Bites at Animal Planet

Animals

28 Jul

Zoo Elephants Said to Have Too Much Junk in Their Trunk

Zoo keepers and researchers are faced with a very big problem. African elephants in captivity are reportedly becoming obese, which could have serious consequences for the species.  

Similar to what we see with humans, this obesity can lead to “the development of heart disease, arthritis, a shorter lifespan and infertility,” said Daniella Chusyd, M.A., a doctoral student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences. Because elephants in the wild are continuously threatened by loss of habitat and poaching, the infertility found in elephants in captivity is the most troubling side effect of the rising obesity issue.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

With the threats that animals face in the wild, zoos remain one of the few ways to protect species from extinction. In the United States specifically, zoos need to average about six elephant births each year in order to maintain their current population. Currently, the birthrate is only about three births per year, which has raised worry that the elephants could disappear from zoos within the next 50 years, as reported by LiveScience.

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16 Jul

Activists Want to Move Arturo, Argentina's Last Polar Bear, Miserable, Depressed and Hot, In Captivity

Arturo is Argentina's last polar bear — his long time companion died in 2012 and Arturo's grown especially lonely and depressed ever since with noticeable changes in behavior indicating the unfortunate shift in his mental health, according to experts. 

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The 29-year-old bear lives in captivity at the Mendoza Zoo outside of Buenos Aires, where temperatures reach 95 degrees and upward — activists have protested the hot, cramped conditions of his confinement where he also has no contact with other bears or pools of water. The deterioration of his mental state and odd behavior include constant pacing which you can see in this video:

Protesters are calling for him to be moved to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg, Canada. Unfortunately, Canada requires 3 years of health records which the Mendoza Zoo cannot provide.  Additionally, the Argentine zoo officials are against the move, claiming that the bear would not survive the trip.

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What Can You Do to Help?

There's a Change.org petition you can sign — already, close to its goal of 150,000 signatures.

And, you can also contribute to a fundraiser on Reddit which has already raised over $6,000 for Arturo.

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15 Jul

Untold Stories of the ER: Snapping Turtle Latches on and Won't Let Go

Our friends over at Discovery Fit & Health shared this crazy video with us from Untold Stories of the ER.

Patient Bo was noodling for catfish (just like our friends on Hillbilly Handfishin'!) when a 25-pound alligator snapping turtle latched onto his neck. Shouldn't be a problem to remove it, right?

Wrong. If the doctor harms or, worse, kills the turtle during removal, the catfishers risk serving jailtime according to the game warden who accompanied the group to the emergency room. Not to mention that pesky little detail of how strong the turtle is and the fact that it can hold its breath for an extended period of time.

Check out the video above, then watch some more awesome turtle videos.

14 Jul

UK Wildlife Park Welcomes Baby Muskox!

On June 2, 2014, the Highland Wildlife Park in the Scotland was very excited to announce the arrival of a new baby muskox calf. The new calf is being closely monitored in hopes that he continues to grow and become stronger. The muskox is a native to the Artic and was hunted almost into extinction for its fur and meat. Thanks to conservation regulation, reintroductions and natural colonization, the species now has much higher populations.

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Photo Credit: Jan Morse

The calf’s mother, Karin, was born in the Czech Republic in 2002.  The new calf’s birth is a major event because muskox are very difficult to breed due to their extremely high neonatal mortality rates.  The first muskox calf to survive until adulthood was born in the United Kingdom in 1992. 

The Highland Wildlife Park also faces challenges due to the aggressive nature of adults.  Last year, a muskox calf that was born at the park died from an injury caused by one of her parents when she was five months old.  The keepers are doing everything possible to ensure that this new calf does not suffer the same fate. 

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11 Jul

Could Sloths Hold the Cure for Cancer?

Just a few days ago, Vice News posted a 20-minute documentary about the rainforests of Panama and how they might hold the cures for diseases such as malaria, Chagas, and even breast cancer. Among the plants and animals highlighted in the documentary, the sloth, everybody’s favorite slow-moving critter, was one of the most important. But how could the laziest creatures of the animal kingdom possibly hold the cures for fatal diseases -- even cancer?

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The answer lies in their hair, which is especially adapted to carry algae which can only be found on the backs of sloths. Hair is usually smooth, but the hair of a sloth is cracked to accommodate the growth of algae and fungi. On average, a sloth could be carrying up to 85 different kinds of fungi whose compounds could help in fighting diseases. In the documentary, sloths are called, “little pharmacies,” and it isn’t far off from the truth.

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11 Jul

GOOOOALLLL: Animals as World Cup Announcers

Since the World Cup began in June, it’s been a long road of excitement, stress, disappointment, and, most of all, fun. Sadly, it is coming to an end but we’ll never forget our favorite memories of this year’s games, especially the best part of the entire World Cup: screaming GOOOOOOOOALLLLL along with our favorite Word Cup commentators! But, the World Cup excitement isn’t just reserved for people! Check out these animals taking part in the World Cup excitement and practicing their best GOOOOOOOOALLLL shout:

FOOTT.02110 FOOTT.02552 

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10 Jul

Celebrities Love Their Pets, Too!

We are all ferociously dedicated to our pets and celebrities are no exception. Yes, they are busy with filming and concerts and promoting their newest endeavours, but they will always have time for their pets! Check out some of the stars and the newest additions to their families!

Pop Star Lady Gaga and her French Bulldog, Asia:

One thing is for sure: Lady Gaga is obsessed with the newest addition to the Little Monsters family. Her French Bulldog puppy, Asia, has dominated her Instagram and Facebook pages since she got her in late April. And why wouldn't she?? Just look at that face. 

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10 Jul

Throwback Thursday: Petey from 'Little Rascals'

 

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Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive

There are few shows dearer to our hearts than Little Rascals, or Our Gang as it was called in its earlier days. And no one was more iconic from that show than Petey, the adorable pit bull who followed and protected the gang. Besides his love of his children companions, Petey was known for the ring around his eye. But did you know that ring was actually part of his natural coloration?

Petey was originally played by a pit bull named Pal the Wonder Dog, who was born with a partial ring around his eye that was completed with make-up for his on-screen appearances. This ring was even recognized as an oddity by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! His iconic look was featured not only in the TV show, but also in Harold Lloyd’s 1925 film The Freshman and the Buster Brown films. When Pal passed away, his son, Pete, took over as Petey at just 6 months old.

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9 Jul

Tiny Hedgehogs Have Tiny Birthday Party with Tiny Cake

In case you need a little pick-me-up during your work day, take a tiny moment for a tiny celebration with these teeny, tiny, adorable hedgehogs, celebrating the cutest, teeniest birthday! ... And, though the cake may be miniature (and hedgehog food), it still looks delicious! Where's my slice?!

Happy birthday, little guy!

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Photo: YouTube image

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8 Jul

New Purpose Discovered Behind Koala's Tree Hugging

Koala bears are giving a new meaning to "tree huggers." A new study utilizing thermal imaging has come to find that koalas handle the extreme heat by holding their bodies against the tree trunks, which are cooler in temperature.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Researchers from the University of Melbourne observed the behavior of 30 koalas at French Island during the hot weather.  They noticed that while many animals may pant or lick their fur to cool down, this dehydrates the koalas. Instead, koalas were found to hug the cool trees, which can save about half the water the koala needs to keep cool, reducing their level of heat stress, according to the media release by University of Melbourne.

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Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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