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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.



Safe Haven for Pets Who’s Owners Enter Rehab

Shannon Jackson



No pet owner likes to leave their pets for extended periods, no matter the reason for leaving. It’s no different for people who may have drug or alcohol issues and might need to go for rehabilitation.

Not knowing who to leave the pet with or the level of care it will receive can lead to anxiety. However, there’s a new resolve for people faced with that situation. Read on…

Bella was skeptical as she put her head up from inside the carrier she was being transported on to the boarding house.

A volunteer massaged the little black-and-white cat’s hair to calm her fear of the dogs barking at the boarding facility’s back.

The cat goes by the alias Bella since her owner, who’s dealing with a tough time at home, wants to keep her cat’s real name a secret. Pets in need of emergency shelter can stay with a foster family at Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering, which provides short-term, no-cost accommodation for animals whose owners are homeless or fleeing domestic abuse.

Odyssey House, Utah’s largest integrated addiction treatment center, and the foundation have just teamed up to offer three months of no-fee pet lodging to those who need it most.

“This is truly person-based, like person-led,” said Beth Henry, Ruff Haven’s foster coordinator. Pets are returned to their owners once treatment is complete and they have achieved a sense of security and well-being.

Enrollment and documenting of the owner’s present status, followed by a brief examination of the pet (weight and overall health), immunizations, and ensuring that the animal is either fixed or is scheduled to be treated, are the first steps in the process of adoption.

The pet then gets connected with a foster home, and the owner receives weekly SMS updates on the progress of their animal. When a client and their pet are apart, Ruff Haven’s fosters send videos and pictures of the pet to the client.

Several clients have the option of having their dogs dropped off for the Dogs All Day program by their foster parents, and their owners can come to meet them.

Henry stated, “It’s a terrific confidence boost for them.” In some cases, dogs are kept at the Dogs All Day center since their owners prefer to be able to visit them every day… It’s rare for them to be greeted by their loved ones every single day. The stress of living with a cat is very hard on them.

In a press release, Adam Cohen, CEO of Odyssey, stated that pets can be a motivation for people to stay in difficult situations because they are worried about how their animals will be cared for if they are not there.

However, Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering, which launched in June 2020, has already aided 320 families and almost hundreds of animals since then.

Owners often worry that they’ll forget their pets during this time, but “the pets don’t ever forget their owner,” according to Kristina Pulsipher, the executive director at Ruff Havens. We do this for the reunions. And many of our former clients are now either volunteers or foster parents for us.

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Twins Create a Breakthrough Brain Injury App





Twins have been known to achieve amazing things together, which is why research oftentimes tends to be focused on longitudinal studies of twins and how they go through life. In the case of Ellis and Luke Perry, both were on the path to achieving great things. They had already achieved big accomplishments in engineering and were studying the discipline at Oxford. However, during their time at University, Luke fell off a balcony, hitting his head in the fall. That resulted in a serious brain injury that was expected to be fatal within days. The pressure from the damage and swelling resulted in a part of Luke’s skull being removed temporarily until the swelling had been reduced. Ultimately, Luke was physically repaired, but his nervous system had been shattered. The doctor’s prognosis was grim.

However, amazingly, Luke survived. Even more impressive, he recovered enough that he now expects a decade later to be an athlete in the Paralympic Games. The credit to Luke’s recovery is clearly rooted in his tenacity and willingness to live. And, what has also helped quite a bit has been a company named Neumind.

Ellis was able to develop his app enough that it gained the attention of the British government, and that turned into seed money to get started further to the tune of 250,000 British pounds. From that launching point, Ellis was able to fully develop a working prototype, expanding his testing base to 450 working testers. Luke was one of them. The success of the app and work continues to be recognized; Ellis won yet another award for an additional 50,000 in funding via the Young Innovators Next Step program.

While Luke and Ellis obviously would change how life has dealt them their cards, there is no question that Luke’s fall was a critical turning point in both their lives. Luke’s persistence at recovery drove Ellis to do more himself, and that became the catalyst for Neumind’s establishment and growth as a company as well.

Ellis’ focus became targeted on using technology to help Luke recover. This was in response to the reality that most brain injury patients get little in the way of long-term support for a life of rehabilitation. Instead, they get about 10 weeks of response, and then patients are left to family, spouse, friends’ or last resort care facilities. Neumind became a dedicated project to do more for Luke and others suffering from acquired brain injury, or ABI. Neumind’s app, Alfred, which is named after the butler in Batman lore, became the key product focused on helping neurological healing and training.

The latest funding award will allow Ellis and Neumind to go further with their development, pushing the boundaries of what the Alfred app can provide. And that means an amazing frontier of cognitive processing, machine learning and healing assistance.

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Paramedics Can Now Arrive To Scene on JetPacks!

Shannon Jackson



Back in the 1970s, there was a kids’ cartoon called The Jetsons. It was a comical glimpse into the modern future, particularly with what technology would be available. Along with space travel, robotic housekeeping and space travel, jet packs were a dime a dozen for the characters in the cartoons. Today, jet packs are still in prototype and testing when it comes to consumer use. Not to mention, someone will probably need to spell out where the public can fly to avoid accidents like what happens with drones. However, in one location, Lake District, a jet pack has become a useful tool for emergency response.

As most who fly know, bad weather and helicopters don’t mix. So, while the Great North Air Ambulance Service, or GNAAS, is quite responsive to remote pickup needs, when the weather goes foul their aircraft are essentially grounded. Instead, a different company named Gravity Industries has put a solution to the test in real-time practice. A paramedic was chosen/volunteered to be trained with Gravity’s Jet Suits for quick elevation hops that would otherwise have been done with a helicopter on a good weather day. The speed at which transit was achieved was eye-popping. A ground team would easily have taken almost an hour and a half to get to the rescue location; the trained paramedic took three and a half minutes.

