The Critter Chronicle 2023-12-11
Newshound Enters Beta Testing Phase: Seeking User Feedback
Newshound, a new animal news aggregator designed by WikiAnimal contributors, has entered its beta testing phase, inviting users to explore the platform and provide feedback for improvements.
Newshound is an online platform designed to aggregate and curate animal news from various sources on the internet. The beta testing phase marks a crucial step towards refining the user experience.
Unprecedented Drought and Climate Change Blamed for Alarming Spike in River Dolphin Deaths in Brazilian Amazon
In a concerning development, a total of 153 river dolphins have been discovered lifeless in and around Lake Tefé, a central region of the Brazilian Amazon, since September. This staggering figure accounts for 10% of the local dolphin population. Scientists are diligently investigating the root cause of this alarming phenomenon, with preliminary findings pointing to an unprecedented drought gripping the area, considered the most severe in a century.
Appearance of Wallabies in Vietnam Triggers Investigation Amidst Concerns of $23 Billion Illegal Wildlife Trade Threatening Australian Fauna
In a rural area of Vietnam, the discovery of a group of wallabies has prompted calls for an investigation into the illegal trafficking of Australian wildlife. Local Vietnamese media reported sightings of three "small kangaroo-like" creatures in Cao Bang province, leading residents of Duc Long Commune to capture and turn them over to forest rangers. The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that authorities are verifying the origin of the wallabies to determine the most appropriate plan for their future. The marsupials are currently under the care of a rescue center.
- Newshound: Wildlife Trafficking
Wild Justice wins judicial review over Northern Ireland badger cull
The High Court in Belfast declared the 2021 decision to permit the culling of up to 4,000 European Badgers annually through shooting in Northern Ireland as fundamentally flawed and unlawful. The judgment, handed down on October 25th, concluded that the consultation process behind the decision was insufficient and failed to meet the standards of a fair and lawful consultation.
The controversial policy, aimed at controlling the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), allowed farmer-led groups to shoot free-roaming badgers with rifles. However, the court's decision has not only deemed this approach unlawful but has also quashed the entire policy. As a result, the Department for Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA) now faces the task of reevaluating its strategy to combat bTB.
Dominica to create world's first sperm whale reserve
Dominica is set to establish the world's first sperm whale reserve, covering nearly 800 sq km off its western coast. The protected zone aims to promote tourism revenue and contribute to carbon sequestration in the deep sea. The prime minister emphasizes the importance of the 200 sperm whales in Dominica's waters. The whales, facing threats from ship strikes, fishing gear entanglements, and plastic pollution, have distinct cultures and dialects. 
Bear Trapped in Tiny Cage Alone at Bile Farm for 20 Years Is 'Finally Free' After Her Rescue
Rescuers successfully moved Na, an Asiatic black bear, from a bear bile farm in Vietnam to a spacious sanctuary, marking the first time in 20 years that Na had the opportunity to make choices. Previously, she endured life in a small cage at the bear bile farm, but World Animal Protection, in collaboration with Vietnam's Forest Protection Department, convinced the owner to surrender Na. The bear was relocated to Four Paws bear sanctuary in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, where she now lives in a semi-wild habitat with 45 other Asiatic black bears. 
- Animal Hub: Bears
Japan whaling mother ship calls it a day amid industry stuporThe aging Nisshin Maru, a key vessel in Japan's whaling industry, has been retired after more than 30 years of service. The ship, originally converted from a pelagic trawl boat, played a significant role in research and commercial whaling operations. A modern replacement vessel is set to replace it next year, but the demand for whale meat has dwindled, casting uncertainty on the future of the whaling industry.
WSC Releases Global Whale Chart
The World Shipping Council (WSC) has introduced the WSC Whale Chart to address global concerns about accidental ship-whale collisions. This navigational aid provides information on governmental measures to reduce harm to whales from ships. It is freely available and regularly updated, offering seafarers critical coordinates and graphics for safe navigation in areas with whale activity. The chart aims to reduce the risk of ship strikes and protect endangered whale populations worldwide, with the WSC collaborating with various stakeholders to achieve this goal.
The UK Government has announced a new bill that would end the live exports of animals from Great Britain for slaughter or fattening. The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill was proposed on November 7, 2023, as part of the King’s Speech, which outlines the Government’s legislative agenda for the next year.
