 billion euro ($3.9 billion) revenues for producers. At least a third of all households have a pet - that amounts to a good 26 million animals living across Germany.

The untouched leader of all pets is the cat - there are 8.2 million house felines Germany. Around 5.4 million dogs are in position two. That's followed by rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs who clock in at just above 5 million.

The economic impact of all this is significant: around 7 percent of all supermarket revenues in larger cities go to pet food.

Dogs can wolf down an awful lot of food...

Dog tax

Millions of hearts are moved by house pets - and billions of euros.

The costs aren't just for food. What about the equipment?

"We're talking about 30 euros for a leash, and then there's the kennel and stuff like that," says Martina Glitz, who owns a pet shop.

According to Glitz, dog owners are set back around 100 euros per month in the end.

And buying a dog isn't cheap either. Depending on the race, ranging from shepherds to labradors, a puppy can cost up to 1,500 euros here in Germany.

And what if your puppy misbehaves? Dog school rates are pretty hefty here, and they are seen as obligatory among neighbors. An hour will set you back 50 euros.

Last but not least - let's not forget the dog tax. Depending on where you live in this country, that could mean between 50 and 300 euros per year.

Dog sunglasses for convertible ride

These are just the basics.

Dog sunglasses for a ride in your convertible? That'll cost you around 80 euros. Pedicure for your collie? No comment on that particular cost…

And what about insurance?

Cats aren't cheap either...
As soon as your public liability insurer finds out that you've bought a dog, don't yelp if your rates go up between 70 and 180 euros. And that's without the premium packages offered by some pet insurance companies - depending on your coverage, we're talking about 150 to 400 euros for those.

Cats are pretty cheap - at first glance.

But after food and other expenses, says Martina Glitz, they're expensive too.

"You've got your food expenses at around 30 euros. And then your treats will cost you 10, and your veterinarian costs you around 30 on top. So don't think you'll get away with a cat for under 80 euros."

German families are more than willing to fork it out for their beloved domestic animals. And their willingness - once again, 9 billion euros - puts them almost at the top of the rankings when it comes to pet lovers in Europe.

The Brits have that position for now. But industry experts say the Germans will soon overtake them.

Whoof. Meow. (What does a guinea pig say?)

Related Article:

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chinese woman pays to rescue 100 dogs from meat festival: report

Yahoo – AFP, 22 June 2015

Animal-loving Yang Xiaoyun (C) pays about 7,000 yuan (US$1,100) to save
 around 100 dogs in Yulin in southern China's Guangxi province on June 20, 2015 
(AFP Photo)

Yulin (China) (AFP) - A Chinese woman has paid over $1,000 to save 100 canines from being eaten during a dog meat festival, media said, as activists have lashed out at the event labelling it cruel.

Animal-loving Yang Xiaoyun paid about 7,000 yuan (US$1,100) to save around 100 dogs in the southern city of Yulin on Saturday, web portal Netease reported.

Vendors wait for customers to buy 
dogs in cages at a market in Yulin
 in southern China's Guangxi province 
on June 21, 2015 (AFP Photo)
The city holds an annual festival devoted to the animal's meat on the summer solstice, which has provoked an increasing backlash from animal protection activists.

Reports said that Yang, 65, plans to rehouse the dogs at her home nearly 2,000 kilometres (124 miles) away in Tianjin.

Pictures posted online showed her browsing a market in Yulin where the dogs were kept in cages.

Activists, who say the festival is cruel, have in the past travelled to the city to hold demonstrations, sometimes buying dogs to save them from the cooking pots.

Locals have been quoted as saying that animals are killed in a humane way for the festival, where their meat is then served with lychees.

The majority of "meat dogs" in the country are stolen pets and strays, according to an investigation published this month by Hong Kong-based charity Animals Asia, though eating dog is unusual in most parts of China.

Around 30 million households in the country are estimated to keep dogs as pets, helping to fuel the growing animal rights movement.

This year the festival has been targeted by British Comedian Ricky Gervais, who posted a series of messages on Twitter with the hashtag "StopYuLin2015".

Cooked dogs hang at a stall in Yulin in southern China's Guangxi province
on June 21, 2015 (AFP Photo)

The city's government has tried to distance itself from the event.

