Tag Archives: Zoo/Wildlife

Four million years at Africa’s salad bar

As grasses grew more common in Africa, most major mammal groups tried grazing on them at times during the past 4 million years, but some of the animals went extinct or switched back to browsing on trees and shrubs, according to a study led by the University of Utah “It’s as if in a city, […]

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Mystery of Australia’s five-legged animals cracked

Ever wished you had a spare leg to help you get around? Some Australian mammals had that thought and, well, went out and evolved one. And now we know what drove them to do such a thing. Kangaroos were recently confirmed to use their tail as a fifth leg. While most ground-dwelling mammals simply use […]

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A lion tale: Humans cause most mountain lion deaths in Southern California

The biggest threat to Southern California mountain lions is us, confirms a comprehensive 13-year study of the population’s mortality and survival from the University of California, Davis. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, combined genetic and demographic data to determine that even though hunting mountain lions is prohibited in California, humans caused more […]

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Polar bear metabolism cannot cope with ice loss

Polar bears’ metabolism does not slow very much during the summer months when sea ice melts and food becomes scarce, according to a study published 16 July in Science. With the Arctic warming faster than the global average, the finding does not bode well  for the bears (Ursus maritimus), who use the ice as a […]

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Bat disease: Yeast byproduct inhibits white-nose syndrome fungus in lab experiments

A microbe found in caves produces a compound that inhibits Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats, researchers report in the journal Mycopathologia. The finding could lead to treatments that kill the fungus while minimizing disruption to cave ecosystems, the researchers say. The yeast Candida albicans produces the compound: trans, trans-farnesol. Candida […]

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Male koalas raise their voices to avoid conflict

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A team of international scientists has tracked the love lives of koalas, uncovering some curious behaviours and finding that male koalas make their distinct bellows to avoid confrontation with competitors. The University of Queensland’s Dr Bill Ellis and colleagues in Australia, the US and Japan have mapped what they believe to be the first-look inside […]

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* Pet owners reluctant to face up to their cats’ kill count

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Pet owners are reluctant to face up to their cats’ kill count, a new study suggests. Cat owners fail to realize the impact of their cat on wildlife according to new research. Cats are increasingly earning themselves a reputation as wildlife killers with estimates of animals killed every year by domestic cats in the UK […]

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Grey squirrels are quick learners

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They may be viewed by some as an invasive species or a commonplace pest of public parks, but a new study from the University of Exeter has shown that grey squirrels are actually quick learners capable of adapting tactics to improve efficiency and reap the best rewards. To test the animals’ intelligence and mental flexibility […]

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Tiger-spray DNA shown as valuable conservation tool

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Researchers are first to show feasibility of genetic monitoring based on endangered cats’ scent-spiked urine. Scientists have demonstrated a new technique to non-invasively survey tigers using their scent sprays, which are detected much more frequently in the wild than scat–the ‘breadcrumb’ that researchers have traditionally used to track the endangered animals. The findings show that […]

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* For black rhino, zoo diet might be too much of a good thing

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A new study shows that captive black rhinos — but not their wild counterparts — are at high risk for two common health problems suffered by millions of humans: inflammation and insulin resistance. The finding suggests captive black rhinos have metabolic problems. In humans, these same conditions can both result from a rich diet and […]

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Bacteria may help bats to fight deadly fungus

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The bats at Marm Kilpatrick’s two Illinois field sites perished right on schedule. The mines sheltered nearly 30,000 bats before white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease, arrived in late 2012. By March 2015, less than 5% remained. Kilpatrick, a disease ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), and his colleagues chose the mines […]

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Evidence from ivory DNA identifies two main elephant poaching hotspots

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Biologists have used DNA evidence to trace the origin of illegal ivory and help police an international trade that is decimating African elephant populations. New results show that over the past decade, ivory has largely come from just two areas in Africa. University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser is a pioneer in using DNA evidence […]

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Lefties are all right with kangaroos

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Kangaroos prefer to use one of their hands over the other for everyday tasks in much the same way that humans do, with one notable difference: generally speaking, kangaroos are lefties. The finding, reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on June 18–the first to consider handedness in wild kangaroos–challenges the notion that “true” […]

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Artificial intelligence joins hunt for human–animal diseases

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Model predicts that the midwestern United States and Central Asia are at high risk for outbreaks of rodent-borne pathogens. The Northern flying squirrel carries diseases that can pass from animals to humans. Lyme disease, Ebola and malaria all developed in animals before making the leap to infect humans. Predicting when such a ‘zoonotic’ disease will […]

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Panda guts not suited to digesting bamboo

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Bear’s microbiome shows poor evolutionary adaptation to the fibrous food. Pandas make quick work of bamboo, using their powerful jaws to peel back the plant’s tough outer stalk and reach the tender heart. But new research suggests that microorganisms in the bear’s gut are not quite as adept at breaking down the species’ primary food […]

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* Serengeti Park disappearing