Dolphins Are Being Poisoned by Their Mother's Milk, Scientists WarnBaby dolphins are exposed to toxins, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and flame retardants, primarily through their mothers' milk, according to a study published in the journal Science of The Total Environment. These pollutants accumulate in the fatty blubber of marine animals and become more concentrated as they move up the food chain. The study, which focused on six mother bottlenose dolphins and their calves, found that the toxic chemicals were passed from the mother to the calf through the milk. 
Miami-Dade puts Seaquarium on notice: 45 days to make fixes cited in federal report
Miami-Dade County has issued a notice of default to the Miami Seaquarium, demanding repairs to address issues identified in a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report. The report had highlighted violations related to animal care and maintenance of facilities housing captive animals. The Seaquarium has been given 45 days to rectify the issues, as mentioned in the letter sent by the county's Parks department. The specific violations requiring correction were not detailed in the letter.
- Animal Hub: Captivity
Mosquitoes are driving these birds to extinction. With only 5 left in the wild, scientists are racing to save the speciesIn a critical conservation effort, scientists are racing to save the 'akikiki, a small gray bird native to Hawaii, from extinction. With only five of these rare birds left in the wild, the species is on the brink of disappearing forever. The primary threat to the 'akikiki is the invasion of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which are now able to reach the bird's cool mountainous habitat due to rising temperatures caused by climate change.
2,000 Rhinos in South Africa's Northwest Province Prepare for Release into the Wild
Northwest Province, South Africa, Nov 1 — A total of 2,000 rhinoceros are currently being readied for release into the wild at a secret location in South Africa's Northwest Province. These rhinos, previously owned by a private individual who could no longer maintain them, were acquired by the conservation group African Parks.
- Animal Hub: Rhinos
Rare Bison Sighted in Northern Thailand's Salawin Wildlife Sanctuary After 37 Years
THAILAND, October 30 – The Salawin Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Thailand recently captured video footage of a rare sighting of an endangered bison, known as Bos Gaurus, marking the first such sighting in 37 years. The sanctuary's staff had been diligently installing camera traps to monitor wildlife in the area, focusing on locations with abundant wildlife tracks and reported sightings. In the early hours of October, their efforts paid off when they recorded the presence of this elusive species, igniting hope for the bison's continued existence within the sanctuary.
New South Wales Government's Aerial Shooting of Wild Horses Criticized by MP Emma Hurst
SYDNEY, Australia, October 29 – NSW Upper House MP Emma Hurst has condemned the NSW Government's decision to initiate aerial shooting of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park while a Senate inquiry was still in progress.
The Animal Justice Party Member of the Legislative Council highlighted that the inquiry into the proposed aerial shooting of brumbies in KNP had been underway since August 2023, with 165 submissions received before the closing date of October 13.
Emma Hurst asserted that the ongoing inquiry provided a vital independent examination of the issue and its implications. She criticized NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe for not waiting for the inquiry's findings and showing, in her opinion, disregard for the democratic process.
- WikiAnimal Hub: Australia
University of Galway Rehomes Lab-Bred Rabbits, Sparking Animal Testing DebateGALWAY, Ireland, October 30, 2023 — The University of Galway has rehomed three New Zealand white rabbits, originally bred for laboratory testing. This move has been welcomed by animal rights campaigners who have long advocated for the humane treatment of animals used in scientific research. The rabbits were the first to be rehomed by the university, in accordance with legislation that allows for such action. This event has reignited the debate over animal testing in Ireland, with calls for increased transparency and a complete ban on animal testing for specific purposes.
- WikiAnimal Hub: Ireland
Legal challenge to anti-whistleblower law begins October 30
TORONTO, October 30, 2023 — A legal battle against an anti-whistleblower law, known as an "Ag-Gag law," is set to commence in Ontario on October 30. Animal Justice, a prominent animal rights organization, is taking Ontario to court to challenge the law, which bans animal advocates from conducting undercover investigations into animal cruelty at farms and slaughterhouses. This lawsuit marks the first legal challenge to a Canadian Ag-Gag law.
- WikiAnimal Hub: Canada
- WikiAnimal Hub: Australia
A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency has exposed how the global financial sector is profiting from traditional Chinese medicine firms using threatened species such as leopards, pangolins, tigers and rhinos.
Death of 12-Year-Old Orca at Marineland Raises Concerns Over Captive ConditionsAntibes, France, October 21, 2023 – Marineland, located in the south of France, has reported the sudden death of Moana, a 12-year-old male orca. A postmortem examination has been conducted to ascertain the cause of death, with initial findings expected in the coming weeks. However, concerns have lingered for some time regarding the subpar living conditions of all four orcas held at Marineland.
