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By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Wednesday billed himself as Hollywood star Johnny Depp's Hannibal Lecter, playing mind games in his head and escalating a "war on terrier". The sparring began with the illegal entry of Depp's two Yorkshire terriers into Australia last year when the actor was filming the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, breaching the country's tight biosecurity laws. Depp's wife, actress Amber Heard, was convicted in April of falsifying travel documents to sneak the dogs into the country on a private jet and was given a suspended fine of A$1,000 ($720).
Authorities in the Spanish region of Castilla y Leon on Thursday announced a ban on the killing of bulls during traditional festivals, in a partial victory for animal rights activists. The decree targets the northern region's controversial Toro de la Vega bull run, which takes place every year in the town of Tordesillas and sees crowds on foot and horseback chase the animal, taking stabs at it with lances until they kill it. "The government has approved... a decree banning the death of bulls in public in popular and traditional taurine events," authorities in Castilla y Leon said in a statement.
By Meredith McGrath BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Chantal Detimmerman weeps at the funeral parlor as she spends a last few moments with her beloved Chico who has been prepared for cremation and laid out in a dog basket. "Arthur was a special duck," said Myrian Waeles, who nuzzles her nose against the mallard's green head as she poses for photographs for a Reuters Wider Image feature, at her home in nearby Lennik, a town west of Brussels. "Having Arthur, stuffed next to me, comforts me." Patrick Pendville set up the funeral service after seeing first-hand what animal disposal often looks, and smells, like.
What began as a well-intentioned but ill-informed act ended with the death of a young wild animal recently at Yellowstone National Park. During the week of May 9, visitors to Yellowstone came across a solitary bison calf. Later, the newborn calf was released back into the wild, and the National Park Service (NPS) issued the visitors a citation, according to a statement from the NPS released May 16.
By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - Izzy rested his chin on the knee of third grader Aelane Vasquez at Public School 57 in the Spanish Harlem section of New York City on Monday and hung on every word she easily read aloud from a book that would have stumped her months ago. Therapy dogs like Izzy, a gray Havanese, are the heart, soul and wagging tail of a literacy program in schools and libraries called Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) that encourages young readers. "I love reading to Izzy because he listens to me and he doesn't make fun of me when I make a mistake," said Vasquez, 9, who read "Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Circus Clown." Immigrant children face the added challenge of mastering English as a second language, a hurdle for many at P.S. 57, where families like Vasquez's hail from countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic and Ecuador, said officials from Intermountain Therapy Animals, which founded READ in 1999.
The rare birth of a Sumatran rhino in Indonesia has been hailed a victory for the critically endangered species, which has been almost wiped out in the wild by poaching and habitat destruction. Conservationists wept in joy as the healthy female calf was born on western Sumatra island on Thursday, just the fifth rhino of its kind born in a breeding facility. The newborn was walking within hours and has since grown stronger, feeding and bonding with its mother, a conservationist at the rhino sanctuary in Sumatra told AFP.
A Sumatran rhino gave birth to a female calf at a sanctuary in Indonesia on Thursday, taking the critically endangered species a step further away from extinction. The baby was born at 5:40 am on western Sumatra island, and within hours was walking around and feeding from its mother, authorities said. "We are very thankful for this birth, as Sumatran rhinos are rare animals," environment ministry spokesman Novrizal Tahar told AFP.
By Prasto Wardoyo and Heru Asprihanto SURABAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) - So many animals have perished at Indonesia's biggest zoo that wildlife activists call it the "zoo of death" and are demanding an overhaul of its management. Activists say many of the more than 2,200 animals at the zoo in the city of Surabaya are crowded into cages and enclosures far too small for them, and they also face a shortage of proper feed. One of the latest losses was a rare Sumatran tiger that died unexpectedly last month.
By Laura Zuckerman SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A U.S. government plan to lift Endangered Species Act protection of the grizzly bear in and around Yellowstone National Park drew a torrent of criticism from environmentalists and Indian tribes as the public comment period for the proposal came to a close on Wednesday. Much of the discontent has focused on the prospect of grizzlies in the region becoming open to trophy hunting under state management plans put in place once federal safeguards are removed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed in March that grizzlies in the Yellowstone area - spanning parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho - be removed from the list of threatened species, citing data showing their numbers have rebounded to healthy levels.
