Monthly Archives: September 2014

Veterinarian dies in elephant enclosure

Veterinarian Jim Laurita died after he fell and was stepped on in an enclosure housing two Asian elephants at his elephant rehabilitation center in Hope, Maine. Dr. Laurita suffered crushing injuries to his chest and was dead before rescuers arrived. In 2011, Dr. Laurita sold his private veterinary practice to devote his time to the two injured elephants that had previously been part of a circus. CNN (9/10)

Veterinarians confirm behaviour deficits in chimps raised as pets.

An estimated 700 pet chimpanzees live in households across the U.S., and many of those families may seek a new home for their animals at zoos or rescues once they become difficult to handle. However, the abandoned apes are unlikely to bond readily with other chimps in their new homes. A team from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo found chimps raised as performers or pets tend to have behavioral and social impediments that prevent them from forming and maintaining the bonds that are fundamental to chimpanzee groups. United Press International (9/24),

2 falcon species have their genomes sequenced: closer to songbirds than other raptors

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the saker (Falco cherrug) have been sequenced. They appear to be closer to songbirds than other raptors. The chicken and the turkey comprise one evolutionary branch, and the zebra finch and the two falcon species form a second. Falcons had fewer intact olfactory receptor genes thaqn zebra finches, even though they have a larger olfactory bulb ratio: researchers previously thought that these two traits were positively correlated. The most recent common ancestor of peregrines and sakers was dated to 2.1 million years ago. The two species had more than 99.6% of their genomes in common. Sakers unlike peregromes, primarily inhabit and enviro nments. The researches found that the saker falcons have more copies of genes involved in water conservation and the inhibition of sodium uptake than the peregrine, suggesting a genetic basis by which this species copes with the desert habitat.

Info from Lab Animal, 42(5): May 2013 pg 155

Cincinatti Zookeepers Monkey around to raise baby gorilla

A female baby gorilla who was abandoned at birth by her mother at the Oklahoma City Zoo is being cared for by keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo, and they are monkeying around to ensure she thrives. The keepers, who had success with another baby gorilla, wear ape suits, carry the animal 24 hours a day — just like gorillas do — and teach her ape etiquette with grumbles and grunts. WLWT-TV (Cincinnati) (9/25)

West African pet owners dropping off pets for fear of Ebola

West African animal owners are dropping off or abandoning exotic pets for fear the animals may be carrying Ebola, and the zoo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has taken in some of the animals. They are held in quarantine until deemed safe because although it’s unlikely they carry Ebola, they could introduce a host of other pathogens. The zoo’s veterinarian has been tasked with reassuring people about the connection between Ebola, animals and humans. Yahoo/Agence France-Presse (9/20)

Pathogens are most abundant in raw foods, jerky treats study finds

Over 1,000 pet food samples, including dry, moist and raw foods, were tested for the presence of bacterial pathogens over a two-year period in a recent study. While contamination occurred in all types of pet food, bacterial contamination was more common in raw pet foods and jerky treats, according to the study. Testing focused on salmonella, listeria, Shiga toxin-producing strains of E. coli and E. coli O157:H7. The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine will use the results to focus future testing. Food Poisoning Bulletin (9/6)

Tortoise Learning

Anytime anyone says that problems come from having a lizard or reptile brain they need to wake up. At least lizards and chelonians can learn. So can the crocodylia.

This is from a clipping which came from the Minneapolis, MN paper 8/30/14:
“Researchers from England’s University of Lincoln revealed in July that red – footed tortoises are not only “inquisitive” but make decisions in their brain’s “medial cortex” region, associated with “complex cognitive behavior” (because they have no “hippocampus,” which is typical decision-making area). The tortoises thus pecked-out (and learned) touch-screen decisions (for rewards of strawberries),and in fact, said researcher Anna Wilkinson, learned as quickly as rats and pigeons and faster, actually than dogs. 

this was sent to me from Laura Mowry