"Some residents of Yulin have the habit of coming together to eat lychees and dog meat during the summer solstice," the city's news office wrote on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter equivalent.

"The 'summer solstice lychee and dog meat festival' is a commercial term, the city has never (officially) organised a 'dog meat festival'," it added.

Eating dog is not illegal in China, but the government called on meat vendors to respect food safety laws.

"Yulin is an open, tolerant and civilised city," it said. "We welcome people across the world to pay attention to Yulin."


Dogs hung out at a butcher's stall in Yulin, Guangxi, 2014. (Photo/CFP)

Related Article:


Circus worker sacked after he is caught on film hitting an elephant

DutchNews.nl, June 22, 2015

Video still Danny Versluis Facebook
A circus worker has been sacked after a video showing him hitting an elephant several times with a stick was broadcast on Facebook

The German company, Circus Renz, was in the town of Wilnis, south of Amstelveen, when passersby saw the elephant being beaten. The man also shouted at his audience to stop filming. 

One eyewitness, Monique Kemper, told the Telegraaf the animal was not being abused.

‘It seemed a hard thump on the film but it was not in real life,’ she said. ‘I feel sorry for the worker because I had asked him a question and he became distracted. That is why he had to correct the elephant.’ 

However, a spokeswoman for the Circus Renz International, which is based in Berlin, told the paper that this is no way to treat animals. ‘The man had only been with us for 14 days and has been sacked on the spot.’ 

The circus has owned the elephant for 30 years. 

From September, circuses will no longer be able to use wild animals in their acts in the Netherlands.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dog meat festival in China draws international criticism

Want China Times, Chen Po-ting Staff Reporter, 2015-06-20

Dogs hung out at a butcher's stall in Yulin, Guangxi, 2014. (Photo/CFP)

Amid abounding criticism at home and abroad, the The Yulin Dog Meat Festival will kick off on June 21. Dog meat sellers in Guangxi said they felt the festival has been stigmatized but are remaining resilient and preparing their dogs all the same, writes our sister paper China Times.

The controversial "Dog Meat Festival" is viewed as a traditional summer event for those living in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. In recent years, many animal welfare groups have come out against the festival, calling it crueal and inhumane to man's best friend.

Major animal group Humane Society International (HSI) filmed a short documentary on dogs being slaughtered in Yulin's dog meat butcheries. The film got many concerned about the practice, with British comedian Ricky Gervais even asking his fans to sign a petition to ban the festival and the dog meat trade. He said that the film broke his heart and that he would never forget the faces of those slaughtered dogs. He went on to say that no animal should be treated like that.

Netizens also took to Twitter, with over 250,000 people tweeting "Stop Yulin."

Peter Li, a staff from HIS stated that he saw hundreds of dogs killed and hung out on the street. There were also cats jammed into crowded cages, some not even having the ability to stand and just waiting for death. There was also blood, organs, and bones scattered everywhere, Li said.

Facing wave after wave of condemnation, Yulin's dog sellers said that the event is a traditional festival which began with their ancestors and that the dogs are mainly from puppy mills.

One dealer threatens to strangle the dog if no one offers a better
price. A woman instantly pays his price. (Photo/CFP)

Related Articles:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In APRIL’s No-Deforestation Pledge, Promises of Hope and of Pitfalls

Jakarta Globe, Daniel Waldroop, Jun 17, 2015

Forest cleared by one of Asia Pulp and Paper’s suppliers in Riau in this
Feb. 28, 2012, file photo released by Greenpeace. (EPA Photo/Kemal Jufri)

Jakarta. Two weeks ago, paper and pulp giant Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings, or APRIL, made an announcement that sent shockwaves through Indonesia’s environmental circles: It pledged to immediately stop all deforestation and to enact a policy of protecting one hectare of land for every hectare it develops.

Just 10 years ago, this kind of agreement would have been unimaginable, but the industry has changed rapidly under pressure from a combination of environmental watchdog groups, initiatives by the central government, and the public’s growing concern about deforestation.

Tony Wenas, the president director of Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), APRIL’s main subsidiary, tells the Jakarta Globe that the decision annlounced on June 3 has been in the works for a long time.

