50 Shelters in 50 States received grants 


Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Foundation had a great fundraising year in 2015 and with your help is able to continue their Mutts Across America: 50 States/50 Shelters initiative.  A total of $175,000 was distributed to shelters in each of the 50 states in January this year, with the minimum donation to an individual shelter being $3000.  Miranda Lambert said, “When an animal finds a forever home, it’s not just life-changing for the animal, but for the family that gets to receive the unconditional love that animals give.  It means so much to me to be a part of that process.”
The MuttNation Foundation board worked diligently to find the most deserving shelters in each of the 50 states. The surprised recipients acknowledged the donations across MuttNation’s social platforms.  The Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue, responded to the donation, “To say I was shocked to receive your amazingly generous and kind donation would be an understatement!”  The Bella Vista Animal Shelter told MuttNation Foundation, “As the recipient for the state of Arkansas we are deeply humbled and enormously grateful for your support!  Our ‘cold noses and warm hearts’ give the MuttNation Foundation their sincere thanks.” And Animal Rescue Rhode Island thanked MNF for recognizing their, “exemplary work in the fight to end animals’ suffering and accelerate shelter pet adoptions.”
A lot of different criteria play a role in the decision to support these selected shelters, such as high adoption per intake rate, volunteerism, fiscal responsibility, advocating spay and neuter programs and a solid presence in their community.
MNF co-founder Bev Lambert added, “We feel so privileged to be able to continue supporting these shelters that truly stand out.  We salute all of the individuals who follow their passion to help animals and defend those who cannot defend themselves.”
 
MNF continues to support their partners in animal rescue at The American Humane Association and Northshore Animal League as well as Miranda's home town shelter, Pet Fur People in East Texas.  A complete list of the shelters that received donations is available at MuttNationFoundation.  MNF does not solicit grant applications.
 
 
ABOUT MUTTNATION
MuttNation Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization and all contributions are 100% tax deductible; it has raised over $2.3 M the past seven years. To donate please visit: MuttNationFoundation. Miranda and her mother, Bev, make every effort to ensure that your hard-earned dollars are going to spay and neuter efforts, medical treatments, adoptions, preventions, transportation, legislative changes, and education. By contributing, you are making a difference to end animal cruelty, neglect, and homelessness.
 
ABOUT MIRANDA LAMBERT: Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert is the reigning six-time CMA and six-time ACM Female Vocalist of the Year (the first time any female has won 6 consecutive years). The first single off of Lambert’s fifth studio album, Platinum, “Automatic,” was Lambert’s highest charting first week single to date and won CMA and ACM “Song of the Year”.  Her duet with Carrie Underwood, the album’s second single, “Somethin’ Bad,” has been certified as an RIAA Platinum Digital Single. Platinum, made history when it debuted atop Billboard's Top Country Albums Chart, making Lambert the first country artist in the history of the chart to have each of her five albums debut at number 1.  Platinum also debuted at the top of the all genre Billboard 200 as the number 1 album in the Nation and has recently been certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. With 11 career CMA Awards, Miranda has the most CMA wins for any female in CMA history. Her 23 ACM Awards makes her most awarded female in ACM history.
 
In addition to her award winning music, she dedicates much of her time to her MuttNation Foundation, an organization that supports shelters and helps pets find a forever home.  Visit www.MirandaLambert.com
for more information.
 
# # #

 
Sixteen-year-old Female Gorilla “Isaro” is the Mother – Part of Isabukuru’s Group of Mountain Gorillas
 
Mountain Gorillas are Critically Endangered – Less Than 900 Left in the World!
 
WHAT:
Today, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is excited to announce the arrival of mountain gorilla twins!  A rare occurrence, twins are unusual among mountain gorillas and this is only the third case recorded among the groups monitored by the Fossey Fund.  Unfortunately, two of the previous sets of twins recorded did not survive.  The twins were born on January 18, 2016 in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda to sixteen-year-old female Isaro - she is also the mother of 6-year-old Keza and 3-1/2 year-old Icyororo.  Gorilla mothers are completely responsible for infant care at this stage and even despite the increased energetic demands of nursing twins, she will not allow other group members to hold or assist in any other way.  The twins are part of Isabukuru’s group of mountain gorillas which now has a total of 21 individuals!  The twins will be named at the 12th annual Kwita Izina ceremony this year. 
 
