New Orleans, Feb 6 (AP/UNB) — The jaguar that escaped last summer and killed nine animals is back on display at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
Valerio apparently chewed a hole in the 4-inch-wide (10-centimeter-wide) steel mesh roof above a column in the exhibit sometime before the zoo was to open July 15.
"We're assuming he probably went up to chase a possum or a raccoon or a cat or something that was walking across the top of his habitat," said Joel Hamilton, curator and vice president at the zoo.
Now the walls and roof are of 2-inch (5-centimeter) mesh, too small for Valerio's jaw. The twisted steel is also thicker.
The zoo also installed four video cameras and an electrified wire around the roof, including around the tops of internal columns. The "hot-wire" is used on a number of exhibits, but hadn't been installed in the jaguar exhibit before Valerio's escape.
"We have added that as another level of precaution," Hamilton said.
Tuesday was the 3-year-old adolescent's first time on public view since his July escape, when he killed five alpacas, an emu and three foxes. He had been allowed into the habitat for about an hour Monday, a day the zoo is closed.
Valerio spent a while Tuesday morning exploring a new ramp, two new platforms and snarfing chunks of meat that keepers had placed on them.
"That's his new playground," Anne Zwerner of New Orleans told Bonnie Jane Zwerner, 3, and her 2-year-old brother, Ryan Kent Zwerner. Their 6-month-old brother, Carson James Zwerner, shared a double stroller with Ryan Kent.
After Valerio ate the biggest chunk from the top of the ramp, he investigated the damp wood where the food had been set out.
"What is he eating right now?" asked Bonnie Jane.
"You know, like how you can lick the plate? He was licking his plate," her mother said.
Valerio is alone in the display. The zoo's female jaguar, Ix Chel, who had given birth to five cubs, was euthanized in September because of kidney failure. The zoo is looking for another female who is genetically compatible with Valerio, Hamilton said.
In the meantime, Hamilton said, the animal doesn't mind his solitude: "Jaguars, like most large cats — other than lions — are solitary animals."
Bonnie Jane wanted to know about the small crowd of reporters, photographers and videographers who had cameras and cellphones aimed at Valerio.
"He's famous today," Zwerner said. "He's always famous. But he's extra-special famous today."
London, Jan 28 (AP/UNB) — Officials say a rare red panda is safe and sound, a day after it escaped from Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland.
The animal went missing on Sunday, and Belfast City Council had urged members of the public to report any sightings to the zoo.
The council said Monday that the mammal had been found, adding that "it is safe and well and has been returned to the zoo."
Two red panda cubs were born at the zoo in June, bringing the population there to four.
A small tree-dwelling mammal native to the Himalayas, the red panda is not closely related to the better-known giant panda.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says the red panda faces a very high risk of extinction due to habitat loss.
New Delhi, Jan 26 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of Indians have converged on a ceremonial boulevard to watch a display of the country's military power and cultural diversity amid tight security during national day celebrations.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest Saturday at the Republic Day parade, which celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of India's Constitution in 1950. India had first invited President Donald Trump but U.S. officials declined, citing a scheduling issue.
Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through the capital's parade route on a cold morning, followed by the military hardware display.
The spectacle ended with Indian air force aircraft whizzing past the saluting base.
The theme of the parade was the 150th birthday of India's independence leader, Mohandas Gandhi.
Washington, Jan 24 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Greenland has gone through an "unprecedented" period of mass ice loss within the last two decades, according to a latest study.
The study, published earlier this week in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that the largest sustained acceleration in ice loss from early 2003 to mid-2013 occurred in southwest Greenland, a region about which scientists were not concerned before.
Based on data collected by Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) satellites in 2003-2013, the study found a four-fold increase in mass being lost from Greenland's ice sheet.
Grace, consisted of two Earth-orbiting satellites, was launched in March 2002. It is a jointed mission between NASA and the German Aerospace Center.
"Continued atmospheric warming will lead to southwest Greenland becoming a major contributor to sea level rise," the study said.
According to the study, the decadal acceleration in mass loss in south-west Greenland arose due to the combination of sustained global warming and positive fluctuations in temperature.
Los Angeles, Jan 24 (AP/UNB) — After five decades, Jimmy Page's dragon has re-emerged from its lair.
Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero's last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.
The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents "a pivotal moment for the guitar and music," said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.
The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year's 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his "Excalibur," kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate.
The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck.
"It was given to me with so much affection," Page told The Associated Press in October. "I really wanted to customize the instrument, almost consecrate the instrument."
Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.
He would use the guitar to write and record songs like "Dazed and Confused" for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.
But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page's painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.
The guitar-makers at Fender had thought about remaking the instrument long before Page himself came forward, because of its historic significance and as a way to claim for Fender a piece of Page, who among guitar nerds is associated with rival Gibson guitars.
"A lot of people were surprised to hear all of Led Zeppelin One was recorded on a Telecaster, that's kind of mind-blowing," said Waller, who has been building guitars since high school woodshop and whose creations have included a Telecaster for Keith Richards and a fully functioning Stratocaster made of cardboard.
Page wanted to recreate not just the design, but the form, feel and sound of the original, so Waller went to his house in London and the two took out the old guitar and took it apart piece-by-piece so they could recreate each part for the rebuild.
"Best day at work ever," Waller said.
Page even made a trip to Fender's California plant — the rocker's first time inside a guitar factory — to inspect and help with the finished products.
"All the employees lost their minds," Waller said with a laugh, "to watch somebody like Jimmy Page be totally enthralled with the machinery and act like a kid and be taking pictures."
The 75-year-old Page painted at least a stroke on each of the 50 instruments Waller built.
"He was adamant about applying paint to every one," Waller said.
Fender is also selling assembly-line models of the guitar that are more affordable than the many thousands the handmade ones are likely to bring in.
Waller said he had been a bundle of nerves when the first of the recreations was sent to Page in England, and was deeply relieved when he heard back from Page that it was a dead ringer for his original.
"As soon as he opened the case he knew," Waller said.
Page agreed, telling the AP that "If anything, the colors were just slightly richer."