Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"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)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Man stopped on Thai border with orangutans, tortoises, raccoons

Yahoo – AFP, June 22, 2017

The tiny orangutans rescued at the Thai border were less than six
months old (AFP Photo/Handout)

Thai wildlife officers have arrested a Malaysian man attempting to smuggle two baby orangutans, 51 tortoises and six raccoons into the kingdom across its southern border, officials said Thursday.

The animals were packed into plastic boxes and suitcases loaded into Ismail Bin Ahmad's car, officials said.

The 63-year-old was stopped Wednesday as he was attempting to drive through a border checkpoint in Thailand's southern Songkhla province -- part of an insurgency-torn region known as a funnel for drugs, weapons and other contraband.

"The suspect said he was hired to transport the animals from (neighbouring) Perlis state in Malaysia to Hat Yai (in Thailand) for 1,000 baht ($33 dollars)," Prach Kongthong, a wildlife officer manning the checkpoint, told AFP.

The tiny orangutans were less than six months old and will be transferred to a local shelter, he added.

The seized animals, including orangutans, were packed into suitcases and plastic
boxes (AFP Photo/Handout)

Orangutans are native to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra but they are often illegally smuggled throughout mainland Southeast Asia, either for private zoos or as pets.

Most of the 51 rescued reptiles were Indian star tortoises -- an endangered species from South Asia coveted for its star-patterned shell.

Thailand has long served as a transit hub for wildlife products bound for major markets like Vietnam and China, where exotic animal parts are often used in folk medicines.

Thai police frequently seize trafficked animals and wildlife products but they usually only catch low-level couriers, leaving the smuggling kingpins behind the lucrative trade at large.

In December Thai police rescued two baby orangutans in a sting operation that saw undercover officers pose as buyers over a mobile phone messaging app.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Officials seize shoes, jackets made of endangered species at chic Amsterdam store

DutchNews, June 16, 2017

Photo: NVWA.nl 

Government inspectors have removed 105 articles of clothing from shop in Amsterdam’s exclusive PC Hooftstraat because they include leather made from protected species, the Volkskrant said on Friday. 

The shop, Karmaloog, opened earlier this year. It generated headlines because of the owners’ boast that it would be ‘the most exclusive and expensive’ shop in the Netherlands with jackets costing €100,000. 

The items taken by officials include shoes, jackets, belts, skirts and other accessories made of crocodile, python and anaconda leather. 

The paper says officials first became suspicious last year when a consignment of skins turned up at Schiphol airport with problematic paperwork. The package came from Thailand and contained the skins of 12 Siamese crocodiles. 

Cites

Leather from protected species may only be traded in line with the international Cites treaty. Officials visited the shop in March and gave the owners three months to come up with documents showing the skins had been obtained in line with Cites rules. 

However, they only managed to come up with documents for five pairs of shoes, the paper said. 

Although the shop is not named in the official documents, the Volkskrant says one of the pairs of shoes in photographs supplied to the press – green python leather slip-ons – is identical to those advertised on the Karmaloog website. 

Owner Nezir Yozgat told the paper in a reaction: ‘all our items are certified and all our products are legal. We will fight every ruling.’

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Costa Rica says no to animal cruelty

Yahoo – AFP, June 11, 2017

People celebrated in the streets of San Jose after a new law which establishes
 fines and prison sentences for those who harm an animal (AFP Photo/Ezequiel
BECERRA)

San José (AFP) - Thousands of animal lovers packed a major San Jose avenue Sunday, many with pups in tow, to celebrate Costa Rica's new animal cruelty law and its fines and jail time for violators.

Bikers, animal rights activists and many animal lovers were on hand dancing to traditional tunes to support the law, signed this month by the Central American nation's President Luis Guillermo Solis.

"We have got to demand that there be no more impunity; that whoever abuses an animal be punished," Solis said, raising cheers from the crowd.

The parade marshal for the day was Duke, a dog that became well known in local media after someone hacked him with a machete and left him for dead.

In another grim case, local teenagers seriously injured a toucan, pummeling its bill with stones.

