Thousands of Bear Paws Smuggled At Russia-China Border

(ILLEGAL ANIMAL TRADE) RUSSIA — The recent opening of the Russia-China border is having a negative effect: a rise in bear paw smuggling. — Global Animal

The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer

Blagoveschensk, Russia — It was a routine arrest, warranting only a brief mention in the local newspaper, Amur Pravda. Customs agents, suspicious of a woman’s bulky clothing, discovered she had tape wrapped around her torso.

Removing it, they found the contraband: several large, furry bear paws.

Closed for decades, the border between Russia and China has been creaking open in recent years, allowing more trade and travel but also clearing the way for a peculiar cross-border criminal enterprise in animal parts for Chinese medicine and cooking.

“It is very widespread just now,” Aleksei L. Vaisman, a senior coordinator for Traffic Europe-Russia, a group sponsored by WWF that monitors trade in wild animals, said of the illicit trade in animal parts in the Far East.

Not only bear paws but also bear gallbladders — highly valued for their medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities — frogs, tiger bones, deer musk and the genitals of spotted deer are smuggled daily into China.

But it is bear paws, a ritual dish for the Chinese, that are the most common commodities in this underground market, Mr. Vaisman said. He estimated that thousands were smuggled each year.

While illegal and, to most people perhaps, offensive, the traffic apparently poses no threat to the robust Siberian population of Russian brown bears, a relative of grizzlies, which is rising despite the paw trade.

The real problem with the bear paw trade, the authorities say, is that it creates smuggling channels for two other species — the Amur tiger and the Far Eastern leopard — that are highly endangered. Experts put the population of wild Amur tigers at 450, with about 30 poached each year. Only about 40 of the leopards remain in the wild.

Those channels come in many forms, and are growing busier every year, experts say. Hidden under scrap metal in trucks, slipped across the frozen Amur River in the winter or stuffed amid clothes in suitcases and carried by stony-faced smugglers, the bear paws find their way to China despite the best efforts of the Russian authorities.

On Feb. 8, Russian border patrol agents stopped two trucks carrying 447 bear paws in the village of Leninskoye, just a few miles from the Chinese border, and arrested two Russians and a Chinese national. The cargo weighed 515 kilograms, or 1,133 pounds.

Here in Blagoveschensk, it is not hard to find bear paws for sale; a casual inquiry at a meat counter can make the connection.

A saleswoman’s tight-eyed, suspicious stare greets customers at one dingy meat market. Under frosted glass lies an assortment of sausages, beef cutlets, frozen chickens and game meat — musk deer venison, bear dumplings, wild boar. This, of course, is not where the real money is made. “Call that number on the wall,” the saleswoman says, pointing to a bulletin board.

Soon, in the darkened interior of a parked Lexus sport-utility vehicle, a bear paw deal is going down. “Volodya, hi, do you have any paws?” a broker says into his cellphone. “I have a guy who wants paws.” No luck.

“Sasha, hi, do you have any paws?” he asks another source. “No, somebody just wants to look.” A pause. “Great, we’ll be there tomorrow.”

The rendezvous is set for a ramshackle building beside a potholed road on the outskirts of Blagoveschensk. The hunter pads into a back room, pops open a freezer and reveals the goods: four gnarled, frozen paws.

The paws come from bears killed legally by hunters and also by poachers. But because any export of paws is illegal, the entire trade is banned, Yuri N. Privalov, the minister of natural resources for the Amur region, said in an interview. He conceded that the illicit trade was thriving all the same.

Efforts to stanch the traffic run up against the powerful lure of quick money or, experts say, a man’s need to slake an alcoholic thirst — though seemingly only in a Siberian village would this seem an easy way to get a drink.

“A guy has nothing to do in a village,” explained Oleg V. Lezin, the owner of a taxidermist shop in Blagoveschensk. “He takes a dog and tracks down a bear in the forest, kills it and chops off the paws. He can sell those paws for 1,500 rubles a kilogram. Then he comes into town and gets something to drink, and he’s all right until the next bear.” Those 1,500 rubles would be worth about $50.

