Adopt an Animal - News

Lion And Bear Rescued From Wreckage Of Zoo In Mosul

Lions On The Lose In Nairobi

Recently two of the only surviving animals of Mosul Zoo have been rescued form terrible conditions in the conflict-ridden city of Iraq. Simba the lion and Lula the bear were found at the zoo back in February. The zoo is privately owned and the two animals were found in their cages covered in dirt and excrement. Fortunately, a charity called Four Paws International has stepped into rescue the animals and is flying the tiger and the bear to a better life in Jordan.

Many animals already dead

Iraqi troops are trying drive Islamic State militants from Mosul which is the terrorist outfit’s last major urban strong hold in Iraq. After six months of intense combat, there has been plenty of civilian casualties and the war has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. The Montazah al-Morour Zoo was almost completely destroyed during the fight for control of the Eastern half of the city and most of the animals living at the zoo which included rabbits, monkey’s and a lioness either died of starvation or were killed.

The bear and lion had multiple diseases

Amir Khalil a veterinarian of Egyptian and Austrian descent who headed the effort by Four Paws said Simba the lion and Lula the bear were suffering from multiple diseases that were the product of malnutrition and lack of care. When he first laid eyes on them back in February both animals had extremely bad teeth. Simba had ill joints and Lula was suffering pneumonia.

Lots of paper work required to move them

In March Dr Khalil began the process of acquiring the correct paperwork from the Iraqi authorities so that he could transport the animals abroad where they would receive proper care. A couple of weeks later the convoy made its first attempt at getting the animals out of the country by flight. That attempt had to be aborted however, because the lorry carrying the animals we stopped at a checkpoint.

A happy ending hopefully

The lorry was stuck at that roadside checkpoint for a further nine days until additional permits were secured at which point Simba began to exhibit symptoms of a respiratory problems. The plane carrying the two animals to Jordan eventually took off and Dr Khalil in an interview with the AFP news agency said he was pleased that this was the beginning of a new life for the animals and from now on they no longer are part of the war.

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Python Swallows Indonesian Farmer Whole

Florida Seeks To Get Rid Of Invasive Burmese Python

This is a story that has to be seen to believed. We can’t show you pictures unfortunately so you will have to take our word for it. In Indonesia, a farmer who was harvesting his crops disappeared. Very near where the farmer was last spotted, a giant python was caught and inside the belly of the python the farmer was found.

7 metre python

Akbar the farmer was only 25 and his body was discovered in the 7 metre (23 feet) long snake which villagers where the farmer worked has seen slithering very awkwardly. The snake was captured in Salubiro village on the Eastern island of Sulawesi.

“We were immediately suspicious that the snake had swallowed Akbar because around the site we found palm fruit, his harvesting tool and a boot,” said Junaidi, a senior village official.

“They didn’t find him (Akbar), but the villagers saw an unmoving python in the ditch. They grew suspicious that maybe the snake had Akbar,” Mashura, a spokesperson for West Sulawesi police, told BBC Indonesia. “When they cut it open, Akbar was inside the snake.”

Attacks on humans are rare

Relatives were obviously very worried when Akbar did not return home from the family’s plantation and launched a search. According to Junaidi the snake had swallowed the farmer whole and that this was the only incidence he had ever heard of in the region. This species of python routinely exceed 20ft, is common throughout Indonesia and the Philippines. Whilst these reptiles do attack small animals, it is rare for them to attempt to eat people. In 2013, a security guard on the island of Bali was killed by a python at a luxury beachfront hotel.

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China Establishes Huge Nature Reserve To Protect Endangered Big Cats

Tiger Poaching On The Rise

China has established a huge new 5,600-square-mile reserve in the North-Eastern part of the country. The reserve was established to protect two endangered big cat species, the Siberian tiger and the Amur leopard. The park will be spread across two provinces in China and is part of a new park system being established by China and is being encouraged by China’s president Xi Jinping according to the Chinese state news services.

This is major news for tigers and leopards

This is huge news for the endangered big cats. In 2007 for example, there were thought to be less than 30 Amur leopards living in the wild. The news for tigers was even worse with numbers dropping as low as five in China, though there were more Siberian tigers living across the border in Russia. China stopped logging in that part of the country and this has to some extent helped the populations of the big cats recover. There is also a small reserve just along the border which provides enough space for the numbers of big cats in the area to rise.

The big cats face numerous threats

Whilst the news is good the gains are tenuous. According to the IUCN both the Amur leopard and Siberian tiger face a variety of threat such as encroaching civilisation, poaching, the construction of new roads and climate change. Many of these threats have started to reduce through the designation of this large area of protected land as part of government mandated conservation plan. The plan for the park should be in effect by 2020.