"We have just seen too many horrific acts against animals. So it's time that we have a law to ensure that they are punished," said Antonio Pacheco, who turned up with his sweater-wearing schnauzer Tony in tow.

Cockfighting and dog fights also have been outlawed, and can earn criminals jail time.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Feline good: Cats counter stress at Tokyo firm

Yahoo – AFP, May 22, 2017

A cat walks across the desk at an IT office in Tokyo, where felines help
alleviate stress and anxiety (AFP Photo/YOKO AKIYOSHI)

Workaholic Japan is known for long office hours and stressed out employees, but one company claims to have a cure: Cats.

A total of nine fluffy felines eat, sleep and walk freely in the small office of IT firm Ferray in Tokyo.

Hidenobu Fukuda, who heads the firm, introduced an "office cat" policy in 2000 upon request from one of his employees, allowing staffers to bring their moggies to work.

"I also give 5,000 yen ($45) a month to those who rescue a cat," he said of his charges.

Other Japanese companies are also allowing animals in the office to help reduce stress and anxiety.

At Oracle Japan, an Old English Sheepdog named Candy works as a "greeting and healing ambassador", according to the company website.

A total of nine fluffy felines eat, sleep and walk freely in the small office 
of IT firm Ferray in Tokyo (AFP Photo/YOKO AKIYOSHI)

The company said it has had an office dog since 1991, and Candy, the fourth one, now has Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Meanwhile, Pasona Group "hired" two goats in 2011 and two alpacas in 2013 as full-time employees, partly for healing purposes.

Tokyo is also home to some 60 registered cat cafes, thanks to a growing number of feline lovers.

Eri Ito, who works at Ferray, says she is sold on the animal's soothing ways.

"Cats are sleeping just beside us... It's healing," Ito said.

But there is also a downside to having felines in the office, Fukuda admitted.

"Sometimes a cat will walk on a phone and cut off the call, or they shut down the computers by walking onto the off switch," he said.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Scientists reveal top 10 most bizarre new species of 2017

A New York university's annual list of the 10 most bizarre new species discovered in the animal and plant kingdoms has been topped by a mini-spider named after a hat from the Harry Potter series.

Deutsche Welle, 20 May


The State University of New York's College of Environmental Science's International Institute for Species Exploration's "Top 10" list came from 10 countries across four continents and were selected from a total of 18,000 newly discovered species, the institute said.

A tiny spider (pictured above), less than 2 millimeters (a tenth of an inch), was named after the bewitched Sorting Hat in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series.

"The shape of the spider's body, conical, with a jaunty bend in the narrow tip, is reminiscent of the hat first owned by the famed wizard Godric Gryffindor," the institute wrote on its website.

The list further includes "a strikingly colored freshwater stingray and two plants - a bush tomato that appears to 'bleed' when it's cut and an orchid with the face of the devil," it added.

Two leggy creatures, the institute continued, included on the list, "were a millipede with more than 400 legs and an amphibious centipede, along with a marine worm that looks a lot like fried pastry."



The Top 10 (pictured above from top left)
  • "Sorting Hat" Spider (Eriovixia gryffindori)
  • Unexpected Katydid (Eulophophyllum kirki)
  • Omnivorous Root Rat (Gracilimus radix)
  • 414-legged Millipede (Illacme tobini)
  • "Dragon" Ant (Pheidole drogon)
  • Freshwater Stingray (Potamotrygon rex)
  • Swimming Centipede (Scolopendra cataracta)
  • Bush Tomato (Solanum ossicruentum)
  • Endangered Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus)
  • "Churro" Marine Worm (Xenoturbella churro)

The "Top 10" has been published annually since 2008, with researchers looking for diversity in the animal and plant kingdoms and those threatened with extinction.

The institute, according to its website, "is dedicated to the exploration, inventory, and classification of earth's species, public awareness of the biodiversity crisis, advocacy for the important roles played by taxonomy and natural history museums, the advancement of cyber taxonomy and the application of cyber and digital tools to accelerate and improve comparative morphology, descriptive taxonomy, and phylogenetic classification."

