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San Diego Zoo's Research Could Help Stave Off Northern White Rhino Extinction And More Local News

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In today's San Diego News Matters podcast: San Diego Zoo researchers are caring for two pregnant southern white rhinos that are a key part in the plan to save the critically endangered northern white rhinos. The extinction clock is ticking because only two northern whites remain alive. Also in the show: The City of San Diego wants to create bus-only lanes. Records have been released under a new state law requiring law enforcement agencies to make internal reports about officers who shoot someone or commit sexual assaults public. And the San Diego City Council is set to vote on a plan for transforming Horton Plaza into a tech hub.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning. It's May 20th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters. San Diego Zoo researchers are caring for two pregnant southern white rhinos that are a key part in the plan to save the critically endangered northern white rhinos. KPBS environment reporter Eric Andersen tells us the extinction clock is ticking because only two northern whites remain alive.

Speaker 2: 00:26 Ready? Mark Ozer, you know, has worked with the six rhinos since they arrived in 2015 nice job. They're 22 hour flight from South Africa was the first light of a long journey that is far from over. It is pretty amazing that these animals used to be, you know, out essentially in the wild and to come from a place where they had almost no human interaction to here and work so closely with us every day. Yeah, it's very surprising. Xeno says the animals are friendly and approachable, although he says they work under strict guidelines. All contact is through a protective barrier even so there's no hesitation to put an arm through the fence to encourage a behavior. Yep. Ready?

Speaker 3: 01:08 Here we go. Open air. It is good

Speaker 2: 01:13 girl. Oh, they're nice teeth. Very good. Showing teeth is valuable, but the rhinos are here for a different reason. Reproductive physiologist, Barbara Duran says she hopes to eventually implant northern white embryos in these six rhinos. The first step is to impregnate each of them by artificial insemination.

Speaker 4: 01:35 That will tell us that those females now are proven females. They're capable of conceiving. They're capable of carrying a term pregnancy and giving birth. Then we can start to use those animals after they've weaned. They're babies will start to use those animals for practicing embryo transfer.

Speaker 2: 01:53 Darren's team was successful twice. The first and semination happened a year ago here. Duran showed KPBS a live ultrasound picture of a 53 day old fetus inside Victoria

Speaker 3: 02:06 and then her. This is her body and turn a little bit. You can see her feet.

Speaker 2: 02:13 The fetus was about the size of a Aa battery back then.

Speaker 4: 02:17 We watched it grow. We were doing measurements. We could see as the the limb buds were forming. We saw the heart forming a and then it now it's so big that it is not up close where we can see it. It has fallen down into her abdomen, so it's way down in here. Now,

Speaker 2: 02:33 Duran says the baby is so big now that it's too hard to get a full picture on an ultrasound machine. The rant guesses. The Rhino is the size of a laundry basket. Now, although it's admittedly hard to tell

Speaker 4: 02:46 and you can't tell from the outside that she's pregnant unless you're lucky enough to see the baby kick, which we often can see from the outside.

Speaker 2: 02:53 The next crucial point comes in a month or two. Duran says, Victoria will probably become restless and move away from the other rhinos when she's ready to deliver.

Speaker 4: 03:03 It's normally not, not terribly long. You know, in humans, you often hear about women being in labor for hours, 10 hours, 20 hours, 30 hours. That doesn't, that does not happen with these animals, and you can understand why in the wild, that would not be a good thing to have a prolonged labor in the wild because the ama would be debilitated in and would be subject to predation

Speaker 2: 03:25 Victoria and another rhino. Amani were both artificially inseminated. Amani is due in about five months and Duran hopes three more rhinos will be pregnant soon.

Speaker 4: 03:36 Nice tablet.

Speaker 2: 03:37 The next stage involves implanting an embryo that's conceived in the lab, but there's an obstacle that embryo has to be delivered through a tight channel that curves back and forth for several features of the solution might come from a Uc San Diego robotics lab.

Speaker 5: 03:55 Now this is basically like trying to hold on one end of a spaghetti flexible spaghetti noodle and get the other end to um, move in a specific way. It's extremely difficult and nearly impossible. But with robotics, we can actually solve that problem.