Orca at Moskvarium, Due to Give Birth in December
Moscow, Russia, October 19, 2023 – Moskvarium, the Moscow-based aquarium, has announced that Naya, a wild-caught orca, is 15 months into her pregnancy and is expected to give birth in December. The veterinary service at Moskvarium has confirmed that Naya's pregnancy is natural, possibly making Nord, who passed away in June 2023, the father.
Established in 2015, Moskvarium, at one point, housed three orcas, with Naya being the sole survivor. Naya was captured from the Sea of Okhotsk in 2014, while the other female, Narnia, also from the Sea of Okhotsk in 2012, died in January of this year. Nord, the male orca, was wild-caught off Sakhalin Island. All these orcas were captured from the wild.
Is Aussie icon the koala next on the extinction list?
Australia, Oct, 19, 2023 — New research highlights the significant threats facing koala survival in Australia, with cars, chlamydia, and canine attacks emerging as the primary culprits. Between 2009 and 2014, 52 percent of documented wild koala fatalities were attributed to car strikes, 34 percent were linked to chlamydia-related diseases, and 14 percent resulted from dog attacks. According to UQ Professor of Veterinary Science Joerg Henning, these figures are likely an underestimate, with an estimated 1,431 koala deaths due to car strikes, 943 related to chlamydia, and 395 stemming from dog attacks during the five-year period.
- WikiAnimal Hub: Australia
FALLS CHURCH, Va., Oct 16, 2023 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the decision to delist 21 species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to their unfortunate extinction. After meticulous evaluations grounded in the best available scientific data, the Service concluded that these species are indeed extinct and should therefore no longer remain under the protection of the ESA. It is notable that most of these species were originally added to the ESA during the 1970s and 1980s when their numbers were already alarmingly low or when they were presumed to be extinct.
Record-breaking Year for Turtle Nesting in Little Cayman
Little Cayman, October 18, 2023 — Little Cayman is witnessing a remarkable year for turtle nesting, with 986 nests documented and over 60,000 hatchlings successfully reaching the sea. The Department of Environment's sea turtle program manager, Jane Hardwick, expressed her enthusiasm for the continued increase in turtle numbers.
October 13, 2023 — The waters around Antarctica are emerging as a battleground between industry and activists as advances in technology and new demand for krill as a dietary supplement drive more and more fishing of the shrimp-like crustacean.
NOAA Confirms Kidney Failure as Cause of Death for Orca Tokitae
SEATTLE, October 13, 2023 — NOAA Fisheries, the authority overseeing the public display of captive orcas in the United States, has officially documented the cause of death for Lolita (Tokitae) as kidney failure. Questions surrounding Tokitae's demise persist, as her caregivers had previously reported improvements in her health. Less than a week before her passing, the Miami Seaquarium had released a video in which a member of her care team stated that Tokitae showed no signs of slowing down and even appeared to be in better health than ever.
Federal Wildlife Officials Consider Reclassifying Florida Manatee from Threatened to EndangeredUSA, October 13, 2023 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently evaluating a petition submitted by environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic, Miami Waterkeeper, Save the Manatee Club, and Frank S. González García, to potentially reclassify the Florida Manatee, specifically the West Indian manatee, from a threatened to an endangered species.
The announcement comes in response to a significant increase in manatee deaths in recent years. In 2021, a record 1,100 manatees perished in Florida, with an additional 800 casualties reported in 2022, many of which were attributed to starvation due to a lack of seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon.
- WikiAnimal Hub: USA
Malaysia's Wildlife Department Use Puppies as Live Bait in Panther Capture
MALAYSIA, October 12, 2023 – Malaysia's Wildlife Department is facing scrutiny and protests from animal rights groups for its use of puppies as live bait to capture black panthers that were spotted near a village in southern Negeri Sembilan state. The controversy arose after villagers lodged a complaint with the department following an incident where a panther mauled a dog at a fruit orchard.
European Parliament Examines Petition for Fur Ban
BRUSSELS, October 12, 2023 — The European Parliament is currently reviewing a petition advocating for a comprehensive ban on fur farming and sales throughout the European Union. This initiative, known as the Fur Free Europe European Citizens' Initiative, has garnered an impressive 1.5 million signatures from 18 member states and is set to be presented to the European Parliament by the committees on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and on Agriculture and Rural Development.