The paw trade has damaged hunting traditions with deep roots in Siberia, the taxidermist said, turning a hallowed male winter ritual into a mercantile exercise. Traditionally, Russian bear hunters would find a den burrowed into the roots of a cedar tree, gingerly approach and take a position on the opposite side of the tree from the opening. Then they would make a clamor, or throw in a burning plastic bag. When the bear scrambled out, snorting and angry, the hunters would lean around the tree and shoot it.

But now, he said, many Russians simply hunt at night from trucks equipped with spotlights.

A few years back, according to Roman A. Chikachov, a game warden in Blagoveschensk, Russian hunters took to passing off the more common wild boar gallbladders as bear gallbladders. Once they discovered this ruse, the Chinese buyers, already suspicious, became far more cautious in their dealings. The Russians, he said, are still scratching their heads over how the Chinese were able to tell the two apart.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/world/asia/30animals.html?_r=1

 

 

‘Princess Abby’ is World’s Ugliest Dog

(DOG) “To other people she is ugly, and kids in the neighborhood in the beginning were kind of scared of her,” says Kathleen Francis, Princess Abby’s owner. “But I think she is beautiful through and through.” Princess Abby won the title of World’s Ugliest Dog last weekend. — Global Animal

Associated Press, Sue Manning via L.A. Unleashed, The Los Angeles Times

Princess Abby is missing one eye and a lot of fur. She’s got rabbit ears, a camel’s back and a kangaroo hop. She has mismatched legs, an inverted floppy front foot and a twisted tail.

Add a pile of personality and some unusual dance moves and the 6-pound Chihuahua easily won the title of World’s Ugliest Dog at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma over the weekend. For those very same reasons, she also claimed the heart of owner Kathleen Francis.

“To other people she is ugly, and kids in the neighborhood in the beginning were kind of scared of her,” said Francis, 67, who lives in Clearlake, about 110 miles north of San Francisco. “But I think she is beautiful through and through.”

Five months ago, Francis gave a neighbor a ride to the vet’s office and first saw the dog — flea-infested, malnourished, not long off the streets where she’d been picked up by the local humane society.

“I just loved her,” Francis said.

After three rounds of competition, Princess Abby won $2,600, a modeling contract and $1,000 worth of clothes and doggy gear from contest sponsorHouse of Dog in Los Angeles, a photo shoot with pet photographer Grace Chon, a trip to New York for appearances on the morning talk shows and a 6-foot trophy.

“To win, oh my gosh. I was shocked,” Francis said.

Princess Abby cinched the victory when she started dancing for treats on stage, said Vicki DeArmon, marketing director for the fair and producer of the dog contest. Usually the dog with the most personality wins, DeArmon said.

A majority of the dogs entered in the contest were rescues and at least half were hairless Chinese crested dogs. Halligan said most of Princess Abby’s problems were caused by inbreeding, telling the crowd the dog was the perfect poster child for having pets spayed and neutered.

Dancing isn’t the only trick Princess Abby knows. “She likes to sleep,” Francis said. “I’m no spring chicken so we are well matched. We both like to sleep as much as we can.”

After Friday night’s contest, Francis couldn’t get the trophy in her car, so she put the top of her old convertible down and drove off.

“All I could do was laugh and act crazy,” Francis said. “People were honking and waving. I felt like, ‘Here she comes, Miss America.’ “

 

 

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/06/rescued-chihuahua-princess-abby-is-a-star-thanks-to-worlds-ugliest-dog-title-win.html

From Famine to Feast: Malnourished Chimps Thrive in New Sanctuary

Suena and Poplap – the 2 subadult chimps that were seized in January after being found in filthy conditions in Goma with insufficient food and water – are thriving in their new surroundings at the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre near Bukavu.

Suena & Poplap are now inseparable – a truly joyous friendship has developed

Suena & Poplap were moved to Lwiro back in April, after a massive effort by
the Gorilla Doctors, ICCN and others to get these chimps to a better
place after they were abandoned by their keepers along with 3 other chimps
and 2 monkeys. I was in Lwiro on Tuesday this week – and was just amazed to
see how changed both chimps were.

