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Illinois Zoo Welcomes Birth of Endangered Amur Leopards

Two leopard babies, part of an endangered species, have been successfully born in an Illinois zoo, prompting celebrations. Scientists across the globe have been clamoring to both protect and increase the species.

The Amur leopard cubs were born at Niabi Zoo located in Coal Valley, Illinois, according to a Facebook announcement.

The Amur leopard is a subspecies of leopard that is found in the southeastern corner of Russia as well as northern China, respectively. As of 2007, just 19–26 wild leopards remained in SE Russia as well as NE China, making it a Critically Endangered species according to the IUCN Red List.

As per the zoo, the Amur leopard is the planet’s most severely threatened big cat, with fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild.

According to the zoo, just seven more were born in the United States in 2021. In 2019, the Niabi Zoo collaborated with the Amur Leopard Conservation Initiative.

The Amur leopard “Jilin” was brought over from Europe and confined with the other leopards from European zoos for breeding purposes. Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens of Great Britain gave the wildlife park “Iona” in July 2021.

They claimed to have had a third cub, but it only survived for a few days. Remarkably, the two remaining pups, a male and a female, are doing well.

As of 2015, it was estimated that less than 60 people were left in China and Russia. Between 2014 and 2015, camera-trapping inspections mostly along the Russian-Chinese border found 92 animals in a transborder region of 3,242 sq miles. A total of roughly 90 leopards were counted in the habitat in 2019. In the year 2021, the population was recorded to be around 110 people.

Since the leopard population in this part of Eurasia is genetically related to leopards throughout northern China and Korea, it is reasonable to assume that population fragmentation began in the early twentieth century. In 2017, the North Chinese leopard, a separate subspecies, was removed from the Amur leopard.

The Amur leopard is currently found in an area of around 2,700 square miles in the Russian Far East. It is well-suited to the region’s frigid environment and copious amounts of snowfall. There is evidence that the leopard prefers mountainous terrain (especially sun-drenched south-facing rocky slopes) throughout the winter.

Wild sika deer and deer husbandry are the two most common habitats for this disease. Despite a high and long wire barrier, leopards traverse the Tumen River between Russia, China, and probably North Korea.

For the first time, an Amur leopard has been captured by a camera trap in the Changbai Mountains of Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces in 2010. As the name implies, this environment is made up of broadleaved and coniferous trees, and the average yearly temperature there is 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit). From January 2013 through July 2014, camera traps established up in this area captured leopards on up to 4,858 square kilometers (1,876 sq mi).

The Amur leopard’s distribution in China is highly fragmented, with populations concentrated in a few isolated areas. Camera trapping surveys in Shanxi Province between 2007 and 2014 found leopards in 16 conservation areas as well as six nature reserves, such as Foping National Nature Reserve.


New Kiwi Hospital in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands

Shannon Jackson



New Zealand, known for its stunning landscapes and unique wildlife, is home to the kiwi, a flightless bird and the country’s national icon. The kiwi is a curious and endearing bird, with a long, slender beak, soft brown feathers, and a round body.

In rural Kerikeri, a new kiwi hospital has been established by the conservation group Kiwi Coast to care for injured kiwi. This hospital is a vital addition to the region, as the kiwi population is on the rise in areas where communities are actively engaged in intensive pest control efforts.

Andrew Mentor, the coordinator of Kiwi Coast, explained that the increasing kiwi population is a positive sign but has led to more injured birds. These injuries often occur due to interactions with dogs, cars, and ponds. Currently, injured kiwi are taken to the Bird Recovery Centre in Whangārei for treatment and recovery. However, the long travel time to the centre adds extra stress to the already ailing birds.

The new kiwi hospital, built on land provided by a local farmer in cooperation with Puketotara Landcare and local hapū Te Whiu, features nine pens, each equipped with a nesting box and native ferns and grasses. Additionally, a clinic with three brood boxes is available for quarantine and intensive care.

The hospital anticipates receiving kiwi in need of care due to factors like drought, climate change, or attacks by dogs or feral cats. Being able to stabilize and rehabilitate these birds locally will greatly reduce stress and improve their chances of recovery.

The establishment of a dedicated kiwi hospital in the Bay of Islands is a significant step forward in conservation efforts. As a stronghold for kiwi, this region will likely see more kiwi and, consequently, more incidents requiring rehabilitation. Having a local facility will ensure that injured kiwi receive prompt and effective care, ultimately contributing to the preservation of this iconic species.

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Heroic K9 Biza Saves the Day in Freezing Cold

Kevin Wells



In a remarkable story of bravery and skill, a K9 police dog named Biza became a hero in Auburn, Massachusetts. Biza, a female German Shepherd with the Auburn Police Department, played a crucial role in finding a 12-year-old who went missing in the freezing cold weather.

The adventure began late at night, around 10:30 PM, when the young child left home without their mother’s permission and no way to contact anyone. With the temperatures dropping and concern growing, the police were called in to help find the missing youth.

Enter K9 Biza and her handler, Auburn Police Officer David Ljunggren. Together, they set out into the cold night with one mission: to bring the child back home safely. Biza, with her keen sense of smell, was given something to sniff to pick up the child’s scent. Before long, she was on the trail.

Imagine trekking through the night, following a determined dog who is your guide, your hope. Biza tracked the scent for over two miles, leading the officers through the dark. Her training and instincts were put to the test, and she passed with flying colors. The officers found evidence along the way that the child had passed by there not too long ago, thanks to Biza’s incredible nose.

Finally, Biza’s hard work paid off. With additional officers joining the search in the area Biza had led them to, the missing child was found a short time later. Thanks to Biza and the police team’s efforts, the story had a happy ending, with the child being safely located and returned home.

