Wednesday

A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.

The Mexican wolf population once roamed Mexico and the western U.S. in the thousands but was nearly wiped out by the 1970s, largely from decades of hunting, trapping and poisoning. Commonly known as "El Lobos," the species, distinguished by a smaller, more narrow skull and its gray and brown coloring, was designated an endangered species in 1976.

Even today, only 130 Mexican wolves live in the wild and another 220 live in captivity, including 20 at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri.

A litter of Mexican wolves was conceived by artificial insemination in Mexico in 2014. But the birth April 2 at the Missouri center was the first-ever for the breed using frozen semen.

Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the center, learned for the first time Monday that the pup is a boy. He's gaining weight - now at 4.7 pounds after being less than 1 pound at birth - and appears to be progressing well, she said after an exam of the wiggly pup, which has not yet been named.

"He's big and strong and healthy!" Mossotti said as other wolves howled from a distance.


The center has collaborated with the other organizations for 20 years to freeze semen of Mexican wolves. The semen is stored at the St. Louis Zoo's cryopreservation gene bank, established specifically for the long-term conservation of endangered species.

A procedure to inseminate the mom, Vera, was performed Jan. 27. "The technology has finally caught up," Mossotti said.

It's a big deal, experts say, because using frozen semen allows scientists to draw from a larger pool of genes, even from wolves that have died. Mossotti said it's possible the new pup will eventually be moved to the wild, where it would feed largely on elk, deer and other large hoofed mammals. An adult Mexican wolf will weigh 60 to 80 pounds.


The Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona starting in 1998, though the effort has been hurt by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics. Many of the wolves in the wild have genetic ties to the suburban St. Louis center.

The nonprofit was founded in 1971 by zoologist Marlin Perkins, a St. Louis native best known as the host of TV's "Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom." Perkins died in 1986. Mossotti said wolves are a "keystone" species that play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. She said the caricature of the "Big, Bad Wolf" is a myth about an animal that actually shuns humans.
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Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday.

The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet.

The earliest widely accepted evidence of people in the Americas is less than 15,000 years old. Genetic studies strongly support the idea that those people were the ancestors of living Native Americans, arriving in North America from Asia.

If humans actually were in North America over 100,000 years earlier, they may not be related to any living group of people. Modern humans probably did not expand out of Africa until 50,000 to 80,000 years ago, recent genetic studies have shown.

If California’s first settlers weren’t modern, then they would have to have been Neanderthals or perhaps members of another extinct human lineage.

“They present evidence that the broken stones and bones could have been broken by humans,” said Vance T. Holliday, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona. “But they don’t demonstrate that they could only be broken by humans.”

San Diego Natural History Museum paleontologist Don Swanson points at a rock fragment near a large mastodon tusk fragment. Photograph by San Diego Natural History Museum

For years, Dr. Deméré and his colleagues struggled to figure out how long ago the mastodon died. The scientists finally contacted James B. Paces, a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey, who determined how much uranium in the bones had broken down into another element, thorium.

That test revealed, to their surprise, that the bones were 130,000 years old. Yet the fractures suggested the bones were still fresh when they were broken with the rocks.

Two mastodon femur balls, one face up and one face down, are among the remains found at the Cerutti site in San Diego.

If early humans really did smash those mastodon bones 130,000 years ago, scientists will have to rethink how humans came to the Americas.

The oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans, found in Africa, date back about 200,000 years. The ancestors of Europeans, Asians, and Australians did not expand out of Africa until somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago, according to recent studies.
 Source National Geo

 A close-up view of a spirally fractured mastodon femur bone from the site.

A recent press release from Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) announced that the city council of Los Angeles voted today to ban the use of wild animals in entertainment!

 The motion, by Councilmember David Ryu, affects circuses, other wild animal exhibitions, and rentals for house parties. An official ordinance is being drafted and will soon be returned to the Council for final approval.

While other cities in the U.S. have taken similar action to prohibit the use of wild animals in entertainment, L.A. is by far the largest city to do so – and the fact that this municipality is known for its entertainers is certainly not lost on us.

