The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Orangutan Island to appear on TV

This video is of Orangutan Island. Even though Orangutans usually are solitary animals, in this video these 2 are quit different. Hear their story. The one Orangutan insists on the camera person eating and sharing his food with him. The camera person try to pretend that he's eating it, but the Orangutan knows better.
Video here

Yeah No More Monkeys in Illinois Beginning Jan 1, 2011

I'm so glad to see that IL has decided to do the right thing and ban monkeys in their state on Jan 1, 2011. I just want to rejoice!!! What a way to start a new year. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of other states to follow. Florida and Missouri really need to follow their lead. Missouri is where Connie Casey-Braun that breeds chimps and monkeys lives and Florida, well, they just sell anything.
I hope they keep their word with the ones that aren't registered and take them away to be in sanctauries.

Monkey Owning Prohibited

(Springfield) -- If you're thinking about getting a pet monkey, you can forget about it in Illinois.

New laws start January 1st that bans residents from owning primates.

The law keeps you from owning chimps, gorillas, monkeys and orangutans.

If you already have a primate, you're fine as long as it is registered with local animal control officials.

Therapy monkeys are also exempted from the new law and the new laws also allow zoos, circuses and science labs to get new primates.

Another new law for pets also starts in the new year.

Pet stores will now need to give buyers a detailed history of animals, including their health.

Story credit here

Chimpanzees Extinct in four African countries

The wilderness can be deceiving.
This is not far from the capital of Sierra Leone where man is encroaching ever further into the jungle - and it's the animals who are paying the price.
Habitat loss is just one threat to west African chimpanzees - one of the most endangered sub-species.
And this is where the displaced end up.

The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary was founded almost by accident when Bala Amarasekaran found a baby chimp for sale on the side of the road.
15 years on, the sanctuary has survived a bloody civil war to become home to a hundred chimps with its own veterinarian.

[Dr. Simona Papa, Resident Veterinarian]:
"When there is a new arrival there are specific protocols that, there is a quarantine that we follow, there is a minimum three months period. We usually collect blood, we run the basic tests for the main infectious diseases, we obviously, if there is any major injuries or any major disease, we try to sort out."

In the wild, chimpanzee numbers in Sierra Leone have declined dramatically.

They are now extinct in four African countries where they used to flourish.

[Bala Amarasekaran, Founder of The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary]:

"The western chimpanzee is the most endangered among the sub-species and between Guinea and Sierra Leone we are having almost 50% of that population."
story credit here and video

Thursday, December 30, 2010

55 Macaque Monkeys go from experimental lab to Sanctuaries

Aug 2010
In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection and rescue organization came to the aid of 55 macaque monkeys that have been the victims of a bureaucratic struggle since April when AniClin Laboratories in Oxford, New Jersey went into bankruptcy. The monkeys were used by the toxicology lab in experiments, along with 118 beagles.

IDA coordinated a 1,700-mile rescue mission to deliver the monkeys to primate sanctuaries where they tasted freedom for the first time in their lives.

When IDA President, Scotlund Haisley received a desperate plea to help the macaque monkeys, he pledged the support of his organization. The lab the monkeys came from had been repeatedly cited by the USDA for Animal Welfare Act violations. They were used in experiments that ranged from brain lesions, invasive brain studies, Ebola virus, stroke, plague and drug-induced seizure.

“These young monkeys would have been subjected to decades behind bars in cramped stainless steel cages, forced to endure painful toxicology tests,” said Haisley. “Now they will have a life filled with fresh air, friends and freedom from harm.”

The rescue of the lab animals began after New York –based animal activist Camille Hankins from Win Animal Rights, received an anonymous tip from a former AniClin employee. Care2 blogger Megan Drake wrote about the ordeal in her story, “Dogs and Primates Freed from Lab this Independence Day Weekend!” She reported how the animals were trapped inside the lab after it closed and that former employees were scaling the fences to feed and take care of the beagles and monkeys.

IDA intervened to save the animals by sending their “pro bono” attorney Kathryn Flood, to negotiate their release. And with the hard work of Hankins, IDA and other activist groups all of the dogs and monkeys were released in early July. The beagles were placed in several animal rescue shelters and IDA stepped forward to transport the monkeys to primate sanctuaries.

In a project that cost more than $25,000 and covered more than 1,700 miles, IDA staff and volunteers delivered eight of the macaques to their new home at Mindy’s Memory Sanctuary in Newcastle, OK. Then the transport traveled to Texas where Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Primarily Primates, and Born Free USA welcomed the remaining monkeys.

By the end of last week all of the monkeys were safe in their new homes. They are free from the small stainless steel cages where they were confined for years, living in isolation from each other.
In his blog on the IDA website Haisley had this to say about the monkeys’ first taste of freedom. “I wish you had been there with me to witness the monkeys experiencing the outside world for the first time. Upon entering their new habitats they brushed their hands through the green grass, the wind blowing through their fur, and they stared up into the sun, taking in the immense blue sky for the first time. They had been held in cruel solitary confinement, deprived of crucial relationships with their own species. They are now beginning to bond with one another and form the intimate, complex relationships that come naturally to these social animals,” wrote Haisley.
Story Credit Here and Video

Great Videos of Gorillas and Monkeys

Here is a good website for visual information in regards to Gorillas and Monkeys, done by Ape Alliance.
Click Here

Konoa, the baby De Brazza Monkey born at the Denver Zoo

Baby Kanoa has joined the family of De Brazza's monkeys at the Denver Zoo.

The male was born Nov. 27 to mother, Marinda, and father, Kisoro, the zoo said in a news release today. Kanoa joins sister Kanani, who just turned a year old this month.

The zoo says Kanoa is now climbing around his habitat at Primate Panorama.

"Kanoa" is Hawaiian for "free one." The zoo described the new baby as "very independent and precocious despite his mother's early attempts to be protective."

Marinda was born in captivity in Fort Wayne, Ind., and came to Denver from North Carolina in 2009 to be paired with Kisoro, who was rescued in 2006 from the bushmeat trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the zoo said.

No one knows how many De Brazza's monkeys live in the swamps and forests of central Africa. The animals "are excellent at hiding and can freeze in place for several hours," eluding detection.

A fully grown male weighs 15 pounds, and a female about half that.
They are named for Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, a French explorer.

Story Credit Here

Monkey Problems in Shimla

If you cry out the word ‘monkey’ in front of any kid from Shimla, you would definitely get a scared and nervy retort. Such has been the annoyance and fright of the intimidating primates that people would rather tend to change the path from where they are walking, in case they see a herd nearby, than try to scare them away.
What makes them so different from the other stray animals that you find on the

Photo: Mohit Behl

Indian streets (dogs, cattle, rodents), is their aggressiveness and intelligence. Quite similar to us in many ways, their adaptability and ability to live off human refuse has made them a cause of concern for the human population living in the urban or rural areas alike.
Getting rid of these pesky simians has been a long drawn political agenda in the capital city. Solutions such as mass extradition to uninhabited areas or sterilization have been carried out. But how much these solutions have actually solved the problem, is a debatable topic. It is obvious that deporting them to secluded areas helps, but this species is known to travel long distances in search of food, a result of their intelligent and highly developed brain. Sterilization also helps, but finding the males and sterilizing them individually is a massive task in itself, plus also the infrastructure of our country makes it a burden on the economy. As per the Wildlife Institution of India, until 70 per cent of any species is sterilized, the population of the species cannot be controlled. Plus there is also the debate, which many wildlife conservationists put up, that this is ‘unethical’, and we are going against the law of nature.

Then is mass eradication of the species the solution? Again the answer is debatable. Isn’t that what we do to mosquitoes or other pests that trouble us. Even mosquitoes have a contribution to the overall life cycle of the planet. Why would killing the excess monkeys be a problem then?

Yes, in the wild the monkeys serve a amazing purpose, i.e. they eat the seeds of some plant, then, afterwards, through their faeces the seeds get a new and different germinating ground. But in the urban areas, where these “Rhesus Macaques” have found a safe breeding ground, even that purpose is not served.

Time and time again, due to pestilence of monkeys in the rural areas, the government has allowed controlled killing of the primates, but that has led to contradictory reactions from wildlife lovers and the wildlife protecting agencies namely Mrs Maneka Gandhi-founded PETA. And being a wildlife lover and also having an agricultural background, I myself, am caught in the dilemma, of killing the monkey, or protecting my crop.

Initially, my father, Mr Chander Chauhan, who has his agricultural land in Kotkhai, Shimla, used fireworks to scare the monkeys away, but as these primates are equally intelligent, over a period of time they got used to the drill, and would hardly react to the explosions. Then he tried his trained canines to scare the monkeys away. But the inability of the dogs to climb trees was a hindrance. And also the aggression of the monkeys is as such than rather than eating the fruit from the trees, they tend to climb on the trees and shake the branches, which leads to dropping of the fruit. So overall they cause much more harm than any other fruit-eating animals. Same would be the case for other farmers as well. So what does the farmer do, apart from killing the monkeys? Yes, some scientists do suggest the use of infrasonic sound waves to keep the monkeys away, but the practicality of the idea is yet to be proved, plus it requires a hefty investment.

