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Posts tagged ‘Animal Kingdom’

Chinese president meeting Merkel, visiting pandas in Berlin

July 05, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel — and to check in on two giant pandas his country just sent to a Berlin zoo on loan. Xi’s visit Wednesday comes ahead of both leaders’ participation in the Group of 20 summit that begins Friday in Hamburg.

The leaders planned to talk over issues like trade and climate change and have lunch before heading to the zoo to see pandas Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, who arrived June 24. China on Tuesday also announced that it would allow liver cancer experts from Germany, the U.S. and other countries to join a medical team treating imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo — another issue that was likely to come up between Merkel and Xi.

Protest against bullfights in Pamplona before famed festival

July 01, 2017

PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — Around 400 people have protested bullfighting in Pamplona, a week before the city hosts its famed festival featuring dangerous bull runs. Holding signs that read in English “Bullfight Is Cruel” and “No Tradition Trumps Reason” in Spanish, the protesters marched Saturday through the city’s old quarter. The route included a stretch of the narrow streets that will be used for the bull runs that have made the San Fermin festival known worldwide.

Tens of thousands of partygoers from Spain and abroad come each year to Pamplona to witness or take part in the early morning bull runs, when crowds of runners risk being gored or trampled as they lead a pack of bulls to the ring where they will be used in bullfights.

The festival runs from July 6-14.

Berlin gives celebrity welcome to 2 giant pandas from China

June 24, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Two giant pandas — Meng Meng and Jiao Qing — received a celebrity welcome Saturday in Berlin from the German capital’s mayor and the Chinese ambassador after they safely weathered a long flight from China.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing flew the animal equivalent of first class, getting royal treatment on their 12-hour-flight from Chengdu in southwestern China. Their entourage included a Berlin veterinarian, two Chinese zookeepers and a bunch of journalists.

“They slept a bit, munched on their bamboo and nibbled on some cookies,” veterinarian Andreas Ochs told reporters at Berlin’s Schoenefeld airport shortly after the arrival. Medication for motion sickness was not needed.

“They did just fine,” he said. The German capital is going nuts over the impossibly cute bears, who will be presented to the public at Berlin Zoo on July 6. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also expected to visit the new animal stars ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Germany in early July.

“It was my personal wish to come and welcome our new residents,” Mayor Michael Mueller said. “We are delighted that Berlin has gained another fantastic attraction with these bears.” Jiao Qing, which means “darling,” is a 7-year-old male and weighs 108 kilograms (238 pounds). Female Meng Meng, which translates as “sweet dream,” is three years old and weighs 77 kilograms (169 pounds).

The pandas were taken from the airport to the zoo with police protection so they didn’t have to stop at any red lights. They also brought their own food on the plane — one metric ton of bamboo from China. Once they’ve chewed up all of that, the zoo will start importing special bamboo from the Netherlands.

The furry couple will move into a ritzy new nine-million-euro ($10 million) compound, furbished with Chinese-style pavilions, red lanterns, a climbing area and a mountain landscape. They will be the only pandas in the country, the German news agency dpa reported.

Expectations are high the two will have babies soon, even though Ochs warned that Meng Meng is not yet sexually mature. The arrival of the black-and-white bears was preceded by yearslong bilateral negotiations, since giant pandas are unique to China and sent abroad as diplomatic envoys.

“In China, pandas are regarded as a national treasure,” Chinese ambassador Shi Mingde said. “Therefore the breeding and conservation of these animals is a top priority for us.” The pandas will be on loan from China for 15 years — a deal for which the Asian country is charging 1 million euros ($1.1 million) each year, dpa reported.

Berlin’s last panda, Bao Bao, was sent in 1980 as a gift from then-Chinese leader Hua Guofeng to West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Bao Bao died in 2012. Berlin’s most famous zoo animal, the polar bear Knut, died of a sudden illness in 2011.

Thousands in Madrid demand end to bullfighting in Spain

May 13, 2017

MADRID (AP) — Thousands of animal rights activists protested Saturday in Madrid to demand an end to Spain’s long tradition of bullfighting. The march went through the Spanish capital’s city center, with several groups united under one clear-cut message: “Bullfighting is violence and you can stop it.”

Animal rights activists say the gory fights are among the planet’s most blatant forms of animal cruelty, with bulls lanced and finally stabbed through the heart. Matadors are praised for killing with a single stab, though some don’t succeed in finishing off the animal with repeated thrusts.

The march, scheduled during the famed San Isidro weeklong fair featuring numerous bullfights in Madrid’s famous Las Ventas bullring, is part of a growing divide between those who see bullfighting as a blatant form of animal cruelty and others who defend it as part of Spain’s traditional culture.

Protesters also demanded a change in legislation under which animal cruelty would be subject to Spain’s criminal code. Spokeswoman Laura Gonzalo called for an immediate halt to all bullfights. “It’s time for all of society to unite and say ‘enough,'” she said, while questioning the motive behind recent governmental tax cuts to bullfighting events.

Spain’s deep tradition of bullfights was named part of the country’s cultural heritage in a law passed in 2013. Madrid’s leftist Mayor Manuela Carmena hasn’t banned bullfighting events, but she has eliminated annual subsidies for their promotion.

Wolves return to Denmark for first time in 200 years

Stockholm (AFP)

May 4, 2017

At least five wolves, including one female, have returned to Denmark for the first time in two centuries, a zoologist who has obtained DNA evidence said on Thursday.

The predators came from Germany to settle in western Denmark’s agricultural region, the least densely populated in the Scandinavian country.

