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Chinese Scientists Create 'Autistic' Monkeys

Scientists in China have engineered monkeys with a human autism gene and symptoms, in the hopes of unlocking a treatment for the debilitating but little-understood disorder, a study said Monday.

The "transgenic" macaques behaved similarly to humans afflicted with autism, the team wrote -- making repetitive gestures, and displaying anxiety and poor social interaction. 

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Finland Begins Controversial Wolf Hunt

Finland on Saturday began a controversial wolf cull that gives hunters the right to kill around one fifth of the endangered animals, in a decision that has angered environmentalists.

Authorities hope the trial cull of 46 of Finland's estimated 250 grey wolves will curb illegal poaching, which some rural landowners have resorted to in recent years after seeing wolves roaming their property, sometimes killing dogs and livestock.

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Bezos Space Firm Duplicates Reusable Rocket Breakthrough

Two months after the breakthrough launch and vertical landing of a reusable rocket, the space firm created by Internet entrepreneur Jeff Bezos did it again.

The company, Blue Origin, said Saturday that the same New Shepard booster which blasted off and landed in November had repeated the feat, hitting an altitude of 333,000 feet (101 kilometers) before "gently" returning to Earth.

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Scientists Urge World to Stop Killer Robots

The world must act quickly to avert a future in which autonomous robots with artificial intelligence roam the battlefields killing humans, scientists and arms experts warned at an elite gathering in the Swiss Alps.

Rules must be agreed to prevent the development of such weapons, they said at a January 19-23 meeting of billionaires, scientists and political leaders in the snow-covered ski resort of Davos.

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Official: 1,175 Rhinos Killed by Poachers in S.Africa Last Year

Nearly 1,200 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year, officials said Thursday, a slight decrease on 2014, but another year of carnage fueled by Asian-led demand for their horn.

"By the end of December 2015, the number of poached rhinos was 1,175," Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told reporters.

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Tiger Attacks Keeper on Morning Walk at Australian Zoo

A tiger attacked a keeper at a zoo in Australia on Thursday, leaving him with a "significant puncture wound" to the head at the popular tourist attraction, officials said.

The man in his 40s was treated by paramedics at the Sunshine Coast's Australia Zoo, founded by the family of late "Crocodile Hunter" star Steve Irwin, for wounds to his forehead and wrist and scratches to his body, a Queensland state ambulance spokesman said.

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Dolphin Circus Sparks Animal Cruelty Debate in Central Asia

Inside a travelling aquatic circus in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, whoops and cheers go up as a dolphin leaps out of a pool and slam-dunks a ball through a basketball net.

Hundreds of people packed inside the Moscow Travelling Dolphinarium to watch dolphins and beluga whales perform acrobatic stunts, against a painted backdrop of blue skies and palm trees.

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U.S. Scientists Say 'Ninth Planet' May Exist in Solar System

A previously unknown giant planet, nicknamed Planet Nine, may have been discovered lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system, U.S. scientists announced on Wednesday.

The object "has a mass about 10 times that of Earth" and follows a "bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the distant solar system," said a statement by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

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First Flower Blooms on International Space Station

A bright orange zinnia has blossomed aboard the International Space Station, marking a first in space.

"First flower even grown in space makes its debut," U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly wrote on Twitter, with a photo of the flower.

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Rampaging Elephants Force Myanmar Villagers to Tree-Top Refuge

Pushed from their forest home by encroaching farm land, wild elephants are driving fearful villagers in a Myanmar township to seek refuge in tree houses while the animals storm their rice paddies looking for food.

The elephants have trampled crops, destroyed homes and even, villagers say, killed people in their path -- forcing families in Kyat Chuang to build new shelters made of wood and bamboo on higher ground.

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