 
WHY:
·         Roughly 25% of mountain gorilla infants do not survive their first year of life and we expect the rate for twins to be just as high if not higher.
·         Currently the group is in an area that is very cold and hard to reach. On Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, the group was seen near a lake in an area with an abundance of food - great news for a mother of twins!
·         Of the more than 270 births that have occurred in the Karisoke Gorilla Groups over the last 50 years, only 3 have involved twins.
 
WHO:
Established as the Digit Fund by Dian Fossey in 1978, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. For nearly 50 years the organization has monitored the endangered mountain gorillas-the only species of gorillas to have population growth in recent decades. The fund is committed to promoting research on gorillas and their threatened ecosystems and to helping the people who live near gorillas improve their health and quality of life to become stewards of their own natural environment.
 
Follow the Twins on Social Media & Online:
Hashtag - #gorillatwins
Twitter - @savinggorillas


Nonprofit Horse Rescue Group Leads the Fight Nationwide to Prevent Horse Slaughter and Protect the Public

SANTA FE, NM, February 4, 2016 - Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), a national nonprofit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education, in collaboration with the Attorney General of New Mexico, has obtained a court order that permanently ends any possibility of horse slaughter for human consumption at Valley Meat slaughterhouse in Roswell, New Mexico.

The court's order, issued by Judge Francis J. Mathew in Santa Fe today, is the culmination of three years of legal efforts by FRER, local residents, and the state to prevent horse slaughter in New Mexico.

The order permanently banning Valley Meat and any associated company or individual from slaughtering horses originated in a 2013 lawsuit initiated by the Attorney General's Office, joined by FRER and four residents of Roswell whose health, safety, and enjoyment were threatened by Valley Meat's operations. This suit successfully obtained an injunction against Valley Meat's horse slaughter operations.

FRER was the first group to discover that Valley Meat was applying to slaughter American horses, and FRER's investigations exposed the company's decades-long record of violating environmental and animal welfare requirements. Over the course of two decades, Valley Meat has accumulated more than 5000 violations of state laws protecting the environment, groundwater, rivers, and other waterways.

Among the most egregious of its misconduct, Valley Meat operated a cow slaughterhouse for nearly three years without any state approval to discharge water at all, thereby avoiding any oversight that might have helped monitor any damage being done. For years, Valley Meat illegally dumped and buried cow carcasses and pieces of dead animals, despite repeated requests from state regulators to cease and desist and clean up its mess.

"We have been working for years through the courts to stop the illegal, inhumane, and toxic practice of horse slaughter," said Hilary Wood, President of FRER. "This is a critical precedent in that effort because prospective horse slaughter operations will not be accepted by this state, and, with the support of other like-minded people, we will fight to ensure that no other American state allows the slaughter of horses for human consumption."

Facts:
• More than 135,000 American horses are exported for slaughter each year.
• The USDA has documented the abuse and misery horses suffered at U.S. slaughterhouses.
• Virtually all horses used for meat spend most of their lives as work, competition, or sport horses, companion animals, or wild horses, and are not raised or regulated as food animals.
• During their lives, owned horses are subject to a constant regimen of drugs and other substances which are either illegal for food animals, or are potentially dangerous to the health of consumers.

For over a decade, FRER has worked to prevent the slaughter of American horses, and intends to continue its efforts until the practice is permanently outlawed.

About Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER)
Front Range Equine Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education. Since 1997, FRER has assisted thousands of horses through its rescue and educational programs. Many of FRER's rescued horses are obtained directly from livestock auctions and feed lots, which without FRER's intervention would have shipped to slaughter. For more information see www.frontrangeequinerescue.org.
###

 

Review written by Jon Patch with 3 paws out of 4

The Choice

Lionsgate, Nicholas Sparks Productions and Safran Company present a PG-13, 111 minute, Drama, Romance, directed by Ross Katz, screenplay by Bryan Sipe and novel by Nicholas Sparks with a theater release date of February 5, 2016.

Eco Dog Care

5751 W Pico Blvd, LA, CA 90019

www.ecodogcare.com

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We started Eco Dog Care in 2011 after jumping ship from corporate America because we’d rather spend time with dogs and the people that love them. We offer Safe & Sound cage-free care for both big and small dogs, enclosed self-wash stations as well as Simply Great Baths and full grooming at our services business in Los Angeles.

As we developed our business, we looked for grooming products that were both eco-friendly and eco-smart. They had to be free of any toxins but also enriched with essential oils and botanicals that tap into Nature’s power to cleanse, soothe and protect. We decided to create our own products and introduced Simply Fresh, grooming spray, and Simply Clean, our signature shampoo in 2011 for our own wash services. Customer feedback led us to offer retail products in 2012.

