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!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hank The Chimpanzee's Necropsy has been released so so sad

Hank the chimpanzee died in January from fluid around his heart, according to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Pathobiology report.

The necropsy report notes: “It appears based on the gross findings that this animal died due to heart disease with cardiac tamponade.”

Tamponade is the medical term for compression of the heart caused by fluid buildup.

The full report is to be faxed to the zoo later today, according to zoo board member and spokeswoman Robin Derryberry.

Zoo Director Dardenelle Long said, "Our staff misses Hank every single day.

“We know he had a great life here at the zoo and the report points to the fact that Hank was simply facing challenges of aging,” she said. “We appreciate the time the University of Tennessee took in looking at everything possible in determining the cause of death of our beloved friend."
Story Credit Here

ONPRC is ripping baby monkeys out of moms prematurely and dissecting their little brains and the taxpayers pay for this!

Terrorizing Monkeys with Mr. Potato Head is Research?
Opinion by PETA
(November 30, 2010) in Society / Animal Rights
By Alisa Mullins

Just when you thought experiments on animals couldn't get any more cruel or absurd, the good folks at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) managed to come up with an experiment on baby monkeys that's so cruel and ridiculous it might even give Harry "Monster Mother" Harlow pause.

ONPRC experimenter Kevin Grove is spending $750,000 in taxpayer money per year to make monkeys fat and play mind games with their babies. First he feeds pregnant monkeys unhealthy high-fat diets.

After the babies are born (many preterm babies were cut out of their mothers' wombs and immediately killed so that their brains could be dissected), he attempts to scare the bejeezus out of them by putting things in their cages that he knows they are afraid of, including Mr. Potato Head dolls.

Yes, you read that right. If that doesn't do the trick, he engages the baby monkeys in staring contests. Yes, you read that right too.

The breathtaking conclusion of this baby-bullying in the name of science? Monkeys who are born to mothers who ate high-fat diets are more easily stressed and frightened than babies born to mothers who ate healthy diets. Gee, couldn't he have hung out at the local McDonald's and learned the same thing? Of course, if more people were vegan, any potential maternal-diet-related harms to babies would be minimized and people who torment animals for a living by purportedly investigating these problems—like ONPRC's Kevin Grove—might well be out of a job.

As part of our own little experiment, we attempted to scare the bejeezus out of attendees of the conference where the results of this study were presented by holding a protest.

Our findings? People who torment animals for a living are terrified at the idea that the public will find out about it. Take that, Mr. Potato Head.
Story Credit Here

The ONPRC is torturing monkeys to help humans be slim and fit. Give me a break!!!!

Please be sure to go to the links of videos at the end of this article. This is just horrible to do to these monkeys and the research is stupid in my opinion. Like I always say... The scientists always need new funding so they have to think of another stupid study so they still have a job!!!! At the animals expense. Shame on you!!!
Oregon health and Science University is practicing the barbaric act of using primates to test largely preventable human conditions: OBESITY & DIABETES.

Shiva and her colony which are mostly Rhesus Macaques are fattened up being fed daily with fattening foods, allowed no exercise, caged and once obese enough, they test various drugs and procedures on them.

Dr Grove said: “Our research model is a sedentary lifestyle with calorically dense diets”

Monkeys in this facility receive daily painful insulin shots to treat the human inflicted diabetes, and some develop clogged arteries. One monkey already died from a heart attack at a very young age. The unfortunate primate that is going through this suffers between months and years for human conditions that can largely be prevented by eating a healthy diet, which is obvious from this information. They had to fatten up the monkeys with unhealthy foods to be able to test these preventable diseases.

This doesn’t stop there as some endure the painful gastric bypass surgery and elevates to the point of killing these creatures to examine their brain and pancreas.

We are talking about a facility imprisoning over 4200 Rhesus Macaques monkeys in an unnatural environment for various "animal testing"

Rhesus Macaques are active and social creatures often enjoying life neighboring to humans at location of choice. They are wonderful swimmers and learn to handle the water at a tender age of 2 days old. They live on a kind herbivorous diet which is made up of a large variety of plant species

Rhesus Macaques have demonstrated a variety of complex cognitive abilities, including the ability to make same-different judgments, understand simple rules, and monitor their own mental states. We humans share 93% of our DNA sequence with Rhesus Macaques, proving that we shared a common ancestor roughly 25 million years ago.
Besides the unnecessary testing on primates for a mostly human caused preventable disease being immoral and void of compassion, Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine has proven that there are kinder alternatives.

*** Please sign this petition (at the bottom of the page) to end this barbaric practice***

* More information from New York Times and another on where your tax dollars are going

* In depth information regarding ONPRC at Oregon Health and Science University on "studies" performed on animals and why this must be stopped

* Undercover video at Oregon Health and Science University

* This past protest January 2011 is just the begining of what is to come. We will no longer be silent:
* See the way these social creatures live

* Attend the rally this Friday if you live local in Portalnd, OR
Story Credit here

The ONPRC Severs Monkey's spinal cords!!! If that aint abuse then what is?

Just try to imagine the pain and suffering and fear that each one of these monkeys have every minute of every day of their lives! Is this all worth it? for what? If it's for the people then let the people choose whether they want their name branded to these experiments.
Back in March, we told you about the USDA's investigation at Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). The investigation came about as a result of a PETA complaint exposing that a monkey had been operated on by mistake; that a sick, pregnant monkey had been denied veterinary care; and that other abuses had taken place. The USDA backed up our findings, citing ONPRC for violations of the Animal Welfare Act and issuing the facility a warning. And let's not forget what we found during our undercover investigation.

Well, it's been barely seven months, and ONPRC is in hot water again. According to a lawsuit filed by InVivo Therapeutics—one of the companies that hired ONPRC to torture experiment on monkeys—ONPRC so severely neglected seven monkeys whose spinal cords it had surgically severed that four of the monkeys had to be euthanized.

Of course, the lawsuit is a lose-lose for the monkeys. InVivo had paid ONPRC to paralyze the animals so that researchers could implant them with a device developed by InVivo in order to see if they would regain any movement. In the lawsuit, InVivo alleges that early in the research period, more than one third of the monkeys provided by ONPRC suffered illnesses or injuries such as bladder problems because ONPRC failed to provide the proper post-surgery care or a medical device necessary to keep their bodily systems functioning. InVivo also alleges that at least one monkey developed "a debilitating staph infection" as a result of bacteria at ONPRC.

The publicity surrounding the case has shined another spotlight on abuses at ONPRC as well as the inadequacy of the federal law that is supposed to protect animals in laboratories.

If you have a strong stomach, go to to find out more about the cruel, redundant, and archaic experiments conducted on primates at ONPRC, and then dash off a letter to the National Institutes of Health, urging it to stop funneling your tax dollars to ONPRC.

Written by Alisa Mullins
Posted by PETA
Story Credit Here

The ONPRC is abusing 4300 Monkeys and making them obese

As I've pointed out in many essays (see also) our relationships with other animals are confused, challenging, frustrating, and range all over the place. Recently we've learned that rhesus monkeys, called "Furry couch potatoes," are being used to study human obesity and diabetes. In response to inquiries about this study conducted at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), Diana Gordon, their Education Outreach Coordinator, sends out a dismissive boilerplate form letter rich in self-serving platitudes concerning their research specifically, and the use of animals in biomedical research generally. She notes that obesity is a huge problem - about 1/3rd of American adults are obese and that obesity is a risk factor for other serious diseases. Of course, many cases of obesity can easily be avoided by not eating all the horrible unhealthy foods that are advertised widely in mass media and by getting off the couch and taking some exercise. Ms. Gordon's letter also notes that the facilities at the ONPRC are better "than any zoo would have," as if this is a relevant standard of comparison. Neither research facilities nor zoos can come close to providing what these sentient beings need to have meaningful lives and to thrive and surely they are stressed.

