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animals

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Marine mammals that inspired ancient mermaid tales are now ‘functionally extinct’ in China

  • The dugong — a marine mammal that purportedly inspired ancient mermaid tales — has been declared “functionally extinct” in China due to the degradation of its habitat caused by humans.
  • On Wednesday, a group of researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences published their findings in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Royal Society Open Science.
  • They discovered that only 5% of 788 respondents reported previous dugong sightings, with the "mean last-sighting date" dating back 23 years. Three respondents claimed to have seen the marine mammal in the last five years.
  • “We are forced to conclude that dugongs have experienced rapid population collapse during recent decades and are now functionally extinct in China,” the authors of the study noted.
  • They believe that hunting combined with “the degradation of seagrass beds and accidental entanglement” have played a part in the decline of the dugong population in China’s waters.

The dugong — a marine mammal that purportedly inspired ancient mermaid tales — has been declared “functionally extinct” in China due to the degradation of its habitat caused by humans.

On Wednesday, a group of researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences published their findings in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Royal Society Open Science.

Dogs shed tears of joy when reunited with their owners, study suggests

  • Dogs shed tears of joy when reunited with their owners after being separated for a long time, a study published on Monday in peer-reviewed scientific journal Current Biology has found. 
  • Takefumi Kikusui, the study's lead author, said in a statement that dogs “shed tears associated with positive emotions." 
  • After seeing his poodle shed tears while nursing her puppies, he went on to conduct a study on how oxytocin plays a role in such a reaction. 
  • Oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” has previously been found in both dogs and their human owners during their interactions.
  • The recent study’s findings suggest that the release of oxytocin strengthens the bond between dogs and their human owners. They also suggest that there is a link between tear production and emotion in animals besides humans.
  • While earlier studies have shown that dogs release oxytocin naturally in the presence of their owners, this is reportedly the first time tear volumes and oxytocin have been studied in relation to owner-dog reunions.

Dogs tear up when reunited with their owners after being separated for a long time, a new study from Japan has found.

The study was published on Monday in peer-reviewed scientific journal Current Biology.

Dog dies after 2-day hunger strike following owner’s death

  • A village dog in China died two days after going on a hunger strike following its owner’s death.
  • The dog, who reportedly accompanied its owner for more than 10 years, spent two days refusing to eat, drink and move following the man’s death.
  • “The dog then went to my family’s old house and died there, which was also my grandfather’s unfulfilled wish,” the man’s granddaughter, surnamed Sun, told Chinese media.
  • Coincidentally, the dog died on its owner's birthday.

A dog in China tugged at the heartstrings of several Chinese social media users after it died while on a hunger strike following the death of its owner.

The man’s granddaughter, surnamed Sun, told Chinese media that the village dog accompanied her grandfather for more than 10 years since it was a puppy.

Elephant mom tries to teach her clumsy calf how to go down a slope in viral video

  • A video of a mother elephant teaching her baby how to climb down a small slope as he dives headfirst and clumsily tumbles down has gone viral.
  • The video, shared to Twitter on Wednesday, has garnered over 10.6 million views.
  • Twitter users were left amused by the adorable baby elephant’s graceless attempt.

An adorable video shared to Twitter on Wednesday shows a mother elephant demonstrating how to carefully climb down a small slope as her calf clumsily follows after her.

In the video uploaded by Twitter user @buitengebiden, the mother elephant can be seen slowly walking down the slope, dragging her two rear feet behind her after stabilizing her front two legs on the ground as she carefully navigates the decline without falling. 

Overworked elephant rips Thai owner in half

  • A 20-year-old male elephant named Pom Pam reportedly ripped his owner, Supachai Wongfaed, in half using his tusks in the Thai province of Phang Nga on Wednesday.
  • Supachai’s remains were recovered after authorities called Phang Nga Provincial Livestock officers to help them sedate the towering animal.
  • During their preliminary investigation, Takua Thung Police Station officers suggested that the hot weather on Wednesday drove the elephant to “go crazy” while it was forced to carry wood.
  • Rescuers reportedly used a dart gun to tranquilize Pom Pam and retrieve Wongfaed's body, which was later handed to his relatives for his funeral.

An annoyed elephant has reportedly ripped his owner in half using his tusks in the Thai province of Phang Nga after being forced to work under hot weather.

Officers from Takua Thung Police Station responded to a call about the elephant owner’s death at around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Tha Yu subdistrict.

Macaque caught on video peering into home as Japanese city continues to hunt monkeys attacking locals

  • A Japanese macaque was caught on camera clutching onto a railing of a door as it observed the interior of a house in Yamaguchi City, Japan.
  • Japanese macaques, like the one seen on the video, have been terrorizing and attacking locals in the Ogori district of Yamaguchi City since July 8.
  • Authorities noted the attacks have climbed to 58 people as of Wednesday.
  • While the macaques are a common sight on Yamaguchi island, the spate of attacks is unusual in the region.

A Japanese macaque, also known as a snow monkey, was caught on camera peeking into a home in Yamaguchi City, Japan, as reported attacks on civilians increase.

The macaque can be seen clutching onto a railing of a door as it observes the interior of a house for about 10 seconds before walking away. 

Wild cheetahs to be reintroduced to India 70 years after their extinction in the country

Cheetahs
  • Cheetahs were nearly driven to extinction in India when a maharaja — or Hindu prince — hunted down the last one in the country in 1952, nearly 70 years ago.
  • A new India-Namibia effort, however, may reverse the sins of the past and have the big cats roaming in the wilds of India again.
  • In a deal with India’s Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Namibia is scheduled to send over eight cheetahs.
  • India also plans to transport 50 more African cheetahs from South Africa, but no official agreement has been made.
  • Intentions of bringing more African cheetahs to the country has been in the works since 2010, with the plan originally being to get cats from Iran, where they have the same Asiatic cheetah. Iran refused, however, claiming it also had very few cheetahs left.

