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SAN FRANCISCO — For killer whales, silence is golden as they hunt in complete darkness, listening for sounds of their marine mammal prey, and then rushing in for the kill, new research suggests. "The mammal hunters are very, very silent," said study co-author Volker Deecke, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Cumbria in England. That conclusion, presented here today (Dec. 3) at the 166th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, came from studying a population of killer whales that live in the waters off southeastern Alaska and hunt prey such as porpoises and seals. Killer whales, also known as orcas, often hunt in packs and can take down whales and sharks, giving them the reputation as "wolves of the sea." Two distinct populations of killer whales — ones that feed primarily on salmon, and a second group that prowls for marine mammals such as seals, porpoises and sea lions — live in the region where Deecke and his colleagues were studying orcas.
By Bernard Vaughan and Daniel Wiessner NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. animal rights group on Monday filed what it said is the first lawsuit seeking to establish the "legal personhood" of chimpanzees. The non-profit Nonhuman Rights Project asked a New York state court to declare a 26-year-old chimp named Tommy "a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned. ...
More than 70 years after the Berlin Zoo forced Jewish shareholders out of its ranks, the institution is trying to come clean about its own dark chapter during the Nazi era. A Berlin historian is combing through thousands of names to identify members made to sell their shares back to the zoo at a loss under the Third Reich, and has begun tracking down their descendants ahead of publishing her findings. "Jews were very important for the zoo," said historian Monika Schmidt, who estimates up to a quarter of the zoo's 4,000 shareholders in the 1930s were Jewish. Their exclusion is just one example of how Jews were pushed out of public life in 1930s Germany and stripped of their assets.
The king of 1980s musical theater has inspired hope and terror in musical theater fans by implying that his long running all-singing all-dancing celebration of the feline form—Cats—may become a movie. During an interview with the Daily Mail, which came to us via Playbill, Andrew Lloyd Webber said Universal is considering a Cats film: "I haven’t seen the [Les Mis] film, but it’s fantastic for musicals because everybody wants to make them again. Universal has now got Cats out of the drawer in which they locked it years ago when they bought the rights, and suddenly they’re talking about a film." Though Cats, based on a book of T.S. Eliot poems, ran on Broadway and the West End for absurdly long stretches, one can't help but wonder what on Earth a Cats movie would look like on screen, unless it's a filmed version of the stage production or, well, animated.
The newest giant panda cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo was named Bao Bao on Sunday (Dec. 1) in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Bao Bao, which means "treasure" or "precious," beat out four other Mandarin monikers, including: Combined this represents a sign of luck for panda cooperation between China and the U.S. During the naming ceremony, the success of the panda breeding program was praised by zoo officials, the Chinese ambassador and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.
Tamagotchi, the egg-shaped virtual pet beloved of schoolchildren in the 1990s, is making a comeback and is set to hit the shelves of European shops in time for Christmas. The tiny toy character, which owners have to nurture to maturity, was a worldwide smash the first time around, with maker Bandai selling 40 million units between 1996 and 1999. Now a new, updated version, called Tamagotchi Friends, is scheduled for release in Europe next month and in North America some time in 2014. A spokesman for Bandai in Tokyo said the new version is primarily aimed at children aged 7-9, and allows players to raise up to 24 different creatures.
Wayne Pacelle is the president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This Op-Ed is adapted from a post on the blog A Humane Nation, where the content ran before appearing in LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. My colleagues and I have released the results of the latest HSUS undercover investigation, in this case, laboratory experiments on dogs and other animals at Georgia Regents University (GRU) in Augusta, Ga. The focus of our investigation was on the use of dogs for unnecessary — and terminal — dental experiments. The dogs were acquired from Kenneth Schroeder — a random source Class B dealer who has been formally charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including obtaining multiple dogs from illegal sources.
Animal rights campaigners have launched a poster campaign urging Chinese diners to turn down cat and dog dishes, with the group calling for the creatures to be considered "friends not food". The 279 adverts were put up in 14 cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Hong Kong-based campaign group Animals Asia said. Cat and dog meat are not widely eaten in China but can be found at some restaurants, particularly in the south, where they are sometimes considered specialities. Animals Asia appeared to be trying to tap into that growing demographic of pet owners.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio's conservation foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to the World Wildlife Fund to help Nepal increase its tiger population. The WWF said on Thursday that the money from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, set up by the 39-year-old star of "The Great Gatsby" and the upcoming film "The Wolf of Wall Street," will be used for an initiative to double the number of tigers in Nepal by 2022 - the next Chinese year of the tiger. nowhere is that more evident than in Nepal," Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of the WWF, said in a statement.
A big cat conservation group is handing out faux-leopard print capes to residents of South African communities who wear the real animal skins for ceremonial purposes. Leopard skins have become a wardrobe essential for the 5 million members of South Africa's Shembe Church, a church founded in 1910 by Isaiah Shembe that melds Zulu and Christian elements. Though some skins are handed down through the family, many church members are seeking new ones, which means more poaching of the graceful hunters. To reduce leopard poaching, Panthera, a big cat conservation organization, along with the shipping company DHL, is delivering 4,000 free amambatha to church members this year.
There are just a few days left to cast a vote to name the newest giant panda cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. These are the five candidates for the panda's name (in Mandarin Chinese) with their meanings: Combined this represents a sign of luck for panda cooperation between China and the U.S. According to the zoo's latest update, the 3-month-old panda cub now weighs 10.34 lbs. (4.7 kilograms) and is just starting to crawl and move around independently.
A Zimbabwean court sentenced five men to between four and 14 years in prison on Tuesday for poisoning water holes in a private game reserve with cyanide in order to kill elephants and poach their tusks, an official said. National parks rangers estimate that at least 300 elephants have been poisoned in the southern African country since July, prompting the government to call for the toughest possible sentences against poachers. A prosecutor in the northwest district of Hwange told Reuters the five men had been sentenced to four years each for lacing water holes with cyanide in Ngamo Safaris, a popular tourist destination. Two of the group had then been handed 10-year sentences for being found with 17 elephant tusks.