Concerning the obesity studies, about 50 of the approximately 4300 monkeys who are imprisoned at the ONPRC are being used in this study. The monkeys are fattened up by giving them lots of rich, fattening food, and kept in small cages so they can't have any exercise, as if this sort of regime is going to tell us much about human obesity. Monkeys don't normally eat like this and are very active so the way in which they're treated is thoroughly abnormal and severely compromises their well being. It's highly likely that they're stressed and researchers are concerned about how stress compromises the reliability of the data they collect (see also). So, even if one doesn't care about how these monkeys are treated, indeed a frightening thought, we should all be concerned about whether the data are relevant to the questions at hand. Some of the monkeys will also undergo gastric surgery and be euthanized, a sanitized way of saying they're killed so that their pancreas and brain can be examined.
Ignoring the horrific ways in which these monkeys are treated, Ms. Gordon boldly claims, "This research could change how we look at and treat such childhood diseases." This is a self-serving assertion because this study, like numerous others that have been done on other non-human primates and other non-human animals, will likely shed little or no useful information on human disease. She also claims the researchers who are conducting this research are doing it for the "satisfaction of knowing that [they] are helping millions of people and animals who are suffering from disease." Once again this is misleadingly self-serving because there is little or no likelihood that any non-human animal will benefit from this research. Animals themselves rarely benefit from any research that is done in laboratories that focus on human diseases.

The ONPRC like other research facilities is not a place that a monkey would choose to inhabit. The ONPRC has previously been cited for the mistreatment of animals (see also). In my book The Emotional Lives of Animals I reported on a serious case of abuse at the ONPRC. Rhesus monkey number 14609 (numbered as if he were an object rather than a sentient, feeling being) was subjected to electro-ejaculation 241 times from 1991-2000. In this procedure, an awake male monkey is strapped into a restraining chair, two metal bands are wrapped around the base of his penis, and an electric charge is applied to cause ejaculation. Monkey 14609 was nicknamed "Jaws" by the researchers because one of the researchers taught him to bite the bars of his cage. As a result of the investigation of the egregious way in which Jaws was treated, one veterinarian resigned and some scientists made critical comments about conditions in the laboratory.

Concerning the treatment of animals at the ONPRC Ms. Gordon notes, "All research studies that are conducted at ONPRC must pass through an extensive review process by a number of oversight bodies before they are funded. Only the most important research questions and the most meticulously crafted research designs are undertaken. The care of all animals at the Center is regulated by a number of laws (including the Animal Welfare Act), and overseen by the USDA, which visits the Center at least twice a year (unannounced) to ensure that rules and regulations are being followed."

But we really can't have much faith in the review process at the ONPRC or elsewhere because numerous violations have been detected at major research facilities (see also) and these are only the violations that have been reported. The Federal Animal Welfare Act is not especially effective at protecting the vast number of animals who are used in research, including nonhuman primates. It's perfectly okay not only to fatten up monkeys and produce diseases that result in suffering and death, but also to starve, blind, and socially deprive them and millions of other animals, among other forms of use and abuse.

You can decide for yourself on the ethics of this sort of research. Should we induce obesity or subject animals to diseases from which they don't normally suffer in order to learn about human disease? At least one researcher doesn't think so. Barbara Hansen of the University of South Florida "prefers animals that become naturally obese with age, just as many humans do. Fat Albert, one of her monkeys who she said was at one time the world's heaviest rhesus, at 70 pounds, ate 'nothing but an American Heart Association-recommended diet.'"

A good deal of obesity can be easily prevented so these monkeys are being used to study a condition that many people can we can avoid simply by choosing healthier lifestyles. The monkeys shouldn't have to pay for our indiscretions and poor choices.

Please let the ONPRC that you don't support the use of these monkeys in this study by signing this petition.
Story Credit Here

Japanese Macaque has returned to the Czech zoo

Simpy, a Japanese Macaque, eats, in the quarantine of the zoo in Olomouc, Czech Republic, on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. A monkey has been returned to a Czech zoo, but keepers are puzzled as to why he didn't enjoy his freedom. Hana Labska, a spokeswoman for the zoo in Olomouc, 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Prague, says the Japanese Macaque looks to be "upset." Simpy and a colleague, Tatin, escaped from the zoo eight months ago when the sound of a chain saw triggered a dash for freedom. Since fleeing the monkeys have gone their separate ways and been spotted in numerous places around the region. Simpy was captured in a tree around 150 kilometers (90 miles) west of the zoo on Thursday in a joint operation by police and firefighters after being tranquilized. Tatin remains on the run. (AP Photo/CTK, Vladislav Galgonek) SLOVAKIA OUT

Story Credit Here

Snow Macaques find sanctuary in the hot springs

Nagano, Japan (CNN) -- In an outdoor natural hot spring, or onsen, in snow-covered Nagano, Japan, people get a rare up-close view of snow monkeys in their natural habitat.

The monkeys mostly ignore the tourists armed with their cameras and the scientists who've traveled hours to be within centimeters of the crimson-faced creatures.

For 46 years, the Jigokudani Monkey Park has been a sanctuary for these snow monkeys. The monkeys lounge, appearing to almost nod off in the steaming hot bath, almost all of them with hot water up to their shoulders.

"It's pretty incredible," says Kate Bokan-Smith, an American from California teaching English in Japan for a year. "At first, it's a little frightening. But it's special that the monkeys can eat their food, be here without being pestered by humans. And yet we can be this close. I think it's special."

Vince Manna, a nature photographer who has taken pictures of 200 species of monkeys in the Amazon, Africa and Southeast Asia, agreed. He's never seen anything like this sanctuary, he says, as he points his high powered camera lens towards the steaming onsen teeming with monkeys. "This is unique."

Jigokudani Monkey Park's beginnings were borne out of man's frustrations with the snow monkeys, whom Nagano residents considered pests. As Nagano grew deeper into the hills, the monkeys grew less wary of the human invaders. Monkeys regularly broke into shops and homes to steal food, even as people sat nearby, the park said.

Residents had considered culling the animals, who grew emboldened by the year. But the park owners noticed an unusual habit forming among the monkeys: They appeared to enjoy Nagano's main tourist attraction, the outdoor onsens.

The park decided to build a giant outdoor hot spring away from the town and deep in the mountains. Jigokudani Monkey Park also began regular feedings. These incentives drew many monkeys away from Nagano, although to this day, they still wander the town.

Nagano residents have since shifted their feelings toward the monkeys, as tourists started going to the monkey onsen.

French, English and Chinese are just a few of the languages being uttered around the onsen. "It's magical, fabulous!" said Christine Cocks, from Australia. "They're just so cute. You could stand and watch them all day."

Her family member, Jessiah, echoed the sentiments, calling the relationship between the town and the monkeys "symbiotic."

In the freezing snow with little human shelter, the tourists can only really stay for minutes. They'll head back to Nagano and spend money in the restaurants and hotels and talk about the magical monkeys in the hills.
Story Credit and a WONDERFUL Video here

Self awareness is demonstrated by Monkeys

The study was carried out by Professor John David Smith of the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York and Georgia State University’s Dr Michael Beran, and the results were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, at a session organized by the European Science Foundation.

The macaques were taught to decide if the density of a small box on a computer screen was either sparse (S) or dense (D). If they used the joystick to move the box to the correct letter a treat was dispensed, while if they made the incorrect choice they got no treat and the game paused. They could avoid the pause in the game if they instead moved the box to a third option, a question mark, if they were unsure of the density of the box.

The results showed the monkeys preferred to pass and move on by selecting the question mark if they were unsure of the correct answer. This option avoided the pause and allowed them to get to the next treat more quickly but did not result in a treat.

Other studies have shown that human subjects also use the pass option if presented with similar problems they find too difficult.
The results suggest the macaques, which are Old World monkeys, understood when they were uncertain and therefore liable to make an incorrect choice and were aware they did not know the answer. When capuchins, which are New World monkeys, were given the same task they did not take the pass option.

Professor Smith said it is not certain if this kind of thinking ability emerged only once and only in the Old World primates, the line which leads to humans and apes, but that the ability of humans to be aware of our own thinking was “central to every aspect of our comprehension and learning.”
Story Credit Here

Orangutan Behavior during the Rehabilitation Process

A recent article “Fostering Appropriate Behavior in Rehabilitant Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)” published online in the International Journal of Primatology discusses research on the behavior of rehabilitant orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and P. abelii) at the Orangutan Care and Quarantine Centre in Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Much past research has focused on postrelease behavior of rehabilitated orangutans and on the behavior of wild individuals; therefore, this research is especially timely and useful for the number of centers currently attempting to rehabilitate the ever-increasing number of displaced great apes and other fauna (Descovich et al., 2011).

Curious Orangutan in Sabah, Malaysia (Photo: Kristin Abt)Orangutans (n=40) in this study included males and females, mass classes ranging from 5 to 25 kg, and good, moderate, and poor health distinctions. Individuals were observed continuously for a period of 5 hours during 3 separate forest excursions each. A number of behaviors relevant to postrelease success in the forest habitat were recorded (type of locomotion, social behavior, such as play, human caretaker interaction, point of height in tree or on ground, feeding and food choice, grooming, etc.).