The "Top 10 New Species" list is released around May 23 each year to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus - the "Father of Taxonomy," whose work in the 18th century was the beginning point for modern naming and classification of plants and animals.

A further 10 million animal and plant species - five times more than already known - are therefore not yet discovered worldwide.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dutch draw up dangerous dogs list, send owners back to school

DutchNews, May 18, 2017

The American Staffordshire terrier is on the banned list. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Pitbull terriers, Rottweilers and the Caucasian shepherds are among the animals on a Dutch government list of officially dangerous dogs. 

From next year, the owners of 20 breeds and all pittbull crossbreeds will have to go on a compulsory cause in keeping dogs which are known to have a propensity to violence. 

The list and compulsory course are part of a series of measures the caretaker government plans to introduce in an effort to cut down on the number of dog attacks. 

Junior economic affairs minister Martin van Rijn is also working on a list of banned breeds and plans to give local councils the powers to ban dangerous dogs from some areas. 

In addition, the government will establish a central register to record dog bite incidents and a hotline for people to report dangerous dogs or owners who refuse to deal with their dogs properly. 

Bites

‘There have been a number of serious biting incidents in recent years and this is extremely worrying,’ the minister said in a statement. ‘Councils will be given more powers to take effective measures… but ultimately it is owners who are responsible for their dogs.’ 

The official list of dangerous dogs includes pedigree dogs and crossbreeds which are known to have a high risk of aggressive behaviour. It includes 20 pedigree breeds such as Rottweilers, various varieties of pitbull and bull terrier, bull mastiffs and the Akita.

The Dutch animal protection charity Dierenbescherming has welcomed the course for dog owners. ‘We cannot deny this is a problem,’ a spokesman said. ‘Shelters are full of dogs, most of which are pitbulls and similar breeds. They were often bought on impulse and have not been properly trained.’ 

The Netherlands introduced a ban on breeding pitbulls and similar dogs 20 years ago after three children were savaged to death. But the ban was rescinded in 2008.

Related Article:


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rare albino orangutan rescued on Borneo island

Yahoo – AFP, May 2, 2017

Albino orangutans are rare on Borneo island, where most have
reddish-brown hair (AFP Photo/HANDOUT)

A rare albino orangutan has been rescued on the Indonesian part of Borneo island where villagers were keeping the white-haired, blue-eyed creature in a cage, a protection group said Tuesday.

In an extremely unusual discovery, authorities picked up the female, estimated to be five years old, in a remote village in Kapuas Hulu district.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), which is caring for the critically endangered ape -- believed to be albino -- said the organisation had never before in its 25-year history taken in such an orangutan.

Normal Bornean orangutans have reddish-brown hair.

Villagers said they captured the ape -- who has not yet been named -- on Thursday. Authorities rescued the ape two days later.

"Orangutans are rare, and an albino orangutan is even rarer," Nico Hermanu, a BOSF spokesman, told AFP.

"Since BOSF was founded 25 years ago, we had never before taken in an albino orangutan at our rehabilitation centre."

Orangutans on Borneo have seen their habitat shrink dramatically as the
 island's rainforests are increasingly turned into oil palm, rubber or paper 
plantations (AFP Photo/HANDOUT)

Pictures showed dried blood around the creature's nose, with the foundation saying the injury could have been sustained when the ape was fighting the villagers' attempts to capture it.

The orangutan has been taken to BOSF's rehabilitation centre for further assessment. Almost 500 orangutans are kept at the centre.

The Bornean orangutan, which along with the Sumatran orangutan are Asia's only great apes, is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "critically endangered" -- just one step away from extinction.

Around 100,000 are estimated to live on Borneo, which is divided between Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, down from 288,500 in 1973 and with their numbers expected to shrink to 47,000 by 2025, according to the IUCN.

