[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Chris Eastland

1_SB Zoo Otters Born 2

A pair of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the Santa Barbara Zoo produced their first litter of pups. Three healthy offspring were born in a nesting box in their holding area on October 7.

As in the wild, Otter parents prefer to keep their pups safely tucked in a den. The Zoo’s newborn Otters will not leave the behind the scenes holding area until they are old enough to safely swim and have grown the teeth needed to eat solid foods.

Depending on how their development progresses, keepers estimate the pups could go on exhibit as early as mid-December.

Animal Care staff had recently confirmed that new mom, Gail, was pregnant and estimated that she was due any day. When keepers arrived the morning of October 7, Gail and the father, Peeta, remained in the nesting box.

“The parents didn’t come out to greet us, and then we heard squeaks,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Michele Green. “That’s how we knew Gail had given birth.”

Gestation is 68 days, and after birthing, the female stays in the nesting box with the pups. Otter moms are given some relief, however, when new dads take over care for short periods of time.

2_SB Zoo Otters Born 3

3_SB Zoo Otters Born 1Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

Both of the adult Otters are first-time parents. According to keepers, the pair is showing excellent parenting skills toward the two females and one male.

“Gail only arrived in March and it’s been fun to watch them bond, and now become parents,” says Green. “She’s a young mom, but doing very well. Peeta is attentive and diligent.”

Peeta was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Gail was born at the Greensboro Science Center in North Carolina in 2013. The two were paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The names (inspired by characters in the popular “Hunger Games” books and movies) were given by their Santa Barbara Zoo sponsors, Peter and Pieter Crawford-van Meeuwen.

Another female, Katniss, was first paired with Peeta, but they did not breed. She passed away in December 2016 from a kidney ailment.

The last time Asian Small-clawed Otters were born at the Zoo was in May 2011 when six pups were born to a pair named Jillian and Bob. That pair also produced five young in August 2010, the first of the species to be born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The entire family group later moved to the National Zoo, where they live today.

Keepers predict that by January, the pups should be proficient swimmers, and will be on-exhibit at that time. Information on the progress of the Otter pups will be made available at the Zoo’s website: www.sbzoo.org .

Although the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea syn. Amblonyx cinereus) is only listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the species is seriously threatened by rapid habitat destruction for palm oil farming and by hunting and pollution. They are considered an “indicator species,” meaning their population indicates the general health of their habitat and of other species.

The species is the smallest Otter in the world and lives in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia, including southern India and China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. They prefer quiet pools and sluggish streams for fishing and swimming.

Unlike Sea Otters, they spend more time on land than in water, but they are skillful, agile swimmers and divers, with great endurance. They can stay submerged for six to eight minutes.

Asian small-clawed otters are about two feet long and weigh less than ten pounds (half the size of North American River Otters). Their claws do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads, thus their names, and their feet do not have fully developed webbing and look very much like human hands.

They are one of the few species of Otter that live in social groups. The bond between mated pairs of Asian Small-clawed Otters is very strong. Both the male and female raise the young and are devoted parents. In the wild, Asian Small-clawed Otters live in extended family groups of up to 12 individuals. The entire family helps raise the young, which are among the most active and playful of baby animals.

so very streaky

Oct. 18th, 2017 02:40 pm
solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird
I've still got this damned head cold or whatever it is and it's awful and won't go away. I was feeling better yesterday but that didn't last.

I was fuckin' terrible today in lunchtime Overwatch. Well, as Widow, anyway. I was good as Tracer as always, and the weird thing is, the one time I wasn't terrible as Widow, it was in deathmatch, where I was surprisingly competitive against a pretty heavy set of enemies including three Pharahs and a D.va, which is not normally a recipe for competitiveness but I was.

So I was feeling pretty okay in warmup. But christ, go into quickplay and suddenly it's WHAT IS SNIPERS? and I can't hit a shot to save my life. (And that included while winning. So.)

This is in huge contrast to yesterday where I was not just playing well, but had another entire game of being the Widowmaker I want to be. Defence in Hollywood, 70% scope accuracy, eight criticals, golds in objective kills and objective time and silver in total kills, enemy Bastion got so sick of me that he tried being enemy Widow and yeah that did not help, enemy Pharah kept trying to go over the gate wall and I just kept one-shotting her out of the air until she got so mad that on their last serious push she apparently decided "y'know what, fuck the objective, fuck the game, I'm killing that fucking Widowmaker at least once" and went through the security office while I was busy with other people, jumped me from behind and let loose her one and only ult at point-blank range just for me.