- WikiAnimal Hub: Fashion
Cruelty Claims Innocent Lives: Caesar's Tragic Tale Shines Light on India's Animal Welfare Crisis
INDIA, October 9, 2023 – Caesar, a defenseless pup abandoned by his parents due to albinism and a growing leg lump, faced a harrowing ordeal on the streets of India. Constantly threatened by stray animals and heartless humans, Caesar's story is a poignant reminder of the plight faced by countless innocent animals.
Illegal Wildlife Trade Threatens One-Horned Rhinoceros in Assam
GUWAHATI , October 8, 2023 – The survival of the one-horned rhinoceros in Assam is facing a renewed threat from the illegal wildlife trade (IWT), despite a significant reduction in poaching cases, according to experts. In a recent incident, the Special Task Force (STF) of the Assam police arrested five individuals in Kaliabor town, Nagaon district, on August 23, after recovering a substantial quantity of rhino horns and other wildlife parts during a raid.
Earth’s Amphibians Face Extinction Threat, with 41% of Species at Risk
WASHINGTON, October 6, 2023 – A new global assessment of 8,011 amphibian species reveals a grim picture, with 41% of these creatures now threatened with extinction. This assessment, unveiled by conservationists, highlights the dire consequences of habitat destruction, disease, and climate change on the world's amphibians.
Racehorse "Hangin At Haven" Succumbs to Musculoskeletal Injury During Training at Golden Gate Fields
CALIFORNIA, October 6, 2023 – Tragedy struck again at Golden Gate Fields as racehorse "Hangin At Haven" became the fifth equine fatality in just two weeks. The California Horse Racing Board confirmed that the horse succumbed to a musculoskeletal injury during training on October 4th.
This incident follows the death of two other horses due to similar injuries, with "Navy Queen" on October 1st during training and "Great Story" on September 25th during a race. Additionally, there were two more fatalities within the same timeframe. "Weeping Willows" died on September 27th due to a "non-musculoskeletal" cause during training, while "Gardees World" died on September 20th, with the exact cause and activity undisclosed.
International Veterinary Team Urges Karachi Authorities to Reunite Elephant Madhubala with Sisters at Safari Park
KARACHI, October 5, 2023 – In a detailed statement posted on their Facebook page, Four Paws, an international team of veterinary experts actively engaged in animal care since 2021, has called upon the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to take action and permit the organization to rescue and reunite zoo elephant Madhubala with her sisters at Safari Park.
Rising Elephant Deaths: Odisha Loses 698 Elephants in Eight Years
BHUBANESWAR, October 4, 2023 — Odisha has witnessed a significant loss in its elephant population over the last eight years, with at least 698 elephants succumbing to various causes. Additionally, seven tigers and 48 leopards also lost their lives during this period, as reported by Forest and Environment Minister Pradip Kumar Amat in the Assembly.
US Zoos Face Potential Panda Exodus as China Reevaluates Agreements
WASHINGTON DC, October 4, 2023 — US zoos may soon bid farewell to their beloved giant pandas, as China appears to be reconsidering its panda leasing agreements amidst heightened tensions with the West. The National Zoo in Washington DC is set to return its three giant pandas to China in early December, with no indications of a renewal of the 50-year-old exchange agreement initiated by President Richard Nixon. Recent actions, including the conclusion of "Panda Palooza: A Giant Farewell," suggest a pessimistic outlook at the zoo. This move aligns with China's gradual termination of panda leasing agreements with Western zoos, as two other American zoos have already lost their pandas, and others in Scotland and Australia face similar departures with no sign of renewal.
Dolphin Deaths Soar in Brazilian Amazon as Severe Drought Takes Toll
SAO PAULO, October 3, 2023 — More than 100 dolphins have tragically perished in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest within the past week, with experts pointing to the ongoing severe drought and soaring water temperatures as the culprits. The Mamiraua Institute, a research group affiliated with Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, reported the discovery of two additional deceased dolphins on Monday in the vicinity of Tefe Lake, a critical area for local wildlife. Video footage from the institute displayed vultures scavenging the dolphin carcasses along the lakeside, while thousands of fish have also succumbed to the adverse conditions. High water temperatures, reaching over 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Tefe Lake region, are believed to be the primary cause of these deaths.
Endangered Sumatran Rhino Born in Indonesia's Conservation Area
JAKARTA, Oct 2, 2023 — Indonesia celebrated a conservation milestone as an endangered Sumatran rhinoceros, the smallest and hairiest among the five extant rhino species, was born in a protected area. The female calf, weighing approximately 27 kilograms (59.52 pounds), made her debut at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park, Lampung province. Covered in black hair, the newborn stood within 45 minutes of her birth and began exploring the jungle the next day.
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