Polar bear cub caught snuggling with mom in adorable pics

There's only one word to describe this — aww. A polar bear cub no bigger than a guinea pig was caught on video at the Berlin Zoo snuggling with its mother, SWNS reports. The cub is just 14 days old and is spending the majority of its day curled up to its mother in a nesting cave … Continue reading “Polar bear cub caught snuggling with mom in adorable pics”

There's only one word to describe this — aww.

A polar bear cub no bigger than a guinea pig was caught on video at the Berlin Zoo snuggling with its mother, SWNS reports. The cub is just 14 days old and is spending the majority of its day curled up to its mother in a nesting cave where not even zookeepers are allowed. New camera technology caught the heartwarming moments.

The cub, which has not been given a name yet, will eventually open its eyes and ears when it turns approximately a month old, but for now it is relying on its mother, Tonja, for safety.

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"So far we are very satisfied with the development," Dr. Florian Sicks, curator of the polar bear exhibit said. "As in the last few years, Tonja takes excellent care of her offspring.”

The cub’s eyes and ears will open when it is around 30 days old but for it now relies on momTonja to keep warm and safe. (Credit: SWNS)

The cub's father, Volodya, joined the Berlin Zoo during the summer but is not involved with raising the cub, as polar bears largely live alone. Dr. Sicks added that right now, the cub is getting nourishment once every two hours.

The mortality rates for newborn polar bears is exceptionally high. In the wild, approximately 85 percent do not live for more than two years. Classified as vulnerable by the World Wildlife Fund, there are estimated to be only between 22,000 and 31,000 left on Earth.

A polar bear cub the size of a guinea pig looks to be dreaming of a white Christmas in adorable secret footage. (Credit: SWNS) 

"Because of ongoing and potential loss of their sea ice habitat resulting from climate change, polar bears were listed as a threatened species in the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008," WWF writes on its website.

Classified as marine mammals because they spend much of their lives in the Arctic Ocean looking, polar bears have jet black skin. Their fur is translucent and appears white because it reflects visible light, the WWF adds.

While they spend much of their lives in the water, swimming constantly for days at a time, less than 2 percent of their hunts are successful.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

Tamu, oldest giraffe in North America, dies at Colorado zoo

The oldest giraffe living in North America died Thursday at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

Tamu, a female reticulated giraffe, died of natural causes at age 32, surrounded by keepers and vet staff, the zoo said in a statement. Although Tamu was considered geriatric, her health declined rapidly and unexpectedly beginning at 11 a.m. up until her death at 1 p.m.

“She was the nicest giraffe on the planet,” said Jason Bredahl, animal care manager. “She would sit under the lettuce hut and eat lettuce all day long and made millions of people’s days. If you have a giraffe selfie on your phone, there’s a good chance it’s with Tamu. She was a guest favorite, for sure.”

Guests and staff affectionately referred to the giraffe, who first arrived at the zoo in April 2003, as “Moose” or “Grandma” because of her “great heart” and “gentle” nature, the statement said.

Easily recognized by her dark, busy eyebrows, Tamu was due to celebrate her 33rd birthday on Dec. 28, FOX31 Denver reported.

In her lifetime, Tamu gave birth to six calves, leaving behind a legacy of 29 grandcalves, nine great-grandcalves, and one great-great-grandcalf.

"She will be missed so much," said Amy Schilz, senior giraffe keeper. "She was really, really smart. Just yesterday, she was participating in training for hoof care. She had a great heart."

Future humans may call us the ‘chicken people,’ and here’s why

Long-lost cultures are sometimes known by the goods they leave behind. The Neolithic Corded Ware people of Europe, for example, got their name from the distinctive decorated pottery they made. If today's humans ever get a similar moniker, we might be known as the Chicken People.

Domesticated chickens, it turns out, could be a signpost for future archaeologists that screams, "Humans were here!" The total weight of the species Gallus gallus domesticus not only exceeds the weight of all wild birds combined, domesticated chickens also carry distinctive signs of industrialized farming in their very bones.