Results from this study showed that rehabilitant individuals’ masses were associated with the amount of time spent at the centre. Authors note this finding as a result of the early age of admittance to the centre for most individuals. Further, orangutans in better health spent an increased amount of time consuming food and less time resting than other categories. In terms of locomotion (>30% of overall time), quadrupedal movement in trees was the dominant method (again, with orangutans in better health doing so more often). Individuals who had been at the Care Centre longer spent more time on the ground rather than swinging or other locomotion. As the day in which focal individuals were observed continued, human interaction increased.

As rehabilitation of orphaned individuals is a component of the long-term species survival of orangutans, research regarding the behavior of these individuals is important for increasing the chance of postrelease survival and success. Additionally, as their habitat is lost as a result of a number of conservation threats, land protection is necessary to provide habitat in which the released individuals and their wild conspecifics can live.

Descovich, K. A., Galdikas, B. M., Tribe, A., Lisle, A., & Phillips, C. J. 2011. Fostering appropriate behavior in rehabilitant orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). International Journal of Primatology. doi:10.1007/s10764-011-9491-1

Orangutan Foundation International (a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization) supports the work of the Orangutan Care and Quarantine Centre and other crucial efforts to promote orangutan conservation, including land protection, research, and education. Visit to donate directly to OFI. If you would like to donate items specifically to enhance the lives of individuals at the Care Centre, visit this wishlist to select items that orangutans, such as those in this study, will greatly benefit from. If you would like to learn more, look for the upcoming IMAX© movie Born to Be Wild to be released in theaters April 8, 2011.
Story Credit, great photos and video Here

G&D Ice Cream launching ice cream to help the Orangutans

A NEW ice cream set to raise cash for orangutans promises to be the “King of the Zingers”.

G&D ice cream parlours have linked up with Cowley Road charity Sumatran Orangutan Society to launch a one-off flavour, Zingy Mandarin, for conservation work abroad. Twenty pence from every £2.10 scoop will go to the charity.

The launch, at their St Aldate’s store, left shoppers bemused as a giant cow and an oversized orangutan danced hand-in-hand through the city centre.

G&D production manager Marcus Allen said: “I have been making ice cream for so long I get quite blasé about it, but I’m really pleased with this new flavour.

“I’ve tried to use oranges in the past, and never quite got it right, but this is terrific.”

The charity works in Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia, to help restore rainforest and set up “conservation villages” which protect habitats and provide sustainable income for the population.

Story Credit Here

12 YO Chimpanzee, Maki dies at the NC Zoo... aw what a shame

ASHEBORO — A 16-year-old chimpanzee at the N.C. Zoo died Friday about noon while under anesthesia for an annual physical exam.

 Maki was the mother of Nori, who was born last August.

Maki was undergoing a thorough physical exam conducted on the zoo’s chimpanzees every year, according to a news release. Keepers and veterinarians also believed that the female chimp had an abscessed tooth that needed attention.
“We had completed the exam and she was stable and had been transferred (from the zoo’s Hanes Veterinary Medical Center) back to chimpanzee holding,” Zoo senior veterinarian Dr. Mike Loomis stated in the release. “She appeared to be coming out of anesthesia fine and then she just crashed. We don’t know why at this time."

An animal autopsy was being conducted Friday afternoon.

Maki was born at the N.C. Zoo in March 1994 and gained notoriety in August when she gave birth to the first baby chimp born at the N.C. Zoo in 12 years.
Story Credit Here

Backstreet Midland Restaurants have Chimpanzee Meat on their Menus

BACKSTREET Midland restaurants and market stalls are selling chimpanzee meat, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.
The sickening trade in bush meat has been exposed by a Government whistleblower, who says the chimp flesh was identified after it was seized by trading standards officials.

He told the Sunday Mercury: “It is well known this practice is underway in the region but I was shocked to discover the meat that was tested was once a chimpanzee.

“Dubious meat is often tested, and has turned out to be things like rats and vermin in the past – but chimpanzee is unbelievable.”
The chimp meat is understood to have been discovered after raids by trading standards in the Midlands.

The startling claims were last night backed up by British bush meat experts who outlined the shocking scale of the worldwide trade in dead wild animals, which stretches from Africa to the UK.

Dr Marcus Rowcliffe, research fellow at the Zoological Society of London, is an expert on the bush meat trade in Africa.

He recently completed an in-depth study into the smuggling of it through Charles de Gaulle airport in France, the hub of the trade in Europe.

It revealed that about 270 tonnes of illegal bush meat may be passing through the busy airport each year and out into the rest of the continent and UK.

Dr Rowcliffe said: “I’m not at all surprised that bush meat is on sale in the Midlands because we know the trade is going on in the UK and that there is a regular flow of smuggled meat into the country.

“However, it is not often that chimpanzee is found as that is rare even in the markets of Africa, so I am surprised by that.

“When we carried out our study at Charles de Gaulle airport, we estimated that five tonnes a week was coming into Europe and then being distributed across the continent by traders in Paris.

“Obviously I believe less than five tonnes a week makes it into the UK, but there is still a significant amount that is brought in and customs officials are very aware of it.

“What we do not know is exactly how it is distributed once it gets to the UK.

‘‘But from our work in France we discovered that the smugglers do not make much effort to disguise the bush meat, and quite openly take their chances trying to get into the country by bringing it in their suitcases.

“One man we found had nothing in his suitcase other than 50kg of bush meat.

“It is not on par with something like the drugs trade but there is clearly money to be made out of smuggling it and we know that it is associated with other underground activities.”

Bush meat is from wild animals hunted in places such as the tropical forests of West and Central Africa and is a tradition dating back centuries.
According to the Born Free foundation, nearly 7,500 tonnes of illegal meat products enter Britain every year.

Some is bush meat, brought in disguised as other meat products such as beef or lamb.

Once in the UK, more than half of the illegal meat is distributed through wholesalers or sold at local street markets.

The trade in bush meat has become big business and although accurate figures are difficult to come by it is estimated that overall the international trade in wild animal products has a value of more than £2.5 billion.

It has been claimed that a 4kg monkey would cost around £85 from smugglers in France, whereas the price would be as little as £4 in Africa.

But although some hunters target gorillas, chimpanzees and other primate species, great apes constitute less than one per cent of bush meat from all species sold on the market.

Dr Rowcliffe pointed out that the bush meat products were not just imported for consumption but also for medicinal purposes or as status symbols, signifying luxury and wealth.

But he warned that imported meat could be carrying infectious diseases such as foot-and-mouth, anthrax, the Ebola virus, TB or cholera.
The bush meat trade has also had a devastating impact on the numbers of primates living in the wild.

Adina Farmaner, Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute UK, said: “It is a reality that bush meat is being sold on the streets of Britain and I am not surprised that is available in the Midlands.

“From my own experience of Brixton market in London all you have to do is ask for some ‘special meat’ for a ‘special ceremony’ and you will get what you are looking for.

“The bush meat trade is a huge problem in certain parts of Africa and is one of the main reasons the population in the wild has been reduced from approximately one million about 50 years ago, to just a few hundred thousand today.”

Story Crefit Here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Capuchin Monkeys Urine Bathe

Capuchin monkeys have what at first glance appears to be an odd habit: they urinate onto their hands then rub their urine over their bodies into their fur.

Now scientists think they know why the monkeys "urine wash" in this way.

A new study shows that the brains of female tufted capuchins become more active when they smell the urine of sexually mature adult males.

That suggests males wash with their urine to signal their availability and attractiveness to females.

We reasoned that urine washing by males might provide chemical information to the females

Primatologist Dr Kimberley Phillips

Details of the finding are published in the American Journal of Primatology.

A number of New World monkey species, including mantled howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys and the few species of capuchins, regularly "urine wash", urinating into the palm of the hand, then vigorously rubbing the urine into the feet and hindquarters.

Several hypotheses have been put forward as to why they do it, including that it may somehow help maintain body temperature or allow other monkeys to better identify an individual by smell.

Most studies into the behaviour have been inconclusive.

"But one study reported that when being solicited by a female, adult males increased their rate of urine-washing," said Dr Kimberley Phillips, a primatologist at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, US.