Suena & Poplap try to figure out how to get food out of the firehose!

When I had first seen Suena and Poplap in the filth in Goma, they were
withdrawn, afraid, malnourished and dehydrated. It is remarkable what can
happen when animals have the proper care and company that they crave. Today
they have a zest for life that was unimaginable just 3 months ago.

Close companions

My congratulations to Carmen, Laia, Michel and the team of carers at Lwiro,
who provide sanctuary for over 40 primates, while also working to protect
primates in the wild.

Poplap is a totally different chimp now she has the constant care of a team of dedicated carers at Lwiro

If you would like to read more about Lwiro and donate directly to their
project please go here.

Alaska Commission Says “Sure, Kill Polar Bears!”

ALASKA – The U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission to lift the ban on killing polar bears for the first time in 50 years. Infuriating. – Global Animal

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A joint commission meeting in Alaska recommended lifting the ban on harvesting polar bears for traditional and cultural purposes in Russia.

The U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission met this week in Anchorage to determine the potential for a planned harvest by Native peoples in Alaska and Chukotka in Russia who subsist on the bears.

The harvest would be limited to up to 58 polar bears a year, with no more than 19 females.

The move would end a 50-year ban on the Russian side. It is expected to improve monitoring and decrease poaching in that country.

In Alaska, a team will develop a plan that will be presented at the next meeting of the commission in June 2011.

Alaska Natives harvested an average of 38 polar bears a year from 2004 to 2008.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iYTdxWt0rWTumeOAF4MKCWZ54MVAD9G9DAHO2

Endangered Siamese Crocodiles Born

(ENDANGERED SPECIES) Conservationists in Cambodia are celebrating the hatching of a clutch of eggs from one of the world’s most critically endangered crocodiles, the Siamese crocodile. – Global Animal

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Conservationists in Cambodia are celebrating the hatching of a clutch of eggs from one of the world’s most critically endangered animals, the Siamese crocodile.

Thirteen infants crawled out of their shells over the weekend in a remote part of the Cardamom Mountains in southwestern Cambodia, following a weekslong vigil by researchers who found them in the jungle.

Experts believe as few as 250 Siamese crocodiles are left in the wild, almost all of them in Cambodia but with a few spread between Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and possibly Thailand.

 

The operation to protect and hatch the eggs was mounted by United Kingdom-based Fauna and Flora International, for whom conservation of this once-abundant species is a key program.

“Every nest counts,” program manager Adam Starr told Associated Press Television News. “To be able to find a nest is a very big success story, to be able to hatch eggs properly is an even bigger success story.”

The nest, with 22 eggs inside, was discovered in the isolated Areng Valley. Fauna and Flora International volunteers removed 15 of them to a safe site and incubated them in a compost heap to replicate the original nest. They left seven behind because they appeared to be unfertilized.

A round-the-clock guard was mounted to keep away predators like monitor lizards. Last weekend the crocodiles began calling from inside the shells, a sure sign they were about to hatch.

Within hours 10 emerged – and a further surprise was in store. Three of the eggs left behind at the original nest also hatched. A field coordinator, Sam Han, dis

 

covered the squawking baby crocodiles when he went to recover a camera-trap from the site.

“When I first saw the baby crocodiles they stayed and swam together near the near site. They were looking for their mother,” he said. He snapped a few photos of the hatchlings, their noses poking out of the water.

To cap the success, the camera-trap yielded two infrared shots of the mother crocodile returning to the nest.

The reptiles are now being kept in a water-filled pen in a local village in the jungle-covered mountain range. The indigenous Chouerng people who live there revere crocodiles as forest spirits and consider it taboo to harm them. It’s likely they’ll be looked after for a year before being released into the wild.

But the euphoria is tempered by hard-edged reality. This part of the Areng Valley has been earmarked for a major hydropower project. The conservation group is looking for other areas of similar habitat to release the juveniles when the time comes.

