In a collaboration between the Blackfeet Nation, Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada, Oakland Zoo, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), 88 bison were transferred from Elk Island to the Blackfeet Nation Reservation near Browning, Montana.
This transfer marks a truly historic occasion for the Blackfeet people, whose cultural identity is strongly wrapped up in the icon of the buffalo (or bison, as they are known scientifically).
“The Blackfeet People were a buffalo people for thousands of years,“ said Harry Barnes, Chair of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council. “The buffalo provided everything the people needed in the way of food, clothing, and shelter. It provided for so much of our physical needs that it filled our spiritual needs. It connected us to our animal and plant relatives in a way nothing else could provide. The elders have long believed that until the buffalo returned, the Blackfeet would drift. We have started the return.”
In 1873, bison from the Blackfoot land were captured and formed the “Pablo-Allard” herd. They were sold to to the Canadian government in the early 1900s. The Elk Island bison are the descendants of that herd.
“Today marks the long-awaited return of these buffalo to their original homeland,” said Ervin Carlson, Bison Program Director and President of the Intertribal Buffalo Council. “The Elk Island Buffalo originated from Blackfeet territory and their homecoming enhances the restoration of Blackfeet culture. These animals are culturally and spiritually connected to our people and I believe their homecoming will begin a healing of historical trauma to the Blackfeet people. These buffalo will begin the longstanding efforts to restore buffalo to their historical mountain front rangelands.”
A hungry sea lion pup made her way from the beach all the way inside a fancy restaurant in San Diego. Plopping herself into a booth, the young sea lion had a prime location near a window.
Executive chef Bernard Guillas posted photos of the pup on Facebook:
The sea lion was eventually rescued by SeaWorld San Diego’s Animal Rescue team. They observed that the pup was very small for her age.
“It was also a little bit shocking to see how small the pup was,” said Jody Westberg, one of SeaWorld’s animal coordinators, who went to the rescue. “A micro-pup. Very small in body length, and very malnourished.”
The animal care team is now working to rehydrate the pup and get her back in the water.
Mufasa, an elderly mountain lion who spent 20 years chained up in the back of a circus pick-up truck, has been rescued by Animal Defenders International (ADI). He will live out the rest of his life at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon forest.
According to ADI President Jan Creamer, “Mufasa’s story symbolizes the suffering we have ended. He was kept for years in chains in a truck, sleeping on metal, barely able to move. An unbearable torture. Now, in his twilight years, I hope people will help us give him back the life the circus stole from him.”
ADI rescues Mufasa from the back of a circus pickup truck. Photo by Animal Defenders International.
Mufasa at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon forest. Photo by Animal Defenders International.
Coco the former circus lion was microchipped by ADI in preparation for his trip to his African forever home. Photo by Animal Defenders International.
In December, twenty-four African lions rescued from circuses in Peru and nine lions from a Colombian circus will board the biggest airlift of its kind, heading to a forever home in Africa. Rescued by Animal Defenders International (ADI), these former circus lions will live at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo province, South Africa.
To prepare for the journey, all the lions were microchipped at ADI’s rescue center near Lima, Peru. Two of the lions were given dental surgery.
An ADI vet performs dental surgery. Photo by Animal Defenders International.
Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer said, “The lions don’t know that their lives are going to change forever – from years of suffering in circuses, they will live in natural bush enclosures under the African sun. This is like a person applying for a visa for the trip of a lifetime.”
“It is a long and complicated process to move large numbers of wild animals across international borders, especially in an operation involving three countries. We are grateful for the collaboration of officials in Peru, Colombia and South Africa to make this happen for these lions. It can only lead to stronger animal protection law enforcement in future.”
If you would like to help ADI fund Operation Spirit of Freedom, visit their website.
A juvenile great white shark beached itself in Chatham, Massachusetts yesterday. With the help of beach goers, the harbor master, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, the shark was able to safely return to the water!
Millions of animals around the world are held in captivity in conditions that are not ideal. One such pair of animals have their story told in The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue by Sara Starbuck.
The title lioness and lion live in two completely different worlds but are united in the fact that they both need to escape to better lives. Bella was blind, sickly, and brokenhearted at the loss of her family in the Romanian zoo in which she lived. Simba lived in a cramped backyard in France, after living his early years traveling in a circus trailer. The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue recalls the tale of the rescue and rehabilitation of these two majestic animals with the help of the Born Free Foundation.
In the book, Starbuck weaves the stories of Bella and Simba in alternating chapters to keep the reader captivated. Each chapter focuses on a part of the lions’ rescue and is written in a friendly, easy-to-read way. The text is accompanied by vivid, full-color photographs of the animals and rescue volunteers.
Interspersed throughout the book are fascinating facts about lions — everything from how their claws grow to why they have a tassel on their tail. In this way, readers learn not only about the plight of Bella and Simba but about lions in general.
The True Story of Bella & Simba: Lion Rescue is a great read for anyone who loves animals, rescue stories, and happy endings. It is fit for young readers both in content and in ease of reading.