We’re certified as a Green America business and proud to join a community of companies that share our values. We’re also proud to be active supporters of local rescuers and rescue groups and offer free or deeply discounted services and products to help dogs find their forever homes.

Karen Bond, Jane Bond

Eco Dog Care

   sisters since ‘62

partners since ‘10

Washington, D.C., February 1, 2016 -- For the first time, wildlife conservationists have confirmed that lions are living in a remote national park in Ethiopia, following a recent expedition supported by Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation. The discovery was made after an expedition into the heart of Alatash National Park in northwest Ethiopia, on the Ethiopia-Sudan border, led by Dr. Hans Bauer, a renowned lion conservationist working for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). See the complete report here.   

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “The confirmation that lions persist in this area is exciting news. With lion numbers in steep decline across most of the African continent, the discovery of previously unconfirmed populations is hugely important—especially in Ethiopia, whose government is a significant conservation ally. We need to do all we can to protect these animals and the ecosystem on which they depend, along with all the other remaining lions across Africa, so we can reverse the declines and secure their future.”

In this groundbreaking discovery, Dr. Bauer and his team found original and undisputable evidence of lions in the region—successfully obtaining camera trap images of lions and identifying lion tracks. The team also concluded that lions were likely to exist in the larger, adjacent Dinder National Park across the border in Sudan.

Alatash is a huge region that very few people have visited. Though lions are thought to have been present there for centuries, and locals knew of their existence in the area, the international community was unaware. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) only considered Alatash a “possible range” for the species.

Dr. Bauer said, “Lions are definitely present in Alatash National Park and in Dinder National Park. Lion presence in Alatash has not previously been confirmed in meetings at the national or international level.”

“Considering the relative ease with which lion signs were observed, it is likely that they are resident throughout Alatash and Dinder. Due to limited surface water, prey densities are low and lion densities are likely to be low. We may conservatively assume a density in the range of one to two lions per 100 km2. On a total surface area of about 10,000 km2, this would mean a population of 100-200 lions for the entire ecosystem, of which 27-54 would be in Alatash,” he added.

The African lion is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, with a declining trend throughout most of its range. Lion numbers are estimated to have declined 50%-75% since 1980 and the species only occupies 8% of its historic range across the continent. Roberts adds, “Lions were thought to be locally extinct in Sudan, so the new findings are encouraging. Now that the expedition is complete, the next step is to communicate with the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan and look at the needs for conservation in the area so that this previously undiscovered lion stronghold can be protected.”

The discovery comes as Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation have just announced Born Free’s Year of the Lion 2016 initiative and the 50th anniversary of the iconic film, Born Free.

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

TPR News
Saturday, Jan. 16, the 16th day of 2016.
There are 350 days left in the year.Crew:
Jon Patch - Host
Maria Ryan- Co Host
Zach Budin - Producer
Ben - Network Producer
Bob Page - Executive Producer
--------------------

HAPPY BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK TO BETTY WHITE, TIPPI HEDREN and LINDA BLAIR - we love you all ...

Conservation Speaker Series  (Saving the Birds of the Bay Area) at Oakland Zoo

Thursday, January 14th from 6:30pm - 9:00pm

The Bay Area is a site of hemispheric significance for an astonishing array of migratory birds, as well as year-round resident. How can we protect so many species, with such varying sets of needs, in the midst of an ever-growing urban metropolis of 8.5 million people? Learn how one of the nation's leading Audubon chapters has been working on behalf of our local birds - and connecting people to conservation efforts around our Bay - for 99 years! Cost is $12-$20 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit the Golden Gate Audubon Society. No registration necessary and tickets available at the event. For more information about the event visit www.oaklandzoo.org or contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (510) 632-9525 ext.122. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605

Zoovie Night at Oakland Zoo

Friday January 15, 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Put on your jammies and enjoy an evening of Zoovie magic with the whole family. Bring your pillows, blankets, and chairs and snuggle up in our auditorium for a specially selected animal-or nature-themed movie (Finding Nemo). Meet some of our nocturnal Education animals brought to you by Roosevelt, Oakland Zoo's costumed alligator mascot. Hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) and popcorn will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own treats and traditional family movie fare. Let the show begin! Cost is $7 per adult and $7 per child to cover the costs of the Animal close-up program and snacks. Note that the movies are a complimentary addition to the evening’s activities. Please note that memberships do not apply toward program fees. Pre-registration is required, contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605

ZooKids: Kids and Crafts - Carnivores, Herbivores & Me

Saturday, January 16 & 23 9:30am – 12:00pm

Does your little one love animals? ZooKids classes are a great way for children age 4-5 to have a fun and educational adventure at the zoo.