Honestly, I felt quite flattered.

I guess the short form is I am still a work in progress, and it shows.

Purr

Oct. 18th, 2017 04:01 am
[syndicated profile] robot_hugs_feed

Posted by Robot Hugs

New comic!

Look if you’re going to be exposed to purring for the first time, Oskar’s are top notch. What a great moment to witness.

Share

[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1 - Tasmanian Devil Joeys

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of two healthy litters of Tasmanian Devil joeys! According to keepers, this is one of the most successful years to date for the Zoo’s Tasmanian Devil conservation breeding program.

The first litter of three joeys arrived on March 19 to mother Lana. Keepers were recently able to take a close look at each joey and confirm their sex (two males and one female). Another female, Pooki, birthed four joeys more recently on June 19, which are yet to emerge from the pouch.

“We’re very pleased to see nurturing, maternal instincts from both Lana and Pooki, who are both two-year-old females and first-time mothers,” Taronga Western Plains Zoo Senior Keeper Steve Kleinig said.

“The three joeys born in March…are now weaned (meaning they have left mother Lana’s pouch) but they still remain close by her side. They are now playing with each other and exploring independently outside the den.”

“The four joeys born in June are starting to open their eyes and become more aware of their surroundings. While they are still attached to their mother's teats, we’re expecting they will begin to leave their mother’s pouch in the coming weeks,” Steve said.

2 - Tasmanian Devil Joeys

3 - TWPZ Keepers Hayley Brooks  Karen James and Rachel Schildkraut with Tasmanian Devil JoeysPhoto Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo (Image 3: Keepers Hayley Brooks, Karen James, and Rachel Schildkraut)

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is part of a national insurance population program designed to help save the Tasmanian Devil from becoming extinct as a result of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease*.

The Zoo’s breeding success this year is the result of a more targeted approach, and has benefited from favorable breeding recommendations. These are based on the unique characteristics and genetics of a breeding pair and, combined with their compatibility upon meeting, can determine breeding success.

“We are continuing to collaborate with other breeding institutions to improve the long-term viability of our program, such as Devil Ark in the Barrington Tops, where Lana and Pooki came from, and Tasmania’s Trowunna Wildlife Park, where the father originated,” Steve said.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has two breeding facilities for the Tasmanian Devil located behind the scenes. The Zoo has bred 31 healthy Tasmanian Devil joeys so far - a significant boost to the regional zoo-based insurance population of this endangered species.

With Tasmanian Devil numbers in the wild currently dwindling to between 15,000 and 50,000 individuals, every birth is significant. The mainland breeding program of which the Zoo is a part could play an important role in helping to re-establish healthy wild populations of the species in Tasmania if needed in future.

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia, but it is now found only in the wild on the island state of Tasmania, including tiny east coast Maria Island where there is a conservation project with disease-free animals.

The Tasmanian Devil is the size of a small dog and became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the Thylacine in 1936. It is related to Quolls and distantly related to the Thylacine.

It is characterized by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odor, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian Devil's large head and neck allow it to generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator, and it hunts prey and scavenges carrion as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby.

A breeding Tasmanian Devil female can produce up to 50 young that are about the size of a grain of rice. Competition for survival is fierce, and only the first four joeys are able to latch onto the mother’s teats.

In 2008, the Tasmanian Devil was assessed and classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. In 2009, the Australian Government also listed the species as “Endangered”, under national environmental law.

*Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is an infectious cancer that only affects Tasmanian Devils, and is transmitted through biting, fighting and mating. Since the first official case of DFTD in Australia in 1996, there has been a decline of up to 50-70 per cent of the Tasmanian Devil population across the majority of Tasmania.

solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird

Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton, who then helped her break through Angela Ziegler's insistence that Widowmaker was not really a person, and that Amélie Lacroix could yet be recovered. But despite that truth, sometimes, some of Amélie's last memories - mostly but not always tightly compartmentalised away - trouble the spider, and this is one of those times.

This is the sixth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017 (pre-Doomfist/Masquerade), which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.

This story follows "It's not easy to explain, said Lena Oxton" in chronological sequence. [AO3 link]


"Do you remember what it was like?"