"Since female capuchins [when they are most fertile] actively solicit males, we reasoned that urine washing by males might provide chemical information to the females about their sexual or social status," she told BBC News.

To investigate, Dr Phillips and her colleagues scanned the female monkeys' brains while the animals sniffed adult male and juvenile male urine.

These magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans revealed that female tufted monkeys' brains became significantly more active when they sniffed the scent of urine produced by adult males compared to that from juveniles.
Since adult males are sexually mature, they excrete higher concentrations of the male sex hormone testosterone in their urine.

The concentration of this testosterone is also linked to their social status; higher status males tend to produce more.

"Female capuchin monkey brains react differently to the urine of adult males than to urine of juvenile males," said Dr Phillips.
"We suggest that this is used as a form of communication to convey social and or sexual status."

She added that it was surprising that capuchin monkeys appeared to respond to these cues, because the species is not known for using communication based on smell.
Information credit here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Helping Hands Monkey Fullfills a Young man's life

CONCORD (CBS) — “As long as he had a ball and bat in his hand he was a happy kid.” Ellen Rogers talks about her son Ned Sullivan, who five years ago was just like any other college senior.

But that’s when life, just stopped.
“It’s that call every parent dreads,” recalls Ellen.

Ned had a seizure behind the wheel and crashed into a brick wall and broke his neck. He was paralyzed from the neck down. He spent a long year in the hospital getting better, but when he got home, he got worse.

Ned says, “I always felt alone and stuck and depressed.”

But then his sister was invited to a school assembly and the topic? Helping Hands Helper Monkeys. The organization helps people with spinal cord injuries by giving them monkey to help with everyday tasks.
Story Credit Here and Video
To learn more about Helping Hands Here

Kimya The Gorilla's necropsy report is in

The exhaustive investigation into the death of a gorilla at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden ended without finding any one cause.

Riverbanks veterinarian Dr. Keith Benson last week got the final report on the intense necropsy of Kimya, who was found dead in his Riverbanks enclosure in June.

Kimya had inflammation of the brain, fluid in the lungs and fibrosis in the heart. All three conditions could have contributed, but experts from around the world couldn’t come up with a definitive cause of death, Benson said.

The experts, however, said none of the possible causes of death pointed to changes Riverbanks would have to make to ensure the safety of their other gorillas, Benson said.
Story Credit Here

Orangutans may be more closely related to Humans

Orangutans may be more closely related to humans than scientists previously thought, a new genetic study has shown.

The first blueprint of the orangutan genetic code has confirmed that they share 97 per cent of their DNA with people.

Although that makes the red-haired apes less closely related to us than chimps - who have 99 per cent of DNA in common - a small portion of orangutan DNA is a closer match to human DNA, the international team of researchers found.

Wild thing: A juvenile orangutan in its native Borneo. DNA testing shows that the ape shares 97 per cent of our DNA

The study is the first time scientists have cracked the genetic code of the endangered great apes.

Researchers hope their findings will aid efforts to protect the species from extinction.

Today, only about 50,000 Bornean and 7,000 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. Their numbers have been dwindling as a result of deforestation.

The scientists first sequenced the genome of a female Sumatran orangutan named Suzie.

Using her DNA as a 'reference' they then compared the results with the DNA from another five Sumatran and five Bornean orangutans.

They recorded around 13 million DNA variations in the apes and found the two species split around 400,000 years ago - much more recently than previously thought.

Common traits: Orangutans in captivity can take on some typically human behavioural traits such as drawing

Humans are generally less related to orangutans than chimpanzees, the research showed.

More...Ambam, the swaggering silverback gorilla who walks around his pen on two legs.
Chimps and people shared a common ancestor around five to seven million years ago.
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3 Orangutans released back into the wild

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian researchers are testing whether three young orangutans reared in captivity can adapt to life in the wild outside Borneo, while activists insisted Wednesday the experiment was a flawed way of trying to help the endangered primates.

The project is spearheaded by a private foundation that runs Orangutan Island, a research center and tourist attraction in northern peninsular Malaysia. The facility has bred orangutans in captivity over the past decade despite criticism by animal rights groups that conservation programs should focus instead on protecting existing orangutans in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra.

D. Sabapathy, the center's senior manager, said researchers released three captive orangutans on a neighboring island last week. They are expected to remain there for up to six years before officials determine whether they can be let loose, either in peninsular Malaysia or Borneo.

The project marks the first time that orangutans have been allowed to roam on their own in peninsular Malaysia. Activists estimate some 50,000 orangutans live in the wild in Malaysian and Indonesian territory in Borneo, while another 7,000 can be found on Indonesia's Sumatra island.

The three apes include Sonia, born at the center eight years ago, and two others - Ah Ling, 17, and Nicky, 23 - found by wildlife authorities in Borneo a decade ago and brought to the center. Sabapathy said he was not sure whether Ah Ling and Nicky had lost their mothers or were rescued from poachers.

"It's a rehabilitation program," Sabapathy said. "It's not that we simply will release them anywhere."
The orangutans' lives are expected to change dramatically. On Orangutan Island, they were kept in a 5-acre (2-hectare) enclosure, where they were fed by workers and observed by tourists.
During their stay on the neighboring island, they will enjoy freedom across a 14-acre (6-hectare) forested area, where workers have hidden bananas and tapioca for them to find until they are accustomed to obtaining food such as wild fruit and termites on their own.

Researchers are using binoculars to monitor their behavior, including how they build nests and interact with their environment without human contact.

Marc Ancrenaz, co-founder of French-based conservation group Hutan, said however that resources for orangutan conservation research could be used more effectively elsewhere.
"There's no reason why they should do this. ... We (already) have a wild population" of orangutans in Borneo, Ancrenaz said.

Orangutans in the wild face threats such as the loss of habitat due to illegal logging and agriculture, as well as illegal hunting of the apes for private collections or use in traditional medicine.

The Orangutan Island center houses 25 orangutans, including 17 born there. Orangutans are known to live up to 60 years in captivity, but not as long in the wild.
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Man dies after being attacked by a group of monkeys

JAIPUR: After two elephants injured a Korean couple at Amber, it was the turn of monkeys on Monday to create a ruckus. A 42-year-old businessman fell from the third floor of his house after being attacked by a group of monkeys in Galta Gate area in the morning. He died on the spot.

According to the police, the deceased, Giriraj Prasad Gupta, was a resident of Raghunath Colony in Galta Gate and owned a shop in Surajpole. He used to take a stroll on the rooftop of his third floor along with his wife every morning, said his father Brij Bihari Gupta.

At around 6 am, Giriraj asked his wife to go down and get tea for him.
"She had taken a few steps down the stairs when a group of moneys jumped to the rooftop from another house and attacked Giriraj," said a police officer.
His wife told police that while trying to scare away the monkeys, Giriraj asked her to run for safety.

"As his wife climbed down the stairs, she saw the monkeys attacking Giriraj," said the officer adding that the he fell head-on to the ground. "Giriraj's brother, who was in his room on the second floor, heard a loud thud and peeped out of the window. He saw Giriraj and rushed outside. But he had died on the spot," said the officer.

Nevertheless, the victim was rushed to SMS Hospital by family members, but declared brought dead. The hospital informed the police following which a post-mortem was conducted.

"We have handed over the body to the family members. A physical verification of the spot will be conducted on Tuesday," said the officer.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Last of the stolen Monkeys have been returned to the NSW Zoo

An episode of serious monkey business has ended with a tamarin being returned to a NSW zoo, almost nine months after it was allegedly stolen.

Eight monkeys were removed from cages at Symbio Wildlife Park, in Helensburgh, south of Sydney, in May 2010.
They included four cotton tail tamarins and four pygmy marmosets.

Seven of them were found just weeks afterwards and two men, aged 17 and 18, were charged over the alleged theft.

On Saturday a 34-year-old Victorian man returned the final missing tamarin to the owner of the wildlife park.
"The man said a family friend had purchased the monkey over the internet last year," a police statement said.
"Once he learned it had been stolen he made arrangements for its safe return."
The case has now been closed, with no further investigation likely.
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Pam Anderson wants the AIIMS to release monkeys to sanctuary

NEW DELHI: Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson wants to rescue animals allegedly caged inside the AIIMS animal facility. Claiming to have watched video footage taken secretly inside AIIMS, she has shot off a letter to institute director Dr R C Deka, urging him to retire the 'ageing' monkeys to a sanctuary and switch over to modern and humane non-animal research and training methods.

