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animals

Worldwide reaction continues in the aftermath of last Saturday's tragic incident at the Cincinnati Zoo in which the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla Harambe was shot to death by zoo personnel.

Male orb-weaving spiders get devoured by the females they mate with, but a newly published study shows that at least the poor guys get to choose the lovely lady who will cannibalize them.

Thai authorities found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer during a raid on a Buddhist temple Wednesday.

Authorities say they don't know why the cubs were kept but plan to investigate. The temple, for its part, says the cubs died of natural causes and were preserved by a veterinarian, possibly to prove that the bodies had not been sold on the black market.

The "Tiger Temple" in Kanchanaburi province charged admission and let visitors pose with tigers, The Associated Press reports.

Flowers generate weak electric fields, and a new study shows that bumblebees can actually sense those electric fields using the tiny hairs on their fuzzy little bodies.

"The bumblebees can feel that hair bend and use that feeling to tell the difference between flowers," says Gregory Sutton, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

After a 3-year-old boy slipped into the gorilla enclosure on a crowded Saturday at the Cincinnati Zoo, a security team killed the gorilla to save the child.

As if alligators and pythons weren’t spooky enough, researchers say they’ve discovered something new lurking in the swamps of the Florida Everglades.

DNA testing shows that three crocodiles found since 2009 are confirmed to be man-eating Nile crocodiles. They were brought to Florida from Africa as pets, but escaped.

University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson that Floridians don’t need to panic – yet.

At the end of 2013, snowy owls started showing up far south of their usual winter range. The big white birds were reported in South Carolina, Georgia, even Florida.

Dave Brinker, an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, had never seen anything like it.

South Africa will allow domestic trade of rhino horns again, after a seven-year ban. International trade of the horns is still barred.

The Supreme Court of Appeal rejected the government's bid to keep the domestic moratorium in place, National Geographic reports.

South Africa is "home to the world's largest rhino population, and nearly all of the world's 20,000 white rhinos," National Geographic adds.

The Oregon Coast is getting a new tourist attraction. The University of Oregon is holding a ribbon cutting and grand opening Saturday in Charleston at the mouth of Coos Bay for its new Marine Life Center.

Snakes and lizards and crocodiles, oh my!

All of these creatures, which include Burmese pythons and carnivorous lizards, have turned up in Florida in recent years, sparking concerns about possible damage from invasive species and questions about how the nonnative animals came to be in the state.

A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal.

The researchers hope these embryos, known as chimeras, could eventually help save the lives of people with a wide range of diseases.

One way would be to use chimera embryos to create better animal models to study how human diseases happen and how they progress.

Perhaps the boldest hope is to create farm animals that have human organs that could be transplanted into terminally ill patients.

Protesters Call For Feds To Stop Killing Cormorants

May 17, 2016

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Portland Tuesday, calling for federal officials to stop killing cormorants on the Columbia River.

They carried signs with pictures of the black seabirds with yellow beaks and banners calling for officials to "fix the dams" and "end the slaughter."

Federal agents have killed more than 4,500 cormorants in the past two years to keep them from eating threatened and endangered juvenile salmon.

Consider the following recent headlines:

"Don't touch baby wild animals, no matter how cute they might be" (Alaska Dispatch News)

"Animals are smarter than humans give them credit for" (New York Magazine)

Not long after publishing his first book, London designer Thomas Thwaites found himself with no real job and in relationship trouble. His book, The Toaster Project — about his attempt to build a toaster from scratch — was a huge success, but he found the whole business of being a celebrity thinker a hard act to follow.

To be human is to worry about getting by, doing better, finding love and accepting the march of mortality. Thwaites decided to try to escape the burden of being human — and he would do it by becoming a goat.

If you think your job is painful, try spending a workday with Justin Schmidt.

Schmidt is an entomologist who focuses on a group of insects called Hymenoptera — we know them as stinging ants, wasps and bees.

Schmidt has traveled all over the world looking for bugs ... and getting stung by them. The result of his work is an alarmingly comprehensive pain index, ranking 83 insect stings on a spectrum of 1 to 4.

