Animal Kingdom edition of mammals behaving badly

Adira, the San Diego Zoo red panda, plots the great escape in undated photo/File

Move over Dallas Zoo, San Diego Zoo red panda climbs tree to escape enclosure

A red panda climbed a tree to escape her enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, prompting hours of efforts to lure her back to her habitat, officials told news outlets.

Adira, a 2-year-old red panda, broke out of her enclosure by climbing a tree into a nearby habitat Sunday, Jan. 29, KFMB reported.

Zoo visitor Allison Fortson told USA Today that Adira periodically descended the tree before getting spooked and climbing back out of reach.

Zoo officials closed off part of the park before successfully luring Adira back to her habitat, KNSD reported. Adira, who shares her habitat with three other red pandas, spent about six hours in the tree, officials told KGTV. The security of the habitat is now under review.

Red pandas are bamboo eaters native to Asia’s highland forests, the Smithsonian Zoo said. Despite their name, they are not closely related to giant pandas. “Red pandas are skilled climbers, using trees for shelter, to escape predators and to sunbathe in the winter,” the zoo said. They are normally solitary creatures.

San Marcos Kid-nap Attempt: Elderly Owner Shoots Goat Rustler: Deputies

A man in his 30s was hospitalized last month after being shot by a North County homeowner who fought with the younger man who was trying to make off with a goat, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

The incident occurred shortly after 3:15 p.m. outside a home in the remote yet upscale area of San Marcos near Coronado Hills Drive. The sheriff’s office said in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon that the homeowners — a 79-year-old man and his 60-year-old wife — heard noises from their dogs and goats out in their yard and went out to investigate, when they saw what turned out to be a 36-year-old man, later identified as Alexander Belinsky, trying to steal one of their animals.

Deputies said the couple tried to stop the thief but he pushed them both to the ground. At that point, the older man, who law enforcement said feared for his wife’s safety, went inside and got a rifle and confronted the would-be rustler, who had allegedly thrown the animal into the front seat of a dune buggy parked on the property. Belinsky got out of the driver’s seat at this point, officials said, rushed the homeowner, and a struggle for the weapon ensued, during which Belinsky was shot in the abdomen.

The suspect was hospitalized after the incident; he is expected to survive. The homeowner was also injured, in his case, suffering wounds on his hands. His wife was unharmed.

Belinsky was arrested afterward, according to deputies, on a host of charges, including robbery, elder abuse, attempted vehicle theft, residential burglary, animal cruelty and battery.

Belinsky is also accused of smashing out the windows of a car parked in a garage at Palomar Medical Center just before the alleged attempted goat theft, according to deputies.

Alleged Encinitas Amazon driver dognapper to stand trial

A superior court judge decided a former Amazon driver will stand trial for allegedly stealing a dog while working her delivery route in Encinitas.

Dena Vindiola is accused of taking Finn, a golden retriever, from his yard back on Oct. 9, 2022.

Finn’s owner, Denise Reppenhagen, said a neighbor’s Ring camera footage showed Vindiola guiding Finn into her car and driving off. The story spread quickly, eventually helping get Finn back home weeks later.

Reppenhagen said Finn was mistakenly left outside one morning without a collar.

Thursday, Vindiola’s defense attorney claimed his client was actually trying to help what she thought was a lost, collarless dog, and told the court she even tried to contain him and closed the gate to the yard.

San Diego County Deputy Sheriff Monica De la Torre said she spoke with Vindiola after officers unsuccessfully searched her residence for Finn.

“She saw the dog. The dog followed her to the car. And the dog jumped in on its own. She was going to take it to the pound but it was a good boy, so she decided not to and took it home,” said De la Torre.

Neighbors who witnessed the incident said they didn’t think to report it because it was not unusual for Finn to roam. It was common for dog walkers and sitters to come in and out of Reppenhagen’s home.

But prosecutors fired back, saying it was clear Vindiola knowingly took a well-groomed, friendly dog from a cul-de-sac neighborhood.

“Had the defendant at any point called the police, left a note, returned to the address, done anything, frankly, the dog could have been returned,” said Deputy District Attorney William Heineken, Reppenhagen’s attorney.

In court, it was explained that Vindiola then gave the dog to her mother in El Centro. But she didn’t want Finn, so he was passed along to a neighbor.

A neighbor’s tip led law enforcement on an unsuccessful search of Vindiola’s home.

Meanwhile, Finn was passed to a church, the pound, and finally, the rescue that reunited him with Reppenhagen in front of a Petco weeks later.

There was confusion with the microchip information. Deputies said the information was incorrect.

This part is good news, people preserving animals

In this July 16, 2013, photo is an aerial view of the coast and Pacific Ocean taken flying in to San Clemente Island, in San Diego. Four types of plants and a bird species on U.S. The Navy-owned San Clemente Island off Southern California no longer require Endangered Species Act protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2023./File

Four types of plants and a bird species on the U.S. Navy-owned San Clemente Island off Southern California no longer require Endangered Species Act protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The fully recovered species include the San Clemente Island paintbrush, lotus, larkspur and bush-mallow plants and the San Clemente Bell’s sparrow, the service said.

The conservation achievement was to be marked by an event Tuesday at Naval Base Coronado on San Diego Bay.

“We are grateful for the Navy’s leadership and long-term commitment to recovery efforts that have enabled us to bring these species back from the brink of extinction,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said in a statement.

San Clemente Island is part of the Channel Islands chain off the Southern California coast and serves as a major Navy training area.

For decades before its transfer to the Navy, the island was used for cattle, sheep and goat grazing and pig farming that harmed native plants and animals. The Navy eliminated non-native animals, allowing what was a largely barren landscape to recover.

“This is an incredible comeback story for five of California’s unique Channel Island species that fought so hard to survive for decades,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation organization.

Other species recoveries in the Channel Islands include the island night lizard, the island fox and the Santa Cruz Island dudleya and island bedstraw, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are also now successfully breeding on the islands.

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