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New York Daily News National Geographic: Exotic pets and their owners National Geographic: Exotic pets and their owners Have these pet owners taken their love of animals too far?
Select your travel style--whether it's our signature expeditions, our active outdoors adventures, or our lower-priced journeys. Our newest small-group trips, provided in partnership with G Adventures, blend fun, hands-on exploration with meaningful cultural encounters, as well as more free time and choices. Head out on game drives to see elephants or leopards in southern Sri Lanka’s national parks. Venture into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort, Sri Lanka, and get to know the indigenous peoples of Sumatra’s remote interior.
Skim through the jungles of Tanjung Puting National Park on all all-day excursion by local boat, and interact with orangutans and other rare wildlife at the Orangutan Foundation International's rehabilitation center. The district of Hambantota stretches along Sri Lanka’s southern coast, home to wetlands, grasslands, gorgeous beaches, and archaeological sites. As we cross the Indian Ocean, enjoy two days to relax, taking advantage of the ship’s amenities and listening to talks by our expedition team. A string of volcanic isles that split the Bay of Bengal from the Andaman Sea, the Andaman Islands are blanketed by tropical forests and ringed by unspoiled coral reefs and beaches. After a day of sailing the Andaman Sea, arrive at Pulau We, a rocky island at the western tip of the Indonesian archipelago.
Our passage between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula brings us to the incomparable city-state of Singapore.
Set on a peninsula jutting out from the southern edge of Borneo, Tanjung Puting National Park is a trove of rare species and diverse habitats. Travel on select National Geographic Orion voyages in 2015 and we will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew.
Scuba Diving Requirement: Divers must be certified by an internationally recognized dive association prior to the voyage, and certification cards and logbooks should be brought on board.
Mention hamsters and most people recall a fond childhood memory, often of an escaped pet that’s found with its cute little cheeks stuffed full of loot. I hadn’t given hamsters much more thought until recently, when I was asked to research the origins of the popular Syrian hamster—also known as the golden or teddy bear hamster. In fact, there are 26 species of wild hamster that run free in parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, including Mesocricetus auratus, the Syrian hamster, which comes from the region surrounding Aleppo, Syria—the city currently under siege amid the Middle Eastern country’s ongoing war.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the burrowing mammal as vulnerable: It has a small range, possibly less than about 1,900 square miles (5,000 square kilometers). The first mention of the Syrian hamster was in 1797, when physician Alexander Russell came across them in the wild and described the rodents (though didn’t give them a name) in a publication called The Natural History of Aleppo. It would be another 40 years or so until George Robert Waterhouse, curator of the London Zoological Society, formally named the species the golden hamster, according to Peter Logsdail, a hamster expert and author of Hamster Lopaedia. Waterhouse described an animal with soft fur and a silk-like gloss, with white feet and a tail and body colors of yellow and lead gray. That pretty much covers what a modern golden hamster looks like, Logsdail told me, although nowadays there are all kinds of hues, from the chocolate tortoiseshell to the banded cinnamon. Once they were ensconced at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, another five made a jailbreak—leaving Aharoni with just four hamsters, which bred very successfully (the Syrian hamster has the shortest gestation period of any hamster, just 16 days). The offspring were then sent to different universities and institutions, including the London Zoo, in the mid-1930s and into the mid-1940s they had become pets in the U.K.
Considering Syrian hamsters are already rare in the wild, scientists don’t know if any remain. The recently established BallenIsles Wildlife Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization funded by donations and led by dedicated volunteer residents. In our search for educational, informative, and fun articles we found your website on the internet.