The Himachal Pradesh government has spent nearly 20 crore rupees, in order to stop the ‘monkey menace’. But we all know the problem is far from being solved. I personally don’t see any improvement in the situation. So what steps can be taken in this context.

There are two very practical and efficient ways to reduce the simian population. One is to develop enclosed captivity areas for monkeys; that way they are not subjected to any cruelty, and for once the nuisance and menace of the simians can also be ended.

Second is to restart exporting of monkeys to places like Puerto Rico, which was in practice before 1978, for the purpose of lab testing. It was again stopped due to complain by Mrs Gandhi.

And last but definitely not the least, we the citizens of the state need to stop feeding the simians and also need to make sure that they do not get access to any dump or refuse. Once the monkeys will get less food, hence their chances of survival in the urban areas will be less and that will lead to a direct reduction in the population.
Story Credit Here

Baby Bonobo, Teco, has a baby sitter, his dad

I love the Great Ape Trust. This is one of few organizations that I believe in.

If Christmas is about anything, it’s about the beauty of kids, from the poignancy of Bethlehem to the wonder of the tree.

In this blog, my last in a series of four (here, here, and here), I’ll offer some thoughts on a beautiful kid called Teco.

Teco is a 6-month-old bonobo chimpanzee, already crawling and walking way more adeptly than a human 6-month-old, exploring a culture created by both humans and bonobos at the Great Ape Trust.

Teco was born lacking a cling reflex, preventing him from being transported on the fur of his mother Elikya. She tried carrying him in her arms but it was burdensome, and after two months of effort, she made it clear to Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, whom she’s known from birth, that Sue needed to take over.

Hanging out with Sue and Teco at the Great Ape Trust.

Ursula Goodenough/NPR Hanging out with Sue and Teco at the Great Ape Trust.

I’ll tell two brief Teco stories this morning, one about how Sue is raising him, and the other about how his father, Kanzi, is interfacing with him.

Sitting on the floor with Teco and Sue last week was just like the hundreds of times I’ve sat on the floor with a mom and her kid, except that this kid had splendid fur. His room is festooned with the kind of colorful “enrichment” stuff you’d buy at Toys 'R' Us. The futon they sleep on is in one corner. A pacifier and fresh diapers lie in readiness.
Teco has an iPad loaded with lots of kid apps — alphabets, nursery songs, names of animals — and he spends hours swatting at it and getting new things to happen. New objects first go straight into his mouth, then get pulled and twisted around in his deft fingers, his eyes intently focused on yet another novelty. And then lots of the time he’s just curled up in Sue’s lap, being hugged, kissed and tickled.

A new keyboard version of a lexigram has been installed on the wall in Teco’s room that allows for the immediate addition of new words and has a drag-and- select interface like the iPad. He’s still too little to use it, but Sue is already using it in his presence – touching symbols and saying words — to familiarize him with the modus operandi. The Trust scientists have come to understand that bonobo language-learning happens like human language-learning: Adults use language-based words in speaking to youngsters, and youngsters come to understand their meaning.

The difference between this modus and training your dog to roll over when you say “roll over” is that the bonobo youngsters are also familiarized with symbols that denote particular words, and they come to understand that they can touch particular symbols on a lexigram when they want to use those words. That is, they are able to translate their own mental experience into symbols/words that denote their mental experience. Once that key insight is grasped, then it’s a short step to combine words and to understand combined words, a.k.a sentences.

And the language game is on.

Teco’s cognitive progression will obviously be of keen interest to his Trust caregivers, just as a child’s cognition is of keen interest to family members. But his caregivers are also keenly interested that he be fully immersed in his bonobo context, which brings me to my second story.

When Teco was an infant, he was happy to be passed around and inspected and groomed by all the adult bonobos in the group, much like a human infant being handed around at a family gathering. An example of this is shown in an extraordinary video of Teco with his uncle Nyota.

But of late, something has “kicked in” that Sue calls Teco’s sense of free will. He’s now circumspect with unfamiliar humans and bonobos alike, taking time to warm up to them. He’s “his own little person,” a transformation that typically occurs in human babies at about 9-10 months and occurs in baby bonobos in the context of both their genetic endowment and the Pan/Homo cultural ambience at the Trust.

Kanzi’s understanding of this transformation has been recorded by Sue in a video — soon to be posted on the Trust website — that I’ll try to describe.

Teco comes into a room where Kanzi and Sue are sitting. Sue first asks Kanzi to take off Teco’s diaper and he does so deftly, pulling on one plastic strip and then the other. Then, instead of picking Teco up as he would have done pre-free-will, Kanzi moves into a corner, sits down, and watches while the baby scampers about. Whenever Teco comes near, Kanzi reaches out and gently strokes him. He then tries to engage the baby in little-kid-style games: he strums his fingers on the floor, looking up hopefully to see if that draws attention; when it doesn’t, he scoots along the floor pushing a large sheet of paper and Teco runs after it; he then does the same thing with a box. Throughout the clip, Kanzi evinces the heart-warming interest of a new Dad — eager to be accepted, eager for relationship, yet respectful of his son’s space and personhood.

Does Kanzi know that Teco is his son? Does Teco think that Sue is his mother? We may never know the answers to these interesting questions that we know how to ask. But meanwhile, what’s important right now is that out on the great plains of Iowa this Christmas, a very small bonobo is being enfolded in a most extraordinary convergence of love and curiosity from members of his own species and of his adopted species. A bit of a miracle I would say.

Story Credit here and a must see video

Frisky's is a Sanctuary? Monkeys

Well Readers, I know this woman personally. I use to live about 45 minutes away from, her name is Colleen. I made several huge donations to her with food. I would go to the produce market and buy cases upon cases of fruit and deliver them to her so called "sanctuary". I bought tons of monkey chow and delivered them and bought and had shipped 20 heating pads for the smaller animals. On one of my visits she gave me a box. In this box were little clothes that she had used for one of her monkeys that use to perform. There was also this little red and white striped tent. When I asked Colleen about this she said it was a part of her act with this monkey. I asked her why she stopped doing the act. Her reply back to me, and honestly these were her words. "I decided to stop when my monkey took his hand and nails and ripped open his stomach." I thought I was going to fall and pass out right there and then. I can not remember the monkeys name, though I did meet him.

I stopped donating when I saw the overabundance of babies that just "appeared" there. Sanctauries should not have baby monkeys without their mothers. If Frisky's is a sanctuary and has had babies where did they come from? Sanctauries are not suppose to breed and people don't just give up a baby monkey. They cost anywhere between 4,000.00-8,000.00 depending on the breed. In other words, I found out she WAS NOT a "true" sanctuary! Do some research on her and her sanctuary and you will find some things that just aren't right.
Here's her website

Frisky's Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary is an invaluable resource for the animals and residents in our community. In addition to the thousands of injured wild animals and exotic pets they have rescued and housed for more than 20 years, they provide education about compassion for those who have no voice, like the unfortunate monkeys that people think they can keep as pets, then abandon.

I came to know Frisky's when my daughter's Girl Scout troop took a tour. The girls raised money for them, as they provide services purely by donations and volunteers. No tax dollars are spent to keep them going. So many people love and appreciate what Frisky's does for our animal friends that it was easier to get donations then to sell Girl Scout cookies!
It is an abomination that so much time and money is being wasted arguing about zoning because someone who bought a house next to Frisky's doesn't want to live near monkeys. Frisky's was already there when they moved in, and in more than 20 years of operation there has never been a single incident of a monkey escaping or hurting anyone.

At the last meeting I attended on this issue, there must've been over 100 people there in support of Frisky's, so many they couldn't all testify. Not a single person was there in support of the disgruntled neighbors.

Please help stop the madness and make our zoning officials accountable.

Story here

Sex Differences between Bonobo Apes and Chimpanzee Apes

Contrary to popular notions, our preoccupation with sex is not part of our base instincts, nor is it especially like any of the other animals. Most animals use sex exclusively for reproduction. Even bonded pairs seldom use sex for anything other than making babies.

In fact, there are only two notable species in which sex is primarily a social activity, and they’re both apes. Specifically, Homo sapiens and Pan paniscus. You know them better as humans and bonobos.

You aren’t going to see anything this intimate anywhere in the animal kingdom besides us and our close ape relatives. Besides being unique in the social use of sex, we’re also pretty close to unique in the level of intimacy we achieve. Like us, bonobos often stare deeply into each others eyes both before and during sex. We both enjoy cuddling afterward.

Go anywhere outside of this little evolutionary enclave of sexual liberation, and you’re not going to find much “self-actualization” from sex. It simply isn’t there to be found. And that’s a very important concept for us to think about. Because in evolutionary terms, our split with the bonobo was astonishingly recent, and it’s likely that we co-evolved our love of oxytocin as a social drug.
What’s that I hear you saying? I’m going too far overboard comparing us to bonobos? Chimps are closer relatives?
Well, that’s technically true… slightly. But we’re not really that much like chimps. Here’s an interesting breakdown of the sexual behaviors of chimps, humans, and bonobos:
•Human and bonobo females have sex through their whole cycle, as well as during pregnancy and lactation. Chimps do not.

