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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buzz off, this is OUR dinner: Angry wasps airlift ants away from their food


Angry wasp: Instead of finding his own food, the barb-tailed bully swoops in, sweeps them up and airdrops the ants elsewhere before guzzling their tasty haul himself

He should really mind his own buzz-ness, but this angry wasp's not going to listen to a tiny ant's terrified pleas.

Instead of finding his own food, the barb-tailed bully swoops in, sweeps them up and airdrops the ants elsewhere before guzzling their tasty haul himself.

Sometimes they return in greater numbers to reclaim the lost meal, biting and spitting acid at their resilient mugger. But the determined wasp just picks them up again and dumps them further away - and from a greater height.

And he's not the only one of his kind to use his superior size to muscle smaller competitors away from a feast.

Scientists at Victoria University, in Wellington, New Zealand, say wasps have developped the tactic to gain access to food they wouldn't otherwise have.

Determined: Sometimes the ants return in greater numbers in a bid to reclaim the lost meal, biting and spitting acid at their giant mugger. But the determined wasp just picks them up again and dumps them further away

They made the startling discovery by studying interactions between native ants and invasive wasps in South Island beech forests.

Videotapes taken at bait stations show that wasps frustrated by having to compete with ants will pick them up in their mandibles, fly off and drop them away from the food.

As the number of ants on the food increases, so does the frequency of ant-dropping and the distance the ants are taken.

For the ants, say researchers Dr Phil Lester and Dr Julien Grangier, the experience is the human equivalent of being thrown up to half the length of a football field.

The ants are not physically hurt but appear stunned by the drop and often do not return to the bait station.

The wasp, Vespula vulgaris, is on the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species and reaches the highest known density in South Island beech forests.

There, when competing for food, they dominate just about every animal except native ants.

'Despite being 200 times smaller,' said Dr Lester, 'the ants are able to hold their own by rushing at the wasps, spraying them with acid and biting them. Eventually the wasps get so angry they pick up the ant, take it away and return to eat the food.

Tactics: Wasps often drop the competitor from a great height which doesn't always hurt but they often decide not to come back

'The strategy works. It’s giving the wasp access to resources it wouldn’t otherwise have.'

Dr Grangier added: 'To the best of our knowledge this behaviour has never been observed before.

'Our results suggest that these insects can assess the degree and type of competition they are facing and adapt their behaviour accordingly.

'It’s a new interaction between a native and an invasive species and a wonderful example of behavioural plasticity.'

He says the wasps’ ability to tune their behaviour according to the abundance and identity of competitors could help explain why they are so widespread and invasive.

The research findings are published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, one of the world’s leading publications in the field of biological sciences.

Dr Lester says other data gathered during the research suggests that ants may actually attract wasps in the first place.

'Wasps seem to hear ants "talking". They have nerves in their antennae that pick up pheromones or communication chemicals given out by the ants. So it could be the foraging ants that bring wasps to the food resource. Once there, they adjust their behaviour according to the level of competition imposed by these ants,' he added.

source: dailymail

That's one way to pluck a pheasant: Incredible pictures show a bald eagle swooping to grab its next meal


Lunch on the go: Chris Bailey captured this amazing photograph of a Bald Eagle making a meal of a pheasant

This pheasant turned out to be not so plucky when a hungry bald eagle swooped down and took it away for its lunch.

British-born photographer Chris Bailey had been taking some snaps of a brace of pheasants in the snow when the large bird of prey ominously loomed into view.

In one swift movement it picked one of the bewildered birds up by the scruff of its neck with its lethal talons and flew off with it.

Stunned Mr Bailey, 54, tracked the eagle which carried the game bird to a quieter spot where it promptly made a meal out of it.

Mr Bailey captured the dramatic moment on camera on the snow-covered fields of South Dakota, US, where he lives and works as a service director for Ford.

'I was out taking some pictures of ring-necked pheasants and I noticed this bald eagle swoop down from out of the sky,' he explained.

'I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

'He came down and picked one of the birds up, flew around and returned to the same spot and proceeded to eat it in front of me and devoured it.'

Catch of the day: The eagle swoops to prize the bemused pheasant from a snowy South Dakota plain

Mr Bailey added: 'I was worried that I didn't get the pictures at first because the eagle flew away from me with the pheasant but when I later looked at the pictures I realised they were very good.'

'We have seen more and more birds of prey go after game birds. They are normally fish eaters but many of the lakes have frozen over in the cold weather.'