In the letter - sent on behalf of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals ( PETA) - Anderson alleges that many of the monkeys at AIIMS have been languishing in cramped and rusty cages for nearly a decade and that one monkey has been exposed to these harsh conditions for nearly 20 years. AIIMS officials denied that any such letter was received and claimed that the animal facility is 'state of the art'.

More than 40 monkeys and several other animals, including rabbits, mice and guinea pigs, are caged inside the central animal facility at the institute and are used in trials for development of new drugs. Sources said the monkeys were brought for research on human contraceptives several years ago.

"It broke my heart to see the suffering that is documented in the enclosed video. The animals suffering behind closed doors at AIIMS must endure this nightmare every day. I was shocked to see that rabbits are forced to live in wire-floored cages; the sharp wire digs into their sensitive footpads and can cause their feet to get stuck," writes Anderson.

She says that the animals exhibit signs of severe distress. "A monkey is shown climbing the walls and ceiling of the cage in an endless loop, and a rat is shown spinning compulsively. Sick and injured animals, including rabbits, suffering from an infectious skin disease, and rats with wounds, are denied veterinary care. A worker roughly overturns the rat enclosures in order to clean them, slamming the animals inside, including a mother rat desperately trying to protect her newborn babies, against the wire bars," Anderson has written in her one-page letter.

"Please, won't you at least agree to retire the animals that have been at AIIMS the longest to a sanctuary?" she adds. Animal activists from India have often raised the issue of ill-treatment of animals at AIIMS. They claim that the stress of loneliness and lengthy confinement has taken a toll on the animal's psychological health also.

AIIMS spokesperson Dr Y K Gupta said he has no knowledge of any letter written to the AIIMS administration by Pamela Anderson. "Our institute strictly follows the guidelines of the Committee for Purpose of Control and Supervision on Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), ministry of environment and forests," he said. Gupta said while the monkeys are used by the reproductive biology department, the rats are needed for trials on new drugs for diseases like epilepsy as well as for strokes. He said that animal trial is a must for development of any new drug. Monkeys mimic the human model - immunity and acceptance of any drug - best. According to the CPCSEA rules, no animal should be used for experimentation for more than three years unless there is a proper justification. At AIIMS, the authorities have created rehabilitation facilities for such animals, the AIIMS official said.
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Wild Animals Should NOT be Pets

Most outdoorsmen come in contact with wild animals often and respect them for what they are -- wild animals. But many readers live in a city or suburban environment and never see wild creatures except for perhaps a passing squirrel or rabbit. These are raised on a diet of Gentle Ben and Andy Panda, of Flipper and Bugs Bunny, and come to believe that wild animals are kind and friendly just as Hollywood likes to depict them. But they're not.

Roy, a member of the Siegfried and Roy animal show in Las Vegas, found that out the hard way. Roy did about 30,000 shows with his white tigers, most of which he and Siegfried had raised from cubs. They worked with the animals, hand fed them, played with them and never had a problem until a white tiger named Montecore put him in the hospital with life-threatening injuries sustained during a show.

Another prime example is Dawn Brancheau, who trained (and loved) her killer whales. She worked with them for years at Sea World in Florida, but one day a five-ton orca she knew well turned on her for no apparent reason. She died of multiple traumatic injuries and drowning.

Then there was Kelly Ann Walz, who kept a black bear for nine years as a pet. She was cleaning its cage one day when it attacked and left her dead. A trainer who raised a grizzly bear from cubhood had the animal in many a commercial and movie sequence. We've all seen that huge bear selling various products, and the trainer never had a problem until one day when it was feeling grouchy or whatever, it killed him.
We all love chimpanzees, primates whose antics make us laugh. Tarzan had a chimp named Cheetah for comic relief, and even the Little Rascals and Three Stooges had skits with the animals. But did you ever notice that the chimpanzees used were always small and immature ones? An adult chimp is amazingly strong and can be moody. You might remember reading fairly recently about a woman who had an adult chimp for a pet and it turned on a visiting friend, ripping off her eyelids, lips and both hands.

There are innumerable other incidents when wild animals went bad. I remember well the stripper who kept a 10-foot boa for her nightclub act and often wrapped it around her neck while she danced. It was docile for years until one night it decided to bite her, then tightened up around her neck and choked her thoroughly. It took two men to pull the reptile loose.
I had a similar experience with an unusually large garter snake that I used in my biology class demonstrations. I picked it up casually probably a hundred times, then on 101, it bit me and swallowed my thumb down to the knuckle.

Some people are lucky and get away with doing dumb or unknowing stunts. I saw a sow black bear with two cubs stop traffic in Yellowstone Park when she sat along the road and begged for doughnuts and other food. One idiot got out of his car and put his young son on the sow's back for a photo. He actually got away with it. But others aren't so lucky.

I was horseback riding in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in northwest North Dakota one time when the rancher I was riding with pointed out a spot where a Frenchman from Paris saw an old buffalo bull in a bottom, jumped out of his rental car and ran down to take a closeup picture. "We put him in five body bags" the rancher said.
There's a simple moral to this story: Wild animals are not Gentle Ben, Flipper and Chip and Dale. They can hurt you and will if you treat them like Hollywood pets on a movie set. Leave them alone, keep your distance and remember they're wild, no matter how tame they seem.
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Girl Scout Cookies have palm oil which hurts the Orangutans

Girl Scout cookie season, but Michigan scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva are finding other ways to support the organization’s mission of "building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place" than selling those famous Thin Mints and Tagalongs. Many varieties of Girl Scout cookies include palm oil, the No. 1 culprit behind deforestation in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia.
When Madison and Rhiannon found out that Girl Scout cookies were destroying the forest homes of endangered wildlife like orangutans, pygmy elephants, and Sumatran tigers -- and displacing indigenous people -- they sprung into action. First, they stopped selling the cookies, and then launched an effort to encourage the Girl Scouts to switch to more environmentally friendly (and healthier) alternatives like canola oil. The Girl Scouts USA and their CEO Kathy Clonginer, however, have refused to act despite efforts by Girl Scouts across the country and the encouragement of organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists and Center for Biological Diversity.

Now, thanks to a post on the animal welfare blog Please Do Not Tap on the Glass, we learned that the Girl Scouts’ British sister organization, the Girl Guides, have eliminated palm oil from their cookies, and are offering to help the Girl Scouts USA and Girl Guides Canada do the same. The English bakers also found, unsurprisingly, that replacing unhealthy palm oil with olive oil and canola oil doesn’t only save forests, it also resulted in a 60 to 70 percent reduction in saturated fat.

I hope the Girl Scouts USA do the same. When you read about the effects of palm oil cultivation on orangutans and other wildlife, it’s pretty horrifying. Here’s a recent report from Rhett Butler at MongaBay on the effects of palm oil expansion:
Michelle Desilets, executive director of the Orangutan Land Trust, says she started to see the shift about five years ago. Relegated to ever smaller fragments of forest, wild orangutans began to face starvation as their food sources were depleted, forcing them to venture into newly established oil palm plantations where they feed on the young shoots of palms, destroying the tree before it produces any oil seeds.

Viewing the wild orangutans as pests, plantation managers started paying $10 to $20 for each dead orangutan -- a strong incentive for a migrant worker who may earn just $10 per day.

"Our rescue teams began to be informed of wandering wild orangutans in human settlements," Desilets told me, while cradling a baby orangutan in Nyaru Menteng. "We have found orangutans beaten to death with wooden planks and iron bars, butchered by machetes, beaten unconscious and buried alive, and doused with petrol and set alight. Since 2004, more and more orangutans in our centers have been rescued from areas within or near oil palm plantations, and over 90 percent of the infants up to three years of age come from these areas."

I think even the Cookie Monster would pass on that one. Unfortunately, so far, the Girl Scouts seem to be engaging in the type of greenwashing that one expects from giant food conglomerates like Cargill, instead of an organization that’s supposed to be cultivating honesty and strong values in our nation’s youth.
The Girl Scouts could be a great organization that, among other things, cultivates a love for nature and the outdoors. But it should follow the lead of its British sister organization and find a way to support itself in a way that doesn’t undermine its values, or the survival of our fellow creatures. Until then, no Peanut Butter Patties, Thank U Berry Muches, or Daisy Go Rounds for me!
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Zoo Gorillas need to have a change of diet

Apes shed pounds while doubling calories, CWRU researcher finds
In the U.S., even zoo gorillas need to switch to a heart-healthy diet.