•Human and bonobo females remain with their group after giving birth and show little or no fear of infanticide. Chimps are notorious baby killers, and females protect their young from the group.

•Humans and bonobos enjoy different positions as well as variety during individual acts of coitus. Both human and bonobo females tend to prefer missionary or other face-to-face sex positions. Chimps are exclusively about the doggy style.

•Bonobos and humans enjoy eye-gazing and deep kissing. Chimps do not.

•The vulva is oriented forward in bonobos and humans. It’s oriented rearward in chimps.

•Food and sex go hand in hand with bonobos and humans. Chimps are more reticent to share.

•Homosexuality is common in humans and bonobos. It’s rare in chimps.

•Humans and bonobos use sex for purely social reasons quite frequently. It’s primarily reproductive in chimps.

But I think I hear another objection. Humans don’t “naturally” go for the kind of orgiastic free-for all that bonobos enjoy? We naturally gravitate to exclusive pair bonds?
If that is so, how then do we explain the dozens of “primitive” cultures that do not subscribe to this viewpoint?
•The Aché,
•the Bari,
•the Canela,
•the Cashinahua,
•the Curripaco,
•the Ese Eja,
•the Kayapó,
•the Kulina,
•the Matis,
•the Mehinaku,
•the Piaroa,
•the Pirahã,
•the Secoya,
•the Siona,
•the Warao,
•the Yanomami,
•the Ye’kwana

This is but a small sampling of the cultures in which the “one man, one woman” concept of both sex and parenting is completely foreign. In fact, the Aché have four distinct words for “father,” and each of them is believed to be necessary for a child to be born:

•Miare: The father who put it in
•Peroare: The father who mixed it
•Momboare: The father who spilled it out
•Bykuare: The father who provided the child’s essence.

Make no mistake. These are tribal cultures, many steps closer to our “animal origins” in terms of cultural complexity. And they believe that a woman needs to have sex with at least four men for a baby to be born. There are even cultures in which not having extramarital sex is considered a sin. In many cultures, it is considered a moral failing for a man to reject sex with a woman who has already had sex with several members of the tribe. They believe that babies are built from multiple inseminations, and that without continued sex with multiple males during pregnancy, the baby will not fully form.

There is actually precious little empirical evidence that “one man, one woman, and their children” is the most “natural” way for humans to mate and reproduce. In fact, there is considerable evidence that in tribal cultures, children with multiple “fathers” are much more likely to survive childhood than those with only one. Rather than being thought of as bastards, children with many fathers are the prized possession of the tribe. If one, or two, or even five of their fathers die, there are still many men with warm parental feelings towards them.
So whence comes our preoccupation with exclusivity and monogamy? That’s a tougher question to answer, and it involves a certain amount of guesswork. But make no mistake — the facts are the facts, and our interpretation must not make light of them, nor may it brush them casually aside. The thing that makes human sexuality different from animal sexuality is precisely that we are obsessed with it, that we desire it with many different people, and that we use it for social purposes as much or more than the animals. If you want to have sex like an animal, lose your sex drive and only do it when you want a baby.
de Waal, F. (2005) Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature. London: Granta Books.
Ryan, C and Cacilda, J. (2010) Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. U.S: HarperCollins.
Information Here

Evolution of the Orangutan

The similarities between orangutans and humans, and the closeness of our evolutionary history, is often cited as a primary reason for the importance of orangutan conservation initiatives, but what this actually means, and just how closely related we are to Asia’s only great ape, is often confusing.

Genetic studies in to the DNA structure of orangutans and humans has shown that our genome, our hereditary information, differs by a remarkably small amount. As such, orangutans and humans both belong to the scientific order known as the primates, the group of mammals that contains all the monkeys, prosimians (the pre-monkeys) and apes living today. One of the oldest surviving mammal groups, the primate lineage is thought to go back at least 65 million years ago, when small, arboreal, insect eating mammals, referred to as the Euarochonta, were beginning the process of speciation that eventually led to the primates we see today, one of the most diverse and varied groups of animals. Primates inhabit almost every part of the world, with the non-human species’ found predominantly in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

While there isn’t one unique characteristic that defines a primate, there are a number of characteristics that are found throughout species of this order, including an opposable thumb, which aids strong, grasping hands; forward facing eyes, which allow three-dimensional viewing; eye sockets, which protect the eyeball; fingerprints unique to each individual, and much larger brains, in comparison to body size.
Primates are divided in to two scientific sub-orders. The primates considered the most primitive, or those that have retained the most number of features of the ancestral primates, are classified as being Strepsirrhines, and include the lemurs of Madagascar, the galago’s potto’s and angwantibo’s of Africa, and the lorises of Asia. The tarsiers, monkeys and apes are classified as Haplorhines, on account of their larger brains, specially adapted hands and feet, and wider range of facial features, a result of the lack of a rhinarium, or a wet snout.

Around 30 million years ago, the primates of the Haplorhini divided in to two further groups, the Platyrrhini, which now consists of the modern day New World monkeys of South and Central America, and the Catharinni, made up of the Old World monkeys of Africa and Asia, and the apes. This latter group split in to two superfamilies at approximately 20-25 million years ago, as evolutionary pressures gave rise to drastic differences in the primate species. Modern day Old World monkeys make up the superfamily Cercopithecoidea, The apes- the gibbons, chimpanzees, bonobo’s, gorillas, orangutans and humans- are the only surviving members of the superfamily Hominoidea.
Around 20-19 million years ago, a primate had evolved in central Africa that had characteristics of both Old World monkeys and apes. This primate, named Proconsul, included four known species and had a posture that was similar to that of a monkey. However, its lack of a tail, facial structure and strong grasping capabilities marks it out as an ape, and studies in to the growth and form of fossilized Proconsul teeth have shown that this primates life history was similar to that of a modern day gibbon, with additional features of other apes and monkeys. It is likely that the first apes evolved from a monkey-like creature that had descended to the ground, and, through the process of evolution, lost many of its ancestral features, acquiring new ones as it adapted to its new environment. For example, a tail would be useful for a life in the canopy, aiding as it does movement and balance. On the ground, a long tail would be a hindrance to terrestrial movement, and would be one of the first adaptations to disappear. Whether or not Proconsul is an intermediate between monkeys and apes, and a common ancestor of present day apes in the evolutionary tree, is still debated, but, regardless, Proconsul is one of earth’s first known apes.

Between 9 and 17 million years ago, apes from the genus Dryopithecus were living not just in Africa, but were the first known species’ of ape to have migrated in to Europe and Asia, giving clues to the migratory patterns of our ancestors. Although there are variations in the five species of this genus, like Proconsul, it resembled a monkey in many ways, but the bones in the forearm and elbow suggested it moved about in the tree tops like an orangutan or a gibbon. However, its skull formation is similar to the chimpanzee. Like all fossils, its evolutionary position is debated, but some scientists have claimed that Dryopithecus and its close relatives were the ancestors of all the extant great apes.

During this period, between 8.5-12.5 million years ago, three species of the genus Sivapithecus were living in the rainforests of Asia. Sivapithecus was around 1.5 meters in height, and many of its physical attributes resembled those of a chimpanzee. However, like an orangutan, it had a concave face with projecting incisors and large canines. Fossils of Sivapithecus species have been found in Turkey, China and Pakistan, and analysis of bone structure indicates they were adept at movement on both the ground and in the trees, and fed on a diet of savannah grasses and seeds. The genus Sivapithecus is now acknowledged as being the direct ancestor of modern day orangutans, and scientists believe that this line, the lineage that descended to modern day orangutans, branched off from the line that descended to modern day gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobo’s and humans at around 12 million years ago.

The orangutan is the only non-human great ape found in Asia, but this development is relatively recent, as another group of primates may have evolved from Sivapithecus, and lived at the same time as orangutans, in what are now China, India and Vietnam. Gigantopithecus lived between 300,000 to a million years ago, and was, as its name suggests, a giant, the largest apes ever known, with males of the largest known species weighing as much as 540kg, twice as much as a male gorilla. Gigantopithecus was thought to feed chiefly on plants, and live terrestrially, walking on all four limbs, like a gorilla. Why Gigantophithecus died out is unknown, but it is possible it was hunted to extinction by early man.

While the orangutan lineage was evolving in Asia, the primates that led to the modern day African great apes and humans were still in Africa. Fossil evidence of ancestral gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobo’s is sparse, due to the acidity of rainforest soil, which tends to dissolve, rather than fossilize, bones, but fossils of early humans found in open savannahs, and genetic mapping of the human and non-human ape genome, have given a clearer picture of how the other great apes evolved. The line that descended to modern day gorillas is believed to have diverted from the line that chimpanzees and humans followed at around 8 million years ago, with the chimpanzee lineage diverting from the human lineage at around 4 million years ago. The line that led to modern day bonobo’s is thought to have split from the chimpanzee line at around 2.5 million years ago. It should be noted, however, that some scientists date the split between the human and chimpanzee lineages at around 7 million years, on account of fossils found in Kenya, named Orrorin, which have distinctly human characteristics and have been dated at 6 to 5.8 million years old.