Lena held Widowmaker's hand, gently, as they sat together, otherwise alone, mid-afternoon, in the smaller canteen at Gibraltar. She drank tea, cream, two sugars. Her counterpart drank obscenely hot coffee, unsweetened, strong, and dark.

For the most part, Amélie's memories stayed safely in their place, out of Widowmaker's way, but there were a few, occasionally, at the border between her birth and the previous woman's death, that picked at her, at times. Dr. Ziegler suggested that was because of the emotions around them - emotions could, perhaps, last long enough, even if the thoughts themselves didn't, to become Widowmaker's emotions as well.

"A little," said the former Talon assassin, after some delay. "Not very much, thankfully. I do not think she was making new memories very well, by then. But there are some."

Lena shuddered a little. "I can't even imagine it."

Widowmaker shook her head. "For her, it was not even the fear of it happening. It was..." She pondered a moment. "It is not easy to explain."

"I can't imagine it would be."

"She would feel, and think, one way, one thing, and then, she would find herself thinking another way, a different thing, a thing like I would think, sometimes, but she would be thinking it, and not me. And sometimes it would be something neither of us would think, but something they very much wanted her to think. And she would believe what she thought, and what she felt, but she would know, she would remember, moments before, thinking very differently about the same thing."

"And she'd fight it," assumed Tracer, "and that would hurt."

"No - but yes? Both would feel like it was her. There was nothing for her to fight. But the difference in the two... that, she found horrifying."

Lena let out a long breathy hoo sound, and took another sip of her tea, before continuing. "So they were making her think... their thoughts, then."

"My thoughts, at least, at times." She leaned her elbows against the table. "Or, to be more correct, the kind of thoughts they wanted me to think. About... how lovely, how beautiful, how perfect it would be when they put her back, and she killed Gérard. And she would believe it, because she could already feel it." The assassin smiled. "As I do, when I kill."

Tracer shuddered. She knew, she knew that the assassin enjoyed her kills - that for a long time, it had been all she lived for. But making Amélie feel that, and Amélie knowing they made her feel that... "Was it you, then? When they did it?" she asked, hoping for an unlikely yes.

The blue assassin laughed, a sound that still made Lena's heart ring every time it happened, no matter the context. "No. I could hardly have imitated Amélie so well for so long. I'd've been discovered, almost immediately. No - it was still her." She took a sip of her coffee. It had cooled a bit, but remained hot enough for her tastes. "That's why it took her two weeks to strike."

"So in the end..." the teleporter said, voice distant in her own ears, "Amélie killed Gérard. And enjoyed it."

Widowmaker nodded. "In a way. They were never above to achieve everything they wanted with her, but they were able to recondition her enough to kill - at least, for a time. And so, she assassinated Gérard, but being torn between the grief and the guilt and the ecstasy..." She shook her head. "That all but shattered her. When she returned, as programmed, they took her apart completely. And built me."

"But you feel some of her... emotions, from then? Her conflict?"

"I do," she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. She put down her cup. "It was the only death about which I felt conflicted, until Mondatta, and the fight with you."

Lena put a third sugar in her tea. She needed something sweet right then. "D'ya ever wonder," she said, as she refilled her cup from the teapot, "if they'd done a better job sealing her off, if you might not've started to, y'know, think on your own?"

"Internal conflict as the source of self-awareness? Dr. Ziegler has suggested that idea as well." She shrugged. "I do not know. But let's say it's true - in which case, Talon did me yet another favour. They..." she picked her cup back up, sipped at the coffee, and put it back down, "left me open, on accident, to you." And she smiled again, just a little, at the side of her mouth.

The Overwatch teleporter let out her breath, and her eyes softened just a bit, as she looked into those metallic eyes. "Aw, luv. That's..."

"May I kiss you?"

Lena blinked, putting down her tea. "...you... care about..." She shook her head, just a little. "...things like that?"

"I don't know." The spider shrugged again, this time with something artificial in the nonchalance. "But I am finding I... may. At least, with you. Shall we find out?"

Lena wasn't sure what she expected. Would she be cold? Would she feel wrong, would she feel like some dead - and then no, she did not, she was not, she was none of those things, she was cool, yes, but not cold, cool like the first breezes of autumn, like the first hints of snow off the mountains, not chilling, but invigorating, and Lena returned the kiss, almost involuntarily, herself warm, no, hot, like summer sun, like the last day at a Spanish beach before the turning of the weather, and Widowmaker was just as surprised, finding herself melting just a little bit more, and she gasped, pulling away, panting, looking down at her coffee, thinking, How can she be so warm?, before looking back up at the one who had reached past her eyes of molten gold, and finding she had no words then at all.

