fox-news/science/wild-nature/mammals

Bowing to global criticism, Russia on Monday agreed to free nearly 100 whales held captive in the country’s Far East.

Images of the whales – 10 orcas and 87 belugas – kept in cramped spaces in a bay near the Sea of Japan port city of Nakhodka surfaced last year.

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The animals had been captured by a company that planned to sell them to China.

However, Russian officials intervened and asked French ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau for advice on how to safely release the illegally captured whales.

Cousteau, of the Ocean Futures Society, arrived Friday in Russia’s Far East on a mission to inspect the mammals and help create conditions for them to be released. Cousteau, son of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, has voiced concern about the animals’ condition and offered his help to the Russian government.

The whales’ condition has drawn international concern, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered authorities to investigate the case and release the animals. Russian prosecutors have brought criminal charges against four companies keeping the whales.

Whales are worth a fortune on the black market, and local environmental activists suspected that they were captured for sale to amusements parks in China.

A view shows a facility, where nearly 100 whales including orcas and beluga whales are held in cages, during a visit of scientists representing explorer and founder of the Ocean Futures Society Jean-Michel Cousteau in a bay near the Sea of Japan port of Nakhodka in Primorsky Region, Russia April 7, 2019. Picture taken April 7, 2019. Press Service of Administration of Primorsky Krai/Alexander Safronov/Handout via REUTERS 

A view shows a facility, where nearly 100 whales including orcas and beluga whales are held in cages, during a visit of scientists representing explorer and founder of the Ocean Futures Society Jean-Michel Cousteau in a bay near the Sea of Japan port of Nakhodka in Primorsky Region, Russia April 7, 2019. Picture taken April 7, 2019. Press Service of Administration of Primorsky Krai/Alexander Safronov/Handout via REUTERS 

Russian law only allows for the capture of whales for “scientific” purposes.

Regional Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako met with Cousteau in Vladivostok, voicing hope that his experience will help “get a full picture on how to allow the animals to readapt to living in the wild.”

Before flying to the Far East, Cousteau met with Russian Natural Resources Minister Dmitry Kobylkin in Moscow on Thursday.

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Kobylkin said summer offers the most favorable conditions for releasing the animals. “We couldn’t release the animals in the winter, it would have simply killed them,” Kobylkin said. “We can and must do this work in the coming summer.”

He emphasized that Russia would like to rely on international expertise to ensure the safe release of the mammals.

“We want to do it as openly as possible,” Kobylkin added.

Russian scientists estimate that the rehabilitation effort will cost about $4.6 million.

A view shows a facility, nicknamed a "whale prison", where nearly 100 whales including orcas and beluga whales are held in cages, during a visit of scientists representing explorer and founder of the Ocean Futures Society Jean-Michel Cousteau in a bay near the Sea of Japan port of Nakhodka in Primorsky Region, Russia April 7, 2019. Picture taken April 7, 2019. Press Service of Administration of Primorsky Krai/Alexander Safronov/Handout via REUTERS 

A view shows a facility, nicknamed a “whale prison”, where nearly 100 whales including orcas and beluga whales are held in cages, during a visit of scientists representing explorer and founder of the Ocean Futures Society Jean-Michel Cousteau in a bay near the Sea of Japan port of Nakhodka in Primorsky Region, Russia April 7, 2019. Picture taken April 7, 2019. Press Service of Administration of Primorsky Krai/Alexander Safronov/Handout via REUTERS 

Activists first raised the alarm late last fall when 101 belugas and orcas were captured and placed in a marine containment facility that environmentalists have dubbed a “whale prison” near Nakhodka.

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Local prosecutors have said that several of the mammals have escaped, but environmentalists said four animals likely died because of cramped conditions and low temperatures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source: Fox News World

Six baby elephants trapped in a mud pit have been rescued by rangers at a national park in northeastern Thailand.

The elephants were unable to climb out of the slippery pit, park officials said, prompting a rescue operation to create a pathway for the creatures to escape the trap.

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Park rangers took five hours to dig out a path to save six elephant calves after they were found trapped in a muddy pond.

Park rangers took five hours to dig out a path to save six elephant calves after they were found trapped in a muddy pond. (Department of Natural Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation via AP)

Rescuers took five hours on Thursday to dig a path for the elephants to clamber out of the pit. One by one the elephants then climbed out of the muddy ditch.

The animals were trapped at Thap Lan National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima province, with the head of park, Prawatsart Chantep, saying rangers discovered them on Wednesday afternoon.

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In this photo taken and released by the Department of Natural Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Thursday, March 28, 2019, Thap Lan National Park rangers prepare to extract six baby elephants stuck in a muddy pond at Thap Lan National Park, Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern Thailand. Park rangers took five hours to dig out a path to save six elephant calves after they were found trapped in a muddy pond.

In this photo taken and released by the Department of Natural Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Thursday, March 28, 2019, Thap Lan National Park rangers prepare to extract six baby elephants stuck in a muddy pond at Thap Lan National Park, Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern Thailand. Park rangers took five hours to dig out a path to save six elephant calves after they were found trapped in a muddy pond. (Department of Natural Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation via AP)

He said there were signs that the trapped animals may be related to a herd of elephants that was circling the area,

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It remains unclear how the elephants ended up trapped in the pit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World

Florida lawmakers hoping to discourage people from keeping dogs tied up or abandoned during natural or manmade disasters cleared a bill on Monday that would jail or fine those who abandon man’s best friend.

The bill, which was filed on March 1, would make it a criminal act to leave pets chained up during such events — specifically by making it a first-degree misdemeanor.

