Adopt an Animal - News

Scientists Can Now Track Penguin Huddles In Real Time

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On Antarctica’s harsh frozen landscape, emperor penguins huddle together to defend themselves from the cold and windy weather. The huddling allows the penguins to pool their warmth and conserve energy during periods between forages and breeding. This behaviour has been documented for a long time but now scientists have the technology to observe the evolution of a penguin huddle. The study revealed the main trigger prompting penguins to huddle and reaffirmed the purpose of the behaviour.

Remote sensing has changed the game

Because huddles are located great distances away from permanent research stations in icy and windy conditions, it is extremely challenging to obtain information one of the researchers says. Now because there are remote sensing observatories that have instruments linked to the internet it is possible for researchers to go online any time they want and see exactly what is happening in the emperor penguin colony.

Huddling for Warmth

In May 2014 remote sensors observed the shape and total areas of huddles and then estimated the number of individual penguins within each huddle. Other instruments were simultaneously used to record the wind speed, ambient temperature, solar radiation and relative humidity. By using that data and comparing it with the penguins huddling behaviour, researchers found that penguins were much more likely to huddle when it gets extremely cold, when the phase transition temperature drops to −48.2°C.

Penguins as proxies

The transition temperature is basically a combination of four weather parameters into a single metric that is measured in degrees. This is able to serve as a proxy for the success penguins can expect when foraging for food. This means that if the temperature warms and for some reasons the penguins huddle in response, it suggests the penguins have less energy to keep themselves warm. The findings are consistent with the thesis that penguins huddle for warmth rather than protection from predators.

Tracking climate change

Continuous data has been available since 2013 and researchers point out that the huddling behaviour of penguin’s tracks changes to the Antarctic biome in response to global warming. The researchers say it is important to know which colonies are going to be the worst affected by climate change because it allows conservation efforts to be targeted and measures like marine protected areas to be established to help keep them protected.

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US Lifts Ban On Elephant Trophy Hunting Angering Millions

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There has been an angry line drawn in the sands of the Southern part of the African continent. On one side you will find a pack of conservationists and biologists demanding action and on the other are a group consisting of politicians and hunters refusing to compromise. Recently the United States lifted its ban on the importation of wildlife trophies such as elephants and this has led to the outbreak of all out war between the two groups who both claim to represent the best interests of wildlife.

What is best for elephant conservation?

Conservationists and animal rights groups argue that the lifting of the ban will lead to increased hunting of a species already under threat and is virtually impossible to regulate on a continent that is riddled with corruption. Hunting advocates claim that the new rules will better manage wildlife populations ultimately leading to better elephant conservation. They also suggest that the cost of hunting an elephant at between US$4,000 to $50,000 will produce revenue which fund better conservation.

Not all of it is down hunting and poaching

In 1972 there were 200,000 wild elephants in Zambia, tragically that number fell to 21,000 in 2016. It is important to remember that you cannot apportion all the blame to legal hunting. In Africa there has been a reduction in both water and food as well as climate change over the last few decades and this has had a significant impact on survival for many species. So, despite the fact that the international community has fought back against the trade in ivory, climate change plays a significant role in the threat of extinction for elephants.

Take action by adopting an elephant

So, what is the best course of action if you care about elephants? The best thing you can do is convert your frustration into action by signing one of the many petitions that are circulating seeking to ban trophy hunting again. You could also purchase a t-shirt from the #BeKindToElephants launched by Ellen Degeneres with all proceeds being donated to conservation of the iconic species. Or you could simply sponsor an elephant with WWF. Regardless of what you do, you need to make sure your voice is heard for the sake of the entire species.

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Asian Elephants Face New Threat From Growing Chinese Demand For Skin Products

WWF Helps Break Up Major Ivory Trafficking Network

A UK based conservation group says that growing Chinese demand for elephant skin products is resulting in greater poaching of the protected species. The increased demand poses an even greater threat to the wild elephants of Asia than even the illegal trade in ivory the group claims. The Elephant Family released a report which suggests that the threat to the Asian elephant is most severe in Myanmar and also warned that if conditions continue to worsen, the species could vanish from half the areas they currently inhabit.

All elephants are in danger

The report goes on to add that the threat posed by the trade in elephant skin products is greater than that of the ivory trade because poachers can target any elephant, rather than just those with tusks, which means those living in poorly protected areas are in grave danger. The conservation group says its studies have yielded results which show that elephant skin is ground down into fine particles and then sold in China as a treatment for stomach ache. Elephant skin is also being used in jewellery and other products which are sold both in stores and online.

Trade is taking place online with government blessing

A spokesperson for Elephant Family told journalists in Bangkok that the group began monitoring Asian elephants in 2014 and since then there has been a dramatic increase in advertising campaigns and sales of products. The group was able to identify at least 50 individual Chinese traders through social media. Product information and prices are quoted in Mandarin and apparently even China’s State Forestry Administration has approved permits for products containing elephant skin.

