Monthly Archives: November 2015

San Diego Zoo’s white rhino dies, leaving just 3 of her kind

It’s 3 left in the world, not wild. They are all but extinct.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park officials said staff euthanized Nola, a 41-year-old northern white rhinoceros, due to health problems related to her age and a bacterial infection. She was one of only four living northern white rhinos left in the wild. The others, one male and two females, live on a 70-acre preserve in Kenya where they are protected around the clock by armed guards. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (11/22), The Age (Melbourne, Australia)/Fairfax Media (Australia)/Reuters (11/24)

Scientists unlock the secret to bats’ acrobatic, upside-down landings

Using three high-speed cameras to capture images at 1,000 frames per second, Brown University scientists discovered the secret to bats’ ability to land upside down on a perch. Bats leverage the weight of their wings to perform the mid-air acrobatics, said Brown’s Sharon Swartz. Flapping both wings and simultaneously slightly bending one toward the body, bats quickly shift their center of gravity and flip from flying to landing position. Reuters (11/17)

Toxoplasmosis linked to 8 monk seal deaths

Officials recently confirmed that toxoplasmosis caused the death of another monk seal in Hawaii, bringing the total number of confirmed seal deaths linked to the zoonotic parasite to eight. Of the estimated 330,000 feral cats on Oahu, some 30% could be carrying the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease also associated with birth defects in humans if women contract the parasite during pregnancy, said veterinarian Eric Ako, executive vice president of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association. KHNL-TV/KGMB-TV (Honolulu) (11/20)

Chimpanzees attend to apparently disabled infant, researchers report

Researchers from Japan noted that a mother chimpanzee cared for her apparently disabled infant for two years before the juvenile apparently died. The infant had weak legs and may have had a damaged spine. The mother allowed a sibling but no other chimps to tend to the infant. There were no signs of aversion to the infant among any of the animals. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (11/10)

Famous Calif. cougar dies of rodenticide toxicity

A nearly 2-year-old female cougar who gained fame for lounging under a California resident’s mobile home last winter died of rodenticide toxicity, the first such case documented in the area since 2004. The necropsy found that the female had five different rodenticides in her system. A July 2014 ban on retail sales of certain highly toxic rodenticides hasn’t reduced wildlife exposure as hoped, according to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientist. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (11/11)

Scientists unravel meaning behind panda vocalizations

Researchers in China say they have deciphered some panda sounds. They noted that males interested in mating will make a sound like “baa.” Females whose interest is piqued will respond with chirps. Juvenile pandas apparently join the banter, too, making “wah wah” sounds when they’re unhappy and “cuckoo” sounds to indicate they are content. Discovery (11/10)

Birds flocking to Minnesota Raptor Center

Veterinarians at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine’s Raptor Center have already treated 145 birds this year, close to 50 more than they’d seen by this time in 2014. The staff isn’t sure why so many birds need attention. Storms separate juvenile birds from adults, some animals are sickened by exposure to ammunition in deer carcasses and still others could be injured in collisions with vehicles. But that doesn’t account for the larger-than-usual influx, staff say, and the facility’s resources are taxed. Minnesota Public Radio (11/9)