News of Note

An unorthodox way to end animal testing
The Fraunhofer Institute IGB is fine-tuning the automation of skin growth from pre-existing cells in hopes of replacing other methods of product testing including animal trials, the laboratory says.  “We want to target chemical, cosmetic or pharmaceutical companies who need human tissue to develop their products,” Professor Heike Walles, Head of Cell Systems at the institute, said.  “The idea is to grow human tissue that can be used as an alternative to animal testing, not least because many medicines cause side-effects during clinical [human] trials that were not present during animal trials.”

Federal agency scales back Nevada mustang roundup
Federal land managers said on Wednesday they have decided to scale back a disputed roundup of wild horses in Nevada next month and to postpone the planned castration of stallions as part of the operation.  The decision comes a week after a group of wild-horse activists filed suit challenging plans by the Bureau of Land Management, a U.S. Interior Department agency, to geld 200 wild stallions over a six- to 10-year period.

İstanbul mayor pushes animal rights to forefront of agenda
Monday marked the end of a three-month project by the İstanbul municipality’s “Existing is a Right, Love for Animals and Animal Rights,” a program which has seen 10,000 children educated on the importance of respecting every form of life on Earth.  Speaking at the concert, İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş underlined the importance of recognizing animal rights.  Addressing a range of animal rights-related issues, Topbaş announced that the municipality has decided to close down the İstanbul-based Dolphinarium Dolphin Display Center when its contract expires in two years time. “You can’t base entertainment around a process that makes animals suffer and causes them pain,” he said.

Member states face legal action over battery cages
Thirteen member states have been warned they face legal action because of their failure to comply with the imminent EU battery cage egg ban.

Pigeons’ math skills are as good as monkeys’
Pigeons perform just as well on certain math tests as monkeys do, scientists in New Zealand have found.  “Our findings add to a growing body of evidence that pigeons are among a number of avian species exhibiting impressive mental abilities that really do give the lie to the old ‘bird brain’ insult.”

Animal Rights Group Uses Drones To Track Down Japanese Whalers
A group of infamously aggressive whale-hunting opponents say that they have tracked down and photographed hunters participating in Japan’s annual Antarctic whale hunt using an unpiloted drone aircraft to spot their ship.  The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said it was able to locate the Japanese ship the Nisshin Maru off the western coast of Australia over the weekend using the unmanned aircraft.

The Mainstreaming of Vegan Diets
Vegan diets are considered by some to be extreme, a strict way of eating that exists on the radical fringes of vegetarianism.  But today, a growing number of people are giving vegan diets a second look, and nutritionists now believe that a well-thought-out vegan eating plan could be the most healthy way to live for most people.

Human noise may cause decompression sickness in sea mammals
For the first time, whales and seals have been found to suffer from ‘the bends’ – the crippling ‘decompression’ sickness divers suffer when they surface too quickly.  The research also suggests that excessive human noise – such as exposure to military sonar – might disorient whales and seals, leading to them losing their natural defences against the disease.

USDA files complaint against Topeka Zoo
Federal investigators have filed an administrative complaint against the Topeka Zoo alleging the zoo “willfully violated” regulations, some of which occurred under the new director’s watch.  The complaint highlights that at least nine infant, juvenile or young adult animals died during the period of inspections listed — three flying foxes, a Southern tamandua, a lion, a Pallas’s cat, a Harlequin rabbit, a pronghorn antelope and a chevrotain.

Ex-Governor’s Partner Targets Tiger Bone Trade
From the comforts of a 100-year-old Georgian Colonial he shares here with former Gov. James McGreevey, his partner, Mark O’Donnell has become the unlikely champion of legislation that could give New Jersey some of the nation’s toughest anti-tiger trafficking laws.