The creatures have seen their habitat shrink dramatically as the island's rainforests are increasingly turned into oil palm, rubber or paper plantations, and are sometimes targeted by villagers who view them as pests.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taiwan bans eating dogs and cats

Yahoo – AFP, April 12, 2017

The tradition of eating dog meat dates back hundreds of years in many
Asian countriesView photos (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Taiwan has banned the eating of dogs and cats, lawmakers said Wednesday, as pressure grows to improve animal welfare after a spate of cruelty cases that stirred public outrage.

Parliament passed legislation to outlaw the consumption, purchase or possession of dog and cat meat, with offenders facing a fine of up to Tw$250,000 ($8,170).

Authorities can also name and shame those who break the law.

"This shows that Taiwan is a society with advanced animal welfare," said lawmaker Wang Yu-min who proposed the new rules.

The bill also hiked the penalty for killing or abusing animals to a maximum two-year jail term and a stiff fine of Tw$2 million.

Dog consumption -- believed by some in Taiwan to help boost male potency -- was common on the island decades ago but has become less popular amid growing calls to protect animal rights.

In 2001, Taiwan amended its animal protection law to ban the slaughter of pets -- which included dogs and cats -- for food, although there was no penalty on eating or buying the meat.

More than 10,000 canines are killed every year at China's notorious dog meat
festival in Yulin (AFP Photo/JOHANNES EISELE)

Sales of pet meat were banned at the end of 2003.

But a string of much-publicised animal abuse cases have continued to triggered deep public concern and demands for tougher protection laws.

Last year, the military was forced to apologise after a video surfaced of three soldiers torturing and strangling a stray dog to death with an iron chain, prompting several street protests.

And in 2014, a male hippo famous for regularly performing at a private zoo in central Taiwan died after breaking a leg and sustaining other injuries during transportation, sparking a public outcry.

Reactions to the new law were mixed, with some deeming it unfair to only single out cats and dogs for better protection.

"This is the cute animal protection law? only cute animals are protected while the rest deserve to die?" read one message posted on Apple Daily's website.

Dog meat consumption is also common in countries such as China, Indonesia,
Vietnam and South Korea (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

"Why doesn't the parliament amend laws to toughen punishment on drunk driving, fraud and homicide? what a lousy job it is doing," said another post.

Dog meat consumption is also common in countries such as China, Vietnam and South Korea.

Last year, China's most notorious dog meat festival drew crowds despite international outrage, as more than 10,000 dogs were killed at the event in conditions activists described as brutal.

South Koreans are believed to consume somewhere between 1.5 million - 2.5 million dogs every year, but the meat farming industry is in decline, with little demand among the younger generation.

In Vietnam, cat meat -- known locally as "little tiger" -- is also a delicacy and although officially banned it is widely available in specialist restaurants.

Giant pandas head for the Netherlands, and the bamboo is on order

DutchNews, April 12, 2017

Workers carry the female giant panda Wu Wen to a transport cage.
Photo: Chinatopix Via AP

Two giant pandas destined for a 15-year stay in a Dutch zoo, left China for the Netherlands on Wednesday. 

The plane carrying the pandas, as well as 200 regular passengers, is due to land at Schiphol airport on Wednesday evening, and the giant mammals, behind sheets of plexiglass, will then be introduced to the Dutch public for the first time. 


However, Wu Wen (Beautiful Powerful Cloud) and Xing Ya (Elegant Star) will not be seen by the zoo public for some time because they will first be held in quarantine for up to six weeks. 


The pandas are heading for the Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo in Rhenen which has spent 16 year campaigning to bring pandas to the Netherlands. The zoo invested €7m on a special compound which was given official Chinese approval earlier this year. 


The cost of the new compound plus the €900,000 a year fee means that entrance tickets will be more expensive: visitors will be paying a so-called ‘panda tax’. 


Bamboo


The pandas are expected to go through 500 kilos of bamboo a week, which will be sourced from a bamboo grower in Asten and delivered weekly. The company Bamboo Giant, also supplies the food from a selection of different types of bamboo, for pandas in Vienna and Edinburgh. ‘The pandas are choosy,’ director Bennie Nielen told the NRC. ‘Every week the keepers in Vienna and Edinburg send us an overview of what they have eaten and what they have not touched so the menu can be adapted.’ 


