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WASHINGTON - Polar bears in the Arctic suffered sharp declines in the first decade of this century, losing about 40 percent of their population, according to US and Canadian scientists. Credit: Getty Creative The worst years for polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea were 2004 to 2007, when scientists believe thinning ice made it harder for the bears to find seals for food. "Of the 80 cubs observed in Alaska from 2004 to 2007, only two are known to have survived," said Jeff Bromaghin, US Geological Survey research statistician and lead author of the study in the journal Ecological Applications. Survival improved after 2007 and the population had stabilized at 900 bears by the year...

After wet snow blanketed the greater Toronto area on Monday, a male giant panda named Da Mao made the most of what was clearly an enjoyable turn of weather events for him, thestar.com reported. PHOTOS: Adorable Animals You Just Want to Kiss In this video captured by the Toronto Zoo, the big fella can be seen amusing himself by rolling around in the snow, sliding down a hill on his back (who needs a sled when you're a panda?), and even seeing how good snow might be to eat. Play the video to enjoy his wintery frolicking, but prepare to be hit by an exceedingly large cute stick. Da Mao first arrived at the Toronto Zoo in March 2013, alongside his lady friend Er Shun, who will be joining...

LONDON - The strain of bird flu discovered at a duck farm in northern England is H5N8, the same as confirmed in outbreaks in Germany and the Netherlands, the environment ministry said Tuesday. Credit: Getty Editorial "The strain has now been confirmed as H5N8, which is a very low risk to human health and no risk to the food chain," the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said in a statement. Some 6,000 ducks are being culled at the breeding farm in east Yorkshire following the confirmation of the outbreak on Sunday, and a 10-kilometre (six-mile) restriction zone has been put up around the site. News that authorities are dealing with the same subtype of a highly...

LONDON - Prince William teamed up with the makers of Angry Birds to release a new game on Monday that will highlight the dangers of illegal poaching for animal species from elephants to anteaters. Pictured: Prince William. Credit: Getty Editorial The British royal warned about the "illegal slaughter or tens of thousands of animals" and said the trade in animal parts was helping to fund criminal gangs and even extremist groups. "These species are being pushed to the brink of extinction due to poaching. These magnificent creatures will die out in the wild during my lifetime if we do not take notice now," he said in a recorded message. The game is called "Roll With the Pangolins" --...

PARIS - French officials on Friday scaled down a frantic hunt for a mysterious big cat prowling on the outskirts of Paris after scotching earlier fears it was a tiger. Members of the police animal brigade. Credit: Associated Press Sightings of a large feline padding around wooded areas only 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Paris on Thursday sparked a desperate search operation involving at one point as many as 200 police and soldiers, backed by a helicopter. Authorities initially claimed it was a tiger but subsequent investigations on the animal's tracks showed it was probably much less dangerous. Experts from the national hunting and wildlife office and a nearby big cat park said: "We...

MONTEVRAIN - Police and firefighters were desperately hunting for a tiger on the loose near Paris Thursday after a local resident spotted the fearsome animal in a car park and sounded the alert, authorities said. Police animal brigade walking the streets of Montevrain, France. Credit: Associated Press Backed up by a helicopter overhead, firefighters armed with tranquilising guns combed the area in the Seine-et-Marne district near the French capital. Authorities ordered residents to stay indoors and children were kept at school, as several people came forward saying they had seen the tiger on the prowl. "We have been running after it since this morning, police officers are trying to...