“Back in 2002 we introduced the wood legality system. In 2005 we applied the high conservation values assessment over our plantation. In 2014, we launched the sustainable forest management policy, where we committed to 1:1 conservation to development.  And now we’ve fast-forwarded,” he says.

“It’s a journey,” Tony adds.  “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

APRIL has joined a number of large paper companies in making these pledges. One of its largest competitors, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), announced a similar pledge almost three years ago. Today almost 80 percent of Indonesia’s pulp and paper manufacturers have agreed to end deforestation.

The change has been a long time coming. In 2003, Greenpeace launched an aggressive and public campaign against paper producers, focusing on APP. But rather than go after them directly, Greenpeace focused on their customers, major companies like Mattel Toys. For the price of doing business with APP, Mattel found its headquarters draped with a large banner featuring the iconic Barbie doll being dumped by Ken because he doesn’t “date girls who are into deforestation.”

Greenpeace kept the campaign going for a whole decade, targeting more than 100 APP clients to shame them into ending their contracts. In 2013, APP announced that it would no longer contribute to deforestation.

RAPP’s Tony readily admits the role that NGOs like Greenpeace have played.

“The input from the civil society, we listen to that.  And we like to be accommodating as well,” he says.

But there are other forces at play that led to APRIL’s commitment. “If produced sustainably,” Tony says, “our product will be better received worldwide.  There will be more trust.”

In fact, Tony believes the changes could boost profits.

“Because we invest in the environment and people, at the end of the day, we’ll be balanced, or with even more value,” he says.

And that’s enough for APRIL’s shareholders, whom Tony says are supportive of the company’s environmental commitment.

‘If they fail, we hit them’

The government too, has played its part. In his 2014 presidential election campaign, Joko Widodo called for greater oversight of the forestry industry, telling reporters that “if we have good, tough law enforcement, then it can be resolved.”

Last month, President Joko extended his predecessor’s moratorium on forest-clearing, although he declined to strengthen the regulation to include the roughly 48.5 million hectares currently without protection.

But APRIL’s commitment hasn’t satisfied everyone.

Nirarta Koni, director of the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Indonesia, applauds APRIL’s pledge, but says there’s more work to be done.

“A pledge is just a pledge if there’s no other parties who watch that and make sure they’re doing their job,” he says.

Teguh Surya of Greenpeace Indonesia agrees that the fight against deforestation has shifted from shaming paper companies to supporting them.

“They put on the table a strong commitment. Why don’t we give them the space to change and monitor together and ensure together? If they fail, we hit them. That’s the new paradigm of the campaign now,” he tells the Globe.

Tony defends APRIL’s commitment and says that he welcomes the scrutiny.

“We didn’t want to commit what we couldn’t commit. We are walking the talk. We’re asking their help. Please help us monitor. Please come with us to the fields to see how people are harvesting things,” he says.

The one map

Even with close collaboration between the private sector and watchdog groups, challenges for Indonesia’s environment remain.

Since the rapid decentralization post-1998, land ownership in paper-producing areas like Kalimantan has been fraught with conflict. The local and central governments, business interests and locals all vie for control of land.

And for local farmers and indigenous peoples outgunned by large corporations, the results can be disastrous. Several thousand disputes between locals and businesses over land ownership fester for lack of a way to mitigate them. Without even a standardized map to track ownership, resolutions are rare.

Koni of the WRI has proposed a solution. His institute has launched the “One Map Initiative,” which aims to create a single record for all stakeholders to use.

“We will use the map as a way to communicate among stakeholders.  If everyone has their own map, there will be conflict,” he says.

And right now, that’s the unfortunate reality.

“The forestry ministry has their own map,” Tony says. “The mining ministry has their own map. The agrarian office has their own map. And the local government has their own map.”

“One hundred percent people in this country, across backgrounds, across institutions, agree with the one map,” says Greenpeace’s Surya. “The question is, what is the one map?”

It’s not an easy question to answer. Though Joko promised to deliver to deliver a single map for all of Indonesia, it hasn’t materialized yet.

Amicable solutions

But even with a standardized map, Koni thinks further reform will be needed.  He envisions a setting in which all stakeholders in land use disputes can work collaboratively.