“To put these crocodiles back into the Areng Valley could spell certain doom for them,” Starr said.

The Siamese crocodile has suffered a massive decline over the last century, because of a high demand for its soft skin. Commercial breeders also brought them to stock farms where they crossed them with larger types of crocodile, producing hybrids which further reduced numbers of the pure Siamese.

In 1992 it was declared “effectively extinct in the wild” before being rediscovered in the remote Cardamoms in Cambodia eight years later.

Siamese crocodiles take 15 years to reach sexual maturity, complicating efforts to revive the population. Only a handful of the 13 new crocs are likely to survive long enough to make a long-term impact on numbers.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_CAMBODIA_ENDANGERED_CROCS?SITE=ORMED&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

 

 

 

An Unlikely Victor

The extraordinary scene was captured by photography student Casey Gutteridge at the Santago Rare Leopard Project in Hertfordshire. The 19-year-old, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, who was photographing the leopard for a course project, was astounded by the mouse’s behavior.

He said: ‘I have no idea where the mouse came from – he just appeared in the enclosure after the keeper had dropped in the meat for the leopard.

‘He didn’t take any notice of the leopard, just went straight over to the meat and started feeding himself. ‘But the leopard was pretty surprised – she bent down and sniffed the mouse and flinched a bit like she was scared. ‘In the meantime the mouse just carried on eating like nothing had happened…

Just proves no one can push you around without your permission.

 

 

 

Puppy Love After The Disaster

This story begins after a tornado struck Greensburg, Kansas.

Rescuers found this poor little guy they named Ralphie.

Someone had already taken him under their wing but weren’t equipped to adopt.

Ralpie, scared and starved, joined his rescuers.

You wouldn’t think someone could live through this disaster…but you’re wrong!

This little lady also survived the wreckage.

Here she is in the car, scared but safe.

But now, she isn’t alone!

Instant friends, they comforted each other while in the car.

Two more beagles were found after that…the more, the merrier!

But who is this intruder?

Another cat rescued, and a new friend…even though all of these animals are strangers! But does everybody fit?

It’s going to work just fine, thank you very much!

The things we learn from out animal friends…If only all of mankind could learn such valuable lessons as this…of instant friendship, of peace and harmony by way of respect for one another–no matter one’s color or creed. These animals say, ‘It’s good to be alive and with others!’

Yes, it surely is.

Incredible Pictures of Wildlife In Brazil and Panama

(PHOTO GALLERY) To search for and take pictures of rare wildlife species, Belgian ecologist and photographer Guido Sterkendries recently spent some time leading a Tarzan-like life in the rainforests in Brazil and Panama. – Global Animal

Xinhuanet BEIJING–To search for and take pictures of rare wildlife species, Belgian ecologist and photographer Guido Sterkendries recently spent some time leading a Tarzan-like life in the rainforests in Brazil and Panama. He set up a cabin among the trees deep in the forest and dangled between the branches to take the precious photos.

A yet unidentified species of caterpillar

Blue arboreal poison dart frog

Anoles lizard

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

The Eyelash Viper

The White-headed Capuchin

Red-Eyed Tree Frogs

Black Howler Monkey

Golden Frogs

More Golden Frogs

White-headed Capuchin

Harpy Eagle

Katydid

Rutelinea beetle

Snout Beetle

Gladiator Tree Frog

Another yet unidentified species of caterpillar

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/photo/2010-06/03/c_13331843_19.htm

Lou Reed Performs Music To Dogs’ Ears

Lou Reed and his composer wife, Laurie Anderson plan to rock the dog house with a high frequency music recital that only dogs can hear. – Global Animal

Discovery News, Jennifer Viegas

Lou Reed will be taking a dog walk on the wild side later this week, as the singer and his composer wife, Laurie Anderson, will be holding a high frequency recital for dogs and their human companions at the Sydney Opera House.

