Thursday, May 31, 2007

Northern White Rhinos: San Diego rhino has died

CBS2.com reports the very sad news that Nadi, a Northern White Rhino brought to San Diego Zoo from Africa in 1972 has died, most likely of old-age.
Northern white rhinos are considered critically endangered. Along with the two remaining at the Wild Animal Park, the zoo says there are six at a zoo in the Czech Republic and as few as five believed to be roaming in the African wild.
Link: San Diego Zoo

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Budapest Hotel adopts Layla

Here's the Budapest Sun Online with news that the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest has officially adopted Layla, Lulu's artificially inseminated baby, and said it was "proud to take an active part in facilitating the bringing up of this special animal, and providing support to Budapest Zoo, one of the city's historic landmarks."
"Adopting baby Layla, the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest proudly joins Budapest Zoo's Foundation to support the operations of this magnificent institution," the hotel said in a statement.

"The adoption scheme is integral to the hotel's charity and community work.

"We will organize special zoo walks for the Bolyai Children's Home and the Kempinski Corvinus Junior Club, and recommend the zoo to the children staying in the hotel, according to the Kempinski for Kids program."
Very nice.

While we're on the subject of rhinos, you've got to July 24th if you'd like to make a contribution to our Save The Rhino fundraiser. I've had a number of grateful emails from folks at Save The Rhino for all our efforts, so with one final push maybe we can hit our £500 target. Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Baiji Dolphins: Western media's response lacking?

Back in April, Jeremy Leon Hance wrote a truly heartfelt article for Mongabay.com on the apparent disinterest in the Baiji extinction story by the media giants in the West. I think I saw more initial coverage than Jeremy makes out (and in some surprising places), but I have to agree that what there was disappeared very very quickly. And now the Baiji is gone, what do you think? **UPDATE** The BuzzDash poll has been posted on the main BuzzDash page with a slight tweak, so I'm showing that version now...

The news came and went with an alacrity that I found alarming, almost jolting. I waited for weeks, faithfully; I could not believe that the initial announcement would be followed by nothing but silence on the issue, no rationalizations, no opinions, no discussions, no outpourings of grief. Just silence.

The ‘Goddess of the Yangtze’, the baiji, was gone from this earth and it seemed the extinction equaled the importance of, say, Captain America’s more recent and fictional death. It is during such times that I wonder if people really understand what extinction means. It is not the death of an individual; it’s a species—wholly unique in the world—that will never again grace the planet. Furthermore, this extinction was not brought on by natural cataclysm or selection; this was a species driven to extinction—not even intentionally (i.e. for food or survival) but apathetically and dumbly—by another species. I thought such a global loss deserved a little more press and certainly more feeling.
Read the rest of Jeremy's great article at Mongabay.com.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Video: Buffalo vs Lions vs Crocodiles

Here's a quite amazing video of a titanic battle between a herd of Buffalo, a pride of Lions and a couple of crocodiles thrown in for good measure. Place your bets please...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rebels holding Mountain Gorillas hostage

This has to be one of the most despicable acts of cowardliness I've ever heard. The BBC are reporting that 200 rebel Mai Mai militia fighters have attacked a nature reserve in DR Congo, killed one ranger, critically injured another three and are now threatening to slaughter a group of endangered Mountain Gorillas if the government try and bring them to justice.
WildlifeDirect director Emmanuel de Merode said the Mai Mai attack may be a reprisal for a government clampdown.

"Our understanding is that this was a deliberate attack on the Congolese wildlife authorities," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa.
[...]
"The efforts of the Congolese rangers to protect these have been quite successful but at a huge human cost."

"Over 97 rangers have been killed in Virunga National Park since the war started in 1996," he said.
Full story at: BBC NEWS - DR Congo rebel threat to gorillas.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lulu's baby now weighs more than 200kg

The China View website recently reported that Lulu the White Rhino's baby, the first to be conceived and carried-to-term by artificial insemination, has really flourished and Layla now exceeds 200kg!
Layla, who weight [sic] 58 kilograms when she was born January 23 at Budapest Zoo, had to be bottle-fed since her mother Lulu was not willing to nurse her.

The calf reached 100 kilograms on March 10 and has doubled her weight in the two months since then, zoo officials said.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sirocco, Prince of Parrots

The New Zealand Herald has a rather nice report of by Dianne Blumhardt's trip to Ulva Island to meet Sirocco, one of the eighty-six Kakapo Parrots left in the world.
Despite his importance, Sirocco, who gave an audience in a special enclosure, attended by his minder Jo, was a very down-to-earth bird.
[...]
Owl-like, his whiskery face peered into the 14 faces all staring in at him.

Excited whispers came from everyone at once. "Here he comes ... Wow, he's big ... Look how friendly he is ... I bet those claws are sharp."

