Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Circus elephant escapes in Brandeburg

June 18, 2008

A circus elephant escaped from its pen in the German state of Brandenburg overnight, police in Neurippen said on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old animal seemed to feel at home with traditional German cuisine, taking time out of his journey through the town of Neustadt to test out potato plants in a local garden. A resident noticed the animal during its starchy snack and called the police.

Authorities had no trouble capturing the elephant, who returned to the big top without a fight.

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First beaver dam in England for centuries

June 13, 2008

A pair of beavers have built what is believed to be the first dam in England for centuries.

The animals were hunted to extinction in England and Wales during the 12th century and disappeared from the rest of the country 400 years later.

However, two beavers from Germany were introduced to a river enclosure in Devon last year.

This year, the pair have built a 6ft dam with mud, bark and twigs on the River Tale at Escot House, near Ottery St Mary.

John-Michael Kennaway, who owns the estate, has been working to reintroduce the animals on the site for three years. He said that the beavers may be rearing young, known as kits.

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Animal welfare group says eBay auctions in US of suspect ivory increasing

June 6, 2008

An animal welfare group says eBay auctions in the U.S. of illegal or possibly illegal ivory are skyrocketing.

In a statement Friday, the International Fund for Animal Welfare says eBay affiliates in Germany, Australia, France and China have nearly eliminated illegal ivory trading on their sites. The watchdog group says, however, that sales had shifted to North America.

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Honeybee Dance Breaks Down Cultural Barrier

June 4, 2008

Asian and European honeybees can learn to understand one another’s dance languages despite having evolved different forms of communication, an international research team has shown for the first time.

The nine species of honeybees found worldwide separated about 30 to 50 million years ago, and subsequently developed different dance ‘languages’. The content of the messages is the same, but the precise encoding of these languages differs between species.

Now researchers from Australia, China and Germany have discovered that the two most geographically distant bee species — the European honeybee Apis mellifera and the Asian honeybee Apis cerana — can share information and cooperate to exploit new food sources.

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Success By Learning: Smallest Predator Recognizes Prey By Its Shape

May 22, 2008

The Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus) is one of the world’s smallest mammals. It is about four centimetres long and weighs merely two grams. Being a nocturnal animal, it hunts predominantly with its sense of touch. Professor Michael Brecht (Bernstein Center for Computional Neuroscience, Berlin) now reported on the particularities of its hunting behaviour at the international conference “Development and function of somatosensation and pain” at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany. “As quick as a flash, the Etruscan shrew scans its prey and adapts, when necessary, its hunting strategy,” explained Brecht in his talk. “Thus, no prey escapes.”

The smaller an animal is, the greater is its loss of warmth over its surface. To avoid starvation, the Etruscan shrew has to constantly compensate for this life-threatening energy loss. Thus, it consumes twice its weight every day and feeds on crickets, cockroaches, and spiders. Since the prey are nearly as big as their predator, the shrew has to attack fast and well directed.

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Human Impacts, Climate Change Pushing Species to Extinction

May 22, 2008

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel Monday urged governments to take stronger action to protect the diversity of life. Opening the largest UN biodiversity gathering yet, Gabriel warned that the world is not on the right path to protect the diversity of species and said the world would not reach its agreed target of the year 2010 for reversing biodiversity loss.

Nearly 7,000 participants from 191 countries opened the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity in Bonn on Monday. Before the meeting closes on May 30, participants are expected to take steps to conserve and sustainably manage the world’s biodiversity in light of what UN officials are calling “the alarming rate of loss of species, compounded by the pressures from climate change.”

Gabriel called for a clear roadmap, similar to the one on climate reached in Bali last December, toward a plan to establish an international set of rules for biodiversity that would govern the providing of access and equitable sharing of the benefits.

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For Good Or Ill, Ireland Gains Another Mammal Species

May 6, 2008

Dave Tosh, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queens University, found the greater white-toothed shrew in Tipperary and Limerick while working with University College Cork and BirdWatch Ireland. Its natural range is in parts of Africa, France and Germany and before now the closest it has been spotted to Ireland is in the Channel Islands.