The human, or hominin, fossil collection is reasonably large, and although there is confusion and debate about the exact route the lineage from ancestral apes to human has taken, the evolution from a quadruped covered in fur to the hairless bipedal ape we are today is well documented, and current estimates put the emergence of Homo Sapiens in Africa at around 200,000 years ago, with migration to the rest of the world dated at between 80,000-60,000 years ago.
Information Credit Here

Mely the Orangutan gets a new life

This is a fine example that every person can help........

Three months ago, she was in shackles, with a chain clamped around her neck and desperation in her eyes.

After being neglected and held captive for 15 years, Mely the orangutan struggled to walk, climb or feed herself. But what a difference 12 weeks – and the generosity of Daily Mail readers – makes.

Now, playing happily in her nest and eating fruit and leaves, the look on Mely’s face clearly shows she is enjoying every moment of her new life after being rescued from a riverside shack in Borneo.

‘When Mely first arrived her steps were very calculated and slow since she had to learn how to walk and climb,’ said Carolynn Fitterer, a volunteer with the charity International Animal Rescue.
‘But now she has become quite playful, and I always see her weaving in and out of tyre swings and ropes suspended in mid air.’

As a baby, Mely was taken as a pet by a fisherman who shot her mother as a trophy.

But as she grew into an adult, he lost interest, leaving her chained to the balcony as a tourist attraction and surviving on scraps of unsuitable food that were thrown to her.

After Mely’s plight featured in the Mail, readers raised more than £8,000 to help International Animal Rescue seize her.
She travelled by river, road and air to get to the forest sanctuary in Ketapang, Indonesia.

Miss Fitterer said: ‘Mely’s personality is so sweet I never would have guessed she came from such a horrific background. She always comes over to say hello, and she is incredibly gentle.

'Mely got to do so many things for the first time here, like touch the hand of another orangutan, climb higher than one metre off the ground, and sleep in a bed of leaves.’
Story Credit Here

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seized Reptiles were "on loan" from Zoos

Um I wonder what other types of animals they dump? Boy am I glad that I have a contract with the zoo where I placed my Chimpanzees that says they can't go anywhere.

Seized Reptiles Were "On Loan" from Zoos

(Milwaukee County, WI) Discovered by police investigating an assault case, scores of allegedly neglected reptiles – many reportedly ill or with injuries, some already dead – were rescued from Terry Cullen’s residence in May 2010. In yet another example of the link between animal abuse and violence against humans, Cullen is facing charges related to alleged animal abuse, sexual assault and false imprisonment.

Cullen had presented himself as a reptile collector for years, and many of the animals in his possession, including endangered species, were reportedly loaned to him by zoos. That only a handful of these zoos are reported to have come forward to take responsibility for the animals they had given to Cullen “on loan” is no surprise to seasoned wildlife rescuers. Quoted in the Journal-Sentinal is the Colorado Reptile Humane Society’s director Ann-Elizabeth Nash:

"Decades-long transfers of the animals don't make any sense. There is either an institutional commitment to the animal or there isn't," she said. "This is a Pandora's box. Not many people know about this, but numbers-wise this kind of thing is going to make puppy mill seizures a joke. There is this behind-the-scenes interaction between AZA institutions and institutions not AZA. What is the level of self-policing the AZA does? What are the vetting protocols to loan to non-AZA? There is a feeling that if the animal doesn't have fur, it's not something we need to worry about."

Take Action!

Locals are encouraged to support the prosecution by attending court proceedings. A hearing date in the criminal case against Terry Cullen is currently scheduled for March 28, 2011. (Always contact the Court to confirm court dates and locations as they are subject to change.) Please notify us at if you plan on attending.

Contact the zoos in your state and ask them to document their policies on “animal loans” for you. Many zoos benefit from taxpayer dollars, and the public should expect there to be a goal of lifetime responsibility with respect to each animal a zoo accepts into its charge, with a clear and transparent record-keeping system in place to discourage untraceable animal dealing. It is unfortunately a rare zoo that meets this responsibility with any meaningful accuracy – breeding programs resulting in animal “surpluses,” “group populations” such as flocks and colonies often being considered in sum, and a zoo’s dependence on entrance gate profits (and indeed the public’s demand for “newer and cuter”) all contribute to a zoo’s participation in the revolving doors of the exotic animal trade industry. Please contact the zoos in your area and email any feedback you receive to ALDF at

Information source and great organization

Does your favorite Zoo have revolving doors for their animals?

Please contact the zoos in your state and ask them to document their policies on "animal loans" for you. Many zoos benefit from taxpayer dollars, and the public should expect there to be a goal of lifetime responsibility with respect to each animal a zoo accepts into its charge, with a clear and transparent record-keeping system in place to discourage untraceable animal dealing.

It is unfortunately a rare zoo that meets this responsibility with any meaningful accuracy -- breeding programs resulting in animal "surpluses," a zoo's dependence on entrance gate profits and the public's demand for "newer and cuter" all contribute to a zoo's participation in the revolving doors of the exotic animal trade industry.
Please contact the zoos in your area and email any feedback you receive to ALDF at
Information here
Read more about the underworld of exotic animals and zoo under the section called Animal Underworld by Alan Green
or click here to read the ongoing posts

EU Bans experiments on Great Apes

There's great news from across the Atlantic, where the European Union has voted to ban the use of great apes in experiments. The new legislation also places significant restrictions on testing on other primates and requires that non-animal methods be used whenever possible.

This is an exciting development-but it also raises a question: In light of this humane advance, how can the U.S. government justify its plans to transfer more than 200 "retired" chimpanzees from a facility in New Mexico to a research laboratory in Texas, where they'll probably be forced to endure cruel experiments?

There is no excuse for it, of course, so please help us persuade officials to permanently retire the chimpanzees to a sanctuary.
Story Credit Here

Additional story on the 200 retired chimpanzees;

Update: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has written to National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins urging him to scrap plans to transfer more than 200 "retired" chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research laboratory in Texas. He has also requested the return of 15 chimpanzees who have already been transferred.

"New Mexico wants to save these chimpanzees, who have already given so much of their lives to the American public as part of medical research studies," says the governor. "There is a compassionate and prudent alternative to the National Center for Research Resources' plan, and I feel strongly that we must save the chimpanzees."

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico is also working hard to ensure that the chimpanzees are spared from further experiments. Stay tuned for more updates.

The folks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must have had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they "retired" 288 chimpanzees—who had previously been used in Air Force gravity experiments—to the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) in New Mexico. I say this because NIH has now decided to "unretire" the surviving chimpanzees (more than 21 have died in the decade they've spent warehoused in cages at APF, including three who died by electrocution because of unsafe conditions). The animals will be sent to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) laboratory in Texas, where they will likely be subjected to cruel experiments.

SFBR might sound familiar to readers of this blog because it is the same laboratory where two baboons escaped from cages in May and attacked two employees. PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which then cited SFBR for failure to handle animals in a manner that does not cause trauma or physical harm as well as failure to provide animals with adequate and safe housing. SFBR had previously been cited twice—in 2009 and in February of this year—for failure to house animals in structurally sound enclosures in order to prevent them from escaping and injuring themselves and others. In one incident, a monkey escaped from a cage, got outside into the freezing cold, suffered from hypothermia, and later was euthanized as a result.

SFBR's "punishment" for these offenses? It gets more than 200 chimpanzees to confine, scare, poke, and prod.

Half of the chimpanzees at APF have been living in cages for at least a quarter of a century. As PETA Vice President Kathy Guillermo wrote today in a letter to NIH, it's time to truly retire these primates to a sanctuary, rather than sending them back to a laboratory where they are sure to endure tremendous physical and psychological trauma, possibly for the rest of their lives—which could last another quarter century or more.

Please take a minute to send your own letter to APF and let it know that "retirement" means living the rest of your life free from stress (and not confined to a cage).
Written by Alisa Mullins
Story Credit Here and information on a letter

The laws for exotic animals need to change-Chimpanzees, Monkeys

An Indiana boy and his dog were injured recently by the family's pet monkey-who had been locked in a cage for years because of "aggression"-after he escaped and ran amok. You'd think that after a Connecticut woman's face was ripped off by her friend's pet chimpanzee last year-or after a toddler was strangled to death by her family's python or a Texas teenager was mauled to death by her stepfather's tiger-that lawmakers would step in to put an end to the carnage.

But there's still no federal law prohibiting people from breeding, selling, or acquiring exotic and dangerous animals to keep as pets. Why?

The journey for many of these animals begins in places such as Asia and Africa and in the jungles of Central and South America. Many are imported legally in the billion-dollar-a-year exotic-animal industry. Others are jammed into trunks or suitcases or not infrequently, strapped or taped to the smuggler's body. Such was the case with a Mexican man who was recently caught with 18 dead and dying monkeys stuffed into a girdle.

What few laws and penalties exist hardly dissuade dealers when compared to the kind of money to be made from smuggling: Prices on animals' heads can range from a few thousand dollars for a jungle snake to tens of thousands of dollars for a hyacinth macaw.

Closer to home, countless tigers, primates, and other exotic species are bred specifically to be sold as pets. Babies are removed from their frantic mothers (who sometimes have to be sedated) so that the infants can be acclimated to human contact. Traumatized and terrified, these young animals don't stand a chance of ever living as nature intended. Primates are diapered and often have their canine teeth yanked out. Within weeks, tiger cubs outgrow their ramshackle backyard pens and spend the rest of their lives pacing and yearning for something that they want and need but will never get: their freedom.