"A lot are dying of heart disease, we believe like humans," said Elena Hoellein Less, a PhD candidate in biology at Case Western Reserve University.

In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of male Western lowland gorillas – the only species of gorillas in North American zoos.

After Brooks, a 21-year-old gorilla, died of heart failure at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 2005, Less and other researchers here took a hard look at how the animals' lifestyle affects their health. Less now leads an effort to counter the killer disease by returning the primates to a diet more akin to what they'd eat in the wild.
Gone is the bucketful of vitamin-rich, high-sugar and high-starch foods that zoos used for decades to ensure gorillas received enough nutrients.
Instead, Cleveland's Mokolo and Bebac receive a wheelbarrow of romaine lettuce, dandelion greens and endive they gently tear and bite, alfalfa hay they nimbly pick through, young tree branches they strip of succulent bark and leaves, green beans, a handful of flax seeds, and three Centrum Silver multivitamins tucked inside half a smashed banana.

Instead of spending about a quarter of their day eating the old diet, the pair now spends 50 to 60 percent of each day feeding and foraging, about the same amount of time wild gorillas forage.

Although they take in twice as many calories on the new diet, after a year, the big boys of the primate house have dropped nearly 65 pounds each and weigh in the range of their wild relatives.

"We're beginning to understand we may have a lot of overweight gorillas," said Kristen Lukas, an adjunct assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve and chair of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP®) for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The organization serves 52 zoos in the U.S. and Canada in a coordinated effort to improve the health and survival of the nearly 350 gorillas in the population.

"And, we're just recognizing that surviving on a diet and being healthy on a diet are different," said Lukas, who is also curator of Conservation and Science at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. "We've raised our standards and are asking, are they in the best condition to not only survive but to thrive?"

Less is one of five Case Western Reserve graduate students in the biology program who are involved in research linking behavior to the health of zoo animals, a unique program among U.S. zoos, Lukas said.

At the same time Less has been monitoring the diet and resulting habits of the gorillas, she's been measuring the amount of fat on the backs of the apes and attempting to discern what benefits against heart disease they may be gaining with the new diet, using biomarkers of insulin resistance and inflammation as guides.

She's also creating a body mass index for the animals, similar to that used to gauge healthy weight and makeup in humans.

Though these zoo gorillas now weigh about the same or sometimes more than their wild counterparts, "we believe those in the wild have more muscle," Less said.

If the continuing study finds that to be true, she said, "The next step is exercising gorillas in zoos."

In addition to dropping weight and becoming active feeders, the gorillas also dropped a habit seen only in zoo gorillas, a habit that literally turned patrons away. Whether to taste sugar again and again, or to take up time not spent foraging or because large amounts of sugar and starch didn't sit well; on the old diet, the gorillas would repeatedly spit up and then eat what they'd just spit up.

"That behavior has been completely eliminated with the new diet," Less said.

Colleagues at other Gorilla SSP® institutions have allowed versions of the new diet to be tested at zoos in Columbus, North Carolina, Toronto and Seattle. Results are expected later this year.

Should the larger sample prove the diet provides health benefits, the Gorilla SSP® may endorse high-fiber foraging at zoos nationally and internationally, Lukas said.
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Research being done on monkeys by institutions like the UW are morally unjustifiable

UW brings in true monkey research foe, Dr. Lawrence Hansen
Bill Lueders on Thursday 02/17/2011

Last year, the UW-Madison beat back a Dane County Board resolution calling for an advisory panel to explore the ethics of primate research, much to the disappointment of local monkey defenders (see Rick Marolt's opinion column, 10/14/10). Instead, the university agreed to host a series of forums, which many predicted would be a bust.

But the first of those forums, set for Thursday, Feb. 17, at the new Institutes for Discovery, 7 p.m., presents a prominent critic of primate research. "I'm extremely pleased they have selected him," says local animal-rights activist Ann Emerson.

Dr. Lawrence Hansen, an eminent neuroscientist at UC-San Diego, finds much of the research being done on monkeys by institutions like the UW morally unjustifiable. Regarded as a leading Alzheimer's researcher, Hansen says most of the Alzheimer's research being done using primates is as pointless as it is cruel.

Last summer, Hansen wrote a letter in support (PDF) of the County Board resolution, saying this is an area in which the scientists involved are simply too biased to perform the necessary ethical assessment of their work.

Dr. Eric Sandgren, the UW's top overseer of animal research, says the panel that picked the speakers knows there aren't many "middle of the road" thinkers on this topic and thus is eager to present divergent views. "It's exactly what we wanted."

Dawn Crim, the UW's director of community relations, sent an email to County Board members touting the series, saying, "we hope you will come out and participate in the discussion."

Supv. Al Matano, the main sponsor of the failed resolution, notes the irony of that, since Hansen's speech Thursday conflicts with another event in his life: the regularly scheduled meeting of the Dane County Board.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Conservationists say releasing 1000 Orangutans is like going into a Killing Field

More than 1,000 captive orangutans set for release into the wild on Borneo island are being sent into a "killing field" of illegal logging and poaching, conservationists say.

Dr. Karmele Llano Sanchez from International Animal Rescue checks Monte, a 13-year-old pet orangutan, after members of the West Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Board (BKSDA) seized him from a residence in Bengkayan in West Kalimantan province.



Indonesia has reserved 86,450 hectares (214,000 acres) of forest in Muara Wahau, East Kalimantan province, for the rehabilitation of 1,200 captive big apes over the next four years.

But the independent Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) warned that the endangered mammals were being sent to their deaths unless the government also managed to stop illegal logging and poaching, which is rampant in the region.

"Without law enforcement and security guarantees from the government, releasing them to the forest is like sending them to a killing field," COP chief Hardi Baktiantoro told reporters.

He said local communities were responsible for most of the destruction of flora and fauna in Muara Wahau.
In the last three months of 2010, the COP rescued four orangutans which locals had caught and were offering for sale for up to 2.5 million rupiah ($280) each.
"The forestry ministry should deploy the forestry police to protect orangutans in the wild from poaching and save their habitat from illegal logging," Baktiantoro said.

Experts say there are about 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 80 percent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia.

They are faced with extinction due to poaching and the rapid destruction of their habitat.

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What can a Bonobo Ape teach us

Editor's Note: The annual TED Conference (Feb. 26-Mar. 4) is an invitation-only affair known as the place where high-tech tycoons, Nobel laureates, and other very smart people gather to share ideas that will inspire. The TED Fellows program was established to give people who wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity—or the means—a chance to present their remarkable work to an audience that just might include Bill Gates and Al Gore. In a series leading up to TED, will feature interviews conducted via e-mail with a handful of this year's fellows.
Isabel Behncke Izquierdo


Oxford University

Isabel Behncke Izquierdo is a Chilean primatologist who studies the bonobos in a remote jungle region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Very little is known about the bonobo, which along with the chimpanzee is the closest living evolutionary relative to humans. Behncke Izquierdo, 34, who studied animal behavior and evolutionary anthropology at Cambridge and Oxford, hopes that a better understanding of the bonobo will provide new insights into human evolution and a better understanding of how we come to experience such things as joy, creativity, and our capacity for wonder.

What can humans learn from the bonobo?

Much! Three main aspects: playfulness, social tolerance, and female bonding.

We have an extraordinary opportunity to learn from bonobos, more about our own evolutionary past on one hand, and on the other the incredible diversity of social organization in animals. Bonobos are our evolutionary cousins, that is, we share a common ancestor with them who lived approximately 6 million years ago. Since all the modern human ancestors are extinct, bonobos and chimpanzees are our living closest relatives, the best window we have into our past.

Most of the narratives around human evolution have been informed by what we know from chimpanzees, not from bonobos—since we know relatively little about them and most studies come from captivity, not from the wild. Chimpanzees are well-known for being toolmakers, hunters, patriarchal, aggressive, political, and strongly hierarchical. Bonobos on the other hand are female-dominated, much more socially tolerant, with lessened and more flexible hierarchies, playful throughout their lives, peaceful both within and between groups.

It then follows that if we were to learn only from chimpanzees, our ideas of our past would be heavily skewed; we would be missing essential and wonderful aspects of what makes us human.

Are bonobos the swingers of the chimpanzee world? Are they as sexually liberated as the literature suggests?