For immediate health emergencies, the time difference could literally be life-saving. 90 minutes before the arrival of EMTs would probably mean likely death for severe heart attack victims. However, cutting down that response time to less than five minutes is a game-changer for the paramedic service. The speed in which help can be delivered clearly gives the GNAAS an expanded ability to get into remote locations or move faster than a ground team when the helicopters are unavailable.

The suit provided by Gravity Industries thrusts a person into the air with at least 1,000 horsepower, far more than a powerful truck and more than capable of overcoming earth’s gravity. The miniature jet engines under the arms balance out the primary thruster behind the back, which helps avoid instability while traveling in the air. Given the bracing design, the user doesn’t have to “carry” himself in the suit, a former problem, and instead the user leans forward to stay in place while traveling. The training curve is extremely low, with many able to learn fluent control with a day of training and practice. Even better, the units use multiple types of fuel, depending on what’s available.

GNAAS and Gravity will continue to test and research the unit in practice, but they are already thinking about applications where victims are stuck in crevasses or avalanche areas and places where a helicopter cannot reach. The jetpack suit opens up big possibilities in these situations for immediate emergency response and victim stabilization. And, no surprise, GNAAS’ application in the field is likely to be studied by hundreds of agencies for years to come.

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22 Asiatic Black Bears Saved from a Bile Harvesting Farm

Kelly Taylor



For anyone who has ever had to travel with a pet across borders, folks know how difficult it can be to transport an animal. Most times, the pet has to be quarantined on arrival, and that’s after it has been cleared with all the necessary paperwork. In the case of 22 Moon bears being rescued and transported to Los Angeles from Asia, the task was monumental.

The project was part of a rescue mission being managed and operated by the Wild Animal Refuge located in Springfield, CO. The bears, 22 of them in total, were being rescued from what had been a harvest facility in South Korea. All of the animals were Moon bears, better known technically as Asiatic Black bears. Once they were delivered to the shelter, they would go through a transition window for de-stress from the trip as well as be fully examined and treated by the facility’s veterinary teams as well.

However, the big task was getting them out of Korea in the first place. The 22 animals were first identified when found in a breeding farm. The bears were essentially being stocked and slaughtered for the purposes of harvesting their gallbladders as well as bile. Both organ products have been considered for centuries as resources for Asian medicinal practices and treatment. It is estimated that harvesting is still continuing with another 300 bears in South Korea, although they have, via a government program, been sterilized to eventually phase out the practice entirely.

In 2020, a Korean animal protection group connected with the Wild Animal Refuge to at least try to save some of the bears identified. 22 were decided on, which would be flown overseas and relocated into the U.S. for rescue and recovery as well as permanent relocation to a sanctuary. The project was critically delayed by the COVID pandemic, and it was only in 2022 that the transport could be restarted again. Coordinating with multiple air cargo flights out, all 22 bears were escorted by veterinarians, both American and Korean, tracking every movement of the animals and their care.

Amazingly, the bears adapted very quickly to their new sanctuary environment after essentially spending their lives in cages and walking on bars. The effort is the latest in a string of accomplishments the Wild Animal Refuge has been able to pull off successfully in coordination with partners, saving over 700 rescued wild animals since 1980.

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Giraffe Happily Hops Around After Getting Suited With A Brace

Kevin Wells



Ara Mirzaian has been given lots of titles, including miracle worker. However, Mirzaian probably never expected to also gain the title of “giraffe bracemaker” as well, at least not until Mirzaian answered the call for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The Zoo was celebrating the birth of a newborn giraffe until it was realized there was something wrong; the newborn couldn’t stand properly. This was a huge issue for a giraffe; if the newborn couldn’t stand up properly, it would not be able to nurse and feed. And that could result in certain death for the animal before it had a chance to grow. The problem was the giraffe’s front limb not bending correctly. Instead, due to a genetic defect, the leg was bending improperly, making it impossible for the giraffe to stand correctly or for any length of time. So it was Mirzaian’s task to solve the problem via a leg brace for stability.

The specialist was perplexed. While there was no question about how to fit all types of people, Mirzaian had no prior experience working with animals, much less a baby giraffe. Already at 5 feet 10 inches and growing dramatically each day, Mirzaian had to think quickly. So, while in transit, the brace expert literally absorbed everything possible about giraffe motion mechanics and related animal behavior.

Similar to other unique brace systems, Mirzaian started with a casting of the giraffe’s leg. This gave the correct dimensions so that the custom-made brace would fit exactly, providing key support for the giraffe as it moved and put weight on the leg. Had the problem been unaddressed, the animal’s increasing weight and over-stress on other joints as it compensated for the bad leg would have created a cascading effect, eventually hobbling the animal entirely. Instead, the custom-made brace provided strength that allowed the baby giraffe to use its leg as normal, taking the stress off the other joints and instead healing faster.

Mirzaian’s work proved to only be necessary for one leg as the giraffe’s other legs adapted and healed quickly. Within a few days, the baby animal was moving around its pen easily and growing correctly. And, among other things, Mirzaian got the unique chance of being able to hug a giraffe, something not everyone can claim as their own experience. Ultimately, it took about 40 days in specialized braces for the baby giraffe to recover. While the mother never acknowledged the child giraffe on return, the rest of the zoo herd did and adopted her.

For Mirzaian, the experience was a unique one, and he keeps a photograph of the giraffe in his office as a reminder. Even better, he knows he had a direct role in saving the baby giraffe’s life as well.

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