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First Case of TB in a Rhino Confirmed in Nepal

The discovery is the first infectious disease found in the rhino population and is considered a crucial step in the fight for rhino conservation.

Researchers at a wildlife conservation preserve in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, have announced the first confirmed case of tuberculosis (TB) in a young female Asian One-horned rhino. This discovery is the first infectious disease discovered in the rhino population and a crucial step in the fight for rhino conservation.

The discovery has been published in a paper in Emerging Infectious Disease and is the result of research that began in 2012. The research called on experts and organizations that included the Veterinary Initiative for Endangered Wildlife (VIEW), the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC).

Animals In 2016: What's Ahead: Photos

Although poaching has been eliminated altogether since 2013, Chitwan National Park still saw 31 rhino deaths due to unknown circumstances over the past five years. Until recently, the inability to pinpoint the cause of these deaths was due to a lack of having proper systems in place to investigate the culprit.

Researchers discovered that the organism responsible for causing TB in the rhino is part of the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex (MTBC) group. It is a close relative of organisms that cause TB in humans and cattle. They also noted that in 2014, the World Health Organization reported 9.6 million new TB cases each year in the world's human population.

Deborah McCauley, founder and executive director of VIEW, told FoxNews.coml that the discovery of TB in rhinos will fuel debate about how to best serve the human and animal populations that could potentially be affected. In the case of the rhinos, poaching and habitat encroachment are often at the top of the intervention lists, but disease, the third issue, has the potential to be the greatest threat, she said.

"We have suspected for several years now that disease was the missing piece to the conservation puzzle," explained McCauley, via email. "Now that we have firm evidence of TB, we can help the parks to understand the risk of TB and other diseases threatening precious, endangered species in order to help prevent further spread."

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Shown is a great one-horned rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

Less than two weeks into the new year, big changes are already in the works that could dramatically change the fate of many animal species. Some will benefit, others won't, and still others will be a hot topic of debate for months to come. Manatees fall into the last category. On January 7, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

announced

that the West Indian manatee should be downlisted from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. Public comments can be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until April 7 of this year. At stake are issues such as slow speed zones for boats, since boats have hit manatees in the past. Both state and local officials have expressed a desire to curb such restrictions. "The manatee is one of the most charismatic and instantly recognizable species," Michael Bean, principal deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior, said. "It's hard to imagine the waters of Florida without them, but that was the reality we were facing before manatees were listed under the Endangered Species Act. While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, their numbers are climbing and the threats to the species' survival are being reduced."

US Says Manatee Should Lose Endangered Species Status

The FBI this year will be collecting data on animal cruelty crimes through its National Incident-Based Reporting System. In a recent FBI podcast "

FBI This Week

," unit chief Amy Blasher explained that the bureau partnered with the National Sheriffs' Association and the Animal Welfare Institute to initiate the data collection process. "They believe that animal cruelty was an early indicator of violent crime, and that's really what led the discussions with our law enforcement partners throughout the country," Blasher said. She added that data would be collected only on certain types of animal abuse, such as dog fighting, cock fighting and animal sexual abuse.

Roosters Crow in Pecking Order by Seniority

By April 6 of this year, all dogs in the U.K. will need to be microchipped. The

British Veterinary Association

(BVA) will also require dog owners to register the details of any new owner before they sell or give the dog away. Their contact information must additionally be kept up to date. The BVA says microchipping offers many benefits. A fact sheet mentions: "It can help reunite strays with their owners, help tackle puppy farming, and encourage responsible ownership. In pedigree dogs it facilitates the reporting of hereditary health problems."

DNA Dates Dog Domestication Back 33,000 Years

With public outcry increasing against keeping orcas and other large marine mammals in captivity, SeaWorld late last year

stated

that it was phasing out its current San Diego orca show. SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby said, "The main point is we are listening to our guests. We're evolving as a company. We're always changing and, again, always evolving. That means 2016 will be the last year of our theatrical killer whale experience called One Ocean." He continued, "In San Diego, in 2017 we will launch our all-new orca experience. It's going to be focused more on the natural setting, natural environment and also the natural behaviors of the whales." The announcement followed the California Coastal Commission's approval of $100 million expansion of tanks that SeaWorld San Diego uses to house its orcas, also called killer whales. The commission then also banned breeding of the captive orcas at the facility.

SeaWorld Ends Killer Whale Shows as Federal Ban Looms

Last year, recreational hunter Walter Palmer killed a beloved male Southwest African lion named "Cecil" that lived primarily at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The death drew international attention to the plight of lions and other species targeted by big game hunters. Cecil's death may not go in vein, however. Late last year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

announced

that two species of lions found in India and Africa would be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The ruling goes into effect on January 22. As of then, the service will have the full authority to deny permits to trophy hunters if they have been previously convicted of violating wildlife laws. Fees for hunting permits will substantially increase. It will also be more difficult for hunters from the U.S. to import slain animals' heads, which have become "trophies" and stimulated bragging rights in the past.

Trophy Hunting: Is There ANY Benefit for Conservation

Last year, the National Institutes of Health said that it would retire all government research chimpanzees to sanctuaries. Animal rights activists are now turning their attention to other animals, such as monkeys, which are still used for research. Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), told Discovery News: "In regards to the use of monkeys in harmful research, The HSUS believes that a critical examination of primate research should be conducted, similar to what was done for chimpanzees by the Institute of Medicine in 2011."

Lab Chimps Freed: Why Not Other Species?

OdySea, slated to open in July, promises to be the largest aquarium in the Southwest. The facility, under construction now in Scottsdale, Ariz., continues the trend over the last three to four decades of massive aquariums in the United States and around the world. According to the OdySea

website

, the aquarium will span 200,000 square feet and will hold more than 2 million gallons of water. It is being built to accommodate up to 15,000 visitors daily.

Orphaned Otter Pup Arrives at Shedd Aquarium: Photos

We are seeing the end of the caged age, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The organization predicts that 2016 will experience a greater shift from caged to free-ranging animals raised for food. An ASPCA

news release

issued late last year further said, "In the past decade, nearly 100 major food retailers have adopted policies to phase out confinement practices. Nine states have banned the use of gestation crates (used for pregnant and nursing pigs), eight states ban veal crates, and five states ban battery cages (used for egg-laying hens)."

Why Is Processed Meat So Dangerous?

An effort is underway to establish land near Mount Katahdin in Maine as a national park and recreation area. The region is home to moose, black bears, deer and other wildlife. Roxanne Quimby, a conservationist and a founder of Burt's Bees, has stated that she would donate 150,000 acres for the proposed park. Sierra Club Maine is also supporting the effort. Congressional approval is needed for the designation, so organizers are now working to encourage President Obama to declare the area as a national monument. This would be a first major step toward national park status.

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The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, kicking off a second century of stewardship of America's national parks, which are critical for much of the remaining wildlife in the United States. Centennial events are scheduled for several parks, including in Yosemite National Park, shown here. The NPS has also launched a new initiative, Find Your Park, as part of this 100th anniversary year. A listing of centennial events by location is available at the

Find Your Park website

.

10 Reasons to Visit a National Park Now