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18 Nov

Be Ivory Free. Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming Premieres Tonight at 10/9c

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Can one person change the habits and mindset of an entire country? For most people, the answer is no. But when that one person in question is basketball superstar Yao Ming, then it’s time to believe in the impossible.

Yao Ming is teaming up with WildAid and using his celebrity to stop ivory demand in China, the world’s biggest ivory consumer. In Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming, airing tonight at 10/9c, Yao ventures to Kenya to learn more about elephants, rhinos and how the ivory trade affects not only the wildlife, but also mankind.

Yao’s image has already made an impact in a country with over one billion people. His work with WildAid to end the shark fin market in China resulted in a 50 percent to 70 percent decrease in shark fin consumption, which leads us to believe history can repeat itself this time around.

Still, it’s important to lend our voices to the cause. There’s a lot we can do individually to help fuel change, and one way to start is to recognize the demand for ivory and rhino horn will do more harm than good. More than 33,000 African elephants are killed every year for their ivory, and if the trend continues, the species may go extinct by 2020. Three species of rhinos are classified as critically endangered, including the Northern white rhino.

Knowing that, will you join us in being Ivory Free? Sign WildAid’s Ivory Free pledge, and see what other ways you can incite change.

5 Nov

Wildlife Photographers of the Year Named: See the Photos

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Duchess of Cambridge with overall winner Michael Nichols. © Trustees of NHM, London

Photographers from 96 countries contributed over 42,000 submissions for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition - and the winners have now been announced! The United States' Michael "Nick" Nichols won the overall award for his black and white photo of lions resting atTanzania's Serengeti National Park. Eight-year-old Carlos Perez Naval of Spain took home the Young Wildlife Photographer of the year award for his photo of a common yellow scorpion against the background of a shining sun.

Check out the other winners and finalists below!

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Winner - Black and White / Overall Winner - Wildlife Photographer of the Year: "The last great picture" by Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols (USA) 
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Winner - 10 Years and Under/Overall Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Stinger in the sun - Carlos Perez Naval (Spain)

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2 Oct

35,000 Walruses Crowd Alaskan Shores as Sea Ice Fails to Form

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Credit: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/NMML

In a somewhat alarming sight, nearly 35,000 walruses have gathered onto Alaskan shores - the result of increasing global warming, according to The Washington Post.

In previous years, walruses would typically navigate north as the sea ice melted and then head south again when it returned. The sea ice serves as a refuge for the walrus, who need considerable rest time between diving deep to the sea floor for food. However, in 2007, the sea ice did not form - which lead to the walruses having to take refuge on Alaskan shores.

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Credit: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/NMML

Although it is a sight to behold - walrus are quite comical looking with their wrinkles and large tusks - it is actually fairly dangerous for the animals. Close quarters means disease spreads quickly, food runs out, animals such as brown and polar bears are nearby, and a slight disturbance can lead to a stampede.

As Margaret Williams, managing director for the World Wildlife Fund's Arctic program, told the Guardian, "It becomes like a giant pig pile. You have all these animals that are normally distributed on a flat surface. When they lose their sea ice habitat and come ashore in places that are accessible – like flat, sandy beaches – they gather in large numbers. … When they are disturbed it can cause stampedes in large numbers."

So what can be done to help these animals? According to the Post, "Short of immediately reversing global warming, scientists in the Arctic can only do damage control." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed adding the Pacific walrus to the endangered species list and the Federal Aviation Administration has asked that flights not fly through the area as walrus are skittish and the disturbance could cause a stampede.

Learn more about the arctic and what the WWF is doing to help here.

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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13 Jun

Are Cat People Smarter Than Dog People?

Your preference of dogs versus cats could say a lot about you. 

A recent study by Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis., found that "dog people" and "cat people" each have distinctive personality traits. 

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600 college students answered questions about what types of pets they preferred, what qualities they liked most about their pets, as well as questions about their own personalitites. Those who identified as "dog people" were found to be more entergetic, outgoing, and enjoyed companionship.  "Cat people", however, proved to be more introverted, open-minded, and sensitive.  Most notably, the results of this study, presented at the Annual Convention for the APS, found "cat people" to be more intelligent than "dog people".

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10 May

Moms, Always There to Show Us the Way…

Contributed by Amal Omer, World Wildlife Fund

8pkgs…sometimes with a little needed push! This rare footage shows a wild panda with her cub in China’s Anzihe Nature Reserve. The reserve is in the Sichuan province of China and a core panda habitat. The two pandas appear in the frame, where you can see the mom grab her cub by the neck to lead the baby into the bamboo jungle, as the little one gets distracted and stops to sit down. Pandas live mainly in bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China, where they subsist almost entirely on bamboo and eat about 26 to 84 pounds of it every day.
 