The bald eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus in Latin - has a wingspan of up to 96 inches, can reach speeds of up to 45mph and can live up to 30 years.

Its diet normally consists of fish like trout or salmon but it also goes after small mammals such as rabbits, hares, beavers and deer fawns.

Meals on wings: This unfortunate pheasant was plucked away from its companions by a hungry Bald Eagle

source: dailymail

When horses attack: The battle of stallion 'boxers' fighting for mating rights

By Ticky Hedley-dent

Hooves at the ready: These two stallions stand on their hind legs and prepare to throw the first blows in the annual battle for supremacy over the pick of the mares

Hooves raised and nostrils flaring, two stallions rear at one another in a timeless battle for supremacy. Spring has arrived on the blossoming plains where the horses live in wild seclusion — and with it, the mating season.

It’s an annual ritual among the herd in which its stallions fight to secure mates from the pick of the mares.

In these extraordinary pictures, the stallions, each weighing almost half a ton, stand on their hind legs like boxers preparing to throw their first ‘punches’ — fierce blows of their powerful hooves.

The battles are often bloody and charged with testosterone, but in the end one stallion will win his conjugal rights, while the vanquished must slink away and lick his wounds.

The victor will then typically mate with ‘a harem’ of eight or nine mares — a manageable number which ensures he can control them, while reserving the rest of his energy for chasing the other stallions away.

These pictures were taken by wildlife photographer Vedran Vidak, who has spent many days observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat of West Bosnia’s Cincar mountain range.

‘Since they live on their own without human interference, they truly accord with Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest,’ he says.

Heavyweight contest: Two stallions rare up onto their hind legs and clatter their hooves against each other in a bid to dominate the wild herd in the Cincar mountains in Bosnia

Brawl: A powerful bay horse goes to bite the other beast while using its front legs to jab its opponent's neck

‘Each stallion has to show off. He has to prove he is the dominant male and that his strength and perseverance are incomparable with any other.’

The herd of 200 horses has recently come down from caverns some 4,000ft up in the mountains, where they spend their winters to preserve their strength.

For it can be a bitter climate there, with the Bosnian landscape battered by ferocious storms and blanketed in snow from October to May. Yet still the horses have survived, even flourished.

It’s believed the herd was formed back in the Seventies, when villagers who had been working in Western Europe returned to the region with tractors and agricultural machinery — releasing their redundant workhorses into the wild.

At first, there were only a couple of dozen animals roaming together, but over the years the herd’s population has grown.

Kick boxing: A white animal battles it out with a black horse on the grass-filled plains after emerging from the deep valleys where they spend the winter

Life is easier in the spring and summer, when grass is plentiful on the plains. In winter, however, they must scavenge for what plant life they can find.

There are reports of horses being killed on the roads when, driven by hunger, they have come down from the high plains to lick salt — laid down to protect against ice — from the asphalt.

‘The horses’ existence is a rare phenomenon,’ says Velija Katica, a professor at Sarajevo University’s veterinary faculty.

‘It’s incredible that they have survived in such difficult conditions with little food and no veterinary care, in a region where winters are so severe.’

Shake hands: These two ponies touch together their front hooves as they nervously jostle for position

Still friends: A small bay pony rests its head on the back of its dapple grey friend in a break from the clashes between the larger stallions aiming to dominate the herd

Unfortunately, she adds, not all the locals like the wild horses. Many villagers
complain that they ruin their crops — which may explain some reports of horses being killed for dog meat.

Last year, however, a group of local nature lovers launched a petition to protect the herd, and officials in the nearby town of Livno have earmarked funds to conserve the animals.

They argue that the horses have become a tourist attraction, and that increasing numbers of people come to watch and photograph them every year.

According to Vedran Vidak, spring is the best time to see them, ‘when they begin to release the energy they have been storing over winter’.

It is also the time when you might just be privy to one of nature’s most thrilling displays: the battle of the stallions.


Otterly adorable! The tender moments of a mother and her dozing pup

By Daily Mail Reporter

Fast asleep: In this tender picture the pup looks utterly content as he floats along on his mother's belly

A mother otter shares a tender moment with her son as she carefully balances her dozing youngster on her belly while floating along the water.

It was in an estuary that she was spotted grooming and suckling her four-month-old child.

Eventually, her son dozed off while clinging to his mother for warmth. After a while the rare white otter rolled her boy into the water where he continued to sleep while afloat on his back.