Cheetahs were nearly driven to extinction in India when a maharaja — or Hindu prince — hunted down the last one in the country in 1952, but a new India-Namibia effort may reintroduce the big cats back into the wilds of India again. 

India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change posted the announcement on July 20, stating that the Government of India and Government of the Republic of Namibia have “entered into an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity utilization, today, for establishing the cheetah into the historical range in India.”  

7-ton haul of illegal animal parts worth $18 million seized by Malaysian authorities

  • Malaysian customs officials seized a haul of illegal animal parts, including rhino horns, elephant tusks, pangolin scales and tiger bones worth around 80 million ringgit (approximately $17.9 million) at Port Klang, Malaysia, on July 10.
  • Malaysian Customs Director General Zazuli Johan said the seizure of the elephant tusks was the biggest in the country’s history.
  • Investigations into the illegal haul’s shipping agent and importer are currently ongoing.
  • It remains unclear if the container was to be shipped to other countries in Asia. However, conservationists have identified Malaysia as a major transit point from which endangered wildlife are illegally trafficked to other Asian countries, especially China.

Malaysian customs officials seized a haul of illegal animal parts worth nearly $18 million. 

The trafficked animal parts, which included rhino horns, elephant tusks, pangolin scales and tiger bones worth around 80 million ringgit (approximately $17.9 million), were discovered at Port Klang in Selangor state on July 10.  

4-month-old baby dies after being kidnapped and thrown off roof by monkeys in India

  • A 4-month-old baby from India was reportedly killed after being kidnapped by a troop of monkeys and dropped from a three-story roof.
  • A family of three said they were relaxing on the roof of their home in Bareilly, India, on Friday when a gang of monkeys came onto the roof and started harassing the trio.
  • The parents, including 25-year-old father Nirdesh Upadhyay, said they attempted to drive the animals off but the situation escalated.
  • The panicked father tried to flee towards the stairs with his newborn son, but the baby slipped through his hands.
  • One of the monkeys took the baby and threw him off the roof, leading to his instant death, according to the family.

A 4-month-old baby from India was killed after reportedly being kidnapped by a gang of monkeys and thrown from a three-story roof.

A family of three said they were relaxing on the roof of their home in Bareilly, India, on Friday when a group of monkeys, most likely macaques, came onto the roof and started harassing the trio. 

Monkey accused of attacking 14 people over 10 days sought by police in Japan

japan monkey
  • Police have set up traps and sent out patrols in Yamaguchi, Japan, to capture a wild monkey that has attacked 14 people in a span of 10 days in Yamaguchi Prefecture since July 8.
  • The monkey, described as 15 to 20 inches tall, invaded a home and badly scratched an infant.
  • In another incident, the monkey reportedly entered a local kindergarten classroom and scratched the left big toe of a 4-year-old girl on July 14.
  • A woman in her 30s was on her second floor balcony in Ogori when the monkey reportedly bit her back, right upper arm and right knee on July 15.
  • The district mayor distributed handwritten leaflets to inform the residents of the city.

Police are on a mission to capture a monkey who has attacked 14 people in a span of 10 days in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. 

The Yamaguchi Prefectural Police sent patrols to the Ogori district of Yamaguchi City after people were bitten or scratched by a wild monkey since July 8. 

Over 30 endangered sea turtles found with stab wounds to their necks on Japan beach

  • Okinawa Prefectural Police launched an animal cruelty investigation following the discovery of over 30 stabbed green sea turtles on a beach in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, on July 14.
  • The turtles were reportedly found with stab wounds to their necks and flippers, and many of them were unmoving.
  • The Kumejima Municipal Government and local police are currently investigating the incident.
  • The turtles were believed to have been stabbed by fishers after getting tangled in fishing nets.
  • “I disentangled some of them and released them into the sea, but I couldn’t free heavy ones, so I stabbed them to get rid of them,” one fishery operator reportedly admitted, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.
  • Green sea turtles are considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Japanese Environment Ministry.

Okinawa Prefectural Police launched an animal cruelty investigation following the discovery of over 30 stabbed sea turtles on a beach in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.

Employees of the Sea Turtle Museum of Kumejima rushed to the beaches of Kumejima island after residents reported dozens of green sea turtles found with stab wounds to their necks and flippers on July 14. 

Dramatic rescue video shows trapped elephant calf and mother saved from manhole in Thailand

  • In the pouring rain on Wednesday, Thai veterinarians and nearby staff rescued a mother-calf pair of elephants from a roadside drainage hole using a boom lift.
  • The incident took place in central Nakhon Nayok province where a one-year-old elephant fell into a large man-made crater.
  • The distressed mother initially stood guard over her calf but was shortly sedated after so rescuers could get to the baby. She too, however, fell in.
  • After the mother was successfully put back down above ground, using a truck-mounted boom lift, several park staff gently bounced on the mother’s limp body to try to resuscitate her in a form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • A digger proceeded to move some of the dirt around the squealing, panicked calf so it could climb out. It immediately returned to its mother’s side and began suckling.

In the pouring rain on Wednesday, Thai veterinarians and nearby staff rescued a mother-calf pair of elephants from a roadside drainage hole using a boom lift.

The incident took place in central Nakhon Nayok province where a 1-year-old elephant fell into a large man-made crater.