Short answer is yes—bonobos are highly sexual creatures. Their use of sex is multidimensional: It is seen in contexts as varied as highly tense situations around food competition, bonding, play, and so on. A primatologist once said that "chimpanzees resolve sexual issues with power; bonobos resolve power issues with sex."

In addition to variety in context, partner combination is also incredibly varied: There is adult male/adult female sex, of course, but in addition there is female-female, male-male, and also adult-infant sex. Much of adult-adult sex happens in stress-related situations (such as just before and during feeding), and a lot of infant sex seems to have elements of playful exploration (such as a game of chase in which a young female held a male literally by the balls as he laughed). But these are generalizations—bonobos' sexual behavior always surprises.

If you could take a few bonobo behaviors and somehow make them part of human nature, what would they be?

What a fun thought experiment. I would have to choose grooming, inter-group tolerance, and sex. Aspects of these of course, since we already do them, yet not in the same way as bonobos do.

First, grooming because those long sessions of tactile social contact must feel wonderful—the only simile for us these days is paying for massage! Second, female bonding, and social tolerance in general: Formation of strong alliances between females seems to make for a more peaceful, tolerant, and less strongly hierarchical society. Last but not the very least, to bring in at least part of the sexual exuberance that bonobos have would certainly keep humans both very fit and happy! Just kidding, I don't want to think about the complications that would cause!

How do you observe bonobos? Do you live with them? Do they come to know you or recognize you?

I study a group of wild bonobos that have been habituated to human observation by Japanese scientists and local Congolese trackers since the mid-'70s. The research station is a house made of mud and bricks in the village of Wamba (at the very heart of the Congo basin), which lies at the center of the study group's range. I get up at 3:30 a.m. and walk through the jungle with the trackers to get to the bonobos' sleeping site before they get up and start traveling (usually around 6 a.m.). We then follow them thorough their daily activities. They travel and split in smaller parties, looking for food. Usually at mid-morning, there will be a long "social session," where the adults groom and the juveniles play. When they make their nests (beds) again in the evening, I record the place in my GPS and we then walk back to camp, shower, eat, and prepare for the next day of bonobo observations.

I think they do know me and recognize my voice and face, since for example when they hear the voices of villagers foraging in the forest they get startled in a way that does not happen with my voice (and those of the people they know). Bonobos are highly intelligent and curious animals, and there are a few bold individuals that have come to observe me at closer quarters sometimes.

Did your parents encourage you to have lots of pets? Is that what sparked your interest in becoming a primatologist?

Having lots of pets is an understatement. My dad had anything from eagles-in-rehabilitation roaming inside the house to a South American rhea running outside. So no lack of animal diversity there! Also, I was very lucky that we spent the long summer holidays at a sheep ranch where horses, dogs, and the local wildlife made for all the fun a child could possibly want. But exposure to animals is not all that made me a primatologist, since the multitude of books my mom encouraged me to read left an intellectual curiosity which has been a key driver all the way.

Did you really have a pet parrot as a child that you used to sneak on airplanes?

I was 8 years old when I was given this untamed, angry parrot by my father. I had the whole summer and total determination, so I succeeded in befriending him so that nothing would separate us for the following 15 years. During my late teens and early 20s I was frequently flying within Chile, and so to get onto planes I would regularly hide my parrot inside my sweater. To be honest, I think stewardesses knew about it but turned a blind eye. The proof came once when there was a disabled girl who had a panic attack, and since nothing seemed to calm her, they came to get me to see whether showing her the parrot would work. My little parrot did a great laughter impression and so it worked. We were then invited to visit the captain's cockpit, but the adventure finished not quite on a high since the parrot decided to poo all over the flying instruments. Unforgettable.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Budget Ammendments Part 2 Chimpanzees

--Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana is anxious to see that no money is used to gather free-roaming horses or burros, except when absolutely necessary.

--As if to top Burton's interest in the animal kingdom, Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is aiming to see that no funds should be used for grant agreements or contracts that allow or encourage the breeding of chimpanzees.
Information Here

Why evolution is True

Australopithecus afarensis: a “committed terrestrial biped”

So much information from a single bone! Paleontologists are expert in deducing a lot of stuff from a fragment of fossil. Sometimes you have to wonder if they’re doing it rong, but when one of the team is Donald Johanson (the discoverer of the famous Australopithecus afarensis specimen named”Lucy“), then you’re pretty confident.

A new paper in Science by Carol Ward, William Kimbel, and Johanson (reference below) describes the discovery of a metatarsal bone (the fourth metatarsal, i.e., from the toe next to the little toe) from A. afarensis, a bone that pretty conclusively shows that the species was, as the authors affirm, “a committed terrestrial biped.”

You may remember that although the skeleton of Lucy was amazingly complete, it lacked the feet:

The inference that this 3.2 million year old specimen was bipedal was based on two things: the configurations of the pelvis and knee, and the discovery, nearby, of the famous Laetoli footprints, a long trail of footprints left about 3.6 mya by early hominins walking in volcanic ash. The individuals who made these (probably three of them) certainly walked upright: there are no impressions of knuckles.


Because A. afarensis was the only hominin known from that era in that location (Hadar, Ethiopia), everyone concluded that the species was pretty bipedal. But fragments of another Hadar foot were ambiguous: some workers suggested that they didn’t have the crucial longitudinal arch of modern humans.

A refresher—here’s where the metatarsals are:


The 4th metatarsal found by Ward et al. is fortuitous, for it clearly comes from A. afarensis (it was found in the Hadar formation, where the only hominin is of that species), it’s the right age—about 3.2 my old—and it’s a crucial bone for determining how its owner walked.

Humans have a more rigid foot than modern apes, with pronounced arches, both longitudinal and transverse. When our heel lifts off the ground, so does the rest of the foot up to the toes. When the ape foot lifts off, there’s a break between the heel and the middle, which facilitates moving around in trees. This is reflected in the shape of the metatarsals, which show much greater torsion (rotation) during walking than do ape toes. The metatarsals in humans form a pronounced arch, one that’s much less distinct in apes (figure from Ward et al.):


The shape of the bone tells you how much torsion it underwent during walking, and the shape of the new A. afarensis metatarsal (“AL333-160″ in the figure below) clearly shows that its torsion is much closer to that of a modern human than to a modern chimp (P. troglodytes) or gorilla (Gorilla gorilla):  


between A. australopithecus and modern humans, but I’ll give just one more piece. Below are the fourth metatarsals of a modern human, the new specimen, and of a modern chimp and gorilla. In modern humans the metatarsal’s “diaphysis” (the long middle section of a bone) is at a sharp angle to the base (the short dark line at the right side of the following diagram), while in apes they’re roughly parallel. And the domed part of the metatarsal head (blue arrow in the diagram) is much higher (more dorsal) in humans than in apes.

The figure above shows that, in both respects, the new A. afarensis toe belonged to a creature that had a longitudinal arch in the foot, like humans but unlike modern apes.

Since the ancestor of humans and apes was likely a knuckle-walking ape (there is some dispute about this), these data all show that A. afarensis, at 3.2 mya, already had a stiff, doubly arched foot and therefore walked much like modern humans, confirming the earlier skeletal and footprint evidence. Here is the authors’ conclusion:

By at least 3.2 million years ago, the fundamental attributes of human pedal anatomy and function were in place. This includes the transformation of the first toe and associated musculature from a grasping structure to one designed for propulsion and shock absorption [review in (1)]. Evidence from the Hadar fourth metatarsal adds to this human-like portrait of permanent longitudinal and transverse bony arches in the sole of the foot. The evolutionary trajectory suggested by these fossil remains makes it unlikely that selection continued to favor substantial arboreal behaviors by the time of A. afarensis.

In other words, we’d left the trees for good.

Ward, C., W. H. Kimbel and D. C. Johanson. 2011. Complete fourth metatarsal and arches in the foot of Australopithecus afarensis. Science 331:750-753.
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Chimpanzees produce more sperm that any other Ape

Chimpanzees produce 200 times more sperm than gorillas, the world's largest primates, and 14 times more than orangutans, scientists based in Japan reveal.

Promiscuous ape species have bigger testicles, and the latest discovery finally provides evidence that they also produce more sperm.

Scientists previously proposed that chimps have large testicles because several males mate with a single female, and so have to produce more sperm in order to compete.

Our data indicated that a chimpanzee usually produces about two hundred times more sperm than a gorilla
Hideko Fujii-Hanamoto

For their research, published in the American Journal of Primatology, scientists studied chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas from zoos in Japan and Indonesia.