Buying an animal on a whim or because one wants to be "different" almost inevitably leads to buyer's remorse. Since dealers market these animals as little more trouble than stuffed toys, most people are inevitably shocked by the responsibility and expense of specialized food, space, and veterinary requirements of exotics. When the novelty wears off and reality sets in, some try to unload their high-maintenance pets at zoos, which are unlikely to accept such animals.

Jack Cover, a curator at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, says, "We'd have to have two or three warehouses to handle the [animals] we get calls on."

Others simply abandon animals in woods, swamps, or along rural roads-but since the animals' wild instincts have been irrevocably corrupted, many starve to death or fall victim to the elements or predators. Some species, such as pythons dumped in the Florida Everglades, thrive and wreck havoc on entire ecosystems.
Too many animals-and in far too many tragic cases, people-pay with their lives in this cruel cycle. The time is long overdue for federal lawmakers to put a stop to it once and for all.

This guest post was written by Lisa Wathne. Lisa is the senior captive exotic animal specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Story Credit Here

Helping Great Apes

What responsibilities come with being a human? We have great power as humans, and therefore we have a responsibility to protect those beings who cannot speak for themselves. PETA is the embodiment of this philosophy.

I became aware of captive chimpanzees decades ago when I learned that they were being used in the U.S. space program. Chimpanzee mothers were killed in Africa in order to capture babies for the program. Eventually, these government-sponsored hunting trips became less common as a captive-breeding program was established. But the use of chimpanzees in laboratories continued to grow throughout the 1980s.
In response to pressure from activists-and because chimpanzees aren't good models for human disease research-the breeding program ended in the 1990s. The retired chimpanzees were "rewarded" for their service to our country by being shipped to one of the worst biomedical laboratories in the nation-the now-defunct Coulston Labs in Alamogordo, New Mexico. For years, this laboratory was cited for violations of the minimal legal protections that were designed to protect its test subjects-the apes. Your tax dollars (and mine) funded the cruel experiments that were going on behind closed doors at this laboratory. Unfortunately, today our tax dollars continue to fund other laboratories where animals are subjected to some of the most painful and invasive experiments ever invented.

Laboratories are not the only places where apes are abused. PETA has effectively fought the use of great apes (mainly chimpanzees and orangutans) in the entertainment industry. Baby apes are torn away from their mothers and abused until their will is broken and they behave as their trainers wish. Chimpanzees are subjected to electric shocks and constant beatings with hammers, pipes, clubs, or broom handles in order to make the animals submissive and keep them in line. Many people who see a chimpanzee doing tricks at the circus would never suspect that the animal is abused because the abuse is hidden from the public.

My quest to make a difference for abused great apes led me to write a children's book called A Chimpanzee Tale. The book, which is narrated by Hoot the Chimpanzee, can be found in the PETA Catalog here. Written in rhyme, the story features factual information about chimpanzees. Part of the story takes place in Africa and shows children how chimpanzees in the wild live. The story then addresses captivity and advocacy and teaches children how to do what is right. Readers are introduced to sanctuary life, and Hoot thanks the children of the world for their help. The book includes an afterward, vocabulary words, and Web sites where children can learn about real chimpanzees.

As I write this, the Great Ape Protection Act is sitting before Congress. If this important bill is passed and signed into law, it will allow for approximately 500 chimpanzees who are being held in federal laboratories to be relocated to sanctuaries. But turning this act into a law depends on caring individuals like you. Please contact your representatives and senators and make sure that they sponsor this act. You can also add your name to PETA's online petition here. If enough of us take this step, real pressure may build to make this bill a reality.

I am forever grateful to PETA for all that it does for our animal friends. It is the most amazing organization on the planet, and it is an honor to be a member.

Karen grew up with many kinds of animals, and as a result, she is a passionate advocate for all animals. She began her writing career in retirement with A Chimpanzee Tale. She plans to write more children's books about chimpanzees.

Story Credit Here

The Chipperfield's Circus has gone animal free

Kudos to you!!!!!!
It would be real nice for all of the animals that are involved in abuse at these circus's to stop having to perform. One Circus comes to mind here in the US, which is the Rosaires Family Circus. They use Chimpanzees and have for many years. Remember readers that these animals are crated around in tiny cages in tractor trailers and drove all over the country. I have actually seen one of these trailers, walked in it and saw the cages that the chimps were in from a retired circus called Berger Circus owned many years ago by Janet and Frank Berger. They were horrible!!!!! To say the least.... All circus's need to go to human acts. After all, humans can make the choice if they want to be laughed out and starred at, where animals can not.

The U.K.'s Chipperfield's Circus—which has been exploiting animals since 1684(!) and was in the news following the beating of a baby chimpanzee some years back—has gone animal-free!

Between 1996 and 1998, a long-term investigation of the circus led to successful cruelty-to-animals convictions of the circus's owners, Mary and Roger Chipperfield; jail for the elephant handler; and the closure of three of the circuses owned by the Chipperfield family.

With your help, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus could join the list of circuses in the U.S. that have decided to do away with animal acts, but unfortunately, it has dug in its heels. Please watch our Ringling investigation, share it with your friends, and then contact our Action Team to start campaigning today to make it happen!
Story Credit and Video Here

The story of Jimmy the Chimpanzee

From being taken from his mom, to being a human/ape child, to the circus to loneliness. Just like with most Humans..... it's all about the money, the money that they can make off of these magnificent individuals. If you love him let him be happy, be where he should be, with other Chimpanzees.

How is the life of the chimpanzee who became a painter and is subject of a judicial battle to leave a zoo in Niterói city and go to a sanctuary in São Paulo
By Silvia Rogar
Just like Picasso, Jimmy had his blue phase. But the obsession for the color has gone. His most recent painting, which was exposed until yesterday in an art gallery, combines tones that remind the colors of sun set. Jimmy is a 27 year old chimpanzee, who lives at Niterói zoo, never dated and demands cold water when is thirsty. This year he had even the international media attention for two reasons: he learned how to paint (always with his right hand) and became the subject of a judicial battle.

Animal defense organizations are against his current life style, far away from his equals, and argue that he must be transferred to a sanctuary that hosts 51 great primates in the countryside of São Paulo state. The group entered with a Habeas Corpus request, affirming that Jimmy, as a primate, has the same rights of humans in terms of Justice.

Firstly the request was denied and Jimmy’s destiny must be decided only on February. Meanwhile, he continues is his 120 square meters cage, with a 21 inches TV behind the fence and a noisy construction in the back of his enclosure. He loves jelly beans, guava juice in the can and drinks, daily, a Sustain vitamin. Polite, he gives his hand when someone gets near and does a little noise with his mouth, half a kiss half a tic. He loves to kiss Roched Seba, 25 years, a volunteer of the zoo who taught him how to paint.

- Jimmy is like Hebe (Camargo, a famous Brazilian TV host) – says Roched, who always returns his affection and does not think twice before repeating – Isn’t he beautiful?

Since his childhood, at Romano Garcia Cirus, Jimmy is treated like a person.

- My husband brought from overseas three newborn chimpanzees, but we just kept Jimmy. He used to drink baby bottle, used diapers and slept in a bed – reminds Ana Garcia, Romano’s widow, 80 years old.
Jimmy travelled all over Brazil and had his own showcase: he balanced in a wire and rode a monocycle. In 1987, Romano and Ana got tired of the circus life and sold Jimmy to D’Itália Circus. Jimmy stayed at this circus until 2000, when he had been donated to Niterói zoo. Since then alerts and denounces through e-mails have been arriving to animal defense organizations.
- Alone, Jimmy is not able to he his typical behavior, not to mention the stress caused by the visitation – defends Selma Mandruca, president of Great Ape Project Brazil.
In the sanctuary, there are chimpanzees who read magazines, watch soccer games on TV and paint, like Jimmy. With firm and delicate gestures, the way he uses the brush is impressive. The exhibition of his paints was not only a marketing strategy.
- The idea is to question what is art, what it is to be na artist -, says, in a French way, Nicolas Duvialard, director of French Alliance school, where Jimmy’s paintings got the exhibition.
Jimmy is not the first artist-chimpanzee to become famous. On the 50’s, Congo, of London Zoo, turned to be a compulsive painter. Salvador Dalí was so impressed with his paintings that compared the animal most similar to humans to the master of abstracted expressionism: “The hand of the chimpanzee is almost human; Jackon Pollock’s is completely animal.”
Story Credit Here

Jimmy the Chimpanzees Habeas Corpus coming up in Jan 2011


Habeas Corpus of chimpanzee Jimmy: decision is postponed
The decision about the Habeas Corpus of chimpanzee Jimmy, who lives isolated for years in a Cage at Niterói city zoo (Rio de Janeiro), was previewed to happen last December 16, but was postponed to January because of the members of the Tribunal asked to analyze the process more carefully.

Due to the Law courts recess, the trial will be retrieved after the second week of January, when the activities start again.

