TIME animals

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a… Tiger?

A new $2.3 million open-air walkway gives felines more room to roam

It gets boring hanging out in the same place all day long. In an effort to increase big cats’ well-being while in captivity, on Wednesday the Philadelphia Zoo unveiled a 330-ft. long passageway designed specifically for its magnificent felines.

Amur lions were the first to strut across the Big Cat Crossing, which arches over the zoo’s main promenade and ends near a lake. But they won’t be the only cats allowed on the mesh-covered trail: lions, pumas, jaguars and leopards will all take turns strutting their stuff directly above visitors’ heads.

Giving zoo animals more room to roam is “enriching to their environment and their mental capacity,” Ed Hansen, CEO of the American Association of Zoo Keepers told the Associated Press. It’s also part of a growing trend called animal rotation, in which animals are allowed to inhabit different areas on zoo grounds in order to give them more stimulation. The Denver Zoo and the National Zoo in Washington have similar programs in place for hyenas, wild dogs and orangutans.

The Philly zoo already has separate trail systems for monkeys, lemurs and orangutans. Next it plans to let giraffes and rhinos sashay along the open air trails as well.

TIME animals

France Is Spending 3 Million Euros to Save These Hamsters

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Getty Images

These guys are adorable AND symbolic

The French pride themselves on their superior cultural life, the je ne sais quoi that’s kept them synonymous with glamour, effortlessness and savoir-faire. That ineffable French-ness extends to all citizens, including, of course, Europe’s last wild hamster—alternately known as the European hamster or the Great Hamster of Alsace.

Alsace’s regional authorities have launched a program to save the little rodents from extinction, pledging 3 million euros to encourage farmers to grow alfalfa (which the hamsters apparently have a very strong preference for), and thereby encourage reproduction.

This isn’t the first time the government’s had to step in to save the species: In 2011, the European Court of Justice ruled that France hadn’t done enough to protect the Great Hamster, threatening to impose fines of up to $24.6 million if France didn’t adjust its agriculture and urbanization policies.

Naturally, the hamster’s cause is symbolic of a larger struggle. As The Guardian wrote in 2011, “the humble hamster has come to symbolise the battle against urban sprawl and monocropped maize, which now occupies more than 80% of the Alsace plain.” All this for a 10-inch ball of fur that hibernates 6 months out of the year and spends the majority of its life alone. But they’re so cute!

TIME

Rooster Attack Leads to $20,000 Settlement on Long Island

The family of a girl who was injured by the bird on a trip to the petting zoo brought the suit.

A Long Island town agreed to a $20,000 settlement with the family of a girl who was injured by a rooster at a petting zoo in town, CBS New York reports via Newsday.

Kaylie Weiss received lacerations on her face from a rooster at the petting zoo in Smithtown’s Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in 2011.

A judge still needs to sign off on the settle, which was approved by the Smithtown Town Board Tuesday night.

[CBS New York]

TIME animals

Stick to Foodstagramming: Poachers May Be Following Your Safari Pictures

Geotagged safari pictures might be leading poachers directly to their prey

You might want to limit your Instagram activity to your brunch excursions. It turns out that geotagging the endangered rhinoceri you saw on Safari on has far darker connotations than letting your social media following know where you got that breakfast burrito.

A photograph tweeted by Eleni de Wet, a branding and marketing company owner in South Africa, suggests that geotagged photos are leading poachers directly to their prey:

While this image has only recently been making its rounds online, conservationists have been concerned about the dangers of geotracking for some time.

In a 2012 interview with the Sunday Times, a marketing representative of South Africa’s National Parks explained how poachers are using basic technology to kill endangered species. The method is to send a young couple on safari with a GPS-enabled smartphone, which they use to take a photo of the rhino,” Marc Reading said. “The exact co-ordinates are attached to the picture, allowing poachers to come in after dark and track the animal.”

The concern has also been raised by marine life enthusiasts who worry that taking a picture of a fish could make it a target of aquarium enthusiasts.

While technology can be a good thing for the preservation of wild animals—drones have been used to track poachers—it also has a darker side.

(Quartz)

TIME animals

Meet ‘Octogoat,’ the Goat With Eight Legs Born In Croatia

Oh, it also has both male and female reproductive organs

Forget about Octomom, because the coolest new Octo-thing is this octogoat:

This creature was born this week in Croatia with eight legs and both male and female reproductive parts, ITV News reports.

“I counted his legs and I thought I was seeing things,” Zoran Paparic, whose goat Sarka gave birth to the octogoat, told reporters. “Then I called my neighbour to make sure that I am not crazy.”

Veterinarians believe that the reason for the kid’s extra legs and sex organ is an underdeveloped twin sibling. They say it’s unlikely that the goat will survive, but if it does make it past the first week, they expect it to live for two or three years.

Clearly its name should be Octavio. Or Octavia. Whichever one it feels in its heart.