Sirocco's plumage of layered white, pale green and black looked soft and silky - good camouflage for this nocturnal ground-dwelling parrot.
Full story at the New Zealand Herald.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Douglas Adams Lost Tapes - Part 3

The third issue of online science-fiction magazine Darker Matter is now online. It includes Part 3 of the Douglas Adams Lost Tapes. In this, the final installment, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author talks about some of his favourite comic creations – and reveals that he only felt really happy with two episodes of the original six-part radio series.

Stephen Fry's Last Chance To See TV series endangered?

The Stage.co.uk has some grim news which may sound the death knell for Stephen Fry's Last Chance To See TV series.
Fledgling television production and distribution company Iostar is going into liquidation after failing to raise the funding needed to carry out its plans.

The company, which was set up last autumn, had intended to raise £30 million in order to buy companies such as Stephen Fry’s production house Sprout and modelling agency Models 1.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Puck the Mountain Gorilla has died

Very sad news from this month's Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Field News. Puck, a 38-year-old female, who was one of the most well-studied of all mountain gorillas, died on April 10th.
Puck is mentioned several times (and with affection) in Fossey’s book “Gorillas in the Mist,” and Fossey notes that she had thought Puck was a male – right up until the time she gave birth to her first offspring. This first offspring (which Fossey named “Cantsbee” because she exclaimed “It can’t be” when the supposedly male Puck gave birth), is now the dominant silverback of Pablo’s group, which is the largest gorilla group ever recorded and is closely monitored by our staff at Karisoke every day.
In happier news, they also mention that Kanama, an 11-year-old female in Shinda’s group, gave birth to her first baby last month.
Her new role as a mother obliged Kanama to grow up suddenly, and to leave behind the indefatigable childish energy of her own! Just days before the birth, Kanama was playing and rolling around with her 3-year-old sister, Kubana, and with other infant and juvenile friends in the group.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Crikey! Steve Irwin, 'The Crocodile Hunter', to have a gorilla named after him!

News from Down Under (in this case Radio Australia) is that Steve Irwin is going to be being honoured posthumously by the Rwandan government and have a Mountain Gorilla named after him. Crikey!
In recognition for his role as a wildlife conservationist Rwanda is naming a baby gorilla after Mr Irwin, who died last year after he was hit by a sting-ray during a diving trip.
[...]
Steve Irwin's friend and former manager, John Stainton, says a naming ceremony will be held in the Rwandan park on June 30, but the family, including Mr Irwin's widow Terri, will be unable to attend.
[...]
It is unclear whether the gorilla will be called Steve or another name chosen by the Irwin family.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rodrigues Fruit Bats: 2500?

Steve Wing tracks cats, saves bats and has high hopes for the Arctic. Here he talks to Paula Burba of The Courier-Journal about his work at the Louisville Zoo.
"One of my favorite programs involves the highly endangered Rodrigues fruit bat. Found only on the tiny island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, their population had dwindled to only 74 individual bats. In the mid-1980s, zoos from the U.S. and the U.K. banded together … (and) started a breeding program (with 18 bats). Today, more than 500 Rodrigues fruit bats reside in 28 zoos across the world … as education ambassadors to millions of zoo visitors. … (And now) a native Rodriguan teaches school and community groups (on the island) about conservation and provides training on reforestation and waterway cleanup. As a result, there are currently more than 2,000 bats living on the island!"

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Larry On The Job: As Zookeeper

Every Friday, KDKA's Larry Richert is trying his hand at a variety of jobs around the area. His first challenge was to get over his fear of wild animals and do the job of a zookeeper at Pittsburgh Zoo - Larry On The Job: As Zookeeper. The report includes a number of videos, including Feeding The Komodo Dragon.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Manatees on a Google Map, plus video

Check out this which shows a large herd of Manatees warming themselves by a (probable) power plant water outlet in West Palm Beach, Florida.


Thanks to Google Sightseeing for finding this amazing phenomenon, and as the Wikipedia article mentions...
Manatees often congregate near power plants, which warm the waters. Some have become reliant on this source of artificial heat and have ceased migrating to warmer waters. Some power plants have recently been closing and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to find a new way to heat the water for these manatees. The main water treatment plant in Guyana has four manatees that keep storage canals clear of weeds.
Here's a YouTube video of some similar Manatees resting during cold weather. Beautiful creatures.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Code of the Kakapo: Movie Trailer

No Tobey Maguire or Tom Hanks here, but the trailer for Elwin Production's film "Code of the Kakapo" is online at YouTube. Check out the gallery of stills too.
This film will follow the dramatic events that unfold as the recovery team battles to save the species.

We will follow the teams into Fiordland on the last great kakapo search and meet the men that rescued Richard Henry, we will follow them on a journey through the mountains as we search for any mainland survivors.

We will explore the world of genetics, led by the scientists who unravelled the kakapos genetic riddle, we will find out exactly what happens to a species on the brink of extinction and uncover a surprise among the Stewart Island males.

From the first successful attempts at extracting semen to the first artificially induced chick, we will stand beside these dedicated men and women as they do everything humanly possible to produce a new, healthy generation of kakapo.