The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Charla Nash's Lawyers Want Records Released

HARTFORD, Conn. - Attorneys for the family of Stamford woman mauled by a chimpanzee in February are asking the state to release records documenting how the state monitored the animal and other exotic pets.

Attorneys for Michael Nash, conservator for the estate of his sister, Charla Nash, have not said if they plan to sue the state. They've already filed a $50 million lawsuit against the chimp's owner, Sandra Herold of Stamford.

At a hearing Monday before a Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer, a lawyer for the state said the Department of Environmental Protection has already turned over thousands ....

Interview with Priscilla Feral from Friends of Animals

Priscilla Feral

(7/26/09) I'm republishing this interview which I conducted in April of this year. Recently, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been spreading unsupported evidence of some heinous accusations against the Primarily Primates Sanctuary, managed by the Friends of Animals charity.

While PETA has already lost this lawsuit at least twice in the past, they continue to fight FoA resulting in heavy losses of time and money on the part of FoA. This money would otherwise be going to improving the sanctuary, and feeding and caring for the residents there. PETA has made no mention of how they will save these animals if they win in court. However, history has shown unanimously the organization is severely pro-euthanasia and will likely kill all the primates there. This is especially convincing when PETA (the wealthiest 'animal rights' organization in the world) chooses to kill animals for space rather than using their funds to build that space in the first place.


I recently interviewed Priscilla Feral, president of the Friends of Animals Charity. This was in response to an article I recently published about PETA's destructive lawsuit against their 'Primarily Primates, Inc.' primate sanctuary.

Feral and I spoke about what 'animal rights' means, how the most popular animal rights organizations have missed this mark and some of the work FoA has been doing to challenge the system of exploitation of animals. This is definitely an eye-opening interview."

Listen with the embedded player below (Please be patient as it loads. If you are having difficulty, try opening in a separate browser.)

Source and interview video

Can Chimpanzees get AIDS?

Posted by Jef Akst -

SIV, the simian form of HIV, causes illness in chimpanzees similar to human AIDS, despite the longstanding belief that such viruses had no effect on non-humans primates, according to a new study published this week in Nature.

"It's definitely unexpected," said viral immunologist Don Sodora of the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, who was not involved in the research. "Prior to this it was thought that when African apes and monkeys were infected with SIV, there was no clinical disease."

For nearly a decade, researchers have closely observed three free-living chimpanzee communities at the Gombe National Park in Tanzania -- home to the legendary work of primatologist Jane Goodall. More than 40 different SIVs naturally occur in dozens of African primate species, but they were universally believed to be virtually harmless. Linking viral infections in wild primates to slow-acting diseases such as AIDS is difficult, and captive, naturally infected chimpanzees did not show the characteristic decline in T-cell counts common in humans with AIDS. However, when AIDS researcher Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her colleagues noticed that chimps infected with SIVcpz -- the immediate evolutionary precursor to HIV-1 -- did not live as long as virus-free chimps, they started to question this longstanding assumption.

"We saw that the number of chimps who had died in the infected group was about three times the number of chimps who had died in the uninfected group," Hahn said. "That was the first thing that really jolted us."

That spurred Hahn to do a more formal mortality analysis. She found that chimps infected with SIVcpz were 10-16 times more likely to die in any given year than their uninfected group mates. Furthermore, fewer SIV-infected females gave birth to offspring, and none of the offspring born to infected mothers lived for more than a year.

The team followed up these life history analyses with post-mortem histological investigations of three infected and two uninfected chimps, looking for "the tell-tale signs that had previously been described in humans with HIV-1 infection," Hahn said. Indeed, the infected individuals showed "hallmarks of HIV-1 infection," Hahn said, suggesting that chimps who contract SIVcpz in this population fall victim to an AIDS-like disease.

All infected chimps had lower CD4+ T-cell counts and increased collagen deposition -- a sign of chronic immune activation -- in the spleen. In addition, the infected chimp with the most profound CD4+ T-cell depletion also showed lower counts other types of T cells, suggesting a more advanced form of the disease. That particular individual died less than three years after contracting SIVcpz, and became extremely thin and weak on the days leading up to her death.

"Thanks to these painstaking behavioral studies and tracking of chimps in Jane Goodall's reserve, [the researchers] have been able to make these life tables and see that on average the chimps with SIV live shorter lives and are less fertile," said virologist Robin Weiss of the University College London, who was not involved in the work but wrote an accompanying review of the study. In addition, "the pathology looks vaguely like AIDS in humans."

The magnitude of the SIV-induced illness is still unclear. SIVcpz appears to be less pathogenic than HIV-1, which increases the risk of death 18-20-fold in infected humans. One possible explanation for this difference is that SIVcpz and its chimp hosts have been coevolving for an estimated 500 years -- about five times longer than the 100 years since HIV jumped into humans. More time means more opportunity for the host to evolve mechanisms to cope with its unwanted invader. Additionally, 500 years is a relatively long time compared with other primate species affected by SIVs, which may explain why these chimps are getting sick at all, while others do not show any signs of illness, Hahn said.