"Blimey, luv..." managed Lena, after a moment. "You're... only the second woman ever to make me feel like that with a kiss."

"For me, you," breathed Widowmaker, eyes wide, "...are the first."

"I hope it don't make you feel like killin' someone," Lena half-laughed, half-serious, half-joking, a lot nervous and a little afraid, and if that made more than a whole, so be it. "Chiefly, me."

"Never." Widowmaker reached across the table, grabbing Lena's hands with both of her own. "Do you understand? Never. I could not."

She pulled Lena forward, close, quickly, knocking the teacup across the table, shattering it on the floor, and the smaller woman gasped, startled, but did not flee.

"I do not know why, and I do not know how, but..." The spider kissed the teleporter, again, the meeting short but intense, "...I have found someone I could never kill."

Hooooooo, thought a part of the teleporter, unexpected emotions swirling around her mind, throwing her into responding before she even knew she was doing it. This is not gonna be easy to explain, to... to anybody.

unf

Oct. 16th, 2017 05:14 pm
solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird
last time i posted, i was in a bit of a slump - possibly more perceived than real, according to the numbers - but i've been digging back out a bit the last couple of days. i definitely needed to do more annabots, because of what it does for my tracking, which deathmatch does not do. the two training modes compliment each other well.

anyway, i'm home sick today with a head cold, and so had two daytime sessions and i just gotta say

do not step to me as widowmaker on defence in hanamura

just

don't

okay, so, i'm up to a 12 kill streak and my scope percentage is pretty good and my critical hit count is decent, and there's like 35 seconds left and we seem to be in good shape on defending the second point. torbjorn's got his turret up, all that, i'm coming back from spawn where i've re-healthed 'cause we don't have a healer, but while i was healing up, somebody blew up my mine on the upper platform on our left.

so i'm running out the right corridor and it's mccree and his ult is up and nobody on our team takes him down. he pulls a quadruple kill, then takes out a fifth, but gets taken down doing it.

i proceed to hold the point solo as widowmaker against reaper, lucio, and the piggy, the latter with no doubt the most brutally effective widow:76 play i have ever pulled off.

15 kill streak. and my whole team has seen it 'cause I'm the only one alive.

they all come charging out as i'm finishing off roadhog and i just wave - "hello there!" - and present them with a cleared objective, and we win.

smooth as silk.

unf.
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_Rhino Calf 2488 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Wilds welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf born in the pasture during the afternoon of October 5. The calf is the second fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa (both fifth-generation calves were born at The Wilds).

The new calf was born to second-time mother, Anan, and first-time father, Roscoe. Anan’s first calf, a male named Letterman (born at The Wilds in 2014), was the first fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa.

Anan had a notable birth herself, as she was the first fourth-generation Rhino to be born outside of Africa, and she, too, was born at The Wilds. Anan’s mother, Zen, was the very first Rhino born at The Wilds in 2004 and is still a part of the conservation center’s breeding herd.

The Wilds animal management team members have observed that the new calf is strong and is nursing in the pasture. This is the 17th White Rhino born at The Wilds; the conservation center has also produced seven Asian One-horned Rhinos.

2_Rhino Calf 2539 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

3_Rhino Calf 2665 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

4_Rhino Calf 2753 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The breeding recommendations are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of these species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of rhinos in human care.

“Every birth at The Wilds is significant, but this one is particularly special to us. With each new generation of Rhinos born, it is a testament to the success of the breeding program at The Wilds but more importantly a success for this species as a whole. The Wilds is proud to be a part of the conservation initiatives ensuring the survival of this species,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The White Rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of White Rhinos in their native African range has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All five remaining Rhino species in Africa and Asia (White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros) are persecuted by poachers who sell the horns for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes, even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from The Wilds, estimates that one Rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.

The Southern White Rhinoceros or Southern Square-lipped Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) is one of the two subspecies of the White Rhinoceros (the other being the Northern White Rhinoceros). It is the most common and widespread subspecies of Rhino.

White Rhino calves are born after a gestation of 16 months and they can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands, interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.

Their physical characteristics are two pointed horns and a wide mouth suitable for grazing. The name White Rhinoceros originated from the Afrikaans word describing the animal’s mouth: wyd, meaning “wide.” Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the word wyd for “white.”