As part of his PhD, Dave was studying the diet of the Barn Owl in Ireland. Last winter John Lusby, Barn Owl Research Officer from Bird Watch Ireland, sent him pellets (regurgitated food remains) from owls in Tipperary and Limerick to help with the study.

Dave explained: “It was amongst a batch that I was about to dry in an oven, that I noticed a very large shrew skull.

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Roaring Bats: New Scientific Results Show Bats Emitting More Decibels Than A Rock Concert

May 3, 2008

Researchers studying the echolocation behavior in bats have discovered that the diminutive flying mammals emit exceptionally loud sounds — louder than any known animal in air.

Annemarie Surlykke from the Institute of Biology, SDU, Denmark, and her colleague, Elisabeth Kalko, from the University of Ulm, Germany, studied the echolocation behavior in 11 species of insect-eating tropical bats from Panamá, the findings of which are reported in this weeks’ PLoS ONE.

The researchers used microphone arrays and photographic methods to reconstruct flight paths of the bats in the field when these nocturnal hunters find and capture their insect prey in air using their sonar system. Surlykke and Kalko took this information as a base to estimate the emitted sound intensity and found that bats emit exceptionally loud sounds exceeding 140 dB SPL (at 10 cm from the bat’s mouth), which is the highest level reported so far for any animal in air. For comparison, the level at a loud rock concert is 115-120 dB and for humans, the threshold of pain is around 120 dB.

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Tropical Reforestation Aided By Bats

April 30, 2008

German scientists are engaging bats to kick-start natural reforestation in the tropics by installing artificial bat roosts in deforested areas. This novel method for tropical restoration is presented in a new study published online in the science journal Conservation Biology this week. Detlev Kelm from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin (IZW) and Kerstin Wiesner and Otto von Helversen from the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg report that the deployment of artificial bat roosts significantly increases seed dispersal of a wide range of tropical forest plants into their surroundings, providing a simple and cheap method to speed up natural forest regeneration

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Why puppy love can give your children a healthy start in life

April 29, 2008

Children run less risk of being sensitive to allergens if there is a dog in the house in the early years of their lives, scientists have found.

The conclusion, based on a six-year study of 9,000 children, adds weight to the theory that growing up with a pet trains the immune system to be less sensitive to potential triggers for allergies such as asthma, eczema and hay fever.

The “hygiene theory” of allergy holds that modern life has simply become too clean, meaning that babies’ immune systems are not exposed to enough germs to develop normally.

Having a dog provides enough dirt of the right kind, the new German study suggests. But it may be important that baby meets dog early enough to affect the immune system as it develops. “Our results show clearly that the presence of a dog in the home during subjects’ infancy is associated with a significantly low level of sensitisation to pollens and inhaled allergens,” said Joachim Heinrich of the National Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich.

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Cat Lovers Appreciate Soul Mate in Vatican

April 24, 2008

Their names are Shadow, Butch, Misty, Rusty, Sparky, Sunshine, Esther, Marty and Spunky. They are cats, some former strays, some tiger-striped. But to Jan Fredericks of Wayne, N.J., they are family, they are God’s creatures and deserving of compassion.

And in Pope Benedict XVI, Ms. Fredericks, the chairwoman of the fledgling American branch of Catholic Concern for Animals, believes that she has found a kindred spirit: Along with an enormous entourage and a message of peace, the Pope brought with him to the United States a lifelong love of cats.

Benedict’s kindness toward the strays of Rome is already the stuff of Vatican legend. His house in Germany, its garden guarded by a cat statue, was filled with cats when Benedict lived there full time before he was posted to the Vatican in 1982.

And Benedict is, without a doubt, the first pope to have had an authorized biography of him written by a cat — Chico, a ginger tabby who lives across the road from Benedict’s old house in Germany.

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Animals in transit get better treatment than passengers at Frankfurt airport

April 18, 2008

Frustrated and exhausted travellers at Heathrow have been complaining recently of being treated like animals, caged in the terminal with little to drink and taunted by snarling ground staff.

Little wonder then that Frankfurt airport, the main European competitor to Heathrow, has decided to make a point by treating its animals in transit even better than its pampered business-class humans.

The animal lounge in the airport is equipped with all mod cons – subtle lighting to simulate night and day, sound-proofing, organic food and hostesses who stroke on demand.