With her son asleep, the mother took the moment of peace and quiet to dive underwater at Moss Landing, in California, and fish for clams.

Clinging on: Just like a human baby, the whelp enjoyed suckling his mother's milk before eventually dropping off

However, her efforts were interrupted when her youngster was taken away by the current and she had to keep breaking away from her fishing to tow her son back to safety.

Retired marine biology teacher Brian Maxwell captured the intimate moments while visiting an estuary with a friend.

The 69-year-old father of three, from Alaska, America, said: 'We were on a pleasure cruise when this really pretty mother popped up with her son.

'She was grooming him and he was suckling and eventually he just nodded off. It was quite cold so he stayed on her stomach to keep warm.

'It was amazing that the son was content to just fall asleep anywhere. They were really sweet and after a while the mother got hungry and rolled her son into the water so she could dive for clams.

'Her son remained asleep on his back while she went below the water's surface and came up with a clam that she would open and eat.

When the pup eventually dozed off his mother got on with some fishing, returning every now and then to check that her baby hadn't floated away

'However, in between her food runs she would have to grab her son and tow him back to safety because the current was pretty strong and kept taking him away.

'It was quite comical and a really special moment. The mother didn't mind us coming up quite close and she was there for about half an hour.'

Brian added: 'To spot a white otter is very rare so the incredible moment was made that bit more unique.

'In the end, the mum got about 12 clams and my friend and I were just relieved she was able to catch up with her baby before he strayed too far in the water.'


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

He's so dangerous trainers can't work with him directly... but SeaWorld puts Tilikum the whale who killed his trainer back on show

By Daily Mail Reporter

He's back: Kelly Flaherty-Clark, left, and trainer Joe Sanchez, work with killer whales

He has been involved in the deaths of three people, but today Tilikum the killer whale will resume public performances at SeaWorld.

The six-tonne whale has not appeared in a show at the Orlando marine park since he killed his trainer more than a year ago.

Tilikum is due to appear in an 11.30am performance of 'Believe,' the company's main killer-whale show, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

SeaWorld said that including the whale in shows is important for the animal's health and husbandry.

Tilikum, left and Trua, right, during a training session at SeaWorld in Orlando

'Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum's day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment,' Kelly Flaherty-Clark, SeaWorld Orlando's animal training curator, said in a prepared statement.

The 22-foot-long animal, twice as big as any of the Orlando park's other six performing whales and a prolific sire of baby whales in captivity

He dragged Dawn Brancheau, 40, into the pool by her pony tail and then thrashed her while she was in the water, as horrified spectators looked on.

A sheriff's office report said Brancheau was not in the water with Tilikum, but lying on her stomach on a platform submerged in a few inches of water.

She was nose-to-nose with the whale when her long hair floated into the animal's mouth and she was dragged in.

She managed to free herself initially, but the whale continued to strike and thrash her.

It happened shortly after a 'Dine with Shamu' show, and some guests were still in the area.

Killer: The six-tonne whale has not appeared in a show at the Orlando marine park since he killed his trainer more than a year ago

Since then, Brancheau's husband retained a Chicago law firm for a possible wrongful death lawsuit, though one has not been filed. A lawsuit filed by a New Hampshire couple who claimed their 10-year-old son suffered emotional distress from seeing the whale attack is still pending.

The whale was also involved in the death of a trainer at a British Columbia aquarium in 1991 and a homeless man who sneaked into SeaWorld Orlando's killer-whale complex after hours in 1999.

SeaWorld is currently challenging a $75,000 citation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, issued last summer.

It accuses the company of exposing its killer whale trainers to danger without adequate protection.

The agency also recommended that trainers never work directly with Tilikum again.

Flaherty-Clark said SeaWorld would be using the 'same methods in caring for Tilikum that have been in place for more than a year.'

These include placing trainers further away from the killer whale when working with him - they masasge him with high-pressure hoses instead of by hand for example.

They had also put guardrails around pool ledges and devices taht can quickly deploy safety nets in an emergency.

Banned: No trainer is allowed in the water with Tilikum because of his size and dangerous history

SeaWorld said it would be more changes in the coming months. These will include the installation of fast-rising, false-bottom floors in its killer-whale pools.

These floors will be capable of lifting whales and trainers out of the water in less than a minute.

Critics say the company is risking its trainers' lives by continuing to work with the killer whale.

