Hippopotamus On Menu At Beijing Zoo

Visitors to Beijing zoo are warned not to feed the animals, but they are encouraged to eat them at a restaurant that offers crocodile and scorpion on its exotic menu.After watching the beasts in their cages, diners at the zoo’s restaurant can gnaw on the webbed toes of a hippopotamus, chew a kangaroo tail, nibble a deer’s penis or slurp down a bowl of ant soup.

The sale of the dishes has caused outrage since it was reported by the Legal Daily newspaper earlier this week, with conservationists condemning the practice.

“It is utterly inappropriate for a zoo to sell such items,” said Ge Rui of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “One of the zoo’s missions is to foster love of animals and a desire to protect them. But by selling the meat of caged beasts, this zoo stimulates consumption and increases pressure on the animals in the wild. It is socially irresponsible.”Chang Jiwen, a legal expert at the China Academy of Social Sciences who is trying to draft an animal protection law, said: “Although it is legal, I don’t think it is humanitarian. It is very inappropriate and immoral of them to sell such products. It is against the aim of the zoo.”

China To Train Pandas To Survive In Wild

China plans to build a center where giant pandas born in captivity will be trained to survive in the wild, state media reported Thursday.The $8.8 million (60 million yuan) center will be located in Sichuan province’s Dujiangyan city, according to Zhang Zhihe, the head of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The facility is expected to house three to five giant pandas when it is completed within five years. The center will include 21.5 acres (8.7 hectares) of an experimental zone, along with 2,800 acres (1,128 hectares) of woodlands, Zhang said.Groundbreaking for the new center starts at the end of the month, Xinhua said.

Giant pandas are among the world’s most endangered species. Some 1,600 pandas live in the wild, while more than 300 pandas are raised in captivity in China.

'Dracula' Fish And Bombardier Worm Make Top 10 List

A “dracula” fish with canine-like fangs, a worm that launches glow-in-the-dark bombs and a psychedelic frogfish are among the Top 10 new species discovered in 2009, scientists just announced.

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists selected the species from around the world for the annual New Species list.”Committee members had complete freedom in making their choices and developing their own criteria, from unique attributes or surprising facts about the species to peculiar names,” said Quentin Wheeler, director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an entomologist in the School of Life Sciences.

Here are the Top 10 winners:

* Dracula fish: The minnow fish, called Danionella dracula, was found in a stream in Kachin State, Myanmar. The males of the species sport canine-like fangs for sparring with other males, likely over territory. Their lower jaws can open to a wide degree and form an angle of 45 to 60 degrees with the main body axis. This is the first record of oral teeth-like structures being found in the Cyprinidae, the largest family of freshwater fishes.

* Psychedelic frogfish: A bizarre new species of frogfish called Histiophryne psychedelica was discovered in Ambon and Bali, Indonesia. Its body is covered in a psychedelic orange-and-white swirly pattern, interrupted only by its piercing teal-colored eyes. This pigmentation could help the fish blend in among colorful, venomous corals on the seafloor in the area, scientists say.

Aromatherapy Makes Lion Act Like A 'Big Kitten'

Throw a little kitty some catnip, and it’ll be mesmerized for hours. Throw a very big kitty some hay with peppermint and lavender in a sack, and something similar happens.Zookeepers at Devon, England’s Paington Zoo have discovered that the behavior of lions in captivity there is changing due to the exposure to some sweet-smelling fragrances.

Lavender and peppermint induce a state of relaxation and calmness in humans, but for a female Asiatic lion named Indu, it got her stirring. “She was excited and stimulated by the unusual fragrance,” zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling tells us in an email. “She played like a great big kitten!”

Indu, who was born at Paignton Zoo back in 2003, was given the burlap bouquet as part of a new enrichment program, which aims to encourage mental and physical stimulation for animals in captivity, since they are not required to hunt or search for food in their enclosures.

Japan Sends Rare Turtles To Singapore For Release

Thirteen endangered sea turtles bred in captivity in Japan have been given to a Singapore aquarium to prepare them for release into a natural habitat later this year, scientists said Friday.The hawksbill turtles, listed as a highly endangered species, were brought to Singapore by their Japanese caretakers Tomomi Saito and Yoshihiko Kanou from the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium.

