Cancer Kills Many Sea Lions, And Its Cause Remains A Mystery


For 14 years, since they first reported that a disturbing proportion of deaths among rescued California sea lions were caused by metastatic cancer, researchers have been trying to pinpoint the source of the illness.In 1996, Dr. Frances Gulland, the director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, found that a striking 18 percent of deaths in stranded adult sea lions were the result of tumors in the reproductive and urinary tracts.

“It’s such an aggressive cancer, and it’s so unusual to see such a high prevalence of cancer in a wild population,” Dr. Gulland said. “That suggests that there’s some carcinogen in the ocean that could be affecting these animals.”The center has not observed the same syndrome in other seals.Years of study have led researchers to think the answer lies not with any one culprit, but with several. Their research has added to a body of evidence concerning industrial contaminants in the ocean and their effects on the health of its inhabitants.


Not Just China US Under Fire For Tiger Trade


Conservationists appealed Wednesday for an end to the commercial tiger trade, warning that demand in China, Southeast Asia — but also the United States — was threatening the big cats with extinction.Environmental campaigners see 2010 as crucial to spread their message as East Asian nations celebrate the Year of the Tiger and Russia prepares to hold a summit on tiger conservation in September in Vladivostok.

Only some 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, nearly half of them in India, down from 100,000 worldwide a century ago due to burgeoning human populations and a demand in China, Vietnam and Laos for tiger parts in folk medicine.But environmental campaigners said the problem was not just in Asia. They worried about the United States, where more than 5,000 tigers are believed to be in private hands as backyard pets or roadside zoo attractions.

Homeless Man Offers Reward For Missing Cat


Daniel Harlan, a slight man with a wispy beard going gray, is just another face in the crowd in San Francisco. He is homeless, a street panhandler. Most people wouldn’t give him a second glance except for his constant companion, a pug-nosed Himalayan cat named Samantha.The cat made him stand out among panhandlers. Now the cat is gone. Stolen, Harlan thinks.

Harlan is 58. He has had a tough life: You can see it on his face, and the cat is probably his only friend in the world.”It’s the only thing he really cares about,” said Harlan’s brother, Stephen Kent, a rancher who lives in Oklahoma.Somebody took Harlan’s cat Friday from a homeless encampment under a freeway off-ramp near Eighth and Harrison streets. Harlan had gone off to buy some food for himself and Samantha at a nearby store with money he’d gotten panhandling. He left the cat on a leash tied to his tent. “Somebody just untied the leash and took her,” he said Monday. “I was only gone for a few minutes, and when I got back she was gone.”

The Whale Whisperer


Peering solemnly nose-to-nose at each other, this is the Whale Whisperer and his friend – Scar the 10-year-old giant of the sea.These spectacular images show Andrew Armour bonding with the colossal sperm whale in the warm Caribbean waters off the island of Dominica.Taken on the weekend, the photographs offer stunning insight into the lives of other pod members travelling with Scar.

In one picture a large group of ‘socialising’ whales come together – giving the impression they are meeting up for a chat.And in another they arrive in a perfectly formed procession – almost like they are part of an underwater military march.

The jaw-dropping series of images show how a decade spent befriending the gentle giant allows Andrew, 45, to stroke and gracefully swim alongside the 32-foot mammal.Whale watch operator Andrew, from Dominica, said: ‘Our bond began in 2000 when my wife Rhona found him injured out at sea when he was just a calf. We think he might have been attacked by pilot whales but we are not sure.’His head and dorsal fin were injured and he came to our boat, perhaps seeking some comfort. The most we could do was pet him and his injuries left him with some scarring.


Gay-Then-Straight Penguin Sick With Respiratory Infection


It’s hard to believe that leaving a famously homosexual partnership for a female wasn’t the drama to end all dramas in Harry the penguin’s life. Over the weekend, the San Francisco Examiner reported that the San Francisco Zoo’s most famous Magellanic penguin had fallen ill with an infection that can be fatal.

A few weeks ago, zookeepers noticed that Harry’s appetite had diminished, a big indicator of his physical state. He was also coughing, and was eventually diagnosed with aspergillosis, a respiratory infection caused by ever-present mold spores in the environment.

Harry left the colony on Penguin Island to receive treatment, and in keeping with the zoo’s policy of giving penguins in treatment a buddy, was joined by his new partner Linda. The zoo’s curator of birds, Harrison Edell,said that both birds are very adaptable, and have adjusted well to the change. Linda is “being a penguin,” and Harry is improving gradually.

Dozen Chihuahuas Fly From San Francisco To New YorkTo Find Homes

The 15 animals are flying in the main cabin of Virgin America flights scheduled to leave from San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday morning.Officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will meet the animals at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and help find them homes.

San Francisco animal control officials say Chihuahuas are in abundance at California animal shelters, but the breed is in demand in other states, including New York.

Experts said pop culture is to blame for the overpopulation of the dogs in California, with fans imitating Chihuahua-toting celebrities like Paris Hilton.