“We need good communication and a forum where everyone could come and could be scrutinized by others,” he says, and where the results “would be positive for everyone.”

Koni believes the idea of conditional amnesty is crucial; disputes will be resolved if the admission of past transgressions doesn’t lead to lawsuits.

“If a company had a complaint from locals that they had grabbed their land and [planted] oil palms there, the solution could be that the company admits that they were wrong because the data at that time was wrong. The locals would say that they wouldn’t make a claim in court, but get to keep the palm oil,” he said.

His inspiration for such a forum comes from an unlikely place: post-apartheid South Africa.

“After apartheid came down in South Africa, they had a new system whereby the people can be pardoned if they give back the land,” he says.

Tony agrees with the sentiment.

“The best solution is amicable, not based on court decisions,” he says. “We’ve never brought any disputes to the court. The local communities have, but not on our side. It’s all been based on discussion and negotiation.”

But Surya maintains that such agreements shouldn’t leave out the justice system.

“Even if the company has already committed to shift their business to be green, it doesn’t give the privilege to be free from the law,” he says.

Whatever the future holds, Koni thinks Indonesia needs to act quickly.

“A year of two ago we didn’t have this kind of pledge. We didn’t have this kind of commitment from the private sector. If we don’t use this opportunity, we’ll lose it,” he says.

It’s a sentiment reflected by Surya. For him, the fight for a greener Indonesia continues.

“We have to keep moving. We only have Indonesia. They have money and international people. They only have their business here. But for me and for my generation, whatever Indonesia’s situation, I’ll stay here,” he says.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hen becomes adoptive mother of ducklings in Hsinchu

Want China Times, CNA 2015-06-16

The hen surrounded by the ducklings. (Photo/CNA)

The unlikely sight of a hen minding a paddling of ducklings is now a regular fixture at a recreational farm in Hsinchu's Zhudong township in northwestern Taiwan.

According its proprietor Lin Jien-cheng, the peculiar development is due to the arrangement of the farm, which places the hatcheries for chickens and ducks within close proximity. Consequently, ducks and hens often return to the wrong hatchery from foraging and proceed to sit on the clutches of eggs indiscriminately.

Five days ago, as 12 ducklings broke through their egg shells and opened their eyes, one of the very first things they saw was a black-feathered hen, said Lin. The 12 ducklings quickly latched onto the hen, and surprisingly, the hen became their adoptive mother and began caring for them.

"You will hear the hen cackling at the ducklings, who answer with their quacks," said Lin. "The hen will gather the ducklings during meal times, and lead them to the stream to waddle in the water," he added.

The hen and her ducklings soon became the talk of the farm.

Apart from chickens and ducks, guinea pigs can be found scurrying across the recreational farm, while large flocks of pigeons may be found foraging at the nearby fruit and flower fields.

Home to a wide variety of farm animals, the recreational farm has now risen among the most sought after holiday destinations for families.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jane Goodall hails 'awakening' as US labels all chimpanzees endangered

The primates had previously had a ‘split status’ with those in US classified as ‘threatened’ but new rules will restrict scientific research on captive animals

The Guardian, Alan Yuhas in New York,  Friday 12 June 2015

 A124CE Chimpanzee laugh1 Photograph: Alamy

The US has named chimpanzees a fully endangered species, extending greater protections to the apes in a decision that primate researcher Jane Goodall has hailed as a sign of “an awakening”.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service director, Dan Ashe, announced on Friday that chimpanzees will no longer hold their unique “split status” under US law, which since the 1990s has protected wild chimps but allowed largely unfettered research on captive animals.

Prompted by the worries of Aids researchers and thinking the special status would forestall the exploitation of wild chimps, the US previously classified chimps in America as “threatened”.

Ashe said: “That was a well-intentioned decision, but we now realize it was a mistake.”

Rather than solve the problem, the dual status “expanded a culture and attitude of treating these animals as commodities,” he said.

The decision to provide the full protections of the Endangered Species Act to chimpanzees follows years of research by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Institutes of Health, as well as years of activism by the Humane Society and other animal welfare organizations.

The new rules grant new protections to the primates, restrict their commercial trade, and will probably most affect biomedical research institutions, which will now have to apply for permits in order to perform research on chimpanzees.

