Pet Scoop: Orangutans Plan Trips in Advance, Bear Runs Among Tourists in Tennessee

Sept. 12, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Sumatran orangutan

Orangutans Announce Travel Plans

When people travel, we usually let our family and friends know where we’re going. New research finds that Sumatran male orangutans often do the same, giving long, loud calls in the direction they plan to go the night before they leave. The study from the University of Zurich in Switzerland suggests that the idea is to give other members of the community a heads up about where the dominant males are headed, so they can plan for the trip. It’s the first time this kind of future planning by primates has been observed in the field. A research team followed 15 adult male orangutans in the wild for up to 10 days each, observing the correlation between their calls and where they traveled that day and the next day. "We found that males emitted long calls mostly facing the direction they traveled a few hours later, or even after a night's rest," said study co-author Karin Isler. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Live Science

Camels May Be Spreading Fatal Virus

Mounting evidence finds that camels may be passing the virus that causes the fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome from bats to humans. The virus itself hasn’t yet been found in a camel, but the antibodies that react to it have been found in several of the animals. That suggests that they have recovered from the virus or one closely connected to it. There have been 114 confirmed cases of MERS. Many of those people have not had contact with camels, but the first confirmed cases of in three different clusters of the illness did have contact. In two of those cases, the camels were obviously ill. — Read it at The New York Times

Humpback Whale Populations Rise in British Columbia

There’s good news for the endangered species: humpback whale populations doubled in size from 2004 to 2011 in the coastal fjords of British Columbia. Using photo-identification surveillance of identifiable adults, researchers found that the population doubled each year, ending with a total of 137 whales in 2011. The region’s population is the largest in the summer, when the migrating whales stop there to feed. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Science Daily

A black bear crosses the road in downtown Gatlinburg, Tenn.
A black bear crosses the road in downtown Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Tennessee Bear Video Goes Viral

An incredible video shows a black bear meandering through Gatlinburg, Tenn., in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, while tourists casually pull out their phones to take pictures and videos. In the footage, the bear climbs the steps to the convention center downtown, and then walking along the sidewalk to cross the street at the crosswalk, like a local resident. The bear eventually wandered off into the woods. While this video was taken by a resident from the safety of her car, many of the people in the video didn’t exactly keep their distance. "Unfortunately, a lot of people in our society are getting more desensitized to wild animals … [the bear could] do some serious damage if he got cornered as he did in some of those situations," said Dr. Marcy Souza of the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. — Watch it at ABC News via Yahoo

Dog Alerts Parents to Abusive Babysitter

When the Jordan family moved to Charleston, S.C., with their then 7-month-old son, Finn, they hired a 22-year-old babysitter whose background check had come up clean. And while they trusted Alexis Khan with the care of their baby for five months — their dog didn’t. “We started to notice that our dog was very defensive of our son when she would come in the door,” said Benjamin Jordan. “He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.” That made the parents suspicious, and they decided to put an iPhone under the couch to record what was happening in the house. The audio recording captured the sounds of the sitter cussing at and slapping the baby while he cried. Khan was taken into police custody and pleaded guilty to assault and battery. She’ll be placed on a child abuse registry so she won’t be allowed to work with kids again. — Read it at Life With Dogs


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