We’re Moving!As of October 22, 2014, Weird & Wild will be hosted on National Geographic's main news site. The snow leopard, uncia uncia, lives a solitary life in remote areas of 12 Central Asian countries. Nearly four decades ago George Schaller of the New York Zoological Society patiently roamed the craggy mountains of Pakistan's Chitral Valley, following tracks in the snow, searching for the legendary, beautiful, and elusive snow leopard.
Fifteen years later, wildlife conservationist Rodney Jackson set up camera traps high in the peaks of Nepal and captured thrillingly candid portraits of snow leopards for his June 1986 National Geographic cover story, written with Darla Hillard.
Work is being done in communities within the snow leopard's natural range to offset the many threats to the decreasing wild population.
In 1903 the New York Zoological Society's Bronx Zoo became the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere to exhibit a snow leopard.
Search for "community-based conservation" and "snow leopard conservation timeline." Snow Leopard Trust.
Helen Freeman, the zoo's education curator, played a vital role in building the captive population. Freeman was the first snow leopard studbook keeper for the AZA's cooperative breeding program, which manages the entire North American snow leopard gene pool. Since her death in 2007, Freeman has been remembered for working tirelessly to establish community-based programs in Central Asian countries that benefit snow leopard populations and local people.
National Geographic magazine reserves the right to edit all questions, suggestions, and submissions as well as the right to not publish questions, suggestions, or submissions. National Geographic Magazine explores the lives of people who share their homes with some unusual guests -- think Burmese pythons, cougars and baby kangaroos -- in its April issue. Board the National Geographic Orion to explore a kaleidoscope of natural and cultural wonders from Sri Lanka to the Andaman Islands, Sumatra, and Indonesian Borneo. As we enter the harbor, pass under the ramparts of Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site built by Portuguese and Dutch settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The islands are India’s most far-flung state, known in part for their history as a British penal colony, and until recently isolated from foreign visitors. Discover the island’s volcanic landscapes on a walk among steaming fumaroles, and stroll through the friendly colonial town of Sabang. From here, we head into the hinterlands of Indonesia’s largest island on one of two full-day excursions. Here in this bustling metropolis, past and future collide and a rich colonial legacy vies with thriving local cultures. Board local boats for a full-day excursion into the forest, gliding on narrow channels on the lookout for hornbills, crocodiles, and perhaps the unusual proboscis monkey. Divers need to have logged 25 dives in total, and have made a dive within the 12 months preceding the voyage. We can thank Israel Aharoni, a zoologist who led a 1930 expedition to look for golden hamsters in Aleppo. Not surprising to most kids, the babies gnawed their way out of the wooden box, and Aharoni got nine of them back. They found al least three litters and put them in the laboratory with the conditions mostly resembling its natural habitat.
They naturally roam far every night and cage life is particularly stressful for them, which is why they can drop down dead from related heart attacks. It has a beautiful spotted coat considered desirable by trophy hunters, who may travel a long way for the chance to track and kill the rare cat. Another first was the bite Jackson received while successfully collaring five of the cats during a four-year NG-sponsored radio-tracking study. Groups such as the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Snow Leopard Trust have started education and insurance programs designed to help local people value this wild animal.

The breeding program developed there has produced about 80 cubs, many of which have been sent to other zoos in North America and in several other countries. In a major diplomatic operation, the State Department, working with several wildlife conservation organizations, helped relocate the cub to the U.S.
The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, which has had snow leopards since 1972, was among the first zoos in the United States to set up a breeding program. In 1981 she founded the International Snow Leopard Trust; she also helped establish the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Spend time exploring the fort and the charming streets that surround it, where merchants sell local silks and sapphires. After visiting the city of Port Blair, home to the notorious prison, we’ll make our way to one of the outer islands for a day of exploration both above and below the water. Poised between the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean, We offers unparalleled snorkeling and diving opportunities. Head to Bukit Lawang, a reserve in the Gunung Leuser National Park, to encounter Sumatran orangutans and other wildlife, or get to know the traditions of the Batak Karo people who make their home in the highlands near Berastagi.
We’ll spend the day exploring Chinatown, peering at blooms at the impressive National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and taking a bumboat ride along the Singapore River.
Our destination is Camp Leakey, a research station established in 1971 by primatologist Dr.
He enlisted local Sheikh El-Beled to dig up a wheat field, where they found—at a depth of 8 feet (2.4 meters)—a golden hamster and her 11 young.
An 80 yr old may be able to give a hamster more time and freedom than a child, but when the inevitable escape comes, good luck getting on all fours to fish under the kitchen cabinets. Outside of the cat's natural range, these and other organizations work to conserve the global population through captive-breeding programs. Since making his debut in the Himalayan Highlands section of the Bronx Zoo on September 25, 2007, the cub, named Leo, has led an active life, playing on a rocky hillside and supplementing his diet by hunting small animals that wander into the exhibition space.
At Woodland Park, Freeman created a self-sustaining population—the zoo no longer needs to bring in snow leopards from the wild.
If you wish, go on a wildlife river cruise or take an excursion to a tea plantation to learn about one of Sri Lanka’s (formerly Ceylon) most important exports. We’ll spend the afternoon among rainbow-colored coral fans and a mind-boggling array of marine life on one of the reefs offshore. Birute Galdikas, a many-time National Geographic grantee and founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI). If this is you, and you’d like to work out of our dynamic office space in Sydney’s Surry Hills, tell us why we should hire you. These and other threats, such as the loss of wild prey to hunters and the loss of prime habitat to human encroachment, have shrunk the snow leopard population—estimates of the number still living in the wild run as low as 3,500. Writer Douglas Chadwick traveled around India and Mongolia trying to catch a glimpse of a snow leopard. Galdikas joins us to discuss her efforts to save the orangutan from extinction through rehabilitation and habitat preservation.
Photographer Steve Winter also went to those countries and to Pakistan, setting up many remote camera traps that captured photos of snow leopards when they came out of the shadows. Our boats bring us to feeding stations throughout the forest, where we can observe these gentle creatures at close range.
The following day, visit OFI’s wildlife rehabilitation center to learn how captive and orphaned orangutans are rescued and rehabilitated.

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