Each program includes a mini zoo tour, craft, games, animal close-up, and snack. What do you like for dinner? Did you know some animals eat only meat; some only plants, and some eat everything? Learn how carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores are specially adapted for their unique diets. Cost is $23.00 for current Oakland Zoo members or $26.00 for non-members. Pre-registration is required, Contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Volunteer Orientation at Oakland Zoo

Saturday January 30, 10:00am

Interested in meeting new people, working with animals, and having fun? Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, learn a new skill, share your knowledge with others, and make a difference. Oakland Zoo is always looking for volunteers to help us in a variety of departments. Join the over 500 volunteers that donate their time and talents as part of the Oakland Zoo family. Come to our New Volunteer Information meeting and sign up to be a part of our volunteer family. Pre-registration is required. There is no fee associated with this meeting. For more information go to our website www.oaklandzoo.org  or contact Lisa O’Dwyer, Volunteers Programs manager at (510)632-9525 ext. 141. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Teddy Bear Tea with Friends at Oakland Zoo

Saturday February 6, 9:30am – 12:00pm

It’s tea-time at Oakland Zoo and you are cordially invited! Children bring an adult, a stuffie, and learn all about one of our Zoo’s special animals. Enjoy a morning of snacks, activities, books and play while making and delivering an enrichment gift straight to the zoo animal you’ve been learning about. When the fun is done, children will receive a surprise-filled treat bag to take home.  Program Fee: $26.00 per child and $12.00 per adults. Pre-registration is required, Contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series Presents Action for Sharks

Wednesday February 10, 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Presented by marine biologist and ocean advocate David McGuire, Founder and Director of Shark Stewards. As Californians, we have a special responsibility for ocean conservation. Shark Stewards protects sharks and critical marine habitat for the health of our oceans through science, education and advocacy. Come learn about the challenges sharks face in the wild, and what you can do to help.. Cost is $12.00- $20.00 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Shark Stewards. No registration necessary and tickets available at the event. For more information about the event visit www.oaklandzoo.org or contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or  (510) 632-9525 ext.122. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Parent’s Night Off at Oakland Zoo

Saturday, February 13, 5:30pm- 10:30pm

Parent’s Night Off is designed with adults in mind – we offer a safe, fun-filled environment where you can drop off your children knowing they will have a blast playing and learning about wildlife. We will feed them and take them on a guided walk in the zoo to visit with the animals. Afterwards, we will head back to our auditorium to meet an animal up-close and play some games. If it’s an evening program, we end the night with a movie on the big screen. We guarantee you will pick your child/ children up happier, smarter, and exhausted! It’s a win-win all ‘round! Cost is $45.00 per child and $30.00 for each additional sibling. Pre-registration is required, contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Zoovie Night at Oakland Zoo

Saturday February 20, 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Put on your jammies and enjoy an evening of Zoovie magic with the whole family. Bring your pillows, blankets, and chairs and snuggle up in our auditorium for a specially selected animal-or nature-themed movie (Disney Nature: Monkey Kingdom). Meet some of our nocturnal Education animals brought to you by Roosevelt, Oakland Zoo's costumed alligator mascot. Hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) and popcorn will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own treats and traditional family movie fare. Let the show begin! Cost is $7 per adult and $7 per child to cover the costs of the Animal close-up program and snacks. Note that the movies are a complimentary addition to the evening’s activities. Please note that memberships do not apply toward program fees. Pre-registration is required, contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605

ZooKids: Kids and Crafts – Let’s Leap!

Saturdays, February 20 & 27 9:30am – 12:00pm

Does your little one love animals? ZooKids classes are a great way for children age 4-5 to have a fun and educational adventure at the zoo.

Each program includes a mini zoo tour, craft, games, animal close-up, and snack. It's Leap Year! A lemur can leap 25 feet. Frogs can leap 20-50 times their body length. Squirrel monkeys leap from tree branch to tree branch. Can you leap? How far? Come learn about special adaptations of leaping animals in celebration of Leap Year! Cost is $23.00 for current Oakland Zoo members or $26.00 for non-members. Pre-registration is required, Contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Conservation Speaker Series (Project Coyote) at Oakland Zoo

Friday March 18, 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Wild Things - Coexisting with North America’s Native Carnivores.

