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Incredibly rare babies arrive at Columbus Zoo from land down under

614now Staff

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For the first time in over 20 years, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is proudly welcoming three Tasmanian devils into its care.

The babies, Sprout, Thyme, and Mustard, remain in quarantine per standard protocol, but are transitioning to their brand-new habitat located in the Zoo’s Australia and the Islands region. As soon as the Tasmanian devils settle in to their new home, a public viewing schedule will be announced.

The Columbus Zoo is now one of only seven zoos in North America to currently house the species.

One-year-old Tasmanian devils were brought to the Columbus Zoo through the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. This Tasmanian, Australia government program aims to combat the threat of Tasmanian devil extinction due to a fatal, highly-contagious condition called Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

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The conservation of these animals is so important because they play a vital role in the ecosystems in which they inhabit. For example, Tasmanian devils remove sick, slow, diseased, and deceased animals from the landscape. They also serve as an important line of defense against invasive species, including feral cats.

Obtaining the three devils is only one pillar in the Columbus Zoo’s long history of supporting the species’ conservation. In the past the Zoo has employed the following projects to help sustain the lifecycles of Tasmanian devils:

  • aiming to develop effective strategies to rebuild wild populations of the Tasmanian devil through the understanding of demographic and genetic effects of the long term presence of DFTD in wild populations
  • assess the ecological impacts of a reduced devil population on other wildlife in the north-east coastal plains area
  • satellite tracking translocated Tasmanian devils; and the genetic analysis of Tasmanian devils (to look for signs of DFTD) from the south-west coast.

“The Tasmanian devils are an exciting addition to our Columbus Zoo family and play an incredibly important role as ambassadors for their species,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf. “It is a privilege to be able to work with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and continue to expand our impact internationally by contributing to the conservation of this species while also raising awareness within our own community about these animals and how we can help them.”

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Community

OSU student government demands action in wake of protests

Julian Foglietti

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Student Government representatives spoke to a crowd of protestors Tuesday on High Street outlining their demands for OSU officials and campus police. That statement was submitted to OSU on Monday.

The statement, written by The Undergrad Student Government, The Inter-Professional Council, and The Council of Graduate Students, demands for the immediate cease of contractual agreements with the Columbus Police department, the end of Mutual Aid service contracts and Joint Patrol operations. Additionally, an end to the purchasing of military-grade resources for the campus police. 

The statement came after days of protesting over the death of George Floyd, and in response to President Michael V. Drake's call for reflection on how to prevent racially-motivated crimes like this from happening. 

In their statement, the group cites the aggressive tactics Columbus Police have taken against protesters, and cites that the department’s documented killings of unarmed black individuals is among the highest in the nation. 

Read the full statement here.

OSU has not responded publicly to the letter.

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Arts & Culture

What’s Open: Venues slowly start to roll out live music

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When it was announced in mid-May that wedding venues and banquet halls would reopen at the beginning of June, the next question became: When will music venues be next?

Although the rollout has been slow and will be gradual, Columbus venues and attractions that regularly house live music are making their comeback. When the high-spirited, good-feeling cover band Popgun graced the Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen on May 27, many people’s greatest fears of being robbed of live music for the rest of the year were eased maybe a little.

The only way for us to get currently get down to live music is to sit down, which is a fair trade-off given the times.

Check out a few Columbus venues that are set to reopen or have reopened under strict coronavirus guidelines.

  • The Forum Columbus -- The Forum welcomed back live music on May 29 with a tabled RSVP DJ showcase. For this event, guests were required to come in groups of no more than 10, be seated six feet apart from other groups, and remain seated unless you have to use the restroom. There are no future events planned as of this publishing.
  • Otherworld  -- The immersive art installation that took Columbus by storm in 2019 is set to return on June 11, according to the venue’s webpage. Otherworld will be operating at a capacity of one visitor per 160 square feet, or around 20 percent of the regular admittance. It’s unclear when the next time Otherworld will host live music, but this is a giant step in the right direction in terms of venue re-openings.
  • South Drive-In -- It’s not a venue in Columbus that traditionally holds music, but it’s become one and may stay one for the time being. Viral DJ Marc Rebillet will be bringing his sold-out drive-in show to the South Drive-In on June 14. With these types of performances popping up all around the country and the South Drive-In owner getting plenty of event requests, we will hopefully be seeing more shows of this nature in the warmer months.
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Govt & Politics

City Attorney Klein, Columbus leaders outline need, steps for police reform

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Elder Larry Price speaks at the police reform press conference on Wednesday, June 3.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and a few Columbus community leaders gathered at the Michael B. Coleman Government Center for a press conference addressing plans to “reform the culture of justice in Columbus.”

Klein, who has been urged to improve the systematic problems with policing, acknowledged during the press conference that “there’s systematic racism in every step of government.”

Asking the rhetorical question, What are we going to do about it?, Klein followed with, “The time for action is now.”

Those who spoke at the press conference also included:

  • Elder Larry Price, chairman of the Criminal and Justice Committee and Columbus chapter of the NAACP
  • Stephanie Hightower, president of CEO of the Columbus Urban League
  • Pastor Frederick LaMarr, president of the Baptist Pastor’s Conference of Columbus

LaMarr led off the discussion, delivering a message to “set aside differences to bring about real reform.”

Klein then made a few brief comments before giving Hightower and Price a chance to speak.

“Racism should’ve never been a part of the American epic,” Hightower said.

Price, who will also be speaking on behalf of the NAACP on Friday at 12 p.m., asking for a citizen review board in Columbus.

“The oldest, boldest, baddest organization on the earth now says, It is time. Enough is enough,” Price said.

Klein outlined the immediate actions that the Columbus government is going to take to reform systematic racism in the police department. 

They are outlined as follows:

  • Appoint special counsel from outside of the city to investigate the ongoing protests in Columbus, something that was also done in Charlottesville
  • Conduct a review of the Columbus Police Department’s procedures of clearing the streets of peaceful protests
  • Change the Columbus Division of Police’s use of chemical agents against nonviolent protesters
  • Submitted evidence to the Columbus Division of Police  Internal Affairs Bureau of uses of chemical agents and encourage Columbus citizens 
  • Create a citizen review board
  • Move charging decisions for alleged misdemeanor criminal offenses to inside the Columbus city attorney’s office for review before they are filed
  • Conduct a review of the Columbus City Code
  • Achieve police-community reform

Klein then took time after outlining the city's plan to answer questions from the media. A topic addressed in those questions included mention of the treatment of reporters in Columbus, specifically from The Lantern. 

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