Deputy Chief Richard Mills of the Auburn Police had high praise for Biza, saying, “Biza is a good dog.” This simple statement speaks volumes about the trust and bond between K9 units and their handlers, and the incredible work they do together.

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A Heartwarming Tale of Rescue: Saving Ryszard the Puppy

Shannon Jackson



In a small village named Kuligów in central Poland, an adventurous little puppy named Ryszard found himself in a big, unexpected adventure. Ryszard, an 8-month-old pup, along with his seven siblings, embarked on an escape from their home near the Bug River. However, their adventure quickly turned into a dangerous situation when the river began to flood due to an ice jam breaking.

As the water rushed towards them, six of the puppies managed to swim to safety, but Ryszard wasn’t so lucky. He ended up stranded on a small island in the middle of the now swollen river. This island became his home for almost a week. Imagine being all alone in such a scary place, without any food, warmth, or your family. Ryszard was cold, hungry, and exhausted, howling for someone to help him.

The Bug River and its surroundings experienced the worst flooding they had seen in over ten years. The situation was dire, and even local firefighters tried to rescue Ryszard. But the river was too dangerous for them to reach him. The water was flowing fast, filled with ice and debris, making any rescue attempt extremely risky.

Then, after five long days, hope arrived from an unexpected place. A team of maritime specialists, sea rescuers from Kołobrzeg—a city on Poland’s northern Baltic coast—heard about Ryszard’s plight. They decided to embark on a massive journey to save him. These heroes traveled 700 kilometers (about 435 miles) across Poland to reach the little island where Ryszard was stuck.

Their effort was not in vain. The team successfully rescued Ryszard, bringing him to safety after his terrifying ordeal. It was a challenging mission, but the rescuers believed that saving Ryszard was worth every bit of the effort. As one of the rescuers, Paweł Depta, said, traveling the 1,400 kilometers (roundtrip) was entirely worthwhile.

Ryszard and his siblings are now under the care of a foundation that is helping them recover from their adventure. They’re getting lots of love and the care they need to bounce back. Videos of Ryszard’s recovery show him getting better, a testament to the resilience of our furry friends and the kindness of humans who go to great lengths to help them.

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Bus Driver’s Heimlich Heroism Saves Choking Third-Grader

Shannon Jackson



Quick thinking and calm under pressure made a Volusia County school bus driver a real-life hero last week. Mayrelyn Lopez, while attending to a minor bus backseat ruckus, noticed a third-grader struggling for breath, turning alarmingly purple. Without hesitation, she sprang into action, saving the boy’s life with the Heimlich maneuver.

Lopez, like many bus drivers, is trained in first aid and emergency procedures. But nothing beats firsthand instinct. As she swiftly walked back to the front after resolving the disturbance, she spotted the boy, Levi Holder, gasping for air and clutching his throat. “I say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Grab him and just do ‘this’ so fast,” Lopez recounted, demonstrating the Heimlich maneuver.

Her quick action dislodged the piece of candy stuck in Levi’s throat, sending it flying. Relief washed over both of them as air returned to Levi’s lungs. “Thank God, I [stood] up at the right moment,” Lopez admitted, shaking her head. “I was scared.”

Thanks to Lopez’s bravery and her training, Levi is back home and doing just fine. The eight-year-old, still shaken but recovering well, had only words of gratitude for his rescuer. “She was very nice,” Levi said, his voice tinged with awe. “Thank you for saving my life.”

For Lopez, the simple act of helping a child in need was all the reward she needed. “I’d want somebody help my kids if they are in that situation,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “It’s just something you do.”

Her quick thinking and heroic deed resonated within the community. School officials lauded Lopez’s professionalism and heroism, and parents expressed their heartfelt gratitude for her swift action.

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Michigan Man Saved from Icy Waters by His Dog and a Brave Police Officer

Renee Yates



In a remarkable rescue story from Traverse City, Michigan, a 65-year-old man owes his life to his loyal dog and a quick-thinking police officer. This heartwarming tale began on a chilly day at Arbutus Lake, where an afternoon turned into a life-threatening situation.

A Scary Fall Through the Ice

The man, enjoying a day near the lake, suddenly found himself in danger when he fell through the ice. Trapped in freezing water, he could only keep his head and shoulders above the surface. His faithful dog stayed by his side, anxious but unharmed.

The 911 Call and a Rescue Attempt

Someone called 911, and soon, a police officer arrived to help. The officer tried to throw a rescue ring to the man, but it didn’t reach him. That’s when the officer had a brilliant idea involving the man’s dog.

A Clever Rescue Plan

The officer, identified as MCO Bennetts, called to the dog, asking the man to send her over. The man told Bennetts that his dog’s name was Ruby. “Ruby, come here! Come here, Ruby!” Bennetts called out. Ruby, wagging her tail, ran to Bennetts.

Bennetts then attached the rescue disc to Ruby’s collar and asked the man to call her back. As Ruby returned to her owner, Bennetts instructed the man to take the disc from Ruby and start kicking his legs to stay afloat.

The Dramatic Rescue

“Bring your feet up to the surface by kicking your feet!” Bennetts shouted, pulling the man onto the ice’s surface. He urged him to hold onto the disc while he kept pulling the rope, dragging the man to safer ice near the lake’s edge.

Finally, Bennetts and a local firefighter grabbed the man’s arms to complete the rescue, with Ruby still attached to the rope.

A Happy Ending

The state police said the man was taken to a hospital for treatment and was later released. The rescue was celebrated on social media, with special praise for Ruby. “What a good girl!!! Amazing ice rescue from 7th District, MCO Bennetts. Creative thinking helped save a life!! EXCELLENT JOB MCO Bennetts and RUBY!!” read a tweet from the agency.

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