Peter Sunde, scientist at the University of Aarhus, told AFP the wolves must have walked more than 500 kilometers (310 miles).

“We think these are young wolves rejected by their families who are looking for new hunting grounds,” the researcher added.

Scientists have established a genetic profile from the faeces of five wolves — four males and one female — but there could be more.

Sunde said researchers had suspected since 2012 that wolves had entered Denmark. “Now we have evidence (including) that there’s one female,” signalling the possibility of giving birth this spring, he said.

Proof was also established through the wolves’ fingerprints and video surveillance showed their location, which scientists refuse to reveal out of fear that it will attract hunters.

“We’re following that. The wolf is an animal we’re not allowed to hunt so we must protect it,” Henrik Hagen Olesen, spokesman at the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, told AFP.

Exterminated by hunters, wolves had been completely extinct in Denmark since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In other Nordic countries with a higher wolf population, culling the species, protected by the Bern Convention, is under a fierce debate between inhabitants, farmers, hunters, the government, the European Union and wildlife activists.

Source: Terra Daily.

Link: http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Wolves_return_to_Denmark_for_first_time_in_200_years_999.html.

Swedish cows in a great moooo-d as summer pastures open

April 29, 2017

DROTTNINGHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Despite a cold wind and chilling temperatures, spring has come to Sweden. At least, spring for the milk cows. In an annual event that warms hearts across the country, “koslapp” (KOOH-slep) — the cow release — has become a popular family outing for urban residents. That’s when the farmers of Sweden free their cows from the barns and stables where they have spent the long, dark, cold winter.

Dozens of dairy cows were frolicking and jumping Saturday on the outskirts of Stockholm, the capital. “I live in the city and it’s really nice to come out to the countryside,” said 37-year-old Linda Lundberg from Stockholm who attended the event with her friends. “It’s fun to celebrate spring together with the cows.”

In recent years, milk farms across Sweden have seen a growing number of people attending what used to be simply a big day for Sweden’s agricultural community. Last year, alone, dairy cooperative Arla Foods saw around 165,000 people flock to their farms across the Scandinavian country to watch the cows, frisky with excitement, race out into the sun and the lush summer pastures.

“We make a lot of people happy, both families and children,” explained Elin Rydstrom, 37, who has spent the past week preparing to welcome about 1,000 people at her small organic farm in Drottningholm. She’s noticed a real shift in people’s attitude toward farmers.

“When I was little, people would tease me at school and say ‘You smell like cows,'” she recalled. Now her children’s classmates come to the farm “and everyone thinks it’s really nice.” Media-savvy farmers are now turning to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to change the perception of their profession and to encourage people to reflect on where their food comes from.

“Snapchat allows me to bring the farm to the city,” explained 28-year-old dairy farmer Anna Pettersson. She posts farm-life photos on social media and answers questions from users, including about animal welfare, food production and the length of her working hours.

Pettersson told The Associated Press that she hoped social media will encourage people to better understand what they consume and the need to pay for quality produce. A mere 30 minutes after their release, the cows were settling into their new environment while groups of people elsewhere on the farm were searching for the best picnic spot.

“It’s something special to have a farm and to be able to do this,” Rydstrom said. “To show the importance of quality food and being out in nature.”

Scientists say ‘alien’ fungus threatens European salamanders

April 19, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Europe’s salamanders could be decimated by a flesh-eating alien species that has already wreaked havoc in some parts of the continent, scientists said in a study published Wednesday. Researchers who examined the impact of the alien invader — a fungus native to Asia — on fire salamanders in Belgium and the Netherlands found it to be lethal to the amphibians and almost impossible to eradicate.

The study published in the journal Nature Research provides a drastic warning to North America, where the fungus hasn’t yet taken hold. “Prevention of introduction is the most important control measure available against the disease,” said study co-author An Martel, a veterinarian at the University of Ghent, Belgium, who specializes in wildlife diseases.

The B. salamandrivorans fungus, which likely was imported to Europe by the pet trade — causes skin ulcers, effectively eating the salamander’s skin and making it susceptible to secondary bacterial infections.

Martel and her colleagues began studying the effect of the fungus in early 2014, four years after it was first recorded in Europe. Within six months, the population of fire salamanders at the site in Robertville, Belgium, had shrunk to a tenth of its original size. Two years later less than one percent of the distinctive yellow-and-black patterned amphibians had survived, according to the study.

Sexually mature salamanders appeared to be particularly prone to becoming infected with the fungus due to their contact with other individuals, preventing them from producing new generations. Furthermore, researchers found the fungus was able to form spores with thick walls that allowed it to survive for longer and spread further, including on the feet of water birds.

Other amphibian species, including newts and toads, were also susceptible, either making them carriers of the fungus or ill themselves. Finally, infected animals failed to develop an immune response that might allow some of the salamander population to survive and ultimately prevail against its new foe, which has already been detected in 12 populations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Conservationists in the United States are already monitoring wetlands for signs of the fungus .

“For highly susceptible species like fire salamanders, there are no available mitigation measures,” Martel told The Associated Press. “Classical measures to control animal diseases such as vaccination and repopulation will not be successful since there is no immunity buildup in these species and eradication of the fungus from the ecosystem is unlikely.”

In a separate comment published by Nature, Matthew C. Fisher, an expert in fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London who wasn’t involved in the study, backed the researchers’ suggestion that the only way to save Europe’s salamanders may be to keep a healthy population in captivity — at least until a cure is found.

“It is currently unclear how (the fungus) can be combated in the wild beyond establishing ‘amphibian arks’ to safeguard susceptible species as the infection marches relentlessly onwards,” said Fisher.

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