'If you had a friend that had a dog that had mauled three people, would you go play with that dog?' Russ Rector, a former dolphin trainer in Fort Lauderdale who now opposes keeping marine mammals in captivity told the Sentinel.

'These people only care about the show. They never learn.'

Although trainers have not been allowed in the water since Brancheau's death, there are plans for them to return to working with the whales in their pools.

Officials last month said trainers in three of its U.S. marine parks would begin limited 'water work' with killer whales.

However no trainer will be allowed in the water with Tilikum. SeaWorld had banned water work with the animal even before Branchaeu's death because of his size and dangerous history.

The company had started some limited 'water desensitization training' - in which a whale is taught to ignore a human in the water - before the tragedy.

Dead: Tilikum is seen with trainer Dawn Brancheau. The whale dragged her into the pool by her pony tail and then thrashed her while she was in the water, as horrified spectators looked on


Lion regrets making this zebra cross... after he lashes out with a kick to his face

By Daily Mail Reporter

Take that! The hind legs of the zebra slam into the lion's face and jaw, leaving him dazed but he is soon after the animal again

It was like the scene from the hit film Madagascar when hungry Alex the lion sees his friend Marty the zebra as his next meal.

But as in the film this lion was left hungry after he chose to make this particularly zebra cross - and was rewarded with an almighty kick to the face.

These amazing images were captured from the safety of a truck in Ngorongoro Conservation area, Tanzania, by wildlife fanatic Thomas Whetten.

In them, the zebra, who was blissfully unaware that a pack of lions were on the prowl for lunch, casually strolls through the grasslands.

But hiding in the grass, one of the killing machines creeps up on the oblivious animal, who becomes spooked and bolts.

The lion's speed means he swiftly catches up with his potential meal, leaping on its back and sinking its teeth deep into the zebra's flesh.

Undaunted, the zebra desperately fights to save its life - ducking, diving and weaving to shake off the predator.

The end? The lion easily catches the spooked zebra and grabs onto the back of the desperate animal before sinking his teeth into its flesh

Ducking, diving and weaving: The zebra uses all its strength to fight off the lion before delivering the almighty blow with its legs

And with one big buck the zebra manages to catch the lion square in the face - knocking it to the ground.

Amazingly, the big cat manages to regain his footing and continue to snap at its legs as it flees - almost managing to sink a big bite into the zebra's rear end.

But after a high-speed chase, the lion is embarrassingly dumped into a muddy puddle - leaving him humiliated in front of a group of females.

Mr Whetten, from Tucson, Arizona, and who runs photographic tours of Africa said: 'We were all stood up in the safari jeep watching these two packs of lions when suddenly this zebra walks between both sets.

Not this time: The lion, with his jaws wide open and ready, makes a leap at the zebra's leg but he managed to escape its grasp

'He was completely unaware that they were even there and the lady standing next to me started screaming 'run zebra run' but it didn't take any notice.

'The next we know the lion is chasing him, jumps on its back but it managed to kick the lion into a big mud puddle.

'The funny thing is some people in another jeep got bored of watching the lions simply standing there and left before the action - missing it all.

'It was spectacular - even better than you see at the movies. It's very rare for a zebra to get away without being mauled at all.'

Best of friends... and enemies: The battle between lion and zebra invoked memories of a scene in the 2005 film Madagascar


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spanish Queen Sofia poses with twin six-months-old pandas Po and De De at the Madrid Zoo

Spanish Queen Sofia poses with twin six-months-old pandas Po and De De at the Madrid Zoo & Aquarium March 29, 2011. Twin pandas were born on September 7, 2010 conceived through artificial insemination in a joint effort by Spain's National Research council and scientists from China. The cubs are the first of their species to be born in Spain since 1982 and only the third litter to be born in Europe, according to Chinese veterinarian Yuan Bo, who travelled from Beijing to assist the birth and the first months of the newborns.

Spain's Queen Sofia (L) hugs a seven-months-old panda cub during her visit to Madrid's Zoo on March 29, 2011 in Madrid. The two panda cubs, Po and De De, born on September 7, 2010 in Madrid, are the first giant panda twins to be born by artificial insemination outside China.

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 29: Queen Sofia of Spain visits Panda bears at the Zoo Aquarium on March 29, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.

Seven-months-old panda cubs Po and De De play at Madrid's Zoo on March 29, 2011 in Madrid. The two panda cubs, born on September 7, 2010 in Madrid, are the first giant panda twins to be born by artificial insemination outside China.