To further protect the future of Rhinos, The Wilds and the Columbus Zoo has provided more than $196,000 in the last five years in support of conservation projects benefiting Rhinos in their native ranges, such as monitoring Black and White Rhinos in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld region through the International Rhino Foundation and protecting Black Rhinos in the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya through the African Wildlife Foundation.

5_Rhino Calf 2705 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

6_Rhino Calf 2552 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

7_Rhino Calf 2696 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

[AO3 link]


"I'm pretty sure I know what we're gonna see on this video," Venom said, back in her Tracer garb, but still more than a bit blue at the edges and entirely gold in the eyes. "'Cause I'm pretty sure I know what I saw." She gave Angela Ziegler a pointed look. "But... I might be wrong."

Most of the current members of Overwatch Lunar Embassy sat around a table in the ambassador's workshop - even Fareeha, though her thoughts clearly chased rabbits elsewhere. Lena glanced over with more than a little sympathy - she hardly even remembered her mother, and couldn't even imagine what it would be like to have one return from the grave.

"If everyone's ready, I'm going to start with Ana Amari's recording," Winston said, to general assent. "I haven't looked it yet - Athena's just finished deep-scanning the media for anything... inappropriate... to our systems."

-----

Jack Morrison looked at the drive containing the video. He didn't really want to play it again - it scared him. He had some ideas about why, but he didn't like them. Being a super-soldier was one thing. Being... whatever this implied... was another entirely.

He sat quietly in his temporary quarters on the small Los Muertos compound just south of the New Mexico border. He could hear Delgado outside, running her fighters through the training regimes he'd taught her, with that new man, Arturo, acting as her second. Jack smiled to himself, hearing the noise. If we're not careful, I'm going to end up with a pretty good strike team here. Already got one that's not half bad, he thought.

The former - and, arguably, again - Strike Commander looked at the drive a third time, thought, the hell with it, and linked it to his padd. A notice came up, saying the file system was damaged, and he let it repair itself, which took only a couple of minutes, and produced a slightly larger video file.

-----

Winston hit play. The large wall display showed a view through a sniper rifle - a conventional firearm, not Talon make - and Venom chuckled a little to herself. Still using the old-style scopes, grams? Good to know. Through it, from above and from two alleys situated a town that looked hot and had signs in Spanish, a group of Los Muertos fighters spilled out, led on the far side by one all too familiar white-haired super-soldier, on the near side by a woman clearly his lieutenant mirroring his actions, and through upper windows by a set of three sharpshooters. Military tactics against cheap street thugs means a battle that would end quickly, until blam, blam, blam, and all three sharpshooters were down, and there was chaos.

Morrison dodged into view, and the sniper fired, again, quickly - Venom could see Jack all but centred in her sight - and again, that blur, and then, Morrison is fine, and dodging away, and one of the fighters with him is dead on the ground.

"What th'..." said Reyes, as Mercy blinked, and looked confused. Mei looked at the screen, and back to the doctor, similarly confused. "What just...?"

-----

Morrison saw himself spill out of the passenger side of the lead vehicle, face bloodied, just as he remembered. He stopped the video, and zoomed in as far as the footage would allow - the resolution wasn't bad, but the lens wasn't great, and the image could've been shaper. Then, the blurriness got much worse, before returning to sharper focus, and his tactical visor was intact.

What the hell, he thought.

He stopped the replay, and backed up the video, and ran it again, in slow motion, frame at a time, zoomed in as before, tracking his own movement manually.

-----

"Winston, stop the replay?"

The scientist nodded, and motion stopped.

"...re-run that last shot at Morrison, slowly."

The sniper's scope tracked the soldier, a second fighter next to him, close by, but not unduly close. The shot rang out, just behind the former strike commander's motion, but still clearly a headshot. Then the blur.

-----

His visor had definitely been wrecked. Whoever took the shot had hit it perfectly, sheering right across his eyes, ripping most of it off his face without touching his skin. Hell of a shot, he thought, complimenting whoever - or, knowing Talon, whatever - had taken it. Then the blur.

He stopped the video, and studied the frame carefully. The compression wasn't too bad, but the resolution could've been better. He zoomed out, and saw the side of the truck in as sharp a focus as it had been a few frames before - just the upper part of his face became an indistinct mass.