Analysing samples of testicular tissues at a microscopic level, researchers found remarkable variation between the apes.

They found that the sperm-producing tissue lining gorillas' testes was much thinner than that of orangutans and chimpanzees.

Chimpanzees were found to produce 14 times more sperm than orangutans and even more than the world's largest primates.

"Our data indicated that a chimpanzee usually produces about two hundred times more sperm than a gorilla," explained researcher Hideko Fujii-Hanamoto.
For these three species of ape, the scientists have now proven that testes size is proportionate to sperm production.
The researchers claim that these findings also support theories that sperm production relates directly to reproductive competition and mating behaviour.

Previous studies proposed that testes are smaller in polygynous species such as gorillas where one alpha male monopolises mating with multiple females.
In promiscuous species such as chimps however, there is greater competition between males as several copulate with one female.


Dominant gorillas are known as "silverbacks" because their coats change colour to highlight their status as alpha male

Adult male orangutans develop facial flanges and issue long calls to attract females

This competition is thought to be the driving factor for sperm production and larger testes are thought to produce more sperm.

However, practical limitations meant sperm production in apes was difficult to accurately measure.

"It is generally difficult to get semen from the animals even if they [are] kept in zoological gardens," said Ms Fujii-Hanamoto.

"Therefore, the testis weight or the ratio of testis weight [to] body weight was used to estimate the ability of sperm production."

Visual observations confirmed that chimpanzees have larger testes compared to their body size than gorillas but it was not clear whether they actually produced more sperm.
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Are Chimpanzees in the open savannas or woodlands

While some chimpanzees historically inhabited open savannas, most modern surviving populations in Africa favor woodlands and forests. While they are comfortable on the ground, much of their lives are bound up in the treetops.

Chimpanzees split their time between trees and the ground.

Use of Trees

Chimpanzees may hunt certain species of red colobus monkey in the treetops.Chimpanzees spend much of their time traveling on the ground, walking on all fours. Nonetheless, they are much more arboreal than their bigger relatives the gorillas. In most habitats, they forage extensively on fruits, nuts and bark in the canopy, where they also occasionally hunt monkeys; retreat each night to build sleeping nests; and escape from some terrestrial predators by climbing.

Tree Species
 Chimps are familiar with the fruiting schedules of trees within their given forest.Across their historically large range in sub-Saharan Africa, chimps utilize many different species of trees. As part of the chimp discussion in "The Behavior Guide to African Mammals," Richard D. Estes mentions various kinds of figs, oil palms and other fruit- or nut-producing genera like Coula, Panda and Uapaca.

Chimps are familiar with the fruiting schedules of trees within their given forest.

Chimpanzees may swing through the canopy or carefully clamber over branches.A chimpanzee's long and enormously powerful arms reflect its swiftest kind of arboreal locomotion, the under-branch swinging movement called brachiation. But they also haul themselves up trunks by wrapping their arms around them and steadily move through the canopy on the backs of large branches.

Chimpanzees may swing through the canopy or carefully clamber over branches.
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2 Years ago today was the horrible Travis the Chimp/Sandra Herold/Charla Nash incident

Travis the chimp destroyed Charla Nash’s face, eyesight and her trust in wild animals when the animal mauled her on this date in 2009.

That horrific attack on Feb. 16, 2009 thrust Connecticut’s exotic animal laws into the spotlight and the state Department of Environmental Protection is revamping the law and planning to ban chimps, gorillas, orangutans, pythons and some more common animals, like wild ferrets.
Dozens of animal lovers, reptile shop owners and exhibitors voices their concerns at a public hearing at DEP headquarters in Hartford on Tuesday.
“It will really hurt the reptile industry. Connecticut, for a long time, has had some really lenient laws on the big snake and lizard community. A ban would be devastating,” Jeremy Turgeon, of J and D Reptiles, said.
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Charla Nash's Lawyer is sueing Connecticut

Attorney Charles Willinger says the law regulating large animals as pets has been on the books in Connecticut for decades, but the problem is it was never enforced for the pet chimpanzee who mauled his client, Charla Nash.

“In terms of my client, obviously, it’s a little bit too little too late,” says Willinger.

Willinger is preparing a $150 million lawsuit on behalf of Nash to cover her mounting medical and health care bills.

Asked if Nash may be preparing for a face transplant, Willinger would only say that it’s something they’re looking into.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection is holding a hearing on the issue tonight at 6 p.m. at DEP Headquarters at 79 Elm Street, Hartford. More details below.
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DEP Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Regulations Concerning Possession of Wild Animals

Public Hearing at DEP Headquarters Feb. 15

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a public hearing February 15 on proposed changes to regulations governing the importation, possession, and liberation of wild animals.

The public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. at DEP Headquarters, 79 Elm Street, Hartford.

The proposed regulations are the result of the passage of Public Act 09-198, which required the development of new regulations affecting the importation, possession, and liberation of wild animals in the state.

DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella said, "The proposed regulations create a workable and efficient means of regulating possession of wild animals – while at the same time protecting public health and safety, agricultural interests, and the health of native plants and animals."

"These proposed regulations," Marrella said, "are the result of a robust process that included three informal public forums, discussions with interested stakeholders and consultation with other state agencies – such as the Departments of Public Health and Agriculture – whose responsibilities touch on this issue. We thank everyone who has participated in this process and look forward to hearing additional comments at the upcoming public hearing."

Proposed Regulations:

Establish lists of wild animals that, due to their inherent threat to public health and safety, agricultural crops or native plants and animals may not be imported or possessed in Connecticut.

Allow municipal parks, zoos, marine mammal parks, aquaria, circuses, nature centers, museums, exhibitors, laboratories, and research facilities to import and possess many species without a permit – and establish permit provisions for these facilities to have animals listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in Connecticut.

Provide for the general public to possess a wide range of animals – generally speaking, those commonly sold in the pet trade – without a permit.

The regulations would also establish:

Explicit criteria for what constitutes a museum, nature center, or exhibitor;

Provisions to allow for veterinarians to care for a range of animals;

Requirements for notification in the event of wild animal escape; and

Wild animal disease prevention and reporting requirements.

All interested persons are invited to express their views on the proposed regulations at the February 15 public hearing.

The DEP will also accept written comment on the proposed regulations through the close of business on March 1. Comments can be mailed to the DEP at 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT, 06106, to the attention of George Babey, Public Hearing Officer; or emailed to

All comments submitted to DEP in writing or offered at the public hearing will be considered in the development of the final regulations. The final regulations must be approved by the General Assembly’s Regulations Review Committee before they can take effect.

Copies of the proposed regulations may be obtained online at, by writing the DEP Bureau of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT, 06106, or by calling (860) 424-3011.
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Monkeys at the Drusillas Zoo got a special Valentine's gift

LOVE was in the air for some cheeky monkeys at Drusillas as zoo keepers served up their meals in heart shaped hampers to get them in the mood for Valentine’s Day.

A macaque monkey at Drusillas

The colourful wicker wreaths were offered to the zoo’s Sulawesi black crested macaques crammed full of their favourite foods.

These were posted around the enclosure as a romantic meal with a difference, which the monkeys revelled at.

This unusual delivery was made as part of the zoo’s enrichment programme, which ensures a diverse diet is enjoyed in imaginative and unusual ways.

“Enrichment” is carried out within all the enclosures on a daily basis to encourage the animals to work a little harder for their food as they would in the wild.

Zoo manager, Sue Woodgate said, “The hearts made an ideal Valentine treat for the monkeys; they spent a great deal of time delving under the wicker and extracting the goodies and really enjoyed investigating the unusual findings.”

“The macaques have not been together all that long. We hope our romantic dinner will go some way towards introducing a little love onto the menu too.”

These large crested macaques are native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where they are critically endangered.

The group at Drusillas were introduced in 2010 as part of the European breeding programme and so far Cupid’s arrow has landed right on target.

Since arriving from Monkey Park in Israel last November, head boy Moteck has been making a huge impression on macaque sisters Kendari and Jude.

Moteck, which means “sweetie” in Hebrew, has been living up to his name with his two new honeys going completely bananas over him, happily sharing their Valentine hearts.

The gentle macaque has also bonded well with the two youngest members of the group, Pendola and Kamala born on April 26 and May 10 respectively.

The macaques were not the only animals to receive the novelty nibbles at the zoo.

Many other animals also received the heart shaped hampers, including the park’s racoons.
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