Trying to raise awareness

The group says it was troubled and found it perverse that whilst China has show a commitment towards ending trade in ivory, it was simultaneously creating new and legal demand for elephant skin products. The spokesperson said the group had contacted officials in China and is working with officials in Myanmar to raise the issue. Elephant Family estimates that the current population of wild elephants in Myanmar is approximately 2000.

Illegal elephant poaching is on the rise

Myanmar’s department of forests says that wild elephant deaths have risen over the last few years from 26 in 2013 to 61 in 2016 and according to Elephant Family most of those deaths were caused by illegal poaching. The spokesperson adds that quite a lot of skin can be harvested from a single elephant and if a group of 25 are killed as was the case on one occasion in Myanmar, that is a lot of product. The ivory trade poses less of a problem because on male Asian elephants have tusks. Elephant skin on the other hand can be harvested from males, females and juveniles which means no elephant is safe.

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Tiger Mauls Zookeeper At Cruel Zoo


A cruel zookeeper who allegedly used to boil the bones of big cats has been killed by a tiger. The unnamed 50-year-old man was cleaning the tiger’s enclosure when he was attacked last month. The man had been left alone inside the enclosure at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in the Chinese city of Guilin. The zoo claims to have over 1,100 captive tigers and 600 Asian black bears and at one point in time was the largest breeding facility in China.

Zoo has a bad reputation

The zoo has come in for intense criticism in the media after an investigation in 2016 claimed to have found tigers living in run-down enclosures in an extremely dishevelled state.  According to a report in the Daily Mail, after a tiger dies at the zoo, its body is sent to a factory where Chinese tiger bone wine is made. The drink is extremely sweet and 39 per cent liquor. Many people in China believe that drinking it will improve their sex drive.

Breeding for body parts

Apparently, tigers are boiled and then their bones are steeped in massive vats of rice wine for as long as eight years in order to produce the illicit liquor. There is a ban on breeding tigers for their body parts in China that is routinely ignored. Once the liquor is produced, it is then sold for hundreds of dollars per bottle in posh hotels and restaurants.  A statement released by the city’s government said officials are investigating the death of the zoo keeper. This is the second victim in 14 years at the zoo following the death of another member of staff who was feeding the tigers in 2004.

Zoo closed for renovation

Apparently, the victim had been cleaning a tiger cage with a colleague who left momentarily only to return some time later to find the lifeless man. There were no tourists present at the time of the attack because the zoo has been closed as part of renovations. Whilst the zoo has confirmed that the cause of death was an animal attack, it did not specify which species attacked its employee. Amongst its 1,100 tigers are South China tigers, Bengal tigers, white tigers and Siberian tigers.

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Chinese Family Adopts Asiatic Black Bear Thinking It Is A Puppy

New Study Finds Grizzly Bears Able To Use Tools

A Chinese family who adopted what they believed to be a pet dog has been forced to give it up after realising what they had taken into their family was actually a black bear instead. The family is from the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province, and took in what they believed was a Tibetan mastiff puppy whilst on holiday in the region in 2016. What they in fact had inadvertently brought home with them was an Asiatic black bear cub which has now been handed over to a local animal sanctuary.

Insatiable appetite raised suspicions

The owner told a local news service that the family started to become suspicious after “Little Black” simply did not stop growing and continued to gorge on a box of fruit and two buckets of noodles every day. On that diet alone, the bear grew to around 3 feet and weighed 250 pounds. Black bears are well known to stand on their hind legs which is something dogs rarely if ever do. That along with their pet’s insatiable appetite and appearance that was becoming increasingly strange made the family understand they had made a mistake.

Scared of releasing the bear

A neighbour said the more the animal grew, the more it started to look like a bear and even the owner admitted to being scared of her overgrown pet and was afraid of what would happen if she released the animal. Fortunately, the family understood that keeping a bear is illegal and sought help from the local authorities. The bear appears to be in good health and is now being cared for by the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Hunted for body parts

In China, the Asiatic black bear is a protected species and the IUCN considers it vulnerable. The bears are often hunted for their body parts which are used in traditional Chinese medicine which prizes the species gall bladder and bile. There are legal “bear farms” in China which have been established to procure bile from black bears that are being held captive. The IUCN estimates there are 70 of these farms in China with a combined population of 17,000 bears. International trade in black bear bile is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Not the first time this has happened

This is not the first time in China someone has adopted a black bear by mistake, thinking it was a puppy. In 2015 a Yunnan farmer rescued what he believed to be was an abandoned dog from some nearby forests. Despite realising his mistake, the farmer continued to keep the bear whom he had named “Scorpion” in a large cage on his property. Fortunately, someone eventually notified local authorities and the bear was taken into care.

"Please note, any prices mentioned in the adopt an animal blog are correct at the time of posting. Please check the relevant website for the latest pricing information."

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