Absent permits, the new rule will also ban interstate commerce, and prohibit “taking”, a term that could encompass anything that could cause a chimpanzee harm or distress, from serious injury to taking blood to harassment.

The federal agency says that “permits will be issued for these activities only for scientific purposes that benefit the species in the wild, or to enhance the propagation or survival of chimpanzees.”

Researchers would need to show “substantial” contribution to chimpanzees’ survival in the wild, Ashe said, either through their scientific research or material contributions to support the animals in the wild, such as giving to habitat restoration programs.

Dr Jane Goodall: ‘I think of chimpanzees
as chimpanzeebeings because they’re so
like us.’ Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/
Getty Images
Goodall praised the decision, saying: “There are times in the past when I wondered whether this day would ever happen.

“It shows an awakening, it shows a new consciousness. We should all raise our glasses tonight.”

Not all scientists celebrated, however, with some arguing that the rules threatened vital research that could save lives.

“This new ruling effectively means that biomedical research with the chimpanzee model may become difficult, if not impossible, to conduct,” the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) said in a statement, adding that the species’ contribution to medicine “benefits nearly every child born in America today”.

NABR said that chimpanzees made it possible to produce vaccines for hepatitis, and that the species could help with research in any number of diseases that humans suffer from.

“It would be unfortunate, even grave, should an infectious disease outbreak occur where human lives are at stake and a chimpanzee model could expedite development of life-saving medicines.”

But Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, said the decision was “an incredible one-two punch for conservation and chimpanzee protection”.

While the old law “reflected some moral confusion” about chimpanzees, he said, more Americans now understood that “chimpanzees possess so many qualities that we value, the capacity to suffer, to show intelligence, awareness”.

He said the decision heralded “a new era where we treat them with respect and show concern for every individual”.

Pacelle’s view was echoed by Goodall.

“I remember so well,” she said, “how the scientific establishment told me that chimpanzees couldn’t have personalities, couldn’t have minds, couldn’t be capable of any kind of rational thought and certainly couldn’t have emotions, because those are unique to the human animal.”

Even within the past two decades “we’ve seen a lot of change,” she said. “I think of chimpanzees as chimpanzee beings because they’re so like us.”

Although many biologists and researchers remain wary of anthropomorphizing animals, and divided about how to talk about and study animal consciousness, research into intelligent and social animals has expanded massively in the past 30 years.

REsearch has found evidence that chimpanzees exhibit complex memory,
emotions, self-awareness and even an awareness of death. Photograph:
Juergen & Christine SohnsTier Und Naturfotografie J & C Sohns/Getty Images

The field of animal cognition has boomed alongside neuroscience, geneticists have shown that humans share most of their genes with chimpanzees, and research has shown evidence that chimps exhibit complex memory, emotions, self-awareness, and even an awareness of death. Greater research also shows quirkier similarities with mankind: 17 years of study concluded this month that some wild chimps indulgein regular, habitual drinking.

The cultural shift has extended into the public domain: though a chimpanzee once starred alongside Ronald Reagan, in May a poll found that nearly a third of Americans felt that animals deserved the same protections as humans, and this year an animal rights campaign won itself a hearing over partial, legal “personhood” for chimpanzees in New York.

That case could remove two chimpanzees from a research program at Stony Brook University in New York.

Ashe said people should not “read anything else” into the new rule except “we have learned a lot about the nature of chimpanzees”.

“Some of the things that we thought did not constitute harm or harassment of chimpanzees do in fact constitute harm and harassment,” he said, and the rule is “in large part in recognition of that”.

Goodall said she hoped the new classification would help counter the forces that threaten chimpanzees: habitat destruction by deforestation and encroaching humans, diseases, the bushmeat trade, and the “surging demand from Asia” for captive animals.

In particular, Goodall hoped the new rules would help end the practice of keeping chimps as pets or for entertainment, noting that the animals grow too powerful for their owners and suffer “psychological trauma”.

“They’re stuck between two worlds,” she said. “They’ve never learned to be a chimpanzee and they can never become a human.”

