A Dating Database for Zoo Animals Helps Rare Species Find Their Perfect Match

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iStock

In January 2017, zookeepers at the Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands began showing photos of male orangutans to Samboja, the zoo's resident female, to see if she might have a visceral response to a potential mate. The Washington Post jokingly called it "Tinder for orangutans."

Now, that idea is starting to gain some traction.

Matching captive species with a mate for companionship or breeding purposes is a tricky task. As easily as animals can warm to a new presence, they can also become violent, or simply have no reaction at all. That's why Samboja was allowed to pre-screen her suitors, and why a database called the Zoological Information Management System might soon be the standard in getting pandas, tigers, and gorillas matched up with their perfect significant other as well as propagating species that are in danger of being wiped out.

The ZIMS is intended to be a repository of animal records that were normally handled on a zookeeper-to-zookeeper basis. By digitizing them and making them available to zoos around the world, animal caregivers will be able to search a series of profiles to see which might look the most promising for animals in need of a mate. Medical histories, area of origin, and personality and diet traits are among the data collected.

Already, the service has led to at least one successful match: two Sumatran tigers were paired up in 2012 despite one being in Australia and another in Canada. The coupling produced two cubs.

[h/t BusinessInsider]

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Massive Swarms of Migrating Dragonflies Are So Large They’re Popping Up on Weather Radar

emprised/iStock via Getty Images
emprised/iStock via Getty Images

What do Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio all have in common? Epic swarms of dragonflies, among other things.

WSLS-TV reports that this week, weather radar registered what might first appear to be late summer rain showers. Instead, the green blotches turned out to be swarms of dragonflies—possibly green darners, a type of dragonfly that migrates south during the fall.

Norman Johnson, a professor of entomology at The Ohio State University, told CNN that although these swarms happen occasionally, they’re definitely not a regular occurrence. He thinks the dragonflies, which usually prefer to travel alone, may form packs based on certain weather conditions. If that sounds vague, it’s because it is: Johnson said that entomologists haven’t worked out all the details when it comes to dragonfly migration. They do know that the airborne insects cover an average of eight miles per day, while some overachievers can fly as far as 86.

Based on the radar footage shared by the National Weather Service’s Cleveland Office, the dragonfly clouds seem almost menacing. But, while swarms of any insect species aren’t exactly delightful, these creatures are both harmless and surprisingly beautiful, at least up close. Anna Barnett, a resident of Jeromesville, Ohio, even told CNN that witnessing the natural phenomenon was “amazing!”

Amazing as it may be to see, it’s hard to hear news about unpredictable animal behavior without wondering if it’s related in some way to Earth’s rising temperatures. After all, climate change has already affected wasps in Alabama, polar bears in Russia, and no doubt countless other animal species around the world.

[h/t WSLW-TV]

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