There is a great expectation in the Law area about the result of this process, which can represent the beginning of elementary basic rights recognition for great primates, so they are not slavered or submitted to prison and isolation in order to give profit to humans, as it used to happen centuries ago with some human races.
Story Credit Here

A Cruel Concrete Zoo

There are soooo many things wrong with this. Too many for me to even get into. I just get so mad at the way people think.

BANGKOK, Thailand – A few staff members cast suspicious looks at me as my video camera rolled. One asked why I was filming.
I wasn't in army-ruled Myanmar or communist North Korea. I was visiting a zoo – in Bangkok – and the employees were monitoring me closely.
"One of our zookeepers even has a picture of the gorilla in his wallet, instead of his wife," the staff member said. "You see, we really love our animals."
But it's a tough love out here at Pata Zoo, a concrete jungle
 on the top two floors of a department store on a busy road in Bangkok.
Solitary penguin

About 200 species – a gorilla, a penguin, bears, tigers, leopards, sheep, flamingos, pythons, and nocturnal animals – are crammed into cages and pens that are too small or otherwise inadequate for them. The two floors of the zoo are each about the size of a soccer field.

The zoo's superstar, a 20-year-old female gorilla, lives in a 10x15-yard concrete pen. "Bua Noi," as she is called, sat gripping the iron bars of her dim cage, with only a tire, ropes, and TV playing slapstick comedy to keep her company on the day I visited.
Warangkana Chomchuen / NBC News
The Pata Zoo's star attraction, "Bua Noi" a 20-year-old gorilla, sits in her dimly lit cage.

Nearby, two tigers restlessly walked in their cages, their spines and ribs visibly protruding, their hollow-looking faces seemingly all bone. A black jaguar jumped wildly up and down on the fence at the sight of approaching visitors two feet away. And one dazed Humboldt penguin, the lone survivor out of an original group of a dozen, stared blankly at a glass wall in its air-conditioned room.

"No animals can stay healthy psychologically and physically in a building or in an air-conditioned room," said Edwin Wiek, director of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. "A zoo in a building like Pata is hazardous to animals and humans. It should be a thing of the past."

Animal-rights activists have been fighting to shut down the zoo for years, but it's a losing battle. The zoo is not illegal in Thailand. The animals were obtained legally and the zoo has a license.

'Long life expectancy'

There just is no real legislation in place to protect animal welfare.

The zoo’s managers stand by their facility’s safety and size. "Our enclosures aren’t so small that the animals can't move," said Kanit Sermsrimongkol, Pata Zoo’s managing director. "Besides, our animals have long life expectancy and they reproduce. That’s an indicator of their good health."

Public anger and controversy over the Pata Zoo erupts from time to time. But the zoo tends to play it down by inviting media and zoo authorities in for inspection. Eventually the publicity dies down, people forget about it, and the zoo's permit is renewed.
Sophon Damnui, director of Thailand’s Zoological Park Organization, admits the vague laws governing zoos are problematic. The only existing laws relating to wildlife protection state a zoo must be "appropriate" when it comes to caring for captive animals.

"The bill hasn't been amended to address the issue," Sophon said. "But Pata Zoo has a permit. It has zookeepers to tend to animals' basic needs and their animals don’t have a problem, so that's OK."

Animal-rights activists are stymied by the lack of laws. "The law is never on our side," said Roger Lohanan, secretary of the Thai Animal Guardian Association. "We’ve tried every legal loophole, but there's nothing we can do."

Warangkana Chomchuen / NBC News

Some tourists take pictures outside the bear cage at Bangkok's Pata Zoo.

His major concern is animal safety, especially in case of fire. Before Pata there was another zoo inside a building in Bangkok, but most of the animals were trapped and killed when a fire broke out a few years ago.

"The animals can only wait to be rescued and certainly they will be the last thing on people's mind if something bad happens," Lohanan said.

Cultural cruelty?

The problems at Pata Zoo reflect a broader issue of rampant animal cruelty and abuse in Thailand. It isn't a rare sight in big cities to see men walking elephants on hot concrete streets or pet dogs performing tricks for hours in busy, bustling shopping areas – all in the effort to earn some petty cash.

Weak law enforcement and punishment – a 1,000 Baht ($33) fine or one month in jail for animal abuse – exacerbates the problem.

Appalling records of animal treatment in Thailand make people wonder what happened to this Buddhist country, where compassion for all living beings reigns first in Buddha's teaching.

Animal-welfare campaigners call it cultural cruelty. Many Thais still view animals as one of their possessions, to treat as they see fit, and kindness and compassion usually don't go beyond food and shelter.

"Some people say, 'I love my fighting cock, because it's a good fighter'. This is exactly the same mentality the zoo owner has," said Lohanan, referring to cockfighting's enduring popularity across Thailand. "They said they love their animals, but it's an ancient kind of love."

The Thai Animal Guardian Association and other animal-rights groups are pushing for a more effective animal protection law. They drafted the bill and proposed it five years ago, but it's been buried deep under Thailand’s ongoing political mess.

And zoos are still popular. The birth of a baby panda last year drove the country into a frenzy and spurred the idea of importing even more exotic animals to breed on Thai soil. While it wasn’t exactly crowded, about 70 adults and kids were visiting the Pata Zoo the day I was there.

Animal-rights activists said they don't want to give up hope, but acknowledge that it will take a while for the draft bill to get attention and for the animal welfare mentality to kick in.

"When the public is ready to come out and say, 'We don't want it,' then you can shut down Pata Zoo," Lohanan said. "Until then, there's nothing we can do."
Story Credit Here

How do you feel about animals?- domestic and exotic- Take the survey (chimp)

Hi Readers;
I received a comment this morning asking if I would participate in a survey. I did of course. If you would like your opinion to count please follow the link to the survey at the bottom. I think it's a great idea to have the students do this survey. It is educational in regards to the subject as well as being apart of something important.  They ask your opinions on zoos, experimental labs, circus's, exotics as pets, etc. Surveys are really the only way to see how the public thinks about our animals. Please join in, it only took me a few minutes.
"We are students at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, conducting a survey on attitudes towards animals. Please answer these questions according to your own opinion - there are no "wrong" or "correct" answers."

Your answers will be completely confidential and will only be used for the purposes of the survey.

To take the survey here

The story of Alfred the Gorilla

I would like to give special thanks to Annabel, the writer of this wonderful story who has given me permission to post her story and her photos. Alfred was a lifelong friend of Annabels and would like to share the love with everyone.

Alfred the Gorilla

As a child, my father would love to tell us about Alfred The Gorilla, one of Bristol Zoo's star attractions.

My father was in the Home Guard as a young man and had the job of standing guard over Alfred during bombing raids etc. He always told us that it was his job to shoot Alfred if a bomb damaged the cage and he was released into the city. I have no idea if that was true, but it sounds feasible.

OK, I feel slightly icky looking back at these old photographs of Alfred in his cage, as it is such a cruel way to keep any animal, but it was accepted as normal at the time. Bristol Zoo was very popular and space was limited in the middle of a city.

The photo on the left was taken in 1946 when he was aged 18 and was 33 stone.

He became famous around the world, and this fame was increased during the war by GI's sending postcards of him to their homes in America. Over 20,000 images a year were bought and sent at the height of his popularity.
According to my father, Alfred was grumpy. He apparently disliked double decker buses, aeroplanes and men with beards. The zoo celebrated his birthday every year My father also said he was taken on walks around the zoo on a collar and chain and was often dressed up in clothes. He also liked to make snowballs and throw them at visitors.

Alfred the Gorilla was bought to the zoo in the 1930's from a Rotterdam Zoo, and he died in 1948. He was also, apparently, suckled by a woman in the Congo before going to Rotterdam! He had a thyroid deficiency which was treated, but also had tuberculosis, and he collapsed and died after being frightened by a plane, and running into his sleeping quarters.

When he died, he was the oldest gorilla in captivity and was loved by many people who had never seen a gorilla before. He was stuffed by Rowland Ward, a famous taxidermist, and put on show in the museum.

As a child, and as a mother, we used to visit him regularly at the last visit being in September this year. See, a lifelong love!!

Here's an amusing video of how Albert came to be stuffed.

In 1956 he was stolen from the museum and disappeared without trace. Here's a bit from the local paper, the Evening Post to explain what happened and how he turned up again.

It is a mystery that has puzzled Bristol families for generations but today the Evening Post can exclusively reveal who stole Alfred the Gorilla 54 years ago.

The much-loved gorilla, who died in 1948, stands in a glass case in Bristol City Museum, but for a short time in 1956, at the start of University Rag Week, he vanished without trace.

Now after the death of estate agent Ron Morgan, 79, a family secret has been revealed involving him and two university friends in a definite case of monkey business.

The truth was kept under wraps for so long because Mr Morgan, his friend Fred Hooper, 77, and his other accomplice, known only as DB, feared they would be prosecuted by the museum or the council.

Ron Morgan, right, took Alfred the Gorilla with pal Fred Hooper, centre, and a third man known as DB
The ape-napping caused public outcry during March 1956 after the stuffed gorilla, a celebrity figure in Bristol who was worth about £600 at the time, mysteriously disappeared.

