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Extremely Rare Leopard Cubs Born in Connecticut Zoo
Two cubs belonging to an extremely endangered subspecies of leopard were born at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo and have now survived a "critical" six weeks, the zoo announced in a Facebook post last Thursday.
Amur leopards are native to the temperate forests of Northeast China, the Korean Peninsula and Eastern Russia. They are often hunted for their pelts and there are only around 80 left in the wild, the zoo said. The female cub is especially rare because she was also born with melanism, an unusual condition for big cats in which the body produces an excess of melanin, giving them black fur and spots.
"Amur leopards are on the brink of extinction," Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said in the Facebook post. "The Species Survival Plan's breeding recommendation is designed to bolster the number of individuals in human care, for potential future breeding, as well as the opportunity to return certain members of the species back to the wild someday. The birth of these cubs brings a few more precious Amur leopards to the population, which can help ensure the survival of these majestic animals for future generations."
Three cubs were born on Jan. 25, but one had to be euthanized due to "maternal-induced injuries." The other two cubs had to be separated from Freya, their mother, when she began "hyper-grooming behaviors" that put them at risk, the zoo said. The female cub was especially impacted. She lost her tail because of the hyper-grooming and had to have life-saving surgery and to take a course of antibiotics for an infection. She is now doing well, and both she and her brother have gained weight and are about 5.5 pounds.
The zoo is home to both of the cubs' parents: Freya, who was born in 2013 and comes from the Copenhagen Zoo and the father, Sochi, who was also born in 2013 and hails from the Denver Zoo.
The cubs will be able to be viewed publicly after several more weeks of care.
There are currently around 200 Amur leopards in captivity: slightly more than 100 in Europe and Asia and slightly less than 100 in the U.S. There were six Amur leopard cubs born in the U.S. in 2018, and five survived.
"With such a small population, each Amur leopard born is extremely important to the survival of the species," the zoo wrote on Facebook.
One other U.S.-based Amur leopards, at the San Diego Zoo, also has melanism.
Conservationists feared that Amur leopards would go extinct in the wild because of the combined pressures of poaching and habitat loss, according to The Revelator. A 2000 survey counted only around 30 in Russia and two in China. However, on-the-ground conservation campaigns and the 2012 establishment of the 647,000-acre Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia, helped the wild population recover somewhat. The park announced in April of last year that it had counted 84 adults and 19 cubs or adolescents within its boundaries.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.