The ad for the show reads:

“Laurie Anderson has composed a 20 minute work especially for the hearing range of dogs – who can hear frequencies far outside the human audio spectrum. Taking the idea of the apparently inaudible dog whistle to new artistic heights, our canine friends will be treated to a glorious cacophony of sound, while all we will hear is the lapping of the water on the harbor.

The morning will be an inter-species social gathering on a scale never seen before in Australia. Breakfast can be purchased on site including freshly brewed coffee and egg & bacon rolls, while you watch dog demonstrations and be surprised by some very special guests.

This is an event that you’ll be yapping about for years to come, an absolute must for any dog and their two legged friends!

Both Anderson and Reed have indicated that they enjoy making such music for their own rat terrier named Lollabelle.

Anderson told the Sydney Morning Herald, “She likes things with a lot of smoothness but with beats in them.”

The prolific composer continued that she was inspired to create such a show after she attended a performance at the Vivid Live festival in Sydney.

“Wouldn’t it be great, if you were playing a concert and you look out and you see all dogs?”

BBC News indicated that Reed is helping to stage the 20-minute show.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/lou-reed-and-laurie-anderson-plan-high-frequency-concert-for-dogs.html

Prize Goes To ‘Save The Elephants’ Founder

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder of Save the Elephants

Support the ban on elephant poaching

The Indianapolis Star, Dan McFeely

With a simple Google search, Iain Douglas-Hamilton knows that victory in his five-decade fight to save his beloved elephants remains uncertain.

On the Internet, one can find ivory knife handles, $45; ivory gun grips, $600; ivory elephant tusks, $18,500.

Twenty-one years after a worldwide ban on ivory trade helped stop the slaughter of African elephants, the demand for ivory seems to be making a comeback — prompting some African countries to propose the sale of tons of stockpiled ivory, while giving poachers a new incentive to slaughter elephants for their valuable tusks.

“Their existence is hanging on a thread,” said Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, who today will be named the winner of the 2010 Indianapolis Prize for conservation, which includes a $100,000 award — the largest gift of its kind in the world.

Douglas-Hamilton, who founded the organization in 1993 and has written books and made films since, will collect his prize and the Lilly Medal at a ceremony Sept. 25 at the Westin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis. He was chosen from a group of 29 conservationists nominated worldwide.

Working primarily from his home and office in Nairobi, Kenya, Douglas-Hamilton earned the honor with his reputation as the pioneer of in-depth study of elephant social behavior. He studied their movements — these days, with the help of GPS and Google Earth — and led anti-poaching efforts in the wilds of Africa and in the halls of world governments.

His work is not done.

Decades of unfettered poaching that began in the 1960s led to what Douglas-Hamilton calls an “elephant holocaust.” The number of elephants in Africa and Asia dropped from about 3 million to 250,000 today.

He was among the first to alert the world about the slaughter, most of which stopped in 1989 when the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species made it illegal to traffic in ivory.

But in recent years, some countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, have said their elephant herds are in good shape. They say they want to stop sitting on an estimated 126 tons of tusks, much of it dating to the days of poaching, but also more recent collections from elephants that died of natural causes or were killed legally by government officials for destroying crops.

Their argument: A limited sale of stockpiled tusks could generate millions to funnel back into the protection of today’s elephants.

But in an interview with The Indianapolis Star last week inside the elephant house at the Indianapolis Zoo, the 67-year-old Douglas-Hamilton vowed to fight efforts to allow the resumed sale of ivory, even if it’s limited.

“They promise the money will go back into conservation,” he said. “But it’s only going to encourage markets as far away as China.”

Other countries, such as Kenya and India, agree and have opted in the past to burn huge piles of ivory.

“The fear is, and it is my belief, that any ivory sales will stimulate a parallel illegal trade,” he said. And that means more poaching.

With a renewed market demand for ivory, especially in China, it appears to be happening already. Conservationists blame poachers for last year’s tremendous spike in elephant deaths — 36,000 were killed, more than in the previous two decades combined.