(h/t Gawker)

TIME

WATCH: Man Followed by Adorable Entourage of Ducklings

Make way.

The Entourage movie is still being hatched somewhere in Hollywood, but this man’s all-duckling entourage is already out in the world, ready to play, and way cuter than Vince, Eric, Turtle or Drama.

An unnamed Good Samaritan stepped in when a mother duck was killed, rescuing her 13 eggs and keeping them warm in an incubator until they hatched. When the brand-new ducklings emerged from their shells, they imprinted on the man and claimed him as their parent.

Now the 13 ducklings stick close to their ersatz parent, following him everywhere he goes. As the ducklings grow older, they will start to follow him less and less, until they become fully independent. Just like in the last season of Entourage.

MORE: WATCH: Dog and Disabled Kitten Play Like Best Friends

MORE: Inmates Train Dogs to Be Service Animals for Autistic Children

TIME animals

These Scientists Want to Breed Animals That Can Survive Climate Change

New breeds won't fry as quickly, researchers hope.

Scientists at the University of Delaware are working to breed more heat-resistant chickens to better survive climate change, specifically at the African naked-neck chicken. The bird’s lack of neck feathers helps keep it cool — a model for what it might take for an animal to thrive in higher temperatures. Theoretically, incorporating some of the characteristics of the African chicken in U.S. breeds could create a more adaptable bird—and more food in the long run.

“We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people,” Carl Schmidt, one of the researchers, told the Los Angeles Times. According to Schmidt, the hardier chickens could begin to be mass-produced within 15 years. As America warms up, they’ll certainly be useful, but the new animals are also relevant in the short-term for small-scale farming in Africa.

The experiment is one of the first attempts to kickstart evolution’s reaction to the climate catastrophe we find ourselves in. Too bad humans aren’t changing quite as quickly.

TIME animals

WATCH: Dog and Disabled Kitten Play Like Best Friends

They seem to get along purrfectly.

The latest animal friendship to go viral is one between an Australian cattle dog named Max and a kitten named Ralphee that wobbles because of a neurological condition called cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), which is caused by a cerebellum that is not completely developed. Watch the animals walk around in circles together — the dog seems to follow the cat everywhere — in a video produced by Wakaleo, which now boasts more than 1 million views on YouTube.

WATCH: This Disabled Piglet Named Leon Trotsky Gets High Marx For His Bravery

WATCH: How Internet Celebrity Lil Bub Lives with Her Bone Condition

TIME animals

Bear Cub Meant to Relax Students Before Finals Ends Up Biting Them and Sparking a Rabies Scare

Handout picture of a two-month-old bear cub named Boo Boo held by a student at Washington University in St. Louis
A two-month-old bear cub named Boo Boo is held by a student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in this handout picture taken April 26, 2014. Mary Gail Richardson—Reuters

Boo Boo the two-month-old cub recently visited Washington University in St. Louis. Luckily, it turns out the cub doesn't pose a rabies threat after all.

A Missouri petting zoo brought a group of animals to Washington University in St. Louis to help students de-stress and relax before their final exams. But one of those animals — an adorable two-month-old bear cub named Boo Boo — kind of defeated the purpose of the whole thing by biting and scratching several students. Because nothing facilitates relaxation like a good old-fashioned rabies scare!

The university had previously said that the cub would have to be euthanized in order to test him for rabies, but school officials now say that won’t be necessary, Reuters reports. Local, state and federal health officials determined that Boo Boo posed no rabies threat, and the students will not need treatments, according to a statement that the university released Friday.

Boo Boo either bit or scratched at least 18 students, university spokeswoman Susan Killenberg McGinn confirmed Monday.

But really, it’s no wonder so many students wanted to hold and cuddle Boo Boo in order to relax in time for their exams. Look at the cub:

Handout picture of a two-month-old bear cub named Boo Boo led on a leash by a student at Washington University in St. Louis
Mary Gail Richardson / Reuters

 

TIME animals

Bears Go Rock Climbing, No Harnesses Required

No Lycra in sight.

Unless you’re the Dread Pirate Robert, if you want to rock climb up the Cliffs of Insanity — or similar vertical incline — you’re going to need some gear.

That is, if you’re not a bear.

An eagle-eyed kayaker was paddling down Santa Elena Canyon when she spotted two bears shimmying up a rock wall without harnesses, helmets or ropes, proving that for the ursine set, it is possible to hit the mountain without stopping at REI first.

The YouTube poster identified the climbers as “endangered Mexican Black Bears (momma and cub)”. The mother bear managed the vertical climb with ease, but the cub had to make some impressive and daring spread eagle moves to scale the steep rock face. Give him a few years, though, and he will undoubtedly be able to make the climb with a picnic basket in one hand.

MORE: See One Man Perfectly Imitate 30 Different Animals

MORE: Giving Names to Cute Baby Animals Can Save a Species: Jane Goodall Explains

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