Four elephants, including two calves, were killed by lightning in northern Sri Lanka in one of the worst wildlife tragedies to hit the country in years, officials said Sunday. A female elephant, aged about 25 years, and two of her calves, aged 10 months and two years, and an eight-year-old female were found dead Sunday just outside the Wilpattu wildlife sanctuary, an official said. "Villagers from neighbouring areas alerted the authorities and we carried out autopsies," wildlife veterinary surgeon Chandana Jayasinghe said.
JANGSEONG, South Korea (AP) — The stars of the latest online trend in South Korea stay out of sight most of the day. Viewers don't seem to mind waiting for hours while nothing happens. When the stray cats finally come to eat the food left out for them, people watching online sit enraptured by their feline charms.
Drought-hit Zimbabwe has invited local farmers and private game rangers to buy wild animals as it destocks national game reserves to save fauna from starvation, the wildlife authority said Wednesday. Parks and wildlife authority spokeswoman Caroline Washaya said it has asked individuals and private game keepers to step in and buy wild animals "in the light of the drought". Zimbabwe has in recent years resorted to exporting elephants to countries such as China in a bid to raise funds and cut the ballooning population.
Scientists have discovered a genetic mutation that appears to make certain dogs, like Labrador retrievers, extra motivated by food and treats and also more likely to be obese, a study said Tuesday. "We've found something in about a quarter of pet Labradors that fits with a hardwired biological reason for the food-obsessed behavior reported by owners," said lead author Eleanor Raffan, a veterinary surgeon and geneticist at the University of Cambridge. Researchers first identified the variation, which occurs in a gene called POMC, in a group of dogs that included 15 obese and 18 lean Labrador retrievers.
France's foie gras production has ground to a halt for the next three months, but the reason behind the ban probably isn't what you think. SEE ALSO: Sacré bleu! Restaurants in France now have to give out doggy bags Foie gras producers in 18 départements in south west France will be banned by the Ministry for Agriculture from having any ducks or geese in their factories and slaughterhouses from this week until Aug. 15, bringing a halt to 71% of the national production of foie gras. While animal rights campaigners have long been calling for a ban on the French delicacy — made from fattened duck or goose liver — the halt is down to an unprecedented bird flu epidemic that's hit southwestern France. In November 2015, a highly virulent strain of the H5N1 virus was found at a chicken farm in the Dordogne region of France, prompting an intervention by veterinary watchdogs. H5N1 is lethal for birds, but — unlike other forms of flu — it does not typically spread between people. Humans only contract the virus if they come into close contact with sick or dead poultry infected with the virus. The ban will have a heavy impact on France's agricultural industry; with breeders claiming the production halt will amount to a loss of €130 million ($115 million). "This interruption of business will cause cash flow difficulties, additional salary costs linked to the partial lay-offs of approximately 4000 employees, and fixed charges that must be paid despite the stop in business and income," Marie-Pierre Pé — general secretary of foie gras producers association Cifog — told Le Figaro . France's Ministry for Agriculture announced in January that it will provide compensation for producers to the amount of the estimated losses. The long-term consequences of the three-month ban will likely take a toll on the price of foie gras, according to foie gras producer Christophe Barrailh. Barrailh told Le Figaro that there will be nine million fewer ducks on the national market, resulting in a noticeable price hike.
When Mysore performed in the Ringling Brothers' traveling circus, she waltzed, she hooked her trunk onto another elephant's tail, and she stood on her hind legs in a line for a trick known as the long mount. Now at the age of about 70 -- and one of the oldest Asian elephants in the world -- Mysore is retired at the circus's refuge in central Florida, where she gets weekly pedicures, daily baths, naps on a giant dirt pile, eats ground-up hay and more than six loaves of wheat bread a day. "Boy, she loves the bread," says Janice Aria, the director of animal stewardship at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, where Mysore arrived in 2006.