Wolves, Bears, Bobcats, & Coyotes - oh my! Project Coyote Founder & Executive Director Camilla Fox will talk about why native carnivores matter, and how they keep ecosystems healthy. America’s war against predators is costly, brutal, and ineffective. Learn about national programs aimed at stopping the mistreatment and mismanagement of carnivores through education, science and advocacy.Cost is $12.00- $20.00 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit the Project Coyote. No registration necessary and tickets available at the event. For more information about the event visit www.oaklandzoo.org or contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (510) 632-9525 ext.122. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Teddy Bear Tea with Friends at Oakland Zoo

Sunday February 20, 9:30am – 12:00pm

It’s tea time at Oakland Zoo and you are cordially invited! Children bring an adult, a stuffie, and learn all about one of our Zoo’s special animals. Enjoy a morning of snacks, activities, books and play while making and delivering an enrichment gift straight to the zoo animal you’ve been learning about. When the fun is done, children will receive a surprise-filled treat bag to take home.  Program Fee: $26.00 per child and $12.00 per adults. Pre-registration is required, Contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Zoovie Night at Oakland Zoo

Friday March 25, 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Put on your jammies and enjoy an evening of Zoovie magic with the whole family. Bring your pillows, blankets, and chairs and snuggle up in our auditorium for a specially selected animal-or nature-themed movie (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip). Meet some of our nocturnal Education animals brought to you by Roosevelt, Oakland Zoo's costumed alligator mascot. Hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) and popcorn will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own treats and traditional family movie fare. Let the show begin! Cost is $7 per adult and $7 per child to cover the costs of the Animal close-up program and snacks. Note that the movies are a complimentary addition to the evening’s activities. Please note that memberships do not apply toward program fees. Pre-registration is required, contact Paula Booth at (510) 632-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Spring Break ZooCamp at Oakland Zoo

March (Three-Day Workshops): 28-30 and April 4-6

March (Two-Day Workshops): 31 – April 1 and April 7-8

9:00am – 4:00pm

Unsure what to do with your children during their school's Spring Break? Send them to us! Spring Break ZooCamp runs Monday - Friday during the Spring Break weeks most common among East Bay school districts. This year we are offering a three-day workshop on Monday-Wednesday and a two-day workshop Thursday-Friday. Cost ranges from $150-$240 depending on program on Zoo Membership discount. Pre-registration is required. Contact Liz Low at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (510) 632-9525, ext.280 for registration details. www.oaklandzoo.org/zoocamp. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605.

ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO:

The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at www.oaklandzoo.org

###

TPR NEWS
Saturday, Jan. 9, the ninth day of 2016. There are 357 days left in the year.CREW
Jon Patch - Host
Jillyn Sidlo - Co Host
Amanda Page - Reporter
Ben - Network Producer
Bob Page - Executive Producer-----------

 

By Luciano Beheregaray, Flinders University / 8th of January, 2016

THE Galápagos Islands, 1,000 kilometres off the coast of South America, are probably most famous as the place that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. They are home to an extraordinary array of wildlife, including giant Galápagos tortoises, the world’s largest land-living cold-blooded animals.

The tortoises once thrived in the archipelago. There were originally 15 species that evolved as the islands formed volcanically. However, since the arrival of people four species have become extinct.

A few weeks ago we returned from an expedition to the islands in search of two of these extinct species of tortoises. It may sound like a fool’s errand, but our expedition was a success.

Here’s how we did it.

Tortoises under threat

The Galápagos Islands were colonised in the late 1800s. A combination of poaching by whalers and pirates, and introduced pests competing for food and eating eggs and hatchlings, led to tortoises being exterminated on some islands, and dramatically reduced on others.

Lonesome George, photographed before his death at the age of about 100. Flickr/putneymark, CC BY-SA

Darwin wrote about the harvesting of the species of tortoise found only on Floreana Island (Chelonoidis elephantopus), which was exterminated within 15 years of his visit to the Galápagos in 1835.

The tortoise found only on Pinta Island (Chelonoidis abingdoni) went formally extinct in 2012, when its last representative, a male held in captivity and nicknamed Lonesome George, died. He was a major conservation icon and at one point considered by Guinness World Records as the world’s rarest living creature.

The Galápagos Islands, showing locations mentioned in this story.