Known as White Gold

Ivory, known by some as white gold, has become so rare that its value has skyrocketed. Currently, if ivory can be proved to have originated during the pre-ban years, it is legal to purchase. But at $500 per kilo (about 2 pounds) on the Asian black market, the cost for ivory is too high for almost everyone except the extreme collectors.

The average ivory tusk weighs 3 to 4 kilos. The record is about 50 kilos.

“But we don’t get big ivory in Africa anymore. Those elephants are gone,” Douglas-Hamilton said. “Western demand collapsed 20 years ago, and I hope it never comes back.”

There is some fear it might. Beyond the demand in China, recent studies posted on the Save the Elephants website indicate some renewed interest in ivory in U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

In Indianapolis, if there is much interest in ivory, it’s probably from those who have vintage pianos in need of restoration. Piano keys were once made of ivory because it’s porous and would absorb finger sweat from nervous players.

“Ivory has not been used in many, many years for new pianos,” said Craig Gigax, president of Meridian Music in Carmel. “I think it’s just too controversial. I don’t see it ever coming back.”

Controversial and costly.

“A new custom ivory keyboard would cost up to $5,000 installed, versus an acrylic keyboard for about $700,” said Ron Winter, a Southside expert in piano restoration.

Life of Adventure

Douglas-Hamilton was born in England, raised partly in South Africa and Scotland and studied at the University of Oxford, where he earned his doctorate of philosophy in zoology. As early as the 1960s, as a student, he carried out the first in-depth scientific study of wild elephant social behavior in Tanzania, setting the stage for his life’s work.

“I have always been attracted to elephants,” said Douglas-Hamilton, who on his recent visit to the zoo spent time playing with three elephants.

Recording births, deaths and migration patterns at first, in the 1970s, he expanded his work to include elephants throughout Africa. That’s when he discovered evidence of mass slaughters and began to sound the warning bells to the world about the evils of poaching. In the early 1980s, he led a successful emergency anti-poaching program in Uganda’s national parks, where elephants were on the brink of extinction.

“The plight of the African elephant is intensely personal to Iain,” said Indianapolis Zoo President Michael Crowther. “He truly epitomizes what it means to be a hero.”

In 1993, Douglas-Hamilton founded Save the Elephants in Kenya as a vehicle to raise worldwide awareness and money for elephant preservation through study and habitat preservation. As part of that, he pioneered the system of GPS tracking, in which tiny sensors are placed in collars so each elephant can be tracked.

“Elephants vote with their feet,” Douglas-Hamilton said. “They go to places they feel safe.”

When patterns begin to change, he looks for reasons and for evidence of poachers.

In September, he worked to rescue a rare herd of desert elephants in northern Kenya and Mali, threatened by a severe drought. And earlier this spring, he was in the midst of a devastating flood that destroyed the Save the Elephants camp in Kenya, including years of field research notes.

Douglas-Hamilton and his wife, Oria, raised their two daughters — Saba and Dudu — in Kenya. Both have become active conservationists, especially Saba, who works with the BBC on documentaries.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton getting a lift from a friend

http://www.indystar.com/article/20100603/LOCAL18/6030420/Indianapolis-Prize-goes-to-Douglas-Hamilton

Bighorn Sheep Poacher Arrested in Arizona

Los Angeles Times, Kelly Burgess

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has arrested and charged an individual with four wildlife law violations in connection with the alleged illegal killing of a bighorn sheep ram near the southern shore ofCanyon Lake, northeast of Apache Junction.

Though two bighorn sheep were found dead, the male suspect only was charged in connection with poaching one of them. More charges may be pending, based on evidence seized at the suspect’s home and the ongoing investigation.

The arrest was made after the department received information through its Operation Game Thief hot line, which the public could use to report wildlife violations confidentially.

Operation Game Thief program manager Ken Dinquel said it was gratifying to have had the support of hunters and members of the public in helping report these types of cases.

“Although hunters pay for the largest share of wildlife conservation through license and tag fees, poaching adversely affects more than just hunters,” said Dinquel. “Poachers steal from everyone because wildlife is managed in the public trust for all citizens to enjoy.”