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“We’ve seen these three hurricanes and seen numerous dogs left tethered to different things,” Republican Sen. Joe Gruters, who sponsored the bill, said during a committee hearing on Monday, according to the News Service of Florida. “We want to give dogs a fighting chance.”

A measure was approved 5-0 by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday.

Local counties reportedly already have laws in place to stop dog owners from leaving their pets restrained during storms, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped some Florida locals.

When Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017, roughly 40 dogs who were left tied up during the storm — which at one point was classified as a Category 5 — were rescued by Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

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"Absolutely unacceptable. People need to be responsible pet owners in this community," Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County, said at the time. "There is no excuse for leaving your pet behind to die. We are going to hold accountable those who we can prove left their dogs behind in the storm."

Under the bill, those who leave their pets unattended or restrained during a disaster would face up to a year in jail or a fine up to $5,000.

Source: Fox News National

The U.S. government is offering up to $1,000 to those willing to adopt an untrained wild horse or burro to combat the overpopulation of the animals in the open country.

The "Adoption Incentive Program" comes from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), within the Interior Department. The incentive is part of an effort to "encourage more adopters to give a wild horse or burro a good home."

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The bureau states online that the goal is to reduce the agency’s "recurring costs to care for unadopted and untrained wild horses and burros while helping to enable the BLM to confront a growing over-population of wild horses and burros on fragile public rangelands."

Both wild horses and burros are federally protected. Since 1971, when the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was signed into law, the animals have been considered "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West."

In accordance with the law, the animals are protected from "capture, branding, harassment, or death."

The $1,000 incentive is broken into two parts: those who adopt a wild horse or burro that’s eligible for a new home after March 12 can receive $500 within 60 days of the adoption, in addition to another $500 within 60 days of "titling the animal."

Officials said a $25 adoption fee will apply.

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Earlier this month, the government said they were seeking more private pastures for the overpopulation of wild horses. Over 55,000 more horses and burros live wild in the West than the roughly 27,000 the BLM says can thrive in harmony with the landscape.

For those interested in the adoption of a wild horse or burro, visit the bureau’s website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

An injured bald eagle was rescued from train tracks in Maryland on Wednesday, transit officials said.

The national bird and symbol of American freedom was stuck on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s blue/silver lines in Landover, delaying trains from moving on the tracks near the Morgan Boulevard station.

A rescue team of eight responded to the area to rescue the bald eagle, Metro tweeted. By 7 p.m. the bird was saved.

"Bald Eagle Update: Rescued! The eagle has been recovered from the tracks by MTPD and wildlife personnel," the transit agency tweeted.

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City Wildlife, based in Washington, D.C., took in the eagle for care and rehabilitation, according to officials.

Source: Fox News National

A giant wolfdog hybrid named Yuki who "loves to be the center of attention" is living his dream at a sanctuary in Florida.

The animal was rescued by Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples in 2008 when he was around 8 months old and is a mixture of breeds — 87.5 percent gray wolf, 8.6 percent Siberian Husky and 3.9 percent German Shepherd, according to the sanctuary.

Because he’s mostly wolf, he’s considered a "high content wolfdog." Wolfdog hybrids, according to the International Wolf Center, live roughly 12 to 14 years in captivity, the same as a large domestic dog.

While both dogs and wolves are able to breed together, it’s "rare" that hybrids can come about naturally, as "the territorial nature of wolves leads them to protect their home ranges from intruding canines such as dogs, coyotes and other wolves," the center said.

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Yuki, described as a "ladies man" and a "ham" with a "strong personality," gained attention in recent months after a volunteer posted photos of the wolfdog to her Instagram account.

Unfortunately, the 12-year-old, who often finds his way onto the Facebook page of Shy Wolf, is terminally ill. The sanctuary said Yuki has blood cancer, and is not available for adoption.

Source: Fox News National

A woman who was said to be in her 30s was attacked by a jaguar Saturday evening at Wildlife World near Phoenix, according to reports.

The woman, who had been near a fence of the jaguar’s enclosure, was attempting to snap a photo when the animal suddenly attacked, FOX 10 of Phoenix reported.

She was taken to a hospital for injuries that were described as non-life-threatening, the report said. Paramedics said she had lacerations on one of her arms, the Arizona Republic reported.

Nevertheless, the encounter with the wild animal was a frightening moment, one witness told FOX 10.

"I hear this young girl screaming ‘Help! Help! Help!,’ and without thinking, I just run over there,” Adam Wilkerson said. “I see another girl with her up against the cage of the jaguar and the jaguar has clasped its claws outside of the cage around her hand and into her flesh.

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"I hear this young girl screaming ‘Help! Help! Help!,’ and without thinking, I just run over there.”

— Adam Wilkerson, witness who assisted zoo visitor

"My mom thinks of how to distract the jaguar and she grabs her water bottle and she shoves it through the cage, right near where the jaguar is," Wilkerson continued. "The jaguar lets go of the girl somewhat because the claw catches on just her sweater. At that moment, I grabbed the girl around the torso and pulled her away from the cage and it unlatches from her claw. The jaguar just goes after the bottle.”

No further information was available about the woman or her medical condition, the report said.

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Later, the zoo issued the following statement:

"We regret to inform that this evening, before closing there was an incident reported involving a guest, who crossed over the barrier to get a photo, according to eyewitnesses. The visitor sustained non-life threatening injuries to their hand from one of our female jaguars. At the request of the family, paramedics were called. At no time was the animal out of its enclosure. The incident is being fully investigated."

Source: Fox News National


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