Stories tagged zoo

A momma tiger at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan gave birth to three cubs in September. The playful tykes are now Internet stars. You can watch them on the webcam through early December 2012. Feeding times are approximately 8am, 12pm, 4pm, and 10pm EST.

First it was Knute the polar bear. Then Paul the soccer match predicting octopus. Now meat Heidi, the cross-eyed possum who's taken German zoo visitors' imaginations by storm.

I was searching YouTube for some other museum stuff when I came upon this video of a wild deer that jumped into a polar bear enclosure at a Pittsburgh Zoo. It's security camera video, not the clearest, but pretty interesting nonetheless.

Have scientists finally found a Rock n' Roll gene? Not really, but researchers have made some interesting discoveries about the genetic basis of birdsongs, which are passed down from generation to generation through social interaction much in the same way that you or I learn to talk, sing, dance, cook or create. When the authors of a new study on the transmission of birdsong behaviors in zebra finches isolated and raised birds in silence, they expected them to sing off-key. While the mating songs of these 'untrained' birds were much less appealing to the opposite sex, after several generations the untrained lineage produced offspring that were able to sing just like those in the wild. You can listen to the experiment here. This news has left researchers wondering where birdsongs originally began, and to what extent cultural behaviors are hard wired. While zebra finches and humans are only very distant relatives, researchers think we may be able to learn about human culture and genetics from studies like these. After all, as the authors point out, our human cultures (including language, music and a whole host of other things) are very different, but they all share common elements across the globe. In the end, these cultural underpinnings may turn out to be part of our biology.


After a hard day of hanging upside-down in the trees, you’d be exhausted, too: Wild sloths are more active than those living in zoos.
After a hard day of hanging upside-down in the trees, you’d be exhausted, too: Wild sloths are more active than those living in zoos.Courtesy guppiecat

Turns out sloths don’t really deserve their reputation for laziness. A new study shows that sloths in the wild are active up to six hours a day more than their cousins in captivity, where earlier studies had been conducted. I guess if you’re in a zoo and all your needs are taken care of, there’s just no point in moving around a lot.


Orangutan: "I am so out of here."
Orangutan: "I am so out of here."Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Bruno, an orangutan prisoner at the Los Angeles Zoo, made an attempted escape yesterday by punching a hole through a fence surrounding his compound.

The 29-year old orangutan was obviously fed up with prison life and wanted a taste of freedom.

Unfortunately, the great ape’s great escape lasted only about 20 minutes before zoo guards got wind of it, and thwarted his plan by sedating the hairy Houdini and returning him to his bed. But not before some 3000 zoo visitors were herded out the front exit for their own safety.

According to zoo director, John R. Lewis, none of the zoo's other orangutans has ever tried this kind of daring escape.

"He's a trendsetter," Lewis said.

Steve McQueen would be proud.


LA Times story
More on orangutans

We've had a lot of zoo posts lately in the Buzz. There's more happening at Como Zoo this weekend as Saturday marks the final day for polar bears Neil and Buzz to roam their small enclosure for a couple years. While it's getting an extreme makeover, they'll be hanging out with other polar bears in Buffalo, N.Y. Apparently global warming has nothing to do with this polar bear disappearance.


Everybody hear about this?
Yesterday (Christmas day) a 350-pound Siberian tiger at the SF Zoo somehow made it over a twenty foot wall and a fifteen foot moat to attack three visitors, killing one of them.

Wild (or semi-wild) animal attacks everywhere! We'll be lucky to make it to the new year!


Sort of the opposite here: And I think I might throw up.
Sort of the opposite here: And I think I might throw up.Courtesy Ke Wynn
It’s amazing that we ever get anything done in this world, considering how weird it is.

A zoo in Thailand recently began circulating emails containing photos of a female tiger with a littler of piglets. The tigress, according to the email, was heartbroken over the loss of her own cubs, and accepted the piglets, wrapped in tiger skins, as replacements. She has been watching over them ever since, and, apparently, even nursing them.

That alone would have done it for me. “Wrapped in tiger skins”? I wonder where the tiger skins came from? I mean, what, did they just have a whole bunch of dead baby tigers on hand… oh. And piglets nursing from a tiger? There’s something unsettling about that, especially considering that the tiger is probably going to eat those things eventually (that’s what I’d do, at least).

The story doesn’t end there, however. After a worldwide chorus of “aww”s and “OMG!!!!”s, an animal welfare group decided to investigate the source of the pictures. They originally came from The Sriracha Tiger Zoo, home to over 400 tigers (400 tigers!), as well as a handful of other exotic animals, located about an hour outside of Bangkok.

The tiger in the picture turns out to have been raised by pigs herself (something not entirely uncommon in Thailand, at least according to this article) and therefore saw the piglets as part of her family, even without their sharp little striped jackets. The photos (which can be found using the link above) were apparently part of a publicity stunt by the zoo.

Whether or not putting piglets in jackets and tossing them in a tiger cage constitutes animal cruelty is perhaps debatable, but this isn’t the first time the Sriracha Zoo has received scrutiny for dubious behavior. Along with the circus attached to the zoo (a source of debate in itself), Sriracha has been accused of causing 23 tigers to die of bird flu by feeding them infected chicken carcasses (who would have thought it was possible?), as well as breeding tigers, without a license (a tiger-breeding license?), for export to China, where tigers parts are very valuable as ingredients for traditional medicine (a list of various tiger parts and their uses in traditional medicine can be found here. Kind of interesting).

The zoo denies any wrongdoing, although it seems they may have been better off without the tiger/piglet attention. Delightful.