Monthly Archives: January 2016

Vigilant TB testing could protect people working with elephants

A tuberculosis outbreak at an Oregon zoo in 2013 involving humans and elephants demonstrates the need for more TB testing in elephants, according to a paper published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In 2013, routine trunk washing found one elephant was positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Six people in close contact with the elephant subsequently tested positive for latent TB. More intensive testing of elephants led to two more TB diagnoses in the animals, and a seventh human case was linked to the zoo. All three infected elephants were moved at least 100 feet away from visitors. Healio (free registration)/Infectious Disease News (1/7)

14 ways parrots are awesome

With 14 million birds living alongside humans in the US, the feathered animals are among Americans’ favorite pets. Americans are particularly fond of parrots, an intelligent, social bird whose life span can rival that of humans: One parrot at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo is 82 years old. Parrots taste with the tops of their mouths and tend to pair with nearly identical mates, and not all live in tropical environments. (1/5)

Asiatic lion rescued from waters off the coast of India

Video captured rescuers saving an Asiatic lion that likely wandered off a wildlife park in India and ended up swimming in the Arabian Sea. Onlookers noticed the lion and contacted rescuers from Gir National Park, who sedated the animal and transported to it a care facility where it will be treated before being released back into the reserve. The Asiatic lion population has rebounded after hunting and droughts decreased their numbers. The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) (1/5)

Scientists unravwel the 0-60 power of chameleon’s tongues

Small chameleons can project their tongues toward prey 264 times greater than the force of gravity, according to a study in Scientific Reports. For the fastest chameleons, that means their tongues accelerate to 60 miles per hour in one one-hundredth of a second. The chameleon tongue is anchored to the hyoid bone, and a tube of muscle tissue around the bone encases and stretches elastic fibers — much like the bow of an arrow — to create the force needed to project the tongue forward. (1/4)

Ferret research could help eradicate Guinea worm

The painful Guinea worm infection occurs when the worms grow and reproduce within the human intestine and then migrate to the legs, where the sometimes-almost 3-foot-long worms take months to exit the skin. The infection has been close to being eradicated, but hundreds of cases were noted in dogs in Chad, one of just four countries that saw cases last year. Researchers are working with ferrets to find out how the parasite interacts with nonhuman hosts, and health officials in Chad are implementing prevention strategies, such as tethering dogs and burying potentially contaminated fish entrails. Nature (free content) (1/5)

Composer develops album of meowsic for cats

Composer and cellist David Teie, who has played with the National Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, develops what he calls species-specific music, and he is creating an album for cats. Teie works in consultation with animal scientists, including Georgetown neuroscientist Jagmeet Kanwal. Cats are born deaf and do not hear sounds in the womb, so an early comforting sound that is mimicked in the compositions is purring. Slate (11/30)

Arizona pet owners can now bring a hedgehog home

Last week, Arizona officials updated state rules for owning wildlife. Hedgehogs can be kept as pets, but the rules governing ownership of nonhuman primates became more restrictive. In addition to a ban on owning great apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, residents of Arizona can’t own other primates such as marmosets or baboons without a special license. One official said the restrictions apply because nonhuman primates are difficult to house and can carry zoonotic diseases. Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) (12/8)