Posts Tagged ‘Gorillas’

Homosexuality Common in the Wild, Scientists Say

May 26, 2008

As gay couples celebrate their newfound right to marry in California and opposition groups rally to fight the ruling, many struggle with this question: Is homosexuality natural?

On this issue, Nature has spoken: Same-sex lovin’ is common in hundreds of species, scientists say.

Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, were a couple for about six years, during which they nurtured a fertilized egg together (given to them by a zookeeper) and raised the young chick that hatched.

According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others.

If homosexuality is natural in the animal kingdom, then there is the question of why evolution hasn’t eliminated this trait from the gene pool, since it doesn’t lead to reproduction.

It may simply be for pleasure.

“Not every sexual act has a reproductive function,” said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University who studies dolphins (homosexual behavior is very common in these marine mammals). “That’s true of humans and non-humans.”

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Baby gorilla good news for Calgary zoo

May 23, 2008

Zuri the gorilla delivered some much-needed good publicity for the Calgary Zoo yesterday: a new baby.

After a week during which the zoo has made headlines across the country over the mysterious deaths of 40 rays, Zuri’s little bundle of joy was welcome news.

The birth was especially good news for Zuri, a Western Lowland gorilla who suffered the loss of a previous baby in August 2006. That infant gorilla lived only 12 days because Zuri’s half-sister took the baby from her, but had no milk to nurse it.

Back then, Zuri was the lowest-ranking gorilla in the troop and lacked the confidence to grab her child back.

Now, it’s an entirely different story.

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Jenny, the world’s oldest gorilla, celebrates her 55th birthday

May 12, 2008

The world’s oldest gorilla celebrated her 55th birthday today with a four-layer frozen fruit cake and banana leaf-wrapped treats.

Jenny’s caretakers at the Dallas Zoo say she’s having a few joint issues and her eyesight isn’t what it used to be but she still looks good for an old ape.

“It’s a special milestone for us,” said Todd Bowsher, curator of the zoo’s Wilds of Africa exhibit. “It signifies that we’ve made great strides in veterinary care, nutrition and animal husbandry.”

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Cute animals ‘skewing’ extinction debate

April 2, 2008

Global extinctions are rarer than commonly believed and the extinction debate is too narrowly focused on pin-up images of charismatic birds and mammals, an Australian zoologist says.

Instead Professor Nigel Stork, of the University of Melbourne, urges greater focus on threats facing invertebrates and local extinctions.

Stork says statements about “100 extinctions a day” have become accepted, cited by organisations such as the United Nations and repeated in the popular media.

But Stork believes the science does not back this.

“The truth at the moment is we don’t have enough information to talk about hundreds of species dying out,” says Stork, the head of the university’s School of Resource Management and Geography.

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Rwanda’s silverback gorilla lodge

March 16, 2008

A 32 stone silverback is 7ft away from me. It’s majestic and magical – and, to prove it, I’m giggling uncontrollably. My shoulders are quivering, my eyes are streaming and all the lip-biting in the world can’t stop it.

I’m in trouble. Big, hairy, gorilla-sized, 7ft 6in arm-span trouble. Just a few moments ago, this giant ape was gazing benignly over his family and the lush landscape of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, but not any more. He turns his enormous head towards me, slowly and purposefully, like the turret of a tank swivelling to select its next target. And now he’s staring right at me.

The small part of my brain that’s not finding him funny starts to wonder what it’ll feel like when he rips my head off and my windpipe squelches in two. And all because, right here, right now, I’ve hit a stupid seam of mirth. I just can’t stop laughing.

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