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A huge wildebeest herd migrates across the open, parched plains. Dust swirls up from the many hooves pounding the ground, and forms a haze over the landscape. The setting sun gives the scene a golden tinge. Serengeti National Park is the symbol of Africa’s abundant wildlife. The herd heading towards one of the life-giving water […]

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* Global decline of large herbivores may lead to an ’empty landscape’

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The decline of the world’s large herbivores, especially in Africa and parts of Asia, is raising the specter of an ’empty landscape’ in some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Many populations of animals such as rhinoceroses, zebras, camels, elephants and tapirs are diminishing or threatened with extinction in grasslands, savannahs, deserts and […]

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Wolf decline threatens iconic island study

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Just three animals remain on Isle Royale, spelling probable end of 57-year ecology project. The longest-running predator–prey study in the world may run out of predators as early as next year. Isle Royale is down to its last three wolves, researchers announced on 17 April. Scientists have chronicled the fluctuating populations of moose and wolves […]

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Critically endangered monkey photographed in Congo’s newest national park, Ntokou-Pikounda

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Two primatologists working in the forests of the Republic of Congo have returned from the field with a noteworthy prize: the first-ever photograph of the Bouvier’s red colobus monkey, a rare primate not seen for more than half a century and suspected to be extinct by some, according to WCS (the Wildlife Conservation Society). The […]

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* World’s second most endangered turtle on road to recovery

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WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) announced that 60 captive-raised Myanmar roofed turtles — a species once thought extinct — have been released into their native habitat in Myanmar. More than 350 villagers, government representatives, and religious leaders attended ceremonies for the release. “This is the first chapter of a longer […]

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* Setting a dinner table for wildlife can affect their risk of disease

The findings, published in the journal Ecology Letters, have implications for human health and wildlife conservation, and contain practical suggestions for wildlife disease management and a roadmap for future study. Supplemental feeding–when people provide food to wildlife–is growing more common. As people move into previously undeveloped areas and habitat is lost to development or agriculture, […]

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A peek at the secret life of pandas

A team of Michigan State University (MSU) researchers who have been electronically stalking five pandas in the wild, courtesy of rare GPS collars, have finished crunching months of data and has published some panda surprises in this month’s Journal of Mammalogy. “Pandas are such an elusive species and it’s very hard to observe them in […]

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* Avian influenza A(H10N7) virus–associated mass deaths among harbor seals

Avian influenza A viruses occasionally cross the species barrier; influenza A(H5N1) virus and the recently emerged influenza A(H7N9) virus are prime examples of bird-to-human transmission. In addition, avian influenza A viruses can cross to various other mammalian species, including pinnipeds (e.g., seals). Recently, mass deaths have occurred among harbor seals (Phoca vitulina); hundreds of carcasses […]

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* To save an entire species, all you need is $1. 3 million a year

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The international team of researchers includes scientists from the Max-Planck Odense Center at the University of Southern Denmark, Imperial College of London, Australia’s University of Queensland, the American Bird Conservancy, the IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, the International Species Information System, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Burak Güneralp, research assistant professor […]

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* Tiger dad: Rare family portrait of amur tigers the first-ever to include an adult male

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Biologists have released a camera trap slideshow of a family of Amur tigers in the wild showing an adult male with family. Shown following the “tiger dad” along the Russian forest is an adult female and three cubs. Scientists note this is a first in terms of photographing this behavior, as adult male tigers are […]

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Social status has impact on overall health of mammals

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In a first-of-its-kind study involving a wild species, Michigan State University researchers have shown that social and ecological factors affect animal health. The results, published in the current issue of Biology Letters, focused on spotted hyenas in Kenya. “High-ranking members in hyena clans reproduce more, they live longer and appear to be in better overall […]

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Red deer as maintenance host for bovine tuberculosis, Alpine region

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To estimate the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in the Alpine region, we studied the epidemiology of Mycobacterium caprae in wildlife during the 2009–2012 hunting seasons. Free-ranging red deer (Cervus elaphus) were a maintenance host in a hot-spot area, mainly located in Austria. Bovine tuberculosis has one of the broadest host ranges of any known zoonotic […]

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Mystery of Darwin’s ‘strange animals’ solved

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When Charles Darwin visited South America on HMS Beagle in the 1830s, he discovered fossils of several hefty mammals that defied classification, such as Macrauchenia, which looked like a humpless camel with a long snout; or Toxodon, with a rhino’s body, hippo’s head and rodent-like teeth — which he described as “perhaps one of the […]

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Experts question China’s panda survey

The number of giant pandas living in the wild has risen by a sixth over the past decade, according to a long-anticipated survey unveiled by China’s State Forestry Administration on 28 February. But experts say it is unclear if the results can be compared to previous national counts. The argument is bound to re-ignite the […]

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Spillover of Mycobacterium bovis from wildlife to livestock, South Africa

Bovine tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The wide host range of the pathogen comprises humans and domestic and wild animals. Great strides in controlling bovine tuberculosis have drastically reduced its prevalence in livestock and humans, particularly in industrialized countries. However, in developing countries in southern Africa and elsewhere, bovine tuberculosis remains […]

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