Boats have to stay 200 yards away from the Northwest’s endangered resident killer whales. But what if one of those boaters launches an aerial drone to take better pictures from closer up?

It's not a theoretical question. And the answer is not as clear as law enforcement would like.

This weekend, thousands of environmental protesters will rally to block the oil flowing to refineries near Anacortes, Washington. But some worry the event may also block the Salish Sea’s largest colony of great blue herons from feeding their young.

Oregon Spotted Frog
Flickr Photo/USFWS Pacific Region, Teal Waterstrat (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ajZhmE

On Monday federal officials defined the critical habitat for a rare Northwest creature: the Oregon spotted frog. That designation is required since the frog was listed as threatened in 2014.

You'd be lucky to see or hear this frog.


A new environmental nonprofit is scouting the Pacific Northwest coast for a suitable cove or bay to establish a refuge for retired captive orca and beluga whales.

The board and staff of the new outfit, called The Whale Sanctuary Project, includes a number of people who helped return Keiko, the star of the Free Willy movie, to Icelandic waters from Newport, Oregon.

Deep in the ocean, a mission is underway to explore the "unknown and poorly known areas" around the Mariana Trench.

Bioethicist Jessica Pierce includes pets — or "animal companions" — among her family members: a cat, two dogs and fish.

So, it's startling to read this passage near the beginning of her new book released this week, Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets:

For the Greatest Show on Earth, there is no longer an elephant in the room. The 145-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus held its last show featuring elephants Sunday night, in a move that's being applauded by animal rights activists.

Ringling announced its plan last spring, saying it is sending all its Asian elephants to live on the company's Florida nature reserve. The original plan called for phasing out elephants' role in the circus by 2018. But in January, Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, said it was moving up the timetable.

The bald eagle may soon have a large, furry friend: The North American bison is on the verge of being named the first national mammal of the United States.

The House approved the National Bison Legacy Act on Tuesday, and it passed the Senate on Thursday. Now it's awaiting President Obama's signature to become law.

A small mammal has sabotaged the world's most powerful scientific instrument.

The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline overnight. Engineers investigating the mishap found the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable.

The newest apiary inspector at the Maryland Department of Agriculture has four legs, golden fur and a powerful sniffer.

Mack, a 2-year-old yellow Lab, joined the team last fall to help his mom, chief apiary inspector Cybil Preston, inspect beehives for American foulbrood — AFB — a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects honeybee brood and, eventually, kills the colony.

Lucy, a golden retriever from Connecticut, is a dog of the future. Imagine this: As she trots down a suburban street, a girl with a scooter can't help but stare. Attached to Lucy's collar is a leash, and attached to her leash is a small quadcopter drone. When the drone moves to the left, she looks up at it and follows along.

Douglass Brown was walking down Titlow Beach in Tacoma with a girl he liked when he saw a giant thing – that looked like an octopus tentacle – emerge from the water. He ran, screaming.
Illustration by Tom Dougherty

Douglass Brown was 15 when he saw a giant tentacle emerge from Puget Sound.

He was in Tacoma, walking down the beach with a girl he liked. Then he looked out at the water.

Inky is out.

Inky, an octopus who is about the size of a basketball and of undetermined age, has lammed it out of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and is at large somewhere in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.

Its populations were first damaged by trapping and logging, and more recently faced a threat from rat poison used by illegal marijuana farms in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A weasel-like creature that lives in northwest forests will remain unprotected. Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it won't list the fisher as an endangered species. That decision could affect the animal's population across the west.

A well-loved octopus named Inky escaped recently from the National Aquarium in New Zealand.

Aquarium manager Rob Yarrall says the lid to the octopus’ tank was left slightly ajar after maintenance one night.  

"He found this rather tempting, climbed out,” Yarrall says, “and he managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went, and didn't even leave us a message, just off and went!"

The escape happened earlier this year, and hit the New Zealand national press Tuesday.

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