NEWS DIGEST 03.01.2021: Saving and finding lost animals

Today’s News Digest is brought you via Facebook. A well-preserved ancient woolly rhinoceros, a now extinct species of mammal, has been discovered in the Russian Arctic. The Ice Age behemoth was discovered poking out of melting permafrost in Abyisky region of Yakutia in north-eastern Russia by a local. With much of its fur and internal organs still intact and carefully preserved by the freezing cold conditions, the rhino is among the most well-preserved beasts from prehistoric times ever discovered in the region. The rhino is believed to have lived in the late Pleistocene era, anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. Scientists plan to take samples of the rhino for analysis in a laboratory in Yakutia’s main city of Yakutsk – Woolly rhino from Ice Age unearthed in Russian Arctic (BBC News World Europe)

A rare black fox that escaped from a wildlife park in the English county of Somerset and made the news as it was spotted by travellers while on the run is now back home, it was reported. Wilf broke out from the Animal Farm Adventure Park, and was later spotted walking nonchalantly near the village of Brean in the same county. He was later caught and brought back to his pen. Wilf has a well-known penchant for going AWOL. The fox previously lived in Manchester, where he escaped from a house and was found wandering a women’s clothing store. Another time he escaped and was seen snuggling up with a neighbour’s pet dog – Rare black fox spotted in Somerset is back home after escape bid (BBC News UK Somerset)

The RSPCA, a British animal welfare and protection charity, has called for cuts to be made in the consumption of meat and dairy, as it launched a bid to end the cruel practice of factory farming through the courts. Ministers will face a legal challenge to halt the practice of intensive livestock farming in a bid to protect the environment and human health. In the legal case, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, members of a group called Humane Being are crowdfunding with the aim of raising £60,000 to force ministers to curb intensive animal agriculture – RSPCA calls for cut in meat and dairy as activists launch legal fight to end factory farming (Independent UK Home News)

The Arecibo Observatory on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, once an important astronomical asset which was abandoned and left to collapse last year, will be rebuilt with the Puerto Rican government pledging USD $8 million (GBP £5.9 mill.) to fixing it, it was reported. Governor Wanda Vázquez signed a local executive order authorising the rebuilding funds to clear the debris from the telescope’s collapse as well as designing and installing its successor. The Arecibo site will also be declared an ‘historic zone’. Arecibo collapsed on December 1, 2020 when a cable holding up a 900-tonne receiver platform snapped around 8 am local time that morning and sent the massive structure hurling onto the reflector dish more than 400 feet (122 metres) below – Fallen alien-hunting Arecibo Observatory will be rebuilt as Puerto Rico commits $8 million to its reconstruction (Mail Online Science & Tech)

The UK’s NHS-led Test and Trace service has now reached a record number of participants as demand for it exploded since the appearance of a new strain of the coronavirus was reported last month, according to a government news service. 2.4 million people were tested in the week of 17-23 December 2020 alone, government statistics indicated, with more than 550,000 cases and contacts asked to self-isolate in the week before Christmas, with most people ordering tests being able to have them despite the increased demand – NHS Test and Trace reaches record number of people as demand increases significantly (gov.uk)

The coronavirus pandemic has pummelled the aviation industry worldwide and the national carrier of the island of Mauritius in Africa is no exception. Air Mauritius will now sell off four of its planes to ease its difficult financial situation, local media reports. By the end of the first quarter of 2021, MK will complete the sale of two A340-300s and two A319-100s which are being sold off to an unnamed Indian firm, it was reported. The airline originally planned to sell off all five of its self-owned planes, with the remainder of its utilised fleet not able to be sold as they are leases. Air Mauritius has been under voluntary administration since April last year – Afin d’améliorer sa situation financière : Air Mauritius vend quatre de ses avions (Top FM)

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