-----

"Stop," said Venom. The video froze in place, blur still covering most of the field. She walked up to the screen. "See these?" She pointed at the sniper scope ticks around the frame, still in perfect focus. "And this?" She pointed at a perfectly-focused truck lamppost base, in the upper left corner. "This isn't recorder artefact."

Winston nodded. "I agree. Whatever this is, it's a real effect."

"Sorry luv, but the news gets worse. I saw exactly this happen," Venom said, "though my sight. I didn't talk about it yet, 'cause I figured maybe I blinked" - though she knew damn well that was impossible - "or maybe someone ran between me and Jack right as I took the third shot. But I know I had him dead in my sights, and when I fired, somebody else was dead on the ground."

"You took a kill shot?" asked Reyes.

"Third time, in that mess? Bloody right I did."

Mei looked unhappy and Gabriel frowned, but found couldn't really argue. "...fair enough."

Venom nodded. "Step through, frame at a time?"

-----

Several more frames of blur, and then, one where it seemed to thin, and then form a line along the horizontal centre of the visor, and there the visor was, again, intact, and Morrison saw himself reaching up and activating it, without a second thought, just as he remembered, during the battle.

He flipped through the last set of frames. Nothing more than what he'd already seen - a broken visor, a blur, and an intact visor, in that order. It didn't make any sense. Nothing in the Soldier Enhancement Programme could do anything like that.

Unless.

Unless it wasn't the SEP.

-----

Several more frames of blur, and then, one frame where the blur, the fog, seemed to coalesce on the right side, and then the soldier's head was to the right, apparently unharmed, and the fighter whose head had been all but out of frame was dead, on the ground, a large section cut out, almost scooped, mostly missing, and Mei made a small choking sound as the view through the scope swept from the dead fighter's body, back to Morrison's intact and dodging head, and back to the woman, and back to Morrison, before the shooter took another shot just too late, into a wall, as Morrison dove down an alley and behind a skip.

Winston blanched, and spread the key frames across the display. Gabriel looked more than a little ill, himself. "I have seen some fucked up things in my life, but that..."

Venom looked over to Dr. Ziegler, her anger controlled, but not entirely concealed. Angela said nothing, staring intently at the images. "Doc? You gonna say somethin'?"

-----

Morrison thought back to the failed defence of Overwatch Geneva, when everything came apart, falling into Angela Ziegler's lab, badly hurt, bones broken, stumbling around in the dark, the only light the emergency exit signs and his biotic field, as he grasped around, looking for the aid kits he knew had to be down here somewhere.

He remembered finding one, no, two, and applying them both, and passing out as another blast hit the base.

And then he remembered nothing until he awoke, having somehow made his way outside, having scavenged a UN uniform from one of the Talon soldiers, and feeling more than a little out of joint, like he didn't fit back together quite right, like everything was just a little off, or a little more than a little off, and he remembered putting it out of his mind and concentrating on getting away, getting as far away as possible, before Talon's UN puppets could get ahold of him, and make him pay for his defiance.

What were you working on down there, Angela? he thought to himself.

-----

"I... this cannot be happening," the doctor said.

"Pretty sure we just saw it," replied Venom.

"What are you talking about?" asked Winston.

"Angela?" the assassin prompted.

The medic shook her head. "I know what you are thinking," she said to Venom. "But you do not understand. My experimental nanosurgeons were not capable of doing what we just saw. Not even the most advanced ones."

Mei jumped in, supporting the doctor. "It's true! I knew that generation, this was not in their operating parameters."

-----

Jack pulled out his knife, pulled up his sleeve, and cut a long gash in his arm - nothing too deep, just enough to test his enhanced healing. The skin knit itself back together, normally, like it had ever since the treatments all those years ago back in California.

He cleaned his knife, put it away, and pulled out a pistol to replace it. He stared at the medium-caliber firearm, not sure he was ready to do what he needed to do, then chided himself for not being enough of a soldier. Enough of a man. It worked.

"Delgado!" he shouted.

"Yeah, Spooky?" she replied from outside.

"Pistol's acting up. Gonna fire a couple of test rounds in here, clear it. Don't freak out."

"Sure you don't want to go to the range for that?"

"It's fine, I've got a fire box."

"Oh, okay. Thanks for the warning."

"No problem."

-----

Venom pressed the point. "You're sayin' that's not some kind of experimental nanosurgeon swarm? 'Cause it looks to me like Ana made that headshot, and then somethin' stole some parts from whoever was nearby to fix it."