Speaker 2: 04:11 Tomorrow we'll explain how San Diego researcher Michael Yip is working on a tool that could save the rare rhinos from extinction. Eric Anderson Kpbs News,

Speaker 1: 04:22 the city of San Diego recently banned homeless people from sleeping in their cars. KPV As reporter Matt Hoffman says, a ordinance is now law, but at the San Diego Police Department has it started writing tickets. Yet

Speaker 6: 04:35 the new ordinance says people can not live in their vehicles from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM anywhere in San Diego. It also prohibits people from living in vehicles anytime within 500 feet of a school or home. Uh, San Diego police spokesperson says the department has not yet started writing citations for violations of the law. Instead, officers are out educating people about the new ordinance. The spokesperson says after someone gets a written warning, that person would be eligible for a citation if they violated the vehicle. Habitation Ordinance. Again, right now, officers are handing out information on where there are city sponsored lots that people can park and sleep. And overnight the SDPD spokesman says, after a period of education on the law, that apartment, we'll start enforcement, Matt Hoffman, k PBS news.

Speaker 1: 05:18 We've been following a new state law that's forcing local police departments to release information regarding internal investigations. Those investigations include reports about officers who shoot someone or commit sexual assaults. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trek has or has more on a case out of La Mesa. The newly released records detail at 2017 standoff when officers shot and killed an armed 19 year old man who fired shots into the air. The incident started with an attempt to pull over a car with Isaiah's Roseola, Choa, Battista, and two other people. On August 24th, 2017 the car didn't stop and instead sped away. When the crash reached a dead end. All three people inside ran away and a Cho Battista hid behind a cement wall at the top of a drainage ditch at Choa. Battista then shot his gun into the sky and so the officer shot him. The officers who shot a tro Battista, we're not charged.

Speaker 1: 06:17 And an internal, a Mesa police department review found that the shooting was justified. Claire Traeger, Sir KPBS news plans to improve public transit in city heights in north park are moving forward. KPV As reporter Prius rather says, the city of San Diego wants to give buses their own lane. Near Kevin Faulkner last week approved a pilot program for a bus only lane on El Cajon Boulevard. The program aims to prevent bosses from getting stuck in the same traffic is cars improving speed and on time performance. The rapid to 15 in route one buses carry 10,000 people per day along El Cahone boulevard barrel foreman from the El Cahone Boulevard Business Improvement Association says she hopes the pilot will encourage more people to ride the bus.

Speaker 7: 07:04 Oh, there's development underway. There's a lot of great localized business. There has been investment in bus rapid transit, but a lot of people know that bus rapid transit is not really official until it has a dedicated lane where the opportunity to take the bus looks even more desirable than drive.

Speaker 1: 07:20 The pilot is expected to launch in late summer or early fall and last for three months. Priya, sure, either k PBS news, southwestern water leaders are set to finalize a drought plan for the Colorado River today outside Las Vegas at Hoover Dam from k UNC reporter Luke Runyon has more. The Colorado

Speaker 8: 07:40 River provides water to 40 million people in seven us states and Mexico. The drought contingency plan has been years in the making and as a response to ongoing dry conditions on the river. Marlin Duke is a bureau of reclamation spokesperson.

Speaker 9: 07:55 This is a big deal. It's a big deal. For the base. It's a big deal for for the river and and for all the states, uh, who depend on the river

Speaker 8: 08:04 in Arizona, California and Nevada. The plan sets up a series of cutbacks to the rivers. Users should its biggest reservoir. Lake mead continue to drop further upstream. States like Colorado and Utah are looking to the plan to figure out how to use less water and boost another big reservoir. Lake Powell, I'm Luke Runyon.

Speaker 1: 08:24 We're consumed, began to transform downtown San Diego was Horton Plaza into a high tech office complex. KPBS reporter John Carroll says the city council is scheduled to vote on the new plan today.

Speaker 10: 08:37 When Horton Plaza opened in 1985 it was the first sign of rebirth in downtown San Diego. But over the last few years, more and more retailers have left the $275 million plan from Stockdale capital partners would change the mall into a high tech office complex. The developer says the new campus at Horton would create 4,000 high paying tech jobs spread throughout 700,000 square feet of office space. If the city council approves the proposal, the developer hopes to complete the first phase by late 2020 John Carroll. KPBS news, thanks for listening to San Diego. News matters. Get more KPV as podcasts at k pbs.org/podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.