Multiple tips came in after the department issued a news release May 4 about the two dead bighorn sheep rams, offering a reward of up to $8,000 for information leading to the arrest of a suspect. TheArizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society also offered a reward of up to $1,000 per sheep for information leading to a conviction in either case, and the Arizona Bowhunters Assn. added an additional $1,000 reward for a conviction.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/outposts/2010/05/arrest-made-in-arizona-bighorn-sheep-poaching-case.html

 

China To Train Captive Pandas To Live In The Wild

Associated Press

BEIJING — 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 center will be 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 of an experimental zone, along with 2,800 acres 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.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/05/china-announces-plans-to-train-captive-giant-pandas-for-life-in-the-wild.html

 

Petition To End Dolphin Slaughter Gets 1 Million+ Signatures

In 2009, The Cove won an Oscar for best documentary. Photo Credit: Stock Photo

(ANIMAL ACTIVISM) When “The Cove” won an Oscar for best documentary in 2009, change was in the water.

Now, part of the activism inspired by “The Cove” to stop the mass slaughter of dolphins in Japan has reached an essential turning point.

The petition to end the brutal killing of dolphins obtained over one millions signatures as of April 2010.

Here is an inspiring email sent to those who had already signed the petition:

To: The 1,005,204 signers of End the Brutal Killing of More Than 20,000 Dolphins Every Year in Japan

Dear Dolphin Petition Signers,

Last night we hit our goal of ONE MILLION SIGNATURES on our petition to End the Brutal Killing of 20,000 Dolphins Every Year in Japan. I’d like to just take a second and say thank you so much for what you’ve done to make this happen. Every invitation you sent to your friends, every time you posted this petition to your Facebook profile, it all counted and it has added up to one HUGE movement to stop the dolphin slaughter and the sale of mercury-laden dolphin meat. It’s one of the top petitions that Facebook Causes has ever had! Thank you so much. Now, we have an exciting opportunity to get the full impact of our collective voices. Facebook Causes, TakePart, OPS, Earth Island Institute – our whole Cove Team – are making final plans to present the petitions in Washington, DC and Tokyo, Japan. Watch for further details on how you can get involved too.

Help us ramp up efforts to get the message of The Cove to the people of Japan. A generous donor of ours has made a special offer to match any donation you make to this cause, up to a total of $10,000. So, if you want to support our work financially and put funds toward saving dolphins lives, donate to our cause now and your donation will be doubled! http://www.causes.com/thecove?m=67756cab 

For those of you who are new signers, welcome! Be sure to join our cause at

www.causes.com/thecove?m=67756cab and we will keep you updated as our campaign

continues. We won’t stop until the cove is shut down and we need your help. Thank you for joining our movement. 

Ric, Dave, and the Save Japan Dolphins team 

Visit http://apps.facebook.com/causes/petitions/252?m=66fe520c to sign the petition.

Cats Wig Out Over Latest Fashion

By Molly-Marie Canales for Global Animal

No longer are cats an underserved market in the hairpiece biz. That’s because an inventive entrepreneur has created the epitome of funky feline fashion – the wig.

Featured on shows like Good Morning America and The Wendy Williams Show, and in magazines such as People and Nylon, Kitty Wigs have gained notoriety for their unique take on the absurd. On Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper asked the question on everyone’s mind: WHY?

The creator, Julie Jackson, claims that she and her siamese cat, Boone, were bored, stressed, and looking for a way to enhance playtime. One has to wonder how that’s working out for Boone.

Jackson recently cashed in on the model-esque cat photos with her book “Glamour Puss: The Enchanting World Of Kitty Wigs.” The wigs are $50 each.

The website reminds Kitty Wig purchasers: “Please remember, Kitty Wigs should only be used with human supervision, and introduced slowly.” Or, humans can let their cats’ attitude shine–without a pink curly wig.

Molly Canales is a journalist at the University of Southern California. She enjoys family, food, and spending time with her pets, Sadie, Baby, Xena and Mr. Fishy.


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