Animals

(July 24, 2014: See the editor's note at the bottom of this page for an explanation of the story's new headline.)

When 12-year-old Lauren Arrington heard about her sixth-grade science project, she knew she wanted to study lionfish. Growing up in Jupiter, Fla., she saw them in the ocean while snorkeling and fishing with her dad.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET.

Social media has dubbed Arturo, a polar bear living in an Argentinian zoo, the "world's saddest animal," and more than 400,000 people have signed an online petition asking that he be moved to a "better life" in Canada.

Photos of Arturo, 29, looking distressed and lying flat out on his stomach that have circulated online prompted the petition. The bear's enclosure mate, Pelusa, died two years ago, the BBC says.

Love Motel for Insects: Eining Variation
Foto Mayer

There's a new establishment opening for one night only in Research Triangle Park. It's a Love Motel for Insects. Imagine several teepees lit up against the night sky - attracting area insects from far and wide.

It's a voyeuristic space. Once the ultraviolet light attracts the insects, people can look closely at them. Brandon Ballengée is the scientist/artist behind the project. An article in American Scientist Magazine provides some background:

This is an example of the style of graphic in the textbook
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Attention teachers and lifelong learners: noted naturalist and biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson has a new product out that just might make you swoon. It's a gorgeous high-tech interactive textbook series with full-color photos, 3D animations and interviews with working scientists. It's aligned with educational standards and it's free.

black bear
Casey Brown / Flickr/Creative Commons

Early Monday, officials were tracking a bear in the Five Points area of Raleigh. WRAL reported that information about the bear began to come in after midnight.

A mailman working in the area told WRAL News that a couple reported seeing the bear near a home under construction at the corner of Carroll and Whitaker Mill Road.

 

A picture of a baby olinguito.
Juan Rendon / Saving Species

Species are going extinct about 1,000 times faster than they should be because their habitat is being destroyed. That's according to new research led by Duke University.

Conservation Ecology Professor Stuart Pimm said the worse news is that nearly 90 percent of the species are unknown to scientists.

Loggerhead sea turtle
Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, Topsail Island

In the fall of 2012 a severely injured loggerhead sea turtle was rescued off the coast of North Carolina.

The loggerhead was brought to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Island, and then was transported to North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine where a team worked on her injuries. The team named the turtle Nichols and began to figure out the extent of the damage.

Gorillas
wunc

This fall the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro will ship its five gorillas away.  The decision was made after a recommendation from the members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Gorilla Species Survival Plan. 

Here’s the problem—wild gorillas exist in groups that include one male, two or three females and their offspring.  Two baby male gorillas were born at the North Carolina Zoo this fall, Apollo and Bomassa, and all was well.

But then the father, Nkosi, died in November, which left no adult male role model for the two young gorillas.   

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Rain forests are home to an incredible variety of species. From cute olinguitos to slimy spittlebugs, scientists are discovering creatures all the time. The exhibit "Rainforest Adventure" at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences educates kids on rain forest diversity and conservation.

Sharks have looked more or less the same for hundreds of millions of years. But a newly discovered fossil suggests that under the hood, a modern shark is very different from its ancient ancestors.

Mother otter and 8 week old pup. March 2014
N.C. Zoo staff

It doesn't get much cuter than this. A baby otter at the North Carolina Zoo swims for the very first time:

The story behind this first swim involves 5 years of infertility, an anxious ten months, and a joyous birth day.

cougar kittens
NC Zoo - Still from video

Too cute for words. Kind of hard to imagine them growing into cougars:

A picture of cats
Jeffrey W www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/4544016041/ / Flickr

Orange County Animal Services is looking for ideas from the public to handle the pet-overpopulation problem.

Director Bob Morotto said many cats are "unaffiliated" with a specific owner and haven't been spayed. They have high mortality rates and can spread disease to domesticated cats.

Morotto said the coming warm weather means "kitten season" is around the corner.  That's when cats begin having litters on litters, causing the population to spike.

David Haring / Duke Lemur Center

Lemur couples with infants start to smell alike. Oh sure, they smelled differently before they had offspring. But pretty soon, the lemur lovers start mirroring each other's scents. Even their "scent-marking" odor begins to change. Researchers think the change in scent could be a way to mark territory, or it could be a way to advertise their relationship to all the other would-be mates.

The study findings are in the  February issue of  Animal Behavior.

Jeff Tiberii

The 'Greatest Show On Earth' arrived in Greensboro this week. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus has been performing for nearly a century. That longevity has led to some circus family traditions that cover multiple generations. 

Young children in strollers and on shoulders are trying to contain their excitement as they wait on the side of the road across from the train tracks in Greensboro. And then, at dusk, from over a hill come a few elephants and several horses.

catwarren.com
catwarren.com / catwarren.com

Cat Warren is a North Carolina State University professor by day and a superhero by night. Well, sort of. Her dog Solo is a cadaver dog. Warren takes him out to suspected crime scenes to help police find the bodies of the missing and presumed deceased.

