December 17, 2012
Elephants

Elephants     Photo: wolfsavard/Flickr

Vodka for Elephants?

Siberian trainer says beverage saved animals

A Russian zoo director is claiming that circus trainers were able to save their elephants from the brutal Siberian cold by giving them vodka. Trainer Leonid Labo was forced to lead his animals out into sub-zero temperatures after their trailer caught fire. To fortify them, he had the animals, aged 45 and 48, drink 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of vodka mixed with warm water. "They started roaring like if they were in the jungle! Perhaps, they were happy," a local official told Russia's Ria Novosti news agency. A veterinarian insisted that only the tips of their ears were frostbitten. Local Novosibirsk zoo director maintains that the animals should have died of hypothermia. Scientists say that, although alcohol may make humans feel warmer, it actually lowers core body temperature.

Via BBC

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    Photo: U.S. Ski Team/Flickr

Vonn to Take Break From World Cup

Tina Maze extends lead atop standings

Lindsey Vonn is taking a break from World Cup competition and heading back to the United States to fully recover from the intestinal ailment that sidelined her last month. “With the way the schedule has been and all the travel,” said U.S. women’s head coach Eric Hoedlmoser, “she just hasn't had a chance to get back to strength. We want her back at full strength.”

The four-time winner and defending champ will miss the World Cup races in Are, Sweden, this upcoming weekend. Hoedlmoser says it’s "possible" that she’ll also miss competing in Semmering, Austria, on December 28 and 29, which would push her return back to January.

Vonn crashed in both of her World Cup races—downhill and giant slalom—this past weekend in France, dropping her even further behind Slovenian Tina Maze. The 29-year-old currently leads the World Cup standings with 799 points, 331 ahead of second place and 485 ahead of Vonn, who is in fourth. Maze, who finished second overall behind Vonn last season, won her fourth-straight giant slalom on Sunday.

"In sport it's always going up and down," Maze said. "Lindsey did a good job the last three years. For many races she was all the time at the top, so I knew that if I wanted to win the World Cup I needed to work as much as I can to be able to follow her." 

Via Associated Press

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    Photo: Courtesy of Iñaki Lejarreta Errasti

Mountain Bike Champ Killed by Car

Spaniard Iñaki Lejarreta was training

Former Spanish mountain bike champion Iñaki Lejarreta died on Sunday after being hit by a car while on a training ride. Lejarreta, 29, was riding in the town of Iuretta in the Basque country when the vehicle struck him, knocking him to the pavement and sending his bike flying to the other side of a cement crash barrier. The nephew of 1982 Vuelta a España winner Marino Lejarreta, Iñaki competed in the 2008 Olympics and was expecting his first child with wife Naiara Telletxea in January.

Via Cyclingnews

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Swimmer Sought for Riding Injured Whale

Sperm whale later found dead

Federal authorities are searching for an unidentified swimmer who was videotaped riding a sperm whale off the Florida coast hours before the animal was found dead. Witnesses along Pompano Beach said the animal appeared to be on its last legs and drifting toward the shore when a swimmer began climbing onto the creature’s back. Though the whale’s exact cause of death is still unknown, it is a federal offense to badger a marine mammal. “This type of harassment could have caused more harm and added stress to an already stressed whale and ultimately caused its demise,” said NOAA regional stranding coordinator Blair Mase.

Via NBC Miami

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Synthetic Hormones Skew Fish Gender

Fish exposed to livestock runoff

Baby fish exposed to hormone-laden water from Indiana farms were more likely to become male, according to a new study from Purdue University. Researchers raised fathead minnow embryos in water taken from two separate streams, each contaminated with a variety of hormones from fertilizer used on nearby fields. While fish typically birth roughly equal numbers of males and females, the fish in the study turned 60 percent male.

Livestock naturally excrete estrogen and testosterone, but many animals are given additional synthetic hormones to expedite growth. Researchers found both kinds of hormones in 80 percent of their water samples. The study’s lead author, Maria Sepulveda, admitted that other factors such as water temperature and pesticides could also influence fish gender, but cautioned that this type of gender skewing could negatively affect fish populations over time.

Via Scientific American

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