It seems that after years and years of campaigns by animal activists, lawmakers and businesses are finally waking up to the harsh reality that animals do not exist for our entertainment.

The majority of animals, who are either taken from the wild or raised captivity, that appear in circuses and other attractions exhibit signs of deep mental and physical distress. A study by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) found that approximately two-thirds of captive elephants exhibit stereotypic behaviors such as head bobbing, weaving, and swaying.

These mindless, repetitive behaviors are thought to be outward expressions of anxiety and stress in captive animals. Sadly, bobbing and swaying are the better manifestations of this illness, aptly dubbed zoochosis, other animals have been known to over-groom themselves to the point of harm, throw or each their feces, or regurgitate their meals. Not exactly signs of happy animals.


In addition, the methods used to train wild animals to perform are nothing short of cruel. Many entertainers deprive animals of food to get them to perform on perfect cue, in addition, they use painful tools such as bullhooks (which incidentally L.A. had already banned) and whips to teach animals through fear and pain. Circuses and animal shows might be fun for us, but they are certainly not for the animals.


Luckily, it seems as if the tide against this cruel form of entertainment is turning. Thanks to the work of organizations like PAWS and the countless activists who have offered their voices to suffering animals, we’re seeing more and more progress towards emptying the cages for good. Ringling Bros. is scheduled to have their last show next month and we can only hope that this, coupled with the news that L.A. has voted to end animals in entertainment, will encourage more cities and businesses to do the same.
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A U.S. appeals court has lifted an injunction that temporarily prevented the federal government from releasing endangered Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico, but the state says the underlying case “will continue to move forward.

” Advocates said the ruling means the federal government is again free to release endangered Mexican gray wolves into the wild in the recovery area – in New Mexico, that means between Interstate 40 and the U.S.-Mexico border – despite the state’s opposition.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Tucson on Tuesday vacated a preliminary injunction sought by New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish in district court last year. The injunction was sought as part of a broader claim by the state against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s wolf program.

“While we’re disappointed in the court’s ruling, the case will continue to move forward,” said Lance Cherry, spokesman for Game and Fish, in an emailed statement. “We’ll continue to do all we can to show how unpermitted, experimental release of Mexican wolves by the federal government will be harmful to New Mexicans.”

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey said, “At present, we and our solicitors are reviewing the ruling. Until we’ve reviewed that ruling, we’re not making any plans on what to do with wolves immediately.”

The appeals court said in its decision that Game and Fish “failed to present sufficient evidence to support a finding that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction.”


In 2015, citing an insufficient management plan, Game and Fish denied the service permits it requested to release wolves bred in captivity into the wild.

Fish and Wildlife claimed authority to pursue wolf recovery under the Endangered Species Act and placed two wolf pups in a den in the Gila National Forest in early 2016 without a state permit.

Game and Fish subsequently took the service to federal district court and won the preliminary injunction.

The appeals court decision essentially gives Fish and Wildlife a green light to move forward with its wolf recovery program in New Mexico, according to advocates – even as additional litigation plods ahead.

“The ruling is noteworthy in pointing out that the Martinez administration was unable to articulate any harms from the wolves,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity in Silver City. “The decision makes clear that the Fish and Wildlife Service has the authority to do what’s needed to save the Mexican gray wolf and other endangered species from extinction.”

The service counted at least 113 Mexican wolves in the recovery zone in Arizona and southwestern New Mexico in early 2017. That was up from 97 wolves in the wild the prior year.
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This heartwarming video shows the moment a wild rabbit spotted a beautiful pet inside a house - and is immediately smitten.

In the clip, the pet rabbit - named Pep - is seen gazing out of the window.

As she peers outside, she eventually spots the wild rabbit sitting on the patio.

In the affectionate scene that follows, the two rabbits try to nuzzle one another through the glass window.

As the wild rabbit struggles against the barrier in front, it grows increasingly restless and scampers around the patio.

It then rears up on all fours against the glass, as it desperately tries to reach Pep.


The two rabbits then try to nestle up to one another through the window again.


After more than six minutes of their playful games, the wild rabbit eventually leaves the patio and in the final shot, Pep is seen staring wistfully out the window.
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