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Brainy fish can recognise people...

Fish are famous for having a incredibly short memory - about three seconds. Perhaps that keeps the view from the goldfish bowl constantly fresh and interesting!

But, joking apart, we may have been underestimating their brainpower. Scientists from the University of Oxford have proved that fish can make choices from memory and possibly even recognise us, as Martin Dowse explains.


Zoo keeper steps in as orphaned sloth's dad this Father's Day

Flash was born at the end of March Credit: Drusilla's Park

It will be a busy Father’s Day for Head Keeper, Mark Kenward at Drusillas Park in East Sussex, who has become surrogate dad to an orphaned baby sloth and is currently hand-rearing it.

Flash needs feeding every four hours Credit: Drusilla's Park

The sloth, named Flash by followers on Facebook, was born on Saturday 26 March and is the first baby of its kind to arrive at the Park in the zoo’s 91 year history.

Flash requires feeding every three hours, even during the night, which is likely to continue for at least 8 months.

Flash's mother sadly died shortly after he was born Credit: Drusilla's Park

Mark says: “There are some advantages to looking after a sloth baby; nature only calls every 5 to 7 days so there are rarely any accidents to clear up.

Sloths are also slow moving and sleepy creatures too, so I can easily keep a track on Flash.”

VIDEO: White rhino winched into wildlife park

Pembe is very much at home in her new surroundings Credit: Marwell Wildlife Park

A three-year-old white rhino has arrived at Marwell Zoo to join the animals at Wild Explorers.

Pembe, a female white rhino, was collected from Colchester Zoo in Essex on Tuesday morning.

Using a 40 foot crane, the rhino was lifted in a giant crate and placed safely onto a lorry before making her way to her new home in Hampshire.

Animal teams escorted Pembe to Marwell Zoo where a crane was waiting to lift her safely into the zoo’s Wild Explorers exhibit.

Here's a video of Pembe arriving in Hampshire:

Pembe has arrived at Marwell Zoo as part of the European Endangered species breeding Programme (EEP).

Ian Goodwin, Marwell’s collection manager of Hoofstock, travelled to Colchester Zoo to collect her, he said:

“It’s quite a big operation to move a rhino as you can imagine but it all went really well and just as we planned. Pembe was very calm and spent most of the time sitting down in the crate and enjoying some food.

“Once we arrived at Marwell, Pembe calmly walked out of the crate into her new home at Wild Explorers.

She instantly enjoyed discovering the new smells of the other rhinos and exploring her new surroundings.”


Ten kittens dumped in cardboard box

The kittens are reported to be doing well Credit: Cats Protection

The Folkestone and Hythe Branch of Cats Protection has rescued 10 three-day old kittens, dumped in a cardboard box and left on a doorstep. The charity reports that the kittens - now nearly two weeks old - are doing well. This branch is urging cat owners to have their pets neutered to help stop so many unwanted kittens.

Oxford research: fish recognise human faces

The fish can recognise faces with a high degree of accuracy. Credit: ITV

A species of tropical fish has been shown to be able to distinguish between human faces. It is the first time fish have demonstrated this ability.

The research, carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Oxford (UK) and the University of Queensland (Australia), found that archerfish were able to learn and recognise faces with a high degree of accuracy – an impressive feat, given this task requires sophisticated visual recognition capabilities. The fish spit at the face they had been trained to recognise. The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers found that fish, which lack the sophisticated visual cortex of primates, are nevertheless capable of discriminating one face from up to 44 new faces.

In the study, archerfish – a species of tropical fish well known for the ability to spit jets of water to knock down aerial prey – were presented with two images of human faces and trained to choose one of them using their jets. The fish were then presented with the learned face and a series of new faces and were able to correctly choose the face they had initially learned to recognise. They were able to do this task even when more obvious features, such as head shape and colour, were removed from the images.

Being able to distinguish between a large number of human faces is a surprisingly difficult task, mainly due to the fact that all human faces share the same basic features. All faces have two eyes above a nose and mouth, therefore to tell people apart we must be able to identify subtle differences in their features. If you consider the similarities in appearance between some family members, this task can be very difficult indeed.

– Dr Cait Newport, Oxford University

Neglected dog, Peanut, can now wag her tail

Peanut can now wag her tail Credit: RSPCA

A lurcher-cross left to die at a lorry depot is making a good recovery and has even remembered how to wag her tail.

The RSPCA and Catley Cross vets, who are caring for her, have been overwhelmed by messages of support for Peanut, found with broken bones and in an extremely emaciated state under some bushes near Station Road, East Tilbury.

It is thought unlikely that the dog would have survived another 24 hours had she not been found by a passing lorry driver who rang the RSPCA. He tried to coax her to him by rustling a peanut packet, which gave her name, but she was so weak that she could not even stand to drink a bowl of water.

Eighteen month-old Peanut was emaciated when she was found - and at 6.8 kgs she was less than half the weight she should have been (15-17 kilos) and the same as an adult cat. She was also covered in wounds and had untreated injuries including a fractured femur, broken pelvis and dislocated hip which the vet says she is likely to have suffered with for many months.

The RSPCA is also raising funds to pay for her treatment and ensure she gets TLC.

Peanut is a completely different dog to the one we found. She clearly feels a lot better and has perked up.

She jumps up and is really happy to see you now. When we first found her we couldn’t even get her to wag her tail - but now it is constantly thumping away as soon as she sees you.

We urge anyone who knows anything about how she came to be left like this in this callous way to call us on 0300 123 8018.

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