U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird, Wisdom the Albatross, Is a Mother Again

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The world's oldest known wild bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, just added a new member to her family. At age 65, that's more than a little impressive.

The chick was born at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and was first seen emerging from its shell on February 1. Staff named the chick Kūkini—the Hawaiian word for messenger—a few days later, and announced the new chick on February 8.

Laysan albatrosses spend much of the year at sea, coasting hundreds of miles each day over the Pacific Ocean. Each mating season, the birds return to the remote atoll, which is known in Hawaiian as Pihemanu, or “loud bird noises” for the millions of seabirds that nest there. Female albatrosses lay a single egg per season, but that single egg is a huge commitment. Incubation alone lasts 130 days, and raising the chick to flight readiness can take another few months.

An ornithologist working with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) first banded Wisdom in 1956, when she was about five years old. In the last six decades, Wisdom has raised as many as 40 chicks. Most albatrosses mate for life, but Wisdom has likely outlived her first mate and has found another. Monument staff are currently holding a contest to name her mate, who is unofficially known as "Goo" or "Gooo," a reference to his band number of 6,000, according to NPR.

“In the face of dramatic seabird population decreases worldwide—a 70 percent drop since the 1950s when Wisdom was first banded—Wisdom has become a symbol of hope and inspiration,” refuge manager Dan Clark said in an earlier press releaseWildlife officials say Wisdom is also breaking longevity records for previously known banded birds by "at least a decade."

According to a press release from the monument, Wisdom’s voyages across the ocean and back since she was first tagged could add up to three million miles total—that's six trips to the Moon and back again. 

Martin Wittfooth
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]


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