March 26, 2014

A family of lions.     Photo: dnberty/Getty Images

Killing for Conservation

After Maurice the giraffe, Copenhagen zoo kills lions

The Copenhagen zoo that made international headlines in February for publicly killing and dissecting a healthy giraffe is under another barrage of criticism for killing four of its lions.

As the Guardian reports, two lions the zoo described as a "very old" breeding pair and their two cubs were put down on Monday. Zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro told reporters that the culling was necessary to make way for a new male lion to form a breeding group with the zoo's pair of 18-month-old females, and no other zoos were interested in adopting the lions.

"Because of the pride of lions' natural structure and behavior, the zoo has had to euthanize the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves," zoo officials said.

One protesting organization said that the zoo was playing God and should be boycotted until it starts respecting animals.

To protect populations against inbreeding and to maintain genetically diverse populations, between 3,000 and 5,000 European zoo animals are annually "management euthanized," European Association of Zoos and Aquaria executive director Lesley Dickie told the BBC. A few hundred of this estimate include larger animals such as lions and giraffes. This zoo euthanizes about 30 animals every year.

Last month, Bengt Holst, the zoo's scientific director, received death threats after Maurice, an 18-month-old giraffe, was killed, chopped up, and fed to lions (possibly these lions) in front of an audience that included children.

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A single box of limes (usually $14) is selling for $100 in California.     Photo: Robert Turitz/Thinkstock

Lime Prices Go Tart

Mexico’s most valuable fruit

The price of a single lime has increased from 21 cents to 53 cents over the past year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mexican production is down due to a number of factors, including heavy rains, an unexpected bacterium that's infecting trees, and growers demanding a higher price per pound. All of these issues have to contributed to a major lime shortage and a dramatic price shift in Mexico and the United States.

Nearly 98 percent of limes in the United States come from Mexico, which means problems south of the border are quickly felt to the north. Even with the price per lime up well over 100 percent from last year, U.S.-based importers are still buying to fulfill demand. "I've never seen limes at these prices," Raul Millan of New Jersey’s Vision Import Group, told NPR.

Organized crime in Mexico is starting to look for its slice of the lime market. Thieves are stealing truckloads of limes near the U.S. border, according to Millan. Many exporting services have hired security guards to protect their citrus gold.

In Southern California, the usual $14 box of limes is selling for $100, forcing retailers to decide if they want to buy them at all.

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Don't let the cute faces fool you. Dolphins can be trained to kill.     Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

Russia Seizes Ukraine's Dolphin Army

Combat dolphins trained to kill

The world better watch out. The Russian navy recently seized control of Ukraine's combat dolphins.

According to an employee connected with the Crimea-based program, the Russians will oversee the entire dolphin army from now on.  

The combat dolphins are trained to patrol open water and attack anything that poses a military threat, including mines or even villainous SCUBA divers. The animals’ sensitivity underwater gives them an edge over man-made sonar devices when it comes to this kind of dirty work.

The Soviets started the killer-dolphin program in the 1960s but handed the animals over to Ukraine after the USSR fell apart. Before Russia took control of the marine army, Ukraine mainly kept the dolphins for civilian purposes due to lack of funding.

That might change under the Russian navy, which reportedly hopes to continue developing the military side of the program, including new wearable sonar technology.

There’s only one other country aside from the Soviet Union to have had a confirmed military dolphin program, and that’s the United States. Our San Diego–based dolphin army, which also enlisted sea lions, focused primarily on identifying sea mines.

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The Himalaya chain.     Photo: piccaya/Getty Images

16-Year-Old Heads for Everest

Teen to connect three 8K-meter peaks

When Matt Moniz was nine, he went Everest Base Camp with his dad. “A little 18,000-footer,” he called it. “After that, I was hooked. I’d just had the best time of my life," Moniz told National Geographic.

Moniz then climbed Kilimanjaro and Russia’s Elbrus. When he turned 10, he summited the 22,841-foot Aconcagua. It’s no surprise that Moniz was named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year in 2010—the youngest to be honored. 

At 12, Muniz and his father climbed the highest points in the 50 states in 43 days, from 20,320-foot Denali to Florida’s 345-foot Britton Hill. On April 3, he’s off to Nepal to climb his first 8,000-meter peak. 

He’s 16 now, and he sounds pretty excited about the upcoming adventure: 

“Our goal when planning this expedition was to limit objective risk, test me on an 'easier' 8,000-meter peak prior to an attempt on Everest, and, if all goes well, connect multiple peaks, one mountain at a time.” 

Read more about the father/son adventure at NationalGeographic.com.

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Apply for an Explorer's Grant by March 31.     Photo: Huckberry

Huckberry Launches Explorer's Grants

Get paid to adventure

Purveyors of trendy and coveted gear for men, online retailer Huckberry is now sponsoring adventures. Born in an apartment three years ago, the bootstrapped company boasts an in-house climbing wall and a never-ending array of cool products. But it does more than just sell copper mugs and leather Dopp kits. This spring, Huckberry will give $1,000 each to three hopeful adventurers with the best pitches.

Funded by National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Alistair Humphreys, your adventure's only requirements are that it’s rad and has never been done before. Besides the cash, Topo Designs, Nemo, Poler, and Goal Zero are also pitching in to support the winners on their independent journeys. Although $1,000 might not get you a plane ticket abroad, the Huckberry team reminds you that Humphreys was able to walk across India on that budget.

The deadline to apply is March 31. Three winners, selected by Humphreys, will be announced April 9.

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