“We want them to shed the stress of air travel,” Marco Klapper, a senior keeper, said. “Today our passengers include a batch of 20 polo ponies, some cormorants, quite a lot of geckos and the usual dogs and cats. They’re all getting along fine.”

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Bikini Corals Recover From Atomic Blast, Although Some Species Missing

April 16, 2008

Half a century after the last earth-shattering atomic blast shook the Pacific atoll of Bikini, the corals are flourishing again. Some coral species, however, appear to be locally extinct.

These are the findings of a remarkable investigation by an international team of scientists from Australia, Germany, Italy, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.  The expedition examined the diversity and abundance of marine life in the atoll.

One of the most interesting aspects is that the team dived into the vast Bravo Crater left in 1954 by the most powerful American atom bomb ever exploded (15 megatonnes – a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb).  The Bravo bomb vapourised three islands, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees, shook islands 200 kilometers away and left a crater 2km wide and 73m deep.

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Fly Is At Home On A Crab, With New Evolutionary Neighbors

April 14, 2008

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany, have rediscovered Drosophila endobranchia, a fly living in the mouth of land crabs. The members of Drosophilidae, a family consisting of about 3000 species, are often referred to as fruit flies although most of the members feed on microbes. As microbes can be found growing on a wide range of substrates, fruit flies can accordingly also be found in a multitude of habitats.

One of the more bizarre choices of breeding substrates comes from Drosophila endobranchia. This species is one out of three known fruit flies that have found a home on (and inside) land-crabs. Although frequently mentioned in biology textbooks, the crab flies have somewhat surprisingly been neglected in active research since their description. D. endobranchia has actually not even been seen since its initial discovery in 1966.

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Zoo officials will reunite forlorn black swan with her paddle-boat love

April 5, 2008

The love affair was short-lived. Petra, the wild black swan who has become a minor celebrity, appears to be lonely after her mate, a white swan, has ditched her for another.

Zoo officials in Muenster, Germany, are going to reunite the animal with what appears to be the love of her life — a white paddle boat shaped like an oversized swan.

Sound strange? Not really, when you listen to the zoo director, Joerg Adler.

“We thought she was all set, when she and her new mate, a white swan, were building a nest together,” said Adler. “But then her mate decided to fly off seeking the company of other black swans. She’s swimming around in an agitated state ever since he ditched her, and we got to calm her down.”

What’s happening now may be the end of a long story that began in spring 2006, when Petra fell head over heels for a swan-shaped paddle boat out on Lake Aasee, located near the zoo in the city of Muenster.

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Berlin Zoo director accused of selling animals for Chinese medicine

March 22, 2008

The director of the world famous Berlin Zoo has been accused of overbreeding animals and selling the “spares” to be slaughtered and used in Chinese medicines.

Bernhard Blaszkiewitz is under pressure to quit following the criminal complaint by a leading Green politician that he allegedly illegally sold the animals for slaughter for profit.

He strenuously denies the allegations but they are now being considered by the Berlin public prosecutor who will decide on whether charges will follow.

A pygmy hippopotamus and a family of bears are cited among the animals that were allegedly traded to be killed. It was claimed they ended up at a Belgian slaughterhouse.

The allegations are a public relations disaster for the zoo following a huge rise in its profile over the past year with the celebrity of the polar bear Knut, the cub abandoned by its mother to be raised by human hand. Knut has turned the zoo into Berlin’s biggest tourist attraction and earned it £6 million.

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Knut the cute polar bear is turning into a ‘psychopath’

March 5, 2008

From this:

To this:

 

Knut the polar bear is a “psychopath”, experts warn.

The world’s most famous polar bear has become addicted to human company and will never mate, it is claimed.

The 13-month-old polar bear is Berlin Zoo’s most famous resident.

But zoologist Peter Arras described Knut as a “psychopath” to The Independent newspaper.

German activist Frank Albrecht said that animals born in captivity end up being divorced from nature and turn into hyperactive, disturbed freaks, because they become too dependent on man.

He said: “Knut is a problem bear who has become addicted to human beings.”

Knut caused a worldwide sensation when he was born last March.

But since then he has been at the centre of a major debate about the rights of caged animals.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at www.thecapstone.ua.edu, Sunday nights 8-10 central.