World Wildlife Fund works with the Chinese government’s National Conservation Program to help protect the giant panda and its habitat. The footage – even though it’s totally worthy of being your favorite cute animal video of the week – is actually a valuable conservation tool that helps scientist monitor panda populations and develop strategies to save the world’s rarest bear.
 
Happy Mother’s Day!

See even more animal moms in action!

22 Apr

VIDEO: Google Glass – A News Lens for Conservation in Nepal

Contributed By Shubash Lohani, Deputy Director, Eastern Himalayas Program, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

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Last month, I wrote about Nepal’s tremendous feat of zero poaching of rhinos, tigers and elephants for an entire year. Today, we are at 429 days and counting…

The main reason Nepal has been so successful in curbing poaching within its borders, as I mentioned in my previous post, is the strong collaboration between the government, NGOs and local communities. Nepal is also at the forefront of using new technologies that have helped them achieve these kinds of conservation results. From satellite based GPS collaring to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to biogas stoves for rural families, Nepal has been a testing ground for cutting-edge innovations and ideas that could help turn the tide in favor of global conservation efforts.

Recently, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had the opportunity to take part in another tech “exploration” in Nepal. Selected to participate in Google’s Giving Through Glass program, we had the opportunity to brainstorm creative ways and test how Glass – Google’s wearable smart glasses – could help us do our work more efficiently in the field. While still early in the process, one thing we’ve been working on is a new Glass-specific app (“Glassware”) that could help field researchers take notes hands-free during rhino monitoring by recording information on a rhino’s condition, habitat, activity, location and other key data, and then uploading the information so that it can be easily shared among members of the research team. While the Glassware is still in beta phase and we’re still early in the process of testing it out, such a tool could be very helpful to field biologists and conservationists working to protect rhinos and other threatened species.

You can see Google Glass in action in this short video featuring my colleague Sabita Malla – senior research officer at WWF-Nepal – testing it in the field.

12 Mar

Animal Planet #MEOWS in Austin

By Matthew Windsor, Publicist for Animal Planet

Over the weekend, Animal Planet clawed it’s way to Austin, Texas and left a gigantic sized scratch mark on the SXSW scene with it’s participation in a "paw-some panel," Cat Cash: The Economy of Cats, and with a celebration of all things feline at the Cats Live Here party.

On Saturday, Grace Suriel, social media director of Animal Planet, appeared on the feline themed panel to discuss the network’s role in the global phenomenon that is internet cat videos. Grace mentioned Animal Planet’s dedication to cats on-air runs the gamut from shamelessly cute with the likes of TOO CUTE! KITTENS and LIL BUB’S SPECIAL SPECIAL, to ferociously frightening with MY CAT FROM HELL. In addition, she touted the success of APL L!VES’ Kitten Cam and the network’s role in changing the perception of cat ladies online. Gracel was joined by Scott Stulen, of the Cat Vid Fest, of which Animal Planet is the exclusive sponsor, Will Braden, creator of Henri Le Chat Noir, and Ben Lashes, manager of famous feline’s Nyan Cat, Keyboard Cat and Grumpy Cat, who made a surprise appearance at the panel and sent social media into a frenzy. The panel was also covered by The Guardian, OnlineVideo.net and The Star Online.

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30 Oct

Animal Oddities: Zombies vs. Animals: Who Would Win?

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From David Mizejewski, Animal Oddities

Between Halloween and the latest season of The Walking Dead, the zombie craze is in full-force.

Zombies are scary. We humans are evolutionarily pre-programmed to abhor the dead bodies of our own species. It's a natural reaction that helps healthy individuals avoid picking up potentially fatal pathogens. The thought of being eaten alive is another totally natural fear, and when it's your own species doing the eating, it's somehow even more terrifying.

So, when you're lying in bed after watching The Walking Dead, unable to fall asleep with the vague anxiety of half-rotten corpses getting you in the dark, remember this: if there was ever a zombie apocalypse, wildlife would kick some serious zombie [butt].

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Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

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22 Oct

Penguin Receives First Ever MRI at U of M Veterinary Medical Center

Meet Fluffy. Fluffy is the first ever known penguin to receive an MRI.

Fluffy

 

When Fluffy arrived at University of Minnesota's Veterinary Medical Center he was having trouble balancing, standing and waddling. When veterinarians couldn't find the root cause they turned to a diagnostic first for penguins: An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. As a result Fluffy was diagnosed with encephalitis, properly treated and four weeks later is nearly fully recovered.

Click here to read the full story from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center

Can't get enough of penguins? Check out our LIVE Penguin Cam brought to you in partnership with the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

 

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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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