Regardless of the reason, "having a gradient of disease progression could potentially allow us the ability to figure out why some monkey species get sick and some don't," Sodora said. Identifying this pathogenic effect of an HIV-related virus in a species so closely related to humans "may give us a clue on how HIV-1 works," Hahn agreed.
Image: Flickr/belgianchocolate


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chimps, Louie and Mikey, Judie Harrison

I have posted some photos of an Easter Egg hunt that we did for Mikey and Louie. Each Easter we would fill plastic eggs with a treat in each of them and scatter them around the yard. Once they found the first one, opened it up and found out that there were treats inside, the hunt began. After the first year, both Mikey and Louie knew what to do with them, as if they had remembered playing the game the year before.

Here's a photo of Mikey on the right with a half an egg in his mouth. On the left, Little Louie playing in the picnic area of the playground.

This is a photo of Louie with an egg right in front of him. It looks as though he is eating something that he had already found in another egg. Unlike children,both Mikey and Louie were not in a hurry to find and gather all of the eggs at one time. They would find one, open it up, eat the goodie inside and either play until the treat was finished or go look for another one. There was no competition between the chimps for the eggs, unlike children.

Louie found an egg!

Ooops you missed an egg behind you Louie.

Mikey with half an egg.

Mikey looking in his egg to see what treat is in there.

Mikey in front and Louie is the picnic area. Mikey's looking for another egg.

And he found one!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dr. Robert Schumaker, Great Ape Trust

For more than 20 years, Dr. Rob Shumaker has dedicated his life to the study of orangutans. The former coordinator of the Orangutan Language Project at the National Zoological Park (Smithsonian Institution), Shumaker's research continues to further our understanding of how species think and communicate. He was also a designer and researcher for the Park's innovative Think Tank exhibit."

Biographical Sketch

Quote-"Dr. Robert Shumaker joined Great Ape Trust as a scientist in 2003. Dr. Shumaker is an evolutionary biologist specializing in great ape cognition.

Formerly, Dr. Shumaker served as the Coordinator of the Orangutan Language Project (OLP) at the Smithsonian Institution National Zoological Park. Dr. Shumaker was also one of the designers and authors of the Think Tank Exhibit at the National Zoological Park.

Dr. Shumaker is the author of numerous scientific papers and books, including his most recent book Primates in Question.

Dr. Shumaker serves as advisor to both the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation - Indonesia (BOS) and the Orangutan Conservancy.

Dr. Shumaker is a Fellow of Drake University and also an External Research Associate at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University.

Dr. Shumaker received a Ph.D. in biology from George Mason University."


Lawsuit Against the USDA- Inspection Reports of Government labs

[Entry posted at 6th July 2009 03:37 PM GMT]

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) must post annual reports from animal research facilities that document the levels of pain and distress experienced by animals in experimental procedures, according to a court settlement last week (July 1) of a lawsuit between the USDA and The Humane Society of the United States.

"We have been taking a variety of steps to increase transparency on a number of issues, [and] the agreement we reached with the Human Society is consistent with that," said USDA spokesperson Andrea McNally.

According to the Humane Society, the USDA stopped posting the annual reports, required by the Animal Welfare Act, around the end of 2001. When the USDA failed to provide copies of the reports requested by the Human Society (in the form of Freedom of Information Act requests), the Humane Society filed charges in 2005. Since then, the USDA has been posting some of the reports, but the settlement makes the action mandatory. Under the settlement agreement, the USDA must also make clear which institutions have failed to submit them. In addition, the USDA must continue to look for several documents that are still missing, and report back to the Humane Society with the results of the search. "It became very clear that there isn't a very good system for keeping track of these documents," said Kathleen Conlee, Director of Program Management for Animal Research Issues of the Humane Society. "We're hoping that as a result of this suit, they [will develop] a better system."

The "open policy" regarding the oversight of animal laboratories enforced by this settlement "will help educate the public and advance human health research," Thomas Rowell, director of the New Iberia Research Center of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, wrote in an email to The Scientist. (Earlier this year, that facility was cited for Animal Welfare Act violations in regard to its care of primates.) But David Jentsch, a neuropsychopharmacologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who organized a pro-research rally in April after being targeted by animal rights activists, warned that such information is not always used to honestly inform the public. "I think one's reaction has to fit the complexity of the issue," Jentsch said. "I'm all in favor of being as transparent as possible, and encouraging the USDA to do that as well, [but this information is often used] for making fallacious claims and harassing scientists." "


Thursday, July 9, 2009

MoJo The Baby Chimpanzee

The new kid on the block is a four week old male chimpanzee named MoJo. MoJo was born in March at the Zoo and his name is derived from his parents, JoJo and Missy."


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Primatologist Brian Hare Investigates Social Behaviour in Chimpanzees and Bonobos

When Brian Hare started college in 1994, he apprenticed himself to a top chimpanzee researcher. His mentor, Michael Tomasello, was just beginning to investigate whether chimpanzees can understand what another chimp—or perhaps even a human—is thinking. Hare said such a skill couldn't be that difficult. After all, he told Tomasello, "my dog does that." Tomasello looked skeptical. And then he spoke the words that often inspire scientific discovery: "Prove it.

