Animal news is a rollercoaster. Either you're learning some cool new animal facts or you're finding out that something has been added to the extinction list. New zoo babies versus the latest in how humans are hurting animal habitats. Good or bad, the biggest animal news of 2019 was a menagerie of information and a balance to a year of space news.
When it comes to the biggest animal news we're not talking about some weird zoo photo that took over Twitter. This is sciencey-stuff and breaking news about the pals we share this wide world with. New animals spotted, animals thought extinct found again, and reluctant declaration of extinction dominated the 2019 animal news at the start of the year. Even a really big bee - a really, really big one - doesn't quite balance out the official statement that 2019 is the year we count the first recorded mammalian extinction due to climate change.
A report released on April 25, 2019, by the British Antartic Survey examining the world's second largest emperor penguin colony at Halley Bay in Antartica's Weddell Sea has determined that the penguins have been unable to raise chicks for the third year in a row, effectively wiping the colony out. Sea ice is a vital part of the emperor penguin's life cycle as the location where the penguins breed and molt. An increase in storms and decrease in sea ice has led to the loss of 14,500 to 25,000 eggs or chicks in 2015, a volume of life lost that the colony has not been able to return from.
Using satellite imagery, the British Antartic Survey was able to determine that during the same three troubled years in the Halley Bay colony, there has been an increase in the Dawson-Lambton colony to the south. They speculate that "many of the adult emperors have moved [to Dawson-Lambton], seeking better breeding grounds as environmental conditions have changed." Though hope remains about the future stability of the surviving Halley Bay emperor penguins, concerns remain regarding the environmental changes that put a halt to 60 years of stable penguin colonies at Halley Bay.
Technically, this Tyrannosaurus rex specimen was found in Saskatchewan in 1991, but the big bones (which would have been part of an estimated 9.8-ton animal in life) were only unveiled in The Anatomical Record on March 21, 2019. Buried in hard rock, the process of unearthing such a large skeleton took time and care. Almost 65% of the skeleton was uncovered, including the braincase, neck vertebrae, lower jaw; as well as areas of the hips, legs, and shoulder. These remains were enough to indicate not only the dinosuar's massive size in life but that he'd survived to nearly 30 years old, making him the most senior specimen on record.
In celebration on first finding the specimen, the researchers raised a glass to their find and - having only a bottle of scotch on hand - christened the skeleton "Scotty."
On March 16, 2019, April the giraffe gave birth to the newest member of Animal Adventure Park. This April's fifth calf and is the second gestation and birth of April's to be watched via the park's YouTube livestream of the giraffe. Her previous calf, Tajiri, has a livestream of his own and is on his way to starting a family with the park's recent addition of an adult female giraffe, known as Johari.
April is a reticulated giraffe, a species native to Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya and one of the giraffe species most commonly seen in zoos. Though their numbers are not as low as the Rothschild's giraffe, the wild population of the reticulated giraffe is approximately 8,500 and is listed as endangered, along with the other subspecies of giraffe.
IN PHOTOS: Assorted plastic bags and 16 rice sacks that weigh around 40 kilos were found inside the belly of a Cuvier's beaked whale that was recovered by authorities on Saturday. (Photos courtesy of D' Bone Collector Museum founder Darrell Blatchley) pic.twitter.com/O49ezBEU1z— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) March 17, 2019
The carcass of a Cuvier's beaked whale recovered in the Philippines on March 16, 2019, was found to have consumed 88 pounds of plastic bags and rice sacks. Marine biologist and environmentalist Darrell Blatchley, who is the president and founder of the D' Bone Collector Museum in Davao, Philippines, said that the material affected the whale's ability to eat. Cetaceans obtain their water from the food they eat, so the foreign material in the whale's stomach not only caused the animal to starve but also become dehydrated.
Talking to CNN, Mark Simmonds, a senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, said that it is incidents like this that remind the world of the "cruel global crisis that marine debris is presenting to wildlife."