Animals

Patches relaxes at the zoo.
NC Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo's popular polar bear, Patches, died on Sunday.

In recent weeks, Patches had become uninterested in food, and was lethargic, according to Ken Reininger, the zoo’s general curator. Tests revealed the female bear had an extensive lung mass which was likely cancer.

“In the wild the average life span of a polar bear is 15-to-18 years old,” said Dr. David Jones, director of the zoo. “Patches was 26-years-old. She exceeded wildlife expectations by living a long life.”

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has a new resident — an orphaned southern sea otter that was rescued from the California coast north of Monterey.

A red wolf
Joan Lopez via Flickr/Creative Commons

Wildlife officials are looking into what is believed to be the illegal shooting death of a red wolf in eastern North Carolina. 

State and federal officials announced the investigation in a news release Friday.  They say the radio-collared red wolf was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound last month in Tyrrell County.  It's the third red wolf to die this year from a gunshot. 

The first two deaths happened in January and March.  Seven other red wolves have died of other various reasons ranging from natural causes to being hit by cars.

Black Tip sharks feed on the coast near Cape Lookout.
Shark Attack News

A series of videos and photos show masses of sharks on the North Carolina shoreline. Two videos posted online this week show what appear to be blacktip and/or spinner sharks in a feeding frenzy near Cape Lookout.

The sharks are further ashore than usual, feeding in just a few inches of water.

Nancy Fish, with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, said it's a migratory season for fish, which can lead to shark activity closer to shore.

A champion tiger shark at a fish rodeo in 1988
Joel Fodrie / UNC IMS

Over the past 30 years, the size of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico has been shrinking. Drastically. Some sharks are 70 percent smaller.

The findings come from the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences.

Researchers came up with a novel way of gathering the historical data. While there wasn't any academic database that collected such information, local newspapers in the Gulf region have been publishing the results of fishing competitions for years.

Alison Moyer poses with Dreadnoughtus' neck bone, which she uncovered.
Alison Moyer

Last week, researchers revealed one of the biggest discoveries ever in the dinosaur world. "Dreadnoughtus" is 85 feet long, two stories tall, and as big as a jumbo jet. It's estimated to weigh as much as seven T. rex dinosaurs put together, and experts believe it was not yet fully grown when it died. Alison Moyer spent several months on her knees in southern Argentina using picks, dust brushes, and tweezers to uncover parts of Dreadnoughtus' skeleton. Moyer is a Ph.D candidate at N.C. State University. This was her first dig.

What was your role?

A few years ago, award-winning animal photographer Seth Casteel became an overnight sensation when his photos of dogs underwater went viral. What followed was a book deal that resulted in the New York Times best-seller Underwater Dogs.

Casteel's new book, out Sept. 16, is possibly the only thing cuter than Underwater Dogs: Underwater Puppies.

pigs
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals activists say they will ramp up their efforts to halt military training they say harms and even kills animals.  The organization is urging the Army and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to turn exclusively to modern training equipment -- such as computer simulators. 

PETA says the United States is one of only six NATO nations that still uses live animals in military medical training.  PETA's director of lab investigations Justin Goodman says it's the military's own study that reveals the dangers.

The Flight Of The Passenger Pigeon, Now 100 Years Extinct

Sep 1, 2014

The Cincinnati Zoo held a commemorative event; the London Zoo stopped the clock outside its bird house at noon. The object of their memorials: Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who died exactly a century ago at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Campers at the NC Zoo in Asheboro learn to use radio telemetry
NC Zoo

A dozen lucky kids tented overnight on the grounds of the NC Zoo recently. They were taking part in a one-of-a-kind summer camp. Carol Jackson tagged along with a video camera.

Usually when kids camp overnight at a zoo they look closely at the animals and learn from the keepers, or maybe the veterinarians.

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