The hobby started innocently enough as a way to keep Solo’s energy in check. He wasn't very well behaved, and he flunked out of obedience school a number of times.

“He was a singleton, so he didn’t relate well with dogs," Warren said on The State of Things.

Bubba the ram has been spotted several times in Durham in the past week. He's still on the run.
Steve Sbraccia, WNCN News

There’s a ram on the loose in Durham County whose escape tactics have outsmarted capture attempts by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, a man with a tranquilizer gun and a local veterinarian with a lasso. The animal was first spotted near Odyssey Drive in Durham on Monday afternoon, August 25, and is thought to be a either a Barbados/Mouflon sheep or a Toggenburg goat. Deputy Paul Sherwin with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office was one of the officers who responded to Monday's call.

A baby olinguito in La Mesenia Reserve in Colombia.
Luis Mazariegos

A new carnivore was discovered in Latin America.  Bradley Manning was sentenced for leaking government secrets while Edward Snowden was on the run for a similar crime.  And a look back at the March on Washington sparked a conversation about civil rights in the Middle East.  Host Frank Stasio discussed a wide range of issues and their common threads with the news roundtable.

Pittsboro resident Marielle Hare owns a dog, Oona, that she believes might have traces of Carolina Dog in her. She is interested in testing its DNA.
Marielle Hare

The first Carolina dog that I. Lehr Brisbin took home with him smeared fecal matter all over the back seat of his car. He found her at a pound in Augusta, Georgia in the 1970s, and despite strong discouragement from the pound’s staff (they said she bit everyone who touched her), he managed to wrangle her into a carry crate in his back seat, where “she immediately had a diarrhea attack,” Brisbin recalls. But he was far from discouraged.  Brisbin wanted to take her home because he thought there was something strange and special about her. She resembled some wild dogs he’d seen in the woods along the Savannah River. And Brisbin was starting to put together an exciting hypothesis about why there were wild dogs in the South Carolina lowland that looked and acted different from most others.

At the time, I. Lehr Brisbin was a biologist studying wildlife at the Savannah River Ecology Lab, a field research station of the University of Georgia in Aiken, South Carolina. His research often took him into the 300 square mile wilderness of the Savannah River Ecology site. That’s where he first noticed the wild dogs.  They had long, pointy snouts, ears that permanently stood up and tails that curled back on themselves.  And their behavior, he noticed, was unusual, too. They dug small pits in the ground with their snouts. They hunted in packs and signaled to each other by flashing the white undersides of their tails. They moved as a pack, like wolves.  They were more like Australian Dingoes than European-bred dogs brought to America by colonists.  Brisbin hypothesized that the wild South Carolina dogs descended from canines that belonged to Native Americans, that the dogs’ ancestors had crossed the land bridge between Asia and North America with humans around 12,000 years ago.

The olinguito is the first new species of carnivore discovered in the western hemisphere in 35 years.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences

A North Carolina scientist is part of a team that's made a big find: the first carnivore to be discovered in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.  

The new animal is called the olinguito (pronounced oh-lin-GHEE-toe). But for the longest time, olinguitos were thought to be olingos, small raccoon-like carnivores that live in the Andes Mountains.

Baby gorillas “Bomassa” and “Apollo” with moms “Jamani” (second from left) and “Olympia” will both get a first-birthday party at the N.C. Zoo on August 3.
N.C. Zoo photo by Diane Villa

Baby gorillas Bomassa and Apollo, who were born at the North Carolina Zoo, have reached a milestone: their first birthdays. 

This male baby gorilla was delivered by C-Section at N.C. Zoo Sunday Acacia. A name has not yet been chosen.
Aaron Jesue

UPDATE: The North Carolina Zoo announced on Wednesday that the baby gorilla born to mother Acacia has died. They say that the cause is uncertain, although it is possible that the mother may have accidentally rolled over onto the the infant in her sleep.

The Secret World of Red Wolves by Delene Beeland.
www.delene.us

When most people think about wolves, they picture the large grey kind made famous in numerous movies. But its smaller cousin, the red wolf, faced extinction at one point. Preservation efforts managed to replenish the animal’s stock, and it now thrives in the wilds of North Carolina. Science writer DeLene Beeland tells their story in her book, “The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America's Other Wolf” (University of North Carolina Press/2013). Host Frank Stasio talks with Beeland in the studio

Little brown bat; close-up of nose with fungus, New York, Oct. 2008.
Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

An emerging disease known as White Nose Syndrome has wiped out bats across the Northeast, and now it's spreading in the North Carolina mountains.

Mass bat die-offs could have huge implications for the state's ecology and economy.

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