Dr. Ziegler rubbed her temples. "I agree that is what it looks like. But it cannot be what I made. If nothing else - I am careful! None of my experimental versions will, or even can, remain active for so long. The last time he could've had access was when the UN moved against the Geneva watchpoint, and nothing from that generation could survive."

"The evidence," said Winston, "indicates otherwise."

"It can't be!" She slammed her palms atop the table. "None of the experimental models from that era could!"

Venom narrowed her eyes at the doctor. "None of 'em? You sure about that, doc?"

Dr. Zhou leaned over to Dr. Ziegler. "I don't think you should rule it out, I could help you go over the old records, over everything that was in there when the fighting happened..."

Angela looked over to Mei-Ling gratefully. "I really don't think it's necess..." and she blinked at a thought, and looked back to Venom. Is... that what you think? Venom's face caught the doctor's surprise, as she realised that the researcher hadn't actually put it together herself yet, and the Talon assassin just nodded, and the doctor bit her lip. "...I... it has been some years, and that was a tremendously hectic - even chaotic - time. It... we should investigate. I would very much appreciate your help in that, Mei."

"Sure, Dr. Ziegler," confirmed the eco-biologist.

"Thank you," Venom replied, nodding. About time.

"God damn," said Reyes, "Could it be more than just him? Could others be... infected?"

"Absolutely not," said Angela. "My nanosurgeons would've impressed themselves with the initial contact DNA, it would be impossible for them to spread successfully. All" - she stressed, pointedly - "of my technologies rely on that. All of them."

-----

Morrison pulled up a trouser leg, pulled off his left boot and sock, and aimed the pistol at the outer edge of his foot. It'd hurt, but it wouldn't kill anybody - particularly not him. But he hesitated.

Do it, you coward, he thought to himself. God damn it, just do it.

And he fired.

The pain was brilliant and sharp, more than he expected, but muted itself quickly. He felt suddenly almost like he was in a dream, half asleep yet fully awake, as he watched his foot splatter, then turn into a greyish and pink mist, and reform, in front of his eyes.

-----

"Meanwhile," said the Talon assassin in Tracer orange and Overwatch white, "I don't think there's any safe way to bring him in alive now. I think our friends should get the next shot."

"No!" interjected Mei, with unexpected force. "That's not what we agreed!"

Tracer, or Venom, looked over to the Chinese scientist. "We agreed Overwatch gets first shot, then..."

"No!" she insisted, even more forcefully. "I will not go along with that!" She looked straight into the assassin's gold eyes. "You are not the only one he abandoned to her death. He abandoned my entire team and I want him tried for that. I want it exposed! I want my friends to be..." she choked a little, and suddenly she was crying, "I want my friends to be remembered! I want justice for them! In court, with it all exposed for the whole world to see him for the monster he is!"

Lena blinked, and blinked again, shocked by the intensity of the normally cheerful woman's outburst, and leaned forward, "Oh wow, Mei, I'm sorry, I know what..."

"No, you don't know!" The small woman shouted. "You know what it's like to disappear for years and wake up in the future but you do not know what it is like to wake up and find all of your friends dead because he couldn't be bothered to send a rescue ship! He knew we were in cryogenic suspension and still alive. At least with you, he thought you were probably dead, but with us, he knew we were alive, and just decided to let us die!"

She continued in a small, quiet voice, "And most of us did. Slowly. In the cold. As the power ran out."

Nobody knew what to say. Gabriel and Winston knew it wasn't that simple, but knew better than to open their mouths. Angela just leaned over to the smaller woman and offered her hand, and Fareeha just sat quietly next to her wife, comforting her in turn. And then Venom found her voice, at last. "I'm... I'm sorry, Mei. You're right."

Lena "Tracer" Oxton took a long, slow, deep breath, and let it out. "I withdraw my motion. Our friends will remain on stand down. Overwatch will try again."

-----

God damn you, Ziegler, the stroke commander thought, staring at his perfectly intact left foot, which moments ago he'd shot through for a second time. He shook with unreasoning fury. What the hell did you do to me?

Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo

Oct. 15th, 2017 07:10 am
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Andrew Bleiman

Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZO55406

After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

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Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

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Help Name This Baby Otter!