The pandas are accompanied by a keeper and a vet from China who will stay with them for at least three months. And in case the pandas do decide to procreate, the female Wu Wen has a bigger enclosure with room for a baby.



Friday, April 7, 2017

First world survey finds 9,600 tree species risk extinction

Yahoo – AFP, April 5, 2017

Brazil is the country with the most diverse tree population, with 8,715 species,
according to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) group

The first ever global database of trees on Wednesday revealed that 9,600 tree species are threatened with extinction and identified a total of 60,065 in existence.

Brazil is the country with the most diverse tree population, with 8,715 species, according to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) group.

It also has the largest number of tree species -- 4,333 -- that only exist there.

In total 58 percent of trees are so-called single country endemics, with 2,991 species only found in Madagascar and 2,584 only found in Australia.

After Brazil, Colombia is the second most diverse country, with 5,776 different tree species, followed by Indonesia, with 5,142.

The London-based BGCI, which represents an estimated 2,500 botanic gardens around the world, used data from more than 500 published sources to create the list.

Of the 60,065 tree species, only around 20,000 have been assessed for their conservation status -- of which 9,600 are threatened with extinction.

"BGCI's main reason for publishing the list is to provide a tool for people trying to conserve rare and threatened tree species," the organisation said in a statement.

"Currently, around 10,000 tree species are known to be threatened with extinction, largely by deforestation and over-exploitation.

"This number includes over 300 species that are critically endangered with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild."

Aside from the Arctic and the Antarctic where there are no trees, the Nearctic region -- comprising most of North America -- has the lowest diversity, with less than 1,400 tree species.

The database will be continually updated, as around 2,000 new plants are discovered and described each year.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hunters have shot 1,440 dune deer as cull continues

DutchNews, April 3, 2017

Deer in a Zandvoort residential area earlier in January. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Hunters have so far shot 1,440 of the fallow deer living in the dune area west of Amsterdam, alderman Udo Kock has told the city’s finance committee. 

The city and province of Noord-Holland want to slash the deer population from 3,800 to 1,000 in order to reduce damage to plants and trees and reduce the risk of road accidents. 

Officials hope to have reduced the deer population to 1,000 by 2020. Female deer are being targeted to keep the population down. 

Efforts to keep the deer in the reserve with high fences and cattle grids have failed to contain all the animals and there were 61 traffic accidents involving deer in 2015. 

Animal rights groups have tried to have the mass cull stopped but the courts ruled in favour of the cull. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Zealand parrot has 'infectious laugh'

Yahoo – AFP, March 21, 2017

New Zealand's kea parrots are renowned for being intelligent and mischievous,
often called "the clown of the mountain" (AFP Photo/Raoul SCHWING)

Wellington (AFP) - Researchers have found that New Zealand's kea parrot has the avian equivalent of an infectious laugh -- a call that when heard prompts others to drop everything and have some fun.

Kea live in alpine areas and are renowned in New Zealand for being intelligent and mischievous, often called "the clown of the mountain".

But a paper published in the journal Current Biology on Tuesday argues the bird's playful reputation is not entirely anthropomorphic.

Austrian researcher Raoul Schwing found the kea has a "play call" distinct from its other vocalisations, which caused other parrots to start playing spontaneously.

Schwing, a doctoral student in animal behaviour at Auckland University when the research was conducted, said even birds that were by themselves began playing when they heard the call.

"The fact that at least some of these birds started playing spontaneously when no other birds had been playing suggests that, similar to human laughter, it had an emotional effect on the birds that heard it, putting them in a playful state," he said.

Schwing said similar "emotionally contagious" vocalisations had previously been recorded in chimpanzees and rats, but the kea was the first non-mammal.

He said the call was akin to a form of infectious laughter and warranted further study, as well as serving as a reminder that humans may not be as unique as we like to think.