Finding extinct tortoises

Ten years ago our genetic research program made a very surprising discovery. Some tortoises on Volcano Wolf, on Isabela Island, didn’t match others normally found on the volcano (Chelonoidis becki). Instead, their DNA matched that of the extinct species from Floreana and Pinta.

Volcano Wolf – the highest point of the Galápagos Islands. Luciano Beheregaray

These exciting discoveries led to an expedition on Volcano Wolf in 2008, where we tagged and sampled over 1,600 tortoises. DNA analyses revealed an astonishingly large number of tortoises with mixed genetic ancestry in this sample: 89 with DNA from Floreana and 17 with DNA from Pinta.

How was this possible?

It is likely that people have been moving tortoises around the islands. Old logbooks from the whaling industry indicate that, in order to lighten the burden of their ships, whalers and pirates dropped large numbers of tortoises in Banks Bay, near Volcano Wolf.

These animals were collected from lower altitudes islands (Floreana and Pinta) during centuries of exploitation by whalers and pirates, who made the archipelago a regular stop-off for their crews to stock up on these handy living larders.

Many of these tortoises made it to shore and eventually mated with the native Volcano Wolf species, producing hybrids that still maintain the distinctive saddleback shell found in the species from Floreana and Pinta. These hybrids include animals whose parents represent purebred individuals of the two extinct species.

An arduous expedition

Our recent expedition was aimed at finding the animals with a high proportion of ancestors from Floreana or Pinta.

It was ambitious, logistically complex, and very strenuous.

Our team of park rangers, scientists, and veterinarians from 10 countries were divided in nine groups of three to four people each. The daily mission included patrolling large areas of unstable razor-sharp lava fields and of spiny thick vegetation across Volcano Wolf, the tallest of the Galápagos. Added to this ordeal were the frequent encounters with wasps, the equatorial heat, and an El Niño induced six-day period of non-stop rain.

When one of the target tortoises was found, we would contact our mother ship by radio and clear the vegetation of the volcano slopes to make room for the cargo net of our expedition’s helicopter. The precious tortoise would then be moved into the net and airlifted to the ship, which was anchored in Banks Bay.

Our teams discovered more than 1,300 tortoises, including nearly 200 that potentially have mixed ancestry from Floreana or Pinta. We airlifted 32 of them to the ship and then to the captive breeding facility of the Galápagos National Park on the island of Santa Cruz.

A giant Galápagos tortoise with ancestry of an extinct species being airlifted to our ship. Elizabeth Hunter

Included in the 32 were four females with Floreana genes and one male and one female from Pinta that were tagged and analysed in 2008.

Reintroducing ‘extinct’ tortoises

The DNA of these tortoises will be analysed to inform the best breeding strategy. We want to restore as much as possible the genes originally found on Floreana and Pinta.

The captive-born offspring of the two extinct species are expected to be released in their native islands within the next five to ten years.

Giant tortoises relocated by our expedition from the Volcano Wolf, Isabela Island, to the captive breeding program of the Galápagos National Park, Santa Cruz Island. Joe Flanagan

Reintroduction of these tortoises to the islands where they evolved, together with large-scale habitat restoration efforts, is essential for the restoration of the island ecosystems. These long-lived large herbivores act as “ecosystem engineers”, altering the habitat they live in to the benefit of other species.

Wouldn’t low genetic diversity hinder the long-term persistence of reintroduced populations?

This is a logical concern for reintroduction programs that rely on a small number of captive breeders. However, giant Galápagos tortoises can bounce back from major demographic crashes and respond well to reintroduction programs.

For instance, the Volcano Alcedo tortoise population, arguably the largest in the Galápagos, is derived from a single female lineage thought to have survived a catastrophic volcano eruption in pre-historical times.

The reintroduction of over 1,500 captive-born offspring of the species once found on Española Island is another success story. The repatriated Española population, all derived from 15 captive breeders, now seems well-established.

Bringing back the Floreana and Pinta species from extinction, something inconceivable not long ago, is now a possibility. Its appeal is further increased by the fact that our expedition found that many more tortoises with genes from Floreana and Pinta still wander on the slopes of the Volcano Wolf. Adding them to breeding programs will boost the genetic diversity in the released individuals and calls for a new expedition soon to come.

We anticipate arduous but rewarding times ahead for giant tortoise conservation biologists.The Conversation

Luciano Beheregaray, Professor in Biodiversity Genetics and ARC Future Fellow, Flinders University and Adalgisa 'Gisella' Caccone, Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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