Human-animal conflict ever present

When it comes to big cats there is always human-animal conflict. For example, pet dogs and livestock have been preyed upon by leopards and tigers that live close to human settlements. A Chinese government spokesperson said in order to counter this, the government intends to relocate some existing communities and factories that will lie within the grounds of the national park area. This should go a long way to helping to tackle the problem of conflict between wildlife and human activities.

China sees the US as a model of its park system

According to a report in the New York Times, the Chinese see America as a model for the kind of conservation it is engaging in, particularly its park system. Whilst the country does have thousands of nature reserves, the system lacks organisation. Rose Niu of the Paulson Institute which is working with the Chinese government on its national parks plan says the country wishes to develop a national park system that is in line with international standards, but also fits in with the Chinese context.

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Giant Tortoise Thought To Have Fathered Over 800 Offspring

Sea Turtles Take A Shorter Route Around The Atlantic

Diego is a giant tortoise who is thought to be over a century old, but he has been doing his bit to ensure his species survives by having lots and lots of sex. Diego is a giant Galapagos tortoise who lives on the island of Española. The island is part of the Galapagos Archipelago and lies on its Southernmost tip. It estimated that he has fathered as many as 800 offspring.

Long Journey

Diego has had a long journey in his life including spending decades at the San Diego Zoo. Dr Harry Wegeforth, the founder of the San Diego Zoo brought Diego to the zoo after one of his expeditions to the Galapagos way back in 1928. By the time the 1960’s arrived the species was declared critically endangered. There were only a couple of males and a dozen females left in the wild so a search went out seeking other giant tortoise’s living in zoos. The San Diego Zoo allowed Diego to return home back in 1977 where he joined his compatriots at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Diego the stud

It was at the research station where Diego provide he was nothing short of a stud. According to the results of a study done on the turtle population in 2010, it was revealed that Diego was so busy procreating that he was actually the father of 40 per cent of all new tortoises released back into the wild from the station. Thanks to the breeding program at the station the species is no longer in danger of extinction with more than 2,000 being released in Española.

The species has a bright future

Despite all the success the research station has had with this breeding program, threats remain. Originally there were 15 species of giant tortoises that lived in the Galapagos Islands, unfortunately three have become extinct. Diego has now reached a ripe old age, nevertheless, he is doing his best to ensure that his species and his descendants have a much brighter future ahead of them.

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Rare Snake Venom Could Be Used To Treat Pain

blue coral snake

Scientist have discovered that the snake which has the world’s largest venom glands could provide a solution to pain relief. The long-glanded blue coral snake whose nick-name is the “killer of killers” is known to feed on the likes of the king cobra. The snake is 2 metres long or 6 feet 6 inches and is found in South-East Asia. Its venom acts almost immediately causing its prey to spasm. According to the latest research which was recently published in the scientific journal Toxin the toxin targets receptors which are critical to pain in human beings which means the venom could potentially act as a pain killer.

“Most snakes have a slow-acting venom that works like a powerful sedative. You get sleepy, slow, before you die, this snake’s venom, however, works almost immediately because it usually preys on very dangerous animals that need to be quickly killed before they can retaliate. It’s the killer of killers.” said researcher Dr Bryan Fry from the University of Queensland.

Turning into medicine?

There have been a number of invertebrates whose venom has been studied for medicinal purposes. However, the snake is a vertebrate which means it is evolutionary closer to humans and therefore a medicine developed using venom may well turn out to be more effective. Dr Fry adds that the venom targets the sodium channels of its prey which is central to the transmission of pain in humans. This means it could potentially be converted into a something that could help treat pain. According to Dr Fry the blue coral snake is the first vertebrate in the world which has venom acting in this way that we know about.

Extremely rare

Whilst all that sounds really great, the snake is extremely rare with 80 per cent of them having been destroyed. Dr Fry says he has only ever seen two of them in the wild. This is because much of their habitat has been cleared to make was for palm plantations in South East Asia. We have no idea what other secrets those forests may have held that could well have saved lives. Dr Fry and his team are looking to study relatives of the blue coral snake in Singapore.

“We’re trying to see if there are any relatives of the long-glanded blue coral snake that would possess any different properties. Some people say the only good snake is a dead snake but we’re trying to do the opposite here.”

