News Archive

Deep Intellect

Inside the Mind of the Octopus

ON AN UNSEASONABLY WARM day in the middle of March, I traveled from New Hampshire to the moist, dim sanctuary of the New England Aquarium, hoping to touch an alternate reality. I came to meet Athena, the aquarium’s forty-pound, five-foot-long, two-and-a-half-year-old giant Pacific octopus.

For me, it was a momentous occasion. I have always loved octopuses. No sci-fi alien is so startlingly strange. Here is someone who, even if she grows to one hundred pounds and stretches more than eight feet long, could still squeeze her boneless body through an opening the size of an orange; an animal whose eight arms are covered with thousands of suckers that taste as well as feel; a mollusk with a beak like a parrot and venom like a snake and a tongue covered with teeth; a creature who can shape-shift, change color, and squirt ink. But most intriguing of all, recent research indicates that octopuses are remarkably intelligent.


Photograph: Brandon Cole


Rhino Crisis Round Up: Javan Rhino Extinct in Vietnam, Rhino Horn Smugglers Arrested in Nepal & More

The conservation community mourns this week as the extinction of the Javan rhino subspecies (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was confirmed.

DNA testing determined that a female rhino, found shot to death in Vietnam’s Cat Tien National Park in 2010 with her horn missing, was the very last of her kind.

A report released last week by WWF noted that Vietnam’s illegal wildlife trade is “rampant” and there was a glaring lack of political will and very little, if any, accountability for the protection of its critically endangered rhino population.

Tears for the ‘river pig’

Increasing pollution of the Yangtze River and the threat this poses to the finless porpoise is also a warning for a third of the nation’s population that depends on these waters. Wang Ru reports.

Growing up in Huanggang, a city by the Yangtze River in Central China’s Hubei province, He Dan had heard from elderly fishermen about a rare fish, dubbed the “river pig” by locals.

The fishermen described them as shy animals that often chased their boats, making a whistling sound. However, the term “river pig” was not really appropriate for the clever animal, that fishermen recall leaping out of the water in pairs or as a group.

Videos Closing A Deadly Gateway is a project that aims to secure the closure of Asia’s most prolific markets for Tigers and other critically endangered species. Produced in conjunction with TRAFFIC/WWF, it was designed to be presented at the Global Tiger Summit in St Petersburg Russia...

Treasuring Thailand’s national animal

An elephant conservation centre in Nakhon Ratchasima gives blind children a rare chance to get up, close and personal with these animals

Tall, dark, handsome and always smiling, 39-year-old Alongkot Chukaew, on first glance, looks like any other happy-go-lucky guy. That is, until he is with his elephants.

A blind student feels the elephant’s tusk and skin, along with elephant conservationist Alongkot Chukaew. PHOTOS: YINGYONG UN-ANONGRAK

His personality immediately changes once he’s with his elephants at the Thai Elephant Centre for Conservation in Nakhon Ratchasima. He gently touches them, smiles at them, murmurs in their ear and even sings to them, no matter if there’s an audience present or not.

“Elephants can be human’s best friends. I love them, just as my mother does.”

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