African Elephants Could Be Extinct Within 20 Years, Experts Say

Close-up of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) smelling
Wolfgang Kaehler—LightRocket via Getty Images Close-up of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) smelling with trunk in South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia

Illegal poaching for the ivory trade has crippled the elephant population

Experts announced a jarring prediction at a conservation summit in Botswana Monday: Unless the illegal poaching trade is curbed, African elephants could be extinct in the next couple decades.

“This species could be extinct in our lifetime if the current trend continues…, within one or two decades,” said Dune Ives, a senior researcher at Vulcan, speaking at The Africa Elephant Summit, AFP reports. “In five years we may have lost the opportunity to save this magnificent and iconic animal.”

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, between 2006 and 2013, the African elephant population has decreased from 550,000 to 470,000, and the number continues to drop. The steep decline in population is largely attribute to illegal poaching and the ivory trade.

TIME animals

Watch What Happens When a TV Presenter Interrupts Mating Tortoises

The explorer just barges in

This National Geographic video captures the moment when explorer and TV presenter Paul Rose and his camera man are “chased” away by a male tortoise that was caught getting ready to mate with a female tortoise. The incident took place on Assumption Island, which is north of Madagascar and part of the the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

This clip has racked up more than 1.6 million views since it was uploaded to YouTube.

It is unclear whether the encounter left the tortoise feeling shell-shocked.

TIME Britain

Harry Potter Owls Mistreated, Animal Cruelty Group Says

PETA has accused 'The Making of Harry Potter' tour of mis-treating owls

The successful Warner Bros studio tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ has come under fire for its treatment of animals.

The Harry Potter attraction at Warner Bros Studio Tour London opened in 2012 and allows fans to tour the sets, sample Butterbeer and meet animals from the franchise, including Harry’s owl.

Animal rights group PETA has accused the tour of mistreating the owls that appear on the tour. After secretly filming the tour, PETA has accused the tour operators of keeping the “distressed birds… tethered in tiny cages for hours and forced to perform tricks.”

“Confining frightened owls to tiny cages where they can only chew at their tethers in frustration goes against every message of respect and kindness that J.K. Rowling’s wonderful books taught us,” PETA director Mimi Bekhechi told the BBC.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London told the BBC, “It is essential the welfare of the birds… is of the highest standard.” They also said that they had asked the company that owns the birds, Birds and Animals, to “review this matter.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Birds and Animals told the BBC, “The owls are always given regular breaks and closely monitored by a vet. Now that we have had the opportunity to see the footage, we have instigated a review of the issues raised.” They added: “We will take appropriate action to ensure that the birds and animals always receive the very best care.”


TIME animals

No Dog Has Ever Been This Fascinated by Carrots

This beagle is utterly mesmerized

It’s always fun to see what dogs will get really excited about. Maymo the beagle, for example, got super pumped when his humans tied carrots to the ceiling fan, creating a magical swirling universe of vegetables.

To be fair, Maymo is interested even before the carrots start moving. In the above video, he inspects them, considers biting them, sniffs them and watches them dangle for a while, all while they’re totally still. But then somebody turns on the fan and everything gets so much more exciting. He shows off some real ingenuity, too, climbing up on a table to get closer to the carrots.

In the end, Maymo is victorious. He manages to snag a carrot, which means he has beaten the evil swirling carrot monster and also gotten his day’s dose of vitamin A.

(h/t Mashable)

TIME animals

These Corgis Just Predicted the Royal Baby’s Name

Corgi lovers rejoice!

The online-betting site Ladbrokes organized a corgi race to encourage people to bet on the name of the next royal baby, due in April.

In the ad, 10 dogs are wearing pieces of fabric with popular suggested names for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s second child. Gamblers are also betting on the sex of the baby.

The corgi sporting the name Alexandra won the race. But while Ladbrokes hopes people will watch the video and then go online and bet on that name, we’re pretty confident dog lovers are only watching this video to see corgis frolicking and rolling around in the grass.

However, it remains to be seen whether this video will cause a surge in people betting on when corgis will become extinct.