Spanish Queen Sofia laughs as she plays with twin pandas Po and De De at the Madrid Zoo & Aquarium March 29, 2011. The twin pandas were born on September 7, conceived through artificial insemination in a joint effort by Spain's National Research council and scientists from China. The cubs are the first of their species to be born in Spain since 1982 and only the third litter to be born in Europe, according to Chinese veterinarian Yuan Bo, who travelled from Beijing to assist the birth and the first months of the newborns.

Seven-months-old panda cubs Po and De De play at Madrid's Zoo on March 29, 2011 in Madrid. The two panda cubs, born on September 7, 2010 in Madrid, are the first giant panda twins to be born by artificial insemination outside China.

source: daylife
photo: Gettyimages, Reuters

Yap happy! The rescued puppy who was battered so badly he couldn't even open his mouth


Ten-month-old Zippy is now on the road to recovery after undergoing an operation to correct his fused jaw

An abandoned puppy whose jaw fused shut as a result of abuse has barked for the first time after undergoing life-changing surgery.

Golden terrier Zippy almost starved to death after he was abandoned by an abusive owner with a broken jaw aged just a couple of weeks old.

The puppy was so badly injured that bones in his mouth fused together meaning he could only open his mouth 4mm and was unable to feed.

However, ten-month-old Zippy is now on the road to recovery after undergoing an operation to correct the problem, which means he can bark properly for the first time.

Diane McLelland, rehoming centre manager for the Dogs Trust, which is the UK's largest canine welfare charity, is now hoping someone will come forward to adopt Zippy.

An X-ray of Zippy's fused jaw before surgery. The puppy was so badly injured that he could only open his mouth 4mm and was unable to feed

She said: 'The injury to Zippy's jaw suggests that he suffered a serious trauma of some kind when he was no more than a couple of weeks old.

'He may have been kicked as a puppy and because he didn't receive veterinary treatment his jaw healed closed.

'This operation has transformed Zippy's life because he can now eat properly, bark and communicate with other dogs.

'He's such a happy, cheeky boy and would make a super companion for someone.

'Much of the fur around his jaw had to be shaved for the operation and we think his cropped look might be putting some people off.'

Staff are now hoping the lovable puppy can attract the attention of visitors and will find himself an owner.

Anyone who would like to give Zippy a home should contact Dogs Trust Snetterton on 01953 498 377.

Dogs Trust is the UK's largest dog welfare charity and cares for over 16,000 stray, unwanted and abandoned dogs each year.

source: dailymail

The lamb with an extra spring in his step: Five-legged 'Jake the peg' doesn't let his extra limb get in the way

By Daily Mail Reporter

Frolics: Five-legged lamb Jake the Peg doesn't let his extra limb slow him down

Ewe won't believe your eyes... this plucky spring lamb is frolicking about just fine despite being born with five legs.

The unusual creature, who has been aptly named Jake the Peg, was born last week with two normal hind legs and three front legs.

But the bizarre deformity hasn't stopped Jake leaping around his field in Newnham, Northants, with hundreds of other newly born lambs.

And he continues to baffle his owners by beating the odds - as most lambs born with deformities tend not to last long.

Bizzare: The unusual animal has two normal hind legs and THREE front legs. But despite the deformity he can get about just fine

Owner Pip Hopcraft said: 'He's a tough one alright - we've had more than 600 lambs born over the past few weeks and some are inevitably born with a deformity.

'However they don't usually last long. And it is especially uncommon to have a lamb born healthy with five legs.

'But Jake the Peg appears well enough and it doesn't seem to be causing him any problems.'

The little lamb was born part of triplets which makes it even more unusual Jake was healthy enough to survive with a deformity.

But Pip added: 'I'll be putting an elastic band around his extra leg today and it will eventually drop off.

'There is bone inside the extra leg but no bone attaching it to Jake so it wont effect him.'


Mechanical wonder: Robot bird mimics flight so accurately it could be mistaken for the real thing


Is it a bird? Scientists have invented a robot that perfectly mimics a bird's flight and could be mistaken for the real thing

One of mankind's oldest and most elusive dreams has been to recreate the effortless, swooping flight of a large bird.

Now scientists have invented a robot that not only perfectly mimics that flight, but could be mistaken for the real thing.

The SmartBird's revolutionary design allows it to start, fly and land autonomously.