Cholita, an abused spectacled bear and former circus animal, waits for her trip to the United States, where she can live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary. Photo provided by Animal Defenders International (ADI).
Cholita has had a hard life. She is an Andean/spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), a species considered vulnerable of extinction in the wild. She was kept illegally at a circus in Peru. There, she was severely abused.
Due to the gruesome abuse she suffered at the circus, Cholita now has no claws, teeth or hair. She is barely recognizable as a spectacled bear. But there is hope for Cholita, to live out the rest of her days in a United States sanctuary.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) has worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Peruvian authorities to get Cholita on a special ‘Spirit of Freedom’ flight to Colorado scheduled for April 20. The huge rescue mission, which also includes the rescue of 70 other circus animals, is expected to cost ADI over $1.2 million.
The Lincoln Park Zoo in conjunction with the US Fish & Wildlife Service is working to repopulate prairie land with native wildlife.
A zoo-raised ornate box turtle prepares for release into the wild. Photo by Sharon Dewar / Lincoln Park Zoo.
Their most recent release was 18 ornate box turtle hatchlings in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Savanna, Illinois. The zoo is also recovering other prairie-dwelling wildlife including meadow jumping mice and smooth green snakes.
“Suitable habitat is being created, but many species have trouble accessing it due to fragmentation from roads and other physical barriers which makes re-colonization of restored sites improbable,” explained Allison Sacerdote-Velat, Ph.D. reintroduction biologist at Lincoln Park Zoo.
“These collaborative conservation partnerships are terrific because each agency brings a unique expertise. The zoo specializes in small population biology and animal care. We can successfully breed, hatch and care for these species until they are large and mature enough for release to the wild – a technique called ‘head-starting’ which gives them a greater chance of survival upon release.”
An ornate box turtle taking its first steps in the prairie. Photo by Sharon Dewar / Lincoln Park Zoo.
SeaWorld Rescue team member Anita Yeattes poses with a rescue dog on a cross-country flight from New Jersey to California.
After Hurricane Sandy devastated the northeast United States, many pets became homeless. Area shelters have been overflowing with new residents. So a few organizations stepped up to lend a helping hand. Sixty orphaned dogs and cats — from Save A Pet in Long Island and Delco SPCA in Delaware County — were flown across the country via a donated charter from Southwest Airlines, chaperoned by SeaWorld‘s animal rescue experts, just in time for a safe and secure new home for the holidays at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe.
The extraordinary rescue is being made possible by Southwest Airlines, whose flight crews are donating their time and whose fuel provider BP is donating fuel; along with the donated manpower of SeaWorld, who is providing veterinarians and animal technicians to chaperone the furry and four-legged passengers during the cross-country flight. SeaWorld’s animal experts in San Diego also will donate transportation for the pets to their new home after they land. Once at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, the animals will be evaluated by a veterinarian and receive medical treatments, vaccinations and spaying or neutering before being placed in loving homes with adoptive families.
“We know the Northeast is still recovering from Sandy and there is a long road ahead, which is why we have devoted our aircraft and resources to bringing in volunteers to assist on the ground,” stated Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach. “Helping these animals find their forever homes and making room for the many animals displaced by the Hurricane is something we were happy to do, but wouldn’t have been possible without the generous spirit of our employees and partners.”
“We have a long history of rescuing animals and giving them a second chance at life and helping this effort is a natural extension of our resources,” said SeaWorld spokesperson Becca Bides. “Helen Woodward Animal Center and Southwest Airlines are big-hearted organizations and long-standing partners of SeaWorld and we are thrilled to team together for a cause. Everyone involved in the rescue is going to incredible lengths to aid these displaced pets and to get them into loving homes.”
SeaWorld Rescue team members Jessica Decoursey and Dr. David Brinker pose with rescue dogs onboard the Southwest Airlines flight.
SeaWorld Rescue team member Jay Tacey helps a rescue dog board the Southwest Airlines flight.
SeaWorld Rescue team member Anita Yeattes and Southwest Airlines Captain Sean McMahon pose with a rescue dog.
Millions of bats have died from a disease called white-nose syndrome. When bats are hibernating in the winter, a white fungus covers their noses, wings, ears and tails. Bats with the disease display unusual behavior such as flying outside in the winter and clustering near the entrance of a cave. This leads bats to starve to death from excess activity or to freeze to death. The disease was first documented 2006 in eastern New York and has spread to other eastern U.S. states and Canadian provinces since then.
Currently, conservationists are attacking the problem from multiple angles, including treating the infection or developing a vaccine. But The Nature Conservancy is taking a different approach. They have built an artificial cave in Tennessee hoping to lure bats from a nearby natural cave that displays early signs of white-nose syndrome. If they are successful in attracting tenants, they will be able to control the disease in their cave by cleaning it every summer. In a natural cave, they cannot spray or hose it down without destroying the other natural organisms that thrive in that environment. Building a man-made cave specifically for bats allows for a safe, disease-free shelter for the bats every winter without disrupting the flora and fauna of the natural cave.