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Wild Elephants Only Get A Couple Of Hours Of Sleep A Night

WWF Helps Break Up Major Ivory Trafficking Network

According to the results of a new study wild African elephants sleep the least amount of time of any mammal. Scientists looked at two Botswanan elephants to elicit more information about the pachyderm’s natural sleep patterns. In captivity, elephants sleep between four to six hours a day, however in the wild, elephants sleep for only a couple of hours and mainly during the night. The elephants that were studied were both matriarchs of their herds and sometimes stayed awake for days at a time.

Travel large distances

During the time spent awake, they tended to travel huge distances. The researchers speculated that this was perhaps to escape lions or poachers. The elephants entered into rapid eye movement (REM or dream sleep) every three or four days, when they slept lying down rather than on their feet. Professor Paul Manger, author of the study says elephant sleep is unique because they are shortest sleeping mammal and there appears to be a relationship with their large body size.

“It seems like elephants only dream every three to four days. Given the well-known memory of the elephant this calls into question theories associating REM sleep with memory consolidation.” Dr Manger said.

Lots of studies done of elephants in captivity

There have been numerous studies undertaken of elephants living in captivity. In order to accumulate more information about the sleeping habits of wild elephants, professor Manger and his team fitted a device under the skin of the animal’s trunk. The device essentially recorded when the elephants were sleeping based on whether their trunks stayed still for five minutes or longer. Gyroscopes were also fitted to the two elephants to determine their sleeping position. The elephants were then tracked for five weeks and this gave the researches new insights into their natural sleep patterns.

“We had the idea that elephants should be the shortest sleeping mammal because they’re the largest. Why this occurs, we’re not really sure. Sleep is one of those really unusual mysteries of biology, that along with eating and reproduction, it’s one of the biological imperatives. We must sleep to survive.” Professor Manger said.

Dreaming sleep

In nature, the rule is that smaller bodied animals generally sleep for longer than larger one. One example of this is the sloth which sleeps for 14 hours a day whilst humans sleep for about 8 hours. How elephants are able to survive on such a low amount of sleep remains a mystery. The researchers intend to conduct further studies including on males and they wish to learn more about REM sleep in elephants. It is believed that REM sleep is critical in the formation of memories. It is a type of sleep that is ubiquitous across the animal kingdom, including in mammals, birds and even reptiles. Most mammals enter into REM sleep on a daily basis.

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Blind Orangutan Receives Life Changing Surgery To Recover Eyesight


An orangutan who was shot 104 times by an air rifle and was blinded has undergone surgery in order to restore her sight. The ape name Aan had to have her left eye removed after it was ruptured in a cruel attack on a Bornean oil plantation back in 2012. Aan was showered with pellets and vets were able to remove most of them though 37 were left in her head effectively leaving her blind. A British vet has undertaken the task of restoring her sight by performing surgery on her right eye.

Prognosis positive

Claudia Hartley a veterinarian ophthalmologist performed the surgery which lasted three hours said the procedure could not have gone any better and the prognosis was very promising. Dr Hartley said the surgery went well which has pleased her and her team, though Aan still needs to be assessed when she is behaving slightly more normally. Immediately following her surgery, she was still quite sleepy which meant her right eye remained shut so it wasn’t not possible to tell how much she is able to she

“If we shone a bright light in she would then scrunch her eye up, so I’m pretty sure she can recognise the light. But we can’t assess how well she sees food and trees and obstacles and those sort of things, which is the more critical thing that we need to do.”

Surgery was made possible by generous donors

Dr Hartley volunteered to travel to Borneo with her team to perform the surgery. She plans to continue monitoring Aan in her enclosure. The Orangutan Foundation launched an appeal to pay for the surgery. Ashley Leiman director of the foundation said it would be fantastic if Aan was able to be released. This is because as a blind ape she would have had to spend the rest of her life in a cage. Aan has been described as a clever primate and will now live in an enclosure in a sanctuary for just a few weeks to make sure that she continues to receive her post-op medication. After her recovery, she will be released back into the wild.

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Polar Bears Under Threat From Killer Whales And Sharks As Arctic Ice Melts

New Home Could Be Found For Sad Polar Bear

Polar bears already face the threat of receding ice levels which means shrinking supplies of food in the Arctic. There is however another danger they face also because of global warming. They are increasingly becoming prey to killer whales and sharks. As the ice in the Arctic recedes polar bears are finding it more difficult to hunt the seals that typically comprise their diet and this means they are being are forced to swim further distances to find food. The swimming means these predators are now at risk of becoming the prey of Greenland sharks and killer whales which are moving northwards as the ice recedes.

