If you find yourself looking around the table over the holiday and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m related to these people,” just be glad you’re not a mongoose. If you were, you might be thinking, “I can’t believe I’ve mated with all of these people.” For the cat-sized mammals, native to central and east Africa, it’s safer to have sex with a close relative than risk death by venturing out into the world to find a mate, according to a study published online today in Biology Letters. Newly formed mongoose groups have a mortality rate three times higher than that of established ones, and mongooses that encroach on neighboring groups are often met with violence. Perhaps consequently, an analysis of 14 packs of mongooses in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park finds that inbreeding is the norm: 63.6% of the pups were conceived between two members of the same natal group, the social group into which an individual is born. Twenty-seven percent of offspring were conceived by mothers that bred within their natal group and were related to their mates by a coefficient of relationship of 0.25 or higher—the equivalent genetic similarity between half siblings or a grandparent/grandchild. Additionally, 7.5% of pups were conceived by parents related by 0.5 or more—full siblings or a parent/child. Father/daughter incest occurred eight times during the study, but interestingly, mother/son breeding was not observed—perhaps due to the fact that males take longer to reach sexual maturity and their mothers are dead by the time they’re ready to mate. Researchers speculate that, at least for mongooses, the genetic problems caused by inbreeding are perceived to be less dangerous than leaving the pack in search of new mates.
Source = Safari Group Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park, QueenstownQueenstown’s first new hotel in five years will open soon in a high profile extension of Remarkables Park Town Centre.Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park Queenstown has commanding views of the majestic Remarkables mountains, Coronet Peak and many other famous mountains surrounding Queenstown.Part of the Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company with more than 7,800 hotels across 72 countries, the hotel will be the sixth property in the Ramada New Zealand portfolio and is scheduled to open in time for the 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival (24 June – 3 July).The four-storey corporate and leisure hotel has a total of 72 beds, 56 carparks (33 of which are underground) and was designed by Auckland’s Studio 37.The all-suites style hotel has been developed by highly experienced developer Robert Neil’s Safari Group. The hotel offers guests a mix of well-appointed studio (28), one-bedroom (20), two-bedroom (9) and three-bedroom king apartments (2), all with ensuite bathrooms, full kitchens and laundry facilities.Alastair Porter, CEO of Remarkables Park Limited, said the hotel opening is another milestone for the growing master planned Remarkables Park development.“In such a strong visitor economy Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park will help to meet the rapidly growing need for more visitor accommodation in Queenstown,” Mr Porter said.“Interest continues from other hotel brands too, and we look forward to being able to offer visitors a range of three star to six star hotels within the Remarkables Park Town Centre, including High Street and resort hotel locations with water and mountain views,” he added.Robert Neil said, “This has been a really exciting project to lead and it’s very rewarding to see the property take shape in just over twelve months of construction.“We chose Remarkables Park because it is zoned to be the district’s largest Town Centre and for its close proximity to many of Queenstown’s unique visitor experiences like skiing, golfing, wineries and unrivalled alpine views. Being just a few minutes from the airport adds to its convenience.”Final works are advancing rapidly on-site and interior fit-out is underway in readiness to host Winter Festival visitors from New Zealand and Australia.Ramada New Zealand’s Sales and Marketing Manager Roger Taitt said he was delighted to see the Ramada brand return to Queenstown.“As part of our commitment of Ramada New Zealand to provide quality accommodation and value-conscious offerings, Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park continues the brand’s theme of contemporary and comfortable design and 100 per cent free and unlimited fibre Wi-Fi access, which we know resonates well with today’s leisure and corporate travellers,” Mr Taitt said.Other hotel features include ski gear storage room, complimentary parking, LCD TV + SKY channels, washing machine / dryer room and free booking cancellations and amendments. The hotel will provide guests with a sunny, scenic and conveniently located base.Ground floor retail and food and beverage outlets will add to existing shopping and dining options available in the wider Remarkables Park Town Centre, a 24-hour gym and Remarkables Park’s rapidly growing indoor entertainment precinct.Longer term plans of Remarkables Park include provision for gondola and conferencing facilities. Ramada hotels