"They're an example, really, of how we've changed the biosphere to suit our needs as humans," said Carys Bennett, the lead author of a new study published today (Dec. 11) in the journal Royal Society Open Science that argues that chicken-bone fossils may mark a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. [7 Bizarre Ancient Cultures That History Forgot]

Chickens conquer the world

Bennett is a geologist, and she and her colleagues are interested in finding markers of a potential new era of geological history. The Anthropocene is a still-controversial epoch defined by humans as the major drivers of Earth's environment. One key requirement of an epoch, Bennett told Live Science, is having an "index fossil." Index fossils are fossils that can be found around the world in a particular era and are unique enough to mark that period of time as different from what came before and after.

Chickens might just be that index fossil for the Anthropocene. The numbers tell the story: There are approximately 21.4 billion domesticated chickens alive on the planet today, making them by far the most numerous birds on the planet. Their combined weight, or biomass, is around 11 billion lbs. (5 billion kilograms). And chickens are found worldwide. Humans consumed an estimated 62 billion of them in 2014 alone.

Many chicken bones end up in landfills, Bennett and her colleagues wrote, which are oxygen-poor environments good for preserving organic matter. That means that chickens are quite likely to end up preserved in the fossil record.

Changing chickens

If future archaeologists do indeed find fossilized remains of today's chickens, they'll likely realize quickly that the creatures they've discovered weren't built by nature. Bennett and her team analyzed the leg bones of chickens from a database of animal bones that had been found in London. The bones dated back as far as the Roman Era, which began in A.D. 43. The earliest chickens were small, much like their wild ancestor, the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus). Around the year 1340, the researchers found, domesticated chickens got a little heftier, likely the result of experiments in selective breeding at the time.

Around 1950, though, chicken-bone measurements really started to change. The leg bone of a modern juvenile broiler chicken is three times as wide and two times as long as that of a wild red jungle fowl. A chicken today is a good four or five times larger than a chicken of the same species in 1957.

"It's astonishing," Bennett told Live Science.

Today's monster chickens are no accident; they are the result of a 1948 supermarket competition called the "Chicken of Tomorrow" that called on breeders to make bigger, faster-growing fowl. Today's broiler chickens grow so rapidly that their bones are more porous than their wild counterparts. They are typically slaughtered by 7 weeks of age and don't survive well if allowed to grow larger, Bennett and her colleagues wrote.

Future geochemists will also be able to detect the grain-based diets of today's chickens in the molecules that build their bones, Bennett said. And if they can sequence any DNA from chicken-bone fossils, they'll find variations in some genes, such as a mutation that allows domesticated chickens to mate year-round rather than seasonally.

The International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is made up of a group of scientists from around the world, is responsible for defining periods, epochs and ages that researchers use to understand Earth's history. The Anthropocene has yet to be officially adopted, Bennett said, and the process is likely to take years. There are signs, however, that the Anthropocene may well be visible in the rock record for millennia. Scientists in 2014, for example, reported a new "rock," plastiglomerate, or a mix of lava and melted plastic found on some beaches. Researchers have also argued that sediments will hold other telltale signs of industrialized society, including lead from leaded gasoline, byproducts from the burning of fossil fuels and nitrogen from fertilizers. Chickens could join this mix, Bennett said.

"As the population of chickens is going up, so is the human population, so is the amount of plastic we're using, the amount of fossil fuels we're burning," she said. "So the timing fits in pretty well with what scientists are looking at as the boundary of the Anthropocene, which would be 1950."

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Originally published on Live Science.

Asian elephant born at Ohio zoo was conceived via artificial insemination, officials say

The Columbus Zoo in Ohio has officially added a new member to its animal kingdom: an Asian elephant, which was born early Thursday morning.

The calf  is the first elephant to be born at the zoo in nearly 10 years, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Its mother, a 31-year-old Asian elephant named Phoebe, conceived the calf after she was artificially inseminated with sperm from two different male elephants. DNA testing, later on, will confirm which one fathered the calf.

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The baby elephant’s sex is not yet clear. Zoo officials are giving it time to bond with its mother, which gave birth to her first baby in 1999, according to the newspaper.

The Columbus Zoo on Facebook wrote Phoebe is an “experienced mom” and added the calf  “appears to be strong.”

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“This calf’s birth is important to sustaining the genetic diversity of Asian elephants in human care,” the zoo continued, noting the species is considered endangered.

The public will have an opportunity to name the calf.