Its wings not only beat up and down, they also twist at specific angles, providing the ultra-light model with 'excellent aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility'.

Radio-controlled: Steering is achieved when the SmartBird, which weighs just 450grams, moves its tail and turns its head from side-to-side

Controlled by a radio handset, it can also simply glide through the skies if left to its own devices.

Steering is achieved when the SmartBird, which weighs just 450grams, moves its tail and turns its head from side-to-side.

Inspired by the herring seagull, scientists at technology firm Festo control the up/down flapping motion of the wings by spinning two wheels inside the robot's torso.

Realistic: The SmartBird's wings not only beat up and down, they also twist at specific angles, providing the ultra-light model with 'excellent aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility'

Similar to the wheels on a steam train, these are connected by rods that in turn provide the wings with their flapping movement.

The angle of the wings is adjusted by using 'torsional motors' that point the wings upwards on the up-stroke, making the SmartBird soar higher, and point downward on the down-stroke.

A spokesman for Festo said: 'The minimal use of materials and the extremely lightweight construction pave the way for efficiency in resource and energy consumption.'

Bemused onlooker: But from a distance the SmartBird bears an uncanny resemblance to an actual bird

While undeniably impressive from a technological viewpoint, it is the SmartBird's uncanny resemblance to an actual bird that astounds.

From the ground it is easily mistaken for the real thing, so realistic are its movements and the flapping of its wings.

On closer inspection, of course, it is clearly a robot.

Festo - SmartBird

source: dailymail

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monkey misery: Inside the 'shameful' Thai theatre where guitar-playing macaques string along the tourists

By Chris Parsons

Cruel: A male macaque monkey, Kai Lek, holds a toy guitar while chained to a leash as a laughing tourist watches

At first glance it may appear like a harmless holiday fun, cute monkeys performing a succession of tricks for amused tourists.

The star performers at Samui Monkey Theatre bounce around playing musical instruments and interacting with visitors to their show in southern Thailand.

But these happy pictures disguise a different story - and scores of tourists have taken to travel website tripadvisor to describe their disgust at the appalling treatment of the animals.

The same male monkey continues to hold the blue instrument while clearly attached to a rope leash behind his back

Viewers of the show on the Thai resort island of Koh Sumui described the performance as 'shameful' and 'horrific' after watching trained and physically weak monkeys perform demeaning tricks while stood in their own excrement.

While some tourists appear to find the lengthy animal show hilarious, others vented their shock at what they saw inside the theatre.

Male and female macaque monkeys are made to hold small guitars and throw balls into basketball nets, all the time with rope leashes around their necks to minimise their movement.

Others are forced to interact with tourists and are abused and pelted with stones if they do no perform.

A monkey at the animal theatre in southern Thailand is made to perform a basketball 'slam dunk' from the bare concrete floor of his enclosure

'Shameful': Another male macaque monkey is made to shake hands with a tourist during the Monkey Theatre 'performance'

Tourists who see the Monkey Theatre show are allowed to feed the animals, although several have since told how the monkeys they fed 'looked like they hadn't seen food for days'.

One outraged British visitor, 'PhatButcher', gave the 'attraction' a one-star rating on tripadvisor, writing: 'Myself and my girlfriend went to Monkey Theatre not really knowing what to expect.

'Whilst walking round the streets of Koh Samui and getting approached by numerous locals offering to take our pictures with so called 'tame monkeys' (probably sedated) we maybe should have followed our instincts in that on the whole animal welfare is not high on the agenda in Thailand.

'But surely a Monkey Theatre, making their living from monkeys and showcasing them to the public would be different.

'Surely it would be in their interests to care for the monkeys and have an interest in conservation. WRONG!!!

'It was one of the most appalling places I have visited.

'There is a cute little monkey convieniently (sic) placed at the entrance for you to play with and feed bananas but what followed was nothing short of horrific.

'The monkeys were held in painfully small bare concrete cages that obviously hadn't been cleaned in a very long time as the floor was covered in their own excrement.

'Further down the line of cages were some older monkeys each in individual cages that were nothing short of prison cells with thick iron bars, concrete walls and a carpet of excrement.'

The 90-minute show is described on a Thai tourism website as 'highly amusing' and a 'great place to take kids', with monkeys completing three performances each day.

But viewers have demanded refunds from the event and have been largely disgusted by the conditions the monkeys live in.