"If animals can laugh, we are not so different from them," he said.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

First fluorescent frog found in Argentina

Yahoo – AFP, March 17, 2017

Argentine and Brazilian scientists at the Bernardino Rivadaiva Natural Sciences
Museum discovered the first naturally fluorescent frog almost by accident

The first naturally fluorescent frog was discovered recently in Argentina -- almost by chance, a member of the team of researchers told AFP Thursday.

Argentine and Brazilian scientists at the Bernardino Rivadaiva Natural Sciences Museum made the discovery while studying the metabolic origin of pigments in a tree-frog species common to South America.

Under normal light the frog's translucent skin is a muted yellowish-brown color with red dots, but when the scientists shone an ultraviolet light on it, it turned a celestial green.

According to one of them, Carlos Taboada, the case is "the first scientific record of a fluorescent frog."

"We were very excited," said his fellow researcher Julian Faivovich. "It was quite disconcerting."

He said the discovery "radically modifies what is known about fluorescence in terrestrial environments, allowing the discovery of new fluorescent compounds that may have scientific or technological applications."

It also "generates new questions about visual communication in amphibians," he said.

The team studied some 200 more examples to ensure the phenomenon was not due to the frog's captivity, and detected the fluorescent properties in all the specimens.

Maria Lagorio -- an independent researcher and expert in fluorescence, who the research team contacted after the discovery -- told AFP that the trait is common in aquatic species and seen in some insects, "but has never been scientifically reported in amphibians."

The finding was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Article:


Wallaby escapes at Dutch zoo and gets eaten by a lion

DutchNews, March 17, 2017

The lion makes off with its prey. Photo: Luciën Olinga via Facebook 

A wallaby which escaped from its enclosure at the Wildlands zoo in Emmen on Thursday met an unfortunate end after it hopped into the lions den. 

The wallaby, one of a group of four at the zoo, was captured by a lioness, killed and apparently eaten. The zoo was open at the time and visitor Luciën Olinga caught part of the incident on camera. 

The other three wallabies have been locked up to keep them calm while staff make sure that they are unable to escape in future, the zoo said in a statement.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Baby orangutan rescued after being kept as a pet

Yahoo – AFP, February 23, 2017

Seven-month-old Vena was rescued by wildlife officals and environmentalists
from someone who had illegally kept her as a pet (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

Baby primate Vena shyly turned her head away from a bottle as two vets tried to feed her, the latest Bornean orangutan rescued in Indonesia after being kept as a pet.

Villagers on the Indonesian part of jungle-clad Borneo island often keep the critically endangered apes as pets even though the practice is illegal.

Wildlife officials and environmentalists rescued seven-month-old Vena earlier in February from someone in Kendawangan district who had been looking after her.

Vena is now being cared for at a centre run by NGO International Animal Rescue (IAR), whose staff ensure she stays clean by regularly changing her diapers and feed her bottles of milk mixed with vitamin supplements.

Last year IAR saved 22 orangutans that were either kept as pets or whose natural jungle habitat had been destroyed by huge forest fires started to clear land for plantations.

Even when they are well looked after, such as in Vena's case, environmentalists stress keeping orangutans as pets is bad because it means they will later struggle to survive in the wild.

"Many people don't realise that keeping orangutans as pets is illegal and could make them lose their instincts for living in the wild," said Ruswanto, an official from the wildlife protection agency who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Villagers on the Indonesian part of jungle-clad Borneo island often keep
orangutans as pets even though the practice is illegal (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

Vena was being kept as a pet by a lady called Bariah, who found the ape in a neighbouring village. She was rescued after villagers reported the case to authorities.

It was the second time Bariah, a mother of seven, was caught illegally caring for a baby ape -- she already had to give one up to IAR in 2016.

"I know orangutans are protected, I was not killing or harming them, I was only taking care of them," the 50-year-old told AFP.

After being rescued, young apes are sent to a "jungle school", where they spend years learning to fend for themselves before being released into the wild.

Rampant logging and the rapid expansion of paper and palm oil operations have reduced their habitat, with about 100,000 estimated to remain in the wild on Borneo, which is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature last year changed its classification of the Bornean orangutan from "endangered" to "critically endangered".

