Animal Science

wrightbrosfan / Flickr

The zoos of the 1970s would be barely recognizable when compared to the zoos of today, and some believe the zoos of the future will be radically different again - with their focus geared mostly towards conservation efforts.

Mark Vukovich, the president and CEO at Blank Park Zoo, calls the condition of the world’s wild species a “staggering disaster.” He says, "In 20 years for sure, the only place you’ll be able to see some animals is in the zoo.”

John Downer Productions Ltd. / BBC

Chimpanzees are human's closest living animal relatives. They share 99 percent of human DNA and quite a bit of behavior, both positive and negative.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe speaks with primatologist and anthropology professor at Iowa State University, Jill Pruetz. For the last sixteen years she has studied the lives of Savanna chimpanzees in Fongoli, Senegal, and these chimps are featured in the new BBC series, Spy in the Wild, premiering tonight at 7 p.m. CST on Iowa Public Television.

Douglas Mills

Iowa has the second worst animal protection laws of all 50 U.S. states, a point highlighted by a recent case where a groomer kicked a corgi at the Creature Comfort Veterinary Center in Iowa City, causing multiple rib fractures and bruising of the lungs. 

The groomer, 22-year-old Lucas Van Orden V, told police he kicked the dog while grooming it, and he was initially charged with animal neglect, a simple misdemeanor. Since the initial charge, Johnson County Attorney's Office prosecutors added the charge of an aggravated misdemeanor.

Jill Pruetz

Through observation and carefully controlled study, human understanding of the behavior and intelligence of other creatures has grown exponentially over the last 40 years. Yet, there’s still so much unknown.

In his new book, aptly titled, primatologist Frans de Waal addresses the provocative question, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Charity Nebbe talks with De Waal about the extent of human understanding and how animal intelligence is studied during this Talk of Iowa interview. 

Courtesy of Lauren Hanna

When Solon resident Lauren Hanna first saw her dog Clifford taking care of a blind rooster named Hedwig, she didn't believe it; but the two became fast friends.

"Hedwig will get lost out in the yard," Hanna says. "After a night when an animal attacked Hedwig and pulled some of his tail feathers out, Clifford took him under his wing."

"To see it be this ongoing relationship is amazing."

Photo by Abby Wendle/Harveset Public Media

Panda, standing six feet tall and weighing almost a ton, is everything a show cow should be: broad-backed and round-rumped, with sturdy legs holding up her heft. Her hide - thick and black, with splotches of creamy white - fits her name.

“She’s a big time cow,” says Dan Byers, owner of Byers Premium Cattle, Inc. “She’s a freak of nature is what she is.”

Julie Lesnik

Iowa State University primatologist Jill Pruetz studies the spear-wielding Savannah chimpanzees ofSenegal. Most recently, after documenting more than 300 tool-assisted hunts, the team found that while adult male chimps are the main hunters, it's the female chimps that hunt with tools more than males.

“It’s just another example of diversity in chimp behavior that we keep finding the longer we study wild chimps,” Pruetz says. “It is more the exception than the rule that you’ll find some sort of different behavior, even though we’ve studied chimps extensively.”

Sean Dreilinger / flickr

We all have chins, but why humans have chins when other species don’t, is controversial. It’s also the focus of research at the University of Iowa.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer discusses the great anthropological chin debate with Bob Franciscus, UI professor of anthropology.

“Natural selection is not an engineer, but a tinkerer," says Franciscus.

Darwin Day

Jan 29, 2015
CGP Grey / flickr / http://www.cgpgrey.com/

Charles Darwin has a birthday next month, and science lovers all over the world will take time to celebrate the man who unraveled so many of the mysteries surrounding our origins, and those of our fellow animals.

Jill Pruetz

Not many animals will use lethal aggression towards those in their own species, but two groups do - humans, and chimpanzees.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

Following an investigation, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh has been cleared and reinstated as the resident scientist at the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary, formerly the Great Ape Trust, but the future of the organization is anything but certain. Charity Nebbe talks with Sue Savage- Rumbaugh and Executive Director Julie Gilmore about the work their doing and their plans and hopes for the future.

Then, University of Iowa alum Brittany Griffith shares her experiences as a professional rock climber.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

The Bonobo Hope Great Ape Trust Sanctuary in Des Moines is home to a ground breaking thirty year old language research project, at least one superstar Bonobo, and recently it has become home to controversy and funding shortfalls that may end the project. Host Charity Nebbe takes you inside Bonobo Hope.

Animal Tool Behavior

May 29, 2012

Tools are not only used by humans- ground squirrels kick sand in the faces of venomous snakes, mice set out markers to find their way home and apes do all kinds of things with tools - crack open nuts, apply herbal medications, open locks and doors, stir liquids, saw wood and even dig with a shovel. In a program that originally aired last June, Ben talks with the authors of the revision of the seminal book Animal Tool Behavior.   We ask if tool use is evolutionary important and what it indica