TIME Television

The Game of Thrones Dragons Are Based on Chickens

HBO A dragon from HBO's Game of Thrones

A visual effects team used the musculature of poultry for inspiration

Suddenly, those dragons on Game of Thrones seem a lot less terrifying: the fire-breathing beasts are in fact based on supermarket chickens.

Visual effects team Pixomondo tells the Washington Post that they played with a chicken to understand its physiology while designing the dragons for HBO. “You could feel how the muscles underneath are moving and what are the restrictions, where the bone can’t go,” says visual effects supervisor Sven Martin. “We built our dragon basically the same way.”

As Daenerys Targaryen’s hatchlings grow over the course of the series (Pixomondo signed on beginning in season 2), the team had to make alterations to the design so that the dragons would be able to take flight.

Tune in for the season 5 premiere on April 12 to find out what has become of these chicken-dragons since Daenerys locked them in their cave.

[Washington Post]

TIME animals

This New Species of Catfish Was Named After a ‘Star Wars’ Character

Greedo from Star Wars
Lucasfilm Greedo from Star Wars

If this new species of catfish looks familiar, don’t be surprised—Peckoltia greedoi is named after Star Wars bounty hunter Greedo.

Researchers discovered the new species of catfish in 1998 in Brazil, but it had been catalogued as an existing species until 2014, CNN reports. When it came time to name the unidentified fish, they noted Peckoltia greedoi‘s uncanny likeness to the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope character.

“I think it was the whole package that evoked Greedo, but particularly the eyes and the underslung mouth,” said Jonathan Armbruster, biological sciences professor and curator of fishes at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, who helped name the species.

“As a 7-year-old kid, I watched “Star Wars” in the theater, and it was a life-changing experience for me,” said Armbruster. “Greedo has always been a personal favorite of mine.”



TIME animals

Endangered Hopping Mouse Caught on Film for the First Time

Scientists know little about the rare species

A rare Australian rodent has been captured on film for the first time.

The northern hopping mouse, a tiny creature with a 4-inch body and 6-inch tail that hops like a kangaroo, is endangered and extremely rare, Newsweek reports. Scientists know very few details about the mice. The rodent’s habitat is restricted to a small part of northern Australia, and its size, speed and nocturnal habits make it very hard to catch or study.

Rebecca Diete, a postdoctoral student at the University of Queensland, made it her mission to find and document the mouse. A year of obsession finally paid off when she encountered one on a large island called Groote Eylandt. Her video shows a female building an underground burrow.

Her research has helped fill in a lot of blanks about the species. Unfortunately, some of her findings indicate the little mice may have a much smaller habitat range than scientists estimated, making them more endangered than previously thought.


TIME animals

See Firefighters Resuscitate Unconscious Cats

Clackamas Fire District 1

After a blaze, they saved two cats with feline-fitted oxygen masks

These firefighters are rescuing cats—not from trees, but from smoke inhalation.

After extinguishing a blaze in Oregon City, Ore. on Monday, rescue workers discovered two unconscious cats on the second floor of the house, Clackamas Fire District 1 says in a press release.

The firefighters brought the cats outside and treated them with special pet resuscitation equipment—plastic, cone-shaped oxygen masks fitted to the animals’ size that funnel air to their lungs.

Both cats revived and were taken to the vet by the homeowner’s son.

The fire department carries its pet equipment on all calls, and stocks masks for cats and dogs, officials say. And this isn’t the first time the department’s machines have added to a feline’s nine lives: it’s the second time in two months that the equipment has helped revive cats.

TIME animals

Watch This Adorable Baby Elephant Have the Most Fun in a Bath Ever

It's like Dumbo before he learned to fly, only way cuter

Your dog or cat may hate bath time, but this baby elephant absolutely loves it.

In a video purportedly taken at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Kraal in Thailand, the lumbering calf half-dives, half-falls into a tub barely big enough for him … four times.

The way he stumbles around, much to the delight of his giggling audience, makes it seem like there’s an alcoholic content to the liquid in that tub.

The little tusker even grabs the hose in his trunk and playfully runs away, but not before leaving behind a rather nasty surprise.

Read next: Watch 2 Koalas Embroiled in a Herculean Wrestling Match

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