Police scoured university processions searching for Alfred, who was thought to be taken as a prank, and even threatened to prosecute the organisers of rag week, but to no avail.

Several days later Donald Boulton, a caretaker at Bristol University's student health service, had the shock of his life when he entered the patient's waiting room and was faced with the stuffed gorilla, which had been left in the centre of the room.

Until now only three people and their families knew what had happened to Alfred during those 60 hours with the gorilla himself remaining tight-lipped. But as a tribute to Mr Morgan, who lived in Clevedon and ran Morgan and Sons estate agents in Eastville, his family and friends have revealed the secret they have had to keep for over 50 years along with a collection of photographs kept as a record.

Mr Hooper, who now lives in Cheltenham, said: "It was initially my idea."I was about 23 at the time and I thought it would be a great rag week jape."We took Alfred because he was such a big Bristol personality and he was close by. It took a bit of planning, we told the museum we were making a film and that's how we got in. We knew the porter and so we were able to get a key cut to the secondary door that linked the museum to the university."Then we hid in the belfry until about 1am when every- thing was closed. It wasn't such a good idea in hindsight as the bells were still ringing and incredibly loud.

"We got into the museum and then we used the side door to get him out onto Park Row. It was very early in the morning and we stuffed him into the boot of an old Vauxhall car, that cost me £35, folded back the seats and sped off to my bedsit, in West Park, off Whiteladies Road.

"That's where he stayed for the duration and we took pictures of him in different guises. There were all sorts of stories going around, people thought Cardiff students had kidnapped him and there was a rumour he was in a cave somewhere but we never told anyone we had him.

"It was always our intention to return him and so the easiest thing was to take him to a doctor's waiting room which was just across the road. It was midday on a Saturday and we just carried him over and left him there."

Mr Morgan's son Gerard, 45, said: "We know that initially the three tried to lift Alfred and couldn't understand why he was so heavy but it was actually because he was screwed to a plinth and they were trying to lift their own weight."

He said a family scrapbook, containing original stories from the Evening Post about the theft, had become something of a family heirloom.He said: "My father used to develop his own photographs which is why he was able to take these pictures without anyone else finding out."This scrapbook has been locked in a secret drawer in our home and travelled around the world with him."

The City Museum has now sent a letter to Gerard assuring the family that no one will be prosecuted over the kidnap.Dr Jo Gipps, director, Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: "At his death in 1948, Alfred was the longest-living gorilla in captivity anywhere in the world. In spite of the events of 1956, he is now one of the star attractions on display at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery." Tim Corum, Deputy Head of Bristol's Museums, Galleries & Archives service, said: "We are intrigued and pleased to hear about the revelations concerning Alfred the Gorilla's 'escape' from the City Museum & Art Gallery in 1956.

"Museum staff have long known about this Rag Week stunt but not heard the inside story of those involved before. Although we would never condone any such illegal activity as reportedly happened, the council will not be taking any action against the reputed perpetrators either.

"Instead we will be adding the latest reports to the bulging file relating to one of Bristol's best loved figures."

Story Credit Here - Annabel

Minnie the Capuchin Monkey (Helping Hands) has a companion

The Helping Hands Monkeys are a wonderful addition to a home where they are needed. Remember readers, these are highly trained monkeys by professional people that work with them all of the time. Please do not be disillusioned that if you bought a baby monkey you also could do this training. It won't happen. It's takes full dedication, knowledge and years and years of training.

Specially-trained Capuchin monkeys in the US are helping physically disabled people with the housework by performing tasks such as removing garbage, fetching the telephone or switching on the microwave. The furry companions are also helping paraplegics cope with loneliness.
It's her small hands that make Minnie especially useful. Hairy and slender, with slim fingers and black nails, the Capuchin monkey's hands are just right for twisting open a bottle of juice or fetching the telephone. And when Craig Cook's head itches, Minnie comes and scratches it until he feels better.

"She is more human than you would think," Cook says. The 44-year-old American, who has been paraplegic for more than 14 years, runs his stiff fingers lovingly through Minnie's fur as she cuddles on his lap, observing his guest curiously with her large, brown eyes. Then the monkey jumps up and crosses the kitchen of Cook's bungalow at a wild run, screeching and leaping, a bundle of energy wrapped up in dark brown fur.

"Pretty amazing, isn't it?" Cook says, his eyes shining. He has shared his bungalow here in La Habra, near Los Angeles, with the 30-year-old Capuchin monkey for the past six years. They watch Los Angeles Angels baseball games on TV together, or enjoy the California sun from the patio. And when Cook has "one of those bad days," it's Minnie who manages to make him laugh.

"It's wonderful to have an animal like that at home," Cook says. A former engineer and American football quarterback, he broke his spine in a car accident. He's very lucky to have Minnie -- there are only 45 Capuchin monkeys like her in the entire US, and Minnie is one of the best.

Monkey School
Minnie spent several years in training at the Monkey College, a facility run by a Boston-based aid organization called Helping Hands. This unusual school trains monkeys as household assistants and life partners for paralyzed people -- with great success. "The Capuchin monkeys provide independence and the gift of joy and companionship to the recipients, says Helping Hands employee Andrea Rothfelder. "These animals are very affectionate and loving; a lot of recipients call it a little miracle when their monkey moves in with them."
Director of training Alison Payne describes the Monkey College as a "mixture of pre-school and zoo." Helping Hands has a total of 180 monkeys, 50 of them currently being trained in Boston. Here in the three-story center, the monkeys practice using light switches, drawers, bottles and CD players. They learn the actions first in a room with only Spartan furnishings; later they practice in a "teaching apartment" outfitted with a wheelchair, bed, bookshelf and kitchenette.

Trainers drill the monkeys on around 30 commands, including "fetch," for retrieving an object, and "trash," for taking something to the garbage can. "Push" might mean the monkey should shut the refrigerator door, while "open" would achieve the opposite. Motivation for learning tasks is provided with peanut butter and spray can whipped cream.

"The monkeys are naturally curious," Payne says. "We try to expand their attention space." Still, the monkeys are also allowed some time off. Today Chichi and Jessica are romping around the playroom, chasing bubbles. For their classmate Tricia, it's bath day. Trainer Jennifer Evans has filled the kitchen sink with a lukewarm bubble bath, where Tricia is splashing about, poking her soaking wet head over the edge. A few minutes later, the trainer comes over to rub her dry.

"They're very much like two-year-olds," Payne says. Actually, the monkeys are between eight and 10, the ideal age range for drilling and training, when they start at the Monkey College. First, they get used to people by living in foster families. Next come two to four years of training. Once they're housetrained, they can move in with a disabled person.

Inseparable Companions

When Cook began his life together with Minnie, the evening that ruined his life was already several years behind him. On January 12, 1996, the engineer met a colleague for dinner in Los Angeles. The two left the restaurant shortly before midnight. "It was a mild evening, and Tyler wanted to take a drive in my convertible," Cook recalls. As they sped down the highway, Cook's colleague lost control of the 300-horsepower car. The vehicle flipped over and slid down an embankment. Cook's spine snapped instantly; his colleague was barely hurt.

Cook lost everything that day -- his job; his girlfriend, who soon moved out; but above all control over his own body. Unable to adjust to his new life, he found himself sliding into depression. But when a friend heard of Helping Hands, Cook contacted the organization and sent an application video. A couple of months later, Minnie entered his life.
"When the trainers came out here, they stayed for about a week," he recalls. "It was only then that she accepted me as the new king." That's the way of Capuchin monkeys -- they live in groups and choose their leaders with care.

Today, Cook and Minnie are inseparable. "Spoon," Cook says and the monkey fetches one from the silverware drawer. "Sun" -- Minnie turns on the light. "Can you do hand?" -- Minnie hoists her master's arm, which has slipped down from the armrest. He uses that hand to operate his wheelchair.
"Minnie can be lifesaving for me," Cook says. One time, his wheelchair got stuck on the patio as the sun was going down. Cook knew he was facing an entire night sitting in the dark, freezing and getting wet, until his caregiver arrived in the morning. He called Minnie, who brought his telephone. An hour later, help was there. "I had tears in my eyes," Cook says.
"The monkeys can be a lifeline; however, the most important thing of all is the companionship that they bring and this unconditional love," says director of training Payne. "Suddenly you have this little monkey person at home who just thinks that you are the coolest thing ever."

'They Alleviate the Pain and the Loneliness'

Helping Hands employees tell the story of a veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq. "He says that the monkey is the only one who takes him the way he is and who doesn't notice that he hasn't any legs," Rothfelder says. The monkeys could never take the place of a full-time caregiver, "but they allieviate both the pain and the loneliness of being home alone and also provide some tasks in the house."

It's hardly surprising that the clever Capuchin monkeys are in hot demand, but Helping Hands is only able to provide between six and eight of the monkeys to paralyzed individuals each year. It costs the organization around $40,000 (€30,500) to train a single monkey, all of which must come from donations. The service is free for the patients.

Craig Cook can count himself lucky -- his Minnie has granted him a new life. He remembers clearly the moment when the monkey jumped onto his shoulder for the first time, after five months together. "Suddenly she rubbed her fingers through the back of my hair," he says. "That's the ultimate sign of affection."

