Amoeblog

More News from the Wild Kingdom

Posted by Whitmore, January 27, 2009 03:37pm | Post a Comment
 
At the Southland Museum in Invercargill, New Zealand a rare and endangered native reptile, a tuatara, has become a father, possibly for the first time, at the age of 111.
 
Henry the tuatara was thought to be past his prime -- you would think -- especially since he has shown no interests in females since his arrival the Southland Museum in 1970. But last July Henry mated with Mildred, herself no spring chicken either; she’s in her 70’s. Mildred laid 12 eggs and this week after 223 days of incubation, 11 baby tuataras successfully hatched.
 
According to the Museum, Henry’s new found vitality may be due to a 2002 operation to remove a cancerous tumor under his genitals. Known for his foul moods and aggressive behavior towards other tuataras -- 25 years ago, Henry bit off Mildred's tail when the two were put together for mating purposes -- Museum tuatara curator Lindsay Hazley said that Henry has had a "major personality transplant."
 
Tuataras are found only in New Zealand and are sometimes referred to as "living fossils." They resemble lizards and are the only surviving members of a species that walked the Earth some 220 million years ago. Today most tuataras live in predator-free sanctuaries or on New Zealand’s offshore islands. They can live between 150 and 250 years and usually reach sexual maturity at about 20. This coming spring the newly rejuvenated Henry is expected to mate with another tuatara, Lucy, one of three females he currently lives with -- sounds like a basic cable reality TV show …

Ah Meng, 1960-2008

Posted by Whitmore, February 9, 2008 09:18am | Post a Comment
Ah Meng was a female Sumatran Orangutan and a favorite at the world famous Singapore Zoo. Ah Meng passed away on February 8th due to old age. She was about 48 years old and leaves behind two sons, Hsing Hsing and Satria, and two daughters, Medan and Sayang, as well as six grandchildren. She was known for her friendly nature, comfortability with humans and her animated facial expressions. Ah Meng had been featured in more than 30 travel films, and written about in some 300 articles, becoming the poster girl of the  Singapore Zoo. In 1992, the Singapore Tourism Board awarded Ah Meng a "Special Tourism Ambassador" honor in recognition of her contribution towards tourism in Singapore. Originally recovered in 1971 by a veterinarian from a local family who kept her as a pet, Ah Meng’s first owner had smuggled her illegally from Indonesia.  Her species, the Sumatran Orangutan, is a rarer breed of orangutan now critically endangered due to illegal logging and poaching. There are about only 7,500 Sumatran Orangutans left in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Ah Meng was the first to host the Zoo's famous “Breakfast with an Orangutan” program, where luminaries such as Prince Philip of Britain and Michael Jackson were among the many foreign dignitaries and celebrities that visited her. By allowing close interaction with Ah Meng and other orangutans, the Singapore Zoo aimed to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the orangutan's natural habitat as well as other environmental issues.