When critically endangered species successfully reproduce offspring and show the world their adorable baby, I’m not going to lie, I also tend to feel like getting a new shot at life. An OB-gyn who delivered a western lowland gorilla via C-section at the Philadelphia Zoo even said the experience of actually making it happen felt like an incredible privilege.
Just a few weeks ago, another western lowland gorilla was born at Smithsonian National Zoo, the first of his kind in nine years!
“The birth of this western lowland gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole,” Meredith Bastian, the zoo’s curator of primates, said in a statement regarding Moke’s birth.
Born to mother Calaya and father Baraka, the baby gorilla was named Moke (Mo-Key). Keeper Melba Brown went through months of training with Calaya to make sure she is able to prepare for the task of motherhood. And those months have truly paid off, as soon enough Calaya is kissing and nursing adorable Moke without difficulty.
“This infant’s arrival triggers many emotions — joy, excitement, relief — and pride that all of our perseverance in preparing Calaya for motherhood has paid off,” Brown said. “We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together.”
Surely a cute baby gorilla is enough cause to celebrate. Though of course, I would like to be proud first of amazing mommy Calaya. Now let me just go get a piece of tissue to wipe away this stray teardrop on my left cheek.
If not the Great Wall, it seems China’s main attraction is its everlasting devotion to the giant panda. The home of the Forbidden City has even built a solar farm inspired by the peaceful bamboo-munchers. Now hoping to increase populations, China is funding a national park dedicated to the slow-reproducing bears.
Plans for the park – which would cover 27,134 sq km – were first put forward early last year by the ruling Communist Party and the State Council, China’s cabinet.
If the 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) proves enough, the Giant Panda National Park will dwarf Yellowstone by three times. With over 80% of the world’s pandas situated in Sichuan, 2018 is the perfect year for a get-together. Getting them to breed? We’ll leave it up to luck.
Giant pandas have a notoriously low reproductive rate, a key factor – along with habitat loss – in their status as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
We get it, guys. Dating around can be unsettling — but perhaps not for the greater good.
For urban communities, the relationship between humans and animals has been, for the most part, give and take. Where turkeys (or rather, their droppings) contribute to bio-fuel, concerned citizens have set up bee farms in vacant lots. Now seeing a rise in hedgehog road deaths in London, engineer Michel Birkenwald is creating special highways for the critters.
“It’s implying that hedgehogs are basically moving into our towns and cities,” [Emily] Wilson [of Hedgehog Streets] says. “They’re quite sturdy, and able to live alongside us quite well, as long as we make space for them and link green spaces together.”
Birkenwald and his animal-loving posse drill wall holes for free, allowing the prickly pedestrians to make safe crossing. Over the years, the real-life Sonic population has dwindled by 50% due to unwelcoming agricultural procedures. As compost-dwellers, “cleaner” farms don’t bode well for the spiky natives. Despite his life-saving deeds, Birkenwald is as humble as anyone.
“I am just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals,” he says.
We’ll do anything for the cute and powerless.
Thanks to influencers like Leonardo DiCaprio, endangered animals are receiving the rehabilitation they deserve. Still, many involved in black markets will find ways to exploit rare species. Activists are praising Indonesian authorities for rescuing 101 pangolins smuggled on a fishing boat.
“After border protection by the Indonesian customs increased and more than 10 arrests with tons of frozen pangolins happened in the [major] seaports, the traffickers changed their modus,”
The most trafficked animal in the world, pangolins are delicacies in Vietnam and China. Many pay thousands of dollars to pair their scales with other medical treatments. Scientifically, pangolin scales have no curative elements and belong exactly where they are now — on pangolins.
It’s unknown exactly how many pangolins are left in the wild, but scientists have classified the four Asian species as endangered or critically endangered, meaning they face a very high risk of extinction.
Of the 101 rescued critters, 4 bit the dust. National parks are now home to the remainder. Indonesia is a frontrunner in the illegal wildlife trade, exploiting billions of dollars a year. If exploiting a single pangolin earns you five years jail-time and $7,300, poaching may not be the most attractive industry — nor should it ever be.