The Associated Press contibuted to this report.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

‘Omen of Evil’ baby aye-aye lives in Denver zoo

Talk about a face only a mother could love.

Tonks, the aye-aye, was recently born at the Denver Zoo, the Denver Post is reporting, and while her appearance may be ghastly, it's a win for biologists trying to save the species.

Only 24 of these types of lemurs live in zoos in the U.S., the Denver Zoo noted. It is not known how many of them are in the wild, due to the nocturnal nature of the species and the fact they spend almost all of their time in trees, but they are considered endangered.

WORLD'S SMALLEST COW LIL' BILL OUTSHINES GIANT RIVALS IN ADORABLE PICS

Symbolic with death and even considered an omen of evil in its native Madagascar, the aye-aye was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1961, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

(Denver Zoo)

"The aye-aye remains an endangered species not only because its habitat is being destroyed, but also due to native superstition," the organization wrote on its website. "Ancient Malagasy legend said that the Aye-aye was a symbol of death, with some believing its mere appearance predicts the death of a villager."

Tonks, whose parents are aptly named Bellatrix and Smeagol (Bellatrix was one of Voldemort's Death Eaters in Harry Potter lore and Smeagol was the original name of the creature Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings"), is in the zoo's aye-aye exhibit, where she continues to grow.

Eventually, she will be able to be seen by visitors, but it won't be for a few months, the zoo's website added.

Farmer claims his huge 6-foot, 5-inch cow is bigger than giant viral sensation Knickers

Mooooove over Knickers – there's a new cow in town.

A Canadian farmer claims his super steer is an inch taller than the viral 6ft 4 Aussie cow which has been hogging the headlines.

Karl Schoenrock says his own steer Dozer is just over 6-foot-5, calling him a "gentle giant."

CLICK ON THE SUN FOR MORE

Australian cow, Knickers, became a viral sensation after a video emerged of him towering above other farm beasts.

The enormous 1.4-tonne beast which has been saved from getting the chop at the abattoir, won social media fame, and could suffer a rare genetic condition.

But Dozer's owners say he can pull the udder one.

Karl, and his wife Raelle, who run Kismet Creek Farm in Manitoba, decided to see how their bovine measured up.

(Credit: Kismet Creek Farm)

To their surprise he had grown two inches taller than the last time they sized him up – and he might even be the world's biggest.

“He’s just the friendliest animal,” Schoenrock said.

“He’s not very intimidating at all, except for his size. If you stood next to him he’ll just lay down next to you.”

Like Knickers from down under, Dozer was saved from being turned into burgers and steaks - although you'd get a lot out of him.

Butchers say Knickers alone would produce around 1,400 lbs of trimmed 'saleable' beef  – enough for 450 cuts of steak and 370kg of mince.

Dozer ended up at Schoenrock’s farm — an animal sanctuary and petting farm — when a vegan woman bought and saved the then-6-month-old calf from a beef-producing farm in Alberta.

Knickers made rounds on social media this week after video surfaced showing the steer towering over the other cattle at a farm in Myalup, Western Australia.

He weighs over 3,000 pounds and, if slaughtered, would make more than 1,400 pounds of ground beef.

Dozer and Knickers are both Holstein Friesian steers, a dairy breed.

On average, the breed’s bulls reach just 5-foot-10 and 2,200 pounds.

(Credit: Kismet Creek Farm)

Neither animal is a cow but steers – male bovines that have been castrated.

Unlike Knickers, Dozer doesn’t have smaller breeds to tower over in pictures, but he does share the farm with two other steers.

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

World’s smallest cow Lil’ Bill outshines giant rivals in adorable pics

A tiny calf is a real-life mini moo after being born one-tenth the normal size – and is now tipped for place in the record books.

Lil' Bill shocked his owners when he tipped the scales at a mere 10lbs looking just like every other cow only a lot, lot smaller.

News of the tiny star's arrival last week comes just days after the Sun Online told how a steer in Australia had been crowned the world's biggest 'cow'.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM THE SUN

Knickers – who weighs 300 times more than Lil' Bill – was saved from the slaughterhouse because he was deemed just too big to kill.

Revelations of the giant's escape from the chop soon sparked tales of more amazing bovine behemoths scattered around the globe.

Now on the UDDER end of the scale comes Lil' Bill who was taken to the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine over concerns for his health.