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Calves more likely to die in first year; 350,000 did so in 2015

DutchNews, February 13, 2017    


Tens of thousands of calves which are taken away from their mothers in the days after they are born die in the first year of life and the death rate is getting worse, the Volkskrant said on Monday. 

In 2015, 13.3% of registered calves died within 12 months of being removed from their mothers – a total of 350,000 animals, the paper said. 

In 2009, the death rate was 9%, a figure described at the time by animal health experts as too high. Most calves are taken from their mothers within three days of birth and the males are almost always sold on to beef and veal farmers. 

Animal rights organisation Dier & Recht said the care of newborn calves may have been affected by the increasing size of dairy farms in the Netherlands.

‘As farms get bigger, there is little attention for individual calves,’ said vet and Dier & Recht spokesman Frederieke Schouten. 

The lobby group wants dairy cooperative Friesland Campina to put pressure on its farmers to try to stop so many calves dying.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ringling Bros. circus closing show after 146 years

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Hampton, January 15, 2017

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus executives cited high operating costs
and declining ticket sales as some factors in the decision to close after
146 years (AFP Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Washington (AFP) - Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced Saturday it will host its final show in May, ending "The Greatest Show on Earth" after 146 years.

Company executives cited high operating costs and declining ticket sales after the traveling American circus retired its popular elephants as reasons for drawing the curtain on a celebrated spectacle that traces its origins to politician and showman P.T. Barnum's first show in 1871.

Animal rights groups cheered the move as a success story following decades of activism against the use of animals in the circus.

Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of show producer Feld Entertainment, said he and his family came to the "difficult" decision to end the circus "after much evaluation and deliberation."

"Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros.," he said in a statement on the group's website."

"The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make."

The group has a total of 30 stops scheduled on its 2017 tour.

The final "Circus XTREME" show will take place at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island on May 7, while the group's "Out Of This World" tour will take place May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of show producer Feld Entertainment, said he
and his family made the "difficult" decision to end the circus "after much evaluation
and deliberation" (AFP Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Freak show origins

Although Barnum's first show took place decades before, it was not until 1919 that a group started by five Wisconsin brothers, Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows, merged with Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth.

While the Ringling brothers had been better known for traditional circus fare, Barnum was dubbed the "Prince of Humbugs," known as a shameless promoter of incredible hoaxes, freak shows and zoological curiosities.

One such object was the Fiji mermaid, or Feejee mermaid, which was in fact no less than the head and torso of a monkey sewn to the body and tail of a fish.

Barnum launched his traveling circus after fires destroyed his Barnum's American Museum. Two whales were boiled alive in their tanks during one of the fires.

In 1881, Barnum teamed up with James Bailey to run their "Greatest Show on Earth," making a fortune along the way.

In May 2015 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired its performing 
elephants after major criticism from animal rights groups (AFP Photo/
EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Animal rights controversies

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cheered Ringling's latest decision as the end of an era, and called for other circuses to follow their lead.

"After 36 years of PETA protests, which have awoken the world to the plight of animals in captivity, PETA heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on Earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times," the group's president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, joined in.

"A major moment as big brands that harm animals fade away and more humane businesses emerge I applaud @RinglingBros announcement," he tweeted.

In May 2015, the circus retired its performing elephants after major criticism from animal rights groups, including widely circulated videos from PETA that showed a male handler hitting elephants with an ankus, or pointed stick.

The Ringling Brothers herd was the largest in the Western hemisphere for Asian elephants, listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which says 40,000-50,000 exist in the world in highly fragmented populations.

"It is sad. You feel it is the end of an era," long-time trainer Trudy Williams told AFP at the time.

Ringling Brothers was also embroiled in a 14-year lawsuit in which animal rights groups alleged the circus was mistreating its herd.

The case was eventually thrown out after a lead witness was found to have been paid for his testimony by animal rights groups.

By 2014, the plaintiffs, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, had been ordered to pay the circus $25 million to reimburse its legal fees.


An elderly elephant named Mysore gets a pedicure at the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum and Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Florida on March 8,
2016 (AFP Photo/Kerry Sheridan)

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