Neandertal Man—The Changing Picture

Neandertal Man was the name given to bones found in 1856 in Germany’s Neander Valley (‘tal’, or ‘thal’ in old German spelling). The name Neander was a pseudonym of the 17th-century minister Joachim Neumann, the Greek translation of his name (‘new man’). A major PBS-TV series on evolution1 depicted Neandertal Man as only half human and not very intelligent, one who lived a very inferior life compared to the alleged first humans, the Cro-Magnon people. Some scientists today believe he was ‘lacking the language skills, foresight, creativity, and other cognitive abilities of modern humans’.2 Neandertal Man is considered to be either a link leading to modern man or a dead end in human evolution from the supposed ape-like ancestor."


Spontaneous Planning, Stone throwing, Male Chimpanzee

Planning for a future, rather than a current, mental state is a cognitive process generally viewed as uniquely human. Here, however, I shall report on a decade of observations of spontaneous planning by a male chimpanzee in a zoo. The planning actions, which took place in a calm state, included stone caching and the manufacture of discs from concrete, objects later used as missiles against zoo visitors during agitated chimpanzee dominance displays. Such planning implies advanced consciousness and cognition traditionally not associated with nonhuman animals [1]. Spontaneous and unambiguous planning behaviours for future states by non-humans have not previously been reported, and anecdotal reports, describing single occasions, are exceptionally scarce [2,3,4]. This dearth of observations is arguably the main reason for not ascribing cognitive foresight to nonhuman animals [1]. To date, the surprisingly few controlled demonstrations of planning for future states by animals are experimentally induced behaviours in great apes [5,6,7] and corvids [8,9]. The observational findings in this report suggest that these laboratory results are not experimental artefacts, at least in the case of great apes.


30 Chimpanzees Escape from the Chester Zoo

AFP/File – A chimpanzee licks a giant ice lolly as it cools down in the hot weather at Chester Zoo on July 2, 2009. …

Quote-"LONDON (AFP) – A zoo was evacuated on Sunday after about 30 chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure.

The animals escaped from 'Chimp Island' and found their way into a keeper area where their food is prepared, the zoo said.

More than 5,000 visitors were asked to leave Chester Zoo, near Liverpool, shortly after the break-out as keepers rounded up the chimps.

"In the interests of public safety Chester Zoo was evacuated today, Sunday 5th July, as a precautionary measure. This decision was taken due to an escape of chimpanzees from Chimp Island into a keeper area," the zoo said.

In a statement, it apologised for the disappointment caused to guests and offered to provide a refund or free future visit to the zoo.

The zoo has more than 7,000 animals. According to its website, it is visited by more than 1.3 million people each year and has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the best 15 zoos in the world."


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wild Chimpanzees Exchange Meat for Sex

The oldest alpha male chimpanzee in Uganda known as Zakayo eats a piece of cake on his 44th birthday at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe town, 42km (25 miles) south of capital Kampala, August 15, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters, File Photo)
Photo Gallery>>>

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Wild female chimpanzees copulate more frequently with males who share meat with them over long periods of time, according to the findings of a study led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, which will be published on Wednesday in the U.S. open-access journal PLoS ONE.

How females choose their mating partners and why males hunt and share meat with them are questions that have long puzzled scientists. Evidence from studies on human hunter-gatherer societies suggest that men who are more successful hunters have more wives and a larger number of offspring.

Studies on wild chimpanzees, humans' closest living relative, have shown that male hunters frequently share meat with females who did not participate in the hunt. One of the hypotheses proposed to explain these findings is the meat-for-sex hypothesis, whereby males and females exchange meat for mating access. However, there has been little evidence in both humans and chimpanzees to support it.

In the recent research conducted in the Tai National Park, Coted'Ivoire, Cristina M. Gomes and Christophe Boesch found that females copulate more frequently with males who share meat with them on at least one occasion, compared with males who never sharemeat with them, indicating that sharing meat with females improves a male's mating success.

Although males were more likely to share meat with females who had sexual swellings (i.e., estrous females), excluding all sharing episodes with estrous females from the analysis did not alter the results. This indicates that short-term exchanges alone (i.e., within the estrous phase of the female) cannot account for the relationship between sharing meat and mating success.

Gomes said: "Our results strongly suggest that wild chimpanzees exchange meat for sex, and do so on a long-term basis. Males who shared meat with females doubled their mating success, whereas females, who had difficulty obtaining meat on their own, increased their caloric intake, without suffering the energetic costs and potential risk of injury related to hunting."

"Previous studies might not have found a relationship between mating success and meat sharing because they focused on short-term exchanges; or perhaps because in those groups access to females was driven by male coercion so females rarely chose their mating partners," she added.

Boesch concluded: "Our findings add to the ever-growing evidence suggesting that chimpanzees can think in the past and the future and that this influences their present behavior."

"These findings are bound to have an impact on our current knowledge about relationships between men and women; and similar studies will determine if the direct nutritional benefits that women receive from hunters in human hunter-gatherer societies could also be driving the relationship between reproductive success and good hunting skills," concluded Gomes.