Oct. 14th, 2017 06:43 am
[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Chris Eastland

KCZoo Baby Otter 3

A male Asian Small-clawed Otter at the Kansas City Zoo needs a name, and you can submit your favorite here until October 20.

The tiny male was born on August 27 to mom Cai, age 10, and dad Ian, age six.  Both parents are caring for their baby behind the scenes. The zoo staff says it will be a few more weeks before the family returns to their exhibit habitat.

KCZoo Baby Otter 2
20171003_162708Photo Credit: Kansas City Zoo

All of the baby Otter names submitted through October 20 will be reviewed by the zoo staff. The top four names will be selected and announced on the zoo’s Facebook page for a final vote from October 20 through November 3. The zoo plans to announce the winner on November 10.

Asian Small-clawed Otters live in wetlands and mangrove swamps in Southeast Asia, where they feed on Crustaceans and Mollusks. Every aspect of the Otter’s body is designed for efficient swimming, including the long, torpedo-shaped body, muscular tail, flattened head, and webbed feet. These Otters are the smallest of the world’s 13 Otter species.

Due to habitat degradation, illegal hunting, and pollution of waterways, Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.  The Kansas City Zoo, along with other accredited North American zoos, participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to breed rare species and maintain a high level of genetic diversity in populations under human care.

 

[syndicated profile] zooborns_feed

Posted by Chris Eastland

2_22254689_10155585279380149_6956957991965514236_o

On July 21, two Binturongs at Tierpark Berlin became proud parents. Vincent and Fiona welcomed four offspring when sixteen-year-old Fiona gave birth to two females and two males.

The four fluffy siblings have been tucked away with their mother since their birth, but on September 28 they received their first veterinarian exam and vaccinations. Visitors to the park can now see the curious quad exploring their outdoor exhibit.

"The special thing about this litter is that almost all the young animals look the same", explained park curator, Christian Kern. "Only one has a slightly lighter head. Usually, [Binturongs] siblings are quite different in the facial and skin coloring."

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4_22179911_10155585279830149_7434153292353878084_oPhoto Credits: Tierpark Berlin

The Binturong (Arctictis binturong), also known as a Bearcat, is a viverrid that is native to South and Southeast Asia.

Binturongs are omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits.

The estrous period of the Binturong is 81 days, with a gestation of 91 days. The average age of sexual maturation is 30.4 months for females and 27.7 months for males. The binturong is one of approximately 100 species of mammal believed by many experts to be capable of embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation, which allows the female of the species to time parturition to coincide with favorable environmental conditions. Typical litters consist of two offspring, but up to six may occur.

It is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed and classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List due to a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% over the last three decades. The main threat to the species is severe destruction of habitats in their native parts of the world.

The EAZA has established a conservation breeding program for Binturongs, including Tierpark Berlin’s animals. Tierpark Berlin supports the organization ABConservation, which specializes in the protection of the Binturongs, at its Bearcat Study Program on Palawan Island in the Philippines.

"Binturongs are kept in a comparatively large number of European zoos, but their breeding does not work regularly. The pairs must harmonize well in order to reproduce. It is therefore all the more pleasing that our Berlin couple have regularly been up-and-coming since 2003," said Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem.

Currently, the Binturong at Tierpark Berlin are the only ones in Germany. The four siblings are also currently yet-to-be-named.

pretty ugh couple of days of play

Oct. 13th, 2017 03:22 pm
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
I've had a few pretty ugh days of play lately - my averages aren't dropping off (in fact, my crit shot number is up a little) but it's felt like I've been sucking, and I've been losing a lot, even outside of free-for-all deathmatch, where frankly I expect to lose, because that is not a good forum for Widowmaker.

I just have to keep reminding myself: for me, it's not a game, it's an intentionally-unfair live-fire exercise.

But lunchtime Overwatch today was better. I was even competitive in FFA deathmatch a bit, but the real fun was an unremittingly funny - to me - game in China where I just kept sending the same piggy swimming in the Garden over and over and over again with boops. Seriously, it was like four times, and he ragequit mid-round because he simply would not learn.

(He didn't even wait 'till end of the round like half his team did before dropping. After that fourth boop he was just RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE I'M OUT. It was one of those "I can hear you shrieking from here." XD )

And then at the end of the round, two more of his team quit too. But there was backfill, which kind of meant we were facing a new team, which was definitely better but we still beat them handily.

I do rather wish that team had stuck together for a bit. People knew their business. It was nice.

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