Victim of Chimpanzee Improves

Here's the latest on the continuing recovery of Charla Nash, who was maimed by Travis the chimpanzee in February.

Aftermath of the Tiger Attacks

The San Francisco Zoo isn't going under just yet, but it is having its problems. The tiger attacks of 2006 and 2007, and the resulting lawsuits, are among the causes.

Fisher Attack

A fisher has attacked a six-year-old in New England. The boy was not seriously hurt.

Fishers belong to the family mustelidae, which includes ferrets, weasels, badgers, wolverines and others. Though sometimes called "fisher cats," they aren't closely related to the cats. They are small carnivores—far too small to prey on humans. Rabies is the likely cause for an attack like this, and in fact the boy is being vaccinated against the disease.

WPRI News story

ABC News story

Fishers on Wikipedia

Gordiid worms

Gordiid worms (Phylum Nematomorpha: Class Gordiida) usually parasitize crickets and other arthropods. They are not considered parasites of people. Yet they occasionally emerge from the human body—in vomit or feces, for example. In such cases, scientists believe, the human has accidentally ingested the worm, but it has not succeeded in colonizing the human body. For example, a person might swallow some gordiid-ridden insect that has found its way into his food.

What earns the gordiid a mention on this site is its sometimes painful way of exiting the human body. It can cause abdominal pain in its attempts to escape, for example. It has been known to crawl out of the tip of the penis, and circumstantial evidence suggest it may emerge from the female urethra as well. How it finds its way into the urinary tract of humans is a matter of some dispute.

Gorilla Attack

The latest primate problem has occurred in South Carolina, where a zoo gorilla scaled a wall, threatened a few people, and beat the hell out of a kid who works at a pizza joint on the grounds. The kid's injuries are minor.

Despite the scary image, it's hard to get hurt by a gorilla. Most documented injuries—and there aren't many—happen when a zoo specimen escapes, panicks, and bites or hits people. There are probably some injuries in the wild, where hunters attack the big primates for the bushmeat trade. If so, these go unreported, because it's illegal to hunt gorillas; they're endangered.

Gorillas eat plants, insects, and an occasional bird egg. They don't eat meat and take no predatory interest in people.

Update: Gorilla Victim Sues

Related Post: Hercules the Gorilla Dies

Gorilla photos by Wayne Allison:


The sponges (phylum Porifera) are rough masses of flesh. They're not built on skeletons, though they grow hard skeletal bits inside themselves. They are simple animals, their cells only a step or two removed from their evolutionary predecessors—microscopic protists that formed colonies. Their individual cells take on specialized jobs like digestion, but they change jobs when necessary. The cells do not form discrete tissues, which are masses meant for very specific tasks. The lack of tissues sets them apart from most other animals.

The Dangers:
1. Some sponges excrete toxins to discourage predators. People who keep them in aquariums sometimes get a rash simply by putting a hand into the water. One such species is the fire sponge (pictured).
2. Some sponges poison the adventurous diner. They can paralyze, and possibly kill, a human.

More information on sponges.
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