Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fat monkeys put on diet at Japanese park

Tourists visiting the Ohama Park in the Japanese city of Osaka have hurled so many titbits to the resident troupe of monkeys that some are so obese they can hardly walk.
The park has 50 Macaca mulatta monkeys, which generally weigh up to 11 kg in the wild.
On a diet of crisps, bread and sweets provided by well-meaning visitors around a third of the monkeys are now overweight and the five leaders of the troupe tip the scales at more than 15 kg. The heaviest male weighs over 29kg and does little more than shuffle around the 420-square-metre enclosure waiting for the next hand-out, according to park officials.
The monkeys have been put on a special low-fat diet and signs have been put around the enclosure asking visitors not to feed them.
The park estimates that as many as 20 people every day ignore the request.

Winter the dolphin gets a new tail

As she glides through the water, Winter the dolphin appears to be completely normal.
But she is the world's first sea creature after being fitted with an artificial tail.
Only closer inspection reveals the dolphin's rear end is entirely prosthetic.

Winter, an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, lost her own tail after being caught in a harsh crab trap. She was found at just two-months old in 2006, floating in distress off the coast of Florida. Rescuers rushed her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, in Clearwater, Florida, where they battled to save her life.
David Yates, the director, said: "For the first few days, we really didn't think she'd live at all. She had 24-hour around-the-clock care by our veterinary staff, our animal care staff, and our volunteers. We literally watched her every second of the day."

Winter survived, but she lost her tail and was left with just a stump. "She had to learn how to swim without a tail, which no dolphin has ever done in captivity," said Mr Yates. "We didn't know if she could do that."Winter tried to master the art – but couldn't swish up and down like a normal dolphin, and could only waggle from side to side.
Vets were worried this unusual swimming might alter the long-term health of her spine.
So, they decided to make an artificial tail for Winter.
Kevin Carroll, one of the world's leading prosthetists, offered his services.
Besides his work with people, he has designed prosthetics for dogs, an ostrich, and even a duck


Just Weird

Fingerprints for ID demanded from a woman without arms

Johannesburg – The department of home affairs has failed to put in place a system that will help people with disabilities to get identity documents, the SA Human Rights Commission said.
Spokesman Vincent Moaga said the commission was concerned the department had requested that a woman with no arms could not get an ID unless she was fingerprinted.
Victoria Modise, 37, of Diepkloof Zone, Soweto, who lost her ID last year, applied for a replacement but was told she needed to be fingerprinted.
Moaga said the commission was deeply concerned by this incident.
He said the department should refer to international practice and follow suit.
"Home Affairs should look at international practices and see what system can be put in place to assist people with disabilities to get their IDs."
Moaga said despite the commission meeting the department of home affairs last year to discuss these issues, not much had been done

Bald eagle gets her beak

She has been named Beauty, though this eagle is anything but. Part of Beauty's beak was shot off several years ago, leaving her with a stump that is useless for hunting food. A team of volunteers is working to attach an artificial beak to the disfigured bird, in an effort to keep her alive."For Beauty it's like using only one chopstick to eat. It can't be done" said biologist Jane Fink Cantwell, who operates a raptor recovery center in this Idaho Panhandle town. "She has trouble drinking. She can't preen her feathers. That's all about to change."
Cantwell has spent the past two years assembling a team to design and build an artificial beak. They plan to attach it to Beauty next month. With the beak, the 7-year-old bald eagle could live to the age of 50, although not in the wild. The artificial beak won't be strong enough to allow Beauty to cut and tear flesh from prey. But it will help her to drink water, and to grip and eat the food she is given.
Surgery in May 2008 will provide Beauty with a new artificial beak, to replace the one damaged by a gunshot wound.