No longer protected by ice

Kit Kovacs who studies marine biology at the Norwegian Polar Institute says he has seen the jaw of a polar bear in the stomach of a shark, though he is unable to determine whether the shark had killed the bear or it was already dead. Killer whales also prey on seals as well as beluga whales, narwhals, and bowhead whales. These species are usually protected from the killer whale by the thick ice for much of the year. Killer whales don’t like swimming near ice because of the damage it could cause their long fins.

Killer whales are now the apex predator in Arctic

As the ice disappears so does protection. Estimates suggest that there will be no ice in the Arctic at all within 15 to 20 years. It is estimated that within Hudson Bay, 57,000 beluga whales are being hunted by killer whales. Steve Ferguson of Manitoba University said at a recent scientific conference that in the Arctic, killer whales could become the apex predator which does not bode well for the polar bear whose numbers are expected to decline by a third by 2050.

Smaller species also affected

The polar ice cap melting is also having an impact on smaller fish such as polar cod which spend a large part of their early lives in small ice holes that keep them protected from predators. Mr Kovacs says that polar cod make up to 80 per cent of the diet of ringed seals which in turn form the main prey for polar bears. If the ice disappears Kovacs adds, so do the fish which means the seals starve and that in turn means the bears end up starving as well.

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One Of The World’s Oldest Elephant Dies

African Elephants Could Become Extinct Within Decades

One of the oldest elephants in the world recently passed away. The elephant named Indira was in her eighties and died in the Southern part of India according to forest officials. The officials said she had been unwell for quite some time and earlier in the month had stopped eating. A veterinarian at the elephant camp in the state of Karnataka that was caring for Indira estimated her age at between 85 to 90 years old. Elephants generally have a lifespan of about 70 years.

Other old elephants

According to records the oldest elephant to have ever lived in captivity died in 2003 at the grand old age of 86. The elephant’s name was Lin Wang and he lived in a zoo in Taipei. There is another elephant in the Indian state of Kerala who is also thought to be of a similar age. Indira arrived at the Sakrebailu camp in Karnataka which is a rehabilitation and training centre for captive elephants where she has lived for nearly 50 years.

Great diet the secret

It is thought that the secret to her long life was her diet which consisted of a lot of greens. Indira stopped eating at the start of January and quickly became weak according to camp vet Dr Vinay. She died as a result of an acute inflammation of the peritoneum and following a post mortem was buried. Dr Vinay said she must have been between 85 to 90 years because usually elephants tend to lose their molars between the ages of 60 to 65 years.

Topic for study

Indira was captured in a forest back in 1968 and was used to aid in the capture and taming of wild elephants. Dr Vinay says she was extremely disciplined and very docile. Aside from greens Indira also ate paddy stock, raw rice, sugar cane and salt. Forest officials reckon her healthy diet was the secret to her longevity. Dr UV Singh a senior forest official says it is certainly a topic for study.

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Genetic Copy Of Extinct Caspian Tiger Could Be Reintroduced

Tiger Poaching On The Rise

Soon you could spot a wild tiger roaming in Central Asia once again. One of the largest of big cats to ever live was the Caspian tiger which used to wander throughout large swathes of Central Asia, Iran, Turkey and North West China before becoming extinct. Researchers now reckon they have the ability to bring back a sub species that is genetically nearly identical to the Caspian tiger. Scientists have been discussing this possibility for more than ten years, however a recent study that was authored by researchers from the State University of New York and the World Wild Life Fund actually suggests a plan for the very first time.

Caspian and Siberian tigers nearly identical

Previous studies have already proven that Caspian tigers and Amur tigers have a near identical genetic structure. The most recent study highlights two specific areas in Kazakhstan where the subspecies could well flourish. There are however a number of obstacles such as water regulation by Kazakhstan and its neighbour China, plus there needs to be a restoration of the tiger’s prey and safety of local populations must also be considered. All of this needs to be dealt with before beginning the experiment. Researchers reckon that once they receive approval they can increase the tiger’s population from 40 to about a 100 within 50 years.

Questions remain

It is still not known exactly when and why the Caspian tiger went extinct. The IUCN declared the species extinct 14 years ago, although some people claim no one has seen a Caspian tiger since the 1950’s. The species probably went extinct due to Soviet policy which funded bounty hunters and developed irrigation projects that destroyed their habitats. According to James Gibbs who was part of the research team, the Caspian tiger roamed through a vast territory and when they went extinct, the number of countries that hosted tiger populations dropped by 50%. The estimate for the global population of wild Amur tigers is between 520 and 540 and they are the only subspecies that has increased in population over the last 65 years. Kazakhstan supports the idea of tigers living in its territory because it believes it will create jobs and increase wildlife tourism.

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