"He was born weighing a little over one-tenth of what newborn calves typically weigh," the Uni's vets posted on Facebook.

“Occasionally, we get a case that has us scratching our heads a bit. Lil’ Bill is one of those cases!"

The miniature cow now has his own Facebook tag #LilBill, and the college has promised to post regular updates on his progress.

Last week, we introduced the world to Knickers who weighed in at 1.4 tonnes and stood 6ft 4ins tall making the seven-year-old Holstein Friesian the world's biggest.

Cattle farmer Geoff Pearson said the farmyard beast's startling size had even saved him a trip to the abattoir.

"It was too heavy. I wouldn't be able to put it through a processing facility," he said. "So I think it will just live happily ever after."

According to Guinness World Records, the tallest steer on the planet can be found in Italy — a 6ft 6ins Chianina ox named Bellino.

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

Picture of muscle-bound bull sparks steroid debate

A strange mutant breed of cattle has reportedly sparked a debate over steroids thanks to their muscle-bound bodies.

The weird images of so-called Belgian Blues and British Blues arrived just days after photos of a different, also very large, bovine called Knickers went viral.

These latest breeds of cattle have a naturally occurring mutation known as "double-muscling" that turns them into the beefy beasts.

Some people who saw images online speculated that the muscular cattle must be on steroids.

"It should be illegal to inject steroids into any animal… it takes it out of its natural healthy looking character," wrote one, according to the Sun.

Another of the YouTube commenters who saw pictures of the breed wrote: "Insane…pathetic what they did to these poor creatures."

However, others wrote that the bulls' appearance is because of a natural mutation rather than the result of any drugs.

One replied: ‘This is a Belgian breed of cattle that looks like this because of a genetic mutation that results in increased muscle mass.

Although the animal's size means a greater meat-to-bone ratio, which is good news for cattle producers, the mutation also comes with health risks.

For instance, pregnancies are very difficult, and the animals usually require C-sections to deliver their babies.

Once the calves are born, they may have a number of birth defects, including enlarged tongues, which can make it difficult for them to nurse.

Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

Massive lion fends off more than 20 hyenas during attack, wild video shows

In a moment one could imagine as a harrowing scene straight out of Disney’s “The Lion King,” footage shared by BBC Earth recently captured a lion’s intense struggle to fend off more than 20 hyenas.

The lion, named Red, appears to unknowingly venture into a hyena territory — a move that could have easily ended in his demise.

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The fight ensues for several moments as the lion growls at the cackling hyenas, who paw and bite at him. At one point,  Red’s energy appears to fade.

But in a heroic moment, Tatu, a friend of Red’s, rushes to his rescue after hearing the struggle.  Together the two fend off the hyenas.

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Spotted hyenas and lions have a  similar diet; the two often “cover the same ground, hunt the same prey, and scavenge the same remains of animals,” according to National Geographic. Both species are known to steal food for each other as well as chase one another, the publication reported.

“A lion male is twice the size of a spotted hyena and three to four times as heavy, and one single paw stroke can kill an adult hyena. Hyenas, therefore, are careful during encounters with adult lions for good reason,” the Hyena Project in the Ngorongoro Crater states online. 

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Virginia man convicted of illegally feeding bears for 10 years, ordered to pay ‘highest allowed’ fine: report

A Richmond, Virginia man who illegally fed bears for a decade in an alleged effort to protect them has been convicted.

The man, who was not been publicly identified, was convicted Nov. 7 following years of reports of “unusual bear activity” near his property, NBC12 reported, citing the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

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Prior to his conviction, the man reportedly admitted to feeding the bears, telling officials he spent an estimated $10,000 on food for the animals each year, the department said, according to NBC12. He claimed feeding the bears was a way to “protect” them from poachers and help those that were sick or hurt.

But his actions caused conservation officers to trap and remove many “nuisance” bears in the area throughout the years; the animals have become accustomed to human food and have caused “thousands of dollars of damage to surrounding property,” the news station reported.

The bears also reportedly had symptoms of sarcoptic mange, a skin condition caused by mites that are easily spread from animal to animal.

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The man, who was convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor, was required to pay a $500 fine for feeding the animals. The charge is reportedly the “highest allowed” under the state’s law.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment Friday morning.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.