Another user on tripadvisor, 'wilystoat', wrote: 'I went here out of curiosity to see how well or otherwise the animals were kept, and was appalled at what I found.

'As I very gently approached each cage the monkeys would retreat to the back of their cages and cower, which suggests that they're used to being badly treated.

'As for the 'show' it consists of a male and a female monkey being made to carry out ridiculous demeaning tasks which are an insult to these creatures. They both look dreadfully miserable throughout.'

The show's organiser, monkey 'teacher' Prawat Rukduang, seen here kissing one of his monkeys, has dismissed the complaints of horrified tourists who have seen the show

Internet users claimed that when they approached management at Monkey Theatre to complain about the animals' cramped conditions and treatment, they were told the monkeys 'sleep that way in the wild' or that they looked miserable and underfed because they were 'old'.

'ShinerCork', another British traveller who witnessed the show, said: 'I just wanted to let anyone who is travelling to Koh Samui know about the monkey theatre there. I was there a few weeks ago with my family and it nearly reduced me to tears.

'The monkeys are in cages and as soon as you approach they are screeching for food.

'I know animals will always take food that is offered but it seemed like they really depended on the tourists to feed them. They grabbed the bananas and nuts like they hadn't seen food for days.

'There were some monkeys in cages at the end of the row and they looked really sick. One was literally skin and bone, when my sister in law asked what was wrong with him she was told that he was old.

'Doesn't sound like a reasonable explanation to me.'

Koh Samui is one of Thailand's most popular resorts and is the country's third biggest island.


How two baby lions survived their mother's death, a raging civil war and 'cubnap'


Rare: The two tiny cubs are believed to be Berbera lions

Their mother was shot and they were driven through a raging civil war, destined to be pets in the Middle East - until Somali authorities intervened to save two lion cubs smuggled aboard a ship in the chaotic country's port.

The two tiny cubs, a brother and sister, are believed to be rare Berbera lions because of their spotted coats.

They were confiscated four weeks ago after Mogadishu's port manager reported his suspicions to Bancroft, an organization which is training African Union peacekeepers in the war-ravaged Somali capital.

The pair survived their mother being shot shot, civil war and attempts to smuggle them to the Middle East

It's not the first time animals have been spotted in the hands of traffickers, but it is the first time they have been confiscated, said Richard Bailey, who works in Mogadishu for Albany Associates.

Trafficked animals are believed to be sent to private buyers in places like Dubai and the Far East.

Bailey's company has a contract to help the peacekeeping force with public relations.

They are eating a whole goat every three days

Somalia has been mired in civil war for 20 years, and no one knows the extent of the animal trafficking trade.

The two lion cubs are now being cared for by Bancroft staff, who have suitable facilities and veterinary care because they provide teams of bomb-sniffing dogs.

Trafficked animals are believed to be sent to private buyers in places like Dubai and the Far East

Mike Stock, the head of Bancroft, said: 'The plan is that (Somali President) Sheikh Sharif will give them to (Ugandan President) Museveni until Somalia is capable of taking them back.'

He added that he had been in contact with the Smithsonian to see if the cubs could be involved in a scientific breeding program.

Bailey said the 3-month-old cubs are eating a whole goat every three days.

source: dailymail

King Kong! Photographer's optical illusion captures gigantic baboon crushing a car


Crushing: The huge baboon appears to use its giant arm to pound down on the car in front as it stalks around - but it is fact an optical illusion

The gigantic baboon bears down on the packed car, angrily pounding his clenched furry fist on the roof.

A scene from a spin-off version of King Kong, perhaps?

Or worrying evidence that mutant monkeys are on the loose in Britain? Well, no...

Thankfully, the image is simply an optical illusion.

It was taken at Knowsley Safari Park, in Merseyside, and the baboon was perched on the windscreen of photographer Chez Owen’s car with its arm out.

Split-second timing and the angle of the shot make it seem many times bigger than it is.

Mr Owen 34, was at the safari park with his wife, Alison, 33, when the amazing photograph was taken.

Happy snapper: Chez Owen, who took the photo on the safari with his family, said he 'couldn't believe his eyes' when he saw the picture

Damage: The wing mirror cover of the family's car was ripped off by the baboons and they also scratched the paintwork

The schoolteacher, from Barrow Ford, Lancashire, said: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when I reviewed the picture.

‘I’d only intended to get a snap of it on the car but when you look at it for the first time it actually looks like this king kong like baboon is about to crush the car in front.’

source: dailymail

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