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News from the News

Giant Panda Birth at San Diego Zoo
    On 21 August, a Giant Panda was born at the Pacific Bell Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo. The parents are currently on long term loan form teh People's Republic of China (PRC) as part of a joint research and conservation effort between the PRC, the San Diego Zoo, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
    The female was artificially inseminated, after studies found deficiencies that prevented the male from knowing when she was in estrus. A variety of behavioral and hormonal factors were used to time the insemination, and daily urine samples were collected, enabling the zoo to monitor patterns of estrogen secretions and pinpoint the period of maximum fertility.
    The panda's post-partum maternal bahavior has also helped shore up the case for pandas as members of the bear (Ursid) family. Studies on molecular genetics have suggested that pandas are bears, and the San Diego Zoo, in collaboration with Professor Pan Wnshi (Peking University), has analyzed data from wild females to help guide them through the post-partum phase. In the first eight days after the birth, the female left the maternity den for only two drinks of water, and did not show any interest in food, which is very bear-like behavior.

New species of Striped Rabbit Discovered in Asia
A new species of rabbit is hopping around the forests of Southeast Asia. Discovered by biologists from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the rabbit lives in the rugged Annamite Mountains of Laos, an extremely isolated region that has yielded several new species of mammals in recent years. The rabbit, which has distinct, dark brown stripes running down both its face and back, a reddish rump, and short ears, was first seen by a WCS researcher, who found three freshly killed specimens in a food marked in Ben Lak, Laos. According to researchers, the rabbit's closest relative is a critically endangered species found in Sumatra-about a thousand miles away; genetic data suggest that the two species may have diverged about eight million years ago. Nothing is yet known about the biology of either variety. Since the discovery, the rabbit has been photographed in a nature reserve in Vietnam.

Students Help Save Rhinos
One of the most important functions of moderns zoos and aquariums is to excite the public about wildlife conservation and get them directly involved. A great example is occurring in Cincinnati where students at Mason Intermediate and Western Row Elementary raised more than $11,000 for rhinoceros conservation programs through the International Rhino Foundation (IRF). It was a two-year "Critter Campaign" developed by gifted-education teacher Becky Howard Miller.
After the Cincinnati Zoo's Education Department visited the school and explained how the rhino is endangered because of habitat loss and illegal poaching, about 900 students collected more than four tons of aluminum cans, sponsored pie tosses, and organized a silent auction to raise money. Half the money went to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's ADOPT (Animals Depend on People Too) Program and half went to the IRF.
Through the International Rhino Foundation, the students adopted a 10-year-old Sumatran rhino (about 400 left in the wild) at an Indonesian preserve. The IRF Web site, complete with pictures of students, teachers, and Minah, is at

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