August's News In Review - Animal Escape Artists, Panda Pregnancy, And More In Our Good-Mood Round-Up!

August's News In Review - Animal Escape Artists, Panda Pregnancy, And More In Our Good-Mood Round-Up!

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 31/08/2017

As we prepare to leave summer behind and head into cooler Autumn, The Great Projects have opted to write only of positive animal news stories to round off August. The sun may no longer be shining, but allow the following reports to give your own sunny disposition one last boost!

Rare White Moose Spotted in Sweden…and a White Koala is Born in Australia!

White koala

(Image courtesy of Australia Zoo/Tourism Australia)

August has seen the arrival of an unusual new arrival at Australia’s Queensland zoo: a rare white koala has been born!

The young female joey goes so far unnamed, but has stolen hearts around the globe as a result of her unique, beautiful looks. The little lady is not an albino; rather, it is likely that she has inherited the recessive ‘silvering gene’ from her mother. Experts say that white koalas are so rare, that one has not been spotted even in the wild for over 20 years.

Cute as she may be, a koala like this would struggle to survive in the wild. The white fur would provide limited camouflage for the animal, meaning the joey would be singled out by predators such as eagles and owls.

Luckily, this particular koala is safe by her mother’s side. Eventually her fur is expected to malt and grow back into a more typical shade of grey, but that won’t stop name suggestions coming through – some of the most popular suggestions include ‘Diamond’, ‘Pearl’, ‘Snowflake’, and even Daenerys!

All of that said, Australia isn’t the only country to enjoy such a rare sighting: over in Sweden, a stunning white moose has been captured on camera, roaming freely in the wild. The animal appears almost as an ethereal being, pristine in its colouring and slow in its movement. It is thought that only 100 white moose exist in the wild, so the following footage (captured by Hans Nilsson, an explorer in the area) really is something to behold.

Rock’n’Roll Calf Receives Approval From Famous Namesake

Gene Simmons cow

(Image courtesy of Hill County on Facebook)

Our next story takes us to Texas, where one cow has made its name by resembling a very famous rock god.

The calf, named Genie, was born on a ranch in Kerrville, and has served as comic relief across social media due to its interesting image. With a black ‘mask’ upon its face (and a tongue which flops forward at any sign of a camera), Genie has largely been compared to none other than legendary KISS bassist Gene Simmons.

It seems as if the musician himself is amused by his doppelganger, taking to Twitter to share a picture of Genie next an image of his own famous gurn. ‘This is real!’, the bassist exclaimed, before posting a link to the news story himself.

The owners of the ranch were quick to ignite the joke, asking Simmons of his whereabouts around ‘November 25th, 2016.’ Suggestions that Genie may indeed be the offspring of Simmons are, of course, obscene – but since shooting to fame, Genie seems to be doing quite well under the care of the ranch owner’s mother, who now looks after the cute calf.

No Monkey Business! Primate Seems Displeased By Camera-Toting Tourists

Monkey photobomb

(Image courtesy of @XXXXXKN1234 on Twitter)

It’s no secret – people of today are really quite partial to a good ol’ selfie session. But for one girl in the UK, her close encounter with a barbary macaque may be remembered as a lesson learnt.

Karima Nabi, from Birmingham, paid a visit to Trentham Monkey Forest (near Stoke-on-Trent) with her sister. While enjoying their day out, Nabi noticed a monkey sitting nearby on a low wooden barrier. She decided to edge over to the animal, keen to make the most of this seemingly ideal photo opportunity. But as her sister snapped the image, Nabi flinched – the macaque was ready to pounce!

While Nabi’s photos tell quite an amusing tale, it is unwise to simply laugh them off. Matt Lovall, the park director at Trentham Monkey Forest, is keen to warn others to keep their distance from the macaques. Pointing out the body language of the monkey in the image (and Nabi’s close proximity to the animal), he does not seem confident in Nabi’s ability to follow the rules of the park, stating that visitors should remain one meter away from the monkeys at all times.

Of course, in open parks such as Trentham it is possible that a monkey could pounce at any second. In addition to enjoying a good laugh at Nabi’s photos, consider the lessons learned – the animals here are complex creatures with fears and emotions of their own, and they should not be used as props in your online portfolio. Enjoy the freedom that parks give to animals and visitors alike, but respect boundaries and rules – they exist for good reason!

Tian Tian, the UK’s Giant Panda, Possibly Due To Give Birth

Tian Tian the panda pregnant

(Image courtesy of Edinburgh Zoo)

Now, here is a story which the whole TGP office has been keenly following: the UK’s only female giant panda could be due to give birth any day now.

News surfaced late last week that Edinburgh zoo’s very own Tian Tian could potentially be pregnant – cue news outlets around the world casting a keen eye on the animal, in circumstances not entirely dissimilar to that of April the giraffe earlier this year.

Over the past few days, there still seems to be no sign of a baby panda being born. Panda pregnancies are something of a complex mystery, with breeding patterns being exceptionally short (and the bears themselves being able to terminate the pregnancy seemingly at will); that said, fans of the animal are not yet losing hope.

Tian Tian arrived in the UK back in 2011, as part of a breeding pair (her partner is Yang Guang, otherwise known as ‘Sunshine.’) Since then, there have so far been four unsuccessful insemination attempts of the giant panda, and a huge amount of hope has been pinned on a fifth attempt: since female pandas ovulate only once a year (lasting only 36 hours!), the window of opportunity remains miniscule. Add to that the fact that panda pregnancies are tricky to spot, and can last between 83 to 180 days, and it is clear that Tian Tian’s keepers have their work cut out for them.

Should a baby be born, it will be the very first panda born on British soil. We will keep you updated with updates on Tian Tian’s situation, and we can all cross our fingers that any possible births are straightforward, healthy, and stress-free!

And Finally – A Tortoise On The Run?!

Abuh the tortoise escapes

(Image courtesy of Shibukawa Animal Park)

Over the years, there have been a handful of fascinating stories of animals escaping their enclosures (see: Kumbuka the gorilla’s taste of freedom; Ken the hairy Houdini and his clandestine getaways), but a particularly unlikely escape artist has captured attention across the globe.

Abuh is a giant tortoise who, up until a few weeks ago, had found quite a comfortable home at a zoo in Okayama, Japan. But monotony may have gotten the better of 35-year-old Abuh (raise your hand if you can relate!), so the shelled sleuth decided to make a break for it…albeit very, very slowly.

Staff at Shibukawa Animal Park soon began to regret their decision to allow Abuh free reign of the zoo’s ground (the giant tortoise was granted relaxed privileges!), and for two weeks, it seemed as if Abuh had been lost forever. Keepers were so keen to see Abuh returned safely, that they offered a generous reward of 500,000 yen for her return. And so, the bounty began…

Despite her speedy (!) escape and an uncanny ability to evade authority, Abuh was eventually found roaming in some nearby shrubbery – in fact, the eager adventurer had only made it 50 feet from her enclosure in the two whole weeks that she was missing!

Abuh was returned to the zoo by the family who had found her, who were then in turn rewarded with the equivalent of $4,500. Since arriving back at the zoo, Abuh has had her free-roaming privileges revoked – but that doesn’t mean that the mischievous madam is being punished. ‘We were so relieved that she came back safely, as she is so popular among children,’ said zoo staffer Yoshimi Yamane (in an interview with ChannelNewsAsia.) Instead, the staff have continued to make Abuh as comfortable as possible, tempting her to stay put by feeding her some delicious pears and watermelon!
We’re glad to hear of Abuh’s safe return – here’s hoping that she remains happy at Shibukawa Animal Park, and doesn’t make a dash for it ever again!

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