There are 1,742 chimps in the US, according to a project for the Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo: 730 in biomedical labs, 559 in sanctuaries, 265 in accredited zoos, and the remainder with unaccredited facilities and private owners.

In 2011, the National Institute of Health found that while chimpanzees had research value in the past, medical advances “have provided alternatives to the use of chimpanzees”. Two years later, the institute said it would retire about 300 research chimpanzees; to date, only a handful of those animals have gone to sanctuaries, a process that Pacelle said he wants to see expedited.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dogs snub people who are mean to their owners: study

Yahoo – AFP, Kyoko Hasegawa, June 12, 2015

Dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of
their direct interest, researchers say (AFP Photo/John Moore)

Tokyo (AFP) - Dogs do not like people who are mean to their owners, Japanese researchers said Friday, and will refuse food offered by people who have snubbed their master.

The findings reveal that canines have the capacity to co-operate socially -- a characteristic found in a relatively small number of species, including humans and some other primates.

Researchers led by Kazuo Fujita, a professor of comparative cognition at Kyoto University, tested three groups of 18 dogs using role plays in which their owners needed to open a box.

In all three groups, the owner was accompanied by two people whom the dog did not know.

In the first group, the owner sought assistance from one of the other people, who actively refused to help.

In the second group, the owner asked for, and received, help from one person. In both groups, the third person was neutral and not involved in either helping or refusing to help.

Neither person interacted with the dog's owner in the control -- third -- group.

After watching the box-opening scene, the dog was offered food by the two unfamiliar people in the room.

Dogs that saw their owner being rebuffed were far more likely to choose food from the neutral observer, and to ignore the offer from the person who had refused to help, Fujita said.

Dogs whose owners were helped and dogs whose owners did not interact with either person showed no marked preference for accepting snacks from the strangers.

"We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest," Fujita said.

Canines have the capacity to co-operate socially -- a characteristic found in
 a relatively small number of species, including humans and some other 
primates, researchers say (AFP Photo/Hannibal Hanschke)

If the dogs were acting solely out of self-interest, there would be no differences among the groups, and a roughly equal number of animals would have accepted food from each person.

"This ability is one of key factors in building a highly collaborative society, and this study shows that dogs share that ability with humans," he said.

The trait is present in children from the age of about three, the research papers said.

Interestingly, noted Fujita, not all primates demonstrate this behaviour.

"There is a similar study that showed tufted capuchins (a monkey native to South America) have this ability, but there is no evidence that chimpanzees demonstrate a preference unless there is a direct benefit to them," he told AFP.

The study will appear in the science journal "Animal Behaviour" to be published later this month by Amsterdam-based Elsevier, he said.

Circus elephant kills early morning walker in southwest Germany

A circus elephant in Germany has run wild after escaping the circus and has killed a 65-year-old man on the streets of Buchen. The police are investigating whether someone let the elephant out of its tent.

Deutsche Welle, 13 June 2015


An elephant that escaped from a circus killed a 65-year-old man in southwestern German city of Buchen.

A nearby resident who observed the incident called the police.

The victim was on an early morning walk around 5:30 a.m. collecting bottles and cans, police said.

The man's wife went looking for him when he did not return from his walk at his usual time. She noticed several police cars near the circus tents and, when she got closer, she saw the body of her husband.

According to the German news agency, DPA, it remains unclear how the animal escaped its confines in the Luna Circus and what may have led to the man's death.

"The elephant cannot have let himself out. So the question is: Did someone let him out, or was the cage not properly locked?" a police spokesman told DPA.

Police said they were also investigating why the animal acted aggressively toward the man.
A circus employee was later able to calm the 34-year-old female elephant, called Baby, and return her to the tent.

Past record of aggression

According to media reports, Stefan Frank, the junior boss of the circus regularly took Baby for walks outside in the recent years. The animal was also said to have broken out many times.

It was not the first time that the elephant injured people. In September 2010, it catapulted a man into the air and badly injured him.

In October 2012, the elephant beat a 12-year-old boy with its trunk and broke his jaw.

The Circus Luna has come under criticism by the local veterinary office over alleged poor housing conditions. In March, the animal rights organization PETA accused the circus of housing an elephant in a truck which was not sufficiently heated.

ra/rc (dpa, AP)