Cook estimates Minnie could live another 15 years, but he's loath to think beyond that point. The monkey won a place in his heart long ago.
"Minnie, are you OK?" -- these are the words he'll use to call the monkey tonight, after the caregiver has helped him into bed. And Minnie will answer him, from her cage in the living room, where she rolls herself up beneath a small, light blue blanket.

"And she will go toot toot toot," Cook says. Then he gives a small smile and explains: "That means, 'Everything is all right.'"

Story Credit Here and Photos
Helping Hands Website here

Baby Bonobo born at the Columbus Zoo

Columbus, OH - Columbus Zoo and Aquarium animal care staff arrived at work this morning, December 28, 2010 and discovered the anticipated birth of a baby bonobo. The baby, whose sex is still unknown, is the 12th bonobo born at the Columbus Zoo since the Zoo received its first bonobos in 1990 in conjunction with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for this endangered ape.

This is the third baby for mother “Ana Neema” who is caring for the newborn in the company of the other bonobos in her group including her offspring 9-year-old “Bila Isa” and 4-year-old “Gilda” who came with her from the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2008. Bonobos live in dynamic groups and confirmation of the baby’s sire, either “Toby” or “Donnie”, awaits the results of genetic paternity testing. There are only nine facilities in North America caring for bonobos and there are currently 16 bonobos at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Bonobos and people share more than 98% of the same DNA; in fact, bonobos and chimpanzees are more closely related genetically to humans than they are to gorillas. The bonobo is the smallest of the great apes and is a separate species from the chimpanzee. Females give birth to a single baby after a gestation period of approximately 8 ½ months.
Bonobos were the last of the great apes to be discovered and is the rarest with only 5,000-50,000 living in the equatorial forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The primary threat to the endangered bonobo is human behavior, mainly habitat destruction caused by logging. A secondary threat is the hunting of bonobos for bushmeat for native consumption and for sale to logging companies and markets.

For apes—gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons and siamangs—the outlook in the wild is bleak. Given severe loss of habitat and population declines, it is estimated that some ape species will be extinct within 20 years if immediate action is not taken. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a platinum member of the newly formed Ape Taxon Advisory Group Conservation Initiative which includes 40 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The initiative is funding eight field conservation projects including combating illegal wildlife trade in Central Africa and funding for sanctuaries that care for animals and also play a key role in law enforcement efforts and conservation education.

Recognizing the desperate situation bonobos face in the wild, the Columbus Zoo also supports the Congolese association ABC - Les Amis des Bonobos du Congo (Friends of Bonobos in Congo). ABC operates Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary, which has advocated for wildlife conservation in Kinshasa for the past 10 years. ABC's mission is "to contribute to the protection of bonobos in their natural environment through educational programs, advocacy work and the facilitation of behavioral research."

Over the past five years the Columbus Zoo and Partners in Conservation has distributed more than $4 million in conservation grants worldwide.

“Bonobos and other great apes desperately need our help” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Dale Schmidt. “Each and every time you visit an accredited zoo you are part of the solution and making a difference for wildlife.”

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit

Story Credit here and Photo

CareerBuilders is planning on using Chimpanzees again! Sign the Petition

According to PETA, the job search website is planning to continue their not-so-proud tradition of using real, live chimpanzees in their big-dollar Super Bowl commercials again in 2011. The whole chimpanzee thing is a longstanding part of CareerBuilder's advertising shtick; they've done several spots featuring chimps.

PETA, with an assist from actress Angelica Huston is calling on CareerBuilder's CEO, Matt Ferguson, to pull the ad (it's already been made) on principle. Ferguson, in a company-issued statement, says that everything on the set was on the up-and-up: "...we followed strict guidelines to ensure our chimpanzee stars were treated well and not harmed in any way."

The problem is, what happens on the set itself is usually the least of a chimp's worries. It's what happens before and after their acting "career" that's really damaging. First, most of the chimps used in advertising are pretty young animals; often, they're taken away from their mothers before they're emotionally ready to be away.
And, their "careers" in entertainment are usually pretty short. Chimpanzees are strong, and sometimes aggressive, animals. According to PETA, by the time a chimp gets to be about eight years old, they're usually unmanageable for commercial shoots. The problem is, chimpanzees are also pretty long-lived — they can live for 60 years in captivity. So what happens when they're too old to be docile enough for entertainment?

That's the really bad part. Usually, they end up in research facilities, or perhaps worse, unaccredited zoos and animal shows. Chimps, of course, are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, so it's fair to ask whether you'd like to spend fifty years or so living in those conditions.

But the biggest problem with chimps in advertising is that most people just don't really know about the conditions they face. I suspect that Matt Ferguson, the CEO of CareerBuilder, is probably one of those people who don't know the details. There's no shame in that, as long as you do the right thing once you get educated.

By the way, among the people who do know the truth about chimps in advertising, you can count executives at ten of the nation's biggest ad agencies. They, along with a good number of smaller ad shops have signed on to PETA's pledge not to use live chimps in their work. You can also count the folks at Dodge, who earlier this year pulled a chimp ad, replacing it with a pretty clever alternate ending. PETA, for all the controversy they sometimes stir up, has done a remarkable job of plugging away and educating advertisers and ad agencies about the seedy side of animal advertising.

That's the good news. Once people find out about the hell that chimps go through when they're used for advertising, they wise up and change their ways. Here's hoping CareerBuilder does the same.

Ask CareerBuilder not to air the new ad, and to stop using chimpanzees in future advertising.

Story Credit and to sign the petition

Reconciliation of Chimpanzees is done through grooming

Much of the effort to keep bullies from interfering with learning in the classroom focuses on improving children's sense of empathy — the innate ability to share another's emotions.

We're accustomed to attributing aggressive behaviors to our distant primate past — ''Hey you kids, stop acting like apes!'' But researchers are discovering that our jungle ancestors also bestowed upon us virtues such as cooperation, reconciliation and empathy.

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University studies groups of chimpanzees — our closest living relatives — and other primates to learn more about the deep origins of human behavior.

Humans and chimps share a common ancestor on the evolutionary family tree, but humans diverged from that branch about 5.5 million years ago.

Chimpanzees live in hierarchical societies with high-ranking and low-ranking members. They sometimes fight viciously, especially against outsiders, and even murder each other.

However, they survive by mostly getting along, whether it's cooperating to hunt monkeys or building coalitions to seize power in the group.

That means chimps use a lot of brain power remembering who their friends are, who owes them a favor and who deserves payback for a past betrayal.

Primate reconciliation

Frans de Waal, one of the world's most prominent primate experts who works at Yerkes, became more interested in what chimps did after a fight than during the fight itself.
De Waal discovered that they ''reconcile'' after fights by cleaning parasites out of each other's hair. Grooming is a calming, pleasurable activity that restores social harmony.

''It was really important to signal to all the individuals involved that that episode was over, they could go back to life as usual,'' said Matthew Campbell, a Living Links Postdoctoral Fellow at the primate center who works with de Waal.

Campbell said he has observed instances, however, when the winner of a fight refuses to reconcile with the loser. The loser will slap himself and scream until he finally gets some signal that the fight is over.

''I've seen a male in one of our groups withhold reconciliation a number of times from individuals that wanted to, making them very distressed,'' Campbell said. ''That's the closest thing I can think of to bullying.''

The male appeared to be holding back on purpose, but Campbell said researchers don't know enough about how chimps think to say whether the male could imagine how his behavior would make the other chimp feel.
Human kids don't groom each other, but nonstop texting and Facebook status updates might serve the same social bonding purpose.
''In that sense, whether we bond over touch, text or talk is irrelevant,'' Campbell said.

The kind of ''verbal grooming'' that Facebook makes possible, however, also enables people to gang up on a victim in a new and potentially devastating way.

That's why Merle Bennett Buzzelli, who heads the Akron school district's bullying prevention program, was dispatched to Seiberling elementary school to talk to sixth-graders when Facebook fights began spilling over into the classroom.

She told them that she has a special relationship with the social networking site and can dig into any kid's account if a Facebook fight — which mostly happen among girls — disrupts learning.

Buzzelli said kids usually are shocked to discover that she can print the record of all the nasty things they've said about each other, regardless of the privacy settings on their accounts.

She looks for the tell-tale signs of bullying as Akron Public Schools defines it: A bully has more power than the victim and causes mental or physical harm repeatedly. It's not the same as a one-time fight on the playground between equals.

''I see very little purpose in young kids your age having free access to Facebook and those things,'' Buzzelli told the sixth-graders. ''All I'm seeing is kids fighting over Facebook.''

Those fights can go on for weeks and the hurtful words don't just vanish in the heat of the moment, they forever taunt the victim online.
Campbell hasn't observed in other species the kind of persistent human bullying that deliberately isolates a child from the group without hope for reconciliation, the kind that sometimes ends in suicide.

''That perpetual fear of aggression, that perpetual lack of safety, that perpetual status as an outcast probably leads to the extreme steps that some of the victims take,'' he said.

''Chimpanzees don't experience that. This individual might withhold reconciliation, but it's on a span of minutes, not forever. Even when there's a fight in the group and someone gets wounded, you don't have to wait very long before they're grooming each other.''

Story Credit Here