World’s oldest gorilla in captivity passes away, and other nature stories


Colo at Columbus Zoo in 2009.  Image  by en:User:Adolphus79 – , Public Domain.

Colo, the primate matriach, has died at Columbus Zoo aged 60.

She exceeded the median life expectancy for gorillas in captivity by over 35 years.

She was also thought to be the first gorilla ever born in human care.

The zoo celebrated her 60th birthday in December, an event that drew hundreds of visitors.

She was responsible for 34 offspring including three great-great grandchildren.

She preferred solitude in her own enclosure in later years.

Her keepers shared heartfelt tributes in a press release issued by Columbus Zoo:

She was the coolest animal I’ve ever worked with and caring for her was the highlight of my career.

It was not just about what she meant for the gorilla community but for whom she was as a gorilla.

I’m heartbroken but also grateful for the 19 years I had with Colo.

– Assistant curator, Audra Meinelt

Oryx resurrection: Saharan antelope returns to wild


Scimitar oryx in the Werribee Open Range Zoo by Waddey at en.wikipedia, CC BY 3.0,

The survival of the Scimitar-horned oryx, hunted to near-extinction in the 1990s, has been boosted with a large release back into the wild.

Forty six of the rare antelope have been released into their natural habitat in a remote part of Chad.

Some of the oryx were pregnant and it’s hoped the species will be able to thrive once again.

The University of Sydney believes this repopulation is possible due to the extinction in the same area of the oryx’s natural predators, lions and cheetahs.

Antarctic team to be evacuated due to ice sheet break 

Liftoff! A balloon begins to rise over the brand new Halley VI Research Station, which had its grand opening in February 2013. Credit: NASA --- In Antarctica in January, 2013 – the summer at the South Pole – scientists launched 20 balloons up into the air to study an enduring mystery of space weather: when the giant radiation belts surrounding Earth lose material, where do the extra particles actually go? The mission is called BARREL (Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses) and it is led by physicist Robyn Millan of Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Millan provided photographs from the team’s time in Antarctica. The team launched a balloon every day or two into the circumpolar winds that circulate around the pole. Each balloon floated for anywhere from 3 to 40 days, measuring X-rays produced by fast-moving electrons high up in the atmosphere. BARREL works hand in hand with another NASA mission called the Van Allen Probes, which travels through the Van Allen radiation belts surrounding Earth. The belts wax and wane over time in response to incoming energy and material from the sun, sometimes intensifying the radiation through which satellites must travel. Scientists wish to understand this process better, and even provide forecasts of this space weather, in order to protect our spacecraft. As the Van Allen Probes were observing what was happening in the belts, BARREL tracked electrons that precipitated out of the belts and hurtled down Earth’s magnetic field lines toward the poles. By comparing data, scientists will be able to track how what’s happening in the belts correlates to the loss of particles – information that can help us understand this mysterious, dynamic region that can impact spacecraft. Having launched balloons in early 2013, the team is back at home building the next set of payloads. They will launch 20 more balloons in 2014. NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

Liftoff! A balloon begins to rise over the brand new Halley VI Research Station, which had its grand opening in February 2013. Image: NASA

The Halley expedition will be moving  due to a massive split in the ice shelf on which it is based.

The first scientific endeavour to recognise the hole in the ozone layer will have to find another location in November when the Antarctic winter is over.

Halley VI stands on hydraulic legs to withstand polar snows, and has sets of giant skis which enable it to move if neccessary.

The move is necessary because the shifting Brunt Ice Shelf could swallow the entire base by 2020.

The expedition will continue experimentation once it moves 14 miles inland.

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