The five one-year-old turtles and eight three-year-olds were turned over on Thursday to the Underwater World Singapore, which is collaborating with the Nagoya aquarium to release the animals.They are the offspring of hawksbill turtles donated by the Underwater World Singapore to the Nagoya aquarium in 1997 and 2002.

As part of the preparations, staff from the Singapore aquarium will monitor and conduct checks on the turtles to determine their fitness for the release scheduled in September.”With the success of their breeding… we would want to have some of these captive-bred turtles return to the wild,” said Anthony Chang, curator of the Underwater World Singapore.

Bear Shot Down From Tree After Getting Stuck

A bear cub was shot by authorities in California after it got stuck up a pine tree while scavenging for food.Authorities were forced to shoot the animal, which weighed more than 100 pounds, with a tranquilliser dart after it became distressed up the tree.

Pictures of the incident showed the black cub falling about 15 feet from the tree and into a safety mat below.Witnesses reported that while it was dazed, it was not hurt during the incident, which occurred on Wednesday in the north-west Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch.

Experts said the black bear cub, estimated to be about two years old, had likely been separated from its mother and was scavenging for food.
After residents noticed the cub roaming the streets, about 40 Los Angeles firefighters, police, wildlife experts and officials from the Californian Department of Fish and Game arrived to find the bear stranded up the tree.

Celebs Take A Stand Against Puppy Mills

We all know about the dangers and horrors of puppy mills, and hope that sooner rather than later, they come to an end. So the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently recruited some celebrities to help spread the message, as they promoted the upcoming season of television shows in New York City.

Katrina Bowden (30 Rock), Jesse Metcalfe (Chase) and Heather Morris (Glee), among others, signed a “Stop Puppy Mills” poster and even filmed video spots urging animal lovers to “make adoption your first option.” Reality stars Alex McCord and Nigel Barker lent their names to the cause, as well.

The HSUS Stop Puppy Mills campaign works to crack down on puppy mills through public policy, investigations and humane education. Throughout the past two years, the organization has helped shut down 24 mills and rescue more than 5,200 dogs.

Cher Bedazzles A Dog To Help Homeless Pets

The one and only Cher is stepping up to help homeless animals this weekend in the best way she knows how: with outrageous fashions and lots of sparkle! The pop diva is donating this crystal-studded ceramic dog to the Animal Foundation’s Seventh Annual Best in Show event. Decorated with 11,520 Swarovski crystals, the dog will be available for auction, with proceeds going to charity.

The flashy canine was all the singer’s idea, inspired by the glittery, sequined costumes of her current Las Vegas show. And though many Sin City headliners are donating similar works to the auction, Cher is by far the biggest name to participate.

Best in Show is a fund-raiser that showcases 60 dogs available for adoption from the Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas. Though it didn’t happen last year, in 2008, the event raised more than $250,000 for charity — and placed 60 pups in loving homes. This year, the event is hosted by ventriloquist and America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator, with famous Vegas locals like Holly Madison scheduled to appear.

Swimming Elephant Takes Man For A Dip !

Perched between the tusks, an Indian ‘mahout’ or elephant driver is photographed on his steed in this arresting image.It was taken in the Andaman Islands, a remote archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, where Rajan, a 60-year-old elephant, lives.

The six-ton elephant learnt to swim 40 years ago to help work for logging companies there. For years the elephant felled trees with Nasru, his 58-year-old driver.But in 2002 logging was banned in the islands and most of the 200 elephants were sent back to the Indian mainland.

Wildlife Death Toll From Oil Spill Still Uncertain

Federal officials say they don’t know whether a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed 189 sea turtles, birds and other animals found dead since it started.The total includes 154 sea turtles, primarily the endangered Kemp’s ridley variety, plus 12 dolphins and 23 birds.

But in a phone news conference Tuesday, officials said they don’t know if any of the animals were killed by oil or the chemicals being used to disperse it.

Barbara Schroeder of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries program says necropsies have not detected oil in the bodies of the sea turtles.

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